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Evolution of Dictionary
Bhagwadgomandal - A Historical Perspective

The year 1944 is a milestone in the history of Dictionary making in Gujarati language; not that no dictionaries were created earlier, or that the dictionaries available till then were not reliable. The one prepared at the instance of Mahatma Gandhi - SARTH JODANI KOSH - by three stalwarts - Kakasaheb Kalekar, Mahadevbhai Desai and Narharibhai Parikh is available since 1929; it had been recognized by Gujarati Sahitya Parishad (All Gujarat Literary Association) in 1936 and by the then Govt of Bombay in 1940 for the spellings of Gujarati words. It is still the dictionary recognized by both for spellings. But 1944, was the year in which Gujarati language got a unique dictionary, say an encyclopedic dictionary. That was the year when Vol.1 of the Gujarati dictionary, titled 'Bhagwadgomandal' was published. And what a lexicon! The first Volume has 902 pages each of the size 12 inches by 8.5 inches, has meanings of 26687 words, 51338 words to give meanings of these words and 1303 idioms. How delighted Gujarati littérateurs then must have been - that is only to be imagined, as eight further volumes, ready in all respects were to follow and follow they did. The last volume was published in the year 1955. Gujaratis were happy that their language had such a unique encyclopedic lexicon. Their only and great regret was that the creator of this master piece, Maharaja Bhagwatsinhji, the King of Gondal State, passed away on 9th March 1944 at the age of 78 in the year in which the first volume saw the light of the day. Many thought that he might have made up his mind not to leave this world till he presented this lexicon to his Gujarati brethren. Such was his love for his mother tongue! Well, he was not able to see the published work with his own eyes but his name is written with golden letters in the history of Gujarati lexicon. How earnestly he must have desired to have an introduction to his mammoth work by Gandhiji! He had requested him for an introduction. Gandhiji expressed his inability to grant his request, nonetheless two lines Gandhiji wrote in reply must have been greatly satisfying to him and those two lines also indicate how highly Gandhiji was impressed by his work. Gandhiji wrote: "I do not have the ability to write an introduction. But I am astonished at your enterprise. I do believe it will be a great service to mother tongue." [‘પ્રસ્તાવના લખવાની મારી શક્તિ નથી. તમારા સાહસથી હું મુગ્ધ થયો છું. એથી માતૃભાષાની મોટી સેવા થશે એમ હું માનું છું.’]

The first attempt for a Gujarati dictionary was made by Dr. Drumand, a medical doctor as early as 1808. He was a Government officer. His full name was Doctor Robert Drumand. No definite information as to when he was born is available. However, after obtaining in 1792 a Certificate of Corporation of Surgeons ( C.C.S. ,) he came to Mumbai in 1793--94. He had worked as doctor in Vadodara as well as in Amadavad. In 1803 he obtained the M.D. degree from Kings College, England. He was appointed as Surgeon General in Mumbai on February 1, 1803. He worked as Surgeon General till 1809. In March 1809, he started his travel to his country, England in a steamer named Lady Den Dandas. But destiny was quite different. The steamer he was travelling by dived down in the ocean on 14 March 1809. The disaster resulted in loss of lives of whoever were in the steamer, and naturally Dr. Robert Drumand was one of them.

The dictionary prepared by Dr. Drumand was indeed, a tiny one of only 463 words, giving equivalents of these Gujarati words. It was rightly called 'Glossary'. The idea was to help Englishmen in India to understand and if so desired, to learn Gujarati. It also gave grammar of Gujarati, Marathi and English languages. Dictionaries were attempted and prepared in 1835, 1841, 1848, but even in the last one the number of words were 15000.

The first major and noteworthy attempt was by Kavi Narmad (Poet Narmad) in 1861. He devoted 12 years of his life to this project single handedly. The first volume of his dictionary, appropriately titled 'NARM KOSH' was published in 1861 and three others within four years thereafter. But the work came to a stop for want of finance. Ultimately, Narmkosh, a complete dictionary was published in 1873. This is the first systematic attempt to create a dictionary in Gujarati. It has 25000 words with corresponding synonyms or explanation of what the word means. The fact that it covers all subjects and the scientific precision exercised entitles it to claim the honour of being the first lexicon of Gujarat language. In 1921, Gujarati language was benefited with the gift of 'Sayaji Kalpataru', a lexicon of words used in state administration. It was prepared at the direction of Maharaja Sayajirao Gayakwad III of Baroda. He had declared Gujarati as state language for his state spread over four districts of Gujarat - Baroda, Navsari, Mehasana and Amreli. All acts of the state were passed in Gujarati. State correspondence was in Gujarati. All judgments, orders and examinations of witnesses were in Gujarati. This was true even for State High Court located at Baroda. [Incidentally this reminds me of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaja who on establishing Maratha empire, decided to replace Farsi by Marathi as state language. He entrusted the work of preparing a Marathi dictionary of administrative words to his favourite and capable minister Raghunath Pant who was well versed and competent for such a project. And Marathi language had 'Rajvyavahar Kosh', a dictionary of administrative words.]

Gujarati language has been benefited by a unique dictionary thanks to the happy coincidence that Gandhiji, the Father of the Nation, was born in Gujarat and Gujarati was his mother tongue. He was greatly agitated by the fact that there was no uniformity, no system for the spelling words of his mother tongue, Gujarati. Common man did not bother about it. It was no problem to him. He rarely needed to take up the pen [rather a pencil or a holder] but only once in a while to write few lines to a relative on post card. He would have his own spellings and would be happy, if what he wrote conveyed his message to the person concerned. The situation as then obtained in this respect should have problem for literatures. But most of them had their own ideas (rather fancies) and unfortunately they widely differed. Each followed its own system. This was, indeed, an issue, in fact a real issue before Gujarati Sahitya Parishad (All Gujarat Association for Gujarati language) established in1905. The issue was briefly touched by the first President Shri Govardhanram Tripathi, and also by some Presidents who followed him. But it remained an issue till 1929.

Gandhiji decided to bring an end to this sordid state in respect of spellings of Gujarati words. Result was JODANIKOSH by Gujarat Vidyapith published in the first week of April 1929. The dictionary had his blessings in the form of a short note he wrote in his Gujarati weekly NAVJIVAN (7-4-1929 issue). This note is a precious ornament for the dictionary and is proudly displayed in each of its edition. And why not? However, the most salient and unique fact about this dictionary is that it is (or say was) not a SHABDAKOSH [dictionary giving meaning of words] but a JODANIKOSH [dictionary giving only spellings of words and only spellings]. Its title, title of the first edition, was also appropriately JODANIKOSH (Dictionary of Spellings). The first edition gave only words alphabetically as they should be spelled as per the rules framed for the purpose. Giving meanings of the words was not even contemplated initially. Gandhiji had entrusted this work to three of his most trusted lieutenants namely Kaka Saheb Kalelkar, Mahadevbhai Desai and Naraharibhai Parikh, who were all scholars. [What a surprise and happy one that the leader of this team Kaka Saheb Kalekar was a Maharastrian but had a great command on Gujarati and was President of Gujarati Sahitya Parishad for the years 1959-60 and 1960-61, just as Gandhiji was for the years 1936-37 and 1937-38.] This trio framed rules for spelling Gujarati words in wide consultations of Gujarati writers and scholars who had expert knowledge of the same. All words included in it were spelled in conformity with these of rules.

Within just a year or so, the copies were sold out and it became necessary to bring out second edition. By that time the authors -the trio- realized that the dictionary couldn't stop at giving only spellings of words, as had been done in the first edition. It will not be a real service to the people. So they thought, "If not elaborately, at least meaning expressing the sense in which people mainly use and understand the word should be given." This they accomplished in the second edition, published in 1931. The title of the dictionary was modified to SARTH JODANI KOSH (Dictionary of Spellings of Words with their meanings). In a way, this is a unique dictionary among the dictionaries of the languages of the whole world. No such dictionary, to the best of our knowledge, exists in any other language of the world where stress is on spellings of words and their meanings have second priority. [A distinctive feature about the creation of dictionaries of Gujarati language is that out of four landmark dictionaries, two are prepared at the instance of or by a king himself and other two by the devotees of the mother tongue, Kavi Narmad and Gandhiji. The latter two, namely Narmad and Gandhiji were not kings in the sense that none had a kingdom. But were they not kings? Did they not rule the hearts of contemporary Gujaratis then and will they not rule the hearts of Gujaratis of all times to come? ]

This Sarth JODANI KOSH is the dictionary in use today by common man. No doubt one reason is that it is blessed by a person no less than Gandhiji. Second, it is not voluminous. Unlike Bhagwadgomandal, it is a single book - how convenient! Thirdly, because he can afford to buy it, as it is very reasonably priced. [Gujarat Vidyapeeth, a University established by Gandhiji and printed by Navjivan Karyalaya, also established by Gandhiji publishes the dictionary. Both are non-profit-making organizations. Gujarat is fortunate to have two book-publishing organizations - Navjivan and Sastu Sahitya Vardhak Karyalaya, the later established by Bhikshu Akhandanandaji. What a saint he was! The very purpose of these two organizations is to make available to common Gujarati reading public good books at a very reasonable price. Gujarat is proud of them. Only other known such organization is Gita press, Gorakhpur. Its publications, of course, are religious books like Gita and are unbelievably low priced. ]

However, Sarth Jodanikosh is not a comprehensive dictionary. No doubt for spellings it is a landmark work. Its first edition had 43743 words, second 46661, third 56830, fourth some more but not substantial and fifth 68467. Since then that is 1967, no new edition is brought out; the fifth edition has been repeatedly printed six times. Only recently in the year 2005, a supplement is published. The purpose of bringing out this supplement is to incorporate into Sarth sizable number of words of other languages, especially English, which are very commonly used today by Gujaratis in their writings or talk. This is a very important addition; still number of words so added is around 5000. The total comes to 68473 + 5000 = 73473 only.

Needless to say that Sarth does not give all meanings of a word included in the said dictionary. Kaka Saheb Kalelkar himself has said in the introduction of the second edition that only main meanings of the words are given. He has further said that it was their ardent desire to tackle this aspect also as soundly as that of spellings. Naturally they could not achieve that. The reason is obvious that it was the time of Dandi March. (Second edition was published in 1931.) Naturally this trio had neither time nor convenience to devote themselves substantially, if not totally, to this aspect. Even then language lovers then must have felt greatly indebted to them and every Gujarati even today feels that in spite of their other and important engagements they have accomplished substantial work in respect of meanings also. [For improvement and addition since the second edition till the fifth one thanks are due to Maganbhai Desai who also served as Vice-chancellor of Gujarat University.]

Sarth JodaniKosh has yet to travel good number of miles to be fairly comprehensive. Compared to Bhagwadgomandal, which has 281733 words, Sarth JodaniKosh has only 26 % of words of Gujarati language. Besides it does not give all meanings in which the word is used. Gujarati language is fortunate that this want is made up with a unique dictionary that is Bhagwadgomandal by Maharaja Bhagwatsinhji (1865 - 1944) of Gondal, a princely state in Saurashtra, Gujarat. [A rare coincidence that Bhagwatsinhji was born four years earlier than Gandhiji (1869 -1948) and left this world also four years earlier than Gandhiji.) Maharaja greatly felt the want of a comprehensive dictionary in his mother tongue and this fact greatly pained him. He himself was a scholar. He had ensured that administration of his state was run in Gujarati; English word could be used only if indispensable. Naturally he had to make this concession for exceptional use of English words, as use of Gujarati for administrative purpose was very recent.

Maharaja himself was studious. He was also a good writer. At the very young age of 20, he had written a book in English about his tour of Europe. The book had earned good reviews by learned men like Professor Wambary of Hungary and periodicals like 'New Review'. He also wrote the book 'History of Ayurveda'. That too was widely read and well reviewed by periodicals no less than 'British Medical Journal', 'English Man' of Calcutta and 'London Times'.

The splendid example of Maharajah’s devotion and love for mother tongue, his scholarship, vast knowledge and above all his studiousness are the textbooks, which were prepared under his direct supervision for schools in his state. They are text books for Gujarati titled Vachanmala 1 to 7, Shikhsanamala 1 to 7, Axarmala 1 to 7, Axarpothi, Adarsh Shikshan 1 to 3, Sabda Sangrah (collection of words) 1 to 3; so also text-books for English, Hindi and Sanskrit and also for other subjects namely Arithmetic, Geometry, Trigonometry, Algebra, Sciences like Physics and Chemistry, besides of History and Geography and books for extra reading. It can be truly said that he was a living example of Kalidas's famous lines निसर्गभिन्नास्पदमेकसंस्थमस्मिन्द्व्यं श्रीश्च सरस्वती च I [Shlok 29 of Sarg 6 of Mahakavya Raghuvansham] Laxmi and Saraswati, who are by nature destined to be poles apart reside together in him.

What has benefited Gujarati language the most is his ardent desire that his mother tongue must have a great dictionary like Webster's 'English Dictionary'. And what a man do we find in him! He was a king of a princely state of India, he had ample resources at his command, he could have entrusted the work of dictionary preparation to a learned man (Pundit) or appointed a team of scholars. [This reminds of the establishment of French Academy by French emperor for complete Dictionary of French language where about 40 French scholars worked for 56 years to comply the royal desire which in fact is a command] Or he could have entrusted the project to an institution or organization like Gujarat Vidya Sabha or Gujarati Sahitya Parishad [that was sometime in 1915 and Gujarat Vidyapeeth was years away as that was the year when Gandhiji came to India for good from South Africa.] or University of Bombay or even proposed to Maharaja Sayajirao Gayakwad of Baroda for a joint project. He too like him was ardent lover of Gujarati and had a high opinion about him. ["The feelings of his subject towards the Honorable Maharaja of Gondal is not only for this project for education for his subjects. He has also taken care of their needs for all fields of their lives like roads and trams for transport, establishment of civil and criminal courts, hospitals, public gardens and play grounds for sports. In future when history of Princely States of India will be written, ample evidence will be available from here as to what Princely States, even with limited resources, were doing for the development and well-being of their subjects."--- Maharaja Sayajirao's words about Maharaja Bhagwatsinhji.] But this man, Maharaja Bhagwatsinhji was indeed unique. He thoughts why not follow the well-known Gujarati proverb: Apana hath Jagannath [meaning literally - My own hands are my God], which in essence means 'Do it thyself.' Since 1915 or there about he started collecting Gujarati words that he came across but which were new to him or to the best of his knowledge was not found in any existing Gujarati dictionaries.

Bhagwatsinhji had his own study room rich with best books of Gujarati, Hindi, Sanskrit, Farsi and some other languages on varied subjects like Geography, Astronomy, Sciences, Veds, Vedangs, Shastras and Purans, literature and arts. And they were not decorative pieces. He used to find out time to read them. Besides he had earmarked three hours of everyday to meet and hear personally anyone of his subjects who wanted to make him any representation or had any complain against the state administration. He had created faith in the hearts of his subjects right from the richest to the man at the bottom of social ladder and from an affluent merchant to the village farmer, that he will be heard personally by Maharaja himself and his complaint, if found genuine, will be resolved. So, he had the opportunities to hear people of all classes and trade or occupations from their own mouth, in the language they used. Maharaja used to hear them with patience and full attention, not only to understand what they had to complain about or what they wanted to be done but at the same time he was keenly alert about their dialect too. If he came across any new word, he would immediately note them down in a diary. That had become almost a habit with him. Similarly, while reading written representation, state correspondence, state orders, old documents, letters, newspapers, periodicals or books, if he chanced to come across a new word, he would make a careful note. Also while in tour or in conversation he was alert to note down any word he found to be new. In short when he happened to come across any Gujarati word that he found worth noting from the point of view of sense in which it was used, etymology, grammar etc., it would immediately go into his note book. He had no hesitation to do this in presence of whomsoever he was talking or discussing. One can say that the dream of creating a comprehensive dictionary had caught hold of him like a whim. Among his officers and state administrative staff and leading persons of his subjects, he was known by the nickname - KOSHGHELA (Dictionary-Mad). But can such a project be accomplished without such a whim?

Bhagwatsinhji had also collected few books specifically for this purpose. They were 'Classified Dictionary', 'Gardens in Tropics', 'Century Dictionaries', 'Arthshastra of Chanakya' and not easily available Funk and Wangler's English 'New Standard Dictionaries'. He also realized that this was not enough. He or for that mater no one, can alone collect all words. He thought he should invite every one by a public appeal to contribute to this noble cause. So he got issued a public appeal as under:


"Do contribute whatever you can and directly co-operate with this project on hand to ensure that it is illustrated by appropriate phrases from the books of noted writers; is authentic; has pictorial illustrations where necessary and is live with spoken words used by the public of rural area in their day-to-day work and communication."

He ensured that these pamphlets reached every household even in the remote areas. It had a tremendous response.

By 1928 Maharaja had collected 20000 (twenty thousand) words. The Education Officer of Gondal State, Chandubhai Becharbhai Patel was of great and ready assistance to him for this work. Maharajah realised that the work of dictionary has to be proceeded with on a regular basis and experts as may be necessary should also be engaged for full time. So on 1 October 1928 he established an independent office with overall supervision by himself and direct day-to-day control of Chandubhai Patel (Officer corresponding to Director of Education of a State). Sixteen years after this, his cherished dream was realized. The Dictionary in nine volumes was ready in all respects. What remained was to get them printed. Printing was taken on hand and proofs were being received from day-to-day. Maharaja himself was also doing proof reading along with others. The first volume was duly printed and published on 25 March 1944. But Maharaja himself was not destined to witness this publication. He had left heaven-wards before that. The eight volumes had yet to be published. His son Maharaja Bhojrajaji ensured that printing proceeded and did not come to a halt. That was only to be expected and natural. What could be better homage to his father than this? [Hardly ever anybody remembers his name in connection with Bhagwadgomandal, but he does deserve to be remembered.] But before all the volumes would see the light of the day, India became independent and the princely states were merged into the states they were geographically located or merged together into a Union of States. Gondal State became part of the State of Saurashtra. The State continued the work. [The great educationist and truly Gandhian Gijubhai Badheka was the Minister for Education in this newly formed State of Saurashtra.] The last volume was published on 9 March 1955. Accomplishment of such a great work was marked with adoration of Vol. 9 at the hands of Reverend Shankaracharyji of Dwarka.

One important aspect we have not yet taken note of - one that would have caused considerable concern to Maharaja. That is the issue of spelling. A chaos prevailed in this field. Gujarat was fortunate to have literary stalwarts like Govardhanram Tripathi, Narsinhrao Divetia, Acharya Anandshankar Dhruv, Ramanbhai Nilkanth, Keshavlal H.Dhruv, Ambalal Sakarlal Desai, Ranchodbhai Dave, Kamalashankar Tripathi, Balvantrai Thakore and score others. But every one of them had his own ideas about spellings of Gujarati words. They were so divergent to one another and everyone was adamant about his own views. There was no possibility to adopt a uniform system. Maharaja would have felt greatly relieved, when in 1929 Mahatma Gandhi, greatly perturbed by this state of affairs, took steps to get rules of spellings framed and a dictionary - JODANI KOSH - of spelled out words only without any meanings published. Subsequently it was recognized both by the Parishad and the State as stated earlier as standard to be followed. Maharaja adopted these rules for Bhagwadgomandal. How significant this fact is! Whenever one opens a page of of this dictionary, who will come to his mind? Two great sons of Mother India - one, a common man who raised himself to be the king of hearts of Indians for generations to come and recognized to be uniquely uncommon by the whole world and the other who was born as king but lived as commonly as possible; one who devoted his life to the cause of his motherland and the other who devoted himself to the well-being of his subjects.

The physical aspects of the Bhagwadgomandal are impressive, in fact awe-inspiring -- Nine volumes, 9270 pages, 281377 words, 540455 words explaining their meanings and 28156 idioms. Knowledge, like God, has no boundaries, it has no physical dimensions, and it cannot be measured in cubic-meters or kiloliters. But my God! A curious gentleman [Tulasidas has rightly observed: in e-bharati: Tulasi is sansa'r me bha't bha't ke log.] tried to actually weigh it. Of course, he must have done it with full reverence and with due apologies to Goddess Sarswati as well as Maharaja and possibly even Gandhiji. But he did and found it to weigh, as it is said, 56 lbs, that is half a hundredweight that is 25 point 40 Kgs. [Actually in desi measure of weights, then prevailing: 1 man' 15 shers and 28 rupeea'bha'r]

In a human being we may appreciate his physical appearance, if he is handsome. But we don't stop there. We know that that is of no avail, if his inner self is not equally good. That is true for a dictionary or of any other book. Its contents are important. For Bhagwadgomandal for that purpose Kanaiyalal Munshi comes to our aid. Not the politician Munshi but Munshi, the devotee of Saraswati, himself a reputed Gujarati author and founder of Bharatiy Vidya Bhavan. In his 'Upsanhar' (the concluding note) on the last page of the last volume of this dictionary, he writes: " Creation of an encyclopedic dictionary is since years the heartfelt desire of Gujarati literatures. The Late Maharaja Bhagwatsinhji has fulfilled their desire. I had a discussion with him in 1938 about this project. Since then I have evinced interest in his work on it. He was proud of his mother tongue and was determined to enrich it with a good dictionary.” “He himself spared no labour to collect words. He collected words from any one he happened to come in contact with - be he a farmer, a villager, a man of upper class or members of his royal court. He also used to send copies of typed pages to learned men and reputed Gujarati authors for any words they thought are missing and need to be added. "The significant aspect of this dictionary is that strenuous and unsparing efforts are made for collection of words of dialects and words in common use in rural areas to make it truly encyclopedic. Even words used by Waghers, Ahirs and Miyanas (local Kshatriy communities - dare devil and vigorous) are collected and incorporated in the dictionary. Words from Vedant, sciences, technical words of all other subjects and words found in Gujarati literature are incorporated here. (And where necessary) actual quotations form the books are given. [This practice, which is very common in Sanskrit and English dictionary, is not adopted by any Gujarati dictionary till date. That way this is the only Gujarati dictionary to adopt it.] "Pronunciations, meanings, grammatical identity, and etymology of every word are well indicated. Facts from archeological investigations where found relevant are given at appropriate spaces. Words of other languages in common use in Gujarat are also incorporated. At times historical events, if relevant, are briefly mentioned. In the last volume pictorial illustrations are also given. Thus this is not an ordinary dictionary, it has outgrown to an encyclopedia. "Dictionary of a developing language is not a mere dictionary. Just as Dr. Johnson's dictionary of English language provided a sort of stability to English language, this dictionary will contribute greatly to stabilizing Gujarati language and help to enrich its literature." [This Shri K.M. Munshi wrote on 9-3-1955, when he was Governor of Uttar Pradesh.] Note: Writing in bracket is addition by the writer of the article and not part of Shri Munshi's note.

Shri K.M. Munshi's observation that this is an encyclopedia is truly and thoroughly born out by the contents of the dictionary. It has words related to - we may say about any thing one may be curious to know and with every meaning of the word as well as any relevant information available about the word. It has words related to medicine (vaidak), sciences, administration of justice, sculpture, arts, astrology, meters for poetry (pingal), ornaments [Ladies and their lovers must have noted this with grateful hearts], Indian sports (desi ramato), music including Rag-Ragini, musical instruments, vedant, shipping, purans, tantric words, native ornaments, ancient weapons, cloths and clothes, horticulture, vegetation, horses and their kinds including pieces or things used to decorate them, similarly about elephants, words specifically and particularly used by communities like Jains, Mohammedans, Parsis and Ismaili, and last but not the least - all names of Lord Krishna and Lord Shiv.

The very first page of this dictionary, at the very first look on it, is enough to convince the reader that this is nothing but an encyclopedia; it is an ocean of knowledge. The first page begins with the letter અ (A) as any dictionary of any language begins with, the first letter of Gujarati script (and of all Indian languages and even English). The meaning and relevant information about this letter has 129 lines in Bhagwadgomandal as compared to 11 in Sarth Jodanikosh, 15 in Narmkosh (Gujarati dictionary by poet Narmad), 11 in Moneir William's 'Dictionary of English and Sanskrit', 26 in The Reader's Digest's Great Encyclopedic Dictionary', 26 in Oxford's 'English-Gujarati Dictionary' and 47 in Vaman Apte's 'Sanskrit-Hindi Kos'. One can easily and immediately have the idea that this is exhaustive and complete, and nothing is missed. One may consider it a slight disadvantage from the point of view of an ordinary man that its price may be unaffordable to him. This point too was not missed by the Maharaja; the overall cost of the dictionary was about Rs 545/- but it was offered at Rs 146/-. [Today - its recently published reprint costs Rs. 7500 /-]

A unique feature of Bhagwadgomandal is novel one of giving in bracket just next to the word, meaning of every part of the word, when they can be separated (say a word has a suffix or prefix or it is composed of more than one independent words, what we call samas), as for example the word AGRACHAR (અગ્રચર) immediately following it is (Sanskrit સંસ્કૃત: અગ્ર - Agra (આગળ - aagal - in the front or at the head of any thing + ચાલવું - Chaala vu - to walk) પુ.(male) આગેવાન, નેતા - one at the head of any thing, leader.) No dictionary of any language I have come across (of course limited to very few but for Gujarati and only of four languages namely Gujarati, Sanskrit, Hindi and English) and I have inquired of some professors of Gujarati, Hindi, Sanskrit and English, all of them very knowledgeable, none of them is aware of any dictionary which to the best of their knowledge has this feature. A student of even a High School will grasp the sense of the word he puts his finger on. This was precisely one of the objects of Bhagwatsinhji, even an ordinary literate person should be able to use the dictionary without any aid from anybody. He has really achieved it. We wonder how he got this idea. May be he may have come across some rare dictionary that had this feature or he might have posed the question to his team of experts who may have evolved this design or device or whatever we may call it. We have just to conjecture. But we have to accept that only a man who must have thought over an over what a dictionary must be, a man possessed of his dream and whose mind must have been possessed of it every minute of the day, consciously or subconsciously, can have such an idea. Webster's dictionary, it is said, was his model. [Incidentally that was also the model Narmad had before him. First edition of Webster's dictionary (1755) had 70000 words and its new International Edition (1932) 452000 words.] One cannot but appreciate his selection of the model, but one has to admit that it must have been for guidance and he has evolved his model, which is matchless.

Apart from what K.M. Munshi has observed in 1955, even today it is matchless among dictionaries of Gujarati language, as can be inferred from Gujarat State's Director of Languages' publication, SHABDAKOSH VIGNAN (Science of Dictionary Making) as recently as the year 2001. It notes: "Bhagwadgomandal, a Dictionary (Vol. 1 to 9) is a great gift ( નજરાણું ) of Maharaja Bhagwatsinhji of Gondal to Gujarati language. It is the fruit of dedicated labour of Maharaja of Gondal along with Chandubhai Patel, Educational Officer of his state and 25 to 30 scholars of the language. The dictionary which gives every possible meaning of a word and many other meaningful information about the word is a an invaluable book (મહામૂલો ગ્રંથમણિ) of Gujarati language. [ page 75 of first edition published in 2001]

When we had discussion about dictionaries in Gandhinagar Sahitya Sabha especially when the members first came to know, about two years back, through the booklet 'Kampyutar Ni Klike' that Gujarati language now has a digitalized dictionary, good number of members had expressed that some literary organization should now think of digitalizing Bhagwadgomandal. That will be a great service to our mother tongue and especially to computer users, computers being common in all Govt. Offices, Educational Institutions, high schools and colleges and the fact that computering is being taught to the students from middle school level. I was tempted to quote Shri Govindbhai Raval who and whose wife Sumatiben have dedicated their lives to education in remote rural part of Sabarkantha of Gujarat since 1955 and quote I did. The couple, graduated from Gujarat Vidyapeeth decided to devote their lives to spread education in the rural area of their native district and start from such a village where there was no school. By now they have established an excellent educational institution VISWAMANGALAM at Anera, a village about 15 kilometers from Himmatnagar, District Head Quarters of District Sabarkantha. Incidentally it may be mentioned that Govindbhai Raval had been Vice Chancellor of Gujarat Vidyapeeth and even today he is associated with it. I had the opportunity to visit the Institution thanks to my friend Uttambhai Gajjar of Surat. Govinbhai Raval had said: Today our definition of an illiterate person is - one who does not know even one the three: English, Computering and car driving. Everybody agreed it is apt in 21 century even for India. Their only regret was that most of the members were illiterate according to this new but correct definition. It can really be hoped that computer will become as common as TV is today. Digitalization of this encyclopedic dictionary, Bhagwadgomandal, will be a boon to every literate Gujarati, especially those who are settled in other countries or other states of India. Let us hope this will be accomplished not at a very distant future but soon. बहुरत्ना गुजरातधरा. Gujarat has many gems of men.

Balvant V. Patel (Président)
Gandhinagar Sahitya Sabha
Gandhinagar - 382 021,
Gujarat, India