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Friday, June 23, 2006

Is Hindi literature less secular, not inclusive much?

Frankly I have never thought about it as much. But a journalist posed this query to me. He said that poems on Hindu festivals, culture and religious figures abound in Urdu.

Innumerable poets have written poems and their ash'aar represent the gana-jumni tehzib. Either it's Iqbal's verse in praise of Lord Rama where the poet terms Rama as 'Imam-e-Hind' or Mohsin Kakorvi's legendary 'Simt-e-kashi chala jaanib-e-mathura baadal' which is in praise of Prophet Muhammad but also shows his love for Lord Krishna, such verses are easily available and on the tip of Urdu-speakers' tongue.

But you hardly find any Hindi poetry praising Prophet Muhammad, Ali or any other aspect of Islam. Its not about Hindu or Muslim because Hindu, Sikh and Muslim poets of Urdu have equally written in abundance about each other's religions, festivals and prophets.

Hundreds of Hindu poets have written 'naat' expressing their love for Prophet Muhammad or marsias on battle of Karbala. However, Hindi poets have hardly touched these subjects. Though I remember two long poems about Muslims during the turbulent 90s but nothing like the kind of secular tradition as in Urdu.

For centuries Hindus and Muslims have lived together and shared the same culture but somehow Hindi seems to have lacked this tradition. Is Hindi literature less accomodating! Shouldn't Hindu and Muslim writers in Hindi need to look at this!

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well.. look at it from other aspects too. Its difficult for a culture to accept and start eulogizing an invading community when the invaders come with concept of superiority of religious standing.

And look at the last one century... you have mentioned of Hindu's who were Urdu poets - but how many Muslim poets even adopted Hindi as a language..

indscribe said...

Invaders! Even if you are joking, its a bad joke. Muslims have been living in this country for as long as Hindus or may be even before. If a Mughal or a Syed came to Inday say in 7th or 10th centry, their generations will be termed as outsiders!
'Concept of superior...' Ever met them or seen them? you seem to imbibe a lot from RSS thought. Hindi is as much a Muslim language as Urdu a Hindu language. Language has nothing to do with religion.
Amir Khusro and Jaisi are founding fathers of Hindi and the first Hindi story 'Rani Ketki ki Kahani' was written by Syed Inshallah Khan.

Dan Husain said...

Hey Indscribe

Thanks for commenting on our Dastangoi blog. This first post here really is a teaser. And it does make one ponder. I've heard of few Hindi poets write Nauha's but yes, one can't think of any mainstream poet. Further, in response to anonymous, Rahi Masoom Reza is another poet who wrote prolifically both in Urdu and Hindi. In fact by the end of his career he was better known for his Hindi writings.

Indscribe, if you're in Mumbai why don't you drop in at Prithvi theatre on July 1 and 2 at 9 pm and watch the Dastan shows.

Thanks and best regards,

D

How do we know said...

How does it matter? if you are so against cultural chauvinism of any kind, why say things which may ignite passions of a religious nature? No Hindi verses eulogising Islam or Christianity or Sikhism? So?

Lets say, none that you could find. So?

Either you need to change the credo of your blog, or consider a little more self censorship.

indscribe said...

Peace. Its just a thought about literature. Some one observed, I pointed out that. Don't get irritated yaar.

Anonymous said...

Sorry indscribe I have to claim that I am a polyglot. Haven't you heard that the vernacular media be in gujarat or any part of india except Kashmir (if we assume it as under Indian administration) is so biased that the reporting is emotional (using own mentality for reporting) that an Issue of India Today in English is way different if you compare it with a Hindi one. This has to be shown to all the so called Indians who claim their un-shattered citizenship or being patriotic even if they sell whole of the country as it brings propsperity to them and in turn to India.(no laughs). For them India is shinning as long as their progeny are using latest mobile (do not forget the privatisation of services even in government offices - yes I mean it - the greasing of palms. You should not be surprised that hundreds or thousands of young people die every day on Indian roads as the 'haraam ki kamai' does all this. Do you know stats from Muslim countries on this!

Anonymous said...

Just went through your blog, and though at times quite secular, like almost all muslims nowadays, you are obsessed with your religion and seem to only focus on areas where your religion is "winning" or "losing". Its the same attitude that westerners have about their culture and way of life, for them their world view is the standard and everyhting else is just a second best alternative, i see no difference between the two.

Anonymous said...

"Muslims have been living in this country for as long as Hindus or may be even before"
Indscribe - can you for GOD's sake elaborate on how Islam existed in landmass that is currently India before Hinduism existed - I am confused how a religion that came into existance only 1300-1400 years ago can claim to predate a religion of 5000years or more.
Just trying to learn your concept of history here...

indscribe said...

anonymous bhai, i knew this i would have to explain. i mean that if a family has its roots in india for thousands of years and they converted to Islam sometime in the last millennium, it doesn't mean that they become outsiders. The family and its ancestors could be indians for 5000 years. However, a Hindu may be just 1500 or 2000 yr olds. (not going by the Aryan theory alone) Not only Dalits and OBCs even upper castes often embraced Islam due to several reasons. I know a family in Luckhow where the grand father was staunch pandit reading Ramayan every morning but his son turned Shia Muslim and their son is though a muslim by name is actually a atheist and a litterateur. When another guy made an anonymous comment that Muslims are invaders, I must say this.

asie said...

Indscribe - by the logic of origin of family, there cant be any differenciation at all. Afterall, all humans will end up tracing it to same ape-man. But, you originally were making a point on the religion, not the family tree. If someone adopted a religion in year X, then the religion came into that family in year X, not year X-1000 years.
And what I guess anonymous originally said, the religion came into India by way of conquests - which is a part of history. So, if a foreign invader came in with an agenda of conquest and conversion, then its quite likely the natives (of that point in time) would have some resistance and unacceptance for their ways - but over time many of the things brought in by them did get assimilated.

Sourav said...

Hmm, I would echo the opinions expressed in some of the comments here.

First off, I guess we need to agree that Islam is after all, a foreign religion. I do not imply Muslims are foreigners or that we don't have a shared history. But Islam as a concept is foreign, isn't it? Mecca is thousands of miles away from India. Besides, even the Iranians agree Islam came to them as an invading force.

As far as secularism in Hindi goes, I can point out Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram which has the phrase, "Ishwar Allah tero taam." I also remember listening to a devotional song sung by Pandit Jasraj, called, "Mero Allah Meherban." There might be some more that I am not aware of.

I guess its the environment in which Islam developed in India that should be taken into consideration. If you think about it, it is more likely for Islam to imbibe Hindu concepts since the latter is native. Hinduism too, imbibed a lot from Islam but the extent of it would never be as great as the opposite trend. Think of it in terms of throwing ice cubes in water. The ice does reduce the temperature of the water, but ultimately it acquires the nature of water. Think of who imbibed more from whom here.

Anonymous said...

TO INDIANS OF ALL FAITHS: Are we really living in SECULAR India? Why are we suddenly seeing sectarian religious symbols on OUR NATIONAL CURRENCY (eg “cross” on Re 2 coins)? Where are the symbols that represent ALL the people of India? Why is THE MAP OF INDIA missing and SATYAMEVA JAYATE omitted/smudged on these newly issued coins? The use of ANY religious symbols on OUR NATIONAL CURRENCY for promotion of religion is UNCONSTITUTIONAL (NOT SECULAR)! LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD!
Read and sign the petition online (”cross” on 2 Re coin petition). KEEP INDIA SECULAR!

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Naseer said...

Its not just Islam, Hinduism is also foreign religion, It came from Afganistan and Iran, Historians have found oldest traces of Hinduism in there, Aryans invaded India and brought Hinduism with them, Ram's and Mahabharata stories are Indian additions, every thing else was inherited from previous beliefs in Persia. If you see Indian population you will find that northern Indians are with fair skin and they become darker and darker as we go south. There are much similarities in appearance of northern Indians and Iranians.

Varma said...

Naseer..Lets get to a common ground "based on facts" before blaming or claiming superiority. Sourav's post was in this direction but not to disparage any religion.
First the facts:
Hinduism - Is not a religion. It was originally coined to refer people living in Hind and parctices followed by them.
Aryans - This was another european hegomonistic theory (with no concrete proof till date) to divide india and no wonder people brought that( unfortunately incl. P. Nehru).

Coming to common ground:
We all should agree that INDIA never invaded any country till date but it has been invaded by many countries overtime. Benignly it has assimilated all religons, cultures and traditions. No doubt she is the most secular country in the world with freedom to everyone. This is our country. As much as it is yours it is mine too. Religion comes next since it is a personal belief and we all are prudent enough to understand country comes first before personal beliefs.
Lets belive in the country and make it best lest we all end up in chinese communism or Paki's religious mire.

UNITED WE STAND DIVIDED WE FALL.

Yaamyn said...

Interesting blog. And very interesting comments as well!

I would like to say that if everything stayed within their 'native' areas.. then Islam would never have crossed Mecca. (Come on, Medina was MILES AWAY and had their own religions!)

Nor would Christianity have crossed Jerusalem, and nor Hinduism crossed the Hindukush..

You need to think out of your narrow visions.. Islam is not anymore a 'foreign concept' than Hinduism is to the animists in the North east.. or the tribals in central India.

Wherever Islam has spread.. it has taken on teh color of the local culture. You cannot transform into an arab overnight. The language of Urdu is a wonderful example of this fusion.

And also, the Indian Muslim culture IS uniquely indian.. you won't find a Maldivian Muslim eating biriyani for example! It's all very clear once you begin to think beyond you and we as separate entities.
Think as Indians. Think as world citizens, rather than bigots.

Varma said...

Yaamyn...
As indicated in earlier post, get away from religion and think as INDIAN first (well...if you are one)

(Bigots-you a fanatic mullah or what?) Bad mouthing does more harm than good...Grow up!!!

You cannot compare secular to non-secular states. If you insist, it would be a disgrace to Indians comparing them with religious fanatics of maldives .

Anonymous said...

Right! While we are at it, lets force our shameless half-naked women to wear burkas, leave science and technology or any semblance progress behind, and live like animals in a tent and eat camels. Stoning and public be-headings is also so very cool.. isnt it? And bombings are AWESOME.

Well.. with you all here, we are not that far off. Hope I die (i would rather poison my whole family) before i see that day.

rumi said...

yaamin and Saurav
thanks for your wonderful perspective. its unfortunate that there are people who can't see the fusion of people and culture beyond their narrow ethno-nationalistic bigotry. modern man is a creation of irredeemable fusions and cultural assimilations to a point that you would not notice how foreign your habits are. the coffee you drink every morning came were first used by the shepherds in arabian peninsula, the newspaper you read first rolled out in china, the combs you use were found inside pyramids, the digits you punch in your cell phone came from both arab and indian scripts, the perfumes you spray first came out from damascus, everyday words like cheque (sukh), tariff, almanac (ulmaniya) are all arabic words, developing our banking, economic and maritime knowledge. the earliest knowledge of algebra, trigonometry, astronomy are a fusion of greek, arabic and indian knowledge---handed down to us so now we have computers, periodic tables and observatories to pry into deep space. everything you know or do, you learnt it from someone else, those who do not understand it are only as moribund as the rock that gets kicked around, be they muslim, hindu, indian or american.

those who think any religious group can stay sterile over time doesn't know anything about history. look at the american muslims, most of them do not belong to any particularly dominant nationality, earns more than an average america, more educated, has better gender relations, send their children to public schools, have elected women imam in their local mosques, and are america first. you can find a different brand of islam in each european country, each one will tell you how different they are from another. infact islam reached parts of europe in 8th century when christianity had not reached parts of germany or russia until the 1000AD. just because most europeans think islam is foreign to them does that not change the fact that islam is as much an european religion as christianity and in the making of the rational and political man. the recognition of islam and all other world religions in creating the first country based on liberty, freedom and life can be found in the corridors of library of congress. there is an inscription of the Quran depicted among other world religions and ideas proclaiming that combined and often shared destiny of our human civilization.

anybody who want to stay indian muslim and a citizen of the world will only have to look within and will find no conflict in any.

Al Sunna said...

Assalam walakum,

This blog is a very nice blog, I have found it very beneficial to know more about Islam. Thanks for sharing the information.