I have been reading some of the Upanishads in Bengali/English translation. Some of these translations also have the original Sanskrit (Bengali/Devanagari script).

I noticed that the English transliteration use the term "Brahman" instead of "Brahma" for ব্রহ্ম or ब्रह्म. Why has the extra "n" been added to "Brahma" and when did that usage start?

  • ब्रह्मा- Brahma, ब्रह्म- Brahman..I think this is due to transliteration schemes..pew people use Brahmaa/BrahmA/Brahmà for ब्रह्मा and Brahma for ब्रह्म...
    – YDS
    Aug 12, 2020 at 0:48
  • There are 2 beings - BrahmA (4-faced Creator) and Brahmam or Brahman (Supreme Being/Bhagavan/Paramatma) from whom BrahmA is created.
    – ram
    Aug 12, 2020 at 1:03
  • 2
    See the original root word for both is ब्रह्मन्, when expressed in the neuter gender becomes ब्रह्म (like नामन् becomes नाम -name) and in the masculine when used for Brahmaji becomes ब्रह्मा (like महिमन् becomes महिमा). English lacks a separate letter for अ and आ and hence we have this situation. In any of the other vikbhaktis we would have the presence of the न like ब्रह्मणे, ब्रह्मणः for both the masculine and the neuter
    – Adiyarkku
    Aug 12, 2020 at 3:15
  • 3
    Sanskrit neutral gender is referred to in English as Brahma or Brahman - which refers to the Supreme Existence. Sanskrit masculine gender is referred to in English as Brahmā (with the diacritical mark above the ending a) - refers to the creator aspect of the Godhead. There is no one way agreed upon universally on how to write Sanskrit in English. For practicality and ease of understanding, most translators use Brahman and Brahma. Aug 12, 2020 at 6:47
  • 2
    The confusion began in the early days of colonial-era Indologists, who did not know enough about Sanskrit grammar. That has continued to this day in English translations. ब्रह्म the supreme spirit is neuter gender like कर्म, वर्म, etc. That is the case ending, it is not a prAtipadikam. But it is written as Brahman. ब्रह्मा the creator god is masculine gender like आत्मा, they are both नकारान्त पुंलिंग words, ie. their prAtipadikams are ब्रह्मन् & आत्मन्, but in English they are written as Brahmā and Atman (correct). I guess it was to distinguish between the two without the macron over 'a'.
    – RamAbloh
    Aug 15, 2020 at 3:12


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