Tuesday 23 October 2012

Urdu and the Adil Shahs

Urdu is one of the many languages of India and it is spoken by more than 48 million speakers in the country. It is also the official language of  two states in India-Jammu and Kashmir and Andhra Pradesh. It is also the national language of Pakistan .
Urdu is the twentieth populous spoken language in the world and it is spoken in India , Pakistan , Bangladesh and several other countries. There are around 60 to 80 million native speakers of Urdu worldwide.
In India , Urdu was the chief language of the Muslim aristocrats, particularly the Mughals and the several Nawabs that ruled over north India after the disintegration of the Mughal empire. Punjab too had a significant role to play in the origin and development of Urdu.
In south India , Urdu took flight in the five kingdoms of  the Deccan-Bijapur that was ruled by the Adil Shahis, Bidar ruled by Barid Shahs, Ahmednagar, Berar and Golconda . The development of Urdu received an impetus in Bijapur and Golconda .


The origin of  Urdu is recent when it is compared to classical languages such as Kannada, Tamil, Telugu or Sanskrit. Urdu is a Turkish word meaning Army, horde or a camp.
Generally, the origin of Urdu can be traced to the time of the Delhi Sultanate.It then spread to south India where the Adil Shahi rulers of Bijapur and the Qutb Shahi rulers of Golconda.
During the Mughal rule, the language developed substantially and Delhi, Agra, Lahore, Lucknow became the centres of Urdu literature.
Urdu belongs to the Indo-European group of  languages. Several foreign and Indian languages-Persian, Arabic, Turkish, Sanskrit, Prakrit-have influenced Urdu in its development.  
Prakrit can be said to be the mother of Urdu and Hindi languages. Prakrit, in turn traces its origin to Sanskrit. When Sanskrit started declining as a medium of language, Prakrit came to widely spoken in north India . When people began using more Sanskrit words in Prakrit, it developed into another lingua franca called Hindi. When people down south India and in and around Delhi began using words from Arabic, Persianand Turkish languages it developed into Urdu. Thus, both Hindi and Urdu are sister languages and developed around the same time.
Though many languages and local dialects have influenced the growth and development of Urdu, the standard form of the language which came to be spoken in and around Delhhi from 17th century onwards was called Khari Boli, while those spoken in south came to be called Dekhani or Deccani.


Urdu has borrowed heavily from other languages and today it has a vast repertoire of words from Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic, Turkish, Portuguese, Dutch and more recently English words.
A note of caution here though. Though Urdu has many Arabic words, its meaning and usage is different from Arabic language. Similarly, there appears to be a problem with neutral gender in Urdu nouns with words borrowed from English. As Urdu has no neutral gender, there is some dichotomy over the gender of some English words.
If Arabs, Turks and Persians influenced the language and its development in north India , it was the French, Dutch and Portuguese in West and coastal south India


Urdu has a rich body of literature and it was made all the more attractive by Sufi writings. Linguists say that Urdu has the third largest collection of Islamic literature in the world (after Arabic and Persian). Urdu and poetry goes hand in hand and the Mushaira, Ghazal, Nazm and other principal forms of Urdu literature like Rubai, Marsiyeh, Mathnawi and Qasida only added to its charm and made Urdu a graceful language.
One of the first in India to write poetry in Urdu was Amir Khusro (1259 to 1325). Essentially a Persian poet, Amir Khusro gave expressions to his poetic bent of mind in Urdu.
Other notable writers of the period are Muhammad Urfi, the author of Tadhkirah amd Kwaja Muhammad Hussain (1318-1422). A few years down the line, the Delhi Sultanate declined and writers and poets made a beeline to the Bahamani kingdom at Bidar and to the five Deccan states. Thus began the development of Dekkani from the 15th to 17th century.
One of the first literary works in Urdu is Padam Rao Kadam Rao by Fakruddin Nizam, a court poet of the Bahamanis.  Sufis who came to Bijapur, Bidar and Golconda made Dekkani their medium of language and wrote in it. A sufi saint of Gulbarga , Gesu Daraz is reckoned to be the first prose writer  in Dekkani.
The Adil Shahi Sultans were patrons of literature and encouraged Urdu along with Persian and Marathi and Kannada, the two native languages.
Ibrahim Adli Shah 2, the fifth ruler of  Adl Shahi dynasty, wrote the first book on music in Dekhani called Kitab-e-Nauras.   
Writers like Nusruti, who is the author of Ali Nama which deals with the struggles of Ali Adil Shah 2 against the Mughals and Shivaji, Tarkt-i-Iskander, Gulsha-i-Isha-  and Kamal Khan Rustum (author of Khawer Nama), both of Bijapur, gave expression to their imagination in Dekkani. The fifth Sultan of Golconda, Mohammad Quli Qutb Khan was himself a poet of repute. He wrote in Persian, Urdu and Telgugu. His poems have been published as Kulliyat-e-Quli Qutb Shah. He wrote the first divan in Urdu.
Some of the other poets who wrote in Dekkani are:Shah Miranji, Shah Burhanuddin, Mulla Wajhi, Gawasi, Shamsul Ishq, Tabai and Wali Mohammad. The Gazal owes a great deal to Wali Mohammad. He took this form of poetry to Delhi and made it popular.  
Hyderabad in south under the Nizams began developing its own culture of Urdu poetry and language. After the decline of the Muslim kingdoms in south India , Urdu moved to Delhi and its neighbourhood princely states of Lucknow , Rampur , Azimbad and other places. A distinct form of Urdu began developing in north India around the later part of seventeenth century and the eighteenth century and this came to  be first seen in the writings of Sirajuddin Ali  Khan and Sheikh Sadulla Gulshan.
Though the Mughal empire declined in power, prestige and territory after the death of Aurangzeb in 107, Urdu continued to flourish in Delhi and its surroundings. The last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar was himself a poet of repute and he patronized several writers. Mirza Ghalib (1797 to 1867), one of the greatest poets in Urdu and Persian, was patronized by Bahadur Shah. The Koran was first translated into Urdu in 1803.
Premchand wrote in both Hindi and Urdu.
Urdu uses the Nastaliq script which is derived from Arabic. It is written from right to left and its letters are similar in appearance to Arabic, Persian, and Pashto alphabets. The peculiarity of Urdu is that like in English, it has imported words from scores of languages and many of those words are still in circulation.


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