Sunday, February 12, 2012

Urdu cannot be crushed : Markandey Katju

In my opinion the best poetry in modern India is in Urdu. I have read the poetry of many countries, including England, America, France, Germany and Russia, apart from reading some of the poetry of Indian languages – Tulsidas, Surdas, Kabir, etc., Tamil poetry, Bengali poetry, etc., – but there is no match to Urdu because the voice of the heart as expressed in Urdu poetry is, in my opinion, not expressed in any other language of the world.

There is a misconception that Urdu is the language of Muslims and of foreigners, which is a false propaganda made against Urdu after 1947.

Before 1947, all educated people in large parts of India studied Urdu. It was not the language of Muslims alone. It was the language of Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, everybody. But after Partition a deliberate propaganda was made by certain vested interests that Hindi is the language of Hindus and Urdu is a language of Muslims. This was done to make Hindus and Muslims fight each other (part of the divide and rule policy). A lot of effort was made to crush Urdu in India. But a language that expresses the voice of the heart cannot be crushed as long as people have hearts.

Unlike Arabic and Persian, which are foreign languages, Urdu is an indigenous language and is loved by the people of India even today. If you go to a bookstall on a railway platform in India you will find a lot of poetry books of Mir, Ghalib, Firaq, etc., of course nowadays in Devanagari script. You will not find any book there of Mahadevi Verma or Sumitra Nandan Pant, the Hindi poets. Very few people read Hindi poetry, everybody reads Urdu poetry.

Urdu has a dual nature. It is a combination of two languages, that is, Hindustani and Persian, which is why it was at one time called Rekhta, which means hybrid. Since it is a combination of two languages, the question arises: is it a special kind of Persian or a special kind of Hindustani? The answer is that it is a special kind of Hindustani, not a special kind of Persian. Why? Because the verbs in Urdu are all in Hindustani. The language to which a sentence belongs is determined by the verbs used in it, not the nouns or adjectives. In Urdu, all the verbs are in simple Hindi (which is called Hindustani or Khadi Boli). For example, Ghalib says:

“ dekho mujhe jo deeda-e-ibrat_nigaah ho

meree suno jo gosh-e-naseehat_niyosh hai”

The verbs ‘ dekho', ‘ suno', ‘ hai' are all simple Hindi, though the nouns or adjectives may be Persian or Arabic.

Urdu has a dual nature because it is a combination of Hindustani and Persian. Hindustani is the language of the common man, while Persian is the language of aristocrats.

Markandey Katju in his article titled What is India? Frontline Volume 29 - Issue 02
Jan 28 - Feb 10, 2012
. Here

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