Dilawar Singh Being Dilawar/ Tools/

This is draft.

Why do you despise the culture of the language you speak every day of your lives, the only language which your mother and sister understand?

Dr. J. Ballantyne, (Title of the essay he gave to his students

to write in an attempt to improve their Hindi)

We do not clearly understand what you European mean by the term Hindi, for there are hundreds of dialects, all in our opinion equally entitled for the name, and there is no standard as there is in Sanskrit… If the purity of Hindi is to consist in its exclusiveness of Mussulman words, we shall require to study Persian and Arabic in order to ascertain which of the words are in the habit of issuing every day inArabic or Persian, and which is Hindi. With our present knowledge we can tell that a word is Sanskrit or not Sanskrit but if not Sanskrit, it may be English, or Portuguese instead of Hindi or anything that we can tell. English words are becoming as completely naturalized in the villages as Arabic and Persian words, and what you call Hindi will eventually merge in some future modification of the Oordoo, nor do we see any great cause of regret in the prospect.

One of the student spoke on behalf of the group.

-- King 1990 

As late Ravindra Kumar used to say, “history is futuristic”. You can run away from history as you please but History always get you. In India, nothing is ever done with : the “sack” of Somnath temple is avenged, one thousand years later, in the fetid fields of Bhagalpur and in the allays of Bombay. You want to understand anything about India, first get her history right.

In childhood, they made me believe that Hindi is originated from Sanskrit, her loyal first daughter. And other languages Bangla, Marathi, Gujrati etc. are either the younger daughter of Sanskrit or evolved from Hindi. Well, with all “Mera Bharat Mahan” and “Proudly say Hindi-Hindu Hindustan” drilled into my head, believing all this crap was so easy and lovable. Then you open a page from history and bang, you are disillusioned! History in India is a hot potato. You write something right, they will come after you. A single line on Shivaji can lead to vandalism of a library. Write something about Ram and Krishna and you could be beaten and tortured. History has always been a part of Indian-nationalism. It has been used by opportunistic middle class. Perhaps that is why we get All these Hindiwallah, who once forced this crap on us, now boast their children who can not even write and read their own mother tongue though they still looses their mind if someone argues why Hindi is a national language? Well, having double standard is the hallmark of Hindi/Bangla middle class. If Hindiwallah have moralist argument about corruption in the public, they do hobnobbing with them in private. And if at twenty a Bangali marches with party, by forty they work in some U.S. university. Over the time, things have changed. Now they do all of these at the same time. Anyway, We’ll try to restrict ourselves to the matter of Hindi.  The biases of mine should be made clear. Hindi is quite a passionate matter for me. But neither I use English as a replacement of Hindi, nor Hindi as an excuse of not learning English. If English allows me to reach a wider audience (even though my grammar is mostly wrong), Hindi enables me to put my feelings in my diary. I’d not mind being emotionally bilingual. Learning different languages are always beneficial.

Perhaps, you might have heard what they say about Hindustan. “हिंदुस्तान की अजब कहानी, कोस कोस पर बदले पानी, चार कोस पर वाणी.” (This is weired fact about Hindustan, at every mile, the water changes its taste; at every four mile, language changes its dialect.”) Perhaps post-Bollybood Hindi is way too homogeneous and people grew up in cities may have not even appreciated/witnessed these nuances. But in villages, these differences are very vivid. I was surprised to know that just 2 kilometer away from my village, they use the word buhari for jhaadu and are unaware of the existence of the other word. Reason is simple, only women uses this buhari and they do not visit my village since there is no relationships between them. They are Vishnoi community, mine is Chauhans.

What Ballyntyne was insisting was exactly killing these vernacular for the sake of a single one, just like they have in his mother-land, Europe. What his student said was more or less the fact that India is a melting pot of culture, race, and languages and it should evolve at its own pace. No matter how slowly.

But people who proud themselves to be forward looking or modern are mostly are at pain with this inherent steadiness and slowness. They want to change the world as rapidly as they please and if people show reluctance, they call them with all those fancy names, uneducated, conservative, fundamentalists, yokel, villagers, indecent etc. Society changes at its own pace, almost slowly. They will pick whatever will make their life less miserable and adapt. If pajamas were widespread in my village at my father time than my grandfather’s time, it is not due to the fact of Westernization but simply life is easier with pajams than with lungi. Just like these days life is easier in t-shirts than in kurta of shirts. Well, I am not denying the influence if Lakme fashion week or M.Tv. but their followers are quite small.

There is no escape from language. If its speaker changes it slowly, it changes its speaker, rather strongly. A language always comes with some characteristics. Bangla always comes with chauvinism with her, Tamil is full of traditions, Hindi is full of arrogance. Their speakers show these characteristics almost all the time. You talk with a Tamil in English, now if another Tamil joins the group there will be no change, three of them will communicate in English. You talk with a Bengali person in English, another Bengali joins and bang, both of them will talk in Bengali and will forget you. Ok, if you make some faces, they will be polite enough to translate it for you with a look which will make you feel that you made a mistake. Talk with a Hindi person, in some other language which is not English, he will somewhat force you to speak in Hindi. If one more Hindi joins then they probably start invoking the ‘this is national language crap’. If you talk in English, then no problem, they are somehow very timid attacking English unless they are not educated. But they would never mind giving you a lecture why you should learn Hindi even if He can not read of write a good quality Hindi.

Its not their fault, really. Its the way Hindi was raised by it guardians. The invention of Hindi was a huge project and was implemented heroically. But if the child has polio in begining what one can do.

Purani Hindi

 ”When people say Hindi is not a language, I feel a lot of pain”, was the words of a remarkable man, Bhartendu Harishchandra. He was to Hindi what Ramanujan was to Number theory. Ramanujan died young, Bhartendu younger. He was 36 when he died yet he left behind a legacy which is now termed as ‘Bhartendu yuga’ of Hindi literature. What Bhartendu sought was an idea of a title for Hindi (Khari boli). He was well aware of the inconsistency of his claim. Which is reflected in his writing, he only wrote prose in Khari boli, his poetry was in different dialect Braj Bhasha - the most prominent dialect of Hindi that time. 

When one wants to fight for an idea, one has to give it a name. A simple name so that he need not to explain it again and again, so that its meaning can be changed later for one’s benefit, so that people forget what this word was all about in the beginning, so that you can invoke passion and chauvinism just by mentioning a single word. That what they did with Hindi. Once the word takes the first seats, the idea behind it just its meaning. “Meaning is, in some sense,”, As Alok Rai says, “a conspiracy: one which both includes and excludes, conspiracy with, conspiracy against.” Watching a program in Doorhandles in my childhood, I was awestruck by the fluency of a Pakistani group of Hindi, though they were speaking Urdu, in the same way, north Indians are frequently disconcerted at being complimented by Pakistanis on their fluency of Urdu, Pakistan’s national language . Because they thinks that they are using Hindi, India’s national language. One man Hindi could be another man’s Urdu and vice versa.

Though from linguistics point of view, it’d  hardly matter what you call it, but this matter of naming - as far as I can see - may still hold sway over people. They might be willing to kill or die for name.

Kill Braj Bhasa, she is too old

Braj literature is the very life’s breath of Hindi… Without a deep study of Braj Bhasha, it is impossible to know Hindi fully. Therefore Braj Bhasha is even today not something that belongs to the past, but in essential to Bharat’s dynamic and hopeful future.

Seth Govind Das, April 4, 1952 (Translation Alok Rai), ibid pp91

Braj Bhasha is used mainly by illiterate rustic, but Khari Hindi is used by well-educated both for speaking and writing.

King 1990 , pp 151

I always like to say that India is a land of ironies and paradoxes. Though these paradoxes never attract debated as they should, they are very easy to find in documented history. When Ayodhya Prasad Khatri published his book Khari Boli ka Padya at his own expense, he made a point that Khari Boli is capable of great poetry and poetry is not the prerogative of Braj Bhasa only. At this time the great Bhartendu was using Khari boli of prose only, he felt some sort of uncouthness in Khari boli for doing poetry. Khatri’s claim was ridiculed by almost all those who later became Hindiwallah and conspire to do the Braj Bhasa in. Braj had its strongest tradition in riti kavya, its obsession with female body parts. Few used to scorn at it, but comparing Braj with Khari Boli was like saying something bad about Thackeray in front of Shiv Sena.

People did not have any problem with Khari boli in prose. It was capable of serious arguments as Bhartendu Harishchandra had shown in his work. But the time for Khari Boli was ripe, Braj had to go. It survived among in the masses in the poetry of devotion. But its _riti kavya (_comparing everything with women parts) did not find places among average household. Most of them considered it obscene. The defense of Braj was not at all possible.

Khatri, distinguished five styles of Khari Boli Hindi, authentic Hindi (thet Hindi) – was represented by Insahallah Khan’s “Rani Ketki ki kahani” (first story of modern Hindi), the second, Euresia, was marked by an apparently farcical admixture English word (Today, known as Hinglish - championed by Times of Idiots ); Pandit style, heavily laden with Sanskrit; Maulvi Style, persianised; The style of masses, Munshi style. The pundit style was championed by Mahavir Prasad Dwedi, Munshi Style was used by Premchand and co. These days the most prominent is Euresian style or Hinglish in urbane North India.

The argument made by sensitive and sophisticated observer Bhartendu in front of Hunter commission that Khari Boli is too stiff and too prosaic to do any poetry was right. It took three generation of heroic innovatorsNirala, Agyeya (my all time fav is this) Raghuvir Sahay .. – to make Khari Boli sound like a poetry rather than a vedic ritual.

It is notable that in 1911, at Nagari Pracharini Sabha, Khari Boli was hailed by those who had been on the side of the Braj at the time of Khatri controversy. The inevitability of Khari boli’s triumph was captured by an anonymous bard in these two lines, an interesting variant of modern railway metaphor,

देख रेल का सिग्नल तुम किस कारन झुक जाते हो. संसारी जीवो को इससे क्या तुम कुछ सिखलाते हो? (Seeing the oncoming train, O signal, why do you promptly go down? Do you seek thus to teach us worldly folk some lesson?)

Ultimately, they did her in. The argument was simple, she has become an old lady has unbecoming obsession for ornaments (her riti Kavya traditions).
 Braj is dead, Now get Urdu

If the printing presses, the growth of regional pride, the Muslim’s insistence of the Persian script, and the spread of the new regional consciousness had not happened, Hindi was well on its way toward becoming the language of whole country. Too much printing, too much controversy and conflict, all these also impeded its growth…

Purani Hindi, Guleri (trans)

In the Muslim period, Hindu India was like a prison cell.

Narain Chaturvedi. (trans)

It is a curious coincident which should be called a divine coincident that Hindi poetry really rose in the same time when the Muslim began to establish their rule of terror in Hindustan. Later, as the Muslim emperors rose to the height of their greatness… Hindi poetry too reached its highest summit.

Lala Sita Ram, 1930 (trans)

In 1900, at the inaugration of what is universally
known as the Hindu Hostel of University of
Allahabad was raised by Madan Mohan Malviya .
MacDonnel was the guest of honour because a short
while ago he initiated the most fateful decision in the
history of Hindi - the use of Devanagri Script in the
court of province. He has now faded from the memory of
Modern Hindi - as expected in India. The plaque the
commemorate this incident is lay hidden behind the weeds.
And the hostel is named after Malviya.

The argument that Urdu was killed only by Hindiwallah is wide of the mark. The contribution of Urduwallah was immense. They helped a lot in killing Urdu, mostly unknowingly. Urdu, in 19th century, used be as prominent as English is today.

-- To be continued —   


[1] Acharya Hemchadra works on early poetry and etc are available at http://www.jainlibrary.org/. Search Hemchandra and download. You may need to register first.