Sanskrit Pronunciation Guide

This guide includes both the Devanagari script of the Sanskrit language and its transliteration. The Sanskrit language contains 50 letters: 15 vowels, 25 consonants, 4 semi-vowels, 3 sibilants, 1 aspirate, and 2 compounds.

Vowels

Note: a long vowel (e.g. ā) is held twice as long as its corresponding short vowel (e.g. a)

a – short a as in mama Example: yoga

ā – long form of a, like the a in father. Example: Swāmi

i – as in fit. Example: Giri

ī – long form of i, like the ee in seen Example: īśa

u – as in full Example: guru

ū – long form of u, like the oo in root Example: mūladhara

ṛ – rolled r followed by a very short i Example: Kṛṣṅa

ṝ – rolled r followed by a long i (rare) Example: kṝt

ḷ – short l followed by a rolled r (rare) Example: kḷp

e – as in pray Example: Veda

ai – as in rice Example: Bhai

o – as in oblation Example: Govinda

au – as in cow Example: Draupadi

ṅ or ṃ – a nasal n or m Example: ahaṅkara ; oṃ

ḥ – a final unvoiced aspirated h sound. However, if it comes after a short vowel, this vowel is repeated after the h sound, i.e aḥ is pronounced like aha, iḥ like ihi, etc. Example: śantiḥ is prononced shantihi.

Consonants

k – regular k as in kayak. Example: kriyā

kh – like the t_h in teak_house Example: sukha

g – regular g as in God Example: guṇa

gh – like the g_h in big_house Example: ghat

ṅ – as in ring Example: piṅgala

c – regular ch as in chant Example: cakra

ch – like the ch_h in ranch_house Example: gacchati

j – regular j as in Jesus Example: jīva

jh – like the geh in hedgehog Example: jhalā

ñ – as in cañyon Example: Patañjali

ṭ – pronounce the letter t with the tongue rolled up. Example: kuṭastha

ṭh – same as above, followed by an aspirated h. Example: haṭha

ḍ – pronounce the letter d with tongue rolled up Example: kuṇḍalinī

ḍh – same as above, followed by an aspirated h (rare)

ṇ – pronounce the letter n with tongue rolled up. Example: prāṇa

t – regular t as in talk Example: sat

th – like the t_h in light_house Example: tathā

d – regular d as in disciple Example: deva

dh – like the d_h in red_house Example: samādhi

n – regular n as in nectar Example: nirvikalpa

p – regular p as in prayer Example: Paramahamsa

ph – like the ph in upheaval (not f sound) Example: phalam

b – regular b as in blessing Example: Bābā

bh – like the bh in rubharb Example: bhakti

m – regular m as in master Example: Mahāraj

Semi-vowels

y – as in yellow Example: yuga

r–- rolled r Example: rāja

l – regular l as in life Example: līlā

v – regular v as in vacuum, Example: vyāna

Sibilants

ś – sh sound pronounced at the back of the palate. Example: śrī

ṣ – as in sharp Example: Upaniṣad

s – regular s as in spirit Example: sādhana

Aspirate

h – aspirated h as in heaven Example: Hariharananda

Compounds

kṣ – like the ksh in backshift Example: mokṣa

jñ – like the g_y in egg_yolk Example: jñāna