Pronunciation and Phonetics

Learning proper pronunciation can be done without much knowledge of phonetics, actually. A basic knowledge, however, helps to make pronunciation clearer and thus facilitates the process of learning how to speak a foreign language properly.

eAmbalam introduces a phonetic chart which is based on Dhevanagari script. The sounds of vowels and consonants and other speech sounds in Sanskrit and the languages which have completely or mostly borrowed from it can be covered with the help of the chart. A few other sounds common to some languages in this group and outside are also put in. Unique sounds of some languages are specified too.

Diacritical marks are used to aid perfect pronunciation. World over, these marks have been created and propagated by scholars to make understanding of the differences in speech sounds in different languages better. Team eAmbalam also has created a phonetic chart which helps even first timers to pronounce words accurately.

Our Phonetic chart is unique, comprehensive, learner friendly and is divided into four columns wherein:
  • In the first column, the letter is written with the associated diacritical mark.
  • In the second column, an example is given in Dhevanagari language containing the letter.
  • In the third column, an example is given in English, which contains the sound closes to the letter or instructions in few cases, to facilitate better understanding.
  • In the fourth column, an audio button is placed with the help of which you can hear the actual pronunciation of the letter.
An open minded approach with the above introduction and guidelines will definitely enable the user to understand the speech sounds of any language and pronounce it like a native, which is eAmbalam’s aim in this exercise.

Syllable Usage in Sanskrit Usage in English
A or a Aḍavu Arise
Ā or ā Ānanda Vast
I or i Indhira Sing
Ī or ī Īśha Meal
U or u U ṣhā Good
Ū or ū Ū rdhhva Boost
R or r Riṣh i Try
Ṛ or ṛ Ni ṛ uti Grr!
Lr or lr   Pronounce L and R together.
E or e Eka Ate
AI or ai Aikya Sight
O or o Ojas Robe
AU or au Audh ā rya Now
A M or am Śhiva m Drum
A HA or aha R ā ma ha Aha!
Syllable Usage in Sanskrit Usage in English

Syllable Usage in Sanskrit Usage in English
KA or ka Kavi Car
KHA or kha Khalu Mark -Him
GA or ga Gamana Gut
GHA or gha Ghata Ugh!
Ṅ A or ṅa Tura ṅ ga Ring
CHA or ca Chakra Chart
CHHA or cha Chhandas Branch
JA or ja Jagath Jug
JHA or jha Jhallari Fudge
NYA or nya Gnyana Knew
Ṭ A or ṭ Ṭ anka Top
ṬHA or ṭha Pāṭha Pothole
ḌA or da Ḍ amaruka Dog
Ḍ HA or ḍ ha Mūḍ ha Madhouse
Ṇ A or ṇ a Ga ṇ a Wander
THA or tha Thanu Health
THHA or thha Athha Theater
DHA or dha Dha śha This
DHHA or dhha Dhhana m Dha with an additional H sound
NA or na Namask ā raha Nut
PA or pa   Path ā ka Past
PHA or pha Phala m P with a H sound
BA or ba Bandhhu Ball
BHA or bha Bhadra Abhor
MA or ma Manas Money
YA or ya Yama Yummy
RA or ra Rajas Rub
LA or la Lath ā Lust
VA or WA, va /wa A śh va or A śhwa Water/Valour
ŚHA or śha Śhakthi Shutter
ṢHA or ṣ ha Ṣh a ṇ mukha Shunt
SA or sa Sarasvatī Sun
HA or ha Hari Hum
Ḷ A or ḷ a Ar āḷ a Bold
KṢHA or k ṣ ha Ak ṣh i Try to pronounce Ka, Sa & Ha – all at one time.
Extra Vowels in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada & Malayalam Scripts    
É or é Éṇi Angel
Ō or ō Ō m Ō M
ZHA Exclusive to Tamil & Malayalam Fold the tip of your tongue backwards and try to pronounce it with the aid of the audio button.
Syllable Usage in Sanskrit Usage in English


Introduction to the Vedas, Darshanas, Sutras and Sage Patanjali

  • Vedhas emanated from god as revealed directly to various Ṛṣhis. They were put together by Vedha Vyāsa and that is how we have them today. Vedhas comes from the word ‘vidhu’ meaning ‘to know’. Each Vedha has a meter, a Ṛṣhi associated with it and a presiding Devathā.
  • While Jainism believed in heaven but not God, Vedhic teaching believed in the ‘ultimate’. Those who believe in Vedhic teaching are called Āsthikas and those who do not Nāsthikas .
  • Vedhas have two parts namely Gnyāna and Karma i.e. knowledge and action or precept and ritual.
  • At the same time, there was the school of Chāruvāka (also pronounced Chārvāka) which claimed that there was ‘nothing before and nothing after’. His school highlighted the absurdity of the Vedhas by the story of a horse sacrifice where the priests expounded that whilst the sacrificial horse would go straight to heaven, those that caused the sacrifice would benefit on earth. Chārvāka asked why those that cause the sacrifice should not themselves jump into the sacrificial fire and go straight to heaven instead of languishing on this earth!
  • Commentaries on the Vedhas were called Darśhana and consist of the following:
    • ‘Nyāya’ or logic
    • ‘Vaiśheṣhika’ or ‘how to prove’
    • ‘Samkhya’ or ‘to know very well’
    • ‘Yoga’
    • ‘Pūrva mīmānsa’ or ‘rituals’
    • ‘Vedhāntha’ meaning ‘after, end or essence of the Vedhas’
  • Any man made text (to differentiate from the Vedhas from God) followed the structure given below:
    • ‘Pūrvapakṣha’ or ‘statement of issue’.
    • Khhaṇḍanam’ or ‘criticism of the issue’
    • Siddhāntha’ or ‘the correct view’, and
    • ‘Uttharapakṣha’ or conclusion
  • Next came the ‘Sūthras’:
  • Sūthras are characterized by a short form (like power point presentations!), less importance to verbs or grammar and, most importantly, required to be explained by a preceptor.
  • Sūthras are discontinuous sometimes.
  • Sūthra also means a garland of beads where the beads reveal the thread, and the thread in turn, represents continuity of the idea.
  • Sūthra also means direction.
  • The six rules for Sūthras are:
    • Economy of words (with no unnecessary words)
    • Direction should be very clear
    • Essence (i.e. no frills)
    • Universal in application or ‘viśhwathomukhham’ i.e. manifold faces
    • Capable of being proved (i.e. no poetic freedom)
    • No criticism of another point of view but strictly confined to stating only your chosen point of view
  • Sage Pathanjali is the author of the Yoga Sūthras. The story of this sage is as follows:
      • When the world was in turmoil and people prayed to Lord Viṣhṇu, he decided to send Ādhi Śheṣha down to earth to assess the situation.
      • Ādhi Śheṣha took the form of a human up to the shoulder and a snake with a thousand hoods above, and fell into a devotee’s hands held in supplication. His hoods were white and he held a ‘Śhankhha’, ‘Chakra’ and a knife in three of his four hands.
      • Therefore the name Pathanjali where ‘Path’ means to fall into and ‘Anjali’ refers to the mudhrā of supplication
  • Pathanjali found three ailments namely of health, speech and the mind. He prescribed Ayur Vedha for health, Grammar for speech and Yoga for the mind.
  • The story about the Yoga Sūthras goes that:
      • Pathanjali offered to teach the Yoga Sūthras to one thousand students at the same time. But on one condition, that there would be a cloth screen separating him from the students and that no one should attempt to look at him or leave without permission.
      • After the class began, with each student being taught differently by each of Pathanjali’s 1000 heads, one student walked away bored. Another got curious about the person behind the screen and one emboldened to lower the screen, only to have himself and all other cohorts destroyed!
      • Pathanjali then went in search of the one student who had walked away to fetch him and instructed the Yoga Sūthras to a very reluctant student.
      • That is how we have the Yoga Sūthras today!
  • The Yoga Sūthra text has 195 Sūthras divided over 4 chapters.


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