ČERĀḠ-E HEDĀYAT (“lamp of guidance”), a monolingual Persian dictionary by the Indo-Muslim poet and scholar Serāj-al-Din ʿAli Khan Ārzu. Its title was taken from a verse by Neẓāmi (ed. Dabirsiāqi, p. 2), and also alludes to the author’s reputed ancestor, Naṣir-al-Din Čerāḡ-e Dehli. Completed at Delhi under the patronage of the Mughal ruler Moḥammad Shah in 1147/1734-35, the Čerāḡ was conceived as the second volume (daftar) of Ārzu’s larger and better known dictionary, the Serāj-al-loḡa (“lamp of language”); as the Serāj lists the non-Arabic words used by the Classical Persian poets (motaqaddemin), so the Čerāḡ lists the vocabulary of the later Persian poets (motaʾaḵḵerin) of Timurid, Safavid, and Mughal times. By these, as is evident from his citations, Ārzu means mainly his immediate predecessors and contemporaries among Indo-Persian poets, most frequently Moḥsen Taʾṯir, Waḥid, Ašraf, and Ṭoḡrā; though earlier poets of Persia and Central Asia, such as Saʿdi, Ḥāfeẓ, Ṣāʾeb, Kamāl-e Ḵojandi, and Navāʾi, are also quoted. Besides citations from 184 named poets, support is sought from 120 anonymous verses and 37 dictionaries, histories, taḏkeras and other documents (Bahriddin, pp. 26-29).

Ārzu intended the work explicitly for users of Indo-Persian, rather than Persian speakers of Persia or Central Asia (ed. Dabirsiāqi, p. 2). The dictionary contains some 2,075 words and phrases which, according to Ārzu, are not to be found (or not fully defined as to their figurative meanings) in the major dictionaries of his day, notably the Farhang-e Jahāngiri, Majmaʿ al-Fors and Borhān-e qāṭeʿ. Though most of the vocabulary is Persian, words of Arabic and Indic origin are included. Entries are arranged in alphabetical order by initial, in thirty chapters (bāb) comprising all the Perso-Arabic letters of the alphabet except že, and ordered internally by the second, but not subsequent, letters; short vowels are recorded longhand.

The Čerāḡ is notable for its high proportion of metaphorical phrasal idioms, given with variants and often explained and traced to their origins at some length. An example is dandān/ danda ba-fārsi goḏāštan/ nehādan (lit., ‘set one’s teeth on Persian’; usually in negative contexts) ‘to consent, concur, understand’: this is traced to the (Mughal) practice of sending out to the provinces tax-collectors who spoke only Turkish and no Persian, so that they would entertain no arguments from the taxpayers.

Mss. of the Čerāḡ are found in many libraries of India and Europe. Numerous lithographs of the Čerāḡ were published in India (at Lakhnaw, Bombay, and Kānpūr; mostly on the margin of other dictionaries, the Ḡiāṯ al-lōḡāt and the Montaḵab al-loḡāt), from as early as about 1850, and reproduced up until 1970 (see Storey, III/1, p. 39; Naqawi, pp. 116-17; Bahriddin, pp. 14-15). Typeset editions have been printed at Tehran (ed. M. Dabirsiāqi, 1338 Š./ 1959) and Dushanbe (ed. Amon Nurov, 1992; in Cyrillic characters).


Bibliography (for cited works not given in detail, see “Short References”):

S. Baevskiĭ, Opisanie persidskikh rukopiseĭ Instituta nardov Azii (Description of the Persian manuscripts at the Institute of Asian Peoples), fasc. 4, Moscow, 1962, pp. 48-49.

Darveš Bahriddin, "Čaroḡi hidoyat"-i Orzu va zaboni tojikii forsī, Dushanbe, 1992.

H. Blochmann, “Contributions to Persian Lexicography,” J(R)ASB 37, 1868, pp. 25, 27.

M. Dabirsiāqi, Farhanghā-ye fārsi, Tehran, 1368 Š./ 1989, pp. 162-164.

Š. Naqawi, Farhang-nevisi-ye fārsi dar Hend wa Pākestān, Tehran, 1341 Š./ 1962, pp. 114-17.


July 2002

(J. R. Perry)

Originally Published: July 20, 2002

Last Updated: July 20, 2002