Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Origin and Growth of Urdu Language

The origin of the Urdu language is obscure. Various theories have been given to explain it. Muhammad Husain Azad maintains that Brij Bhasha, a dialect of Western Hindi, is the basic language. After the conquest of Delhi by the Muslims, the Persian element was grafted which resulted to the existence of Urdu language.

Mahmud Sherani, on the contrary, holds that the Urdu language originated in the first contact of the Muslims and Hindus after the conquest and incorporation of the Punjab and Sind In the Empire of Mahmud of Ghazni. In his book Punjab men Urdu, he has discussed the structure and morphology of the Urdu language and has shown grammatical affinity which it has with the Punjabi language. After the occupation of Delhi by the Ghoris, the Punjabi Muslims and Hindus, who had already become familiar with the Persian language migrated to Delhi in order to run the administration of the new government. This exodus of people on a large scale from Lahore to Delhi influenced the Khari Bholi or the Hindi spoken in Delhi and its neighbourhood. In course of time the Punjabi words and idioms became interwoven in the Hindi of Delhi and thus a new language came into being.

The third theory has been recently propounded by Dr. Masud Husain of the Aligarh Muslim University. He said that the basic language spoken in Delhi at the time of Muslim conquest was Hariani. When Persian was grafted on Hariani, it resulted in the creation of the Urdu language. He has discussed the grammatical structures of Hariani and Urdu and has based his conclusion on a comparative study of the two languages.

It seems fairly clear that after the Ghori conquest of Delhi, Persian and Punjabi words got interwoven with the language which was spoken there, which was a mixture of Khari Bholi, Brij, Rajasthani, and Hariani. Languages do not originate overnight. It must have taken at least a century to give shape to the new common language of Delhi which has been called “Hindawi” or “Dahlavi” by Amir Khusrau. Later Abul Fazl also called it the Dahlavi language. Amir Khusrau used “Dahlavi” or “Hindavi” medium in his compositions which he has mentioned in the introduction of his “Ghurratu Kamal”.

From the very beginning when Delhi became a great center of the Sufis, they employed the Hindavi language for preaching their message. They found Hindavi to be the most suitable medium for conveying their messages to the masses. Baba Farid feely used Hindavi words in his conversation with his disciples. Some Hindavi utterances have been preserved by Mir Khurd in the Siyarul Auliya. In Fawaidul Fuad, Shaikh Nizamuddin also used Hindavi language in his conversation with his disciple.

In the development of early Urdu or Hindavi, the Bhagat poets have also played an important role. The language used by Namdeo, Kabir, Pipa and Ravidas is hardly different from the one used by the Sufis. As both the Bhagats and the sufis aimed atreaching the people, they employed the all-India medium available, the Hindavi, which have been familiar all over the country.

After the advent of the Mughals on the stage of Indian history, the Hindavi language acquired greater flexibility and range. Persian words and phrases came into vogue freely. The Hindavi of this period was known as the Rekhta, or the Hindustani and later as urdu. Perfect amity and tolerance between Hindus and Muslims tended to foster the Rekhta or Urdu, which represented the principle of unity in diversity, so marked a feature of Indian life at its best.

During Akbar’s reign, translations were made from Sanskrit into Persian and Hindus and Muslims came very close to each other. Akbar’s intimate relation with the Rajputs indirectly helped the development of Urdu. Raja Todar Mal ordered all government officials to acquire profiency in Persian as a condition for promotion. This indirectly led to the propagation of Urdu all over the country and finally to its standardization in the time of Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb, when the synthetic character of Urdu (Rekhta) acquired a complete form and greater content and power.

The famous poets of this period who wrote in Urdu were Chandar Bhan Brahman, Mu’izzuddin, Ja’far, Mirza Kashmir and Mirza Bedil. Shamsuddin Wali is regarded as the founder of modern Urdu poetry. He freely used the Persian izafat and tarkib. Wali was followed by Abru, Arzu, Hatim and others at Delhi who standardized Urdu prosody.

The Urdu language was enriched from generation to generation, mainly through accumulated wisdom, techniques and cultural traditions. Through its medium the different sections of Indian society found the way to perfect comprehension of one another.


  1. Anonymous2:23 PM

    it must be remembered that the language grew in other names, like hindi,hindwi,gajri,dehlavi and hindustani.the name urdu was a nemesis of the britishers, who divided the language.they could not understand the muslims and hindus speaking and writing the same language.so the artificial language hindi was created by omitting the words of arabic and persian origin replacing them by sanskrit words and writng it in devnagri script in which it was never written before. this was done in fort william college under the guidance of dr.cilchrist and his associates.the book prem sagar by lalla lal is the first example of this policy. they coined the name urdu for the original language leaving the word hindi for the new one;may be the division was a well contemplated job.whatever may be the causes the result was v harmful. not only the hindi zealouts started asserting the new language in adminstrative and educational fields but also treating urdu words and culture as of foreign origins.the replacement of common words by sanskrit terms led to treating the muslims as foreign.the cause was not helped by the latter who wanted ascendency of urdu to continue.the dispute led to the slogans of hindu,hindi hindustan and a two nation theory was propounded leading to no compromise or understanding.this resulted in partition of the country.urdu was relegated to the background in free india.the education and use of this beutiful language was harmed by the politicians.urdu is not taught in many schools (both public and government).the hindus have been weaned away rom theis language evolved by their common pursuit.though many hindu writers are still writing in urdu, they ate all of the generation of prepartition days.the problrm has been further aggravated by muslims also deciding for their younger genertions not to continue with this lnguage. the result is that urdu is becoming an spoken language.though most of the films are made in urdu or hindustani but they are named as hindi films which is travesty of truth.but who cares for truth. every body is lying not only to everybody but to oneself also.the government and political parties make some noises about urdu specially during elections. but it is not serious at all in this direction. soon all is forgotten. urdu is languishing and suffering because its education at primary and secondary levels is not being done on the principles of democracy.there is some sort of liguistic genocide going against it.things are not going to improve as long as this language will continue to be equated with muslims as they are minority and dont count in the power play .

    arman najmi india

  2. Thanks to DR. Arman Najmi for your valuable addition.

    Urdu/hindi divide,sanskrit/arabic divide.persian/arabic/turkish divisions are rooted in BIBLICAL race fraud and not on Linguitic evolution;BRITISH created this PHANTOM
    to plunder/divide india.This is detailed in the new book "urdu/hindi an artificial divide--african heritage" which links urdu/hindi to out of africa evolution of some 100,000 years;This is new state of art in language science; There are reviews abt the book on Amazon.com. THe book is changing the racial mindsets;AS the author i did an interview at India' urdu channel.

    1. Anonymous11:29 AM

      I completely agree with Adbul. I was in the UK and was talking to an old english professor about the existence and origin of Urdu. To my surprise I was told that it was the Britishers who arranged scholars from arab and persian regions to evolve Urdu, in order to eradicate Arabic and Persian from the subcontinent.

  4. Anonymous2:05 PM

    Comments of Araman Najam are so interesting for me because I wrote an article in 1996 " Bar-i- sagir ki zuban : deonagiri Urdu ya nastalique hindi . and tried to expalied same historical fact. these words are kind of Dejavu for me.


    Dr. S.M. Anwer ( Pakistan , Islamabad.)

  5. Dr. S. M. Anwer, perhaps some readers want to read your article. With your permission i would like to post it in this blog. Please send me the copy to yaser.amri@gmail.com

  6. Anonymous2:10 AM

    I have a doubt , the urdu language is planted in indian continent is to prevent arabic access to indian people especially indian muslims??? We know muslims conquered & ruled india very long time, even though why they could not able to implement arabic language instead of urdu??? If they do, then arabic language become bigest language !! So behind of the urdu language , some black hand role is very clear, who??? What is their motivation???
    Motivation is to divert muslims from pure islamic religion and true knowledge about “holy quran”

  7. Anonymous5:46 AM

    Sure Yasir it was published in Quarterly Historical and Cultural Research Journal of NIHCR Pakistan Qaid i Azam University Islamabad Pak. March 1996 .

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