After GE 1000 an important change took place on the religious scene in India. With the arrival of the Muslims and the establishment of Muslim governments in Delhi and elsewhere, Hinduism was confronted with a powerful religious tradition that was not only supported by military strength but was also endowed with a strong tradition of mysticism. Alone with this double challenge, India was invaded by a language, Persian, that became the official language of the imperial court. From CE 1300 onwards a remarkable phenomenon changed the religious history of India. Popular mystic reformers appeared, reacting vehemently against both the Brahmanical ritualism and the corruption in Islamic practices. They preached a monotheistic religion, without caste distinction, stressing very personal devotion and giving their message in the vernacular languages, not in Sanskrit.
The language of this bhakti literature is a mixed medium that, until now, has not been described in detailed grammars and dictionaries, as was the case with Sanskrit. The vocabulary of this medium was borrowed, not only from Sanskrit and Persian but also from local idioms and dialects, and wandering singers adopted many terms and expressions as they traveled from one region to another. Consequently, each fresh edition in this field requires new grammars and glossaries.
The challenge of research in this area is the fact that this literature is only accessible in manuscripts and little has been critically edited. Secondly, the language in which these hymns were sung has been studied only imperfectly, although a lot of progress has been made in the last twenty years. It is important that a wider readership should be able to access and understand the texts available, and it is here that we should situate the usefulness of the Bhakti Hindi-English Dictionary.
Winand M. Callewaert is Prof. emeritus of Sanskrit and Hinduism at the Katholieke Universitieit Leuven, Belgium. He has been studying and working in India since 1965, holding degrees in Sanskrit and Philosophy from Ranchi, Varanasi and Pune. His PhD. And D.Lit degrees are from the KU Leuven. Besides numerous research articles he has published 18 books in English or Hindi (mainly on Bhakti literature) and 14 books in Dutch. Forthcoming book to be published by D.K. Printworld is Bhakti: From Chant to Script.
Swapna Sharma, born in Vrindava, obtained her PhD degree in Hindi from University of Agra in 1991, with a study on Gadadhar Bhatta. From 1996 to 2007 she worked on the Dictionary of Bhakti in Leuven and is currently teaching in Chicago and Yale. She has several publications to her credit.
“If you do not have the proper tools, make them yourself,” said Michelangelo and he prepared his own chisels for carving the exquisite marble statues we still admire. If you do not have a good dictionary to render bhakti texts into English, make one yourself. That was the motivation that started to grow in my research unit since 1980.
In Ranchi in 1967, when my guru the Belgian Jesuit Father Camille Bulcke was working on his English-Hindi Dictionary (1968), writing with a pen and revising the typeset proofs, he told me repeatedly: “Winand, never start a dictionary. It is so hard.” In 1978 I started my academic career at the KULeuven, Belgium, and coming from the same stubborn region in Belgium as Father Bulcke, I defined my research project: “An Etymological Dictionary of the Bhakti Literature in North-India (sixteenth-senventeenth centuries)”.
Focusing on text-editions for the following twenty years I managed to find funding to actually start the dictionary in 1996, for four years! The project eventually kept me fully occupied till 2009. Here is the result.
Of the ca 40,000 words in this dictionary, I give not only the Khari Boli Hindi meaning or “equivalent” and the English meanings, and the references to Hindi, to Sanskrit or Persian. In many cases I also give the “philosophical” background of the word. In order to illustrated the specific meanings I give abundant quotations from a representative selection of texts of ca 1600 CE onwards in north India.
Who could imagine that the five words in the fictitious line may have the following meaning? “that worthy woman thus waited”: 1) pron. Who; which; that; 2) adj. worthy; capable; 3) f. wife; woman; 4) adv. In the way in which; just as; 5) vt. To look at; see; long for. See also e.g. the six different meanings or the seven different meanings of.
I would like to record my gratitude first to the colleagues and experts of my university for the help I received in preparing this dictionary. Around 1980 the computer wizard Paul Bijnens got me started in the world of computers by designing a Devanagari fort, which was used to have bhakti texts typed into the computer. That font was a real invention in those pioneering days, but an even alphabetical kwic-index (key-word-in-context) of words in Devanagari. We spent many hours together to come to a satisfactory result: a 60 Mb kwic-index of a 6Mb input of Bhakti texts. I admired not only his great skill and understanding of “my problems,” but also his immense patience and gentle character. Further, I gratefully acknowledge the help of (now Dr.) Bart Op de Beeck who typed most texts into the computer. When the database was eventually available in the computer, the really long road started: revising the input, adding hyphens for words that really should stay together (eventually most of these hyphens appeared to be redundant, but you learn making a dictionary only by making it), throwing out more than one hundred “useless” words and thousands of quotations, and so on. For all this preparatory work I could rely on the meticulous assistance of Anand Singh and Saumya Sharma. As the years passed I could as a pariah in the world of computers always have the instant help of Ovo Jossart, Matthias Mallaerts, Ludo Meyvis, Hans Coppens and David De Cooman, of Prof. Piet Mertens and his expertise in software for chapters encoding conversion and of Prof Frederik Truyen for the final layout and all its intricate problems. Sara Vantournhout has proved to be very meticulous by adding symbols and abbreviations. Dr. Dieter Taillieu has been of immense help for the meticulous revision of the final text the D.K. editors have done a marvelous job.
This dictionary could not have reached the present level of accuracy without the arduous assistance, for eleven years, of Swapna Sharma. Leaving Vrindavan she came to live in exile in Leuven for such a long period, bringing with her the knowledge of a Brajavasi so essential for this literature and shared with me the usually exciting, but sometimes boring days spent for this work of devotion.
If you do not know the way to the exit in a railway station, just follow the crowd. This dictionary would never have been completed if I had not had a big crowd leading my way, the crowd of eminent Bhakti scholars in India and in the West. I most gratefully acknowledge the use I made of their pioneering work (in chronological order, since 1917): Ahmad Shah, P.H. Sharma, Svami Mangaladasa, Vrajaratanadasa, P.D. Badathvala, P. Tivari, P. Caturvedi, M.P. Gupta, Svami Narayanadasa, Shukdev Singh, Charlotte Vaudeville, L. Hess, Monika Thiel-Horstmann, D. Lorenzen, R.S. McGregor, R. Snell, A. Entwistle, H. Pauwels, L. Rosenstein and V.S. Agravala. I owe endless gratitude to Ken Bryant and Jack Hawley: they were not only my encouraging and reliable buddies when we started our research in Bhakti with young enthusiasm in the 1980s, but they also gracefully made available the draft of their edition and English translation of Sur’s padas.
If it was my dharma to have to edit this dictionary and if I did my duty with great kama, one still needs artha as well. This project have been very generously sponsored with grants and salaries by the Flemish Research Foundation (FWO), the Research Foundation of my university (Onderzoeksfonds KULeuven), and with private donations: Caritas Cisterciensis, Westmalle, and the Jesuits of the Flanders Province. The publication has been made possible with a generous grant of the Universitaire Stichting of Belgium.
Finally, whoever will ever have use of this dictionary owes a great debt to Mieke my wife. For many years she allowed me to indulge in my passion for this project and nursed my fatigue every evening till I finally completed the work at the age of sixty-six.
In February 1784, six weeks after he had landed in Calcutta, William Jones started the Asiatic Society of Bengal: the beginning of the discovery of Sanskrit literature by the West. For centuries Persian had been the language of communication between the East India Company officials and the (Muslim) rulers in India, and pandits mastering both Sanskrit and Persian became the first assistants of Jones. Sanskrit literature and philosophy started to flood the West. In the first half of the twentieth century outstanding Indian scholars (R.C. Shukla, M.P. Gupta, P.N. Tivari and many others) studied and edited another treasure trove: bhakti literature. We further honour equally outstanding European scholars (Charlotte Vaudeville, R.S. McGregor and others) for starting to translate that literature into English. And now, at the beginning of the 21st century the study of bhakti literature has acquired the place it deserves in research and devotional reading around the globe.
After 1000 CE an important change took place on the religious scene in India. With the arrival of the Muslims and the establishment of Muslim governments in Delhi and elsewhere, Hinduism was confronted with a powerful religious tradition that was not only supported by military strength but was also endowed with a strong tradition of mysticism. Along with this double challenge, India was invaded by a language, Persian, that become the official language of the imperial court. From 1300 onwards a remarkable phenomenon changed the religious history of India. Popular mystic reformers appeared, reacting vehemently against both the Brahmanical ritualism and the corruption in Islamic practices. They personal devotion and giving their message in the vernacular languages, not in Sanskrit. The disciples of these gurus organized themselves in groups and exerted a strong influence on the development of religion, an influence which has continued up until the present day. Their hymns are still very influential today. The gurus and their disciples, as well as families of professional singers, traveled from village to village, from one region to another and sang their hymns of bhakti, or “strong devotion.” Only from 1600 CE onwards did these hymns begin to be written down. Depending on the period when the initial guru lived, these hymns were thus passed on from generation to generation, first in an oral tradition, then through scribal copying of manuscripts.
The language of this bhakti literature is a mixed medium that until now has not been described in detailed grammars and dictionaries, as was the case with Sanskrit. The vocabulary of this medium was borrowed, not only from Sanskrit and Persian but also from local idioms and dialects, and travelling singers adopted many terms and expressions as they traveled from one region to another. Consequently, each fresh edition in this field requires new grammars and glossaries. The language of this vernacular bhakti literature was mixed, for the reasons mentioned, and a student of this literature has to be acquainted with different linguistic areas in order to produce a translation.
The challenge in this area of research is the fact that this literature is, to a great extent, only accessible in manuscripts and little has been critically edited. Secondly, the language in which these hymns were sung has been studied only imperfectly, although a lot of progress has been made in the last 20 years. It is important that the tools needed to make the texts available to a wider readership would be made available. It is here that we should situate the importance of the Dictionary of Bhakti.
From 1960 onwards the study of Bhakti literature has become the focus of Bhakti. Of not a few scholars in the West. When, in 1979, I organized the first “Bhakti Colloquium” in Leuven, I met the first generation of scholars of bhakti literature. A total of 39 reports, from all over the world, was collected for the Proceedings, covering religious, cultural and philosophical topics. The purpose of the meeting was to bring together-for my own benefit and for those who attended-all available information about research in bhakti literature. The international interest was very satisfactory and increasing numbers of scholars have attended the next “Bhakti Conferences” in Bonn (1982), Leiden (1985), Cambridge (1988), Paris (1991), Seattle (1994), Venice (1997), Leuven (2000) and Romania (2009). In the Proceedings of each of these conferences one will find the reports on research of each scholar and very useful references to publications in this field.
|The Dictionary of Bhakti and North-Indian Bhakti Literature||XI|
|List of Works in the Database||XVII|