Bhojpuri Translation of Basava Anthology


Pleased to know that Bhojpuri Translation of Basava Vachanamrutha (poems composed by Lord Basaveshwara in Kannada) is recently published by Basava Samithi, Bengaluru. The multilingual translation project was steered under the leadership of late Dr. M.M. Kulburgi. The principal editor of the Bhojpuri version is Late Prof. dr. B.S. Tiwary.
Lord Basava was a 12th-century Indian philosopher, statesman, Kannada poet, and was the founding saint of the Lingayat-Shaivism sect of Hinduism in Karnataka. Basava staunchly believed in a caste-less society where each individual had equal opportunity to rise up in life.

In the Kannada speaking region of India, the Bhakti social movement was started by Basavanna  in the 12th century in a society ridden by caste hierarchy. This Bhakti movement produced a rich treasure of literature that came to be known as Vachana sahitya created by Basava and his disciples (Akkamahadevi, Allama Prabhu, Devara Dasimayya etc.). The poems of this stream of literature contained pithy aphorisms, and conveyed in unambiguous terms precise and astute observations on spiritual and social matters of life.

The Website of Basava Samithi from where you can order the book is here


Six Acres and a Third: The Classic Nineteenth-Century Novel about Colonial India

Six Acres & a third

For the last 10 days or so, I have been reading a eloquently written & humorous novel named ‘Six Acres and a Third‘ by Fakir Mohan Senapati (1843-1918).This novel was written by Senapati in the 19th century in Oriya language. I should frankly accept that I had never read anything long (except some short stories) in original or translated from Oriya language literature before I chanced upon this book in the Leiden University’s library. So this is my first experience of any Oriya prose. The novel was originally named ଛ ମାଣ ଆଠ ଗୁଣ୍ଠ [‘Chha Maana Atha Guntha’] and its English translation is published by University of California Press in the year 2005.

Fakir Mohan Senapati

While reading this book, I also came to know that Fakir Mohan Senapati is largely regarded as the father of Oriya nationalism and modern Oriya literature. Set in the villages of 1830’s Odisha, the novel talks about the story of common people and their evil landlord, Ramachandra Mangaraj. The story is written from the eyes of someone who lived and experienced all of these from the ground. The story tells you how poor peasants are cleverly exploited by the landlord and how different communities survive this exploitation. What was puzzling to me is the fact that even in early 19th Century, the petty officers in Police were as much corrupt as we find them nowadays. Another point of interest for me (languages wise) is when the narrator talks about one Zamindar Sheikh Dildar Mian:

Sheikh Karamat Ali used to live in Ara district, and had now moved to Midnapore. Everyone called him Ali Mian, or Mian for short; we will do the same. Ali Mian began his career as a horse trader. He would purchase horses at the west Harihar Chhatar fair and sell them in Bengal and Orissa. Once he sold a horse to the district magistrate of Midanapore. The Sahib was very pleased with it and condescended to inquire about Mian’s business and income. When Mian told him there was not much profit in horse trading, the Sahib, wanting to offer him a job, asked if knew how to read and write. Mian replied,  Huzoor, I know Persia. If you would kindly give me pen and paper, I could show you I can write my full name.

In the past, the Persian language had been held in high favor; it was the language of the court. With a sharp and pitiless pen, God has inscribed a strange fate for India; yesterday the language of the court was Persia, today it is English. Only he knows which language will follow tomorrow. Whichever it may be, we know for certain that Sanskrit lies crushed beneath a rock for ever. English pundits say, ‘Sanskrit is a dead language’.We would go even further , ‘Sanskrit is a language of half dead’.

Few Oriya words/facts I learned from this book are:

Debottara: Land given free of rent to defray the cost of worshiping a deity

Kanugoi: a subordinate revenue officer

Bharanas : a local measure of grains in Odisha

Kahali : a clay pipe

Khai: fried paddy

Ukhuda: fried paddy coated with jaggery

Bauri : an ex-untouchable caste of Odisha, immortalized by one Bauri named Muli by James M Freeman’s Untouchable: An Indian Life History 

Pana: an ex-untouchable caste of Odisha, There are six sub-castes viz-Buna, Ganda,Patra, Sonai, Samal and Jena of Panas.

Khandayats: Khandayats are the martial castes of Orissa


The book is also interlaced with several Sanskrit verses and they are beautifully translated as well:

This one is from Guru Gita


He who applies the balm of knowledge.

And opens our eyes blinded by the disease of ignorance,

To a guru like him, we bow.


Reading Books in still in Vogue

I am not a voracious reader, but I try to read books (and yes the printed variety) whether I am in trains, buses, trams, waiting rooms and even rest rooms :-).

Some of the books I read in last 6 months. Reflecting on them as the academic semester has almost come to an end: 

  • Language ideology and power – Tariq Rehman, 2008, Orient Longman
  • मानक हिन्दी – ब्रजमोहन, 1979, दि मैकमिलन कंपनी
  • Cinema Bhojpuri – Avijit Ghosh, 2010, Penguin India.
  • Indian Cinema: the faces behind the mask – Anil Saari, 2011, OUP
  • विश्व के मानचित्र पर हिन्दी – रविन्द्रनाथ श्रीवास्तव, 1983, सूचना और प्रसारणं मंत्रालय, भारत सरकार
  • हिन्दी ध्वनिकी और ध्वनिमी – रमेश चंद्र महरोत्रा, 1980, मुन्शीराम मनोहरलाल
  • खड़ी बोली हिन्दी का सामाजिक इतिहास – ललित मोहन अवस्थी, 1988, ओरिएण्ट लॉन्गमैन
  • A history of the Hindi Grammatical traditions – Tej k. Bhatia, 1987, Brill
  • Samskara: A Rite for a Dead Man, U R Ananthamurthy, 2012, OUP
  • दूसरी दुनिया: एक आत्मीय संचयन, निर्मल वर्मा, 2005, राजकमल प्रकाशन
  • Sacred Spaces: Exploring Traditions of Shared Faith in India – Yoginder singh Sikand, 2003, Penguin India.
  • सिंह सेनापति – राहुल सांकृत्यायन, 1961, किताबमहल
  • The Essential Sudhir Kakkar – Sudhir Kakkar, 2011, OUP
  • दिवोदास, राहुल सांकृत्यायन, 1961, किताबमहल
  • Hindi Phonology – Shaligram Shukla, 2000, Lincom Europa
  • Hindi Morphology – Shaligram Shukla 2001, Lincome Europa
  • Literature & Nationalist Ideology: Writing Histories of Modern Indian Languages – Hans Harder (Ed.), 2010, Orient Blackswan
  • India and the Mughal Dynasty- Valerie Berinstain, 1998, Harry N Abrams
  • The Marwaris: from traders to industrialists – Thomas Timburg, 1978, Vikas Publications
  • चर्चित दलित कहानियाँ – कुसुम वियोगी, 1997, ललित प्रकाशन
  • हिन्दी में संयुक्त क्रियाएँ – काशीनाथ सिंह, 1976, रचना प्रकाशन
  • Hinduism and Modernity – David Smith, 2003, Wiley Blackwell
  • Chutneyfying English – Rita Kothari (Ed.), 2011, Penguin Global
  • Moebius Trip: Digressions from India’s Highways – Giti Thandani, 2007. Spinifex Press
  • Gods & Godmen of India- Khuswant Singh, 2006, Harper Collins
  • India after Gandhi – Ram Chandra Guha, 2007, Harper Perennial
  • A Book of India : an anthology of prose and poetry from the Indian sub-continent- B N Pandey, 2002, Rupa & Company
  • India – Stanley Wolpert, 2009, University of California Press
  • Language versus Dialect: Linguistic and Literary Essays on Hindi, Tamil and Sarnami – Mariola Offredi (Ed.), 1990, Manohar Publications

Language Documentation in the Hindi Heartland

Bhojpuri-Hindi-English Lok Shabdakosh, Kendriya Hindi Sansthan, Agra

Hindi Lok Shabdakosh Pariyojana is an ambitious dictionary making project of Central Institute of Hindi, Agra (an autonomous institute of Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, New Delhi) for strengthening and enriching lexical resources of Hindi by conserving and documenting cultural and linguistic repertoire of 48 varieties of Hindi (based on the report ‘Language: India and States’, 1997, Census of India, 1991).The project is housed at Agra headquarters of Central Institute of Hindi.

The project aims to build modern trilingual dictionaries (Variety-Hindi-English) for each of these varieties of Hindi using state of the art techniques of lexicography. In addition to printed editions, to gain wider readership, project plans to publish these digital dictionaries on internet.

In order to achieve these goals, the project employs a tri-layered strategy for making the dictionaries:

  1. Data collection by field work in the language area using specially prepared elicitation questionnaires and from published sources
  2. Data entry on Indic computing enabled computers in Unicode using modern lexicographic and database software (Currently Flex and Lexique Pro of SIL, USA)
  3. Editing, proof-reading, translation  and publication

In the first phase of the project, the project is working on Bhojpuri (dictionary Published in 2009, see pic above), Braj Bhasha, Rajasthani (Marwari), Awadhi, Bundeli, Chattisgarhi, Malwi, Magahi, Kangari, Garhwali and Hariyanvi.

The project was started in the year 2007 under the dynamic leadership of eminent Hindi lexicographer Shri Arvind Kumar (editor and compiler of Hindi’s first thesauruses – Samantar Kosh), who was the chief editor of the project and now an advisor. Bhojpuri-Hindi-English Dictionary was edited with the help of Dr Rajendra Prasad Singh, Sasaram, Bihar (eminent Bhojpuri language expert).

Currently Brajbhasha-Hindi-English Dictionary and Rajasthani (Marwari)-English-Hindi Dictionary is being edited with the help of Dr Ramrajpal Dwivedi, Etah, Uttar Pradesh (famous grammarian and Brajbhasha Expert) and Dr Bhanwar Singh Samaur, Churu, Rajasthan (Eminent Marwari language expert) respectively.

The project has an in-house library of various published books, monographs, Newspapers, magazines and dictionaries of various Hindi varieties. There are around 200 titles currently on the shelf and this library is being constantly updated.

The Project has the following full time staff:

Lexicographers (Koshkarmi) – Dr Digvijay Sharama and Mr Suresh Chand Meena

Data Operators – Mr Rahul Devrani and Mr Girdhar Singh

Project I/c and Coordinating Editor: Mr Abhishek Avtans

The project aims to bring forth the vast linguistic wealth of these varieties of Hindi for general public, Hindi lovers and researches around the globe.

दक्षिण एशिया में भाषाएँ

Daughters of Brahmi Script

Daughters of Brahmi Script

लैंग्वेज़ इन साउथ एशिया

संपादक – ब्रज काचरू, यमुना काचरू व एस.एन. श्रीधर

केंब्रिज यूनिवर्सिटी प्रेस, वर्ष 2008, पृष्ठ – 632

दक्षिण एशिया क्षेत्र न सिर्फ एक बड़े बाज़ार के रूप में विकसित हुआ है बल्की एक समृद्ध भाषाई क्षेत्र के रूप में भी इसका नाम सुपरिचित है। दक्षिण एशिया में कुल 5 पाँच भाषा परिवारों की अनेक भाषाऎं एक विशाल जनसमुदाय द्वारा बोली जाती है। इन भाषाओं के माध्यम से ही जाति, वर्ग, व्यवसाय, क्षेत्र और धर्म से जुड़ी अस्मिताओं की पहचान होती है। दक्षिण एशियाई उपमहाद्वीप की इन्हीं विशेषताओं को ध्यान में रखते हुए इस भाषाई क्षेत्र की भाषाई स्थिती पर नए सिरे से प्रकाश डालने का कार्य ’ लैंग्वेज़ इन साउथ एशिया’ ने किया है। संपादित पुस्तक में दक्षिण एशिया की भाषाओं पर भाषावैज्ञानिक, ऎतिहासिक, समाजभाषावैज्ञानिक दृष्टि से जायजा लेने की कोशिश की गई है। पुस्तक कुल दस भागों में विभाजित है जिनमें अंतर्राष्ट्रीय ख्याति प्राप्त विद्वानों द्वारा लिखे गए 25 विभिन्न शोधपरक आलेखों को संग्रहित किया गया है।

दक्षिण एशिया की भाषाओं की क्रियाशील भाषाई प्रक्रियाओं, भाषाई विवादों, भाषा-आधुनिकीकरण के प्रभावों, न्यायिक तंत्र, मीडिया, सिनेमा, धर्म आदि में भाषाओं की भूमिकाओं, भाषाई राजनीति, संस्कृत की शिक्षण परंपरा से लेकर जनजातीय व अल्पसंख्यक समुदायों की भाषाओं पर विस्तार से चर्चा हुई है। दक्षिण एशियाई भाषाओं से जुड़े अंत:विषयात्मक शोध के लिए पुस्तक में पर्याप्त और बहुउपयोगी सामाग्री का संकलन हुआ है। जँहा एक ओर हिंदी की स्थिती पर यमुना काचरू का ’हिंदी-उर्दू-हिंदुस्तानी’ शीर्षक आलेख तो दूसरी ओर जनजातीय भाषाओं पर अन्विता अब्बी का आलेख सुपाठ्य है। करुमुरी वी. सुब्बाराव ने अपने आलेख में दक्षिण एशियाई भाषाओं की प्ररुप-वैज्ञानिक विशिष्टताओं को आरेखित किया है।

भाषा और युवा संस्कृति पर रुक्मिणी भाया नायर का आलेख भी अपनी अलग पहचान बनाता। भाषा-नियोजन, बहुभाषिकता, समाजभाषाविज्ञान और दक्षिण एशियाई अध्ययन के शोधार्थियों के लिए यह पुस्तक निसंदेह बहुउपयोगी व संग्रहणीय साबित होगी।

Daughters of Brahmi courtesy