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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

Selection from Premsāgar
by Lallulal

Lallulal (1763 - 1825) was one of the Indian scholars associated with the College of Fort William in early-nineteenth century Calcutta. The purpose of the College was to train young officers of the East India Company and to prepare books that could be used to teach Indian languages. As part of this mission, Premsāgar, or The Ocean of Love, was one of the first books to be published in khaṛī bolī, the dialect of Hindi which is the basis for the standard Hindi used today.

The text is based on the tenth book of the Bhāgavata purāṇa, which describes Lord Krishna's childhood in the fields around Vrindavan on the banks of the Yamuna River not far from Agra. Some of the best-loved stories about Krishna have to do with his escapades as a young boy in a cowherding community (though of course we are to keep in mind that he is in fact divine and so quite a special child). Notably, he steals butter and makes all the cow-herding girls (gopīs) fall in love with him. The event described in the selection here is the famous episode in which Krishna steals the clothes of the bathing gopīs and forces them to come out of the water naked. It is a comical story but of course also allegorically enjoins the believer not to feel shame in the presence of God.

Some words and expressions in the text will be unfamiliar to the student because they are derived from the Braj dialect of Hindi rather than from khaṛī bolī. Braj is a literary dialect that is associated with stories about the young Krishna in Vrindavan. There are a few important sound changes to look out for, in particular ' श ' and ' ष ' becoming ' स ' and ' व ' becoming ' ब '. For more information about Braj and its grammatical quirks, the student is advised to consult Rupert Snell's The Hindi Classical Tradition.

-Arthur Dudney

On this page

PDF availableThe Hindi text of the story is available as a PDF with pages corresponding to the page numbers below. An English translation of the selection can also be downloaded.

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


p. 55

श्रीशुकदेव मुनि- m. Sri Shukdev Muni is the son of the sage Vyasa and narrator of the Bhagvata Purana
सरद = शरद ऋतु - one of the traditional six seasons, c. October/November. सरद is (Braj) dialect for शरद
हेमंत- m. the cold season from mid-November to mid-January
जाड़ा - m. cold
पाला - m. protection, shelter (here the word means frost, snow)
अगहन- m. ninth lunar month of Hindu calendar (falls in November and December)
न्हाने = नहाना - to bathe
जन्म- m. birth, origin
पातक- m. sin, offense
आस - f. hope (dialect)
पूजना- v. to worship
प्राचीन- adj. old, antiquated, ancient
न्हाइये - also from नहाना. The verb ending is an old Braj passive (it survives in modern standard Hindi as the polite imperative)
निस्संदेह- adj. clearly, certainly
गौर - m. (1) deep thought, close attention [derived from Persian] (2) The meaning here is Parvati (the female deity), thus "माटी की गौर" is a small clay माटी (i.e. statue) of Parvati
अक्षत- m. whole grains of rice, barley
चढ़ाना- v. to lift up (This is also the verb used for making a puja offering.)
दीप- m. a lamp offering (to an idol)
नैवेद्य - m. food consecrated to a deity, offering

p. 56

नाय - from the Braj verb "to bow," related to "namas" in namaste.
मनाना - v. to make mindful, to persuade, to reason with (here the context is propitiating a deity, namely Gauri.)
बिघि = विधि manner, rite
ब्रत = व्रत - fasting, vow, etc. (Remember that व and ब are interchangeable in many Hindi dialects.)
साँझ - f. twilight
दही- m. yogurt
शीघ्र- adj. quick, swift/ adv. soon
औघट - adj. rough, impassable ("out of the way" seems better here)
घाट - m. riverbank
चीर - m. clothing
तीर - m. shore, bank
नग्न - adj. naked
नीर - m. water
पैठ - f. entry (the meaning is correct, but here the word is part of a verb "to enter" with the compound लगना)
हरि - one of Krishna's names
गुन - m. good quality or virtue
जल-क्रीड़ा - (one word) f. water games, specifically Krishna's frolics with his gopis
छांह् - f. shade, shadow
धेनु - f. cow
चराना - vt. (slightly Brajified here) to have the animals graze
निदान - adv. in the end, finally
गठड़ी बांधना - to pack one's things
गठड़ी - f. bundle, package
इतने में - in the meantime
मुकुट - m. crown, tiara (this word is usually only used for Krishna)
लकुट - m. staff, club
केसर - m. saffron
तिलक - m. ornamental mark
बनमाल = बनमाला - f. a garland of flowers
पीतांबर - the yellow garment that Krishna normally wears
पहर- is the Braj form of पहनना - to wear
मौन - adj. silent, m. silence
साधना - vt to adopt, accomplish
कदंब - a type of tree
सखी - f. a female's female friend
पोट - f. bundle
बचन (वचन) - m. speech, promise, declaration
युवती - f. a young woman
बिनती - f. entreaty, request
हा - oh! alas!
दीनदयाल - a title of a supreme being (the compound literally means "compassionate towards the needy")
प्यारा - adj. dear, beloved, m. darling
मोहन - m. an enchanter, specif. Krishna
कंहाई - a name of Krishna
नंद - the name of Krishna's foster father
रिसना - to be angry
भला (adj) good, excellent
सीख (f) lesson, advice
नंगा (adj) naked
बंधु (m) relative, brother, friend
गहना (tr.) to seize, to get hold of
नंद (m) Krishna's foster father
जसोदा = यशोदा - (f) Krishna's foster mother, i.e. Nand's wife
कान (f) 1) modesty, shame 2) respect
मेटना (tr.) 1) to erase, to efface 2) to destroy
पहचान (f) recognition (also respect, discrimination)
क्रोध (m) anger, rage. क्रोध करना to be angry
चीर (m) clothing

p. 57

विनको = उनको in Braj
लिवाना (tr.) causative of लेना
लाव (int.) to bring
दीनदयाल a title of the supreme being
सुध (f) 1) consciousness 2) recollection, memory. 3) attention, notice; care.
हेतु (m) 1) motive, purpose 2) cause , reason (part of a common postpositional phrase meaning "for the sake of")
नेम (m) religious observance नेम करना to make a vow, to observe (derived from नियम)
मगसिर = मार्गशीर्ष the month equivalent to अगहन, i.e. November-December
मास (m) month
लाज (f) shame, sense of decency, modesty
कपट (m) 1) insincerity, dissembling 2) deceit 3) trickery, trick
तजना (tr.) 1) abandon 2) renounce
जद (adv) = जब
तद (adv) = तब
सोई (adv & pron.) = वही
यों (adv) thus
ठानना (tr.) to resolve, to determine on, to be intent on.
कुच (m, f) the female breast
देह (m, f) the body
दुराना (tr.) to conceal
नीर (m) water
नौढ़ाय - having bowed
नंदलाल (m) a title of Krishna (literally Nand's dear)
ठगोरी (f) cheating
लीला (f) the game of the god
ठई = equivalent here to की
जद = जब
जोड़ना - to join, connect
बस्त्र = बस्ता - m. bundle (again, ब and व are interchanged. वस्त्र, m. is clothing)

p. 58

बिलग - m. separation, aversion
बिलग मानना - to be displeased, offended
बरुन - m. the Vedic god Varuna
बास - m. residence, dwelling place
नग्न - adj. naked
बहना - to flow, run
लगन - f. attachment, desire, longing
मगन = मग्न - adj. immersed, drowned, engrossed ("impressed" could work as a translation here.) [Note that in many Hindi dialects an extra vowel may be intercalated. Hence मगन, from the more Sanskrit/correct form मग्न]
भेद - m. secret
कातिक (कार्तिक) - Karttik, the 8th month of the Hindu lunar year (this is during the fall season and there are particular festivals associated with the full moon night of Karttik purnima)
रास - the dance in the round of Krishna with the gopis (रास करना would be to do the dance)
बचन = वचन m. speech, word, declaration
प्रसन्न - adj. pleased
संतोष - m. satisfaction, contentment
बंसीबट - the banyan tree under which Krishna would sit and play his flute (बंसी - f. a flute)
ग्वाल - ग्वाला m. a cowherd
सखा - m. friend, companion (It belongs to the masc. class of nouns from Sanskrit like राजा, नेता, etc., which do not change in oblique sg or in direct pl, but do in oblique pl.)
संग - m. coming together, meeting (but here more like an adv. "along with")
समै = समय
सघन - adj. thick, dense
ब्रक्षो = वृक्ष - m. tree (in very formal Hindi)
सहना - to endure, tolerate
परकाजी - m. somebody who does the work (काज) of others (पर), i.e. a benefactor
सुफल - adj. fertile, fruitful
निकट - adj. near, close

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