If you don't know what you don't know, how can you learn?
This list is far from exhaustive, but can point you in the direction of learning more about mantras and their beautiful Sanskrit sounds. Since mispronunciation of mantra is widespread, the first step for most yogāsana teachers, mantra lovers, and kīrtan leaders is to learn where our own blind spots are.
Please contact me if you have a great resource to add here!
3 Easy Steps to Better Sanskrit Pronunciation:
1. Here is the least you need to know in 7 minutes…
2. Next, learn to pronounce the Sanskrit alphabet (transliterated, Roman characters) in 20 minutes!
3. Then, be sure the mantras you’re learning fit these criteria:
When you’re looking for books, websites, or youtubes to learn mantra, look for ones that have a) the Devanāgarī, and/or b) dots under and above the letters, as well as long lines above the vowels. This indicates the tongue positions and the duration of the syllable. Without those marks, you won’t be able to learn proper pronunciation, and chances are good the person sharing the information might not know it themselves. (Exceptions might include mantras of just a few syllables.)
They’re much harder to find, and not all mantras have them, but if you can, also get mantras with c) the little vertical lines above, and horizontal lines underneath the syllables, as these indicate the “svara” or pitch changes in Vedic chanting. This is important if you want to chant the mantra melodies in their traditional form as well.
More good stuff:
Here’s a handy link to the most-used transliteration table (IAST), until you memorize the marks as they correlate to the tongue placements:
A nice collection of Sanskrit beginner articles:
Includes “how to type Sanskrit easily” for PC
Please read more about “Why Sanskrit?” and “How Important is Pronunciation?”
in the free beginners mantra e-book, available on our Courses page!
Check out this Sanskrit Resources List for even more self-study information.
Remember, there's no shame in not knowing what you didn't know before... but now that you DO know that the way you were taught is not as precise as it could have been, perhaps you'll join us in raising the standard bar? When heart, thought, word, and deed come into harmony... our devotion, intention, sound of the mantra, and its reverberation into the world around us can resound most gloriously!
Auṁ Śāntiḥ Śāntiḥ Śāntiḥ