Kashmiri Pandits' Association, Mumbai, India


Lalla-Ded Educational and Welfare Trust

  Kashmiri Pandits' Association, Mumbai, India

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July-September 2002 Issue

Fusion of multi tiny specks of Pranav which pervades the Universe in the shape of OM. A drawing by Late Radha Krishen Kaul (Kotha), retired Asstt. Engineer of Bal Garden, Srinagar (Originally of Rainawari). Shri Kotha passed away in September 1994 at Delhi

Table of Contents

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

  Concluding Part 
Urdu Language
... Manmohan Kaul-Achkan

<< Previous Part

Nineteenth Century India, particularly Delhi, was the highest point in the growth of Urdu literature. The climax came in 1857 AD which today we call first battle of Indian Independence (then called Mutiny), Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Moghul king, himself a poet of some significance, was imprisoned and banished to Burma (now Mynamar). He pathetically concluded one of his poems with this couplet:

Hai kitna badnaseeb Zafar, dafan ke liye
Do gaz zameenj bhi na milee kooi yar main
'How unlucky is (Bahadur Shah) Zafar, just for burial, he could not get two yards of land in his beloved country. (Lit: Lane of his beloved)'

 The famous masters like Sauda, Zauk, Galib etc. lived their lives. Some poets moved to Lucknow. Special mention may be made of Mir Taqi Mir. On arrival in Lucknow, he went to a Mushaira (Symposium) dressed in his outdated attire by the then Lucknow standards. He was jeeringly asked, "Hazrat, aapka watan"? He replied with this couplet:

Kya bood bash poocho ho Purab key sakino
Hum ko garib jaan kay, hans hans pukartay
Dilli jo ek shahar tha, alam main intikhab
Rehtay thay muntkhib kis rozgar kay
Falak nay ussey loot kay weeran kar diya
Hum rehney waley hain ussi ujday diyar kay
'What residence you are asking me? Oh you residents of East (Lucknow id East of Delhi). Just because I am poor, you are laughing at me. Delhi was a selected city of the world, in which only elite of the world lived. Time has ravaged the city and I am a resident of that city.'

 Next day, the whole city was agog with the news that Mir Sahib had arrived. The local Nawab promptly sent him Rs. 200 per month as a Pension.

 Some poets moved to Deccan (Hyderabad) and some stayed in Delhi, till their own sunsets.

 Urdu language continued to prosper in U.P. (then United Provinces of Agra and Audh), Delhi, Punjab (which included present Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and of course J&K State - where the State's official language continues to be Urdu). Then came Indian Independence. Till early fifties, Hindi was unknown. The Hindi zealots introduced highly Sanskritised Hindi, which went over the heads of average people. Lots of jokes used to be prevalent. What is the Hindi word for 'Handkerchief'? Reply: Mikha marzana vastrakhand. What is the equivalent of a 'Necktie'? Reply: Kantha Langot. What is the word for 'Rail Signal'? Reply: Agni vahana gamana agamana suchak loh patika. This was not the language Gandhi and Nehru had in mind. But who would listen? AIR became the touchstone for Hindi words. Thanks to Hindi Film Industry, they had to sell their pictures to people in the street. So they stuck to bazari language. For instance 'Shadi shuda' is a wholly Persian/Urdu word for a married person. In today's Hindi, nobody uses the correct Hindi word Vivahit. Similarly other words like Guftagu (Dialogue/Conversation), Hubahu (Identical), Rubaru (Face to face). These are all Persian and thereby Urdu words. But then any language is enriched by borrowings from other languages. English is replete with words borrowed from Greek and Latin. Some French words are used in their original form viz: Debris, Buffet, A la carte etc. In fact Algebra, Alcohal are Arabic words.

 Now Urdu is slowly dying out. Even Muslims of U.P. don't read it any more. Muslims from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat had never learnt the language ab initio. Whole of northern India except J&K State has switched to Hindi. In Kashmir also, those who have to deal with the rest of the country, have of necessity to learn Hindi. In fact among the Muslims of Kashmir too, the ones with greater foresight and width of vision, put their children through rudimentary Hindi. Perhaps in future Urdu language would be taught optionally as French and German. The Urdu aficionado of future will have to look towards Pakistan for the growth of this language.

 19th and 20th Centuries of Christian Era have left behind a rich legacy. The future generations will wonder at the 'Parwaz-i-Takhayul' (Flight of imagination) of all time greats of Urdu Literature viz. Sauda, Mir Dard, Mir Taqi Mir, Insha, Momin, Hali Galib and of course Iqbal. (Incidentally Iqbal's grandfather was a Kashmiri Pandit converted to Islam. His father was a tailor in Sialkot and mother a housewife, but deeply religious. His 'Saare jahan se accha Hindoostan hamara' is on the lips of every Indian. Some believe that he originally conceived the idea of Pakistan and others say the idea was implanted in him by our 'do-good' friends - the British. He died in 1938 AD.

 The contribution of Kashmiri Pandit community has not been less. Who does not know about Pandit Brij Narain Chakbast, who translated Ramayana into Urdu poetry. Earlier there was Pandit Daya Shankar Kaul, a resident of Agra, who had written a Diwan (Compendium) Gulzar-i-Naseem. His Takhalus (Pen name) was Naseem. He was a Munshi in the Army. His preceptor was Khwaja haider Ali 'Atash', originally of Delhi but settled in Lucknow. When Pandit Sahib went to show him his Diwan, Atash advised him to reduce  it. 'Ye padega kaun'  was Atash's remark. His poetry has received great praise from his Guru and other critics. In fact this writer has found his mention  in a book devoted to all time greats. His son, most likely, Pandit Dwarika Nath Kaul was an established Poet from his Maktab (School) days. Infact he is even today remembered about his repartee :

Sheikh ne masjid bana mismar butkhana kiya
His spot reply
Agey ik surat bhi thi, ab saaf veerana kiya
And the most difficult one:
Kafir hain jo bande nahin Islam key
His reply:
Laam ke manand hain gesu Ghanshyam kay
Kafir hain jo banday nahin is lam key
 Alas he died very young, around 28 years, possibly because of TB.

 There is a joke doing the rounds. Urdu was born in U.P., grew in Punjab, became rich in Hyderabad and died in Madras (Chennai). 

• •
(Source:AAb-i-Hayat by Maulana Molvi Mohammed Hussain  Azad, Dehlvi (Urdu).
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