interesting experience/urdu/hindi

Bharat Gupt abhinav at DEL3.VSNL.NET.IN
Thu Aug 31 10:49:08 UTC 2000

(continued from the last post)

        Centuries later in the twilight of Aurangzeb's
rule, dakkhini and khari boli were heavily weighed down by Persian-Arabic
vocabulary and imagery to make a style which is regarded as elite or
glossary of Urdu. Wali , Mir, Bedil and Dard consolidated this style in
Insha. Sauda and others in Lukhnow. Further into the nineteenth century
parochialism and ornamentation became rampant in all arts and cross
country movement  of artists obtaining earlier under Mughal patronage
to an end, Urdu poetry leaned too heavily on Persian. Yet it was not
disitinguished generically from Hindi. Dreaming of attaining immortality
through his Persian poetry, Ghalib called his vernacular writing
hindavi" loaded with all the topographic ambivalence of the word "hind".

        The advent of print marked out Urdu as visually separate. By the
of the last century, the elitist Urdu of the court poets of the last
emperor and
the Luknawi literati, was slowly given an ethnic connotation by the
historians for whom groups were defined by the building blocks of
religion, language, script, food and clothes. In another half a century,
nexus of Islam-Urdu-arabic script-nonvegetarianism-shalwar-kameez was
formalised. Urdu was no longer a medium of approaching the new ruling
class and its language (now English), or other languages of India as in
past. The westernised Urdu elite , not the lower middle class, now called
shots.  Urdu became the medium of constructing modern Muslim identity and
also a separate nation. This is evident most in the fact that the Urdu of
India Radio is no different (except for the accent) from that of Radio
In both the countries formal Urdu shrinks from contact with Sindhi,
Hindi, Gujarati and Marathi.  Movement by some writers on both side of
border to make it open and flexible recieves little encouragement.

There is hardly any effort to make it more useful in the contemporary
What has been forgotten is the force which gave it birth, growth and
namely its erswhile vitality to interact and mix with other languages;
its historical
usefulness for the lower middle class to communicate with  corridors of
and high tradition when rulers prided in Turkish, Persian and Arabic.

It is used for political identity construction as for the proposed
(or the new Pakistan ?) when the fact is that what we understand by Urdu
was born after the last of effectual Mughals, Aurangzeb.
Bharat Gupt,  Associate Professor, Delhi University
PO Box 8518, Ashok Vihar, Delhi 110052  INDIA
tel 91-11-724 1490, fax 741-5658, email: bharatgupt at

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list