After 6 long years of work, the launch of the world’s most accurate Guru Granth Sahib search engine called GurbaniDB (which stands for Gurbani Database) in English and 52 other languages is imminent. The plan is to launch for Vaisakhi 2011 in April.
Update: GurbaniDB has been launched. You may searchGuru Granth Sahib here
In a previous post on the Collaborative Translation System I briefly introduced this system/search engine with some screenshots, but now I want to go into more of the juicy details, because this is nothing short of a revolution in eGurbani which will change the future of the Sikh way of life for generations to come.
Summary of GurbaniDB’s Features
- Powered by GurbaniDB.org data, which is the world’s most accurate database of the Guru Granth Sahib
- The world’s first Gurbani database to correctly archive Guru Granth Sahib into all 60 Raags (moods/melodies) with pop-up descriptions of each Author and Melody. Melody data has been kindly provided by an expert in Indian Musicology, Professor Surinder Singh from Raj Academy
- Search the Guru Granth Sahib in English, Gurmukhi and 52 other languages, including 22 transliterations
- Translators can contribute their improvements to the translations by registering an account. All translators are assigned to a specific language and managed by a Project Manager who is an expert in English and a native language e.g. Spanish. The Project managers are responsible for maintaining the quality of their translation language and managing their team.
- Additional back-end tools and dashboards are provided to all translators and project managers to allow them to co-ordinate translation efforts more easily
- Software developers can access the ‘GurbaniDB Cloud‘ via JSON-RPC requests, allowing them to receive all the latest updates to translations easily and allowing them to develop the next generation of Gurbani software with a verified source of Gurbani data
Vision for the GurbaniDB Search Engine
It has always been my view that the Sikh Gurus gave the Guru Granth Sahib for the benefit of the whole world, not just to the Sikhs. So with this in mind, it’s always been my vision to make the Guru Granth Sahib available in a language people can understand, at a price they can afford and in a form that they can use.
Therefore, the Guru Granth Sahib must be translated into every language of the world, and we will not stop until this is done. And since language tends to evolve into new forms and it is unknown how many languages there really are (probably close to 7000), this aim will never be complete and so this organisation must continue to exist way beyond our own lives.
However, we must always start somewhere. So the aim of this new system/search engine is to create the very best translations in just 52 languages (not including English). However, very importantly, everyone must understand that all these 52 translations will just be translations of the English translation by Sant Singh Khalsa’s, instead of the original Gurmukhi words. Before you get concerned by this, there are two very good reasons for doing this:
- One is that most of the people who will come forward to become volunteer translators will be native speakers of their own language e.g. French, Spanish etc, but will not be versed in Gurmukhi or Punjabi, so cannot understand the original language of the Guru Granth Sahib anyway
- Secondly, by creating a translation of a translation which is considered to be the world’s standard and which is of a high quality (i.e. Sant Singh Khalsa’s English translation), will help create 52 more world standard translations of a high quality in all the world’s languages
So basically, its the best trade-off we have right now to help create translations quickly, get the most people involved and keep them to a high standard without diluting the message of the Guru Granth Sahib. One day, we shall open up this platform so that any person can start their OWN translation of Guru Granth Sahib and user’s can rate its quality. But for now, the mission is to stay focussed on creating 52 high quality translations in all the world’s languages to be as close to Sant Singh Khalsa’s English translation as possible, so that we have some sort of solid base for the future.
The beauty of this is you don’t need to know Gurmukhi to get involved, you just need to know English, be a native speaker of another language and have some understanding of the flavour of the Guru Granth Sahib’s message and effect. The Project Managers, who shall be interviewed to assess their skills and passion and who shall be recruited to work full-time (both paid and unpaid) on GurbaniDB, shall be responsible for maintaining the quality of an entire language and will be experts in English, a native speaker of the language they manage and have a deeper understanding of the message of the Guru Granth Sahib to ensure that the translation is of the highest quality. Overall, with recruited Project Managers and many volunteer translators working together, the vision of GurbaniDB will be realised.
The GurbaniDB Cloud deserves a special mention. Cloud computing has made something beautiful possible: all data is available in one place instantly from anywhere. So we decided to use this concept in GurbaniDB. All the GurbaniDB data exists virtually in a cloud somewhere (in a MySQL database) and so all the Gurbani data in the search engine, including the latest translation updates, can be accessed instantly by Gurbani software developers to create high-quality Gurbani applications that are being updated almost in real-time (I say ‘almost’ because until a language is mature enough, it won’t be made available to software using the GurbaniDB Cloud and also, there is a small lag in accessing the data).
Before the existence of GurbaniDB it was virtually impossible for a Gurbani software developer to find a database of the Guru Granth Sahib (and other Sikh scriptures) in order to create some software. I know this very well, because as part of The Sikher Project I tried very hard for many years to create the very first Open Source Gurbani Seacher software called Sikher Version 1.0 (which was to be made available on Windows, Linux and Mac). The problem to completing it was always the lack of access to Gurbani data. Also, those who had that Gurbani data were not willing for me to use it, even though it was for the benefit of mankind. The concept of the GurbaniDB Cloud will eliminate this problem forever. So, if you’re ever inspired to create Gurbani software there are no longer any barriers to doing this.
To get access to the GurbaniDB Cloud, all you will have to do is sign up – it just helps us keep track of how many developers are using it and how heavily, although there are no restrictions to its use.
Just the beginning…
This is a revolution, but its just the beginning of the revolution, so the best it still yet to come.
Jasdeep Hari Bhajan Singh Khalsa.
Founder & Director of The Sikher Project