Thoughts on the spread and importance of Urdu as a language and how it should not just be considered the language of one particular religion

So, if Urdu is India’s language then why is it given a step-motherly treatment in its own country? All that I wish youngsters to do is to accept it as a language of their own, irrespective of their faith.

Published By Shiladitya On IndiaOpines Blog

Here I’m quoting some parts of my own article about Urdu written many years ago.

When Kalyan Singh, the famous Aya Ram Gaya Ram of BJP, the fellow who had masterminded the demolition of Babri Masjid, was shown the door for the first time, he used the Urdu language to express his true feelings: ‘Hum Wafa sha-ar the nazron se gir gaye unki. Shayad unhen talash kisi Bewafa Ki Thee‘ – meaning, I was loyal and fell in his esteem.

Urdu In Response to Urdu   The Dying Language


Perhaps he was looking for a treacherous buddy. Who ‘he’ had actually referred? Sri Atal Bihari Vajpayeji of course! The use and abuse of this magnificent language in all spheres of country would demand the compilation of a literary dossier. The fabled language was an instrument of sharp political duel in parliament recently when PM Manmohan Singh surprised everyone with his stinging bars couched in his quiet manner during the wind up of his speech on motion of thanks to the President.

Humko unse wafa ki hai umeed, jo nahi jaante wafa kya hai” (We hope for loyalty from those who do not know the meaning of the word), quoting famous Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib.

Sushma Swaraj, the Leader of Opposition at that time stood up with a smile. She quoted the famous Urdu poet Bashir Badr: “Kuch to majbooriya rahi hongi yun koi bewafa nahi hota (There must have been some compulsions, one is not disloyal for no reason at all).”

She then broke into a second verse: “Tumhe wafa yaad nahee, Humein jafa yaad nahee, Zindagi or maut ke toh do hee tarane hain, ek tumhein yaad nahee, ek humein yaad naheen” (You don’t remember loyalty, we don’t remember disloyalty, life and death have two rhythms, you don’t remember one, we don’t remember the other).

Sushma Swaraj In Response to Urdu   The Dying Language

Sushma Swaraj too got a thunderous response from her party members. The prime minister just smiled. This is not the first time both have exchanged Urdu and Hindi verses to hit out at each other.

This brouhaha reminded me of the famous line that reflects the wounded spirit of an Urdu poet: “Urdu ka Janazah hai baree dhoom se uththe….” It is the coffin of Urdu, let it be shouldered with all the pomp and show. To write about this unfortunate language is a painful exercise.

This complex and thorny subject can’t be met justice within a short article. For a rational mind it would be a pathetic sight and heart-rending scenario to witness a most enchanting seductress, an animated Venus of Languages being dragged to the altar of Fanaticism, Islamophobia, Prejudice and Ignorance – an unprecedented historical callous ritual of SATI inflicted upon a ‘Medium of Expression’. A Language murder de-jure in broad day light of civilization.

The lovers of this beautiful damsel had given her several names: Hindi, Hindavi, Dakni, Lashkari, Rekhta and the last in this chronology is Urdu. Ameer Khusrau, the famous sufi saint, poet, musician, inventor and warrior is supposed to be the father and ‘Khari Boli’ has adopted this baby of Khusrua as its own daughter. Born and brought up in pure Indian environment it had taken the impact of Persian or Farsi somehow, the language of Kings and courtiers. It is interesting to learn that with the death of Emperor Aurangzeb, the use of Persian declined in Indian sub-continent. A new language was finding its entry in the towering shoes of Farsi. It was Urdu.

aurangzeb In Response to Urdu   The Dying Language

Most of the experts of Lingua Franca agree that no living language of the world could match the power of command, respect, clout and visceral stirring that is imbibed in the two magical Urdu words – “INQALAB ZINDABAD” It was the idiom of Indian Independence.

Sarfaroshi ki tamannah ab hamarey dil men hai, dekhna hai zor kitna bazooey qatil men hai” – I covet to offer my head today, Let me test the strength of my executioner.

Urdu was a language that was common among all faiths of Indians. The Christians missionaries used this medium to preach, propagate and proselytize the north Indians. It is used for the same purpose by missionaries in Pakistan even today.

It is a language that was adored, nurtured and disseminated by Whites, Hindus and Sikhs. The great novelists and short story writers of Urdu were Premchand, Krishanchandar and Rajendra Singh Bedi; the greatest poet of Urdu Masnawi was Pandit Daya Shankar ‘Naseem’. The most versatile and novel Urdu poets were Brij Narayan ‘Chakbast’, Tilwak Chand ‘Mehroom’, Pandit Raghu Pati Sahay ‘Firaq Gorakhpuri’.


Urdu Quote In Response to Urdu   The Dying Language

The all times great critics of Urdu Literature are Gopi Chand ‘Narang’ and Jagan Nath ‘Azad’. Even today the two intellectuals who are the embodiment of all that is fine with Urdu are two Gulzars and both of them are Hindus or Sikhs. One from Delhi, Gulzar Dehelwi and other from Punjab, our very own ‘Jai Ho’ wale Gulzar. This is just the tip of the iceberg. I am forgetting thousands of names of non-Muslims who are and who were proud of their language – Urdu. The famous stalwart of Urdu, Pandit Anand Narain ‘Mulla’ Ex-Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court has once said,” I could forsake my religion but not my language Urdu.” Let me narrate here his famed couplet:

Woh aour hain jinhen touba ki mil gayee fursat, hamen gunah bhee karne ko zindagi kum hai.” Those may be others who got time to seek forgiveness, for me, the allotted time is very short to commit even the Sins.

Today the fake proponents of Hindi Language, along with the band of Islamophobic fanatics claim that Urdu is a language of Muslims only; a language of Pakistan; a language of terrorists.

Dr Nazir Tabassum In Response to Urdu   The Dying Language

Nothing is farther from truth! Before the establishment of Pakistan none of the entities that would become West and East Pakistan spoke Urdu. The languages prevalent in those regions were Bengali, Punjabi, Pushto, Baluchi and Sindhi. The mass migration of Muslims from UP, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Hyderabad effectively changed the demography of those regions. The Sindhi majority of Karachi was reduced to a minority and Urdu was proclaimed as National language of Pakistan. What is happening to the language of Mohajirs, the migrants from India, in Bangladesh and Pakistan makes a pathetic study for any aspirant to think of those areas.

After independence, Congress played the vicious game of ‘play with the hares and hunt with the hounds.’ The questionable role played by Sardar Patel and Govind Ballabh Pant to marginalize Urdu from the national scene is now buried in the history books. The subject how Moulana Abul Kalam Azad was craftily isolated in banishing Urdu would earn galore of Ph. D’s for the aspirants of history, social and political science.

But still there is a silver lining for the dark clouds of Urdu. The young generation of Non-Muslim youth who don’t carry the heavy burdens of history, are taking the bull by the horns. For them Lata Mangeshkar, Jagjeet Singh, Punkaj Udhas, Sonu Nigam, Peenaz Masani, Ghulam and Mehdi Hasan with their superb pronunciation and renditons are the maestros of their fields of Ghazals, Sufiana kalms and geets. Hindi is coming with the new most popular component – Hindi Ghazal. It is Urdu, a Hindustani without the original script. It is new reality more attuned to present times. When you read on the back of a truck:

Ya Ilahi gharat kare truck banana waley ko, ghar se beghar kar diya truck chalane wale ko.” Curse of God upon the one who invented the carrier, he had rendered the driver homeless. As long as there are those who can appreciate this message Urdu would successfully face and overwhelm any negative onslaught.

In the next article INSHALLAH I shall introduce some young Hindu poets of ‘Hindi Ghazal’ who are carrying forward the traditions of ‘Urdu Ghazal.’

By Naim Naqvi

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