One of the most common questions we get asked.
First let me clarify all that it does not mean or refer to.
‘Pothi’ has nothing to do with the name of the famous silk shop in Chennai called ‘Pothys’.
During the book festival we learned that ‘Pothi’ is a caste/surname in Kerala. Our use of Pothi has nothing to do with that either. We are not a Pothi matrimony site, rest assured.
And it also does not mean grand-daughter in hindi. That one is ‘Poti’ (पोती) and not ‘Pothi’ (पोथी).
Pothi means ‘a book’ in Hindi. It has come from the Sanskrit word ‘Pustak’ distorted through Apbhransh and other languages that developed in North India. ‘Pothi’ or some variation of it means ‘a book’ in many other North Indian languages too including Punjabi and Bengali.
The word is not used in day to day spoken Hindi though. It is an obscure word now and is sometimes used to refer to old manuscripts or scriptures. Sikhs use this word to refer to their religious book. If you have studied Hindi at some point of time in your life and still can not place the word, the following couplet from Kabir may come in handy
पोथी पढ़-पढ़ जग मुआ, पण्डित भया ना कोय,
ढाई आखर प्रेम का, पढ़े सो पण्डित होय।
Approximate Translation: Nobody becomes a learned person by reading lots of books. Those who just read the two and a half letters of love become the learned ones.
Although this couplet discounts the usefulness of books (and we don’t like that 🙂 ), but the reason I mention it here is that the word used for book in it is ‘Pothi’.
So next time you hear Pothi, think books – printed one at a time on demand just like the handwritten manuscripts of yore.