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When people recite Lord Shiva's name, they often do it in couplets, such as 'Shiva Shiva', 'Shiva Shiva', etc.

My question is:

What is the correct pronunciation: "Shiva" - or - "Siva"?

I know that sometimes you are to pronounce "sh" and sometimes you just say "si."

So what is the correct way to say it with regards to saying it in couplets like I described above?

Since proper pronunciation is so vital in Indian mantras, I want to make sure I pronounce it correctly.

  • 1
    It's Shiva in the original Sanskrit. In Tamil it's pronounced Siva, because Tamil doesn't have distinctions between certain consonants. – Keshav Srinivasan Apr 4 '16 at 4:35
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    While chanting mantras require perfect pronunciation, and it is good if you follow the same for Shiva nama, Shiva doesn't mind how you say it as long as you say his name. :) – Surya Apr 4 '16 at 4:57
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    Sanskrit has 3 "S" sounds. स (sa), श (sha) and ष (Sha with more emphasis of "h"). Same is case with other Indian languages. But i'm not sure about Tamil. See this page to listen pronounciation. GaNesha too has श . – The Destroyer Apr 4 '16 at 5:15
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    @GovindanGupta sometimes श is pronounced as स with tongue twisted at least in Telugu. The same way how Tamilians speaks L in word Tamizh. – The Destroyer Apr 4 '16 at 5:19
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    @GovindanGupta Probably couplets you refer are "Siva and Sivaa (long aa), His consort Shakti is called as Shivaa". Same is used in Bahubali Siva song in Tamil "Siva Sivaya Potri" which means Namaha or obeisance to Shiva and Shakti (Parvati). – The Destroyer Apr 4 '16 at 5:28
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As I discuss in my answer here, Shiva is the name taken from Samhita of Vedas.

Here is 4.5.8 of Taittariya Samhita stating the name Shiva. Taittariya Shiva Here is 16.49 of Vajasena Samhita stating the name Shiva. Vajasena Shiva As from above image

'शिव'

is used there.

ie,

is used. Which is pronounced as 'Sh'.

Hence the correct pronounciation is Shiva. Here 'a' is not long. If you pronounce with long 'a' ie. 'Shivaa' then it refers to consort of Shiva ie. Uma/Shakti.

However for the purpose of Devotional chanting, it doesn't matter whether you chant 'Shiva' or 'Siva' because in devotional chanting God sees our intention and devotion not our pronounciation.

For eg. Ramcharitmanas is a devotional masterpiece. There Tulsidas uses the name like 'Lakhan' for 'Laxmana', 'Siya' for 'Sita' and so on. Also in Hanuman Chalisa composed by Tulsidas:

Sukshma rupa dhari Siyahi dikhawa
(You showed your minute form to Sita
Laaye Sajivana Lakhana Jiyaye
(Bringing Sanjivani you Saved Lakshmana)

Thus pronounciation doesn't matter so much in devotional chanting. But it is better to pronounce in correct way. One needs extremely precise pronounciation while chanting Veda Samhitas only.

  • Why underscores are used in Devanagari and as far as i know only for Vedas these underscores are used? – The Destroyer Jun 17 '16 at 9:32
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    @The Destroyer Those images are from the Samhitas of Veda (ie. Sri Rudram)... while actually chanting they should be chanted by following this procedure... hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/9517/… – Tejaswee Jun 17 '16 at 10:06

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