[Advaita-l] 'khsha' kAra in yajurveda saMhita maNtra-s

Anand Hudli anandhudli at hotmail.com
Fri Aug 30 02:05:32 CDT 2013

There seems to be a basic pronunciation problem relating to the
pronunciation of "sha"  and "Sha" at the root of Shri Bhaskar's question.
Let me explain. The first 25 consonants ka through ma are called sparsha.
These 25 consonants are further divided into 5 groups of 5 each based on
the the mouth position, namely the guttarals (kaNThya), palatals (tAlavya),
cerebrals (mUrdhanya), dentals (dantya), and labials (oShThya). For
example, the ka-varga (of 5 consonants consisting of ka, kha, etc.) is
called kaNthya because it is governed by the taittirIya prAtishAkhya rule
-  hanUmUlena jihvAmUlena kavarge sparshayati (2.35). In producing the
ka-varga sounds, one causes the contact between the root of the jaw and the
root of the tongue. This place where the sounds are generated corresponds
to the back of mouth where it meets the throat. The ca-varga is called
tAlavya because of the rule- tAlau jihvAmadhyena cavarge (2.36). In this
case, the middle of the tongue makes contact with the palate. The Ta-varga
is called mUrdhanya because of the rule - jihvAgreNa pariveShTya mUrdhani
Tavarge (2.37). Here, the sound is produced in the cerebrum while the
tongue is rolled back and turning upwards. The next rule jihvAgreNa tavarge
dantamUleShu (2.38) specifies that the ta-varga sounds are produced by the
tip of the tongue in contact with the base of the teeth, and hence the name
dentals (dantya). Finally, the rule oShThAbhyAM pavarge (2.39) shows that
the pa-varga sounds are produced by the lips, and hence the name labials

What about the semivowels (ya, ra, la, va) and sibilants, sha, Sha, sa, and
the aspirate h? The semivowels, ya, ra, la and va (antasthAH) have special
rules in the taittirIya prAtishAkhya although they are usually classified
respectively under the palatals, cerebrals, dentals, and labials. The
sibilants sha, Sha, sa, and the aspirate ha, as well as two other letters
called the jihvAmUlIya and upadhmAnIya are together called UShmANaH. The
taittirIya prAtishAkhya does not give special rules for the production of
sounds of these letters but specifies that the same rules as for the five
classes above apply.

The relevant rules are sparshasthAneShUShmANa AnupUrvyeNa (2.44) and the
following rule 2.45 karaNamadhyaM tu vivRtam. The sounds for the UShmANa
letters are, in order, produced using the respective rule for the sparsha
letters but the organs of production of sound are open (vivRta). . This
means "sha" is produced in a manner similar to the palatals (cha-varga)
while "Sha" is produced in a manner similar to the cerebrals (Ta-varga).
However, in producing the "sha" and "Sha" sounds the mouth is more open.
Both "sha" and "Sha" are hissing sounds, caused by the vocal stream of
breath passing through the teeth. If correctly pronounced "sha" sounds like
the sh sound in "sure" or "sugar, whereas "Sha" sounds like the sh sound in
"dish". Clearly, "sha" and "Sha" sounds are produced in different parts of
the mouth. Finally, the "ha" sound is produced in the throat by the rule
kaNThasthAnau hakAravisarjanIyau (2.46).

What is important to note is that "sha" and "Sha" sounds are different,
since the originating places of their sounds are different. "sha" and "Sha"
have to be pronounced differently. However, the unfortunate situation is
that "Sha" is incorrectly pronounced by many as "sha" while chanting Vedic
and other mantras and in spoken Sanskrit, as well as in other Indian
languages. For example, it is common to hear "dosha" instead of the correct
form "doSha", "ushA" instead of the correct form "uShA", "shaShTi" instead
of the correct form "ShaShTi", etc.

As far as the pronounciation of "kSha" is concerned, we must note that it
can be correctly pronounced if the "Sha" sound is correctly produced! If
that is the case, "kSha" will sound only like "khSha". There is no other
way to pronounce it. Since the sibilant "Sha" is a aspirated, i.e a
mahAprANa sound and also open, it combines with the preceding "k" sound,
producing the aspirated "kh" rather than "k".


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