Wikipedia:Naming conventions (Dharmic)

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In naming Dharmic-related topics and article titles, please follow these conventions.

Naming and Transliteration[edit]

This is a proposed standard for the transliteration of words, names and term derived from Indic languages to be used in Wikipedia articles on Hinduism or Hindu mythology, Ayyavazhi, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.

Transliterated terms from Sanskrit and Pāli should take advantage of Unicode diacritics; for example, "Nirvāṇa". These may be inserted directly into the edit window, as Unicode text (or, if necessary as HTML character references such as ā; this should be avoided if possible). A list of relevant characters is currently available at IAST. Several template-based shortcuts also exist for transliterations, but these are strongly deprecated. Use the template {{IAST}} to tag IAST transliterations,eg. {{IAST|[[Pāṇini]]}} appears as Pāṇini.


Each Dharmic article should be named according to its primary transliteration, if this can be clearly established. If a primary transliteration cannot be clearly established, then the article name should be written in either a formal transliteration or a simplified transliteration. The transliteration should be close to the form of the name or term used in the original language.

Informal transliterations should not be used for article titles, unless they can be justified as being the primary transliteration used in English. If a transliteration's status as primary cannot be justified or verified, then it should be corrected and replaced by a formal or simplified transliteration. A redirect should then be left in its place. Redirects should also be created for the more common alternative spelling forms.

Where alternative spellings or informal transliterations are in widespread use, a limited number of them should be listed at the top of the main article.

Each article should include the original name in Devanagari or other standard script of the original language in the first sentence. This should be followed by a formal transliteration. Whichever transliteration was used for the title (IAST, National Library at Calcutta romanization, or simplified system) should then be used consistently through the text of the article.

When more words of Sanskrit/original language are encountered in the rest of the article, it is recommended but not required to include a transliteration of the word in the original (eg., devanagari) script. Again, it is recommended but not required to add a phonetic transcription for the word(s) using IPA scheme within slashes. E.g., Krishna (कृष्ण, pronunciation: / krˌʂɳə /). The word in the (transliterated) Roman script should be without brackets (parentheses) as a part of the main sentence, and the devanagari (etc.) script and IPA equivalents should be within parentheses.

It is a general convention in written/typed English that all foreign words are written in italics. Hence it is recommended for Wikipedia too that the Roman script transliterations should be put into italics wherever they occur. Thus: Krishna is widely worshipped among the Hindus. (acceptable and recommended). They might be in boldface-italics combined as and when necessary. But it is not recommended to unnecessarily put these words into single or double quotation marks. Thus, neither “Krishna” nor ‘Krishna’ is recommended. The devanagari script and IPA equivalents should not be put in italics.

Terminology and definitions.[edit]

Dharmic article[edit]

For the purposes of this convention, a Dharmic article is a Wikipedia article on a topic related to Hinduism, Hindu mythology, Ayyavazhi, Buddhism, Jainism, and/or Sikhism, whose title is a transliteration of a word, name, or phrase that originated in one of the South Asian languages written in Brāhmī-derived scripts. The languages that use these scripts include Sanskrit, Pali, Kashmiri, Punjabi, Hindi, Nepali, Maithili, Gujarati, Assamese, Bengali, Oriya, Marathi, Konkani, Kannada, Telugu, Tulu, Tamil, Malayalam, Sinhala, Balinese. Examples of such words or names include Vishnu, dharma and its Pali equivalent, dhamma.

Primary transliteration[edit]

A word has a primary transliteration if at least 75% of all references in English use the same transliteration. Primary transliterations may sometimes be less accurate than other transliterations.

Formal transliteration[edit]

A formal transliteration is one that is written using the standardized IAST transliteration for Sanskrit, or by using the National_Library_at_Calcutta_romanization where appropriate for other languages. These systems use the Latin alphabet (the Roman script) with additional diacritic symbols. However, it is recommeded that unnecessarily, the pitch accent of (Vedic-) Sanskrit should not be marked on the words using the acute and the grave accent marks. If need be, a suitable message must be displayed before using the diacritics for the pitch accent.

Simplified transliteration[edit]

In Wikipedia, a simplified transliteration, which is based on the formal systems, may also be used. The simplified transliteration is derived from the formal transliteration into IAST notation, but with any diacritic marks omitted, so that only the ASCII characters of the 26 (52) letter Latin alphabet are used. However, certain symbols are treated differently:

1. All instances of the vowalic 'ṛ' (ऋ) would be written ri.

  • Krishna (कृष्ण), not Krsna (IAST Kṛṣṇa}
  • Rig (ऋग्) (veda), not Rg (IAST ṛg)

2. The two sibilants 'ṣ' (ष) and 'ś' (श) (both sometimes written sh, and sometimes s) are both to be always written sh in the simplified system, and not doubled if it is a double consonant. Thus

  • Shiva (शिव), not Siva (IAST Śiva)
  • Dushasana (दुश्शासन), not Dushshasana (Duśśāsana in IAST)

3. The palatal 'c' (च) of IAST is to be written ch. Hence, the aspirated 'ch' (छ) of IAST needs to be written as 'chh'.

  • Chandra (चन्द्र), not Candra
  • Chhatraketu (छत्रकेतु, son of Lakshmana), not Chatraketu

4. Capital letters (upper case) are necessary and sufficient for starting a proper noun. Thus, Shiva, and not shiva; but Gita or Gītā (गीता), and not gItA. Note that gItA is the ITRANS scheme of transliteration, which is not recommended here.

5. It is highly recommended that even for simplified transliteration, the diacritical marks and the dot below t and d should be used as and when appropriate.

  • The long bar above the vowels (called "macron") for ई, ऊ and आ : गीता — Gita (acceptable) or Gītā (acceptable and recommended).
  • The dot below t, d and n for the retroflex plosives ट, ठ, ड, ढ, ण : दण्ड — danda (acceptable) or daṇḍa (acceptable and recommended). This would help to distinguish these consonants from the dental consonants त, थ, द, ध, न (because they would be transcribed with t, d and n without dots below).
  • However, the ऋ (ṛ) and ष (ṣ) should be written without a dot below in Simplified transliteration scheme, as mentioned above. Thus, ऋषि — rishi (simplified), but not ṛiṣi.

6. In general, to write a Sanskrit singular noun, two methods are used for English transliteration:

  • Take the uninflected wordstem. E.g., Brahman (ब्रह्मन्—the wordstem of this neuter word), Soma (सोम—the wordstem of this masculine word).
  • Take the nominative case singular form of the properly declined noun. E.g. Brahmā (ब्रह्मा—the nominative singular of the masculine wordstem ब्रह्मन् Brahman), mātā (माता—the nominative singular of the feminine wordstem मातृ mātṛ).

The general convention in contemporary India is to use that one form of the above two which has become more popular in Hindi. For most of the cases, it will be the first (uninflected) form. However, for disambiguation, or popularity, the second (inflected) form may also be used for certain words. Both forms are acceptable in Wikipedia, but the recommendation is given as above.

7. In simplified scheme, it is recommended that all the nasal consonants, except the retroflex nasal consonant ṇ, be written as simple 'n'. Thus, ङ, ञ, अं, अँ, न must all be transcribed as n. The letter अं may alternatively be transcribed as m.

Informal transliterations[edit]

Informal transliterations are those based on the rules of modern English, which are sometimes inconsistent. Examples are the use of 'ee' to refer to the long 'i' (Geeta), 'oo' to represent the long 'u', (Roopa), 'u' to refer to the short 'a', (mutt), 'th' to refer to the dental unaspirated 't' (Thanjavur). They may also be based on regional forms of a word, or on forms in specific modern languages. In general, it is recommended not to use any informal transliteration.

Original language[edit]

The original language is the language used at the time that the name or term came into common use. Thus the original language will often be Sanskrit. However, it may be other languages, depending on context. For much Buddhist material, the original language would be Pāli, and for words specific to the south of India, it may be Tamil. For more recent hymns and devotionals, the original language is likely to be the modern vernaculars.


Here are some examples of IAST and simplified transliterations, for some names often spelt in distinct or idiosyncratic ways. Several of the following standardised forms have already been implemented:

  • Gauri (गौरी ) (IAST and simplified), not Gowri; standard spelling for the middle diphthong.
  • Bhīma (भीम ) (IAST) or Bhima (simplified), not Bheema, Bhim or Bheem. Similarly for all words in which the original Sanskrit name ended in 'a'. The use of the double 'ee' is inconsistent with the single 'e' and may be misinterpreted by non-speakers of English.
  • Bhūmi (भूमि ) (IAST) or Bhumi (simplified), not Bhoomi. As with 'ee'; the 'oo' may be misinterpreted.
  • Pārvatī (पार्वती ) (IAST) or Parvati (simplified), not Paarvati. While the double 'aa' is usually not misinterpreted, it should be avoided for consistency.
  • Lalita (ललिता) (IAST and simplified), not Lalitha; use of the 'th' for the unaspirated dental consonant 't' is incorrect here.
  • Daśaratha (दशरथ ) (IAST) or Dasharatha (simplified), not Dasaratha; as per proposed use of sh for the sibilant Ś. The 'th' here is the aspirated consonant and is correctly used.

However, in Standard Hindi, the ending 'a' of masculine nouns is dropped. Hence, if it is certain that the word in question is a Hindi word / context is Hindi, then the final 'a' od masculine nouns shall be dropped (this does not apply to the long vowel ā ! It has to be retained as it is). E.g., India : Hindi भारत = Bhārat (not Bhārata). But : ब्रह्मा = Brahmā, for the High-god of the Trinity; The dropping of the final 'a' in Hindi shall not be done if the word is a Sanskrit loanword and just preceding it is a consonantal cluster. E.g., Hindi राज्य = rājya (a state / province), but not rājy.

The plural, while writing in English, maybe formed by adding an 's' or an 'es' or an 'as'. E.g.:

  • Veda (वेद) (Masc. Singular) → Vedas (Masc. plural. Original plural in Sanskrit = Vedāh or Vedās ; in Sanskrit, the end-inflection in this case is -ās, but when the word is "finalized" with inflections, it changes into -āh with a dot beneath). No need to write the plural as "Vedās".
  • Brahmin (Anglicized) → Brahmins
  • Upanishad (उपनिषद्) (Simplified) → Upanishads
  • Angīras (अंगीरस् / अङ्गीरस्) (Masc. Sing.)→ Angīrasas

The possessive case for the nouns maybe formed by adding an apostrophe–s (’s or s’) to the word. Thus: the Veda’s philosophy. It is recommended to use the proper apostrophe symbol from the Insert Box below.

Existing primary transliterations[edit]

The following have been established as primary transliterations in English, and in Wikipedia.

  • ashram - (was āshrama in Sanskrit)
  • avatar - (original avatāra)

The formal transliteration may be correct in some articles, and should not be replaced with the primary transliteration in such contexts. For instance, if an article uses the Sanskrit forms for all other relevant words in it, then it may also be correct to use ashrama in that context rather than ashram.

For Buddhist articles, transliterations from Chinese should be in Pinyin, not Wade–Giles.

Links to outside resources[edit]

  • For Windows users who deal in devanagari and/or romanization on a regular basis, try Itranslator