Perso-Arabic dictionaries define Hindu as a black, thief and slave
One who is non-envious and a friend of all living entities is dear to God. — Gītā 12.14.
That line defines what an ideal Hindu aspires to live up to. Not hating others and being friendly with everybody. As an anvēṣaka, I am curious to know how Persians and Arabs define the word Hindu in their own languges. Let us go!
I was browsing the Persian-English dictionary digitized by the University of Chicago. It’s called A Comprehensive Persian-English Dictionary written by Francis Joseph Steingass and published in 1892 in London. What caught my eye was the definition of the word Hindu:
- An Indian; black; a servant; a slave; a robber; an infidel; a watchman; a mole on the cheek of a mistress;
- — hindūyi bārīk-bīn (pīr, charḵẖ, sipihr, guṃbaẓi gardān): The planet Saturn;
- — hindūyi jān-bar-miyān: Obedient, submissive; a slave, a servant.
Apart from the obvious meaning, “Indian”, every other sense of the word is meant to be insulting and derogatory to the Hindus. They even used the word Hindu to mean a black mole on the cheek of a woman! So much hatred that they were even proud to record such meanings in a dictionary. Is this what religious tolerance meant to the Persians?
Here is a screenshot from a scanned copy of the dictionary (full size):
From the same dictionary, take for example, another Indian word Nāsik:
- Name of the founder of a Hindū sect; name of an infidel people, or one unsteady in their religious opinions.
So, Hindus are basically black-skinned infidels who are meant to be looked down upon as slaves.
Wait. What if this book is not authentic? What if the author is biased? As a response, I ask why would the University of Chicago take the pain to digitize and publish such a dictionary unless it is authoritative?
Let’s take a Persian scholar this time, Sulayman Hayyim, whose dictionary A New Persian-English Dictionary, published in 1934–36, has been digitized by the University of Chicago. Here is his definition of Hendoo:
- Hendoo, Hendooy
- 1) A Hindu or Hindoo; an Indian.
- 2) A black slave.
- 3) Poet. A mole, a mother’s mark.
So, Hindus are black slaves.
Loghat Naameh ye Dehkhoda is a 16-volume comprehensive dictionary in Persian, the largest ever, compiled by Ali Akbar Dehkhoda. A searchable online interface for the dictionary exists. Apart from the usual meanings of “Indian” or “follower of Indian religion”, it also gives these definitions for Hindu (هندو): black, slave or servant, constable, guard; metaphorically: tattoos, hair, infidels, atheists, thieves (Google Translate’d). I cross-confirmed it by searching the same word in another online database, Loghat Naameh, for the same dictionary: servant, black slaves, hair, black eye, etc. Another online dictionary called Farsi Lookup, gave similar meanings (Google Translate’d): black, hair, thief, pagan atheist, etc.
For further proof, I quote additional sources below.
From the works of Western scholars
Duncan Forbes dictionary, page 792, published 1806:
The word gentoo is an archaic word today, but it specifically denotes Hindus, according to Noah Webster’s Unabridged dictionary. Once again, Hindus are infidels.
Note the abbreviation, a. p. at the end of the definition. It means Arabic-Persian. One might ask why would Arabs call themselves as blacks or Hindus. This is not completely true; the hatred of Persians towards Arabs is also well-documented. Therefore, it is only Persians (not Arabs themselves) who included Arabs to mean blacks.
John Shakespear’s dictionary, column 1874, published 1834:
Once again, note the abbreviation “A. P.”, meaning Arabic-Persian. Once again gentoos. Moles.
An almost identical definition is also provided by William Yates’ dictionary, page 558, published 1847:
Once again, note the abbreviation “A. P.”, meaning Arabic-Persian. And black. And gentoo. And a mole.
This following is a lecture from a well-known Arya Samaj follower, Mahendra Pal Arya. The talk is in Hindi, he quotes references starting around time 05:20.
My attempt at English translation:
Hindu means thief (cōr), characterless (lucchā), rouge (lafaṅgā), alcoholic (śarābī), meat-eater (kebābī), swindler (dagābāz), wicked (badmāsh), black (kālā) and infidel (kāfir). I will now tell the names of dictionaries themselves:
- Gayas ul lug̠ẖat: Farsi dictionary
- Karīm ul lug̠ẖat: Arabic dictionary
- Lug̠ẖat firōzī and Firōz ul lug̠ẖat: Urdu dictionary
Even if you look at the Britannica Encyclopedia, you will find these very same definitions (thief, rougue, etc.).
His claim can verified by reading/downloading those dictionaries he quotes: Gayasul Lughat (Persian to Urdu), Feroz-ul-lughat (Urdu to Urdu) and Misbah-ul-lughat (Arabic to Urdu). Another dictionary to consult is Jadeed-ul-lughat. You can find the definition of Hindu in Encyclopedia Britannica (1911 edition), vol 13, as well. I downloaded the TIFF files of Gayasul Lughat from the Digital Library of India and converted it to PDF (33 MB). It can be downloaded from here.
As usual, comments and corrections, send them to MAIL.ADDRESS.