Posts tagged ‘Bharatendu Harishchandra’

March 10, 2011

Subhas Chandra Bose – Another Look Part 2: “Urdu for Secularism”

by Sarvesh K Tiwari

Continues from Part 1

 “And now shall even the parrots of Hind be fed all -
On sugar-candy of Farsi even up to as far as Bengal!”

So writes a legendary Farsi poet Hafiz, in congratulating Ghiyasuddin Khalji upon the latter’s ascent to Bengal, but it would seem he spoke prophetically about the ascent of Subhas Bose!

The colonized Hindu mind refuses to see the continued colonialism that was set off by the conquests of the Islamite ruffians; indeed he foolishly refers to the remnants of that imperialism by such names as “syncretism” and “composite culture”, which as V S Naipaul rightly says are the common banal slogans of any defeated peoples.  The continued and thorough colonization of Hindu mind denies even recognizing Urdu – a bastard born in the war camps of the Islamite (therefore the name ‘Orudu’) and brought up in his brothels – from what it is: nothing else but a precise linguistic counterpart of the phenomenon in the medieval architecture — the Masjids and Maqbarahs squatting upon the foundations of the destroyed Hindu temples.  That is indeed what Urdu is: Arabi-Farsi squatting upon the foundation of the deshaja bhAShA!

But those Hindus, in whose hearts pride for Hindu heritage is alive and will for its resurgence not dead, have always raised the unmitigated tumult of revival from time to time, like in other spheres also in literary and linguistic battle.

“Listen, this is the only way I see if you want Hindi to have any chance of survival… Let them laugh at us, let them threaten us, but stay focused on one objective: create a flood of Hindi in which to drown Urdu…reach every Hindu household where a Maulvi Saheb has performed the bismillah of alif-bay-pay, and firmly plant Hindi… Promote her in everything we write from cash memos to commentaries… and do you not lose heart, not once, just persevere for some years and this garbage of Farsi-Chharsi will be blown from Hindi, from Hindus, and from Hindusthan… Let us not cease now from our effort. Leave the rest in the hands of God,” wrote from Kolkata in 1870s, Pratap Narayan, poet, journalist, and a friend of Bharatendu Harishchandra.

Few in our age could contemplate or imagine what an uphill task and what a momentous achievement it was for Bharatendu, to whose name we dedicate these pages, and his friends, to rescue Hindi from the clutches of the continued Islamic cultural imperialism in name of Urdu. Had it not been for their efforts, and it is hardly an exaggeration, that Urdu would have doubtlessly been the national language of India today, and Hindi as we know it relegated to the dustbin of the “dead languages” for Indologists to make their vulturine livelihoods on. Even at the cost of prolonging this preface, we quote Acharya Prof. Ram Chandra Shukl about that era when future of Hindi was staked at that crucial crossroad:

“Sitar-i-hind Raja Shivprasad kept sermonizing on the need for an “aam-faham” and “khaas-pasand” language, that is, Hindi studded with Arabic-Farsi words, (or simply Urdu by another name), but fate of Hindi had already decided her own course… When all other members of the Indian language family had, since eternity, taken energy from the familiar Sanskrit, her structure, vocabulary, and cultural continuity, how could Hindi be forced to abandon this emotional connection for adopting a foreign spirit through import of foreign words, as advocated by him? Now that Bangla, Marathi, and all her elder sisters in south had already gained the revivalist momentum, then no, Hindi was not destined to be bound in stagnation of foreign imperialism! She was not ready to sever her ancient and spiritual ties with her sister-languages. Born from the womb of the same mother, she was agonized at being forced to become a stranger to them… that is when, to her rescue, Bharatendu appeared on the scene.”

Acharya Chatursen Shastri perceptively writes that Bharatendu suffered from no fancies for a Hindu-Moslem unity if it meant Hindus having to bastardize their language. But for the secularists of course no cost was too dear and no sacrifice too great to secure the approval of the Moslems; sacrificing Hindi at the altar of their secularism was but a petty trifle!

Subhas Bose, it must be said, was another such secularist.

As the then Congress President, thus spoke Subhas Bose at the 51st session of Congress at Haripura in February of 1938:

“…we shall have to put all the minority communities as well as the provinces at their ease…To promote national unity we shall have to develop our lingua franca and a common script. So far as our Lingua Franca is concerned, I am inclined to think that the distinction between Hindi and Urdu is an artificial one. The most natural Lingua Franca would be a mixture of the two, such as is spoken in daily life in large portions of the country; and this common language may be written in either of the two scripts, Nagari or Urdu… At the same time, I am inclined to think that the ultimate solution would be the adoption of a script that would bring us into line with the rest of the world. Perhaps, some of our countrymen will gape with horror when they hear of the adoption of the Roman script, but I would beg them to consider this problem from the scientific and historical point of view… I confess that there was a time when I felt that it would be anti-national to adopt a foreign script. But my visit to Turkey in 1934 was responsible for converting me. I then realised for the first time what a great advantage it was to have the same script as the rest of the world.”

Bose in his stand on the language was no different from Nehru and Gandhi, indeed as in his Secularism in this question also he was only a step ahead of them.

Gandhi was advocating, along with Mawlana Azad, a so-called ‘Hindustani’ language to be made the ‘lingua franca’; this ‘Hindustani’ being nothing else but Urdu riding like vetAla upon the shoulders of Hindi and slowly consuming it as it had several Indian languages like Kashmiri and Sindhi. But when do secularists learn any lessons from History! Indeed from time to time Urdu zealots would “purify” that tongue, as comes out from this Urdu couplet, “Khuda rakkhe zuban hamne suni hai Meer o Mirza ki / Kahen kis muh se ham ae Mas’hafi urdu hamari hai!” [“By God we have heard the tongue of Meer and Mirza; Have we gall O Mas’hafi, to call the patois we speak, Urdu!”], thus laments Mas’hafi, an Urdu poet from Delhi at Urdu getting diluted and losing its affinity to Arabo-Persian as in the days of Mirza Ghalib and Meer Taqi Meer, the famous Urdu laureates.

Savarkar severely criticized Subhas Bose. He wrote,

“It is interesting to remind you here how two prominent Congress Presidents proposed to solve this problem of a National tongue and a National Script. Pandit Nehru thinks, leaving even Maulana Abul Kalam Azad far behind who only proposes Hindusthani, …, that the highly Arabianised Urdu of the Aligarh School or the Osmania University School is best fitted to be the National Language of India Including of course some twenty-eight crores of Hindus!

Desh Gaurav Subhas Babu improving upon the situation beats even Panditji’s ingenuity hollow by proposing from the Presidential chair of the Indian National Congress that Roman Script would suit India as the best National Script. That is how the Congress ideology approaches things National! Roman script to be the National Script of India! How imminently practicable, to say the least! Your Basumati, Ananda Bazar Patrika and all Bengali papers to appear every day in Roman script!

It is true as Subhas Babu says that Kemal Pasha abolished the Arabian Script as unsuited to print and took to Roman script. But this fact has a lesson for our Mahommedan zealots who want the Urdu script, in this very Arabian style, to thrust even on the Hindus as an up-to-date National Script, and it has no connection with the Hindus. Kemal Pasha took to the Roman script because the Turks had nothing better of their own to fall back upon. The Andamanese pick up Kauris and make a necklace of them, but is that the reason why the Kuber also should do the same? We Hindus should rather call upon Arabia and Europe to adopt the Nagari Script and Hindi language; such a proposal should not sound very impracticable to such inveterate optimists at any rate who seriously advance it as a very practical proposal to make Urdu the National language of the Marathas and to expect all our Arya Samaj Gurukuls to study the Vedas in Roman script?”

But eager thus to let go of Hindi and her Sanskrit roots, Bose himself did not know Hindi at this time, strange as would seem for a cosmopolitan and well-travelled Bengali as he was. A Forward Bloc comrade of his later recalled how Bose engaged later that year a tutor in Kolkata to teach him Hindi (or Hindustani), who later complained that “his pupil was too lazy to sit down and learn” Hindi, although he did learn enough to make speeches. (Hari Vishnu Kamath, ‘Some Intimate Recollections’)

And lest we thought that this language policy was simply a fantastic idiosyncrasy of Subhas Bose, he was very serious prescribing what he did, and indeed followed it to the letter during his Azad Hind days, which give us glimpses of what his vision for the proposed ‘National Lingua Franca of India’ was!

When Subhas Bose took over the INA from Ras Behari Bose, it was christened not “Svatantra Bharat Sena” but “Azad Hind Fauj”, in pure Farsi words.

The motto that Bose selected of Azad Hind Fauj also read pure Farsi in Roman script, “Ittefaq, Aitmad, Qurbani”, meaning “Unity, Faith, and Sacrifice”.

The provisional government that Bose set up was officially titled “Arzi Huqumat-i-Azad Hind” in pure Persian.

The commands for the Army were replaced by Urdu commands.

The title of Bose, as the Supreme Commander, was “Sipah Salar” with which he used to sign the declarations!

The decorations of the Azad Hind Fauj were, in order of precedence:

Shaheed-i-bharat
Sher-i-Hind
Sardar-i-Jang
Vic-o-Hind
Tamgha-i-bahaduri
Tamgha-i-shatrunash
and Sanad-i-bahaduri, a certificate of meritorious and commendable service.

“shatrunash” and “bharat” in the above appear like two native words jarring the otherwise pure Farsi decorations.

One document of Azad Hind Fauj, reproduced below, gives us glimpses of what that ‘National Lingua Franca’ of India looked like in Bose’s vision. This below is a template of form used for sending messages from army posts to the signals team. Do notice the pure unadulterated Urdu, only written in Roman alphabet:

“Paigam”, “Hidayaten”, “Dakhil”, “Kharij”, “Majmua Alfas”, “Tarikh Daftar”… not a single Hindi word is to be used! This was Netaji’s Hindustani!

The official daily newspaper by this provisional government, called ‘Azad Hind’, was published from Singapore. This paper was simultaneously published in five languages. English, Tamil, Malayalam, Guajarati, and Urdu in Roman script as Bose had fancied. No Hindi.

Never in his addresses would he end with the ‘Vande Matram!’ or ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ as was the tradition even within Congress, but instead with secular ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ in Farsi. Not even ‘Jai Hind’, with which he is incorrectly credited by his hagiographers. One should see his official broadcasts from Azad Hind Radio as are recorded, most of which he concludes with not ‘Jai Hind’, but ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ and ‘Azad Hind Zindabad’.

Then of course is Bose’s attitude that he displayed towards the question of the National Anthem. Bankim Chandra’s Vande Mataram had had the unquestioned status of the National Anthem all through the last several decades and Congress sessions would commence and end to its euphoric singing. Throughout every corner of India no other song was even close to the popularity of Vande Mataram. But Vande Mataram being offending to the Moslem ears was of course out of question for being adopted by secularist that Subhas Bose was. But strange as it may seem, even Rabindra Nath Thakur’s ‘Jana Gana Mana’ was also not good enough for him. Going two steps beyond Gandhi and Nehru, Desh Gaurav Subhas Babu felt that even ‘Jana Gana Mana’ contained too much Sanskrit to be suitable as the National Anthem of India! So he asked his ADC Captain Abid Ali, who had accompanied Bose on the trip from Germany to Japan, to de-Sanskritize Rabindra Nath’s ‘Jana Gana Mana’ and translate it into Urdu-laden ‘Hindustani’. The result was a pathetic parody, ‘sab sukh chain’, which Bose declared as the “Qaumi Tarana” (not Rashtra Gaan) of Azad Hind! Such was the Sanskrit-phobia of Bose. For the Marching Song of the Army was likewise picked up another Urdu composition, “Qadam Qadam Badhaye Ja Khushi ke Geet Gaye Ja, Ye Zindagi hai Qaum Ki Tu Qaum pe lutaye Ja”.

Therefore we had said in the beginning that when Hafiz wrote, “And now shall even the parrots of Hind be fed all / On sugar-candy of Farsi even up to as far as Bengal”, he might as well be prophetically speaking of Subhas Bose’s Azad Hind!

Continued to Part 3…

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