Selected Article from
International Journal of Punjab Studies
The Punjab has been one of the most important regions of the Indian subcontinent and has played a pivotal role in its political and economic development from anciant times. The International Journal of Punjab Studies provides interdisciplinaty and comparative reserch on the historical pre-1947 Punjab, the Indian and Pakistani Punjab after 1947, and the Punjabi Diaspora. The Journal carries articles from an international list of contributors, with an interdisciplinary base that includes history, langauge and linguistics, literature, political science, economics, social anthropology, geography and theology.
Shinder Singh Thandi
Gurinder Singh Mann
Nikky-Gunninder Kaur Singh
Darshan S. Tatla
University of Warwick, UK
UK Oxford Brookes University, UK
Coventry University, UK
Coventry University, UK
Stockholm University , Sweden
Lahore University of Management Sciences
University of Warwick, UK
University of Manchester, UK
University of Missouri -Columbia, USA
Juniata College, USA
Clark University, USA
Jawaharlal Nehru University, India
University of Washington, USA
University of Leicester, UK
Hamline University, USA
North Caroline State University, USA
Institute of Punjab Studies, Chandigarh, India
Punjab University, Pakistan
La Trobe University, Australia
University of California, Santa Barbara, USA
Grinnell College, London
Bath Spa University College, UK
University of California, Santa Barbara, USA
University of Otago, New Zealand
The University of British Columbia, Canada
The Queen's University of Belfast, UK
Guru Nanak Dev University, India
University of London, UK
State University of New York, USA
Colby College, Maine, USA
Founder Member, Association for Punjab Studies
University of London, UK
University of Missouri -Columbia
USA National University of Singapore
The Learning of Punjabi by Punjabi Muslims: A Historical Account
Tariq Rahman Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad
International Journal of Punjab Studies, Volume 8, Number 2, July-December 2001
The colonial privileging of Urdu reinforced by Pakistan's nation building demands has resulted in the downgrading of the Punjabi language. Although it is the mother tongue of the Punjabi Muslim community, it has been relegated to the language of 'the home. ' This article seeks to understand the circumstances in which this situation has arisen. It then goes on to look at the hard struggle of language activists since Pakistan's creation, to champion Punjabi in the face of popular prejudice and official disapproval. The work of the Punjabi Adabi Board is examined along with that of such leading figures as Faqir Mohammad Faqir and Mohammad Masood. While limited progress has been made in the growth of Punjabi as a language of instruction, !! wary state has ensured that this is provided within an 'ideologically correct' framework.
Punjabi had never been used in the official domains of power or taught at a high level, or in its own right, before the coming of the British. However, there is evidence that at the primary level, children were taught some books in Punjabi. Moreover, it was informally learned by a number of people, Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims. Let us first take the evidence about it being taught at some level. This evidence comes from Hear Ranjha, the famous tale of two lovers in verse narrated by Waris Shah among others, and has been mentioned by many people including G.M.D. Suti (1941). The lines from Heer are as follows:
Parhan fazil dars durvesh mufti Khoob kudh alhan parkaria neen Taleel, Meezan to SarI Sahai, Saif-e-Meer bhi yad pukaria neen Quzi, Qutab te kanz, Anwa Saran, Masoodian jald savaria neen.
The learned ascetics and judges learned the art of correct pronunciation. They read books on Arabic grammar by heart. Books on logic and Islarnic law were compared with manuscripts for correction. A number of other books are mentioned and then come two lines which mention the following books:
Ik nazam de Dara Harkaran Parhde Nam-e-Haq a te Khalig Sarian neen
Gulistan, Sostan nal Sahar Danish, Tooti Nama te Raziq Sarian neen
Minisha 'at Nisab te Abul Fazlan, Shahnamion, Wahid Sarian neen
(Sabir 1986: 16)
Most of the books mentioned in these lines were in standard texts in Arabic and Persian taught in the madrassas. Indeed, some of them are taught even now in Pakinstan' s madrassas.
Out of these Muhammad Shafi, the informant of Sufi, places only Anwa Baran (or Baran An wa) among the Punjabi books (Sufi 1941: 109). Both Shafi and Sabir place Raziq Ban, Wahid Bari and Nam-e-Haq among Persian books (Sabir 1982: 620-621; Sufi 1941: 109). But there is a copy ofa certain Wahid Bari, the name of whose author is lost, in the British Library .It was probably written in 1621-22 in order to teach Persian to students on the pattern of the well known Kha/iq Bari. The meanings of Persian words were conveyed through their Punjabi equivalents. The difference was that in Kha/iq Bari the lexicon was in Hindvi (old Urdu). Persian and Arabic while in Wahid Bari the facilitating language is Punjabi. An example from it makes this clear:
Madar, man; hiradar hhai Pidar, hap; eenga; parjai
The meaning of Persian words explained through Punjabi ones are as follows:
Punjabi Persian English
mau madar mother
hhai hiradar brother
bap pider father
partjai eenga brother's wife
In short, Punjabi was not taught for itself but facilitated the learning of Persian. It was the means to an educational end -the learning of Persian. Sheerani mentions the Wahid Bari though the date of the manuscript available to him was 1034 A.H. (1663-1664). He also mentions a number of other such books:
Raziq Bari by Ismaill071 (1660-61).
Raziq Bari by Mustafa 1085 A.H. (1674-74).
Izad Bari by Kharmalll05 A.H.(1693-93).
Allah Bari by Ummeed 1196 (A.H.( 1782).
Nasir Bari by Mufti Shamsuddin 1208 A.H. ( 1793-94 ). San 'at Bari by Ganesh Das Budhra 1220 A.H. (1805). Qadir Bari by Muzaffar 1223 A.H. (1808).
Wase ' Bari by Yakdil1231 A.H. (1815-16).
Rahmat Bari by Maulvi Rahmat Ullah 1232 A.H. (1816-17) Farsi Nama by Abdur Rahman Qasuri (n.d) Nisah-e-Zaroori by Khuda Baksh (n.d)
Bad Sahel (n.d) Azam Bari (n.d) Sadiq Bari (n.d)
Azam Bari (n.d) and
Farsi Nama by Sheikh Mohammad (Sheerani 1934: 119).
Although these books were meant to teach Persian or the rudiments of Islam, they need Punjabi as the language of explanation. This tradition had been established by Abu Nasr Farahi when he wrote his Nisab u/ Sabiyan in 617 A.H. (8 January 1660-27) January 1661) in Persian to teach Arabic to Afghan children. A number of such nisabs, including one by Amir Khusro were written upto the tenth century. Hindi nisabs came to be written 'probably from the loth century Hijri (15th century] (Sheerani n.d.: 7) A certain Hakeem Yusufi, who migrated from Hirat (Iran) to India wrote Insha-i-Yusufi. He gives Hindi equivalents for parts of the human anatomy. The famous Kha/iq Bari is part of this tradition but, according to Sheerani, it was written by Ziauddin Khusro, not the famous Amir Khusro, in 1621-22. Kha/iq Bari is in the mixed language of Hindi, Persian and Arabic. It was meant to teach Persian to the children of north India (Sheeani n.d). As such, one wonders whether books like the Wahid Bari could not have been placed among Punjabi books by Shafi and Sabir? A major complitcation, however, is that there were several books of the same title so that we can never be sure exactly which book Waris Shah had in mind. However, in fact that Persian was taught through both Punjabi and old Urdu (Hindvi) to Punjabi children, cannot be denied.
Other older books of Punjabi, out of which the Pakki Roti is part of the M.A. course in Pakistan and therefore well known, were meant to explain the rudiments of Islam to students in their mother tongue. Pakki Roti is in the form of questions and answers. For instance, the question is 'If somebody asks you as to when to perform ablutions you reply as follows'. The reply is the accepted Sunni teaching on the subject. Complications and controversial matters are avoided and the answers would probably be acceptable to most Punjabi Muslims. A number of other such books in manuscript form are given in various catalogues in the British Library (Blumhardt 1893; Haq 1993; Quraishi 1990; Shackle 1977). The manuscripts located in Pakistan libraries however, are not catalogued. Among the 34 manuscripts catalogued by Christopher Shackle (1977), Muhammad Yar has authored eleven. He lived in Kotkala in Shahpur (Sargodha district). He calls his language' Jhangi' at places. It is, as to be expected, a mixture of the languages, which are called Siraiki and Punjabi nowadays.
The earliest works of Muhammad Yar seem to have been written in 1196 A.H. (1792) while the latest is dated around 1244 A.H. (1828-29). The books were copied by his grandson Faiz Mohammad in 1271 A.H. (1854-55). The Pand Nama;, Afrinash Nama; Tuhfat a/-Fiqh and Bina a/-Mominin are treatises on Islamic rituals and fundamental beliefs while the Nafi a/-Sa/at is on the benefits of prayers. Among the hagiographical works are those on saints (Siharfi Hazrat Pir and Nafi a/-Kaunain) and the Prophet of Islam (Tuhfat a/-Sa/uk, Tarvij Nama, Siharfi Hazrat Rusu/-i-Maqbu/). These, as well as other works, are all religious.
Another major writer was Maulvi Abdullah Abidi (d. 1664) who was born in village Malka Hans of Sahiwal district but lived and died in Lahore. His language too has Multani (now called Siraiki) forms and it is his work Baran Anwa which is referred to in Heer mentioned earlier. The importance of Abdullah for students is thus described by Shackle:
The comprehensive character of Abdi's [sic] writings has, however ensured them a uniquely important and influential position as manuals of instruction; and they have been frequently published, usually in collections of twelve treaties entitled Baran Anva (Shackle 1997: 39).
Let us new describe Baran Anwa and other works of a religious kind which were read both by students and other Punjabi Muslims. The following manuscripts, seen by the author, are being mentioned very briefly by way of illustrating this genre ofPunjabi writing.
(1) Baran Anwa. By Abdullah Abidi Lahori. This is handwritten
manuscript in nastaliq (i.e. the script in which Persian and Urdu are written now) in Punjabi verse. It begins, as usual, with hamd and naat and goes on to describe Islamic rituals: ablutions, prayers, fasting, giving alms and so on. It also discusses the rituals and regulations concerning purity with special reference to women. Thus there are long sections on pregnancy, menstruation, divorce etc. The second part is full of historical anecdotes with reference to authorities like Masoodi. It is a voluminous book and is defInitely the one mentioned in Beer Ranjah by Waris Shah.
(2) Fiqqu Asghar: By Faqir Habib Darzi bin Tayyab Gujrat. This is a
handwritten manuscript in naskh (the script of Arabic). It is written in black ink and there are about twelve lines per page. The author explains Islamic rituals
and other matters pertaining to faith in Punjabi verse. The sub-titles are in Persian.
(3) Muqaddimat ul Anwar. by Abdul Faqir. This is also a handwritten
manuscript in naskh. Islamic injuctions pertaining to marriage, inheritance, sartorial property etc. are explained in Punjabi verse while the sub-titles are in Persian. The point of view is very stringent and puritanical. Women, for instance, are forbidden even to use the dandasa -a bark of a tree which cleans the teeth and makes the lips red.
(4) Zibah Nama. Handwritten manuscript in naskh probably written during King Muhammad Shah ' s reign ( 1719-48) as a couplet in it suggests. It was probably copied in 1860-61 as it contains the date 1277 A.H. It explains Islamic injunctions pertaining to the sacrifice of animals, hunting and lays down rules as to which meats are kosher and which are not.
(5) Anwa-i-Faqir. This too is a handwritten manuscript in naskh probably by Faqir Habib. The sub-headings are in Persian and it has been copied by someone called Karm Uddin from Jhelum. The date on it is Ziqad 1277 A.H.
(May-June 1861). This too is on faith and the tone is puritanical and reformist. (6) Intikhab Dl KDtab: Punjabi Nazm. The name of the author is probably Karnal ud Din but this particular manuscript was copied by Nur Ahmed of Kolia in 1261 A.H. (21 January 1806-10 January 1807). It too is handwritten in Punjabi naskh and the sub-headings are in Persian. It presents Islamic teachings in verse on bathing, funeral prayers, burial, congregational prayers, marriage, sacifice of animals and as to which meat is kosher.
(7) Mitthi Roti: Punjabi by Qadir Baksh. This is a printed copy in
Punjabi nastliq dated 1883. It too described Islamic injunctions about all aspects of life including coitus. There are many references to Islamic works, which suggest that it might have been intended for the use of learned people.
(8) Nijat al-Mominin. A religious treatise written in 1086 A.H. (1675) by
Maulana Abd al-Kirim (1657-1707) of Jhang district.
(9) Kissa Kumad. Written by Ashraf in nastaliq. This is an allegorical
poem on the sugarcane which describes itself as being cut and ground.
(10) Kissa Umar Khattah. An account in verse of the war of Caliph Umar
with the infidel king Tal written by Hafiz Muizuddin of Takht Hazara in 1176 A.H. (1762-63).
(11) Raushan D.H.: Written by Fard Faqir of Gujrat, Christopher Shackle
calls it 'one of the best-known of all the many basic treaties on Islam to have been composed in Punjabi verse' (Shackle 1977: 46).
(12) Raddulimubtad' in.: This is an anonymous treatise in Punjabi verse
against disbelief, polytheism and heresy written in 1788 A.H. (1814)
(13) Anwa Barak Allah by Hafiz Barak (d. 1871) It is a book in Punjabi
verse on the Sunni law of the Hanafi school of Islamic jurisprudence. It was probably written in 1254 A.H. (1838) and printed several times later (for biographical note see Bhatti 1982: 119-138).
Besides the religious works mentioned above, there are the classical romantic tales of famous lovers (Yusuf-Zulaikha, Heer Ranjha, Laila-Majnun etc.) A somewhat unusual story is about the King Akbar who wants to test the chastity of the Begum of Hyderbad. The Begum, dressed as boy, is brought to the King but successfully resists him The manuscript, in Punjabi verse, is written in the nastaliq script but the heading and all other details are lost. Another story uses characters from a tale which must have originated before Islam.
Qissa Raja Kam Roop O Rani Luttan by Maulvi Ahmed Yar. This is a handwritten manuscript in nastaliq in Punjabi verse. The sub-headings are in Persian. It is like other romantic love legends with beautiful women and handsome men in a supernatural, pre-modern setting. The copy seen by me was incomplete and ends at page 120 because it was originally bound with some other book. The author starts with a supplication to Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani who will presumably bless love affairs as passionate as the one narrated here.
Apart from the above manuscripts personally inspected by the author, there are many others such manuscripts mentioned by different people scattered in South Asia and other parts of the world. A number of printed books, some of them based on the above mentioned manuscripts, are also in circulation. There are called 'chapbooks' by Hanaway and Nasir who have listed them in their very useful bibliography of words of this kind available in Pakistani cities (Hanaway and Nasir 1996: 455-615). Shahbaz Malik, a research scholar on Punjabi, has mentioned them in his bibliography called Punjabi Kitabiat (1991). They are also listed in several bibliographies of printed books in the British Library.
These books appear to fall into two major categories; those which are meant to make Muslims conscious of or knowledgeable about the rudiments of their faith and those which are about romantic love. Those in the fIrst category have probably been written by maulvis because they present a very strict and highly purutanical view of the sharia 'h. Some, such as one version of the Pakki Roti, prohibits music calling it a great sin just as it prohibits sodomy with boys and women. Those in the second category are tales in which romantic love and sometimes making love and drinking are shown without disapproval. These represent a more tolerant, more worldly or realistic, world view which existed side by side with the stricter one and is much in evidence in both Persian and Arabic tales. None of these books are meant to teach Punjabi as such. Punjabi serves as the means to an end -the end being socialization of Muslim children in this case or, simply, the pleasure oflistening to a good story.
In short, although activists .)f the Punjabi movement make much of the teaching of Punjabi, they ignore the fact that it was not taught for itself in preBritish times. Moreover, although some of them refer to Haf1Z Mahmood Sheerani's article mentioned earlier, they generally fail to mention to fact that Sheerani was trying to prove that Urdu, and not only Punjabi, were taught in the Punjab at this period (see references to the teaching ofPunjabi in Yameen 1969: 10-11). Sheerani mentions not only the Khaliq Bari but also the Zauq ul Sabyan written in circa !207 A.H. (1792-93) by Haf1Z Ahsan Ullah of Lahore. The language of this book is the same Urdu (or Hindvi) which is used in the Khaliq Bari. Again. Like the Khaliq Bari, it too was meant to acquaint students with the vocabulary of Persian through Urdu. According to its author, who was a teacher, the Punjabi boys for whom it was intended understood it without any difficulty which, says Sheerani, suggests that Urdu was not unfamiliar for Punjabis (Sheerani 1934: 125).
If the students did understand Urdu it would not be surprising. Punjabi and Urdu share many core vocabulary items, the teaching of Persian through books like the Khaliq Bari must have farniliarised Punjabi students with Urdu words and even before the British period there was communication between Punjab and north India where Urdu literature was coming into its own. In short, the situation in the Punjab on the eve of the British arrival was that Persian was the court language of the Sikhs. It was taught through Punjabi and Urdu at the primary level but those languages were facilitators at best and were not valued in their own right.
Punjabi on the Eve of British Rule
When the British arrived the schools in the Punjab could be divided, following Leitner, into maktabs, madrassas, patshalas, Gurrnukhi and Mahajani schools. The mektab was a Persian school while the madrassas was an Arabic one. The patshalas were Sanskrit schools while the Gurrnukhi schools taught Punjabi in the GUm1ukhi script. In the Mahajani schools the Landi or Sarifi script was taught to commercial people (Leitner 1882: 10).
The Sikhs considered it a religious duty to learn GUm1ukhi enough to be able to read the Sikh holy books. Those following an advanced course studied, among other things, GUm1ukhi grammar and prosody (Ibid, 32). The child gegan his studies at the age of six. He, or she, then proceeded to learn the GUm1ukhi alphabet of which Guru Angad himself wrote a primer. The primer, being written by such an eminent spiritual leader, was in itself religious. It was, however, the means to an even more religious end -to enable the child to read the Adi Granth, a sacred book of the Sikhs. After this other works, such as Hanuman Natak, a Punjabi adaptation of a Hindi drama, were taught. Other subjects, such as elementary medicine and rhetoric, were also taught in Gurrnukhi to Sikh children. According to Leitner, there were many people who knew Gurrnukhi when he was collecting information for his report (1880s). Urdu, however, had been brought in and was being established slowly by the government (Leitner 1882: 35-37).
Some educational reports, such as that of 1857, tell us those students were first taught to read books in Persian without knowing their meaning. Later, they would translate them literally word by word, into the vernacular, but there was no attempt at explanation' (Leitner 1882: 60). This 'vernacular' was Punjabi which was not taught but was used, as we have seen, as a medium of instruction at least at the lower level before the British conquest. This practice continued even after the conquest and Leitner mentions that in 'most kor'an schools some elementary religious books in Urdu, Persian or Punjabi are taught' (1882: 68). The Deputy Commissioner of Ferozepur also reported that books on the rituals of Islam, which have been mentioned earlier, were taught in some of the Persian Quran schools (Edn. P. 1883: 10). However, none of these informants has specified which out of the books listed were in Punjabi.
Female education is generally said to have always been neglected among Muslims but, according to Leitner, , Among Muhammadans nearly all girls were taught the Koran, nor could a Sikh women claim the title and privileges of a "learner" unless she was able to read the Granth' (1882: 98). He also gives a Punjabi song which the women had made (Ioc.cit). Girls were also taught 'the Koran together with little boys, and Urdu or Perso-Punjabi religious books, stories of prophets, etc. The Sikh girls read the Granth aDd other books in Gurrnukhi (Leitner 1882: 107). For the Sikhs even Nazeer Ahmad's Mirat ul Urus had been translated into GUm1ukhi. Leitner suggests that there had been a decline in female teaching since the British conquest because 'formerly the mother could teach the child Punjabi. Now, wherever the child learns Urdu, the teaching power of the mother is lost' (Leitner 18S2: 108).
Some British officers, besides the enthusiastic Leitner, had suggested that Punjabi should be taught flfSt to children and only after that should they proceed to other languages (Leitner 1882: 110-112). Leitner, of course, defended this proposition with much fervour because the thesis he argues in his report is that, because of British rule:
The removal ofPersian from its position of honour and the introduction of Urdu, argues Leitner, are language-reaching policies which have alienated Punjabis both from their traditional high culture as well as the prevalent popular culture. Among other things Leitner provides a brief history of the traditional schools in the Punjab.
Besides ordinary mosque, or Quran, schools there were some well known schools both of Sikhs and Muslims. For instance there was Mian Sahib Qadri's school at Batala which was supported by a landed estate which was withdrawn by the British. Another such school, which also closed down for the same reason, was Maulvi Sheikh Ahmed's school in Sialkot. Then there were: Mian Faiz's school at Gujranwala famous for Persian, Bara Mian's school at Lahore; Khwaja Suleman's school at Dera Ghazi Khan; Mian Abdul Hakim's school at Gujranwala and so on. All these schools are advertised as great centres of Persian and Arabic studies (Leitner 1882), but Punjabi books like Pakki Roti might also have been taught there.
Punjabi and the British Conquest
Immediately after the annexation, court circulars and notices were published in Punjabi. The missionaries, true to their conviction that the Bible should be available in a reader's mother tongue, distributed bibles in Punjabi (Singh, A : 479). Moreover, the government realised that Punjabi could not be ignored since it was the language of 17,000,000 people. In a note about its importance for the functionaries (,f the state it was written:
However, the official vernacular which the British adopted in the Punjab was Urdu. Reasons for doing this have been given earlier (Rahrnan 1996: 192-194). Let us go over them briefly, however, to put things in a historical perspective. Since the British had done away with Persian in 1836 they did not allow it to continue as an officia11anguage in the Punjab where it had that status both in the Mughal and the Sikh courts. They, therefore, asked the advice of their field officers about the language to be used in the lower domains of power. Very few among them favoured the teaching of Punjabi. Most officers, indeed, were prejudiced against it. Their views, spread over a copious correspondence, can be summed up as follows: that Punjabi is a rustic dialect not fit for serious business; that Urdu is an advanced and more sophisticated form of Punjabi and that simple Urdu is easily understood in the Punjab (for the original letters expressing these views see Chaudhry, 1997).
In addition to this prejudices there were some apprehension, though it is expressed at very few places and then only in passing, that the British feared the symbolic power (and hence the political potential) of the Gurmukhi script. Thus the Commissioner and Superintendent of the Delhi Division wrote in a letter to the Secretary of the Punjab Government on 16 June 1862:
However, as noted earlier, not all the British officers agreed with this neglect of Punjabi. Some of them, for example, J. Wilson, Deputy Commissioner of Shahpur (in 1894) and Robert Cust (in a letter of2 June 1862), advocated the cause of Punjabi but to no avail ( for details see Rahman 1996: 194-196). The officers who refused to accept their point of view, and who were in a majority, were implacable in their prejudice against Punjabi. During this period both Muslims and Hindus developed consciousness about their identity. Religion, language, script, vocabulary and literary tradition were all seen as belonging to one or the other identity. Especially relevant for our purposes is the way Hindi and Hindu identity converged as is very competently described by Christopher King (1994). Simultaneously, Urdu too became a part, and symbol, of the Indian Muslim identity. Thus the Punjabi Muslims began to identify with Urdu rather than Punjabi during the Hindi-Urdu controversy which began in the 1860s and went on in one way or the other till the partition of India in 1947.
Besides British officers, mostly Sikhs and Hindus kept insisting that Punjabi should be taught in the Punjab. In 1867, for instance, Jumna Dass, a tutor to some Sardars (chiefs) suggested that the teaching of Gurmukhi, being a sacred obligation, should be established by the British at Amballa (Dass 1867: 39). Later Hukum Singh, Pundit Rikhi Kesh and Bhai Chiranjeet Singh wrote a memorandum with a view to persuading the Punjab University Senate to introduce Punjabi as a language of examinations. Among other things they argued that books on grammar, composition and poetry existed in Punjabi and that Sikhs, Khatris and Hindus would welcome the introduction of their mother tongue as a school subject. It is significant that they did not mention the Punjabi
Muslims whose mother tongue too was Punjabi but who had begun to identify with Urdu, which was becoming a Muslim religious identity symbol, by this date. Reminiscent of later debates about the teaching of Punjabi in Pakistan, they said that they only wanted Punjabi to be 'taught up to the middle school examination in Government schools, like other languages. It is, however, by no means contemplated that Urdu should be supplanted by the Punjabi in the Province' (Singh et.al 1877: 473). Similar reasons were advanced by Sardar Attar Singh for the teaching of Punjabi. But the Sardar added a political reason to persuade the British to teach it. He wrote:
At that time Punjabi was taught in the Normal Female School at Lahore, in the Sat Sabha of the Punjab and several private schools. However, the government did not examine candidates in the language except, of course, its own civil and military officers. The members of the University Senate who debated proposal XI, about allowing Punjabi to be a subject of examinations, were mostly British officers. General Maclagan, Major Holroyd and Perkins opposed Punjabi while Dr. Leitner, Brandreth, Pandit Manphul and Sodi Hukum Singh supported it. Hukum Singh even asserted that the 'books usually taught in Government schools exist in the Punjabi language' while Brandreth pointed out that 'there were many well known and popular books in Punjabi before the English came'. However, the opponents considered it below the dignity of a university to teach what they called a 'rustic' tongue. Moreover, they felt that if Punjabi were allowed, the flood gates of languages would burst open and Balochi, Pashto, Jatki etc would all clamour for admission. The debate, therefore, ended in a defeat for the pro-Punjabi lobby (PUC 1877: 445-454).
Although the Muslims in general showed little enthusiasm for owning Punjabi, some of their representatives did not oppose it either. Indeed, Nawab Abdul Majid Khan and Fakir Sayad Kamar ud Din, both members of the senate of the Punjab University College, submitted memoranda recommending that the vernacular languages, including Punjabi, should not be excluded from the examination list, nor should they be completely neglected (Native Members 1879: 943).
Meanwhile, a number of private bodies, such as the Singh Sabha, promoted the teaching of Punjabi but mainly among the Sikhs. The Singh Sabha too petitioned the Punjab University College to associate its members in a subcommittee to be set up for th" teaching of Punjabi and that the entrance examination, which was in Urdu and Hindi, should also be given in Punjabi (Singh Sabha 1881: 223).
This was conceded and Punjabi became one of the options for school examinations. Sikh children could also study Gurmukhi if they wanted to, but employment was only available in Urdu in the lower and English in the higher domains of power. The report of 1901 tells us that 'Gurmukhi is taught in the Oriental College' (Edn.P 1901: 16). However, because a major motivation for all formal education, including the learning of languages, was employment by the state, the Gurmukhi classes did not become popular (Edn.P 1906: 15).
Those who desired to give Punjabi a more pronounced role in the education of Punjabis suggested changes. J.C. Goldsby, the Officiating Director of Public Instruction of the Punjab, wrote to the senior Secretary to the Financial Commissioner in this context as follows:
However, the report on education of 1907-8 does say that Hindu and Sikh girls were learning Gurmukhi in greater proportion than boys while Muslims, both girls and boys did not learn it (Edn.P 1908: 22). The report of 1910-11 remarks that the demand for Gurmukhi has increased even among the boys in the Lahore and Multan divisions, mostly in Lyallpur (Edn.P 1911: 5). Such yearly fluctuations, however, did not change the general pattern, which the report of 1916 sums up as follows:
Punjabi Muslims generally spoke Punjabi at home and in informal domains, among friends, in the bazaar etc, but they wrote in Urdu (or English) and they used Urdu for political speech-making, serious discussions and other formal domains. Mohamrnad Iqbal, the national poet of Pakistan, is said to have spoken the Sialkoti variety of Punjabi but he wrote only in Urdu, Persian and English throughout his life. In the only interview he gave in Punjabi in December 1930 to the editor of the Punjabi magazine Sarang, Iqbal made it clear that he did not write in Punjabi because his intellectual training had not opened up that option for him. He did, however, enjoy the language and appreciated the mystic content of its best poetic literature.
Of course, ordinary Punjabis too enjoy listening to Punjabi jokes, songs and poetry. Indeed, that is why poets like Imam Din and Ustad Daman (1911-1984) were and remain so immensely popular. According to Son Anand, an inhabitant of old Lahore, Daman 'is still a household name for all those who lived in the crowded "mohallas" and frequented the Punjab "mushairas"'. He held audiences spellbound and was often in trouble for making fun of the authorities. Daman was anti-establishment, irreverent and humorous. These characteristics, and the fact that he used words which had an irrunediate appeal being those of the mother tongue, made him a great Success with Punjabi audiences (Anand 1998: 38-41). But pleasure was one thing and politics another. The Urdu-Punjabi controversy was an extension of the Urdu-Hindi controversy. The political need of the time, as perceived by Muslim leaders in the heat of the Pakistan movement, was to insist on a common Muslim identity of which Urdu played an integral part. Moreover, having studied Urdu at school, the Punjabi intellectuals had complete command over its written form and literary tradition. Like Iqbal, all the great intellectuals of the Punjab such as Abroad Nadeem Qasmi, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Sa'adat Hasan Manto, wrote in Urdu. Urdu was also the language of journalism -the Paisa Akhbar, the Zamindar of the irrepressible Zafar Ali Khan and the Nawa-i-Waqt of Hameed Nizami being household names -which, like literature, was concentrated in Lahore. Indeed, Zafar Ali Khan modernised the Urdu language and became irrunensely popular as did Chiragh Hasan Hasrat whose witty columns were enjoyed by all those who read Urdu (Anand 1998: 173-177). Urdu was not only the adopted language of the intelligentsia of the Punjab. It was the symbol of their Muslim identity. That is why they opposed those who advocated the teaching ofPunjabi.
Such was the anti-Punjabi fervour of the leading Punjabi Muslims that when Dr. P .L. Chatterjee, the Bengali Vice Chancellor of Punjab University, declared in his convocation address at the University in 1908, that Punjabi, the real vernacular language of the Punjab, should replace Urdu, the Muslims condemned him vehemently. The Muslim League held a meeting at Amritsar to condemn him in December. The newspapers carried the controversy for several months. The Paisa Akhbar, a popular Urdu newspaper of Lahore, wrote articles not only about Chatterji's ideas but also on the subject of the medium of instruction. Most writers, following editorial policy, said that Punjabi was not capable of being used as a medium of instruction even at the primary level (see file of Paisa Akhbar December 1908 till April 1909). One contributor wrote that the educated Sikhs and Hindus, who used to speak Urdu earlier, had started speaking Punjabi out of prejudice against Urdu. However, he added, working class people -porters, cooks, gardeners etc -still spoke Urdu (Paisa Akhbar 16 July 1909). Another argument against Punjabi was that it consisted of dialects which changed after every few miles and had no standard form (Paisa Akhbar 7 June 1909). Most people, however, felt that the promotion of Punjabi was a conspiracy to weaken Urdu and, by implication, Muslims (for a detailed defence of Urdu in pre-partition days see M.R. T 1942; for the controversy of 1908 see Khawaja, 1982).
In short, most of the arguments were the same which were used by the functionaries of the state and right wing intellectuals in Pakistan later. The difference was that in pre-partition India almost all notable Punjabi Muslims united to oppose their own mother tongue in support of Urdu. In Pakistan, on the other hand, identity-conscious Punjabis and their left-leaning sympathisers supported Punjabi much as the Sikhs and Hindus had done earlier while establishment and right-wing people supported Urdu. The question was one of the politics of identity in both cases: before the partition almost all Punjabi Muslim leaders and intellectuals insisted on their Muslim identity so as to give a united front to the Hindus and Sikhs; in Pakistan some Punjabi intellectuals felt that the cost of renouncing their Punjabi identity was excessive while the others felt that it was necessary to prevent the rise of ethnicity which, in their view, would break up Pakistan. On the eve of the partition, then, Punjabi was not owned by the Muslims.
Punjabi in Pakistan -the Work of Faqir Mohammad Faqir
Although most educated Punjabis supported Urdu for political reasons and took pride in it, there were some who felt that the loss of Punjabi was too dear a price to pay for these attitudes. One such person was Faqir Mohammad, who later took the poetic nom de plume of Faqir, thus becoming Faqir Mohammad Faqir. He was born on 5 June 1900 at Gujranwala. His ancestors had migrated from Kashmir and practised oriental medicine. Faqir was only fifteen years old when his father, Mian Lal Deen, died. It was then that the young Faqir wrote his first couplet in Punjabi.
He then got his Punjabi verse corrected, as was the custom of the times, from Imam Din and Ibrahirn Adil in Gujranwala. He also started reciting his Punjabi verse in the meetings of the Anjuman Himayat-e-Islam where great poets -Altaf Husain Hali, Zafar Ali Khan and Mohammad Iqbal among them -read out inspiring nationalistic poems in Urdu. For a living, Faqir earned a diploma from the King Edward Medical College and practiced medicine, even performing operations of the eye according to witnesses (Akram 1992: 16). In 1920 he left both Gujranwala and medicine and became first a government contractor and then the owner of a construction business, in Lahore. But the honorary title of doctor had been bestowed upon him by his admirers is still a part of his legendary name -Dr. Faqir Abroad Faqir. It was this man who fIrst became a champion of Punjabi. He was an established Punjabi poet by the 1950s, the first collection of his verse having been published in 1941, but more than that he had dedication, the energy and the confidence to initiate movements and keep them going. Faqir supported Punjabi even before the partition and later, when the Sikh-Muslirn riots had made it a tabooed subject in Pakistan because of its associations with the Sikhs, he still supported it. Soon after the establishment of Pakistan he decided to initiate a movement for the promotion of Punjabi. Initially he met with refusals. Even those who sympathised with his ideas, such as Sir Shahabuddin, an eminent politician and member of the Punjab Legislative Assembly, declined to join him in this politically suspect venture. Eventually, however, he managed to persuade Abid Ali Abid, a noted intellectual and Principal of Dyal Singh College in Lahore, to hold a meeting of pro-Punjabi intellectuals. Faqir himself did all the hard work. In one of his articles he writes:
At last Faqir's efforts bore fruit. In the first week of July 1951 the fIrst Punjabi meeting was held. The invitees were distinguished men of letters, distinguished, of course, in Urdu. Among them were Maulana Abdul Majeed Salik, Feroze Uddin, Dr. Mohammad Din Taseer, Abdul Majeed Bhatti, Ustad Karam Amritsari, Sufi Ghulam Mustafa Tabassum, Mian Alias and others. Abid Ali Abid, the host, was also among the participants and Faqir, the indefatigable activist of the Punjabi language, listened keenly as Maulana Salik, the president, gave his speech. He says he was surprised that Salik fully agreed with him but this was hardly surprising because opponents of the idea would hardly have bothered to participate in the meeting. At the end of the deliberations the participants agreed to establish the Pak Punjabi League with Salik as president and Faqir as secretary. Both of them were also entrusted with the task of the publication of a monthly called Punjabi which fIrst saw the light of day in September 1951. The purpose of this magazine was to induce the Urdu-using intellectuals of the Punjab to write in Punjabi. And, indeed, to a certain extent the magazine did succeed in making eminent literary figures, such as Ghulam Rasul Mehr, Zafar Ali Khan, Shorish Kashrniri, Hameed Nizami, Sufi Ghulam Mustafa Tabussum, Waqar Ambalvi, Qateel Shifai, Syed Murtaza Jilani, Dr. Mohammad Baqar, Dr. Abdus Salam Khurshid, write in Punjabi.
Faqir Ahmad Faqir, however, did not rest content with this achievement. He also organized the first Punjabi conference at Lyallpur (now Faisalabad) in 1952. In this, among other things, it was resolved that Punjabi should be taught from Class 1 upto the M.A level. Since then every conference, every Punjabi language activist, every Punjabi newspaper or magazine has reiterated this demand.
Another major achievemer.. of this conference was that it created an organisation to provide reading material in Punjabi. This organisation was called the Punjabi Adabi Akadrni (Punjabi Literary Academy). It too was headed by a committed activist, Mohammad Baqir, who worked on the lines of Faqir Mohammad Faqir. According to the latter:
Dr. Mohammad Baqir started working with full power as soon as he took charge of The Academy. The result of this was that after a few months of running around he succeeded in obtaining a grant of Rs. 20,000 from the central government. During this time the Academy also made Rs. 7,900 from the sale ofbooks.
(Quoted in Akram 1992: 23. My translation from Punjabi) The books which were sold were the Academy's own publications -classics of Punjabi literature like the poetic works of Bulleh Shah; the Heer of Waris Shah; Mirza Sahiban of Peeloo and Haf1Z Barkhurdar; Bol Fareedi, the poetic works of the poet-saint Fariduddin Masood Ganj Shakar (1175-1265); the poetic works of Ali Haider; Kakare, the collection of the poems of Syed Hashim Shah; the Saiful Mulook of Mian Mohammad Baksh and several epic poems (vars) as well as different versions of rhymed folk tales. In addition to these literary classics the Academy also published textbooks for Class 1 and 2 as well as a textbook for B.A. in Punjabi. This book was entitled Lahran, a title which was used later for a well-known periodical of Punjabi.
For some time Mian Bashir Ahmad, Vice Chancellor of the Punjab University, appeared to have been converted to Punjabi. This was a feather in the cap for Faqir who wrote that the Vice Chancellor's statement, that the progress of Punjabi would not harm Urdu, was very welcome. He pointed out that the pro-Punjabi press had requested the university to re-start the Honours, High Proficiency and Proficiency in Punjabi classes which it had stopped earlier. Moreover, the government was also requested to make Punjabi the medium of instruction at the primary level. But, lamented the writer, the university's decision-makers had not taken any concrete steps in favour ofPunjabi despite its Vice Chancellor's statement in support of it (Faqir 1953a: 2-3).
The contributors of Punjabi, being eminent writers of Urdu and Pakistani nationalists, insisted and reiterated that the domains of Urdu would not be intruded upon. For them Urdu deserved the honour of being a national language (the other being Bengali after 1954); and it also deserved to be the medium of instruction in senior classes; and the language of national communication. Their only concern was that Punjabi should not be completely ignored and devalued. That is why, even when they demanded the use of Punjabi in certain domains, they distanced themselves from the Punjabi of the Sikhs. Indeed, some of them used the term 'Pak Punjabi' for the variety of Punjabi they wanted to promote (Arnbalvi 1955: 9). Hence, one finds that Hameed Nizami, the founding editor of the Nawai Waqt, an Urdu newspaper known for its aggressive nationalism and right wing views, advocated the teaching of Punjabi to little children. Recounting his personal experience, he said that his own children expressed themselves more fluently in Punjabi than in Urdu whereas he and his wife had always used Urdu earlier (Nizami 1951: 11-12).
The effort to teach Punjabi floundered on the rock of culture shame and
prejudice. As there are many sources indicating that the Punjabis have some sort of affectionate contempt or culture shame about their language (see Mobbs 1991: 245; Mansoor 1993: 119 for surveys of opinions about it), there is no need to labour that point. What is relevant here is to relate this culture shame to the teaching of the language here. The f1fst point to note is that this culture shame gives rise to, and is in turn fed by, myths of various kinds. The most common ones are that Punjabi is a dialect not a language; that it is so full of invectives and dirty words that it cannot be used for serious matters; that it is a rustic language and its vocabulary is so limited that it cannot be used for intellectual
expression; that it lends itself to jokes and is essentially non-serious and therefore unsuitable for serious matters; and that it has no literature, or at least no modern prose literature, in it etc. etc. Most of these prejudices, as we have seen earlier, were also part of the British attitude towards Punjabi. Whether they were internalised by Punjabi Muslims because of Persianisation during Mughal rule; the privileging of English and Urdu during British rule; contact with Urdu speakers; or the fact that Urdu was the language of creative literature and lower level jobs in the Punjab; cannot be determined, What is known is that, at least since the nineteenth century, Punjabi Muslims have held and still hold suchprejudiced myths about their mother tongue Punjabi.
Most Punjabi activists have spent a lot of time and effort to refute these myths. The early articles in Punjabi in the nineteen fifties began these efforts and even today, after nearly half a century, the same arguments and counterarguments are being exchanged. Sardar Mohammad Khan, writing in 1957, argued that Punjabi cannot be a 'dialect' in isolation. It must be the dialect of some language (Khan 1957: 26). But by 'dialect' the opponents of Punjabi mean that it has not been standardised. The answer to this is that standardisation, which is part of language planning (corpus planning to be precise), is an activity which needs not only linguistic expertise but also a definite policy, money and administrative power. It can only be accomplished by powerful agencies, such as governments, which privilege one variety of the language; print its grammar and dictionaries and, above all, use it in the domains of power beginning with schools (Cooper 1989: 131-144). So, the fact that there was no standardised norm of Punjabi in the fifties did not mean that there was anything intrinsically deficient about the language. What it meant was that the government had been indifferent to it which brings one back to what the activists advocated all along, begin by teaching Punjabi. The printing of the school texts would by itself begin the process of creating a standard norm.
The other arguments are also part of the non-use of the language in the domains of education, administration, commerce, judiciary and the media. All languages are adequate for the expression of the social reality of the societies in which they are born. However, it is only when they are used in other domains, domains which modernity has brought in, that, their vocabulary expands. To some extent it expands by borrowing from other languages spontaneously but for the most part, language planners create new terms. This process, called modernisation or neologism, is necessary when 'a language is extended for new functions and topics' and takes place even in developed, modem societies though not to the extent it occurs in developing ones (Cooper 1989: 149). But this, too, is done by powerful language-planning institutions, generally state supported ones. In the case of Punjabi the state did nothing of the kind. Hence, if Punjabi is deficient in modern terms (technical, administrative, philosophical, legal etc ), it is not an inherent limitation but merely lack of language planning. Once again, the fault is that of the state and not that ofPunjabi.
The absence of books is also the consequence of lack of state patronage and non-use in any of the domains, where books are required. In short, the use (or intent to use) of the language comes flfSt. Language planning activities follow as a consequence and the language gets standardised and modernised later. This sequence was not always adequately comprehended either by the supporters or by the opponents of Punjabi. Thus they talked, generally in emotional terms, about the merits and demerits of the language rather than about the role of the state and the modernization of pre-modern languages through language planning.
One myth, which is somewhat baffling at first sight, is that of the alleged vulgarity of Punjabi. The typical refutation of the charge, a charge levelled again and again and once by no less a person than Mian Tufail Mohammad, the head of the Jamaat-i-Islami in 1992, is that all languages have 'dirty words' (Khan 1957: 29). Mian Tufail was condemned by a large number of Punjabi activists (Baloch 1992), but the fact remains that he said what many Punjabis believe about their language. What requires explanation is that such an absurd myth should exist at all. It probably came to exist, and still exists, because Punjabi is not used in the formal domains, the domains of impersonal interaction. The norms of interaction in the formal domains preclude personal, egalitarian, give and take. Thus one does not use the incentives which one uses with one's companions and friends. Moreover, since the abstract and learned terms used in the domains of formal learning and law are generally borrowed from a foreign language, they do not strike one as earthy and vulgar. Since Punjabi has never been used in these domains, it lacks these words. Thus, when the familiar Punjabi words for the body and its functions are used, they strike the listener as vulgar and unsophisticated. The classical poets of Punjabi solved this problem, like Urdu and English poets, by borrowing words from Persian just as the English poets borrowed from Latin and Greek. For instance Waris Shah, describing the beauty ofHeer's body, said:
(Fair and rounded like swollen water bags were her beautiful buttocks Her legs were as if sculptors had carved them out of the mountain [in which Farhad had carved out a canal for his beloved Sheereen i.e mountain famous for love]
The term suraen for buttocks is from Persian and is also used in classical Urdu poetry. The commonly used terms, both in Punjabi and Urdu, would be considered far too obscene to be used in literature (also see Muhammad n.d: 162-169). Similarly Haflz Barkhurdar and Waris Shah both use the term 'chati' (breast, chest) for their heroine's breasts. The term chati is a neutral term which can be used for men, women, children and animals for the upper, front portion of the anatomy. To express the feminine beauty of this part of the heroine's body, the poet resorts to metaphorical language. The use of the Punjabi term would have been considered coarse and unseemly. This literary strategy, the use of terms from another language, is quite common in Urdu as well as English. In Urdu such terms are borrowed from Arabic and Persian while in English they come from Latin and Greek.
The point, then, is that Punjabi literature resorts to the same stylistic strategies as other literatures of the world when dealing with tabooed areas. The popular impression that Punjabi has no 'polite' equivalents of tabooed terms is based on ignorance of Punjabi literature. This ignorance is but inevitable in a country where Punjabi is used only in the infonnal domains and educated people code-switch increasingly to English when they venture into areas which are even remotely connected with sex. Thus even the Punjabi words for wife and woman are falling into disuse as people prefer to use the circumlocution bacche (literally, children), family, and kar vale (the people of the household) instead of run, zanani and voti. To conclude, all the myths about the inadequacy of Punjabi are consequences of its non-use and marginalisation by the state. Hence, whether they fully understood the role of power in language planning and use or not, Punjabi activists were right when they insisted that their language should be taught at some levels if it was ever to take its place as a respectable language.
However, lack of understanding of the political dimensions of language policy (and use), also resulted in enabling the Punjabis to believe in some selfcongratulatory and ego-boosting myths. One is that the Punjabis are so large hearted and generous that they have accommodated Urdu even by sacrificing their own language. A variant of this myth is that Punjabis, being truly Islamic and nationalistic, care more for Urdu, which symbolises the Islamic and Pakistani identity, than their own mother tongue. Still another variant is that, being ardent lovers of Urdu, the Punjabis have forgotten their mother tongue in their enthusiasm for Urdu. These myths are wrong because they do not take culture-shame, language-policy, political and economic reasons into account at all. More politically aware Punjabi activists, like Shafqat Tanvir Mirza, argue that the predominantly Punjabi ruling elite gives Urdu more importance than the other indigenous languages of the country in order to keep the country united through the symbolism of one national language; to increase its power base and in order to keep the centre stronger than the periphery. By appearing to sacrifice their own mother tongue the elite can resist the pressure of other ethnic language-based pressure groups to make itself stronger at the expense of the Punjabi-dominated centre (Mirza 1994: 91). This, indeed, is the consequence of the policy of marginalising Punjabi. However, it appears to me that many decisions of the ruling elite, as indeed of other human beings, are not so calculated and rational. It is more likely that the low esteem of Punjabi; the idea that it is not suitable for fonnal domains; is as much part of the Punjabi ruling elite's world view as it is of other educated Punjabis. To this, perhaps, one may add the conscious feeling that any encouragement of their own mother tongue will embolden the speakers of other indigenous languages to demand more rights and privileges for their languages thus jeopardising the position of Urdu as a national language. In short, the Punjabi elite's marginalisation of Punjabi is not because of generosity or disinterested love of the country but a mixture of culture shame, prejudice against its own language and the desire to keep the centre, and therefore itself, dominant in Pakistan.
The University of the Punjab permitted students to take Punjabi as an optional language in the early fifties. Critics said that there would be no students who would study it. Faqir Ahrnad Faqir agreed but, nothing daunted, suggested that it should be compulsory not optional (Faqir 1953b). This did not, however, come to pass. In 1954 the question of Bengali being accepted as a national language of Pakistan was very much in the air. The greatest opponent of the proposal was Maulvi Abdul Haq who still insisted that Urdu alone could symbolise the unity of the Pakistani nation. The Punjab Youth League's secretary, Farooq Qureshi, took this opportunity to demand that they would celebrate a Punjabi Day. This was probably the fIrst time that the fair of Shah Hussain was used in March 1954 to raise the demand of Punjabi being made an official language. The postgraduates' union ofPunjab University decided to hold a discussion on the issue. The Vice Chancellor; M. Sharif, who was sympathetic to Punjabi and who, above all, did not want the students to get out of hand presided. Masood Khaddarposh, who was present, relates how the students became so unruly in their enthusiasm that they drowned everybody's speech in full-throated shouts if someone used a non-Punjabi word in the speech. Khaddarposh says that he went on the stage, congratulated the students on becoming free of the oppression of other languages, and said that a new policy consistent with independence should now be created. Then only would there be people who would deliver speeches without putting in Urdu and English words in them (handwritten report by Masood in my personal collection). Although Masood perceived the students' exuberance as their desire to discard Urdu and English, such a conclusion is not warranted because the students respond in the same enthusiastic manner to Punjabi mushairas, debates, discussions and other cultural events even now. In a mushaira at F .C. College Lahore on 17 February 1998 the students were equally exuberant (Savera March 1998: 44). It appears that they take Punjabi as part of fun and, since it is a change from the languages they use in the forrnal domains, they tend to relax and take the whole thing as entertainment. This does not mean, however, that they hold Punjabi in prestige and want to discard other languages.
A concrete step in favour of teaching Punjabi was that in 1961 the Board of Secondary Education accepted it as an optional language in schools from class 6 till 12 F. A. In 1962 Abdul Majeed Bhatti and Mohamrnad Afzal Khan wrote the fIrst book for class 6 (Sultana 1975: 27). This was, of course, a triumph for the Punjabi activists especially because this was the Ayub Khan era when the centre, being dominated by the military and the higher bureaucracy, was highly intolerant of multi-lingualism and multi-culturalism. Indeed, since West Pakistan was one unit, the indigenous languages were at the lowest ebb of their fortunes. Ayub Khan's centrist government looked at language-based assertions of identity with great suspicion. In the case of Punjabi it was felt that the Punjabi activists would join the Sikhs across the border to undermine the twonation theory on the basis of which Pakistan was made. Thus the Punjabi Majlis, an organization to promote Punjabi, was banned in 1959 while the Punjabi Group of the Writer's Guild was banned in 1963. Despite these setbacks the sixties saw something of a renaissance of Punjabi literary and cultural life (for details see Rahman 1996: 200-202) which need not be repeated. An important development, which bears repetition, is that short stories, plays and poems which were produced during this period laid the foundation for the M.A in Punjabi which started in the 1970s at the Punjab University.
The Reaction to Nur Khan's Education Policy
Ayub Khan's government was toppled in March 1969 by students and politicians. In his place came General Yahya Khan who imposed martial law while promising elections and transition to democracy. Yahya Khan, like Ayub before him, appointed a commission headed by Air Marshal Nur Khan to propose changes in the education policy. Nur Khan's emphasis was on the nation and hence he favoured the two national languages, Urdu and Bengali, while ignoring all the other indigenous languages of the country. The reaction to this by the Sindhi and Punjabi activists is given in Rahman (1996: 118 and 203). Here, reference will be made to those aspects of language teaching which have not been given sufficient space in my previous book.
About 500 Punjabi activists presented a memorandum on behalf of 13 proPunjabi organizations to General Yahya Khan on 31 August 1989 (Dawn 2 September 1969). Among them were the Punjabi Adabi Sangat, Majlis Shah Hussain, Punjabi Adabi Society, Majlis Mian Mohamrnad, Majlis-e-Bahu, Majlis Waris Shah, Majlis Shah Murad and Rahs Rang, a dramatic group of Lahore. The writers of the document took their stand on social justice possibly because Ayub Khan's regime had enriched a very narrow elite and, in reaction to that, ideas like socialism, Islamic socialism and social justice were in the air. The document said:
Languages used by different classes of the people are often taken as representatives of their social placing and economic background and aptly reflect the stratification that has taken [place] in our society. If we have to safeguard ourselves against this perpetuation of privileges, which has been rightly marked as a major social problem, we shall have to give these languages of the masses their due in society (Memorandum 1969: 5).
This reference to social stratification was all the more forceful because Nur Khan himself had spoken out against the privileged position of English and that there was a caste-Iike distinction between Urdu and English medium students (Edn. Pro 1969: 3; 15-17). Now the activists ofPunjabi argued that there was another caste-Iike distinction too -between the users of Urdu and those who knew only Punjabi. Indeed, the knowledge of only Punjabi was considered ignorance -so low had the language policies of the past and the present brought down Punjabi. This, said the Punjabi activists, could only be reversed if Punjabi was taught. The practical steps they recommended have been given in my book Language and Politics in Pakistan (1996: 203) and it would be repetitive to enumerate them in detail. Suffice it say that they wanted it as a medium of instruction for adults and at the primary level and an optional subject at all others. They also felt that the language should be honoured by introducing it at the highest level in the university.
The September 1969 issue of Punjabi Adab also devoted itself to the education policy. Well-known figures such as Masood Khaddarposh, Shafqat Tanwir Mirza, Safdar Mir (Zeno ), Asif Khan, among others, wrote in favour of Punjabi. It was in the sixties too that the Punjabi language movement came to have a slightly left of centre image. This image came from the fact that the Communist Party favoured the languages of the common people. According to Safdar Mir, Eric Cyprian, an important member of the party in the 1940s, said it was necessary to use Punjabi to communicate with the people (Interview in Viewpoint, 25 Jan 1990). Earlier, in the forties too some leftists, such as Mrs Freda Bedi, wife of the Communist leader of Lahore B.P .L Bedi, addressed 'rural audiences in Punjabi from a public platform' (Anand 1998: 16). Although Punjabi did not become the preferred language of the Communist Party in Pakistan, leftists did sympathise with it. Thus there were avowed socialists like Major Ishaque, Safdar Mir and Ahmad Rahi in the movement. Moreover the anti-establishment, rebellious themes ofNajam Hussain Bhatti's plays were leftleaning. In any case, supporting any Pakistani language other than Urdu was seen as being leftist by the establishment. The Punjabi activists, however, made Shah Hussain, a sufi saint, their symbol of inspiration. Shah Hussain is said to have rebelled against orthodoxy by having fallen in love with a boy (Madho Lal), drinking wine and dancing and was, therefore, an anti-establishment symbol. Moreover, the Punjabi activists took to celebrating the anniversary of his death in the Mela-e-Chiraghan with much fanfare. They also danced on the day much to the disapproval of the puritanical revivalists of the Jamaat-i-Islami and ordinary, somewhat orthodox, middle class Punjabis. Thus, when 100 Punjabi writers demanded all regional languages as media of instruction on 5 April 1965 at the Mela-e-Chiraghan (Pakistan Times 6 April 1965), the demand must have appeared as part of a conspiracy to undermine the foundations of orthodoxy to many people.
The Department of Punjabi at the Punjab University
The demand for opening the Punjabi department at the university became stronger. Apart from the old champions ofPunjabi like Faqir Mohammad Faqir, even people otherwise associated with Urdu like Dr Waheed Qureshi, voiced this demand on 5 August 1969. General Bakhtiar Rana, a member of the Punjabi Adabi League, also made the same demand and numerous small organizations lent their voices to it. The Punjabi Adabi Sangat, for instance, gave several statements in the press demanding M.A in Punjabi (Muzawat 24 August 1970).
Faqir Mohammad Faqir's role in the establishment of the master's degree at the Punjab University has acquired legendary overtones. Junaid Akrarn, his biographer, says that he met Alauddin Siddiqui, the Vice Chancellor of the University, and persuaded him not to oppose the idea. Finding the Vice Chancellor willing he met members of the Academic Council and other decisionmaking bodies and won their approval (Akram 1992: 56). The popular legend has it that he lay down in the office of the Vice Chancellor saying that he would live on the floor unless the M.A was instituted. The Vice Chancellor, completely dismayed by these unorthodox tactics, made the required promises to persuade Faqir to lift the siege. According to Syed Akhtar Jafri, who has written a critical appreciation of Faqir's life and works, he was helped by Abdul Majeed Bhatti and Rauf Shaikh who visited the opponents of Punjabi and persuaded them by all means orthodox and unorthodox (Jafri 1991: 37). In any case in 1970 the M.A Punjabi classes began at the Oriental College, Punjab University, Lahore. Faqir Mohammad Faqir's jubilation knew no bounds. According to a witness, Arshad Meer, he celebrated this great advance in the status of Punjabi at Gujranwala. The Vice Chancellor, Waheed Qureshi, Mian Mohammad Shafi and other notables attended. Faqir paid homage to the Vice Chancellor in verse and the activists of the Punjabi movement felt that their dream had come true.
The first members of the faculty in the Punjabi Department were people who lacked formal degrees in the language but were known for having written in it. Among others were Alauddin Siddiqui, the Vice Chancellor, himself; Ashfaq Abroad, the noted Urdu dramatist and short story writer; Khizar Tameemi, Sharif Kunjahi and Qayyurn Nazar (Akram 1992: 56). In the beginning, under the influence of Dr. Waheed Qureshi, right wing views dominated. Even Bulleh Shah was not taught because of his allegedly 'heretical' views (Saleern. Int. 1999). Punjabi was also taught at the masters level in the Shah Hussain College in Lahore in the early seventies. Ahmed Saleern, one of the lecturers in the early years, said that all lecturers were volunteers in that college and the students took the university examination as private candidates (Saleem. Int. 1999).
In 1973 Najam Hussain Syed, a well known intellectual whose book on Punjabi literature Recurrent Patterns in Punjabi Poetry (1986) is still a milestone in the field, was invited to chair the new department. Najarn, himself a creative writer of somewhat left-of-the centre orientation, made a comprehensive curriculum for the M.A which did not exclude leftist, identity-conscious, Punjabi literature (Syed. Int. 1999). His colleagues were AsifKhan, SharifKunjahi and Abbas Jalalpuri. All of them were part time lecturers and Najam himself was on deputation from government service. Najam and his colleagues, being liberal in views, included the socio-economic background in which literary texts are created as part of the curriculum. They even taught Gunnukhi, though it was not part of the approved curriculum, so as to enable students to study Punjabi literature from India. The teaching of Gunnukhi was especially suspect in the
eyes of their right-wing opponents because they thought Indian Punjabi literature would dilute the ideological orientation of sudents. Later, when Zia ul Haq took over, all institutions had to move towards the right because the regime was not only centrist, like all previous regimes, but legitimized itself so emphatically in the name of Islam that it became paranoid even about trivialities (Khan, Asif. Int. 1999). Thus, according to Khalid Humayun, lecturer at the Department of Punjabi, some lines of Anwar Masood's humorous poem' Aj Ki Pakaye?' (What shall we cook today?) were expunged because they referred to Pakistan's friendship with the U .S.A (Humayun 1986: 231 ).
Shahbaz Malik, who became the chairman of the Punjabi Department during Zia ul Haq's days, was known for his rightist views. It was during his tenure that most of the changes mentioned above, such as the exclusion of identityconscious, political or Sikh literature, took place. Complaints against the department kept corning (Sajjan 30 September 1989), but Shahbaz Malik continued to head it (see his interview in Chowdhry 1991). Khalid Humayun complained that so absurd was the ideological witch-hunting at this period that theses on Ustad Daman and the folk songs of the Punjab were accused of subverting the ideology of Pakistan -the former because Daman had criticised martial law; the latter because popular values were contrary to those which the state supported (Humayun 1990. Also Humayun. Int. 1999). In an interview Afzal Randhawa, a prominent writer of Punjabi, also accuses the Punjab University authorities of being selective allegedly for both personal and ideological reasons, about the texts to be taught to students (Randhawa 1990:15).
Masood Khaddarposh and Punjabi Teaching
During the seventies and early eighties, a new figure came to invigorate, and even dominate at times, the Punjabi scene. This was the somewhat enigmatic figure of Mohammad Masood who was popularly known as Masood Khaddarposh (that is, one who wears rough cotton clothes). Masood was an Indian (and then Pakistan) Civil Service officer. The ICS-CSP cadre as a whole was known for being very Anglicized and alienated from the people and their indigenous culture. Masood, however, proved himself to be different when he associated with the tribal people of India, called the bheels and won their trust. They are said to have called him Masood Bhagwan (god). Later, in Pakistan he wrote a 'Minute of Dissent' to the Sind Hari Commision Report (1950). The Hari (peasant) of Sind was supposed to be the worse example of feudal oppression in Pakistan. The main report, being written under the influence of the feudal lobby, did not highlight the injustices done to the Haris. Masood's 'Minute of Dissent', however, did so. The press, therefore, welcomed it as enthusiastically as it condemned the main report. The chief minister of Sindh, Ayub Khuhro, himself a Sindhi feudal lord, remarked in March 1951 'the problem of haris does not exist in the province it exists only in some newspaper offices'. This made Masood even more popular and he came to be known as Masood of the Hari Report. What Masood's minute of dissent was about can best be understood only by reading it but even its opponent, Ayub Khuhro's historian daughter Hameeda Khuhro, condemns it in no worse terms than this:
But, however much Hameeda might ridicule Masood, people agreed with him The 'Minute', therefore, increased his prestige very much.
Later, this unusual bureaucrat became even more unique, indeed legendary, because he started dressing up in khaddar which the impeccably dressed South Asian officers, both civilian and military, never wore in public till the 1970s when Prime Minister Z. A. Bhutto gave respectability to this dress by wearing it in public. Thus, instead of the usual suit complete with necktie, Masood often turned up in the indigenous shalwar kameez which was taboo in official circles. So it was this legendary, somewhat enigmatic, figure who became a champion of Punjabi. Even while he was in service he often used Punjabi in conversation. This, however, was hardly unusual. What was somewhat unusual was that he often asked people to give evidence in Punjabi because he felt they would express themselves more clearly in the mother tongue. Even more unusual, and bordering on the eccentric this time, was his insistence that prayers should be said in Punjabi because one should know what one was saying to God (Akhtar 1986). This alienated the ulema but, luckily for Masood, the idea was generally ignored and the religious opposition against him did not become widespread. After his retirement Masood became the convener of the Punjabi Forum, an organization for the promotion of Punjabi.
Now it was this man who wrote in favour of using Punjabi in different domains and, above all, of teaching it. His arguments referred to the Quran (that God guides people in their own language); conspiracy theories (that the Jews wanted only one internationall~n~age ) and ideas of cultural preservation, ease of developing new concepts in the mother-tongue and so on (Masood 1969).
Masood was an energetic man and, having been in the machinery of the state, he believed in influencing the decision-makers in the state apparatus. Thus, apart from writing articles, memoranda, letters to the editor and making speeches from different platfonns, he also wrote letters to high government officials asking them to take steps to teach Punjabi. Among others, he wrote to the president, the governor, cabinet ministers like Abdus Sattar Niazi and Dr. Mahbub ul Haq, and the chairman of the Literacy Commission to make policies in favour of teaching Punjabi. When the state functionaries did not respond satisfactorily he released his letters, or a summary of his efforts to persuade them, to the press. A typical release of 16 September 1984 states:
At last I went personally just last month to Islamabad to speak to the present head of the Literacy Commission and I quoted several verses from the Quran to make it clear that all education and literacy must be imparted in the mother tongue.
Among his several interviews in the press, in Punjabi, Urdu and English, the one which had circulation outside the Punjabi-Ianguage activists was the one which I.A Rehman published in the Herald (July 1984). In this Masood pointed out that he had advocated multi-lingualism in Pakistan for more than 25 years. He denied that Urdu was necessary even as a link language but conceded that it should be retained. All Pakistani languages, he said, should be national languages and should be taught in the Punjab (Rehman 1984).
Masood's hour of triumph came when on 2 January 1985 he collected some leading figures of the country including Dr. Mubashar Hasan, said to be the architect and theoretician of Z.A. Bhutto's left-Ieaning Pakistan Peoples' Party (PPP), A.H. Kardar, Fakhar Zaman (PPP senator and Punjabi writer), Mazhar Ali Khan (editor of Viewpoint), Abdullah Malik (the famous Urdu novelist) and Mumtaz Daultana (famous politician) and made them agree to adopt a charter for the 'restoration of the cultural dignity of the Punjabi-speaking people of Pakistan'. The teaching of Punjabi was the focus of this charter. The basic thesis was that colonial values had deprived the Punjabis of the use of their language in formal domains. Now, if the lost dignity of the language was to be reclaimed, it was necessary to use it in the administration and the judiciary. But this meant that it should be taught first and this is what the 139 signatories of the charter vowed to bring about (Viewpoint 10 Jan 1985; The Muslim 3 Jan 1985).
These were Zia ul Haq years and the presence of known leftists among the signatories, people like C.R. Aslam, Mazhar Ali Khan, Safdar Mir, Mabashar Hasan, alarmed the right wing. The press, especially the Urdu press, attacked the charter when it did not ignore it. The charter, therefore, became as politically controversial, as much a part of the ongoing left-right debate, as most other intellectual matters did at that time. In the same way the International Punjabi Conference of 1986, organized by Fakhar Zaman in Lahore also became controversial. This conference has been described earlier (Rahman 1996: 205206) and all its proceedings have been collected in one volume (Qaisar & Pal 1988), so there is no point in describing it here except to say that the demand for teaching Punjabi was not only the subject of resolutions but also an issue around which many of the papers revolved.
The second International Punjabi Conference, after having been postponed several times, was held from 26 to 29 December 1992. Fakhar Zaman, its convenor, was also the Chairman of the Academy of Letters and had much power being close to Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto who was enjoying her second tenure in government. But, possibly because the PPP did not want to confront centrist military and the bureaucracy and the bias against Punjabi was well entrenched in the establishment, the conference lacked the fervent antiestablishment enthusiasm of the 1986 conference which had become a political statement against Zia ul Haq's martial law. Once again the teaching of Punjabi was a crucial issue. Although Fakhar Zaman did say that Punjabi would become a medium of instruction (Ghumman 1995: 300) everybody seemed to feel that no substantial change would be made.
Neutralising the Ideological Threat from Punjabi
Although Punjabi was taught to so few children, the state ensured that the textbooks for teaching it were saturated with state-sponsored ideology. Several steps were taken for this purpose. In 1986, 2009 primary schools of the Punjab were selected and 46,930 pupils of class 1 were interviewed. The idea was to write down the words they used so that words common to Punjabi and Urdu could be identified. N.K. Shaheen Malik, the Director of the Project, made some textbooks called Entry Vocabulary of Pre-School Children based upon his major finding that 68.8 per cent words of small children were common to Punjabi and Urdu while only 27.7 per cent words belonged only to Punjabi (Malik n.d. 14). The idea, however, was not so much to teach Punjabi as to point out that teaching Punjabi children through Urdu was justified because children understood new concepts in a language which was so close to their own that they were already familiar with it. However, the project did deal with the teaching of Punjabi too. This teaching was very little but such as it was, it had to be ideologically correct. Thus, in a workshop for teachers of Punjabi held in April 1986, care was taken to emphasize that 'Musalmani' and not 'Sikhi' Punjabi should be taught (Malik 1986: 19).
The Punjabi textbooks, like the textbooks in the other Pakistani languages, are saturated with ideological moralising. The three main themes here too are Islam, Pakistani nationalism and glorification of war and the military. The items (prose or verse) on these subjects out of the total number of items in the textbooks were as follows:
Textbook Percentage of ideological items
Class 6tb (Punjabi Di Paehli kitab 1998) 50.33
Clss 7tb (Punjabi Di Doosri Kitab 1991) 60.42
Class 8tb (Punjabi Di Teesri Kibab 1998) 35.13
The preface of all these books explicitly states that the sf the Punjabi movement point to Punjabi literature as an antidote to establishment views, the actual teaching of it by the state does not allow such views to be disseminated through textbooks.
Efforts to Popularise Punjabi
Between 1980 and 1986 the Punjabi Adabi Board got around a hundred books written in Punjabi. These books were written by well known writers on subjects as wide ranging as folk songs (Lok Geet by Tanwir Bukhari) to fiction, biography, religion and history. There were books on Harappa and other cities and even books on games and womens' problems. The books were not written in only the Lahori dialect (the language of institutions working in Lahore and most Punjabi language activities) but included those in Siraiki, such as Musarrat Kalonchvi's Vaddian da Adar (1986), too. This was in keeping with the policy of the Punjabi Adabi Board, which considers Siraiki only a dialect of Punjabi and not a separate language, and agrees to promote its teaching in this capacity. It is also because of this policy that the Punjabi activists have never opposed the teaching of Siraiki literature. The demand for teaching Punjabi took three forms in the 1990s. First, there was the old demand that it should be made the medium of instruction at the primary level. Secondly, there was the demand that serious efforts should be made for teaching it in schools where it was an option. Thirdly, that the masters courses should be comprehensive and not propagandist i.e that they should not exclude the literature of the Sikhs or anti-establishment Pakistanis. Eminent figures like Hanif Ramey, chief minister of the Punjab in the PPP government, launched a campaign for introducing Punjabi at the primary level in November 1991 at Pakpattan, for symbolic effect, from the shrine of the sufi saint and first poet of Punjabi, Baba Fariduddin Masood Ganj Shakar (Frontier Post 25 November 1991). He also announced the creation of yet another organization, Punjab Eka (Punjabi union), to work towards this aim but, like all the other such organizations, its efforts proved futile.Those who demanded more serious efforts in teaching it pointed out from various fora, including Punjabi publications like Sajjan, Maan Soli etc, that schools did not encourage students to take Punjabi; Punjabi textbooks were not available; teachers were not available and so on. State functionaries, like Zulfiqar Khosa, the Minister of Education of the Punjab in 1990 (the fIrst tenure of Benazir Bhutto) reiterated the old excuse that, since Punjabi was divided into dialects, it could not be used as a medium of instruction at all (Sajjan 27 April 1990).
Increase in the Teaching of Punjabi
Although government policy towards the teaching of Punjabi did not change significantly, it had to accommodate itself to the presence of an increasing number of graduates in the language which the Punjab University was turning out every year. They had to be absorbed somewhere and generally it was college and school teaching they aimed at. However, very few schools and colleges offered Punjabi. It was, after all, a ghettoizing language with little prestige in society. It was not useful for procuring jobs either. Thus all private schools eschewed it altogether. As for the state run Urdu medium schools in the Punjab, they too refused to hire teachers though here and there, because of the personal efforts of one person or the other, teachers were hired and the subject was introduced. It appears that the government did not spend much money on hiring teachers in schools and lecturers in colleges to teach Punjabi. The Lahran of November 1987 gives the insignificant figure of only 7 lecturers in the whole province. Other people give similarly depressing figures (see Milr 1989a who claims that in Lahore there were 6 vacancies for Punjabi; 115 for English, 85 for Urdu, 9 for Persian and 6 for Arabic), and laments that the new graduates (with M.A in Punjabi) were jobless (1989b). The regular students in the department were around 40 during the eighties but since Punjab University allows candidates to take the examination privately (that is, without attending classes), many students obtain the M.A degree in it. They can even obtain the degree only after having acquired another, more instrumentally useful one, but even so quite a large number of M.A in Punjabi degree holders do enter the extremely limited job market of Punjabi teaching as several articles point out (see the editorials of Sajjan 25 May 1989 and 14 March 1969). The Punjabi activists often claim that a large number of students were keen to study Punjabi (Milr 1989b) but the sad truth is that, given the lack of prestige and jobs, students take Punjabi as a 'soft' option. Indeed, the high percentage of students who pass in Punjabi at all levels (Appendix I), and even take Punjabi in the civil service examination without having studied it before (Appendix 2), prove that it is not a difficult subject. Indeed, there are reports that examination papers at some levels are so easy as to ensure that everybody passes. Thus the M.A in Punjabi is often seem as being of lower academic standard than other M.As.
The charge of Punjabi being a 'soft' option is resented and indignantly refuted by some supporters of the subject. In formal interviews Punjabi activists claim that students are denied Punjabi and are keen to study it. Informal conversations with students and teachers, however, reveal that Punjabi is taken as an easy option. Such kinds of revelations are given only in confidence but sometimes they are given in formal interviews too. For instance, the monthly Punjabi Likhari (January 1997) interviewed several lecturers in Punjabi in government colleges and it emerged from the interviews that these lecturers knew that students were attracted to Punjabi to get high marks. Out of six lecturers five conceded that the main attraction was the possibility of getting high marks. The sixth one, Thad Nabael, said that although previously this was the main motivation, students had started taking genuine interest in Punjabi now because some studied it as an option in schools too (Nabael 1997: 63). Almost everybody had some complaint against the syllabi. In a penetrating essay Shafqat Tanwir Mirza has pointed out that Punjabi textbooks excluded the best known writers such as Asaf Khan, Abdul Majid Bhatti, Shahbaz Malik, Afzal Ahsan Randhawa, Saleem Khan Birnmi and so on. Instead, they had included Ataul Haq Qasmi and Safraz Zahida whose contribution was very little (Mirza 1995 b) (also see another critical article on the Text Book Board by Mirza in The Nation 20 October 1996). In interviews with me, Najam Husain Syed, Asaf Khan and Khalid Hurnayun, all connected with the teaching of Punjabi at the highest level, said that the standard of the M.A was below that of the M.A of other languages in Pakistan and also below the standard of the M.A in Punjabi in India (Syed. Int.; Khan. Asiflnt.; and Hurnayun. Int. 1999). In 1994 there was again a spurt of activity in favour of teaching Punjabi. A number of organizations and individuals issued statements in favour of it and 125 members of the Punjab Assembly signed a resolution for the teaching of Punjabi in the provincial assembly. Fakhar Zaman, in charge of the Cultural W ing of the PPP, addressed a forum organized by the Urdu daily Jang in which a number of well known Punjabi intellectuals also spoke (Shafqat Tanwir Mirza, Abdul Rashid Bhatti, Afzal Ahsan Randhawa, Akhtar Husain Akhtar, Abdul Ghani Shah among them). He promised much but no major change took place (Jang 17 Jan 1994). Arif Nikai, Chief Minister of the Punjab, set up a committee for the promotion ofPunjabi language and culture with a budget of 50 million rupees. An important aspect of promotion was making Punjabi compulsory not just in state run Urdu schools but even in English-medium schools which were mostly in private hands. Moreover, at the primary level, it would be a medium of instruction (Pakistan Times 20 June 1996). But all these ambitious intentions came to nothing and before long Benazir's PPP government, of which Nikai was a member, was thrown out.
In the late nineties the movement for teaching Punjabi became weaker. Either for this reason, or for some other, at least one Punjabi organization adopted angry, even chauvinistic, tones while advocating the age-old demands about promoting Punjabi. This was Lok Seva Pakistan of which Nazeer Kahut, who was at daggers drawn against the Mohajirs having lived and observed the militancy of their political party, the MQM, at Karachi, was the leader. In one of his press conferences he said that if 'Punjabi was not taught at the primary level, Pakistan would break up' and that Pakistani Punjabi children should be allowed to go to the Indian Punjab to get educated in their mother-tongue (Nazeer 1994: 15).
However, as mentioned earlier, for utilitarian and historical reasons, the Punjabi middle class is not keen to teach Punjabi to its children. A survey carried out by the U.S Aid on primary education in 1986 revealed that about 65 per cent of the interviewees in the Punjab were against the teaching of Punjabi even in the first three classes of school. Even this number might be high because 'the Siraiki speaking sections wanted it taught and/or used all day' because language identity is stronger there (Jones et. a11986: 38). It seems that this attitude towards Punjabi has not changed. While talking informally to parents, teachers and students during the field work for this study, I found that it was only rarely that anybody wanted to study Punjabi or be taught other subjects in it. In a survey of the opinions of students of matriculation ( that is, aged 15 years), very few Punjabi students demanded that Punjabi should be used as a medium of instruction or even be taught as a subject. The following figures were obtained in this survey of 1407 students:
Students who have ticked merely 'the language of the majority the people' have not been included here. A more clear indicator is the number of Punjabi-speakers who want their language for this domain.
Source: Survey carried out by the author in 1999-2000. Question 3, which has been broken into two parts here is as folJows in the questionnaire: Q-3 : Which language or languages out of the following should be taught in schools (you can tick more than one language if you wish):
However, in response to Q.4 Should your Mother Tongue be used as Medium of Instruction in schools (if it is not being used)? Yes No-, 40,32 per cent students answered 'Yes'; 58.33 per cent said 'No' and 1,34 per cent did not respond at all, This question, however, always elicits a more 'ethnic' response than other questions of a similar nature where students appear to bring pragmatic and practical factors into consideration not only for themselves but for other students as well, This is probably because people evaluate language according to their position in the power index (who uses them and where and whether they lead to powerful positions in society),
Several Punjabi publications, such as the monthly Ravel, kept reporting that a movement for teaching Punjabi was going on, A number of enthusiasts did promise books for students and teachers were demanded (several issues of Ravel in 1991-92). The Maan Soli Parhao movement held workshops (13 act 1991 at Gujar Khan reported in Ravel November 1991). The movement got more
momentum in 1994 but nothing substantial came about. Punjabi publications pounced upon every little event, for example a school's headmaster starting classes in Punjabi, a teacher reporting success and so on, but no major breakthrough came about.
Informal Learning of Punjabi
This account of Punjabi activists' failure appears to suggest that literacy in Punjabi must be almost non-existent. However, there is a considerable body of the public, ordinary people and not only activists, who read chapbooks in Punjabi. Among other people, the Punjabi scholar and activist Asif Khan told me that his mother knew a number of Punjabi poems which she would read out to him (Khan 1998: 51 and Int. 1999). Punjabi is also the informal medium of instruction in the rural schools of the Punjab. According to Ahmed Saleem, for instance, he was taught in Punjabi at the primary level in the fifties and even now the teaching at that level is actually in Punjabi though the textbooks are in Urdu. Some madrassas also reported that they used in Punjabi to explain difficult concepts to younger students. In the cities, however, Urdu is mostly used even for teaching though here too Punjabi sometimes takes over as the language of explanation (Saleem. Int. 1999). Books containing stories in verse and prose as well as other matters of popular interest are still available in the older, inner city bazaars of the cities of Punjab. As mentioned earlier, Hanaway and Nasir (1996) have listed hundreds of such chapbooks and the present author has read many of them. As in the case of Pashto, they are of three major kinds: religious; romantic and utilitarian. The religious ones generally have the same themes and even the same titles as their predecessors mentioned earlier (Nur Nama, Jang Nama, Lahad Nama etc). The romances are about the mythical lovers such as Laila Majnun, Mirza Sahiban, Heer Ranjha, Sassi Punnun etc. but they are much smaller than the classical books available in Punjabi and other languages. They are in simple Punjabi verse and do not exceed sixty or so pages. There are also stories about princes and princesses from exotic countries in the Alf Laila, fairytale, tradition. The utilitarian books, again as in the case of Pashto, are about magic, astrology, sexology, medicine and more mundane matters such as letter writing. Almost all the myths of Pashto books, whether they are about the qualities of plants, medicines, women or about invoking the supernatural -are also part of these books. This is not surprising since the pre-modern, magical worldview of the Pashto books is also one which the common people of the Punjab share even now.
Apart from chapbooks, serious literature in Punjabi is also read by a number of people though it is not possible to determine their numbers. According to Ahmed Saleem, he met many students and lecturers who had taught themselves Gurmukhi. Moreover, private study circles such as the one organized by Sarwat Mohiuddin in Islamabad, teach Punjabi classical literature and the kind of language necessary for understanding it. Visitors sometimes bring books in Gunnukhi from the Indian Punjab and they are passed around among the cognoscenti (Saleem. Int. 1999). Thus, while Punjabi is not taught, it is still learned both at the elitist level by language activists and at the popular one by ordinary people who still remain comfortable in the pre-modern worldview of popular texts which they read for pleasure.
1. However, Punjabi was not discouraged by some British officers in the Sikh regiments as the following report indicates:
Captain Fuller, the Director of Public Instruction who wrote the above report, was not otherwise in favour of teaching Punjabi, which he considered 'a barbarous dialect'. However, he, and other British officers, felt that the creation of in-group, or nationalistic, feeling in the army under British command would help in using sections of the army against Indians of other nationalities while teaching it to all could set them against the British themselves. In any case by 1858, the British were sure of the loyalty ofPunjabi soldiers and the reasons for not teaching Punjabi do not appear to be fear of consolidation and revolt.
2.Incidentally, Aurangzeb is reported to have said in his harangue to his tutor:
Can we repeat our prayers, or acquire a knowledge of law and of the sciences, only through the medium of Arabic? May not our devotions be offered up as acceptably, and solid information communicated as easily, in our mother tongue? (Bernier 1826: 178). No answer is given by any historian to this question but Imam Abu Hanifa, founder of the Hanfi school of Islamic jurisprudence said that languages other than Arabic, such as Persian, could be used for prayers. The Ain ul Hidaya which records this opinion also adds that Imam Hanifa eventually agreed with the other scholars of law and that the overwhelming consensus now is that prayers may only be said in Arabic (Ali c. 12C: 349).
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