When Persian Entered Into Braj Bhasha:
What Effects It Created,
and What Hope There Is for the Future
When two peoples with their own languages meet, the form and complexion of each one inevitably casts its shadow over the other. Although each affects the other's conversation, dress, food, manners, and various customs as well, since I'm here concerned with language, I limit my discussion to that. Obviously when one people come among another people, they bring with them hundreds #26# of things from their own country that were not here before. Sometimes these things are essential, and sometimes they are so convenient that they are seen as necessities. Thus the local people consider them a serendipitous discovery, and willingly make use of them. Many of these things bring their names with them. And after coming to the new land many of them are used in some new way, or evolve into some new form, and receive new names. And this is the first effect of the new language. In addition, after the people live together in one place and become 'milk and sugar', the words of both languages mingle together as well.
When guest and host begin to understand each other's language, the way opens for an attractive and beneficial change. Because although the oneness of human nature may make everyone's thoughts either identical or nearly identical, everyone's style of expression is distinct. And human nature always likes new styles. Thus, to convey their meanings, guest and host take advantage of each other's style of expression as well. Then they take the new *similes and subtle *metaphors and change the aspect of the old similes and well-worn metaphors. And to the limit of the power of their language, they pick up each other's thoughts and new styles, and create a new kind of pleasure in their language.
In truth, this radical change happens at different times to every language. Thus the Arab people, who at one time had mingled with Rome, Greece, Spain, and so on, took thousands of scholarly and non-scholarly words from there. In the same way, we see that the Persian language is rich with words from Arabic, Turkish, and so on. For me to say anything about English is not becoming, because there are now many enlightened English speakers [in India], and they know more than I. Suffice it to say that just as a civilized government ought to possess national resources and all the wherewithal for governing, so all types of words and all ways of expressing thoughts are present in the English language.
Now I ought to speak about my own language. But it is still necessary to remind you of where Urdu #27# has come from, and how it has emerged. The Urdu language was initially born for the necessities of business and daily life. Along with the Hindus, the Indian Muslims--who were mostly the offspring of Iranians or Turkestanis--began to consider India their native land, and this language their own language. It's clear too that just as no land can remain without things growing on it, so no language can remain without poetry.
The first works in Urdu begin with poetry: It was the time of Muḥammad Shāh, and a glorious springtime of luxury and enjoyment. The elite must have reflected, 'Just as our elders made their garden flourish in Persian literature, so this is our language now, and we too ought to do something in it'. Thus they brought Persian models into Urdu, and began to compose ghazals and odes. And there's no doubt that whatever power of expression, or refinement of words, or beauty of constructions, or colorfulness of similes and metaphors--in short, whatever was granted to Urdu at the first was by virtue of the Urdu poets. And this is the reason that the language remained poor in the equipment suitable for a national and standard language. For if in that age the arts and sciences, history, philosophy, mathematics, and so on had been subjects of common discourse, words would have developed for them too. Whatever things were popular, those were the ones for which terms and concepts developed. Indeed, it must certainly be said that whatever was developed was very good of its kind.
Now we must once again start on our topic, of what Bhasha took from Persian in order to assume the dress of Urdu.
Many things came to India and brought their names with them: I mention the names of those things that came from Arabia and Persia, and brought their names with them. For example, among items of clothing: [seventeen names] and so on.
Under the heading of food: [thirty names] and so on.
#28# Miscellaneous: [twenty-four names] and so on. All these things brought their names with them. Many things came for which there were no names in Bhasha; there are probably names in Sanskrit books: [eleven names of fruits and dried fruits].
Many things are Indian, but have lost their Indian names: Many Arabic and Persian words have, through extensive use, made such a place for themselves that now if one wished to search out some word of Sanskrit or ancient Bhasha to replace them, then either the real meaning would vanish, or the language would become so difficult that--not to speak of ordinary people--even educated Hindus would not understand it. For example: [fifty-eight nouns]. With regard to chess, the surprising thing is that it's specifically an Indian invention. But when it returned from Arabia and Persia, it came back with all the names of the pieces and all the terms changed.
Hundreds of [other] Arabic and Persian words came here, but the climate didn't suit them. Thus their disposition and appearance were corrupted: [one example]. See page #35#.
The effect Persian had on Hindi in declension: In declension, it took nothing from Persian. What it did was attach its own Hindi plural [object] marker -oñ to Arabic and Persian words: [four examples].
Nouns of agent. It took countless ones from Persian and Arabic. [Several examples #29# are briefly discussed.] I have examined this question properly in my Persian lectures [lakshar] [in Suḳhandān-e pārs].
Nouns of containment: [examples].
The parts of speech: The parts of speech are in the same situation [of adopting Perso-Arabic words]: [numerous #30# examples]. Miyāñ Majbūr was a poet of the old generation. My late Ustad [Żauq] used to talk about him: he was very elderly and frail, and he taught in a school. Once he recited a ghazal in a *mushairah. Look how beautifully he has *fitted the verb:
/Considering the affairs of the time, my heart feels languid and unwilling even to talk [kahlātā hai]--
Out of regard for his friends Majbūr composes [kah lātā hai] a ghazal/1
The effect Persian had on grammar: #31# In grammar, the iẓāfat constructions, both possessive and adjectival, were adopted. Sometimes as subject and sometimes as predicate, they spread throughout Hindi. The primary benefit of this was from the point of view of brevity: fewer words were required. [Other grammatical examples are provided, one illustrated by an unattributed verse, the other by a verse of Saudā's.] In various types of iẓāfat construction, the vividness of similes and metaphors made plain, simple language colorful. [One example is offered: two parallel sentences, one in Bhasha and one in Urdu.]
In the poems of Valī and others of the early generation, such [Persianized] constructions are numerous. Or rather, sometimes halves of lines, and sometimes whole lines, are in Persian--but in some other style. By the same token, words and constructions too from Bhasha are more numerous [than at present]. And they are of a kind that nowadays don't strike people as *eloquent. It's as though sugar had been put into milk, but had not yet well melted into it. One sip is particularly sweet, one absolutely flavorless. Then in another, the teeth crunch a sugar crystal. Indeed, by now the language has reached such a state of blending that it's like 'milk and sugar'.
A just point: Some people even say that mere Bhasha alone gives no pleasure, and that Urdu somehow spontaneously appeals to their temperament. But both these things bewilder my mind. If somebody says, 'Today a shaḳhṣ [=person] came', or 'a manush [=person] came', then both are the same. Why should I say that [the Indic] manush goes against my temperament? Is it not also possible that because we've been hearing shaḳhṣ since our childhood, manush or [its variant] mānus seems unfamiliar [nāmānūs] to us? So also #32# with other words, in numbers beyond count.
An even more surprising thing is that many words are not accepted by themselves, but when used in a construction with other words, they enliven the *idiom of eloquent speakers. For example, this word mānus when used alone is not part of the idiom. But everyone says, 'Aḥmad seems outwardly to be a bhalā mānus [=good guy]; no telling what he's like inside'.
Bandhū, in Bhasha, means 'brother' or 'friend'. Now, in the idiom, we say bhāʾī band--neither bandhū alone, nor bhāʾī bandhū. And no one can prove the superiority of either use. Whatever became current in any one time, became eloquent. A time will come when people will call our idiom 'unidiomatic' and laugh at it.
Although even without seeing examples, this fact is graven on everyone's mind: that the body of Urdu was made from the clay of Sanskrit and Braj Bhasha. Words from all the other languages acted only as down on the cheek, or a beauty spot. But I give some words as examples: notice how since Sanskrit words came into Urdu, their original forms have changed their aspect with the changing times.
What changes first Bhasha, then Urdu, made in Sanskrit words: [fifteen numbered examples, #33# briefly discussed].
Arabic and Persian words were sometimes taken with their meanings changed; sometimes the meanings were taken and the words changed: There are many words given by Arabic and Persian to Urdu, for which Urdu changed the form and kept the meaning the same; and others for which it kept the form intact but changed the meaning completely. For example: [sixteen examples with #34# brief discussion].
Arabic and Persian words of which both form and meaning were changed: A number of words were taken in such a way that along with the meaning, the form changed as well. Although most of them are used only by the common people, some words have reached the lips of the elite as well. For example: [twenty words #35# with definitions]. [Then more examples are discussed individually, some #36# illustrated with verses by Żauq, Vazīr, Jurʾat, and Mīr.] There are hundreds of words like this; details about them would produce length without any benefit.
English too is constantly increasing its sway: The English language too is continually increasing its sway. The Hindu and Muslim brothers should await the day when, just as your and my fathers #37# and grandfathers have always found Arabic and Persian words on their lips, in the future English words will be just as numerous in their place--so much so that Arabic and Persian words will voluntarily quit the field and flee. I ought to show some words which are from the various countries of Europe, and which now have so grafted themselves into our language that the seams are not visible at all. For example:
kamrā [=room] is Italian;
nīlām [=auction] is Portuguese, they say līlām;
pādrī [=priest] comes from the Latin language;
lālṭen--lainṭarn [lantern] is English;
isṭām--sṭamp [stamp] is English;
biskuṭ--biskiṭ [biscuit] is English;
pinshin [pension] is English;
būtām--būtān [bouton] is French;
pistaul--pisṭal [pistol] is English;
frānel or flālen--flainal [flannel] is English;
bābiniṭ--bābīniṭ [bobinette] is a kind of net-like fabric;
botal--bāṭal [bottle] is English;
darjan--ḍazan [dozen] is English;
baṭan--baṭan [button] is English;
baggī [buggy] is English;
gilās [glass] is common glass in English;
Mem or Maiḍam [Madam] is English;
ardalī is ārḍarlī [orderly, n.].
In the same way, isṭeshan [station], ṭikaṭ [ticket], rel [railroad train], pūlis [police], and so on--there are hundreds of words that not only are on the lips of great and small, but have even reached as far as women's language. And the words spoken by the servants of the Sahibs in offices and in courts of law--if they were all to be written down, they would make a ḍikshanarī [dictionary].
Urdu also made inventive changes: It's the practice of eloquent speakers of every language to invent, through their own delightful changes, new words and terms. Our Urdu too has not been second to any language in this field. Although these terms can only come about by chance, they are produced by the sensibility of people who have not only learning but also lofty thought, wits quick as lightning, inventive brains, and delightful inventions. The speech of such people lodges in the hearts of great and small, so that it appeals to everyone, and everyone adopts it. For example: #38# [nine examples with discussion, illustrated with a Persian verse by T̤ālib Āmulī].
Look at the nature of Bhasha--what a friendly temperament it has, for mixing with every single language! Cast your eye attentively over its poetry and prose. It not only cleared out a space for its guest among the words, but also adopted many words and thoughts that were specific to the native lands of Arabic and Persian. Thus it gave the realm of heroism to [the Persian Shāh nāmah heroes] Rustam and Sām, although here it belonged to [the Mahābhārat heroes] Bhīm and Arjun. Saudā says,
/Neither Rustam nor Sām remained on the earth
Only their name as heroes remained under the sky/
/Just go tell Rustam to bend his head beneath the sword!
Beloved, only I can do it--'to each his own task'!/
Into the bedchamber of beauty and loveliness, [the Arab] Lailā and [the Persian] Shīrīn entered. And when they came, how could [their lovers] Majnūn #39# and Farhād not have come and replaced [the Punjabi lover] Rāñjhā? The Ganges and Yamuna couldn't flow from the eyes of Majnūn and Farhād, so the Bactrus and Jaxartes were forced to come to India. Abandoning the Himalayas and the Vindhyas, these lovers bashed their heads on the Besutūn Mountain, the Fort of Shīrīn, the Alvand Mountain. But when some original person wishes to, he decorates our local houses with our own local flowers--and they give a wonderfully verdant effect.
Idioms and terms were translated from Persian: To translate the idiom of one language into another is not permissible. But such a unity developed between these two languages that even this difference went away. Whatever attractive and charming and pleasing idioms were found in Persian, Urdu sometimes took outright, and sometimes translated, to express its practical ideas. For example: [a long list of such imported idioms, #40# #41# #42# illustrated with verses and lines by Saudā, Żauq, Inshā, Z̤afar, Āṣif ud-Daulah, Nāsiḳh, Dard, Mīr, Ġhālib, Ātish, Vazīr, and Ṣabā].
Some idioms were adopted, but were then abandoned: A number of Persian idioms, or their translations, were adopted by ustads like Mīr and Mirzā [Saudā], but the later poets abandoned them. #43# [A number of examples are briefly discussed, #44# #45# and illustrated with verses and lines by Mīr, Mīr Ḥasan, Saudā, ʿUrfī, Rangīn, Jurʾat, Inshā, and Żauq.]
Although the general principles of eloquence were very much opposed to these things, they were not avoided, because the race and family and home and household of the speakers were becoming 'milk and sugar' with Persian. The more Persian entered into it, the more pleasing the language became. And today we see that things are completely different. Our powerful creators of literature, when they translate, make their tracings from English ideas. And that is how it should be. Wherever they saw a good flower, they picked it. #46# And they made it into an ornament--if not for their turban, then for the collar of their coat [koṭ].
Arabic constructions used for humorous effect: When our creators of literature saw that the Persian-speakers, through the force of their poetic power or the spiciness of their wit, used Arabic constructions, then they did not leave the language of their beloved country devoid of the relish of this salt. [Two examples are offered: lines by Saudā and Sayyid Raẓī Ḳhān 'Raẓī'.]
Indian similes disappeared, Persian and Arabic similes and concepts took over in their place: #46# I cannot proceed without making one point concerning the similes in both languages. Which is, that if you examine the temperaments of individual people who live thousands of miles apart and in countries with different characters, you will see--since human nature is one--to what extent their thoughts resemble each other's. Thus, here they praise hair with similes of the gliding of snakes and the flight of bees. In Persian too, they've used the simile of a snake for curly hair. Accordingly, in Urdu the snake remained but the bees flew away. And in their place came musk, violet, spikenard, sweet basil, which no one here had ever even seen. But the simple, eloquent poet of Arabia fulfills the claim of his nature, and gives to tresses the simile of charcoal. Praising a dark complexion, [people here] used to say 'cloud-colored' or 'shām [=night, Krishan] -colored'. For a lighter color, they'd say 'champa-flowery'. Now [the Persian] 'jasmine-colored' and 'silver-colored' give to beauty the flourishing of spring, but [the Indic] chandramukh [=moon-faced] and [the Persian] māhruḳh [=moon-faced] coincide.
When praising the eyes, here they use [the Indic] mrig kī āñkh [=deer-eyes], and lotus flowers, and the darting movements of the wagtail as similes. In Urdu there is [the Persian] āhū chashm [=deer-eyes], but the wagtail has gone with the wind, and in the place of the lotus came the 'brimming cup', and the 'dark-eyed narcissus' that no one here had ever even seen. In fact 'the Turk of the eye' began to slay with 'the sword of a glance'.
#47# For the gait, in Bhasha the exemplary comparisons are the walk of a female elephant and of a wild goose. Now the elephant too, along with the wild goose, has flown away, and there remains only the [Persian] wild partridge. The [Persian] 'turmoil of Doomsday' and 'commotion of Judgment Day' indeed 'arise' and create chaos [when the beloved walks].
In Bhasha, the simile for the nose was the beak of a parrot. Now they use the simile of the jasmine bud: [an illustrative verse by Ātish]. In Persian they produced extreme refinements in describing the delicacy of the waist. But Sanskrit, for its part, did not fail in exaggeration either. Thus, praising the eyes, a [Sanskrit] poet said, 'The corners of the eyes went on to meet the ears'.
Here, formerly wind or cloud or wild goose used to be used as messenger [to the beloved]. [In Urdu] they have chosen as messenger the [Persian] 'spring breeze' and the 'dawn breeze'. In fact [in Urdu] they also used laments, sighs, and tears to carry messages. The late Ustad has a verse,
/My lament narrates to her the pain of separation
This arrow of air does the work of a messenger/
/If you have no messenger
Send off your tears themselves/
/The tear-messenger came and reported,
Someone has massacred the city of the heart/
In Persian they spoke of the tear as a child. [In Urdu too] they made it a young boy. And look what a good garment-hem the late Ustad made for it: /The tear-child fell, losing his hold on the skirt of the eyelashes/. And Z̤afar has said, /What naughty boys these are, to come one right after the other!/. And Maʿrūf has said,
/He just went off to convey my message, may God protect him,
This tear-child turned out to be very strong of foot!/
/How can I describe the dissolute wanderings of my tears--
This boy has been born with a bad character/.
Persian and Arabic words were entering into Hindi, and Hindi words into Persian: #48# Don't think that it was only the Persian language that kept forcing creative changes on the Hindi language. No: Persian too had no choice but to accept local words. Thus, leaving aside those words that are alike because of their common roots in Persian and Sanskrit, I submit that in the offices of the Chaghatai sultans there were hundreds of Hindi words that were used freely in Persian writings. And even now they are present in the histories of that period: [several illustrative phrases]. The emperor Jahāngīr writes in his Tuzūk: [a prose passage, recorded in mixed Persian and Urdu translation, containing various Indic words].
In this way the poets, with their colorful creative changes, have given luster to Persian verses. [Examples are provided: #49# Persian verses and lines by Amīr Ḳhusrau, ʿUrfī, Z̤ahūrī, Ashraf, and T̤uġhrā.]
How Persian metaphors and similes came and changed the complexion of the language: From the above discussion you will have seen in brief how, although the tree of Urdu grew in the *ground of Sanskrit and Bhasha, it has flowered in the breezes of Persian. Although indeed the difficulty was that the time of Bedil and 'Nāṣir' ʿAlī had just passed away. Only their followers were left, and these followers were intoxicated with the pleasure of metaphor and simile. Thus it was as if the color of metaphors and similes too came into the Urdu vernacular [bhāshā]--and came very swiftly. If this color had come only like cosmetic paste rubbed into the face, or like collyrium in the eyes, it would have enhanced both attractiveness and vision. But alas--its intensity caused severe harm to the eyes of our power of expression. And it made the language merely a show [svāñg] of imaginary effects and illusions.
The difference between the literature of Bhasha and Persian: As a result, Bhasha and Urdu became as different as earth and sky. I want to juxtapose examples of both and place them before you, and point out the difference. But before this, two or three things need to be kept in mind. First, the young man of poetic Urdu, who had been nourished on the milk of Persian, had in his temperament many lofty ideas and much *exaggeration of *themes. Along with them came situations and national customs and historical references that were specifically connected to Persia and Turkestan, and were naturally opposed to the temperament of Bhasha. Along with all this, the delicacy and innate refinement of Persian made Urdu's ideas often extremely complex. Because they have been falling on our ears and settling in our brains from childhood onwards, they don't seem difficult to us. But if an illiterate, ignorant, or non-native speaker hears them, his jaw drops in stupefaction: 'What did he say?' #50# Thus it is incumbent upon every reader of Urdu to have some knowledge of Persian literature.
A subtle point: There is a subtle point about the difficulty of Persian and Urdu literature, and the easiness of Hindi literary style--and it is a point worthy of attention. The point is that whatever thing the Bhasha language mentions, it explains to us with every detail the features that are encountered in seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, or touching that particular thing. Although this description lacks the force of exaggeration, or the pomp and grandeur of tumult and tempest, the hearer receives the same pleasure that he would have received from seeing the real thing itself. The poets of Persia, by contrast, never show clearly the good or bad features of anything they depict. Rather, they compare it to some other thing that we already know to be good or bad of our own knowledge, and describe the first thing by applying to it the necessary attributes of the second thing. For example, a flower, with its delicacy, color, and fragrance, is a comparison for the beloved; when they want to show the style of beauty the beloved has in the hot season, they will say that because of the heat, the sweat of dew began to drip from the cheeks of the flower. And in the same style the poet Ḳhvājah 'Vazīr' says,
/I am the nightingale who, when you slaughter it in anger,
Would leave its soul as fragrance, in the rose of your cheeks/
An important warning: If these similes and metaphors are not farfetched, and are derived from things before the eyes, then they produce extreme subtlety and delicacy in poetry. But when they range very far and become highly rarefied, difficulty develops. Thus our poets of *'delicate thought', when describing some king's high fortune and wisdom, don't content themselves with merely praising him as an Alexander of Greece in fortune, and a second Aristotle in wisdom. Rather, they say instead that if the [kingmaker] Humā bird of his wisdom should cast its shadow from its height of fortune, then everyone would become an Alexander and Aristotle of the realm of wisdom and wealth. Or rather, if the ocean of rational arguments in his breast should become tumultuous, it would drown the realm of Greece.
First of all, the Humā's [kingmaking] quality itself is a baseless fancy, and then too it belongs particularly to that country [of Persia]. And on top of that, to create a 'sky of skies' of ascendant fortune, and then to discover its apogee--and then, the arrival of their #51# imaginary Humā at that point! Then look at how on the land under this imaginary sky, they've established a Greece of ingenious contrivances. Then look at how they've made the blessing of this imaginary Humā so widespread that all the most ignorant people in the world will go to this imaginary Greece and become Aristotles.
And as for the second phrase: first of all, the Indian men of learning never believed that a 'deluge could spring out of the oven'.2 And on top of that, for the realm of Greece to be destroyed because of the evil opinions in its philosophy, and so on, are matters and legends that may be our ordinary ideas, but other communities, and even our own common people, are ignorant of them. Thus they won't understand without explanation. And when you've said something, and then you have to explain it, where's the pleasure in speech? And even apart from that, where's the *emotional effect? True pleasure is when half the thing has been said, half is still on the lips--and the listener is moved to delight. 'The string sounded, he guessed the rāg'.
The concepts of Persian are very far from the understanding of speakers of other languages: The result of those florid fancies and unreal subtleties was that even things that are immediate and apparent to the feelings become entangled in coil after coil of our similes and metaphors, and they too are flung into the world of abstract thought. Because in presenting our thoughts, we first of all suppose lifeless things to be alive--or rather, in fact, to be human. After that, we endow those lifeless things with the properties suitable to living and intelligent creatures, and generate the kind of ideas that usually have specific national or religious connection with the lands of Arabia, or Persia, or Turkestan.
Ideas of night and night gatherings: For example, at night, in the gatherings of those involved with love, it is first of all necessary for the cupbearer [sāqīa] to come. Then the beloved, instead of a lovely woman, may be a boy as beautiful as a Parizad. The morning light radiates from his forehead and cheeks; but the night of his tresses keeps diffusing the scent of musk. Sometimes the wine-flask raises its head in arrogance, and the lover's liver turns to blood and drips away. And sometimes the wine-flask bows down and smiles, gurgling with laughter. Sometimes this gurgling turns into a sound like the name of God, and absorbs itself in calling upon Him. But the cup laughs with its open mouth--and spreads its skirt wide [in supplication] before the wine-flask. The sky stands holding a quiver of calamity-arrows #52# and the bent bow of the Milky Way. But the arrow of the lover's sighs pierces through the breast of the sky. Still, the eye of inauspicious Saturn is not blinded, and the lover's dawn of success never brightens.
In the gatherings here, the candle [shamʿaʿb] stands hidden in the veil of the chandelier, bearing a golden crown on her head. Thus the moth too has to come. The moment that afflicted lover arrives on the scene, he is burnt to ashes. They describe the lamp as laughing, and the candle as weeping in grief for her lover. The faithful candle burns from head to feet in a fever of love. Her flesh gradually melts and flows away, but she stands steadfast, without wavering--for so long that the whiteness of dawn comes and gives her sometimes [soothing] camphor, and sometimes bamboo-nectar. The candle's heart melts, too, because the skirt of its night of life is so narrow. But the dawn rips open her collar in grief for both [candle and moth]. For the wine-drinking lover, the bird of dawn is very wicked. The sword of the tongue is always sharp and quick to slaughter him. The dawn breeze is an auspicious messenger, who very quickly brings the beloved's message, and takes the answer back. In this state, the sun sometimes emerges bareheaded from the chamber of the east, rubbing his eyes with the fingers of his rays; and sometimes, mounting the dusky horse of the sky, he places the glittering golden crown of rays on his head and advances, waving the red banner of dawn, because he comes victorious, having dispersed the army of his rival, the king of the stars.
Concepts of the rose and rosegarden: Along the same lines, when poets want to show the blossoming of the rosegarden, or the springlike flourishing of the garden, they will show us in some such thoughts as that the breeze-messenger has blown into the ear of the rose-beloved some magic spell that makes her laugh until she rolls on the carpet of the grass. The bud-boy, smiling, delights the heart of his lover, the passion-crazed nightingale. Sometimes, when the destroyer autumn comes, the rose with its cup, and the bud with its wine-flask, take their leave. In the same way, in our garden spring itself is a beloved, and her face is the garden. The roses are her cheeks, the hyacinths are her hair, the violets are her curls, the narcissi are her #53# eyes, and so on.
Then, spring is the season of youthfulness. The trees are the youths of the garden, who delight in embracing the brides of the garden. The branches yawn [in intoxication]. The drunkard of the vine goes lurching around. The foliage-children are cared for in the lap of spring, their nursemaid. Through the blessing of the Ḳhiẓr of the greenery, the spring breeze works like the breath of Jesus, giving life even to someone a thousand years dead. But the afflicted nightingale is sorrowful in his love for the rose-beloved. A flowing river is the passing of life; the swords of its waves whittle the heart away. The shadow of the cypress is an all-devouring serpent. The tears of the dew are flowing. The nightingale is sometimes happy that his beloved rose is laughing nearby, and sometimes sorrowful because bloodthirsty autumn will murder them all. Or his enemies, the flower-picker and the hunter, will bear them away. Out of love for the cypress or the poplar, the turtle-dove wears ochre clothing; his lament is a saw that abrades its way through hearts. Sometimes the afflicted lover too passes by that way; instead of his beloved, he embraces longing and grief. He weeps, and charges the messenger of the breeze with a message: 'Please just tell my indifferent beloved how it is with me'.
References to the qiṣṣahs and dāstāns peculiar to Persia also appeared: From the above discussion it will be evident that many of these things have a natural and personal connection specifically with the lands of Persia and Turkestan. Moreover, references have often been made in various concepts to dāstāns or qiṣṣahs that are specific to the land of Persia. For example, the love of boys instead of women. Praise of the down on their cheeks. Similes like the poplar, the narcissus, the hyacinth, the violet, the hair-thin waist, the stature of the cypress, and so on. The beauty of Lailā, Shīrīn, the candle, the rose, the cypress, and so on; the love of Majnūn, Farhād, the nightingale, the turtle-dove, the moth. The veil of the chandelier. The rouge and rose-cream. The painting of [the Persian artists] Mānī and Bihzād. The valor of Rustam and Isfandyār [of Shāh nāmah fame]. The inauspiciousness of Saturn. The colorful effects of Canopus. Qiṣṣahs of the famous men of Persia and Greece and Arabia. The [Shāh nāmah's] Road of Seven Adventures. Mount Alvand. The Besutūn Mountain. The River of Milk [excavated by Farhād]. The fortress of Shīrīn. The Bactrus and Jaxartes Rivers, and so on. Although all these things #54# are related to Arabia and Persia, many concepts in Urdu are based on them, in both prose and poetry.
Surprise: It's surprising that these concepts, and similes from those lands, acquired so much popularity that they entirely effaced comparable ones from here. Although indeed, here and there in the poetry of Saudā and Sayyid Inshā these can be found, and in their place they give the greatest pleasure.
Regret: In short, our literature is now an ancient memo book of such similes and metaphors--which have been the well-used handkerchiefs of our ancestors for hundreds of years, and have come down to us as an inheritance.
When our later poets longed for new applause, the extraordinary thing is that, sometimes through adjective after adjective, sometimes through metaphor upon metaphor, they made their poetry narrower and darker. If their great effort achieved anything at all, it was only an illusory delicacy and an imaginary subtlety that must be called a jumble of paradoxes. But the regrettable thing is that instead of their poetry having an emotional effect on the hearts of great and small, to capable people it offered a complex *puzzle on which to test their wits, and to ordinary people it presented a deceitful labyrinth. To which the poets' reply is: 'If someone understands, let him understand; if he doesn't understand, let him remain in his barbarous ignorance'.
Look at the verdure of the garden of Bhasha: Now, in contrast to those, look at how the writer of Bhasha literary style arranges his garden in the rainy season. Groves of trees are scattered around, with their dense foliage and deep deep shadow. Berry-tree branches and mango leaves intermingle. Khirni branches extend into the falsah tree. Moonlight-vines wind themselves around the kamrak tree. The ivy climbs up the celsia plant; its branches hang down like a gliding snake. Clusters of flowers sway back and forth. Fruit and seeds kiss the ground. The greenness of the neem tree's leaves, and the whiteness of its flowers, are at their height. From the buds of the mango tree comes the scent of its blossoms. The delicate deep fragrance pleases the heart. When the tree branches sway, a rain of mimosa #55# flowers pours down. A heavy shower of fruits rains down. A light, light breeze, permeated with their fragrance, moves along the paths. The branches quiver as though a girl is rambling along, intoxicated with her own youth, playing fanciful games. From one branch, the sound of black bees; from another, the buzzing of flies makes a different sound entirely. The birds are calling in the branches, and frolicking around. In the artificial pond, a sheet of water falls so forcefully that even a voice speaking into the ear can't be heard. From there, when the water goes rippling into many small channels, it creates an extraordinary springlike effect. The birds come down from the trees, and bathe, and quarrel among themselves. They ruffle their wings, and fly off. The grazing animals move in leaps and bounds as they wander. From one side, the 'Cuckoo!' of the cuckoo bird; from another side, the voice of the kokila bird. Amidst such a crowd the afflicted lover too is sitting alone somewhere, diverting himself, and enduring with pleasure the pain of his separation.
Look at the glory of the rainy season: When they describe the rainy season, they say that a black cloud mass, swaying, loomed up overhead. The cloud mass is a billow of smoke. Lightning comes flashing along. In the blackness, the white rows of cranes and herons are showing their splendor. When the clouds thunder and the lightning flashes, the birds sometimes huddle and hide among the branches, sometimes settle close to the walls. The peacocks call out with one voice, the papiha birds with another. When the mad lover enters the thicket of jasmine vines, cool breezes shake the branches and a stream of water begins to fall. In his intoxication, he sits down right there and begins to recite verses.
Look at the description of the evening: Describing the excellence of a city, they say that when you arrive at a place just as evening is falling, the mountains are green and verdant. All around are well-settled, thriving villages amidst flourishing fields. Below the mountains, pure water is flowing in the river with the āb [=water, luster] of pearls. In the midst of it all is the city. When its tall houses and balconies are reflected in the river, #56# their pinnacles sparkle in the water, and another city can be seen. At the edge of the river, the rains have invigorated the trees, bushes, and foliage, to provide grazing for the milk-cows and goats.
Look at the description of the bleakness of the night: When they show the state of bleakness and affliction, they say that it's the dead center of the night. The jungle is desolate. The wilderness is dark. In the burning ground, for a long way there are piles of ashes and burnt wood scattered around. Here and there in the pyres, flame glimmers. There are the frightening faces of ghosts and goblins, and their terrifying forms. One of them, tall as a palm-tree, staring red eyes wide open, long fangs protruding, a garland of skulls around his neck, stands roaring with laughter. Another runs off, with an elephant bundled under his arm. Another stands there chomping on a cobra like a cucumber. From behind a clamor arises: 'Grab him, grab him, kill him, kill him, don't let him escape!' In the space of a breath these ghosts and goblins vanish. The tumult and confusion cease. Then the burning ground is silent. The leaves rustle in the breeze. The soughing of the wind, the rush of water, the hooting of an owl. The keening of jackals and the wailing of dogs. This is such desolation that even the former fear is forgotten.
A comparison of the literary style of both languages: Look--both these gardens are spread out before you, facing each other. Have you compared them? What's the difference in their style and manner? The eloquent Bhasha-speaker doesn't, even by accident, take a step toward metaphor. Whatever enjoyable sights he sees with his eyes, and whatever agreeable sounds he hears, or whatever agreeable scent he smells, are exactly what he very clearly describes in his sweet language, spontaneously, without exaggeration.
Indic literature too is not incapable of exaggeration: But don't think that in India exaggeration had no popularity at all. The writer of Sanskrit literary style, if he grew the least bit angry, would make the mountains into wrinkles on the forehead of the earth, and cause the mouth of the cave to start grinding its boulder-teeth. Looking at these themes, first of all we remember the universal rule that the literature of every country is a picture of its geographic and physical condition--and in fact even a mirror of its customs and habits, and its people's temperament. The reason for this is that whatever is habitually before the eyes of a poet or a writer of literature #57# becomes the material for his similes and metaphors. Second, it seems that just as in the lands of Iran, Khurasan, and Turan the spring season makes hearts blossom, here the rainy season gives rise to relish and desire. There, the nightingale with its thousand tunes appears in spring; here, the koyal and the papiha. The writers of Braj Bhasha depict the pleasures and moods of the rainy season extremely well. Jahāngīr, in his Tuzuk, has rightly said, 'The rainy season of India is our springtime, and the koyal is the Indian nightingale. In this season she sings with extraordinary art and delight, and abandons herself to play. And if there's any springlike pleasure here, it's in the scenes and sights of the spring season, when the colors of Holi fly through the air. Squirters come into play, bowls of red color are thrown--these are not the things that the Persians do in springtime'.
The thanks due to Persian literature: In any case, we ought ought to be grateful to our ancestors for this *verbal device: that while in the Hindi language words are conjoined by [the possessives] kā, ke, and kī, the use of the Persian iẓāfat construction made for more compression. Moreover, metaphors and similes were little used in Bhasha--perhaps because it was not a language of books or literature, or perhaps because just as the constant occurrence of kā or ke made the language unpleasing, so also the addition of words brought about by many similes caused its poetry to fall from the level of eloquence. Now our ancestors introduced Persian into it, and adorned it with metaphors and similes. As a result, in delicacy of concepts, and ripeness of constructions, and power of poetry, and sharpness and quickness, it advanced beyond Bhasha. And many new words and new constructions created breadth in the language as well.
The excessive use of metaphors and similes destroyed the power to express meanings and represent truth: Along with this pride, there is a regret always in my heart, that they threw away for no reason a natural flower scented with its own perfume, vibrating with its own color. And what was that [flower]? Effectiveness of speech, and expression of truth. Our people of 'delicate thought' and subtle sight #58# began to create idea upon idea--through the colorfulness of metaphors and similes, and a passionate enthusiasm for wordplay. And they grew unconcerned about conveying real facts. The result of this was that the style of the language changed. And it came about that if they try they can write, in the style of Persian, Panj ruqaʿh and Mīnā bāzār and Fāsanah-e ʿajāʾib.
But they can't write about a national affair or a historical revolution in such a way that readers could learn how the event took place and how it reached its outcome; they can't show readers how the occurrences of the time and the circumstances of the day were such that what happened could happen only in this way, and no other outcome was at all possible. And it is impossible for them to write a thought about philosophy or ethics with a clarity of speech that would draw people's hearts toward that thought, and with arguments that always clearly show their brilliance behind the curtain of beautiful expression, and that can move people to pledge assent, or can win complete obedience from their hearers when the writers want them to stop doing something or to risk doing something else. Only 'delicate thought' created this fault: the modes of metaphor and simile, and synonymous phrases, rose to the tongue of our pen like pillows for our speech. Undoubtedly our ancestors, seeing such colorfulness and refinement, forgot--or perhaps, never understood--that this imaginary style crushes our true temper into the dust. This is the reason that today we are very deficient in writing in the English style, and in translating their articles completely. No, not we! Our indigenous literature is deficient in this pursuit.
The general principles of English writing: The general principles of English writing are these: that whatever situation or inner state you write about, you present it in such a way that you cause the same feeling or the same mood to pervade the heart--the same joy, or grief, or anger, or compassion, or fear, or fervor--as would be aroused by experiencing or seeing the thing itself.
Undoubtedly our style of writing, with its trim phrases and its rhythmic flow of *rhymes, #59# attracts the ear. Through its colorful words and subtle themes, it gives to ideas the pleasure of piquancy. Moreover, through its exaggeration of speech, its pomp and circumstance, it turns the heavens and the earth upside down. But if you look for the true aim--that is, an effect on the heart, or a conveying of information--there's not even a trace. Some themes feel very *fluent on our tongues. But the truth is that we don't succeed even with them. For example, if we praise someone's beauty, we don't content ourselves with calling her the envy of the Houris and the pride of the Paris, but make her into a figure built of impossibilities and paradoxes. But the God-given beauty of a beautiful person has an atmosphere of its own: whatever we see with our eyes goes straight to our hearts, and only the heart knows what it feels. Well then--why don't we depict beauty in such a way that the hearers too will feel their hearts turn over?
The style of a handsome youth: If we praise a strong young man, we'll fill pages with calling him [in Shāh nāmah style] a Rustam, an Unconquerable, an Isfandyār, a Bronze-body, a Lion of the Jungle of Battle, a Crocodile of the Ocean of War, and so on, and will blacken page after page with such epithets. After all, his long neck, his well-developed upper arms, his broad chest, the roundness of his arms, his slim waist--in short, his whole attractive body and harmonious proportions--speak in a style of their own. His personal courage and innate heroism, which have made him distinguished in his time, also count for something. Why don't we depict them in such a style that morbid thoughts will acquire a firm tone, and drooping hearts will be filled with spirit?
The verdure of a garden: In praising a garden we will sometimes scar [with jealousy] the heart of the green garden of the skies and the garden of the stars; sometimes we will call it a Faraway Paradise or a Paradise on Earth. In fact, we'll blacken many pages praising, in all different styles, its each and every flower and leaf. But the swaying of its greenery, the radiance of its flowers, its sweet smells, the rippling of flowing water, its well-pruned trees, the blooming of the flowerbeds, the scent of the air, the call of the parrot, the cry of the papiha, the voice of the koyal that affects the human heart with spiritual joy--we #60# don't describe these things in a way that portrays them before the reader's eyes. If it's a battlefield, then we hurl the regions of earth up and destroy them in the heavens, and cause rivers of blood to flow from one country into another. But the emotional effect that, in itself, causes hearts to see the heroism of a hero and then feel inspired with love of country and self-sacrificial devotion to a comrade--that is not there.
The virtues of learning and the learned: Turning down another street, when we set out to praise learning, we say that its blessing creates pirs, prophets, divine messengers, angels. If only, instead of all that, we would mention some of its clear, obvious benefits, and arouse a desire for it in everyone's heart! So that all people would understand that if they remained ignorant, their wretchedness and lowness would ruin both their worldly and their religious life. Our writings don't even mention this. And the pity is that even up to the present we still haven't paid any attention to it. There are many thoughts and themes in English that our language cannot express. That is, the enjoyment they produce in the English language can't be fully conveyed in Urdu. Which in reality is a result of the weakness of the language, and this is a cause of the greatest shame for its *native speakers.
Why has our literature remained in such a bad state? If the literature of civilized peoples should ask why Urdu literature has remained in this afflicted state, then Quick-wittedness will immediately speak up: Because a people's literature corresponds to that people's condition, and its thoughts correspond to the state of the country and the country's education. As was the education and civilization of India, as was the judgment of its kings and nobles, just so was its literature. And the last word on the subject will be this: that no bird can fly higher than its wings will carry it. Its wings were Persian, Sanskrit, Bhasha, and so on--so how could poor Urdu have gone and perched in the palaces of England or Rome or Greece? But in truth, the knot of this question is tied into another twist as well. Which is this: that in any land, every affair progresses to the extent that the affair in question #61# is connected to the government.
In the countries of Europe, by longstanding custom, the internal and external power of the government was dependent on the innate and intellectual capabilities of the people. And all the government's arrangements, and all its affairs of every type, were established through its people's participation and the strategies generated by their hard work. It is also clear that their plans were based on the powers of learned and intellectual and historical experience. Then, the aforementioned capabilities were not merely limited to hundreds of people, but were spread among thousands.
Here [in Europe] where there are many other matters of importance to government, one of them was that every matter at issue was decided by the agreed opinion of the general assembly, through writings and speeches. On the right occasion, when one individual stood up and made a case in front of the general assembly, he turned the world entirely upside down. Then when the other side answered him, refuting him with equal strength, they made the eastern sun rise in the west. And even now, merely by the force of speeches and writings they make hundreds of thousands of people change in concert from one opinion to another. We ought to reflect on what kind of power their speech has, and what kinds of force their language must possess. In contrast to India: for in our language, if anything was achieved, it was the volumes of some poets praising the victorious fortune of a king, which are suitable only for diversion and amusement. It's a difference of heaven and earth! That true essence was not achieved--nor did anyone wish to achieve it.
The victorious fortune of Urdu: Despite all this, the victorious fortune of Urdu, and its wide popularity, are enviable. Because its source Braj Bhasha was, even during its youthful prime, only the bazaar language of a district. Urdu itself emerged from Delhi--and its lamp ought to have been extinguished with the kingship of Delhi. Nevertheless, if you stand in the midst of India and call out, 'What's the language of this land?' then you'll hear the answer, 'Urdu'. If you go from one border--for example, Peshawar--then first of all there's Afghani. If you get down at Attock, then they claim that Pothvari is something different. As far as the Jhelum, then on your right Kashmir is calling out, 'Yor valā, yor valā'--that is, 'Come here'. On your left, #62# Multan says, 'Kithe ghannyā'--that is, 'Where are you going?'. If you go ahead, there's that speech especially called Punjabi. On its left, Pahari is a language different from all the rest in both writing and speech. If you cross by the Sutlej, there is less Punjabi-ness, so that a difference begins to appear in people's behavior and dress as well. If you get to Delhi, it's another state of affairs entirely. If you go beyond Meerut, then in Aligarh, mixed in with Bhasha, the Eastern style has begun. From Kanpur and Lucknow to Allahabad this remains the case. If you go off toward the south, then from Marwari the language turns into Gujarati and Dakani. Then if you come back up, ahead lies Bengali. And if you reach Calcutta--it's a teeming world, full of God's creatures in God's world--to categorize it is beyond the limits of the power of conjecture.
Why is Delhi the mint for the Urdu language? My friends, you know that for everything, there is usually some one place for establishing its genuineness and its goodness or badness, as for coins there is a mint. What is the reason that, in the beginning, Delhi was the mint of the language? The reason is that it was the seat of government. Only at the court were the hereditary nobility and the sons of the elite scholars in their own right. Their gatherings brought together people of learning and accomplishment, and through their auspicious influence made their temperaments the mold of the art and refinement and subtlety and wit of everything. Thus conversation, dress, courtesy and manners, polite behavior--every single thing was so well-measured and pleasing that it spontaneously found acceptance in everyone's heart. For everything new forms were always being shaped, and new improvements, so that new inventions and creations emerged from there. And since people from all the cities were present in the seat of government, those delightful inventions and improvements quickly became common in every city. Thus, up until before the time of Bahādur Shāh, Delhi remained the *authority for every matter. And through those same qualities, Lucknow too obtained the honor of authority.
Lucknow too can now make this proud claim: When you look at Lucknow, you should realize that creating delightful inventions and inventing colorful things is not the function of a city's bricks and stones. Indeed, where cultivated and lively people gather, and the materials for attractive pursuits are available, right there is where those flowers will begin to bloom. Thus when the ruin of the kingship and the settlement of Lucknow had caused those people of Delhi and their offspring to move there, within a very brief #63# period just the same kind of forms began to emerge from there. Lucknow became a seat of kingship. And as a side effect of this, the language too became free of allegiance to Delhi. Accomplished persons like Nāsiḳh, Ātish, Ẓamīr, and Ḳhalīq laid the foundation of its freedom. And Anīs, Dabīr, Rind, Ḳhvājah Vazīr, and Surūr brought it to its completion. They developed the language considerably. But a number of them were such that they set out to clear the jungle, but instead they opened a floodgate. That is, instead of cleaning up the language, they created a shower of [new] words.
Until Time turned the page of Lucknow as well. Now the sun is the symbol of our Queen [Victoria] of the Universe, and it has not been allowed to stray outside the border of her empire. The post coaches and the railroads, running from east to west, have confined all kinds of animals in one cage. Delhi is destroyed, Lucknow desolate. Some of their authoritative people are under the ground, some wandering helplessly from door to door. Now Lucknow is like other cities, like cantonment bazaars; Delhi is the same, or even worse. No city remains whose people's language is generally capable of being used as an authority. Because in a city the choice and select individuals who make the city capable of authority are only a few, and are produced by the labor of hundreds of years of time. Many of them have died. Some old man may be left, like a dying autumn leaf on a tree. That old man's voice can't even be heard amidst the clamor of committees [kamīṭī] and the drum-rolls of newspapers. Thus now if we consider the language of Delhi to be authoritative, then how can the language of every person there be authoritative?
What the complexion of our language will be in the future: The path of the wind and the flow of a river are not in anyone's control, nor does anyone know which way they will turn. Thus we cannot say what complexion the language will now assume. We're a ship without a pilot [nāḳhudā], and we sit here trusting in God [ḳhudā]. We see the revolutions of time as changes in the color of a garden; we say, Āzād,
/So far, we have seen what was written in our fortune
Now let's see what else we are going to see/.
1The verse is intended to illustrate the way the Arabic kāhilī [=laziness] has begotten the Urdu kahlānā [=to be lazy]. The first line ends with kahlātā hai [=feels lazy] and the second ends with kah lātā hai [=composes]. Moreover, the poet's pen-name Majbūr means 'forced, compelled', so that the second line could also be translated, 'Out of regard for his friends he is forced to compose a ghazal'.
2In Islamic story tradition, Noah's flood is said to have begun in this way.
aSāqī is an Arabic word, and it's such that there's no Hindi word for it at all. The reason is that in this land the custom of the cupbearer, and of the cup making its rounds, did not exist--so thoughts about it didn't exist either.
bShamʿaʿ in Arabic means 'wax'. Then it began to be called mombattī [=wax candle]. When it came to Persia, it began to be made of fat too, but the name shamʿa remained. In India, fat is impure; thus there was neither the candle, nor its name. The theme of the 'slaughter of the bird of dawn' is also from Persia.