Language Resources

Only love can influence the Beloved.
Still, the lover who desires to be taken into her Beloved’s arms
uses every resource to find Him.

-Shyamdas, Loving Wisdom


This is my go-to online Hindi/English dictionary (Shabdkosh means dictionary). The search box is very intuitive and gives you a lot of suggestions just from phonetic entries.

By far the best physical Hindi-English dictionary for Brajbhasha is the Oxford by R.S. McGregor who is a great scholar and in fact did a lot of research on the Ashtachap poet Nandadas. His dictionary distinguishes a lot of Brajbhasha terms. There is another 3 volume set of Brajbhasha-Hindi dictionaries that are also important for finding Braj terms and spelling variants, but it’s not even available really so I won’t bother telling you more about that for now.

For Sanskrit the standard English resource is Monier Williams’ 1899 dictionary. It has been digitized and you can search Sanskrit words online here. There are other Sanskrit dictionaries also available here. I use the Harvard-Kyoto input system (all input options described on this help page) e.g. Kṛṣṇa=kRSNa, Rādhā=rAdhA, Śiva = ziva, nimiṣa=nimiSa, etc.

Online Devanagari Script Tutor This is a nice simple online resource. You can watch as the Devanagari characters are ‘written’ on screen by clicking the pencil icon and hear it pronounced by clicking the speaker icon.

Android app for learning Devanāgarī script This free app on the Google play store features excellent pronunciation of each letter and cues to practice writing devanagari with your finger on the screen. I recommend writing out by hand on paper too of course, but this is also a nice way to practice. The app has an acknowledged problem in that some combinations don’t work, particularly short ‘i’ it seems, so syllables like ki, khi, ti, etc. don’t come out right.

Transliteration Handout

Transliterating Devanagari Handout If you want to go more in depth on the nuances of transliteration, Prof. Rupert Snell, one of the preeminent Western scholars of Brajbhasha, has developed this thorough reference guide. He writes, “The whole business of ṭrānsliṭereśan and diacritical marks may seem like the most tedious subject in the world, but it has an important purpose: it allows the reader to envisage the correct sound and Hindi (Devanagari) spelling of a word.”

Typing in Transliteration

In my experience, it’s easier on a Mac to type in transliteration than in Windows. What to do. Go to System preferences->Keyboard->Input Sources and add “US Extended.” Up in the right of your top menu next to the day and time you can now select that keyboard (the US flag with what seems to be a small U under it). Click on that flag and then “Show Keyboard Viewer.” When the keyboard pops up on screen, hold down your option key to see the shortcuts (for example “alt+a” creates the macron for ā etc., “alt+x” creates the subscript dot for ḍ etc.)

Typing in Devanāgarī

I find that Mac is a lot easier for typing in Devanāgarī, but you can do so in Windows as well. This website has clear instructions for both Windows and Mac.