A Passage to India: Glossary                   


Drs. Morillo & May


begum = honorific semi‑noble name for women

bhakti = unselfish devotion as a means of reaching Brahman

bhang = hashish or its oils


Brahma = "the Creator," one of 3 supreme Hindu deities (along with Vishnu the Preserver and Shiva the destroyer); in Hindu philosphy, the impersonal supreme being, the primal source and ultimate goal of all things Brahman (also Brahmin) = a member of the highest priestly caste among the Indians

bulbuls = songbirds that appear often in Persian poetry

burra sahib = great master

chuprassi = servant

 dharma = in Hinduism, the moral order of the universe

durry = carpet

Ghurkhas = soldiers


Jain = intermediate sect between Brahminism and Buddhism. Jina founded this aescetic, monastic sect. c. 6th‑century B.C., in the time of Buddha. Kawa Dol is called a Jain cave, associating it with Jainst tripartite ethics of right belief, right knowledge, and right conduct.


Krishna = 8th emanation of Vishnu, a Hindu god noted for his role in restoring dharma and connecting divine and human love maharaja = great ruler


Mohurram/Muhurram = first month in Islamic calendar, it contains a celebration of the martydom of Husayn and the grandsons of Mohammed. In the novel it's feared by the Anglo‑Indians for its potential to stir up the Moslems.


Nazvab = form of nabob, a governor or deputy ruler; also used for any distinguished Moslem nobleman (Nawab Bahadur)

nifllah = a gully or ravine; an intermittent water course


picja = devotions


pukka = Anglo‑Indian slang 1) absolutely first rate (the pukka road) 2) cool (Fielding was not pukka)


picnkah = large canvas fan flapped by means of ropes and pulleys. Used to cool the courtroom.


purdah = literally a veil, from Hindi "parda,". screen or veil; any seclusion of women from public observation. central to Moslem culture.

raga = Hindu Indian classical music form (sung by Godbole)

raj = rule, sovereignty, hence the British raj, the fact of British rule in India

raja = ruler

saddhics = wise/holy ascetics

sais = servant tiffin = breakfast/snack

topi = hat


“untouchable” or outcast = lowest Hindu caste