After reading my free e-book on mantra yoga or taking one of my mantra courses, you’ve probably decided you want to make precise Sanskrit a part of your chanting practice. Then what!? MOST of the mantra information online is frustratingly not accurate.
Here is a precious list of resources I’ve collected for you. Over the years this post has become a catch-all for other commonly asked questions, like "How do I type in transliterated Sanskrit?" and "What harmoniums do you recommend?" We'll keep updating it for you as we can.
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
Free online courses with audio, and an online transliteration program: http://learnsanskrit.org/
Learn Sanskrit Online
American Sanskrit Institute
Has an online learning center. I have not done their full program, but my Sanskrit teacher on Kauai (Dharma Widmann https://dharmawidmann.com/sanskrit-intro/) learned from and ultimately taught with Vyaas Houston for 20 years. The teaching method is brilliant.
Learn Sanskrit online free: http://www.acharya.gen.in:8080/sanskrit/lessons.php
TYPING WITH SANSKRIT TRANSLITERATION MARKS
To provide accurate learning material, it’s useful to learn a few keyboard strokes for the transliteration marks. Search online for “how to type in transliterated Sanskrit” for a variety of tutorials for your computer system.
Here’s a start:
1. On a Mac, go into your keyboard settings and make sure one of the keyboards with additional transliteration marks is selected. US Extended, or ABC Extended both work fine. Then use these keyboard shortcuts:
Option+E for slash — Ś
Option+A for long line over — Ā
Option+X for dot under — Ṇ
Option+W for dot over — Ṁ
Option+N for squiggly line — Ñ
Mantra Yoga and Primal Sound, by David Frawley, is an excellent resource of general information and suggested practices ranging from simple to quite complex. His book Inner Tantric Yoga also contains a lot of information on mantra. However, his transliteration is frustratingly inconsistent.
Shiva Sutras by Swami Lakshman Joo, offers esoteric information on the power behind the alphabet.
Mantra Puṣpam published by Ramakrishna Math of Mumbai (Bombay) is widely regarded as a scholarly authority on the ancient texts. Published in Devanāgarī (Sanskrit script) with the svara marks (which indicate pitch changes in chanting), it can be referenced for those who wish to pursue Vedic mantra chanting.
Nicholai Bachman’s books tend to have both the Devanāgarī (with svara marks) and the precise transliteration into Roman letters.
Thomas Ashley Farrand’s books on mantra offer interesting perspectives on the use of mantra practice as a healing modality and great insight from his own personal experience. However, none of the mantras listed contain sufficient diacritical marks to distinguish Sanskrit pronunciation; you’d have to look up their source text and transliterate yourself, or find a reliable source of transliteration otherwise. www.sanskritmantra.com
Kirtan Songbook by Stephanie Winn is the only transliterated songbook I’ve come across so far. Check it out: www.kirtansongbook.com
2Indya.com has a collection of properly transliterated mantras with svara marks! Also, you can buy a translation of Sanskrit tattoo. (Trust me, if you’re planning to get a Sanskrit tattoo, check with an expert! I can’t tell you how many I’ve seen that are oh-so-wrong!)
I’ve heard from several friends who are beginner musicians that the resources created by Daniel Tucker at www.HarmoniumCentral.com were very helpful!
My friend and Heart of Sound graduate David Estes produces one the best harmoniums! Several technological advances developed by him make it the most reliable, durable, practical instrument on the market. You can buy a cheaper harmonium in India from Paloma, Bina, or Delhi Musical Stores, but the manufacturing is rather inconsistent; you might get one with several keys out of tune or other funky issues. David personally checks each one he sells. http://www.ragamalapeti.com/
If you're registering for the Heart of Sound course in India, each year my Gurubhai Sudhanshu Sharma helps our students with a bulk order of harmoniums and tanpuras. He checks them all personally, too. Register for the Free Preparatory Course to get ready to come to India, and put your order in.