I'm looking for resources on transliterating Sanskrit into Mandarin Chinese. Not necessarily just Buddhist terms, but a greater variety of Vedanta philosophy terms. (I have seen online, A Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms by Soothill.) I'm guessing that there is not a standardized system, but that certain terms have become standardized throughout history.

For example: ब्रह्मन् (Brahman (/brəhmən/)

Google translate gives: 婆罗门 (Póluómén) when attempting to translate the "Brahman", but I'm sure that is incorrect. I'm uncertain whether this particular term/concept is used in Buddhism (I know it's a Hindu concept), therefor I don't know if it would have been transliterated into 汉语.

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    For common terms, you might first try to visit the Wikipedia page, and find corresponding Chinese page, to see usually established rendition. The pronunciation or lexicon may seem strange to you because they were introduced very long ago. For example, 婆罗门 does not sound like Brahman now, but it really did in 1500 years ago. In fact, 梵 is the initial translation, for which no one can recognize the similarity now! Commented Dec 18, 2016 at 17:54
  • That's a great suggestion, @Aminopterin, thanks! I just tried this and it is a great method as it gives multiple translations and even more information. This suggestion plus the two answers mostly solves my question. 谢谢!
    – jdods
    Commented Dec 19, 2016 at 18:34
  • Also, @Aminopterin, that's a great point about the change over time of pronunciation. Do you have a reference for how 婆罗门 was historically pronounced, or any general resources for historical changes in Chinese pronunciation? My intuition is that Sanskrit pronunciation is relatively stable over time, so I assumed you were alluding to the Chinese pronunciation being different 1500 years ago.
    – jdods
    Commented Dec 19, 2016 at 20:19
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    Yesterday I did not make this an answer because I do not get reference around me. According to 上古音查詢 梵 = bloms and 婆羅門 = baal -- raal -- mɯɯn, both reasonably close to Brahman. Clearly the introduction of 婆羅門 was because pronunciation change made no longer recognized. Now we see the same situation that 婆羅門 cannot be recognized either nowadays. Interesting! Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 5:04
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    Any 音韻學 (= close, but not same as "phonology") book will relate the story how sound changes over 3000 years, but might be difficult to assimilate as a pure beginner. I am not relevant background either. If you live in US or Europe, I don't know how to get such sources, but you might try to search relevant terms and start from Wikipedia reference section. Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 5:08

2 Answers 2


The term, 婆羅門, has been used in China for at least 1500 years.

OLDict lists a few dictionaries. All of them transliterate "Brahman" as "婆羅門".


Digital Dictionary of Buddhism

漢藏梵英佛學術語 (pdf format)

梵漢辭典 Digital Dictionary of Buddhism

There are some Sanskrit-Chinese translations in 《大正藏》54, which can be downloaded in the pdf format. The script of Sanskrit is the Siddham (悉曇體), not the Devanagari (天城體).

《梵語千字文》(1卷)【唐 義淨撰】
《唐梵文字》(1卷)【唐 全真集】
《梵語雜名》(1卷)【唐 禮言集】
《唐梵兩語雙對集》(1卷)【唐 僧怛多蘗多.波羅瞿那彌捨沙集】


《梵漢大辭典》 嘉豐出版社
《梵漢對譯佛教辭典:翻譯名義大集》 新文豐出版公司
《簡明佛教梵英辭典》 長春樹出版社
《基本漢藏梵英佛學術語》 慧炬出版社
《佛學名詞中英巴梵彙集》 慧炬出版社
Language:TC (正體中文)

  • Thank you. This is most helpful! I'm also interested in how one might go about aiding a Chinese speaker in pronunciation of Sanskrit terms.
    – jdods
    Commented Dec 17, 2016 at 22:31
  • I am familiar with Sanskrit but a novice in Chinese. I have found 林光明的梵文汉语大辭典 and will look at it. Thank you!
    – jdods
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 0:58

This looks like a pretty extensive resource on the subject:

A Handful of Leaves: A Buddhist Chinese Sanskrit Dictionary

By the way, it does list 婆羅門 as Brahman on page 365.

Too bad it's not digitized, and that it only goes Chinese-Sanskrit.


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