Proverbs, in any language, are the interesting ways to describe the commonly accepted facts which have been understood with experience. In Hindi, a proverb is called कहावत (Kahaavat). As the proverbs usually came out of understanding, way of thinking and experience of people, they can reflects the experience and cultural roots of a language’s speakers.
In this post, with you, I would like to ponder over some of the popular proverbs in Hindi. The aim of this post is not only to understand the meaning of proverbs but also the cultural or linguistic significance of the proverb. I will try my best to give you the metaphorical meanings in these proverbs.
1. छोटा मुँह और बड़ी बात (Chota maunh aur badi baat) – to talk big without having a big position.
In many culture, the physical build up could signify the person position and wealth in a society. Here, “छोटा मुँह” (Chota Mauh – Small face) may signify the malnutrition of a person which could be related to his lower position and hence, his wealth.
2. जितने मुँह उतनी बातें (Jitne maunh utni batein) – More mouths will have more talks.
Here, “जितने मुँह” (Jitne Mauh – That many mouth) shows that as you increase the number of people (and their mouths), the rumours or gossips will also increase.
3. बहती गंगा में हाथ धोना (Behti ganga mein hath dhona) – to use the available opportunity.
The river “गंगा“( Ganga – Ganges) is well known river in India which is sacred to Hindus. It is common believe in Hinduism that people can wash of their sins by taking a bath in the river. So comes the proverbs, which says that the if there is a happening, people irrespective of its wrong or right consequences, will not hesitate to join.
4. मान ना मान मैं तेरा मेहमान (maan na maan main tera mehman) – Getting involved without having anything to do with something / someone.
If you don’t know someone, you or other should not consider themselves welcomed as मेहमान (Mehmaan – Guest) to someone or some issue.
5. दूर के ढोल सुहावने (Door ke dhol suhavane) – The grass is always greener on the other side.
If you can hear faraway ढोल (Dhol – Drum), it doesn’t necessarily means that it is all musical there too.
6. अंधा क्या चाहे दो आँखें (Aandha kya chahe do aankhein) – A wish coming true.
Just like a अंधा (Andha – Blind) only wants to see the world (wants eyes), a person only needs his/her wish fulfilled.
7. घर का भेदी लंका ढाए (Ghar ka bhedi lanka dhaye) – Division is main reason for the damage (family, partnership etc).
The proverbs depict an incident from Indian myth, रामायण (Ramayana) when a brother of रावण (Ravana) became the traitor and told Rama on how to defeat his own brother.
8. कहा राजा भोज कहा गंगू तेली (Kaha raja bhoj aur kaha gangu teli) – Big difference in status or class.
One is राजा भोज (King Bhoj) and another is a गंगू तेली (Oil merchant named Gangu). There is huge class difference between the two.
9. जैसी करनी वैसी भरनी (Jesi karni wesi bharni) – As you sow so shall you reap.
This one is very straight forward as करनी (Karni – Doing) and भरनी (Bharni – Bearing of consequences). You will bear the consequence of your own doing.
10. चोरी का मॉल मोरी में (Chori ka maal mori mein) – Money earned the wrong way will be taken away, will be lost.
The things which has been stolen (चोरी का मॉल) or in earned in a wrong way will eventually find its way into a sluice (मोरी में), will be lost.