Pronunciation of Brahma

Anand Venkt Raman A.Raman at
Tue Apr 22 22:54:28 UTC 1997

Martin Gansten (mgansten at (Martin Gansten)) wrote:

>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

I think there is reason to believe that the original pronunciation of
Brahma would have been Bruh-ma and not Brum-ma.  In this respect, I
also think that the h would have been very close to the German
Ach-Laut, if my understanding that it is a velar fricative is correct.
I base this on the following two pieces of evidence.

1. Greek and Roman accounts of ancient India record the related word
Brahmana as "Bragmane" or "Brachmana", both of which indicate that
the phoneme preceding m is a velar (I understand Greek "ch" is the X
in TeX?)

2. Sir Monier Williams' claim that the word Brahma derives from the
root "vrih" (cf vriksha = tree) meaning to grow.

Having said this, I must also say that I have seen several North Indian
temple walls with the word Brahma written in Hindi as Bramha with the
"mh" conjunct consonant used instead of "hm".  I was surprised when I
first noticed that.

I am of course open to correction on this point.


- &
Anand Raman                       Ph: +64-6-350-4186, 355-0062 (a/h)
Dept of Computer Science          Fx: +64-6-350-2259

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