Translated literally, Visarga means "to send out" or "to release". It creates a lingering sound after the vowel. It can be understood as an allophone of r, s or h and is, depending on context and school of pronunciation, pronounced variably between these sounds.

Pronunciation

Depending on the context, the Visarga is pronounced as a fricative with different places of articulation. Therefore he is often called as a placeholder for any fricative sound.

A characteristic pronunciation can be explained as follows:

Echo at the end of the sentence

At the end of a sentence, the Visarga is pronounced like a soft echo after the vowel.

  • usually, short vowels have a longer echo:
  • usually, long vowels have a shorter echo:
  • in the umlauts ai and au, only the second part has an echo:

Examples:

  • namaḥ (greeting) pronounced as nama- .
  • goḥ (cow) pronounced as gō-ho .
  • āśayaiḥ (remainder) pronounced as āśayai-hi .

Jihvāmūlīya in front of unvoiced guttural sounds (k, kh)

When an unvoiced guttural sound (k or kh) follows, the Visarga is pronounced as an only slightly audible guttural sound, the so-called Jihvāmūlīya. The German ch comes close to this sound (example: Da-ch-Kater).

Examples:

  • duḥkha (suffering) is pronounced as du-ch-kha.

Upadhmānīya in front of unvoiced labial sounds (p, ph)

When an unvoiced labial sound (p or ph) follows, the Visarga is pronounced as an only slightly audible labial aspirate, the so-called Upadhmānīya. The German fh or ph comes close to this sound (example: Dor-f-Platz).

Examples:

  • vṛttayaḥ pañcatayyaḥ (five types of waves) is pronounced as vṛttaya-fh-pañcatayya- .

Ūṣman in front of fricatives (ś, ṣ or s)

When a fricative (ś, ṣ or s) follows, the Visarga adapts to the following fricative, a phenomenon called Ūṣman.

Examples:

  • śantiḥ śantiḥ śantiḥ (peace, peace, peace) pronounced as śanti-ś-śanti-ś-śanti-hi .
  • niḥ-śreyase (total wellbeing) pronounced as ni-ś-śreyase.

(with the two fricatives being merged into one long fricative)

Further combination are resolved by the Sandhi

After application of the Sandhi rules, further combinations should not occur.

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