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Transcription Style Guide
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Transcription Style Guide

in Sahaja Yoga

an art - not science


1. Capitalization – some general guidelines

2. Sahaj Dictionary – Spelling and Capitalization 

click individual letters to jump

A  B  C  D  E  F  G

H  I   J  K  L  M  N  O

P  Q  R  S  T  V  W  Y  Z

3. Grammar and punctuation 

click individual letters to jump

A  B  C  D  E  F  H

M  N  P  Q  S  T  U  Y

4. When editing text intended for non-yogis

5. Variations used in the Divine Cool Breeze

6. Other sources

 1. Capitalization – some general guidelines


Sahaja yogis tend to overuse capitals, capitalizing words to give emphasis to them; for example, Absolute Truth. However, when laid out in text, the overcapitalization looks clumsy. Too many capitals result in text that appears overly flowery, not easy on the eye, hence unpleasant to read.


Truth, power, love, and other similar words should only be in caps when used to mean God; for example, divine Power.



Divine - if used as an adjective, don't capitalize. If it is used God, then capitalize.  So, “divine Love,” “desire of the Divine.”  

The names of the chakras (including Heart) are capitalized as well as Kundalini.

The Spirit, atma, is capitalized to distinguish it from “spirit”, alcohol and dead soul.


She, Her, etc. when referring to Shri Mataji and words that stand in for the name of God, such as "the Divine." But when editing text intended for non yogis, do not capitalize them.

usness would all be in caps for one couldn't in this circumstance have divine in lower case.


Sahaja  - if used as an adjective meaning spontaneous, do not capitalize.  But, f it is a proper word, as Sahaja Yoga, it is capitalized.

Do not capitalize common words as “ love” or “dharma”, or “atma”, etc.


2. Sahaj Dictionary – Spelling and Capitalization

The list is here:

See also SY Encyclopedia



3. Grammar and punctuation


Abbreviations – We use periods in abbreviations when the letters stand for separate words.  For instance, F.C.C., I.B.M.

               When letters within a single word are extracted for use in an abbreviation, we capitalize them without periods:  DDT, TV, TB.

               Periods are used in names like “Sir C.P.” (note that there is no space between the abbreviated names).

Aeroplane – This is a British variant of airplane.  When Shri Mataji pronounces the word as aer-o-plane, we use the British spelling.

Affect, effect – The verb affect means to influence or change (our enlightened attention can affect the outcome of events), stir emotions (Her motherly love affected the yogis) or feign (he affected an English accent).

               The verb “effect” means to accomplish or carry out (they effected changes in the rules).

               The noun that is most often used is effect, meaning a result or a consequence (one effect of meditation is a feeling of inner peace).

AIDS – the acronym for acquired immune deficiency syndrome.  With acronyms, we omit the periods.

All right – (never alright)

A lot – A lot (meaning many) is the standard spelling.

Ampersand (&) – We do not substitute & for and in our transcriptions.

And – Years ago teachers insisted that it was improper to begin a sentence with “and,” but this idea is now outmoded.  If Shri Mataji begins what sounds to the transcriber as a new sentence with the word “and,” do not try to continue the prior sentence simply to avoid beginning a new sentence with “and.”   These days,  beginning a sentence with “And”  is considered proper usage.

Any – Most compounds words formed with any are one word:  anybody, anyhow, anywhere.

anymore (the adverb)  - any more (something additional)

anyone (pronoun) – any one (if the emphasis is on singling out an individual in a group.  For example:  Any one of them may win the prize.)

any way (in any manner) – anyway (in any event)

Apostrophe - We use the apostrophe to create the possessive form of a noun (man’s) and to indicate a contraction or omission of letters or numerals (it’s for it is, ’07 for 2007)

We use the apostrophe for plurals formed from letters or numerals (p’s and q’s, B 52’s, TV’s, DVD’s

We form the singular possessive with ‘s (boy’s nose) and the plural with s’ (girls’ hats)

For a plural that does not end in s (women, children), the possessive is formed with ’s (women’s, children’s)

Almost all singular words ending in s require a second s as well as the apostrophe to form the possessive (James’s, Chris’s)

Aside comments – We do not add our comments such as “Shri Mataji laughs” to the transcription.  These comments can be distracting and are not necessary.

Awhile, a while – They plan to stay for a while.  They plan to stay awhile.


black – Lowercase this racial designation and all others derived from skin color (white, brown, yellow, red).

But – As is the case with “and,” the idea that it is improper to begin a sentence with “but” is now outmoded.  It is perfectly acceptable to begin a sentence with “but.”


Capitalization - The following are some general guidelines regarding capitalization.  In addition, please refer to the accompanying Capitalization Style List for specifics:

We capitalize Self Realization and Realization (when referring to Kundalini awakening).  However when the term is used as an adjective (self-realized), we do not capitalize.  We do not hyphenate Self Realization, yet we hyphenate self-realized.  Example:  He received his Self Realization from Shri Mataji and he is now a self-realized Sahaja Yogi.

We capitalize the names of God, specific deities, religious figures, and holy books.  For example:  the Bible, the Koran, Shri Jesus, Shri Shiva, Shri Buddha.

Exception: We do not capitalize the non-specific use of the word "god." Example:  The word “polytheistic” means the worship of more than one god.

We capitalize pronouns referring to a deity, incarnation or other divine entity.  Example:  Shri Mataji has told us that She has taken us inside Her body, so She feels whatever we feel.

Exception:  When incarnations, deities, angels are referred to in general, the nouns and pronouns referring to them are not capitalized.

Examples:   “All the deities are ready to help you.”

“Angels are sure about themselves.”

                     We capitalize all pronouns referring to Shri Mataji (and deities, incarnations)  including You (when Shri Mataji is telling us what someone said to Her) She, Her, My, Mine, Me (when Shri Mataji is referring to Herself).  We also capitalize phrases such as “Shri Mataji’s Feet.”

                       We capitalize the proper names of the chakras -  Heart Chakra, Vishuddhi Chakra, Agnya, etc.  But we do not capitalize the word “chakra” when referring to chakras in general.

                               We capitalize the words Kundalini and Paramachaitanya.  We also capitalize pronouns referring to the Kundalini and the Paramachitanya.

         We capitalize the word “Puja” when we are referring to a specific puja.

               Example:  Today we are going to do Shri Ganesha Puja.

 We capitalize the word “Spirit” when referring to the Divine Spirit as opposed to the mundane spirit, supernatural spirits or alcoholic spirits.

We capitalize the term “Sahaja Yogis.”  Example:  Shri Mataji has blessed the Sahaja Yogis.  But we do not capitalize “yogis” in this example:  The yogis waited at the airport for Shri Mataji.

We do not capitalize words like “love,” “truth,” “reality,” “grace.”

Comma - Some transcribers overuse commas in their transcriptions.  The result in some cases is an unnecessary and sometimes annoying interruption of the flow of Shri Mataji’s words.  Commas are intended to help clarify the written material for the reader, but overuse of commas can have the opposite effect.        

Here is an example of the overuse of commas:

So, we have two chakras, left side, here, is the Lalita, and right side, here, is the Shree Chakra. These two chakras are working out the right side, Mahasaraswati's power, and left side, Mahakali's powers.

The passage reads more smoothly with fewer commas:

So we have two chakras.  Left side, here, is the Lalita and right side, here, is the Shree Chakra. These two chakras are working out the right side Mahasaraswati's power and left side Mahakali's powers.

Most modern North American style guides now recommend using fewer commas rather than more.

One of the keys to understanding how to use commas effectively is knowing when not to use them. While this decision is sometimes a matter of personal preference, there are certain instances when you should definitely avoid a comma.  Here are some of the most common:

[Incorrect] Pre-registering for the seminar before September 15, will ensure you a space in the hotel.

[Correct] Pre-registering for the seminar before September 15 will ensure you a space in the hotel.

[Incorrect]Yogis are advised to bring, a sleeping bag, a flashlight, warm clothes and a Sahaja Yoga songbook with them to the seminar.

[Correct] Yogis are advised to bring a sleeping bag, a flashlight, warm clothes and a Sahaja Yoga songbook with them to the seminar.

[Incorrect] Sleet and freezing rain fell heavily on the roof of the pendal but, the yogis were enjoying the bhajan session and paid no attention to the storm.

[Correct] Sleet and freezing rain fell heavily on the roof of the pendal, but the yogis were enjoying the bhajan session and paid no attention to the storm.

[Incorrect] After raising our Kundalinis, we put ourselves in bandhan.

[Correct] After raising our Kundalinis we put ourselves in bandhan.

[Incorrect] The fingers, on his left hand, were tingling much more than those on his right.

[Correct] The fingers on his left hand were tingling much more than those on his right.

[Incorrect] The puja chest contains, three silk cloths, a container of vibrated kum kum, a bottle of rose water, and a box of incense.

[Correct] The puja chest contains three silk cloths, a container of vibrated kum kum, a bottle of rose water and a box of incense.

Introductory elements often require a comma, but not always. We use commas in the following cases:

·        After an introductory clause. (Does the introductory element have a subject and verb of its own?)

·        After a long introductory prepositional phrase or more than one introductory prepositional phrase. (Are there more than five words before the main clause?)

·        If there is a distinct pause. (When you read the sentence aloud, do you find your voice pausing a moment after the introductory element?)

·        To avoid confusion. (Might a reader have to read the sentence more than once to make sense of it?)

Communism – Capitalize only when referring to the Communist Party movement.  Lowercase in references to the philosophy:  “Many people believed communism would bring about equality.”

Compound words – Some compound words require a hyphen; others do not.  When in doubt it is best to consult a dictionary.   In general, a compound word that would be hard to decipher at a glance should be hyphenated rather than stringing the two words together.  Examples:  “He started to compile a to-do list.”  “She had a deep-rooted fear of heights.”

Contractions – We transcribe exactly what Shri Mataji says in Her talks.  If She uses a contraction, “I’ve been to Russia,” we transcribe the contraction “I’ve.”  We do not transcribe it as “I have.”


Dashes and Hyphens – A long dash (or “em-dash”) separates and has a space on each side, a short dash (or “en-dash”) is a hyphen and connects (see  section on hyphens).

We use the dash to mark a sudden break in thought or to set off an explanatory phrase that is very abrupt or has a number of commas in it.


1)  The price of gas has gone sky high – but you already know that.

2)  So it is said that in this triangular bone of Maharashtra – because it is surrounded by, on all three sides, by mountains, and the plateau is in the center so the all the three sides make a nice triangle – is the Kundalini of the whole universe, of the whole world, is expressed by Mother Earth in Maharashtra.

The dash is often misused for the comma.  For instance, this sentence illustrates misuse of the dash:  “Shri Krishna – Who is the Deity of the Vishuddhi – has a melodious voice.

A sentence with more than two dashes is confusing for the reader.

Deity – We capitalize terms that refer to the Divine like God, Holy Spirit, Supreme Being and the names of deities.

We capitalize personal pronouns referring to a deity (She, Her, Hers; also My, Mine, Me when Shri Mataji refers to Herself).  We also capitalize the relative pronouns (who, whom, whose, etc.)

DNA – We do not use periods for this common abbreviation.

Dialogue (conversation) -  Many times as Shri Mataji relates a story, She makes it come alive with dialogue - directly quoted speech of two or more person having a conversation.  To make dialogue easier for the reader, it is standard practice to write each person’s speech, no matter how short, in a separate paragraph.  For instance:

And a lady came to Me and she said, “We are refugees, we have no place to go.  And, will You be able to give me some place in Your house?”

I said, “All right.”  It was a huge house of My father.  I said, “It is such a big house.  And, we have space outside which you can use, and also you can have a kitchen there and a bathroom.  You can stay there.”

She said, “We have a friend and my husband.  Can we stay here?”

I said, “That’s all right.”

Please see section on quotation marks.


Each other – We transcribe “each other” as two words.

Earth, moon, sun  -  The words to denote our moon and our sun can be either proper nouns or common nouns depending on context. When you speak about the planet, you capitalize. Examples: Shri Mataji refers to Mother Earth.

The moon orbiting Earth is called The Moon.

There is too much sun.

East – Capitalize when Shri Mataji is referring to Asia and to the countries that were once part of the Communist bloc.

Eastern – Capitalize when referring to the eastern region of the United States, to Asia or to the countries that were once part of the Communist bloc.

Ellipsis – This symbol (...) is used to indicate an omission of one or more words.  Especially in dialogue, the ellipsis mark indicates a pause or a deliberately unfinished statement.

An ellipsis has a space on either side. If it comes at the end of a sentence, there is no space after it, thus there are four dots, the fourth one being the period.

Enamored – not enamoured

Especially – Shri Mataji usually pronounces the word “specially.” Therefore, we transcribe it as “specially.”

ESP – We do not use periods with this abbreviation.

Exclamation point – This punctuation mark is used to express strong emotion.  When overused, the exclamation point loses impact.

To avoid overuse of the exclamation point, we use a comma after mild interjections, and end mildly exclamatory sentences and mild imperatives with a period.  Examples:  “Oh, what a wonderful concert.”  “I want you to leave now.”

We do not use a comma or a period after an exclamation point.


Formatting - Please break up your transcript into paragraphs and place two spaces in between paragraphs.  This means that when you have finished a paragraph and are moving on to the next paragraph you will be hitting the “Enter” key three times.

For ease of reading, we avoid excessively long paragraphs where possible.

We number the pages of our transcriptions using the “Insert” function on the toolbar.


Handmade – this compound word does not require a hyphen.

hell – Lowercase

Housewife – is one word

Hyphens and Dashes - A long dash (or “em-dash”) separates and has a space on each side, a short dash (or “en-dash”) is a hyphen and connects.

We use the hyphen in constructions like three-mile hike and  pay-as-you-go plan, and to avoid confusion in words like re-form (meaning form again).  We do not use hyphens in compound modifiers when the meaning is clear without them.

Italics – With the exception of words that are commonly used in Sahaja Yoga, we italicize Sanskrit and other Indian words.  Mainstream words and terms familiar to most of us such as kundalini, chakra, dharma, guru, havan and mantra are not italicized.

We do not italicize proper names of deities, people and places.

Italics are used for titles of books, movies, newspapers, etc.

Its, it’s – Its is the possessive form of it (meaning of it).  Example:  The town got its name from a famous Civil War hero.

The contraction it’s means it is.  Example:  Oh, it’s a beautiful day today!


Italics - Italics may also be used to set off words in these cases.

Example: The words "effect" and "affect" are often confused.

But they should not be used to emphasize a word in Shri Mataji’s talks, because they express an opinion.

You can use italics or quotation marks for a foreign word, if the word is largely unfamiliar. Both are correct. If the word is going to be used frequently in the text, then it need be italicized or quoted only the first time it is introduced.


Maneuver – is the US English spelling, not manoeuver

Man-made – this compound word requires a hyphen.

May God bless you – We do not capitalize the first letter of the word “bless.”

Mohammed Sahib - Shri Mataji often speaks of Mohammed Sahib, one of the ten Primordial Masters.


Numbers – In general, we spell out numbers that can be expressed in one word or two.  We use figures for other numbers.  Examples:  1) There are seven major chakras and three major nadis.  2) Shri Jesus Christ incarnated two thousand years after Shri Krishna 3) There are 365 days in a year.

               We use hyphens when we write out numbers used as adjectives.  Examples:  1) She had been practicing Sahaja Yoga for three-and-a-half years.  2)   They took a three-mile hike through the forest.


Pai – In Her talks, Shri Mataji uses this colloquial Hindi word which is, pronounced “pie,” like the dessert.  In the same way that we would say, "I'm not going to give you a cent,” we can say, "I'm not going to give you a pai."

Paragraphs – For optimum readability of the transcription, it is important that we insert paragraph breaks rather than typing long blocks of text. Using more rather than then fewer paragraphs will help the reader.  We begin a new paragraph whenever Shri Mataji introduces a new idea. Also we begin a new paragraph when a dialogue is being quoted; a new paragraph should begin with each new voice.

With the exception of dialogue, in general, a paragraph contains at least two sentences.  Please see the section on dialogue for examples.

Poetry - A lot of rules can be broken in poetry, especially rules of capitalization and punctuation.

Possessives – Ordinarily we form a possessive by adding ‘s to a singular noun (the man’s shoe, the yogi’s mantra book).  If the plural ends in an s or z sound, we add only the apostrophe (ladies’ sarees, the Joneses’ lawn, seven dollars’ worth).  If the singular ends in an s or z sound, we add the apostrophe and s for words of one syllable.  We add only the apostrophe for words of more than one syllable unless we expect the pronunciation of the second s or z sound (the boss’s desk, Moses’ brother, Eloise’s letters).

Punctuation with parenthesis – A period, question mark or exclamation point may occur inside or outside a closing parenthesis, depending on the surrounding structure.

If the passage in parenthesis falls entirely within another sentence, we put the sentence-ending punctuation outside the parentheses:  She did not specify the color (it may have been red).

When parentheses surround an entire sentence or series of sentences, the sentence-ending punctuation goes inside the closing parentheses:  She did not specify the color.  (It was red.  We already knew that.)

A comma, a colon or a semicolon never directly precedes an opening or closing parenthesis.

Either a dash or parentheses, but not both together, can signify an aside or an abrupt change in the direction of a sentence.


Question mark – A question mark denotes a direct query.  Example:  What are the benefits of regular meditation?

Indirect questions and requests in the form of questions do not require a question mark.  Example:  She asked if meditation could help her asthma.

Quotation marks - Her Holiness Shri Mataji frequently uses direct quotes in Her talks.  For instance: Gandhiji said, “Better not go for lunch, you better have lunch here.” They said, “All right, whatever you say.”

We enclose all direct quotes with double quotation marks.  Here are some guidelines:

In Canadian and American style, we use double quotation marks to:

a)          Enclose direct quotes.  Example:  She said, "I’m a vegetarian."

b)          Enclose titles of newspaper and magazine articles, poems, short stories, songs, episodes of television and radio programs, and chapters or subdivisions of books.

Example: "The Navel of the World" is the title of Episode 17 in the wonderful new novel by Gregoire de Kalbermatten.

c)          Set off words used as words, words used ironically or as slang, words that are particularly significant, and words that may be unfamiliar to the reader.

d)          Many people incorrectly use single quotation marks in the last example. In Canadian and American style, we use single quotation marks to enclose a quotation within a quotation.

"I was leaving the store when I heard someone yell ‘Hey, Miss, you forgot your hand bag!’" explained Clare.

Quotation Marks (position with other punctuation marks) – In American usage, periods and commas always go inside the closing quotation marks, regardless of grammatical logic.  If inner and outer quotations are closing side by side, the period or comma precedes all the marks.  Example:  “While you’re there,” he said, “please buy me a copy of ‘Dagad Trikon’”

We place the dash, the question mark and the exclamation point within the quotation marks when the apply only to the quoted matter.  We place them outside when they apply to the whole sentence.


Seekers ask, “What is the truth?”  (The question mark applies only to the quoted matter.)

What is the meaning of the term “half truth”?  (The question mark applies to the whole sentence.

Why did the seeker ask, “What is the truth?”  (Both the quoted matter and the sentence as a whole are questions, but a second question mark does not follow the quotation marks.

e) To avoid misunderstandings, the name of a novel is always underlined and not in quotation marks.

e) For foreign words, see “italics”.



Self-Realization – We should capitalize the second word in this compound word. “Realization” is not just a common noun, it is the actualization of the Kundalini awakening. It has to be different from the common word “realization”.  Idem for the Self.

Semicolon – We use the semicolon to mark a division in a sentence made up of statements that are closely related but require a separation more emphatic than a comma.  Example:  The children were ready; the mothers were not.

We also use the semicolon to separate a series of items which themselves contain commas.  Example: I came to this conclusion after speaking with three types of people: American parents, students, teachers and correspondents; the college administrators; and the foreign students themselves.

So-called – With this phrase, quotations marks are redundant. We do not need to use them. Example:  We live in a so-called developed country.

Socialism, socialist – We capitalize if the reference is to a political party or movement.  We lowercase if the word is used in a general sense.  Example:  He thought the national health plan sounded like socialism.

Specially – Shri Mataji usually pronounces the word especially as “specially.” Therefore, we transcribe it as “specially.”

Spelling  - We use US English spelling.  If your computer is set for another style of English spelling – Australian, Canadian, Indian, UK, for example – you can reset it to US spelling by clicking Tools, Language, Set Language, English US, OK.  If you have already started your transcription in another style of English spelling, you can change to US spelling by clicking Edit, Select All, Tools. Language, Set Language, English US, OK.


Till – We use till, not ‘til.  Till is interchangeable with until.


U.N. – for the United Nations


Years - Do not use an apostrophe  - 1990s, not 1990’s.

Yuppie – Shri Mataji sometimes uses this term in Her talks.  It is derived from young urban professional.


West – Capitalize when referring to the region of the United States, to Europe and the Americas, to the group of nations that opposed the Communists or to a specific region so named:  West Texas.  Lowercase as a point of the compass.

Western – Capitalize when referring to the region of the United States, to Europe and the Americas or to the group of nations that opposed the Communists.  But: western New York, western France, western movie.

white – Lowercase this racial designation and all others derived from skin color (black, brown, yellow, red).

4. When editing text intended for non-yogis

Do not capitalize the pronouns She, Her, etc. when referring to Shri Mataji or pronouns referring to the incarnations.

Do not capitalize words that stand in for the name of God, such as "the Divine."

5. Variations used in the Divine Cool Breeze

Canadian spellings sometimes are American and sometimes British, so they are a nice compromise between the two and a good choice for an international English language magazine.

centre – except in the name of an organization which spells the name as “Center”

check - verb or the noun meaning check mark

cheque – a money payment

colour - not color

grey - gray

harbour - not harbor

honour, honourary – not honor, honorary

humour - not humor

neighbour - not neighbor

organize, organization

practice – noun

practise - verb

Realization, Self Realization

6. Other sources

At this point, the guide is neither complete nor exhaustive, but a work in progress. Other useful resources include: the The Oxford English Dictionary (listing both British and American spellings), Fowler’s Modern Usage, Handbook for Writers and The Penguin Dictionary of Troublesome Words by Bill Bryson.

If you come across a spelling, grammar or style issue that has not been dealt with in this guide and feel that it should be included, please notify Boris Hanreich.

Contributors: Richard Payment, Calin Costian, Ann Thorpe Capozzoli and Alan Wherry