Ernest Trumpp

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Ernest Trumpp

Ernest Trumpp (13 March 1828 – 5 April 1885) was a German philologist and missionary to Sindh Province, Punjab Province, and Peshawar, which were all part of what was 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, the sacred scripture of the Sikhs, into English.[2][3][4][5]


Trumpp was born on 13 March 1828 at Ilsfeld in Wurtemberg Province (now Baden-Württemberg) in Germany. As a young man he migrated to London as a consequence of political upheaval, and found employment as an assistant librarian at the East India House (later known as India Office), headquarters of British East India Company.

Around 1854 he arrived in India as a missionary sponsored by the Ecclesiastical Mission Society to study the languages of India and to prepare grammars and glossaries for use by Christian missionaries. There he was initially stationed at the Karachi mission, where he learnt the Sindhi language. Later, he was stationed at Peshawar, where he studied the Pashto language. He went back to Germany in 1860, and was subsequently summoned to return to work in the subcontinent on translations of Sikh scripture in Lahore.

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


While at Karachi, he translated the Common Prayer Book into the Persian language in 1858. In 1866 he edited and published Shah Jo Risalo, a poetic compendium of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai. He pubslished the first Sindhi grammar entitled Sindhi Alphabet and Grammar in 1872.[1][2][3][6][7][8]

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 books of the Sikh Adi Granth in 1870.[2]

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

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. Trumpp 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]


  • 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.
  • Kampf Adams.
  • Die Religion der Sikhs.
  • Das Taufbuch der Aethiopischen Kirche: Aetiopisch und Deutsch.
  • Einleitung in das Studium der Arabischen Grammatiker.[5]

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 2 August 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 1 August 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 2 August 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 "Ernest Trumpp books". Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  6. ^ Schimmel, Annemarie (1976). Mystical Dimensions of Islam. The Other Press. p. 390. ISBN 9675062045. ISBN 9789675062049.
  7. ^ Schimmel, Annemarie (2004). The Empire of the Great Mughals: History, Art and Culture. Reaktion Books. p. 318. ISBN 1861891857. ISBN 9781861891853.
  8. ^ 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]