Replacement of Persian by Urdu
As long as there were strong Mughal Emperors in India (i.e. up to 1707 when Aurangzeb died), Persian was the court language, and such was its domination that Urdu was never given respectability, and could never become the court language in North India, but instead found its haven or sanctuary in South India and Gujarat (where it was the language of the elite). In a sense Urdu originated in South India and became popular there during the reign of the great Mughals, receiving patronage in the Southern kingdoms of Golkunda, Bijapur, Ahmednagar, etc.
where it became the court language. Thus it is interesting to note that Urdu became the court language in South India and Gujarat during the reign of the Great Mughals but it could never displace Persian in the North as long there were strong Mughals.
Urdu got respect in South India because there it was a foreign language (the local languages being Telugu, Tamil, Gujarati, etc.). And as I have already mentioned, the elite in a society often prefers to speak a foreign language (to distinguish itself from the common people).
In fact at that time Urdu was frowned upon in the North and looked down upon as an inferior language, the ideal language being regarded Persian, while in South India and Gujarat it became widespread (among the elite) and got patronage. In this connection it is interesting to note that when the great South Indian Urdu poet Vali Dakhkhini came to Delhi in 1700 A.D. in the reign of Aurangzeb, he found that his fame had preceded him and he was very popular in Delhi because his poetry could be understood as it was written in Urdu which the common man of Delhi could understand, while the Delhi poets were all writing in Persian, which the common man could not understand.
Vali, though a South Indian is often regarded as the father of Urdu because he revealed to the Delhi poets the possibility of writing poetry in Urdu, a language which the common man could understand, and he made Urdu respectable in North India.
It was only when the era of the later Mughals began (after the death of Aurangzeb in 1707) that Persian was gradually displaced by Urdu as the Court language. The firmans (decrees or orders) of the Mughal Emperors, including those of the later Mughals, were always in Persian, never in Urdu.
Thus, when I went to Chamba in Himachal Pradesh and visited the museum there, which was the former palace of the Hindu kings, I found the firmans of the Mughal Emperors recognising the Chamba kings all in Persian, not Urdu.
Ghalib who prided himself in his Turkish ancestry, was very reluctant to write in Urdu, and preferred Persian. He preferred his Persian poetry and looked down upon his Urdu poetry (though his greatness is entirely due to the latter). Ghalib Even his early Urdu poetry is highly Persianised and hence difficult to understand, and his best verses are his later ones when he began using more Khariboli.
Thus, in a letter to his friend Munshi Shiv Narain Aram Ghalib writes "My friend, how can I write in Urdu? Is my standing so low that this should be expected of me?" Thus, writing in Urdu was regarded infra dig, and all respectable writers at that time wrote in Persian.
I may give another example. My ancestor who came from Kashmir around 1775, Pandit Mansa Ram Katju, has made an entry in the register of the Panda of Kurukshetra which reads:
"batalaash-e-maash-aamadam" which means "I have come in quest of bread" i.e. looking for employment (which he got in the court of the Nawab of Jaora in Western Madhya Pradesh). The interesting thing is that he has written in Persian, not Urdu.
It was Persian which was used by the educated class in those days for writing. Urdu may have been the spoken language, but the written language was Persian.
The collapse of the Mughal Empire on the death of Aurangzeb in 1707 was a blessing in disguise for Urdu, for only then could it displace Persian as the Court language.
The heydays of Urdu were in the days of the later Mughals, and the high noon was in the time of the last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar.
Right up to 1947 Urdu was the language of the courts, and of the educated people in large parts of India. At the same time, due to its dual nature, it was also (as Khariboli) the common man's language in urban areas.
Being the common man's language in large parts of urban India Urdu borrowed from every language, and never objected to words of other languages.
(To be continued)
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Sent: Monday, December 20, 2010
To: barkat sheikh
Subject: Thank you
Dear Barkat saab,
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Page 126 of 178
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