Quick Menu

 Go to main glossary page


Nineteenth-century prose

Chandrakāntā by Devaki Nandan Khatri (selection from the novel) Urdu
Premsāgar by Lallulal (selection)
Literary criticism by Bhartendu Harishchandra, “Hindī bhāshā” and “Urdū kā syāpā”

Twentieth-century prose

“Sadgati” by Premchand
“Dudh kā dām” by Premchand Urdu
“Urdū, Hindī, aur Hindūstānī” by Premchand Urdu
“Malbe kā mālik” by Mohan Rakesh
“Tanāv” by Rajendra Yadav
“Dillī mẽ ek maut” by Kamleshwar
“Paccīs caukā deṛh sau” by Omprakash Valmiki
Apne-apne pinjare by Mohandas Naimishray Urdu
“Lājwantī” by Rajinder Singh Bedi Urdu


Two Braj Bhasha poets:
  • Kabir Urdu
  • Rahim Urdu
Selections from Braj works: The Chayavad movement, with
  • Selection from the critical essay “Kalpnā ke kānan kī rānī” in Chāyāvād by Namwar Singh
  • “Vishva chavi” by Sumitranand Pant
  • Nīrajā by Mahadevi Varma (selection)
Old Avadhi texts: selections from
  • the Rāmcaritmānas of Tulsīdās
  • the Madhumālatī of Manjhan

Two essays on Hindi
by Bharatendu Harishchandra

Bharatendu Harishchandra (1850 - 1882) lived a short but extremely influential life and is known as “the Father of Modern Hindi Literature.” With his erudition (he had been trained in both Persian and Sanskrit, the two major classical literary traditions in India) and a publishing empire based in Varanasi, he shaped perceptions of Hindi literature by elevating the discourse surrounding it and helping to establish a literary standard.

The selections from the first essay, “Hindī bhāshā” (The Hindi Language), demonstrate how varied Hindi usage was before the great drive for standardization in the early twentieth century. Harishchandra astutely analyzes how language functions in a society and proves the need for a written standard Hindi by pointing to the large variations in spoken Hindi.

The second essay, “Urdū kā syāpā” (Lament for Urdu), and its accompanying poem are a comical obituary for Urdu, which is personified as a lady of high rank. Although in other writing Harishchandra shows some fondness for Urdu, he and his pro-Hindi contemporaries argued that Urdu was inherently ambiguous because of the Perso-Arabic script it used and overly dependent for its vocabulary on what they considered non-Indian languages, namely Persian and Arabic. They worked towards replacing Urdu (written in the Perso-Arabic script), which was then the vernacular language used in British administration across India, by Hindi (written in the Devanagari script) for official purposes. The classic study of the “battle of the scripts” is Christopher King's One Language, Two Scripts.

These texts are somewhat more difficult than others offered on this site because of the range of styles Harishchandra uses. In “Hindī bhāshā,” he cites different dialect forms and even imitates the odd Hindi usage of people like Bengalis and the British. (The student may not know, for example, that because the Bengali language does not have grammatical gender, Bengalis are often mocked for mixing up the masculine and feminine in Hindi.) In “Urdū kā syāpā,” a large amount of Persian vocabulary appears. Some of these difficulties are addressed in the glossaries below but the student is advised to tackle these texts with the help of a good teacher.

-Arthur Dudney

On this page

Glossary for “Hindī bhāshā” (selection)
Glossary for “Urdū kā syāpā”

PDF availableThe Hindi texts of the essays are available as PDFs with pages corresponding to the page numbers below:

If the Hindi words below appear as boxes or nonsense, please see the introduction page for help.


“Hindī bhāshā”

p. 61

खड्ग - sword (m.) (Khadga Vilas Press is a proper name)
व्रजरत्नदास - a Hindi scholar from the early 20th century
सम्स्करण (m.) edition
विभाग (m.) division, section (as of a book)
देशान्तर (m.) another foreign country/region
मिश्रित (adj.) mixed, joined, composite
शुद्ध (adj. ) pure, uncontaminated; free of errors
वणक = typo of वर्णन (m.) description, account
यथा (adv.) such as; in the manner which, just as
पश्चिमोत्तर (m.) the north-west (पश्चिम west plus उत्तर north -- 'a' plus 'u' equals 'o' in the Sanskrit sound changes rules known as sandhi)
प्रान्त (m.) region, provice, state; border, limit
वा - a conjunction "or" (from Sanskrit)
खत्री (m.) member of the khattri community (merchants and traders) < panjabi khattri खत्त्री
पछांह (m.) western region, the west, so --> पछाहीं is western
अगरवाल - a major baniya or trading caste of India. Harischandra belonged to this caste
x के अतिरिक्त - in addition to x, apart from x
कोस (m.) measure of approx. 2 miles (not कोसना - to curse, abuse)
रहवास (m.) residence, so रहवासी is resident
विचित्र (adj.) variegated; strange, unusual
पुरवी - "Eastern"
आईला जाईला - Harishcandra is simply illustrating instances of dialect. Different speakers of Hindi form verbs in different ways. To this day many people in Banaras still say "आईला" instead of आता है and "जाईला" for जाता है.
प्रसिद्ध (adj.) famous
कसेरा (m.) coppersmith, member of the kasera community
बाट used instead of है in some Hindi dialects
करल - dialect for करता है
दशा (f.) state, condition
शोभा (f.) radiance, splendor; beauty, grace
अर्थात (adv.) that is to say, in other words [skt ablative of arth]
धनिक (m./adj) wealthy (man)
व्यर्थ (adj.) useless, pointless, vain, senseless (vi + arth)
ईकारान्त ओकारान्त आकरान्त -- technical grammatical terms: ईकारान्त means a word ending in long ई, ओकारान्त a word ending in ओ, आकरान्त a word ending in आ, etc.
गाली (f.) abusive language, i.e. swear word
काशी (f.) shining; another name for Banaras
डोम (m.) In Banaras the Doms are the community who cremate the dead bodies at Manikarnika Ghat but strangely in other parts of India the name can refer to 1) community of makers of ropes, baskets, etc; or 2) community of musicians and dancers
वासी (m.) resident, citizen
प्रायः (adv.) for the most part, generally, often; approx, nearly, almost
दीर्घ (adj.) long, prolonged; vast; tall
मात्रा (f.) measure, quantity (here the word means vowel and with "दीर्घ " long vowel)
सिद्धान्त (adj.) accomplished, realised (i.e. it is proven that)
शिष्ट (adj.) well-ordered, regulated; cultivated, educated, urbane; well-behaved, polite
परदेशी = modern Hindi विदेशी, i.e. foreign
पार (m/adv) the far bank or side; reverse or opposite side; end limit, furthest extent
विलक्षण (adj) different

pp. 62-63

पश्चिमोत्तर- adj. northwestern
निर्णीत- adj. determined, settled, decreed
प्राचीन काल- m. ancient times
नियम- m. rule, custom
अकबर- the Mughal Emperor Akbar (1542 - 1605)
पूर्व्व = an alternate form of पूर्व
मुहम्मद मलिक जाइसी - An important Sufi poet who wrote at the court of the Afghan Sur kings, c. 1540.
चंद - another poet, said to have been active in Rajasthan in the 12th century. Historically minded people are somewhat skeptical about his existence.)
विलक्षण, adj. - different
तुलसीदास - a poet who composed the Ramacharitmanas, a Hindi (Avadhi) version of the Ramayana
भंग करना - v. to break
बेर - adv. repeatedly, often
परिश्र्म करना - v. to work hard
नित्तानुसार = slightly dialectal form of नित्यानुसार, "as always/as per usual"
निश्चय - m. ascertainment, verification, proof
उत्तम - adj. highest, supreme, best
छूटना - v.i. to be released, to be discharged
भोंड़ा - adj. ugly
इत्यादि- conj. et cetera
प्रायः- adv. for the most part, generally, often
स्पष्ट- adj. clear, distinct, intelligible
दीर्घ- adj. long
निस्संदेह - adv. without a doubt, certainly
चित्त- m. the understanding, the mind, thought, reflection (perhaps in this context more like "heart")

p. 64

इच्छा करना - to wish, desire
नायिकाभेद - नायिका is a leading female character, भेद is discrimination or difference; Nayikabhed is a traditional type of poetry in which the poet systematically describes different types of women such as a jealous woman, a woman who is separated from her lover and pining, a woman whose lover is under her control, etc. There are more than 300 भेद-s or types in Sanskrit/Braj poetry.
अलंकार - m. embellishment, figure of speech (a technical term from Indian poetry)
वर्णन - m. description
यद्यपि - although, even if
मधुर - adj. sweet, melodious, gentle; so मधुरई is (n.) sweetness, gentleness
घट - adj. little, inferior
अष्टपदी - f. song or poem of 8 verses
माधुरी - f. sweetness, charm
प्रमाण - m. proof, evidence
अथ - thus, so; m. beginning
रुचि - f. liking, inclination
के हेतु - for the sake of
निश्चित - adj. ascertained, determined, fixed
वर्षा - f. rainy season, rain (literally or figuratively)
अपूर्व - adj. uncommon, unprecedented
विचित्र - adj. strange, unusual
मेघाच्छन्न - adj. overcast w/ clouds
चतुर्दिक - adj. many sided, on all sides (literally, on all 4 sides)
पात - falling. Construe with the previous word, which means fog.
नेत्र - m. the eye
गति - f. going, motion
स्तम्भित - standing still, benumbed
चंचला - f. lightning
पुंश्चली - a loose woman (literally: a woman who goes after men)
की भांति - in the manner of
नर्तन - m. dancing
इतस्ततः - hither and tither
भ्रमण - m. wandering
पक्षिगण - m. a flock of birds
फुल्लित - adj. swollen, delighted (प्र does not really add much in this case)
चित्त - the mind, the soul, thought (again, can also be heart)
रव - a cry, sound, voice
कु- - bad, useless; so कुकवि is bad/useless poet here
कर्णवेधक - adj. ear-piercing, as in an ear-splitting, unpleasant sound
ढक्का - f. a large drum
झंकार - f. a ringing sound
बांध - m. a dam
पंक - m. mud, swamp, bog
पृथ्वी - f. the world, the earth
वृक्ष - m. tree
कूल - m. shore
समेत - united, together
सर्प - m. snake
भंग करना - to break
सौत - f. co-wife, rival
सुध - f. recollection, memory

p. 65

मुंहबोला (adj) so-called; adopted
दुखड़ा (m) suffering, distress. दुखड़ा रोना to bewail (one's) woes, to tell one's sad story.
जी बहलाना to amuse, to divert (बहलाना v.t)
नेम (m) rule, principle, custom, practice
घबड़ाना (v.i. & v.t.) to be confused, to be perplexed; or to confuse, to perplex (also spelled घबराना)
विपत्ति (f) distress, adversity, misfortune
सहाय (f, m) helper, rescuer; or (usually f) help, protection
आफत (f) misfortune, disaster, trouble
जल्द 1. (adj) quick, swift 2. (f) speed, swiftness
ऐश (m) life of pleasure and enjoyment, luxury, sensuality
घड़ी (f) 1. a small space of time (specif. a period of 24 minutes) 2. a particular moment or short period of time 3. an instrument to measure time, a watch
शबोरोज - Two words connected by the Persian conjunction 'o'; the words are शब (f) night and रोज (which is actually रोज़) so it's "night and day"
दिलबर heart-ravishing, attractive, etc. (here used substantively so "the heart-ravishing one")
सुहबत (f) conversation (from the Persian)
रंजो ? [ रंज - m. suffering + 'o', which is again just connecting it to the next word, which for some reason is on the next line
गम (m) sadness, sorrow
मसरूर - adj. happy, content
माल (m) wealth, possessions, goods, things
सैकड़ा (m) an amount of a hundred सैकड़ों (adv) hundreds of
फिरना (v.i.) to turn, to revolve, to circulate (also to roam, wander)
लालटेन - lantern
बलना v.i. 1. to burn, to be lit 2. to twist, to turn
बग्गी (f) buggy (small carriage)
चिरिट-फिटिन also carriages
बंटना (v.i.) to be divided (perhaps distributed in this context)
खींचना (v.t.) to pull, to drag
उहदेदार m. officer (also ओहदेदार)
कमानियर - commander
किरानी (m) 1. a clerk 2. a Eurasian, a Christian.
तिरना (v.i.) to float, to cross over
योग्य (adj) (takes स) suitable, suited
दफ़ा (f) time, occasion

p. 66

बेर - f. time, occasion
अवश्य - adj. unrestrained, uncontrolled; adv. necessarily, certainly
कूं - again, he is just imitating dialect so we need not worry about the details too much. कूं is a bit like को in Dakani Hindi.
जान पड़ना - to seem
जावत = (यावत, ऎसा
पृथ्वी - f. the earth; earth, soil
तल - m. surface, level, bottom
दोकान = दुकान (It's a little dig at Bengalis, too, with the 'o' pronunciation.)
मछुआ - m. fishmonger (again, a shameless stereotype of fish-eating Bengalis)
केली - "गाड़ी खड़ा" and "केली फला" are intentionally bad grammar (Bengalis are infamous for confusing the gender of nouns, so this is another dig at them)
फलना - to bear fruit
पल्टन - platoon
दीवालिया = दिवालिया - m. a bankrupt person
मारवाड़ी - f. the language of Marvar; m. a man from Marvar; adj. having to do with Marvar (Marwaris are baniyas or traders, and there is a huge community of them in Calcutta. They are originally from Marwar in Rajasthan. But the stereotype is that they are business men out to make a buck.)
माल - m. property, goods, wealth
बेशक - without शक
शक - m. doubt, suspicion
सबुर probably a British mispronunciation of सब्र m.
सड़ना - to decay, rot
इश्तहार - m. announcement
उद्धृत - excerpted, given as an example
मिस्तरी m. tradesman
नेआ = नया
चोरा(ना) = a corruption of चोरी करना - to steal
के वास्ते - prep. on account of, because of, for
सन - m.f. year (of a calendar)
गिरफतार करना = गिरफ्तार करना - to arrest, seize
मोजरिम = a different spelling of मुजरिम - m. criminal, offender
ठहराना - here I would guess not "to stop" but the meaning "to establish, prove, conclude"
सख्त - if we use adj. severe, intense "सख्त मेहनत" could be something equivalent the phrase "hard labor"
क़ैद - f. imprisonment
वाद - m. speech, assertion, theory
उत्तम - adj. highest, best
अनुमति - f. permission, advice
योग्य - adj. capable (of के)
निश्चय - m. determination, ascertainment, decision
इत्यादि - conj. etcetera
नागभाषा - Snake language (Believe it or not there was an idea in Sanskrit literary theory of a नागभाषा. नाग-s have a bit more dignity in Indian mythology than the translation "snake" would allow for.)
आश्चर्य - m. astonishment, surprise
^ Go back to top

“Urdū kā syāpā”


स्यापा (m.) [Persian] mourning, lamentation; lament
प्रकाशित (adj.) brought to light, illuminated
ज्ञात (adj.) known (x ko); perceived
परम (adj.) chief, highest, best; extreme
हिंसा (f.) violence अहिंसा (f.) non-violence xनिष्ठ is formant, characterized by x (e.g., संस्कृतनिष्ठ means sanskritIZED)
अंधेर (m.) wrong, injustice; disorder, violence
ऊंटनी (f.) she-camel
ऊंट (m.) he-camel
साढ़ x = x and 1/2
पागुर (m.) chewing the cud, from पागुराना (to chew the cud)
कहावत f. saying
सरिश्तेदारी (f) the office of the सरिश्तेदार (m.) [hist] superintendant of the indian language department of an office
सरिश्ता (m.) department or record office [pers]
जोरू (f.) wife
रांड is prob. रांड़ (f.) widow; prostitute (from context the former in this case)
बिछौना (m.) bedding, bed
सोग is शोक (m.) regret, sorrow
मातम (m.) [Arabic/Pers] mourning मातमपुरसी (f.) condolences
अकिल = अक़ल ("wisdom" in Persian)
बहर हाल [Pers. phrase be har haal] in every instance/state/condition
बाजिब = वाजिब (adj.) [Arabic/Persian] right, proper, appropriate
सौगंद (m) [pers] solemn oath
तमाशा (m.) [ar/pers] show, spectacle, joke, amusement
पट्ठी - a woman in the prime of youth
कट्टी - adj. sturdy (alternative reading: One scholar apparently takes this word to mean goat kid. Further digging in some rare dictionaries did not yield that meaning, but "Sahityik Braj Kosh" does attest "baby water buffalo." Apparently "calf" is a good translation.)


पशतो- f The language of the Pashtuns who are the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan, also spoken in Northwestern Pakistan
सिधारना- v.i. to set out, to depart
मुंशी- m. a clerk, writer, teacher, or tutor (they are usually knowledgeable in Persian and Urdu, it can also be a title for a well educated man as was the case with Premchand)
मुल्ला- m. muslim priest or religious judge
वल्ला- interjection "by Allah!"
बिल्लाना- v.i. to wail, lament, sob
रोय - Braj for रोकर and रोता है
पीटना- v.t. to beat, to strike, to thump, to pound
टाँग- f. the leg
घसीटना- v.t. to drag, to drag along, to haul
छिन- m. a moment
नोचना- v.t. to scratch, to claw, to pinch, to pluck out
उलटा- adj. upside down
रोज़ी-f. daily food, work, wages
बिलटना- v. i. to be lost, desroyed
मुख़तारी- f. duties or practices [of an agent]
नवीसी - Urdu/Persian for "writing"
पीसना- v.t. to grind
पोसना- v.t. to nurture, to cherish
फ़रोश - m. seller (therefore फ़रोशी is "selling")
लस्सानी - f. garrulousness
चरब-जुबानी - quickness/cleverness in speech
शोख़- adj. cheerful, sprightly
बयानी - telling/giving an account of
नहिं = an alt form of नहीं

^ Go back to top

This site last updated by Justin Ben-Hain on 5 November 2013.