Pronouncing Yogananda’s first name


How do you pronounce Yogananda's first name? On what syllable is the emphasis? Thank you.

—J.L.H., US


I’m not sure whether you’re asking about “Mukunda,” which was Yogananda’s first name given at birth, or “Paramhansa,” which is a title—not a name—given him much later by his guru. (“Paramhansa” means “supreme swan,” and is bestowed upon one who has reached the highest level of realization.)

“Mukunda” is pronounced “Moo koon dah,” with, if I understand correctly, no syallable accented.

As for “Paramhansa,” there are many answers to your question, depending on which language you want to use. For example, the Bengali pronunciation (Yogananda was from Bengal) is rather different from the Modern Sanskrit pronunciation, which is in turn rather different from Ancient Sanskrit.

For simplicity, here’s how Yogananda himself pronounced it in the U.S. (altered from the Bengali, no doubt for the convenience of American tongues!):

Pah rahm hahn sah

There’s no accented syllable. That’s right: four syllables, even though Modern Sanskrit scholars usually put five syllables in the word, spelling it “Paramahansa.” But Yoganandaji knew Sanskrit, and he himself spelled it and pronounced it as above, without that middle “a,” which was added (even to his signature) after his passing by the organization he founded.