Sanskrit Pronunciation

Sanskrit, the language of yoga, is written in Devanagari script. This highly phonetic language does not have exact equivalents in English. Therefore, transliterations exist, enabling Westerners to approximate the original Sanskrit sounds. The transliteration style used by Quiet Karma is based on the International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST).

Vowels and Pronunciation

a ā i ī u ū e ai o au

a as in sun, but

ā as in calm, far

i as in bit, sit

ī as in seen, feet

u as in push, put

ū as in moon, room

e as in they, say, may

ai is a diphthong and is pronounced as in like, my

o as in joke, poke

au is a diphthong and is pronounced as in how

(letter r with a dot under it) is considered a vowel and is pronounced as in rude, prune

Note: Extremely rare vowels have been omitted here.

Consonants and Pronunciation

Consonants and their conjunctions are usually followed by vowels, shown here with a. For additional notes on pronunciation, see below.

ka kha ga gha ṅa
ca cha ja jha ña
ṭa ṭha ḍa ḍha ṇa
ta tha da dha na
pa pha ba bha ma
ya ra la va
śa ṣa sa ha

Simple consonants, such as ka, are pronounced with minimal breath, much less than in typical Western speech. Those consonants followed by h are pronounced with additional breath. Practice by placing your hand in front of your mouth. You should feel no breath with simple consonants and some breath with aspirated consonants.

ṅ, ṁ are pronounced nasally

c is pronounced as in chop, reach

ñ is pronounced as in canyon, onion

ṭ, ḍ, ṇ are pronounced with the tip of the tongue bent back to touch the roof of the mouth

t, d, n are pronounced with the tip of the tongue against the top teeth

ś, ṣ are pronounced as in shine, shower

Special Letters

is often found at the end of a phrase;

it is pronounced with a slight aspiration as ha

a common Sanskrit conjunction; it is nasally pronounced as gnya

An apostrophe is used to replace an a when two words are joined.


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