Hindi Proverb: Zameen aasmaan ka farak hai

Text: ज़मीन आसमान का फर्क है

Romanization: Zameen aasmaan ka farak hai

Transliteration: zameen → land / aasmaan → the sky / ka →  of / farak → difference / hai → is

Transcription: It’s like the difference between the land and the sky

Translation: There is a world of difference

Context: My informant – a 20-year old international student from Kolkata, India – explained to me that this is a common Hindi phrase spoken in India. When translating for me, he said that it means “it’s like the difference between the ground and sky” and it would be used when you are comparing two things that are extremely different. He couldn’t remember where he heard it for the first time, but he said it is a very common proverb used in day-to-day colloquial conversations where he is from. While he has heard it from his elders, he says that it is predominantly used among friends and in informal settings.

Analysis: While the literal translation of this phrase might be “there is a world of difference,” my informant interpreted it to be “it’s like the difference between the ground and sky,” leading me to believe there ought to be cultural factors that play into his interpretation. The proverb comes from India, a country in which the dominant religion is Hinduism. In the chapter “Riddles and Proverbs” by F. A. de Caro in Elliot Oring’s Folk Groups and Folklore Genres: An Introduction, Caro writes that “the four Hindu castes are said to have sprung from the body parts of the creator god and in social status they also descend from head to foot” (191). He proceeds to emphasize the importance of the head, as the multiple heads on a single body are emblematic of the divine power of the Gods (Head: Symbolism and Ritual Use). Considering this, I believe that there is a connection to be made between my informant’s phrase and the Hindu religion that is a major part of the society from which the phrase originated. As the head is closer to the sky – a representation of divine authority in Hinduism (Symbolism of Sky in Hinduism) – and the feet are on the ground – a realm without divine authority – the two spaces are vastly different from each other and cannot be conflated. So, when someone attempts to compare two drastically different things in conversation, responding with “zameen aasmaan ka farak hai” is to not only showcase the dissimilarity between them, but to also emphasize that one is potentially of greater importance than the other, pulling on the Hindu belief of the sky’s superiority to the ground.


De Caro, F. A.. “Riddles and Proverbs.” In Folk Groups and Folklore Genres: An Introduction, edited by Elliot Oring, 175-197. Utah State University Press, 1986.

Meslin, Michel. “Head: Symbolism and Ritual Use,” Encyclopedia.com, https://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/head-symbolism-and-ritual-use. 

V, Jayaram. “Symbolism of Sky in Hinduism,” Hinduwebsite.com, https://www.hinduwebsite.com/symbolism/symbols/sky.asp.