Saturday 23 February 2019

Correct Way to Pronounce OM GAM GANAPATAYE NAMAHA - Gam,Gan or Gang ?

'GAM' - the secret key to access Lord Ganesha's grace is widely used across the globe.

So,how do you actually pronounce it ? 






Let's look at the Vedic reference for this mantra. This mantra is explained in the Ganapati Upanishad of the Atharva Veda. This mantra is regarded as the secret knowledge of Ganesha worship. Ganapati Upanishad is also called ' Ganapati Atharva Shirsham'.

Upanishad refers to a portion of the Vedas that give the essence of Vedic truths-like a summary, sometimes through the representation of a particular deity.

Video: My Veda Class students reciting the Ganapati Upanishad, Sungai Petani, 2019

So let us take a look at the breakdown of the verses which appear in the Ganapati Upanishad, pertaining to the correct usage of this bija mantra:

gaNaadiiM puurvam-uchchaarya
varNaadiiM stada-nantaram
anusvaaraH (f) parataraH
taareNa r^iddham
etat-tava manusva-ruupam

gaNadiim = words that start with the sound 'ga' as in the example of 'gaNa'
puurvam = first
uchchaarya = uttered
varNadiim = colour ( description )
tat = that
anantaram = later
anusvaaraha = the sound 'mm' in the Vedic language
parataraha = later
ardha = half
indu = moon
lasitam = beautified 
taareNa = representing the power of taaraNa ( taking across )
r^iddham = enriched
etat = this
tava = your
manuhu = progenitor of mankind ( the ancestor of humans )
svaruupam = form

Meaning and commentary :

The sound 'ga' ( the first syllable of gaNa ) is uttered.This is followed by the first sound of the varNa ( the vowel 'A' ).It ends with the anusvaaraha ( the sound mm).Hence,the secret code that manifests the very cosmic form of Lord GaNapati is 'GAM'.

This is beautified by a half-moon.The sound OM is represented in the devanaagari script with a half-moon ( semicircle with a dot above )

This is the very form of Lord GaNapati.

The potential of creation ( represented by the creator-progenitor Manu ) is invoked here.

gakaaraH (f) puurva-ruupam
akaaro madhyama ruupam
naadaH sandhaanam
sa(gm)-hitaa sandhiH
saishhaa gaNesha-vidyaa
gaNaka R^ishhiH
OM gaM gaNapataye namaH

gakaaraha = the sound 'ga'
puurva ruupam = the form at the beginning
*Every sound has a form.Hence,the sound 'ga' itself is seen as the 'first form' of Lord GaNapati
akaaraha = the sound 'a'
madhyama ruupam = is the middle form
anusvaaraha = the sound 'mm'
cha = also
antya-ruupam = the ending form
binduhu = dot
uttara-ruupam = the form which is above ( uttara means north )
naadaha = sound
sandhaanam = the joining thread ( which joins these forms together )
samhita-sandhihi = samhita + sandhihi : the science of combining sounds
sa + eshha = that feminine form
gaNesha-vidyaa = the knowledge of gaNesha
gaNaka R^ishhiHi = the Rishi who heard this upanishhad as revealed from the cosmos is Sage GaNaka
nichR^it gaayatrii = this is the metre ( chhanda ) of this line of the verse
gaNapatir devata = the deity is gaNapati

Meanings and commentary :

Here,the very form of the sacred mantra is described.'GA' is the first sound form.'A'is the middle form.The anusvaara is the final sound form.The dot is the form which is above ( the anusvaara is represented as a dot only in the devanaagari script )

The anusvaara itself is bound to change in the way a group of words are pronounced ( anu = following svaara = vowel / sound  : after-sound )

The mm sound is nasalised in according to the consonant that follows it.For example,if the anusvaara ( mm ) is followed by a consonant 'ga',the anusvaara is pronounced as 'nga' ( which is the nasal sound of the velar group of consonants )

The last horizontal low you see in the diagram shows the nasal sounds for every consonant group.To quote an example :


This is because the mm in OM is followed by the consonant 'na'.Na comes under dental sounds.The nasal sound in the dental group is 'na'.Hence,the anusvaara is nasalised to 'na'.Hence,the recitation of ON NAMO...

This is referred to as the science of combining sounds.

The formulae Om gaM gaNapataye namaha is recited as Ong gang gaNapataye namaha when we apply the anusvaara sandhi.

This is the gaNesha vidya - the secret knowledge of gaNesha.

The Sage who received this Upanishhad is Sage gaNaka.

*The Vedas were NOT composed.They were downloaded from the cosmos in the form of sounds ( mantras ) which were heard by advanced beings.The being who heard and received this upanisshad is Sage gaNaka.

nichR^it gaayatrii is the metre

*Vedas were downloaded in the form of mantras which appear in a particular length ( a particular number of syllables and words ).This is why the language of the Vedas is referred to as Chhandobhashha ( chanda - length ).

In Simple words ...

Vedas were not composed by anyone.Vedas were dowloaded as reverberations of the cosmos which were heard and visualized by advanced beings ( rishis ).As they received these sounds,various knowledge endowed in tandem to it.The sage for Ganapati Upanishad ,as mentioned in the translations above , is Sage Ganaka.

So the basis of the Vedas are sounds.This is why they are to be recited and not merely read.

In terms of Vedic sounds,they are unique.The 'M' sound in Vedas is referred to as 'anusvara'.It has a great influence on pronunciation. There is something called 'sandhi rules'.

For example, let us look at the famous Mrtyunjaya mantra from Rig Veda :

Tryambakam yajamahe sugandhim....

If you look here, Tryambakam ends with 'M' - the anusvara.The next word starts with a ' Y ' sound ( yajamahe ). Whenever M is followed by Y - the pronunciation becomes something like ' YAIN '

 According to sandhi rules, this mantra is recited as :

' Tryambakain Yajamahe '

Video : Mrtyunjaya mantra chanted as 'Tryambakain Yajamahe' by Challakere Brothers - the manasika guru for many Veda aspirants around the world.

Similarly, when M is followed by other consonants, the pronunciation is modified. The 'GA' sound falls under a common group of consonants which includes sounds of  KA, KHA, GA, GHA and 'NGA'.All these sounds emerge from the same location of the oral cavity when pronounced ( guttural sounds ).The 'NGA' is known as anunaasika - nasal sound.

Image result for vedic system sounds

So, in the case of GAM GANAPATAYE - the Atharva Veda first describes it as beginning with 'G' followed by 'A' and ending with M' ( anusvara). So by default - it is 'GAM'.

However,we don't just recite 'GAM' ( unless you want to ).We say ' OM GAM GANAPATAYE NAMAHA '.
So GAM here is follow by a 'GA' in Ganapataye which is under the influence of the anusvara ( M sound )

Since the anunaasika in the consonant group which 'GA' falls into is 'NGA' - we change the pronunciation to : 


the 'M' in GAM is nasalised to 'NGA' - forming gaNGGAnapataye 


GAN is totally wrong. GAM can only become GAN if it is followed bý a consonant from the dental group of sounds, which is not the case in this mantra.


In a nutshell : 

The mantra by itself is 'GAM'.

But when you add 'GANAPATAYE' to it, it becomes GANG.

Ultimately, GAM or GANG - it still works. There are some who choose not to apply the sandhi rules and others who choose to.

Sandhi rules are not supposed to alter the effect of the mantra.

Video : Amalgamation of Sandhi and Non-Sandhi rules.A Rudra Yaaga where alternating recitation of Mrtyunjaya mantra is done.The priest recites without adhering to the sandhi while I use it.

You should also keep in mind that 'OM' itself is recited as 'ONG' in the mantra, because the anusvaara in OM is followed by a 'GA' in GANAPATAYE which follows it after.

Therefore, the most authentic way to pronounce this mantra, incorporating all the sandhi rules is as ONG GANG GANAPATAYE NAMAHA

If you do not get this article : Just stick to OM GAM GANAPATAYE NAMAHA

Let us thank Sage Ganaka who received this Upanishad and our ancients who passed on this knowledge through the recitation of the Vedas over the millennia. Some even claim that Sage Ganaka was Ganapati Himself in disguise!  


Benefits of reciting Ganapati Upanishad :



  1. So I can just use GANG GANAPATAYE NAMAHA ?

  2. Shalinee purple lover24 August 2019 at 05:21

    I read your attached article at the end about benefits of ganapathi upanishad.U wrote your experience - mindblowing

  3. Thank you. You have solved my doubt

  4. please write about gayatri mantra also.

  5. Thanks for this knowledge i was looking for this answer. Namaskaram

  6. Is it pronounced NamaH or NamaHA? Thanks in advance

  7. इतनी सटीक जानकारी के लिए बहुत आभार आपका।