Linguistic enrichment through synergetic co-existence
ACADEMICS & EDUCATION
Linguistic enrichment through synergetic co-existence – Reflections on inclusiveness from Deccan region
Deccan region has unique history and it is often is not well appreciated for the nuances. The reasons are, first is the lack of awareness and then poorer understanding its characteristic features, even if someone is aware of its history to some extent. Politically the region was ruled during the known times by Chalukyas around 7th-8th centuries. Then Rashtrakutas established their supremacy during the next two centuries. By the turn of the previous millennium the local chieftains who earlier helped Rashtrakutas were given the regional suzerainty. Next two centuries under the dynasty name of Kakatiyas, a few generations ruled the region from East of Nanded (currently in Maharashtra) to west of Kalinga-Andhra (border Vijayanagaram or Ganjam?), and with Nellore region as the ever-contested southern border. Orugallu as it was known then with its current name of Warangal became Kakatiyas later well-fortified capital. We do not have an estimate of then population under the cover and rule but current equivalent levels are close to 6-7 crores, and this is an approximate estimate. This is advanced background needed to appreciate and hence provided as heads-up.
The region was rich from religious spread wise too. The region already witnessed influence of Jainism and Budhism to be followed by Veera Shaivism, during Basava days. In fact, the author of Basavapurana hailed from the very city of Warangal and so also the author of vernacular Bhagavatapurana of 14th-15th centuries. Cultural and intellectual hub, even in those years. From the dynasty of Kakatiyas a few names may be familiar to serious students of Indian history. Rudradeva won his space through a Shiva temple of “thousand pillars” known as Rudreshwara temple. Only other thousand pillar temple in India exists around Tanjore and is senior to this temple by a century. The other notable rulers were Ganapati Deva, his daughter Rani Rudrama Devi and her grandson Pratap Rudra, the last king from the dynasty. Telugu was their court language and apparently, they encouraged Shiva worship. Select migration from different parts of India happened to their capital around this period, reportedly even from as far as Kashmir. Prosperity attracts educated and cultured to the happening hubs is the lesson history tells us. The secret is to create happening hubs by embracing inclusiveness and creating a conducive eco-system for creation of value.
A quick fast forward takes us to early 14th century fall of Warangal and domination of Delhi for few decades followed by different local chieftains ruling and finally ended with Qutub Shahi dynasty consolidation in 16th century. Hyderabad’s Golconda became the capital and court language was Persian. Many from Persia and north migrated to the place. Aurangazeb’s invasion in mid-1680s and conquering turned the history pages again and this was followed by some confusion for next three decades or so till 1724 when Asaf Jahi took over as “representative of Delhi rulers”. For the next one and half centuries Persian was the official language. By 1880s due to the changing linguistic currents across north India when Urdu slowly displaced Persian as the “educated people’s language of transactions” Hyderabad Nizam too switched over to Urdu. Persian was forgotten after a decade or two of transition. Till the sixth Nizam there was pragmatism in administration’s use of languages. The administration was divided into Capital, Suba (region) and Village. Local language (Telugu, Marathi or Kannada, depending on the region) was the medium of recording transactions at village level. At Suba level both local language and Persian were used for records. There were many dubasis (dwi-bhashi, bilingual interpreters) at suba level. At Capital, official language was Persian. This inclusive system was displaced and only Urdu got the prominence from the late 19th century. Thus, the current northern and eastern parts of our Deccan was under the influence of Persian for over three clear centuries and under Urdu’s influence for over the recent century. Latter was in a more forceful manner. Given this long existence of an official language as the neighbour, Telugu the native language of the current Telangana region was influenced by the vocabulary and idiom of the ruling languages in general and Urdu in particular, as its penetration was deeper.
A quick cross-sectional study of the vocabulary establishes the influence of the “other language” on Telugu. The reason for deeper influence of Urdu is the penetration of modern education by 20th century and medium of instruction was Urdu. Urdu was the language of instruction even at the University level in Osmania. Telugu could only be taken as optional subject, as Jnanpeeth awardee Dr. C. Narayana Reddy recorded. This exposure helped penetration of vocabulary from other language make inroads into Telugu, official and working people’s language. Here we appreciate the richness of the outcome and the extent of inclusiveness of later half of 20th century’s Telugu spoken in Deccan’s Telangana region.
Kids of the region used to give intehan and wait for the nateeja to move into next class, say from panjim to chetvi. Till that time, they used to enjoy their taatil. Extended family had to have zaraa patience to know about the child’s progression and unnecessary pareshanee was not usually expected around. Children of those times had all the khadar for their elders who used to keep a nazar on the activities of kids. If any kid failed and feel as a loser, family and village elders used to advise not to take on dil. Once the taatil time is over, classes will again get shuroo and kids had to get into the groove jaldi and less bhaag-doud was more normal then. If the exam cleared by the kid is middle or so, poor around home may expect a baksheesh. Many homes especially of educated used to have kalamdaan. Those who used to go out in their sherwaanis used to go to the attardaan first to apply ittar. After sumptuous meal, it was the time to open paandaan. Children were not allowed to touch these as they may do some bekoofi around these and spoil. Overall, one may say, these were mostly befiqar days as with minimal education of matric too, one will get naukri.
Our grandfather worked as a teacher at current Singareni’s mines and the village was called Boggutta (heap of coal). He used to take sawari-gaadi and get down at designated station and had to walk down with family. Often the maal-gaadi will take the track for long so their train had to wait. Our father initially worked as a teacher at Maddur. The only way to reach there was to get down by bus at sola-meel and walk on the kachha rasta as pacca sadak was non-existent. To their village school, the naazar saab used to come on daura twice a year to assess. For such occasions when one formally dresses up, below one’s sherwani, payitappa and pavpose on feet were expected. Kamarpatta was not that common in those years as people were wearing more pyjamas than pants, so naada was more frequent help than belt.
When our ancestors moved a century and quarter ago to the town, they were encouraged to settle there as there was no dawakhana, and these were good hakims. The town was a suba headquarter overseeing three large districts, and subedar used to officiate from subedari. Adalat, administering the justice was a meel away. To become a vakeel and practice the vakalat at that Adalat, there was no long duration studies of law, as is the case now. Patwaris used to administer the revenue management and farmers were expected to pay the rakam on time. Only those who had jameen-jaidaad were paying this. Tasildar was deemed to be a big post, today’s equivalent of sub-collector. Naib-tasildar was his deputy. The disadvantage of moving to the peta was they didn’t have any dost there but as they had to escape the dushmani of dora, it was required.
Reconfiguration at new place
Kids in the new place got into their routine of making masti, the only kanoon was they should not hurt themselves. Once they are put into school their masti became rare and almost band. That will be the chaloo of their serious times. Generally, the times were of less fikar about future. Annually when kids successfully move to new class, expectation among the extended qandaan was having moo-meetha, if it was a big class. I did when I cleared my fourth class.
The camaraderie was palpable when inclusiveness and tolerance gave the tradition of addressing other as bhaijan. Educated often joined the newly expanding school system. It was not uncommon to address the teachers in school as maulvi saab. They occasionally had chasma and if they forget at home, it becomes lean day for class students as he can’t function. Such a lean day for kids was never seen as any nuksaan, as the times were of joshila, of easy-going nature.
More of town
Markajee high school was at the central place. School headmaster used to urge senior class students to start reading akbaar. The naala that was little behind it got flooded causing lot of museebat to awaam living around. Schools had a nallah of Municipality and peons used to fill ranjans and kids would drink from it during break time. After the khel-kood time at the end, kids will go vaapas to homes. As the homes were in gallee, they cherished the ground available at school. On good or other occasions there used to be dawat given and lot of mehanat was involved in completing the party. For a frustrated soul who could not reach the orbit aspired, aged shall advise mehnat needs the support of kismet too. They also told of targeting the new opportunities and working towards these could make all the difference between being an ameer or remain as gareeb.
Many trades survived in then town through money exchange system, compared to barter system at villages. Tongawallah shall take one to lashkar bazaar, teen-meel away for char-annas. Nayee Ailayya used to do hazamat for dov-anna. On crossing a known acquaintance people will show genuine interest by enquiring whether all is in sahee-salamat. People may be poor, but they cared for ijjat. Tameez was very important. Even if someone was younger, he/she were addressed as aap. If you have to leave a function or gathering, ijajat had to be taken. Hint was sufficient for the understanding they said, ishaara kaafi. Teachers used to have their tabadla after three or four years at a single place. If they had to reach out to remote village schools for which often there was no sadak.
On an optimistic and open-minded note
The co-existence of official and dominant people languages saw the influence of the official jubaan on the vernacular. People used it freely and the parochial nuancing of other language was never an issue. Subsequent to the merger into the “union” and reorganization of states, this rich language which freely borrowed from other language was called crude and rude. The rich language that could easily express any nuance due to the synergetic working of two languages was ridiculed. This form of Telugu language was featured in movies as spoken by goondas or stupid looking, self-ridiculing comedians. This created the cultural gulf, which even educated ignorant won’t appreciate at times. The nateeja was the formation of the youngest state in India in 2014.
The lesson is, inclusiveness enriches and drawing circles and iteration of exclusions, makes one petty, parochial and in the end, reduces one to nil. May the plurality, inclusiveness and broadminded behaviour prevail, we shall witness richer and greater things around. From synergetic existence, path to higher orbits emerge. Shukriya for reading till the end. This is not the khatam of anything but shuruwaad of awareness. Awareness has to be around becoming one, one with all and one with universe. Sustainability is the natural outcome. May God bless the journey of all, and for all.