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February 2, 2012 2:15 PM   Subscribe

What do the (Hindi? Kannada? Tamil? Sanskrit?) words on these shirts mean? They look to me like different scripts, and they were probably bought in Bangalore.

My mom bought them for me while in India on business and I like them, but I like to know what the words on my person say.
posted by cmoj to Writing & Language (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's the Devanagari script, and it's probably Sanskrit. One often sees "holy men" wearing clothes (maybe just a toga-like robe) with text from scripture, usually the Gita. The text is usually block-printed from old blocks, which means lots of dropouts that make it hard to read.

The text in your first link is something like "jee aaraadhaaraprajaa" (there are a couple of mystery glyphs there), which means nothing to me.
posted by phliar at 2:36 PM on February 2, 2012

Best answer: Yep, it's Devanagari, probably Sanskrit. The first link says:

Ji. Sri Ra Dha ? ? Ji.

Ji and Sri are respect markers, Radha is the consort of Krishna. The fact that the syllables are all separate and the phrase seems to repeat on the fabric makes me think it might be a mantra? I don't recognise the two syllables I've marked as question marks. Conjuncts of some sort, I guess - maybe forms that aren't used much in modern Hindi (which is what I know).

The second pic looks like ordinary Devanagari, but I don't recognise most of the words so I'll leave it to someone more knowledgable to translate.
posted by embrangled at 3:29 PM on February 2, 2012

Best answer: Actually, on a second reading, the first mystery syllable looks like a Kr and the second one could be a strange sort of Shna.

So my best guess is that it says:

Sri Radha Krishna Ji.

Can anyone else confirm?
posted by embrangled at 3:59 PM on February 2, 2012

Best answer: Yes, Devnagriri script.

the first image:

1 Sri (respect marker as embrangled said)
2 Ra
3 Dha
2+3 = Radha
4 = Kri
5 = Shn
4+5 = Krisn
6 = Ji
Sri Radha Krishn Ji.

The second image is in Sanskrit, I could probably try to read them but I don't understand the language too well (studied it for about 3-4 years over a decade ago).
posted by bbyboi at 8:16 PM on February 2, 2012

Response by poster: So it's a mantra? What's "Ji?"
posted by cmoj at 7:38 AM on February 3, 2012

Best answer: Ji is a indicator of respect, kinda like the -san suffix you see in... Japan, I think? For instance, Gandhi, is almost always referred to as Gandhiji in casual conversation and not Gandhi.

It's not a mantra, it's the name of one of the Hindu gods, Krishna, and his consort, Radha. Shri is another indicator of respect, usually used to denote religious/holy things.
posted by Tamanna at 8:40 AM on February 3, 2012

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