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Sanskrit Chanting

I recently went to a chanting evening in a Yoga centre. The man leading the chanting got everyone to chant the mantra 'Om Namaha Shivaya'. Unfortunately he had no understanding of Sanskrit and the mantra had no power. He shortened 'Namaha' to 'Nama' which lost the aspirated 'ha' sound which takes the energy into the heart. He sang Shiva as 'Sheeva'. This is a very common mistake. In Sanskrit the short 'Sh' sound is produced by touching the tongue on the upper palate. The 'i' sound is a short vowel sound. The 'i' sound is similar to the word 'ink'. In Sanskrit the mantra is written 'Om Namah Sivaya' (see link for correct Sanskrit). This tells us that the first 'a' sound in Shivaya is a long 'a' sound as in 'eye' and the second 'a' sound is a short 'a' sound as in the vowel sound in 'cup'. Once we learn to sound these sounds correctly we will get the full power of the mantra.

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