Pronunciation of Brahma

Madhav Deshpande mmdesh at
Wed Apr 23 11:07:46 UTC 1997

	The metathesis of h-initial consonant clusters in Sanskrit due to
Prakritic (and other possible) influences are indeed very old.  I have
discussed some of the problems created by this inversion in Sanskrit
sandhis in my paper "Linguistic Presuppositions of Panini 8.3.26-27",
Proceedings of the Intrernational Seminar on Studies in the Astadhyayi of
Panini, University of Poona, Pune 1983, pp. 23-42.
	While the Pali orthography keeps alive the cluster -hma- in words
like, the inversion is operative in words like guyha < Skt. 
guhya; mayham and tuyham < mahyam and tubhya.  The pronunciation of the
word as assumed by the Pali authors was in all probability
something like B(r), as suggested by the folk etymology of the
word as baah(ita-paapa-dha)mma.  The folk etymology seems to assume the
sequence of baah followed by mma.
	All the best,
				Madhav Deshpande

On Wed, 23 Apr 1997, Miroslav Rozehnal wrote:

> On Tue, 22 Apr 1997, Martin Gansten wrote:
> > >I would very much appreciate your advice on how the word 
> > >Brahma is to be pronounced.  Is it pronounced as Bramma 
> > >(with no h sound), Bramha (with the h coming after the m), 
> > >or is it pronounced as Brahma (with the m coming after the h)?  
> > >The way it is written in Sanskrit and in English is with the m 
> > >coming after the h.  However, in many vedic chanting recordings 
> > >and in recordings of Sri Vishnu Sahasranamam, I notice that people 
> > >are pronouncing the word with the h coming after the m, or as 
> > >Bramma.  
> > 
> > With the recent discussion among our Sanskrit scholars concerning what
> > constitutes "correct" Sanskrit, etc, I thought it might be interesting to
> > hear what pronunciation(s) you all feel would be permissible. Here in
> > Sweden, I often hear the -h- pronounced more or less like a German Ach-Laut,
> > which to my ears at least is an abomination (not in itself! -- only in
> > Sanskrit words). But I suspect some would frown at my own pronunciation as
> > well� as it tends towards the "bramha" variety so often heard among panditas.
> > 
> > Any comments?
> It seems to be a "prakrtization" of Sanskrit - in Pali for example almost 
> all Sanskrit "hm"s are pronounced (and written) "mh".
> In Sri Lanka I met one monk who claimed that this change is regular for 
> pali and words "Bramha" and "" are regular for Pali.
> Regards, 
> Miroslav Rozehnal
> Mandarin Training Center
> National Taiwan Normal University
> Taipei
> Taiwan, R.O.C.
> E-mail: m63051 at
> see:

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