Hindi in Kashmir
by: P. N. Pushp and K. Warikoo
and Cultural Foundation
- by R. K. Sharma
Kashmir is a non-Hindi region, yet the number of people who can speak
Hindi clearly and intelligibly here, is considerable. A sizable section of the
educated urban and semi-urban population in the valley is well-acquainted with
the standard literary form of the language. Though no exact figures of the Hindi
knowing Kashmiris are available, it can be safely said that their number easily
runs into thousands. This is accounted for by the fact that for centuries there
has been a deep socio-cultural contact between what constitutes the Hindi region
and the vale of Kashmir, despite the geographical barriers separating the two.
Apart from its importance as a great tourist attraction, Kashmir has been a
world famous seat of Sanskritic learning. There has, therefore, been a constant
influx of people to this land for not only its scenic beauty but also for
cultural and intellectual exchange.
The holy cave of Amarnath (along with other places of pilgrimage) has also
been attracting, since ages, millions of pilgrimsz from every nook and corner of
India, including naturally the Hindi speaking area. In this process of cultural
give and take between Kashmir and other parts of the country, literary and
linguistic influences have also crept in. There is no doubt that the language
used by the local populace for communicating with those from outside the State
has been for centuries Sanskrit3 and later on Hindi. No matter whether a Sadhu
belongs to Tamil Nadu or Assam, whether his mother-tongue is Malayalam or
Bengali, he will converse with the Kashmiri in Hindi, and Hindi alone; it being
of little consequence whether the Hindi used by him adheres strictly to
grammatical norms or not. It is these Sadhus to whom the credit can be given for
not only introducing Hindi language to Kashmir but also popularising the
devotional songs of Hindi poets like Surdas, Tulsidas and Mira Bai.
Besides tourists and Sadhus, professional considerations and business
interests have drawn hundreds of people from the plains of Punjab to settle in
Kashmir. Likewise hundreds of Kashmiri labourers move down to the plains during
the hard winter months in search of work. The language used by these people to
communicate with each other is again Hindi; spoken Hindi, (Hindustani). Thus it
was centuries back that the Kashmiris realized and recognized the inherent
possibilities of Hindi in developing as an all-India link language.
Linguistically speaking, Hindi is not so alien a language for the people of
Kashmir. It has many lexical affinities with Kashmin as both are members of the
Indo-Aryan group of languages and both have drawn heavily from Sanskrit sources
for their vocabulary. A study of the earliest extant literary works in the
Kashmiri language-Mahanaya Prakash, Banasaur Katha and Sukhdukh
Charit will reveal beyond any shadow of doubt the fact that like Hindi,
Kashmiri also has been derived from Sanskrit-rather Vedic Sanskrit.
It should also be noted that an astonishingly large number of words are
common to Kashmiri and certain dialects of Hindi like Braj, Rajasthani and
Avadhi. This makes it clear why it is not difficult at all, for a Kashmiri to
pickup Hindi. Apart from their common inheritance from Sanskrit, the two
languages have other features also which bring them close to each other. This is
not to deny the many phonological and morphological differences between them. It
is due to these differences that Hindi as it is spoken by a Kashmiri has like
Indian-English, developed many a peculiarity and oddity of its own. Difficulties
in pronounciation of some Hindi phonemes and in grasping some of its grammatical
forms encountered by a Kashmiri are no doubt considerable. 'Voiced-aspirated'
Hindi consonants are often pronounced (and also written) by a Kashmiri without
aspiration . While speaking Hindi most Kashmiris tend to apply Kashmiri grammar
to it. This is due to the fact that they think in Kashmiri and then come out
with a literal translation of it. Some of the expressions of what may be termed
as Kashmiri-Hindi are really quite amusing. The close geographical proximity to
Punjab has also resulted in several Punjabi and Urdu expressions and words being
used by Kashmiris while speaking Hindi. Yet there is an elite of educated
Kashmiris who can wield standard literary Hindi with the same ease, fluency and
precision as any one belonging to the Hindi-speaking region. Hindi can be said
to be the language of their intellectual make-up.
Nothing definite can be said as to when Hindi was first introduced in
Kashmir, but one is sure that it has been here for the last several centuries
now. The great Bhakti movement which had swept the entire country during
the middle ages has had a tremendous impact on Kashmir also, giving rise to a
rich body of devotional lore. Inspired by this cult, many a Kashmiri poet wrote
devotional verse in Hindi alongside his/her mother-tongue. There is ample
evidence to show that such attempts started much earlier than the 17th-18th
century. One finds a number of Hindi verses interspersed in the sayings of
Roop-Bhawani'3, the noted Kashmiri mystic poet of 17th century who composed
verses after the manner of the saint poetess Lalleshwari. The grammatical
correctness of her Hindi verse is sometimes surprising, keeping in view the
period when these were composed. They have, therefore a great historical
Parmanand, a 'Bhakta' poet of great stature (late 18th-19th century) who has
sung of the immortal love of Radha and Krishna, has also burst into songs in
Hindi at many places in his great work Radha Swayamvara. The Hindi used
by the poet is a strange admixture of Braj, Khari Boli, Punjabi and Kashmiri,
which he chooses to call Bhakha. Some of these Bhakha verses of
his bear unmistakable marks of the famous Hindi poet Surdas's influence. However
Parmanand's Hindi verses cannot be said to have touched the heights achieved by
his Kashmiri poetry. They are of more importance as literary curiosities.
Parmanand's disciple Lakshmanjoo 'Bulbul' of Nagam, has also written a few
poems in Hindi. Some of his devotional songs have been composed in a strange
mixture of Hindi and Kashmiri. Similar bilingual essays have been made by that
great poet of the 'Leela School' of Kashmiri poetry, Shri Krishna Razdan, the
lilt of whose lyrics, is remimiscent of Jayadeva, the poet of Geet Govinda.
Another 19th century poet, Lalji Zadoo has written a fullfledged epic in
Hindi. It is a work of considerable literary merit and has been composed in
popular metres of medieval Hindi poetry like the Doha-Chaupayee and Sortha.
In the Krishnavatar by Manjoo Suri Attar, the use of Hindi words (at
places complete verses) is very frequent.
The tradition of devotional poetry continued uninterrupted to the third or
fourth decade of the present century. Like Parmanand, 'Bulbul' and Shri Krishna
Razdan, Thakurjoo Manvati, Haldarjoo Kokru and Pt. Nilakanth Sharma (famous for
his Ramayana in Kashmiri) wrote side by side with their Kashmiri poems,
many poems in Hindi infused with devotional, religious and ethical fervour. It
is not just a matter of coincidence that the Kashmiri poet took occasional
excursions into versification in Hindi. He wrote in Hindi not for any
considerations of pecuniary gain or lure of high office, but because he
recognized in Hindi a language of all-India significance. Poetry of the great
devotional poets of Hindi like Tulsidas, Surdas, Kabir and Mira had such a deep
impact on him, that for the Kashmiri 'Leela' school, 'Bhakti' and Hindi became
almost synonymous. The 'Leela' poet felt it necessary to write at least a verse
or two in the language in which Surdas composed his Sursagar or Tulsi his
Ramcharitmanas, in order to establish his bonafides as a devotional poet.
In 1941, the late Pt. Zinda Koul 'Masterji' famous Kashmiri mystical and
humanist poet, published five Hindi poems written by him, in the form of a
booklet entitled Patra Pushpa. These poems underline a deep and unshakable faith
in the essential goodness of man and in higher human and ethical values. The
poems convey the poet's message of goodwill and peace for the entire mankind, in
a Hindi, that is lucid and sweet. These writers of devotional poetry did not
express themselves in Hindi (alongside their mother tongue) just for the fun of
it. Their choice of Hindi as a medium of expression clearly implies an
appreciative and understanding audience.
Hindi received official patronage in the State during the reign of the
enlightened Dogra ruler, Maharaja Ranbir Singh, who accepted Hindi in Devnagri
script as one of the official languages of the state. His successor, Maharaja
Pratap Singh made Urdu the official language and Persian the court language. Yet
Hindi came to be accepted as one of the subjects included in the curricula of
educational institutions in the State.
In Maharaja Hari Singh's time, the then Director of Education, Sayyedain
declared easy Urdu in both Persian and Devnagri characters to be the official
medium of education in the State. This also gave impetus to the spread of Hindi
It were, however, the voluntary organisations which played an important role
in propagating and popularising Hindi in Kashmir and widening its base here. In
the preindependence era, several social, cultural, religious and literary
organisations like the Arya Samaj, the Sanatan Dharma Sabha, the Jeevan Sudhar
Sabha the Mahavir Dal, Hindi Parishad, Hindi-Sanskrit Sahitya Mandal and the
Hindi Sahitya Sammelan did much to promote the cause of Hindi. These
organisations prepared students for appearing in Hindi examinations, established
a number of Hindi medium educational institutions and published a number of
magazines etc. in the Hindi language, besides their other activities. The weekly
Chandrodaya and Mahavir the first Hindi magazines to be published in Kashmir-did
a commendable work in popularising Hindi in Kashmir. They also provided
opportunities to Hindi writers of that age (Durga Prasad Kachru, Prithvi Nath
Pushp, Veer Vishweshwar, Janki Nath Koul 'Kamal' and others) for
In the post-independence era also the role of voluntary organisations has
been important. The emphasis now shifted slowly from mere propagation of Hindi
to popularising its literature and encouraging literary activity in it. The
Kashmir Hindi Pracharini Sabha, Rashtra Bhasha Prachar Samiti, Kashmir Hindi
Sansthan and the Kashmir Hindi Sahitya Sammelan deserve a special mention in
this context. An entire generation of Hindi writers of Kashmir owes much to the
Sammelan for the inspiration and encouragement it gave them in their literary
pursuits. Kashyap - the monthly literary magazine of the Sammelan did a
great deal to bring to the lime-light the literary talents of young Hindi
writers of Kashmir.
Other notable Hindi literary journals of the State include Yojna (a
monthly magazine published by the State Information Department), Sheeraza
(Hindi) a bi-monthly journal published by the Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art,
Culture and Languages, and Vitasta - published by the Post-Graduate
Department of Hindi of the University of Kashmir. All these journals have since
A group of young Hindi writers emerged in Kashmir in the fifties who choose
Hindi as the medium of literary expression. These writers (notable among whom
are Hari Krishna Koul, Moti Lal Kemmu, Shashi Shekhar Toshkhani, Ratan Lal
'Sham' and Mohan Lal 'Nirash') are all endowed with modern sensibility and
spot-light the contemporary human situation in their writings in an idiom that
is essentially modern. An anthology of Hindi poems of modern Kashmiri poets
published in 1971 by The Kashmir Hindi Sansthan, has been very well received by
the Hindi world. Modern Hindi writers of Kashmir have made their mark not only
in poetry, but also in drama and short stories. Almost all the top creative
writers of Hindi, in Kashmir and Ladakh grouped themselves under the banner of
Kashmir Hindi Sansthan, a voluntary organisation.
Before the advent of terrorism in the valley, the number of students studying
Hindi in various educational institutions of Kashmir was ever increasing and
could be safely put at several thousands. Their number far exceeded the number
of students studying other modern language. In the University of Kashmir more
than ninety students received instruction in Post-Graduate courses in Hindi
every year. As many as seventy persons were awarded Ph.D degree in Hindi by the
University and many more were engaged in research work on various topics. It is
noteworthy that the first Ladakhi to obtain the M.A. degree in Hindi, was
produced by the Kashmir University in 1969. Besides, thousands of young Kashmiri
Muslims had started taking the elementary Hindi courses, conducted by various
voluntary organisations, in response to the increased economic social and
cultural interaction with the Hindi belt of India. The influence of Hindi, its
literature and its ethos has been very strong on the Kashmiri society (both
Hindu and Muslim) and the Hindi films have played a very significant role in
this direction. It is certain that Hindi will regain its past glory as soon as
the situation normalises in the valley.
1. V.Gairola, Sanskrit Sahitya ka Itihas. Varanasi,
Chaukhambha Sanskrit Series, 1960, p. 355.
2. (a) See Gurtu and Yaksha, Sri Amareshwara Darshanam.
(b) W.R. Lawrence, The Valley of Kashmir. London, 1895.
3. See (a) John Christtoph, A Brief Notice on the language
of Kashmir. Berlin, 1906. p. 195.
(b) Buhler, Tour in Search of Sanskrit MSS. Bombay,
1877. p. 183.
(c) Edgeworth, Grammar and Vocabulary of the Kashmiri
Language. Journal of the Asiatic society of Bengal, Vol X. 1841. p. 1039.
4. (a) See, Bilhana, Vikramankadeva Charita, Canto
XVIII, Varanasi, Chaukhambha Sanskrit Series, 1963.
(b) Buhler, Tour in Search of Sanskrit MSS; Chapter 2:
"On Kashmiri Language". Bombay, 1877. p. 83.
5. Nityanand Shastri and G. Grierson, Language of Mahanaya
Prakash. Journal Asiatic Society of Bengal, Vol. XI, No. 2. 1918.
6. See Banasur Katha by Bhattavatara (MS in the Library
of Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Poona).
7. See, Sukhdukha Charit by Ganaka Prashasta (MS in the
Library of Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Poona).
8. Buhler, Tour in Search of Sanskrit MSS, Bombay 1877,
9. See, Vitasta (Kashmiri Bhasha Visheshank) vol. X,
No. 1, Ed. by R.K.Sharma. Hindi Parishad, Hindi Deptt., Kashmir University,
Srinagar, pp 21, 32-39, 109-110.
10. e.g. Kashmiri words: roon, chothai, deeh
and several others. See Kashmir- itihas, sanskriti tatha lokgeet. by
Bimla Kumari Munshi. New Delhi, Arva Book Depot., 1993. pp. 31-38 (In Hindi).
11. e.g. Kashmiri words:nibi, kor (for 'new')
and several others. see Ibid.
12. Grierson, Linguistic Survey of India Vol. VIII, Pt
2. Calcutta, 1919. p 242.
13. (a) R.K. Sharma, Ed., Roopbhawani Rahasyopadesh.
Srinagar, Alkeshwari Trust, 1983.
(b) Keshav Bhatt Shastri, Ed., Roop Bhawani Vakya.
Nirnaya Sagar Press, 1924.
14. (a) Master Zinda Kaul, Ed., Parmanand Sakti-sar,
Pt. I. Srinagar, 1941. pp. 82, 112, 123, 125, 145, 152.
(b) Niranjan Nath Raina, Ed., Gyan Prakasha (Complete
works of Parmanand). Srinagar, Mercantile Press.
15. Books by Lakshamanjoo 'Bulbul' (a) Nal Damayanti
(b) Sam Nama have been edited by Ghulam Nabi Kahayal and published by
J&K Cultural Academy, 1965.
16. See 'A poem in the Kashmiri Language' by Krishna
Razdan, Edited by G.Grierson. Asiatic Society of Bengal 1913.
17. MSS in Research Library of the J&K Government,
Srinagar Kashmir (era 1887)
18. Krishnavatar by Manji Suri Attar, 1924. Available
in the Research Library of J & K Govt. Srinagar, Kashmir. First 10 pages
are missing, hence it is not possible to give the name of the publisher.
19. See, Amit Sagar by Thakurjoo Manvati. In Sharika Leela
Sangrah Srinagar, Chakreshwari Mandali.
20. See P.N. Razdan, Kashmir mein Hindi, Srinagar,