Nagpur’s well-known chartered accountant T S Rawal who also has a Masters degree in Urdu has come up with a unique way to promote and keep the Urdu language alive. He’s taking a six-week free class at India Peace Centre, Sadar, Nagpur wherein he’s teaching Urdu from scratch to people who have a penchant for the language. The class which started from October 5, 2016 will continue till mid November.
Sharing his story as to why he learnt Urdu himself in the first place, Rawal says, “My father was ten when he migrated from Pakistan (then India) to this part of India. He had a big library of Urdu books. After he passed away, I was going to throw the books but then I developed a curiosity to read them. So, just for the sake of reading what was there in the books my father left behind, I started learning Urdu language! Urdu is a beautiful language and about it Urdu poet Daagh Dehlvi once famously said ‘Urdu hai jiska naam, hum hi jaante hain Daagh, saare jaahan mein dhoom humari zabaan ki hain!'”
Urdu – A made in India language
T S Rawal says that contrary to popular perception, Urdu is actually a made in India language. He told Nation Next, “People think that Urdu originated from middle east but that’s certainly not the case. Urdu was developed in India in Delhi and the areas surrounding it when the Mughal army was camping there. Zaban–e Urdu–e Mualla is the original name of the language. Mualla in Zaban–e Urdu–e Mualla means exalted. It was the language of the camp of the royal army. Natives and armies from Arab, Persia, Turkey and other nations would gather and interact with each other in this language. A shayar once popularly said, ‘Agar Hindustan nahi hota, toh urdu bhi nahi hoti!‘ It is because of Hindustan, Urdu exists and it is the language of Hindustan.”
Downfall of Urdu
Explaining what exactly led to the downfall of Urdu, Rawal says, “Urdu, like Hindi is an Indo Aryan language. For Urdu, the script of the rulers at that point of time was adopted as the script for the language and that’s how Persian script was adopted for writing Urdu. This is the main reason for the confusion that Urdu is a foreign language. This confusion grew over the years and ultimately there was a political divide between Urdu and Hindi. Hindi language followers started sankritising Hindi and Urdu language followers started persianising Urdu. In the process, Urdu got labelled as a language of a community and that led to the downfall of the language. Let me tell you this: Languages don’t belong to communities, they belong to regions! When Urdu was dubbed as the language of a community, people stopped reading the basic script. The nuances of any language can be understood only with the help of the script of that language. There are some typical alphabets which are used only in Urdu and not in Hindi. A lot of people claim that they are good in Urdu but they fail to realise that when you don’t know the script, you don’t know the language. Without the basic script, the impurities in Urdu grew over time. Thankfully, Indian cinema, ghazals, songs and qawallis and people who spoke the Urdu kept it alive to a huge extent.”
All for the love of Urdu
Tejinder Singh Rawal started the Urdu class with two purposes: One – For doing his bit to keep the language alive and Two: For people who have a penchant for Urdu. Speaking about his class Rawal says, “I have designed a six-week course for this class, otherwise six years are not enough to learn Urdu! I used my Urdu education background for developing methods to make these people learn Urdu; basically help them move from Hindi to Urdu in a short period of time. It’s great that right in the second week, people in the class started developing small sentences in Urdu and they were able to read, write and communicate in Urdu. These people were a bit apprehensive initially but I told them that it’s my guarantee that they will be able to write and read Urdu in six weeks! And till the last person learns it, I will keep striving!” Rawal adds, ” Interestingly, there is research which states that learning Urdu can be a good cure for dementia and other mental illnesses because it rakes up your brain. You have to really think a lot to be able to read and write Urdu.”
Back to school!
Rawal’s class is attended by approximately 40 odd people. Some of these students are his friends but half of the people are people whom he did not know before. There are a few doctors, five chartered accountants, an income tax officer, a Deputy commissioner of Police, a Wing commander, a CBI officer and a chief accounts officer in the class. The youngest student is a 4th standard student and the oldest is a 70-year-old man. This man who’s a Muslim is attending Rawal’s class for the second time (he took a course earlier as well). It is because of this class that he can read the holy Quran in Arabic now. A Sikh teaching Urdu to a Muslim man – that’s the power of language; it binds people together!