History Optional Paper-1 Solution – 1985: Q.5 (c)

Q.5 (c) Where, when and how did Urdu originate? [1985, 20m]

Scholars have advanced several theories to explain the origin of the Urdu language in the era following the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate. Several opinions have been expressed on the identity of the dialect of Hindi on which the Persian’ element was grafted resulting in the growth of a new language. The dialects that have been mentioned are Braj bhasha, Haryanvi and other dialects spoken in the neighborhood of Delhi, and the Punjabi language. All these dialects have influenced the Urdu language in its formative stage and it is hard to pinpoint the exact dialect which combined with Persian to provide rise to Urdu. Though, it is recognized information that through the end of the 14th century, Urdu was emerging as a self-governing language. Like Hindi, the vital structure of Urdu consisted of Khari Boli — a mixture of several dialects spoken in Delhi and nearby regions. Delhi, throughout this era, was ideally situated for the growth of a synthetic language since, on the one hand it was bounded through people speaking dissimilar dialects and, on the other hand, it had Persian speaking ruling elite. Therefore, Urdu adopted Persian writing and Persian literary custom but through incorporating the vital structure of Hindi dialects evolved an individuality of its own.

The word Urdu is of Turkish origin and means an army or camp. In its initial form, Urdu appears to have been devised as an improvised speech to enable the Persian speaking Turkish ruling class and soldiers to communicate with the regional people including Muslim converts. Though, it had not yet acquired a literary form. This new general language took a century to acquire a concrete form and came to be described “Hindavi” through Amir Khusrau. Hindavi therefore shapes the foundation of both Hindi and Urdu. Amir Khusrau composed verses in Hindavi (using Persian writing ) and therefore laid the base of Urdu literature. Though, it was in the Deccan that Urdu first acquired a standardized literary form and came to be recognized as Dakhini throughout the 15th century. It urbanized first under the Bahmani rule and flourished in the Bijapur and Golkunda kingdoms. Gesu Daraz‟s Miraj-ul Ashiqin is the earliest work in Dakhini Urdu. Till the 18th century, Urdu was described through several names such as “Hindavi”, “Dakhini”, “Hindustani” or “Rekhta” (which means mingling many things to produce something new). In its urbanized form, Dakhini Urdu travelled back to the north and soon became popular throughout the Mughal era. It was throughout the era of the disintegration of the Mughal empire in the 18th century that the Urdu literature reached great heights.

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