Problems in Pronouncing Mantras Correctly

In this post, is a most helpful contribution from Shri. Anurag Singh, explaining the problems and common mistakes, which are bound to arise in the pronunciations of the English transliterations of Sanskrit or Hindi Mantras. He has given some very relevant examples of mispronunciations and correct pronunciations of certain Hindi and Sanskrit words when they are transliterated into English. I am sure Indian as well as Non-Indian practitioners of Mantra Shastra will greatly benefit from this article.

We all use mantras for our benefits, and they always help us. We all know that if mantras are chanted with perfect pronunciation then they help us the most. In addition, we must not concentrate on pronunciation more than the devotion towards the mantra, or God in mantra. Again, this does not mean that the pronunciation is not at all taken care of.

Many readers of this site are foreigners, English speakers, and many are Indians who find it helpful if English transliteration is also there. Always Neel sir emphasizes that use Hindi version, rather than English, as English transliteration is merely for help. Nevertheless, for many it is like a really helpful thing, also for me.

However, the English transliteration cannot be perfect, because English is not so phonetic, and precise. Like for both त and ट, we have to use ta. Therefore, for using differently, we made त as tha and ट as ta. However, this has led to many confusions like, the real pronunciation of मूर्ति is Murti, but we write it as Murthy and then pronounce it as मूर्थि, which is wrong. Now this not only makes the pronunciation wrong, but also changes the Sanskrit and Hindi pronunciation to wrong pronunciations.

The most wrong of all these things are- Writing ऋ as ru, and ज्ञ as jna, gna, gnya, dnya etc. For example, we write अमृत As Amrut, which is wrong. The real and right is Amrit. We write अमृत as Amrut, thinking that people will pronounce it as Amrit. However, nobody does so. People pronounce Amrut as Amrut only, not Amrit. You yourself think- if ऋ is ru, then do we write Rudra as ऋद्र and Krura as कृर (krura means cruel). No, we will write Rudra as रुद्र and Krura as क्रूर. Therefore, we must understand that ऋ is written as ri not ru.

Also for many people, it is not smaller than a mystery, that how to pronounce ज्ञ. ज्ञ Is pronounced as Gya, not jna, gna, gnya or whatever. Gya is the right pronunciation of ज्ञ. ज्ञ् is made by ज् and ञ्. ज् is written as j, and since there is no symbol for ञ् so it is written as n. Therefore, it means ज्ञ should be as jna, but no, ज्ञ should be written as gya only. Again an example, we write प्रज्ञा as Prajna, pragna, pragnya, or what other. Nevertheless, we do not pronounce Prajna as Pragya; we say it as Prajna (प्रज्ना), which is wrong. Therefore, Pragya should be written and read as Pragya only, not pragna, prajna etc.

WE READ WHAT WE WRITE - we all know this well-said proverb. It is true proverb. If we write Amrit as Amrut, so will read it as Amrut only, not Amrit. Again, if we write Pragya as Prajna, pragnya, pragna, or what other, so we will read it as Prajna only, not Pragya. This makes us pronounce wrong. It not only affects the power of mantra, but also makes the divine Sanskrit or Hindi pronounced wrong by people.

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  1. Thank you sir.... Well, Sir, you did not need to Honor me as Shri. Anurag. I am only 15 year old. Thank you again.

  2. Can you guide on proper chanting method of Beej 'Hreem'
    It is observed that sound of H is not felt while chanting .
    I mean to say that instead of getting H-reem sound , most it is R-heem .

    1. That is correct, it H is not stressed upon. Rhee-m.

  3. Sir plz guide me in beej mantra joom or jum or junm
    Or mix of na and ma In lahu maha mritunjay mantra

    1. In the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra the Beej Akshara is Joom.

  4. Thank you sir for ur effort to help people ....

  5. Very useful article. I have always wondered about these Hindi alphabets.


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