Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Demise of Dakhni

The Demise of Dakhni
By Narendra Luther

With the fall of Golconda in 1687, the Dakhni suffered a collapse – almost a demise.

Incidentally, Golconda was the last of the southern sultanates to fall to the Mughals. The language which had ruled the roost till then now went under and was superceded by Urdu of the North. Hitherto the term ‘Urdu’ had not been used at all. Dakhni and also the language of daily use in the North were referred to as Hindi. The conquest of Golconda by the Mughals had an effect somewhat similar to that of the conquest of the South by Allauddin Khilji four centuries earlier. The language, which had been used in Delhi and around, came along with the new rulers and overpowered the native language. The word ‘Urdu’ means an ‘army camp’ in Turkish. Hence it was used for the language spoken by the soldiery and the man in the street. By definition, it could not have been very developed as a literary vehicle.

However, unlike individuals, languages don’t die all of a sudden. They linger on and it takes decades - even centuries - for them to be completely wiped out. Dakhni was reduced to the status of second-rate language, and then to that of a dialect.

Vali Dakhni (died 17070)

The most famous name during this twilight phase of Dakhni is that of Vali Dakhni. He was born in Gujarat, which at that time was considered a part of Deccan. His compositions of that period bear the same stamp as that of earlier Dakhni poets and writers. It is virtually Hindi and there are lots of words, similes, and metaphors drawn from the Hindu mythology Note the reference to the Hindu holy places like Kashi, Hardwar and the river Yamuna in one of his poems:

‘Koocha-e-yar ain Kasi hai, Jogi dil wahan ka basi hai,
Pi ke bairag ke udasi soon, dil pe mere sada usdasi hai
Ai sanam tuj jabeen upar yeh khal, Hindu-e- Hardwar basi hai
Zulf teri hai mauj Jamuna ki, Til-e- nazk uske joon sanasi hai

(My beloved’s street is Kashi, my heart is its resident
Separated from my beloved, I am always morose
The beauty-spot on your cheek, is a Hindu residing in Hardwar
Your tress is the wave of the Yamuna, the spot near it is the mendicant)

In one of his poems its amusing to know that while talking of ‘kufr’ (heathenism), he talks of Ram:

‘Kufr koon tor dil soon dil mein rakh kar neeyat khalis
Hua hai Ram bin hasrat soon ja Lachchman so Ram iska

There is an echo of Mohammed Quli in the following couplet:

‘Sajan ka baj alam mein dagar naeen,
Haman mein hai magar ham ko khabar naeen’.

(None else matters in the world except my love
He is within me, yet I am unaware of that)

He is believed to have died in the year of Aurangazeb’s death -- 1707. However, before that his compositions had reached Delhi and won acclaim. Later, he himself visited Delhi and was warmly received in the literary circles there. In Delhi, on the advice of the well known poet, saint and scholar, Shah Sa’adullah Gulshan, he started writing in Urdu with an overlay of Persian which was the vogue in Delhi.

There is a noticeable difference in his poetry after that. Note the following:

Us ko hasil kyonke ho jag mein faragh-e- zindagi
Gardash-e-aflak ho jis ko ayyagh-e- zindagi

(How can he ever find his peace of mind
The cup of whose life is forever revolving like sky?)

Vali is therefore an inhabitant of two worlds – Deccan, and Delhi. He is a poet both of the Dakhni, as well as of Urdu. He introduced the two languages to each other and built bridges between them. Then, he walked, as it were, over that bridge to what was to become Urdu. Garcon de Tassy, a Frenchman edited his anthology in French in 1823.

Behri (died 1718)

Qazi Mahamood Behri is another well-known name of the period. He is believed to have died in 1718. He wrote a long poem called ‘Man Lagan’. According to Dr. Moonis, Behri has probably used more Hindi words in his poems than any other poet:

Ai roop tera rati rati hai, Parbat parbat pati pati hai

(You reside in the smallest object, in every mountain, in every leaf)

He also wrote a eulogy of the new emperor, Aurangzeb.

Shah Turab

Shah Turab’s ‘Man Samjhavan’ (1758) can be considered to be the last composition in Dakhni. It is a fee translation of ‘Manache Shlok’ by the Maratha saint-poet Ramdas (1608-81). Part-religious, part- reformist, it preaches principles of good living.

The opening lines of his composition are:

Sifat kar awwal us ki jo Ram haiga, usi Ram se ham ko aram haiga
Sada Ram ke nam soon kam haiga, haman dhyan usi ka subho sham haiga

(Praise the one who is Rama, He gives us solace
Always concerned with him, forever absorbed in him)

Further, he establishes an identity between Krishna and Ali;

Kishen jis ko kehte Ali nam haiga, Ali nam lene soon aram haiga

(Krishna is the same as Ali, you get peace by taking Ali’s name)

The poet calls himself a ‘Hussaini Brahmin’. It is said that in Pushkar in Rajasthan there is even now a group of dervishes who called themselves ‘Hussaini Brahmins’. They make their living by begging in the name of Hussain. They have adopted Hindu customs and eat only with Syeds amongst Muslims.

The late Professor Naseeruddin Hashmi enumerates 22 poets in the post- Golconda era – including Vali and Behri.

By a strange twist, Dakhni, the older and senior language, having been fully assimilated into the ‘language of the market’, was given the honour of its ancestry by being designated ‘ancient Urdu’. It is interesting to speculate what would have happened if, instead of being conquered, the Deccan had conquered the North!

But then it is one of the ‘ifs’ of history – and of literature.


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