Hindu Writers of Urdu Literature
BY MD. HAFIZ SYED, M.A., L.T.
(University Lecturer, Department of Urdu, Allahabad University)
It is an admitted fact that the more a nation is interested in the literature and arts of another nation, the greater is the friendship and affection for that nation. As long as the Arabs were ignorant of languages other than their own, they fought shy of even the mention of the names of other nations, but with the advent of Islam, they studied foreign languages and acquired a knowledge of the arts and sciences of other peoples, with the result that they stood forth as examples of enlightenment, free from prejudice and full of toleration.
When Hindus and Musalmans were at enmity in the early days of their contact, opposition on both sides reached its highest pitch, but as they gradually began to understand each other, the clouds of prejudice and suspicion cleared up till, in the reign of Akbar the Great and Zainulabdin, the Ruler of Kashmir, their antagonism was changed into cordiality and harmony. Even today, the hidden cause of the Hindus or Moslems being treated with discourtesy by the British rulers lies in the fact that the treasures of our languages and literature, and of our arts and sciences, remain to most of them a sealed book.
When we consider the unpleasant phase which the controversy between Urdu and Hindi has assumed in recent years, it is difficult to believe that the Hindus could ever have been interested in the Urdu language; but the fact is that, if the Urdu writings of the Hindus are eliminated, the stock of Urdu literature would be greatly impoverished. Works in a language may be classified under two heads: firstly, books on serious and scientific subjects like History, Philosophy, Mathematics, etc., which seek to elucidate and explain certain problems; and secondly, novels, dramas, etc., wherein delight and pleasure are directly afforded, and incidentally, considerable knowledge is imparted and a moral expounded. It is impossible to overlook the additions made by Hindu writers to both these sections of Urdu literature. As long as Urdu novels are read, the name of Sarshar will not be forgotten. Pandit Ratan Nath Sarshar's Fisanae-Azad, Sair-e-Kuhsar, Jame Sarshar,etc., are among the finest Urdu novels. Literary criticism in this country has not yet reached the level it ought to. And eulogy accorded to an expert in any art is construed as a mode of depreciating his contemporaries. Nothing can be more baseless than this notion.
Hindus have written so abundantly that it is impossible to make a comprehensive reference to their writings. Some of these are ancient and relate to the very early period of the Urdu language. Even a passing reference to the Urdu novelists would be incomplete without mention being made of Munshi Jwala Prasada Barq. Probably no original work of his is extant, but he has turned out so many translations of Bengali and English novels and dramas that no one would believe on reading them that they are the works of a foreigner to the tongue. His Mashook-e-Farang, Mare-Asteen and other dramas and novels are widely known and appreciated. He had intended to translate the whole of Shakespeare's dramas into Urdu, but unfortunately the hand of Death prevented his accomplishing his desire. Barq's style, like that of Sarshar, is pure, easy, refined and unaffected. His style is free from artificiality. Spontaneity is visible in every line. Both of them are excellent descriptive writers and the delightful part of their works is that they have portrayed the style of living, the customs and conventions, habits and manners of Moslem families more copiously than those of Hindus themselves with wonderful effect. On the whole they have achieved considerable success in their attempt.
Of the Hindus who took a lively interest in Urdu literature, two sects figure prominently, e.g., Kashmiri Brahmans and the Kayasthas. Just as Sarshar had a special place of honour amongst the Kashmiri Pandits, amongst the Kayasthas no other person probably possessed a truer appreciation of the Urdu language than Barq. So much for those who are no more in our midst.
Are we to presume that amongst the novelists of our time there is no one to take their place? The answer to this is to be found in a person who appears to us veiled and whose face it is not permitted to us to see. He is Premchand who is the originator of a special type of Urdu fiction. His stories do not run into more than a few pages, but they are full of deep pathos. The language is so plain and simple that everyone can easily understand it. The writer of these lines has witnessed Maulana Shible, one of the finest critics of Urdu literature, shedding tears on reading Premchand's stories.
In literature there is another form of composition very much like the novel and the drama, for which there is no appropriate term in Urdu. In Arabic it is known asMotaebat, the subject matter being full of wit and humour. The best example of this type of literature in Urdu is the Oudh Punch (now defunct). Those who have had an opportunity of going through old volumes of the Oudh Punch know that some of the most noteworthy articles were the productions of Hindu writers. A reference to Barq has already been made above. Besides him one of the finest humourists among the Hindus was Pandit Tirbhun Nath Aijir. The articles of this writer added considerably to the fame of the Oudh Punch.
From the above it should not be gathered that the Hindus wielded their pens only to produce wit and humour and were out of the field of serious writings. At the present time the
quality and standard of a language are judged by the number of journals and newspapers issued in that language, and in which the public mind is interested and through which its knowledge of public affairs is enhanced. In the United Provinces the Oudh Akhbar is the oldest Urdu newspaper, owned by a Hindu and mostly edited by Hindu Editors. As long as Sarshar was its Editor, it rendered the public great service, although for sometime it lost its popularity. The second oldest paper in this Province is the Hindustani, always owned and edited by Hindus. It is the best Urdu paper through which alone the Urdu reading public was acquainted with all political activities. From the point of view of language, it deserves little praise, but for creating a true taste for politics it is the Hindustani alone which has for a length of time maintained the requisite standard of journalism.
The oldest paper in the Punjab is the Akhbare‘Aam, owned by a Hindu. The widely-circulated Hindustan, Desh, Pratap and Milap are also run by the Hindus. At one time the Rahbar of Moradabad which had gained some reputation, belonged to a Hindu gentleman. In short, Ganga Prasada Varma, Dwarka Prasada Ufuq, Dinanath Hafizabadi, Munshi Jalpa Prasada, Sufi Amba Prasada, have done a distinct service in the field of journalism. As regards the monthly magazines managed by the Hindus, the Adeeb of Allahabad (now defunct), Khadange Nazar (Lucknow) and the Zamana (Cawnpore) have also rendered good service to Urdu. In this connection it would be unfair not to acknowledge the debt of gratitude we owe to Munshi Naubat Rai Nazar and Munshi Dayanarain Nigam.
Without reckoning the light literature composed by the Hindus, we find that the Hindu authors have written standard works on serious and literary subjects and have produced numerous translations and compilations on science and arts. A detailed list of these would require a large space. Below is a small list of some of the subjects to serve as a specimen:
No. Name of book. Author or translator. Date of publication.
1 Aenae-Tareekh Numa Raja Shea Prasada 1878
2 Agwam-e-Hind B. Kishore Lal 1866
3 Prem Sagar Munshi Swami Dayal 1880
4 Tareekh Rajistan Sheobrat Lal 1877
5 Tareekh Punjab Rae Kanhaya Lal 1881
6 Tareekh Tozake Hind M. Dehi Prasada 1883
7 Tareekh Durbin Jahan M. Gauri Shankar 1878
8 Amal Namae Rus P. Ratan Nath Sarshar 1878
9 Tareekh Cawnpore M. Dargahi Lal 1857
10 Gulshan Punjab L. Debi Prasada 1850
11 Tareekh Kashmir Pt. Hargopal Kaul Unknown
12 Maharbae Azim Pt. Kanhaya Lal 1861
13 Wagaat Panch Hazar Sala M. Radhe Lal 1878
14 Wiqaya Rajputana Baba Jwala Sahae 1878
15 Tareekh Chin M. Gokul Prasada 1890
16 Tozake-Germani Bishambhar Nath 1874
17 Tareekh Ahde Moghlia Pt. Shankar Raj Sharma 1812
18 Tareekh Farmarawan Oudh M. Radhe Lal 1878
19 Umdatul Tawareekh B. Sohan Lal Un-known
20 Miratul Salatin L. Gokul Prasada 1874
21 Karnamae Sikandri L. Gokul Prasada 1874
22 Sair Gulshan Hind M. Babu Ram 1878
23 Tareekh Saltunat Inglishia B. Kishan Lal 1871
24 Tareekh Ajodhia Raja Durga Prasada 1904
25 Rahnomayan Hind Pt. Narain Prasada Suchva 1904
26 Tazkaratul Kamleen Master Ramchandra 1872
The above is a list of works on the history of kingdoms and the lives of eminent men. The history of literature forms a separate subject. Even in this line the Hindus do not seem to be lagging behind. The importance of the history of Urdu language needs no comment. Babu Chiranji Lal, a reputed writer of Delhi, published a book on this subject in 1884. It is a short treatise, but nevertheless most useful, full of information, and indispensable as a book of reference for future compilers. Lala Lachhmi Narain's Chamanistan Shair is a well-known book. Its manuscript copy is available in the Asifia Library of Hyderabad, Deccan. 1
In 1887 Munshi Debi Prasada Bashash published a book, Asar-e-Sharai Hunud, a collection of Urdu poems of six or seven hundred Hindu poets with specimens of their writings. More than this, in recent times Lala Sri Ram, M.A., by publishing Khum Khanai Jameed has enriched Urdu literature. There is no complete and standard Urdu Dictionary complied by a Hindu, but it must not be forgotten that when about.45 years ago Dr. Fallon came to Delhi and undertook to compile a dictionary of Urdu, there were more Hindus than Moslems to help him in accomplishing his stupendous task, amongst them being Master Peare Lal, Munshi Chiranji Lal and Lala Fakir-chand and many others of note.
Another list of books and translations by Hindus on Philosophy, Logic, Mathematics and Science, as given below, is enough to show that, in the domain of serious thought, their contribution is by no means small and insignificant.
No. Author. Name of Book. Subject. Date of Publication.
1 Debi Prasada Kulasatul Mantiq Logic 1872 A.D.
2 Madan Gopal, Mantiqi-Qiyasi Do 1879 A.D.
3 Kanhaya Lal Usul i-Hik-mat-i-Nazari Philosophy 1866 A.D.
4 Shea Prasada Haqaiqul Manjudat Science 1311 H.
5 Raghu Nath Risalai-Ilm-i-Tabaiyat Do 1872 A.D.
6 Daya Ram Asmani-Science Astronomy 1897
7 Chandu Lal Arzul Najum Do 1903
8 Debi Prasada Miratul-utum Science 1875
9 Atma Ram Euclid Mathematica 1885
10 Debi Prasada Usul-i-Masa-hat Do. 1854
11 Debi Prasada Talkhisul Hisab Do. 1878
12 Ram Ratanlal ‘Ilm-i-Masa-hat Do. 1877
13 Ram Ratantal Ilm-i-Musal-las Mustavi Do. 1872
14 Ram Prasada Euclid Do. 1869
15 Ram Prasada Talimul-Masa-hat Do. 1885
16 Debi Chand Lilawati Do. 1271 H.
17 Raghunath Dass Usul-i-Barqwa Magnatis Science 1874 A.D.
18 Apa Ram Kitab-i-llm-i-Sukun Mathematics 1879
19 Ishwari Prasada Halul-Hisab Do 1884
20 Bansi Dhar Euclid, 2 Parts Do. 1853
21 Bansi Dhar Algebra 2 Parts Do. 1856
22 Durga Prasada Ilmul-Hisab 2 Parts Do. 1881
23 Sukh Deva Sing. Khazinatul-Hisab Do. 1879
24 Makund Lal ‘Ilm-i-Kimiya Do. 1871
25 Tailu Ram Quwat-i-Kah-rubai Do. 1891
Books on medical science are considered to have been written and compiled solely by Moslems, but facts do not support this assertion, as works on the English and Greek system of medicine by Hindus abound in large numbers.
Very few books have been written in Urdu on Politics and Economics, but the Hindus have had their hand even in their preparation.
On Sir Syed's invitation, Dharam Narain, a Hindu Pandit, issued a translation of Mill's Political Economy in Urdu in 1861 under the title of Usul-i-siasat. In 1870 Lala Kanhaya Lal published Ain-i-Saltanat and Diwan Narendra Nath translated Mill's famous book on "Liberty."
It will be thus seen that the Hindus have contributed considerably to the different types of Urdu literary work. The lists given above are still incomplete. Agriculture, Commerce and Industries, Geography, Ethics, Law, Education, etc., have yet to be noticed. As a matter of fact, the Hindus have written a great deal on these subjects also. All this proves how mis-taken is the assumption that Urdu is the monopoly of the Moslems alone. No doubt, Urdu is their mother-tongue, but it cannot be denied that the Hindus too had an equal share in shaping and helping the growth of a really wonderful literature.2
1 It is now published by the Anjuman-i-Taraqqi-Urdu, Aurangabad.
2 In preparing this article, I have made use of the following books and magazines:
(1) Suba-Umid (2) Alfihrist (3) Catalogue of the Nawal Kishore Press.