Ernest Trumpp

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Ernest Trumpp

Ernest Trumpp (13 March 1828 - 1885) was a German philologist and missionary to Sindh Province, Punjab Province, and Peshawar—all part of then-British India before the independence of Pakistan in 1947.[1][2]

He authored the first Sindhi grammar entitled Sindhi Alphabet and Grammar. He also published Grammar of Pashto, or language of the Afghans, compared with the Iranian and North Indian idioms, and translated most of the Guru Granth Sahib, sacred scriptures of the Sikhs, into English language.[2][3][4][5][6]


Trumpp was born on 13 March 1828 at Ilsfeld in Wurtemberg Province(now Baden-Württemberg), Germany. He migrated to London due to political upheaval in his country, and he was employed as an assistant librarian at the East India House (later known as India Office), headquarters of British East India Company that governed British India until British government took control of the Company's possessions in 1858.

Around 1854, he arrived India as a missionary sponsored by the Ecclesiastical Mission Society to study Languages of India and prepare their grammars and glossaries for use by Christian missionaries. As part of missionary duties, he was initially stationed at Karachi mission station, where he learnt Sindhi language. Later, he was stationed at Peshawar, where he studied Pashto language. He went back to Germany in 1860, however, was summoned by India office to work with Sikh scriptures. He returned to Lahore, part of then-India, to translate the sacred books of Sikhs into English language.

He returned to Württemberg in 1871, and from 1874 worked as a professor of Oriental languages in Munich.


While at Karachi, he translated Common Prayer Book into Persian language in 1858. In 1866, he edited and published Shah Jo Risalo, a poetic compendium of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, a Sindhi sufi; poet; mystic; and musician. He pubslished the first Sindhi grammar entitled Sindhi Alphabet and Grammar in 1872.[1][2][3][7][8][9]

He published Grammar of the Pushtoo, or language of the Afghans, compared with the Iranian and North Indian idioms in 1873, and translated most of the sacred book of the Sikhs Adi Granth in 1870.[2]

After he returned to Württemberg in 1876, he dedicated most of his labours in translation activity. By 1876, he translated Japji, So Purakh, Sohila, So Darh, Majh, the Ragas, Siri, Gauri and Asa, sloks of Kabir and Shaikh Farid, Savaiyyas of the Bhatts, and sloks of Guru Tegh Bahadur.

Sikh scriptures[edit]

Robert Needham Cust, a British colonial administrator and linguist, suggested Court of Directors of the British East India Company on 12 August 1857 that India office in London should make arrangements for translation of Adi Granth into English language. Later, Robert Needham recommended Ernest Trumpp, who was Regius Professor of Oriental Languages at the University of Munich and member of Royal Bavarian Academy of Sciences, to do the job of translation.[4]

In 1869, Trumpp was summoned by India office to work in Punjab to translate the Sikh scriptures into English; accordingly, he stayed in Punjab for fifteen months and translated one-third of Adi Granth that was published in 1877. He translated Puratan and Bala Janamsakhis, the lives of the later [Sikh] gurus, including an account of their teachings. However, he concluded that Adi Granth was not worth translating in full--"the same few ideas, he thought, being endlessly repeated." Gilchrist also felt that the Dasam Granth was not worth translating at all, prompting criticism from devout Sikhs for the insult [1]

In the course of his research, it seems he had discovered the first known manuscript of the Puratan Janamsakhis(also spelt Janam-sakhi), the earliest known biography of Guru Nanak, at the India office Library, London. Trump found these manuscripts among the manuscripts forwarded to him from the India office's Library in 1872 with a note saying "in hope that some of them may be useful in the project entrusted to you." [sic][1]

He also penned some essays on The Life of Nanak according to the Janam Sakhis, Sketch of the Life of the other Sikh Gurus, Sketch of the Religion of the Sikhs, On the Composition of the Granth, and On the Language and the Metres used in the Granth.[5][6]


  • Grammar of the Sindhi Language.
  • A Sindhi Reading-Book in the Sanscrit and Arabic Character.
  • Grammar of the Pastō Or Language of the Afghāns, Compared with the Īrānian and North-Indian Idiom.
  • Dictionary of Bengali Language 2 Vols.
  • The Ādi Granth: Or, the Holy Scriptures of the Sikhs.
  • Adi Granth: also called Guru Granth.
  • Kampf Adams.
  • Die Religion der Sikhs.
  • Das Taufbuch der Aethiopischen Kirche: Aetiopisch und Deutsch.
  • Einleitung in das Studium der Arabischen Grammatiker.[5][6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d McLeod, W. H. (2009). The A to Z of Sikhism. Scarecrow Press. pp. 206–207. ISBN 0810868288. ISBN 9780810868281. 
  2. ^ a b c d "German Contributions to the Study of Indian regional languages and Sanskrit - Sindhi". Retrieved August 2, 2012. "Ernst Trumpp (1828-1885) came to India in 1854, learnt Sindhi and many other languages of the Western regions of the subcontinent." 
  3. ^ a b "Sindhi Language". Retrieved August 1, 2012. "Professor E. Trumpp in his monumental `Sindhi Alphabet and Grammar' (1812) writes: "Sindhi is a pure Sanskritical language, more free from foreign elements than any of the North Indian vernaculars."" 
  4. ^ a b "ERNEST TRUMPP ON SIKH RELIGION,HISTORY AND SCRIPTURES". Retrieved August 2, 2012. "It was Robert Needham Cust, who suggested to the Court of Directors on 12 August 1857, that India office should makearrangement for getting the Adi Granth translated into English butunfortunately he suggested the name of the German scholar Dr ErnestTrumpp, Professor Regius of Oriental Languages at the Universityof Munich, and member of the Royal Bavarian Academy of Sciences.Dr Ernest Trumpp had visited India as, Christian Missionary and hisGrammar of Sindhi and Pashto had impressed him." 
  5. ^ a b c "Google books authored by Ernest Trump". Retrieved August 3, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c "Ernest Trumpp books". Retrieved August 3, 2012. 
  7. ^ Schimmel, Annemarie (1976). Mystical Dimensions of Islam. The Other Press. p. 390. ISBN 9675062045. ISBN 9789675062049. 
  8. ^ Schimmel, Annemarie (2004). The Empire of the Great Mughals: History, Art and Culture. Reaktion Books. p. 318. ISBN 1861891857. ISBN 9781861891853. 
  9. ^ Schimmel, Annemarie (1976). Pain and Grace: A Study of Two Mystical Writers of Eighteenth-Century Muslim India. BRILL. p. 152. ISBN 9004047719. ISBN 9789004047716. 

External links[edit]