“The people’s language is Hindustani, not Hindi”

Justice Markandey Katju-


Today, 14th September is celebrated as Hindi Diwas (Hindi Day).


Justice Markandey Katju

On this occasion, I wish to express something which may make me very unpopular among many people, but since I believe it is the truth, I will say it. I was never in a popularity contest and have often said things which made me very unpopular.

The truth is that Hindi is an artificially created language, and is not the common man’s language, even in the so-called Hindi speaking belt of India. The language of the common man in the cities of the Hindi speaking belt is not Hindi but Hindustani or Khadiboli ( in rural areas there are a large number of different dialects e.g. Avadhi, Brijbhasha, Bhojpuri, Maithili, Maghai, Mewari, Marwari etc, many of which Hindustani speakers will not even understand ).

To explain the difference between Hindi and Hindustani we may take a simple example. In Hindustani we say ” Udhar dekhiye ” ( look there ). In Hindi we say ” Udhar avlokan keejiye “. Now the common man will never say ‘avlokan’, and will always say ‘dekhiye’.

Upto 1947 Urdu was the language of the educated class of all communities in large parts of India, whether Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, etc, while Hindustani was the language of the uneducated common man ( in urban areas ).

The British rulers artificially created Hindi through their agents like Bhartendu Harishchandra, as part of their divide and rule policy, and propagated that Hindi is the language of Hindus, while Urdu is the language of Muslims ( though, as mentioned above, Urdu was the common language of both Hindus and Muslims among the educated class upto 1947 ).

To create this artificial language what the Hindi bigots ( who were objectively British agents ) did was to hatefully replace Persian or Arabic words, which had become of common usage, by Sanskrit words which were not in common usage ( and so were difficult to understand ).

I may give an illustration. Once when I was a Judge of Allahabad High Court, a lawyer who would always argue in Hindi presented a petition before me titled ‘ Pratibhu Avedan Patra ‘. Although my mother tongue is Hindustani ( since I have lived most of my life in UP ) I could not understand this, so I asked the learned counsel what did the word ‘ pratibhu  ‘ mean. He replied it meant bail. I said he should have used the word ‘bail’ or ‘zamanat’ which everybody understood, instead of the word ‘Pratibhu’ which nobody understood.

Similarly, once while taking a morning walk in the Cantonment area of Allahabad I saw a board on which it was written ‘ Pravaran Kendra ‘. I could not understand the meaning, and could only know it when I looked below where it was written in English ‘ Recruitment Centre ‘. If the words ‘ Bharti Daftar ‘ had been written there would have been no difficulty in understanding the meaning. But then ‘daftar’ is a word of Persian origin, so how could our ‘patriots’ accept it?

Thousands of such examples can be given where after 1947 simple words which the common man could easily understand, were sought to be hatefully removed since they were of Persian or Arabic origin, and replaced by Sanskrit words which no one understood. In government notifications often the language used was incomprehensible, as I found in cases before me in the Allahabad High Court. Similarly, many Hindi books are incomprehensible even to an educated person like me since many klisht (Sanskritised, and therefore difficult) words are used therein.

It is a mistake to think that a language becomes weaker if it adopts words from a foreign language; in fact, it becomes stronger. For instance, English borrowed words from scores of languages, but thereby it has become stronger, not weaker.

Hindustani, which the common man speaks, borrowed from many languages and thereby became stronger. Once I paid a certain amount to a rickshaw puller as the fare, and he said ‘ wajib hai ‘ ( it is appropriate ). Here, an illiterate man used a pure Persian word which had come into his vocabulary. Why remove it?

These Hindi bigots did great damage to the two great all India cultural languages, Sanskrit and Urdu. Sanskrit, which was really a great language of free thinkers (see my article ‘ Sanskrit as a language of Science ‘ online ) was sought to be turned into an oppressor. And as for Urdu (see my article ‘ What is Urdu ‘ online), almost genocide was committed on this great language, which has given some of the finest poetry in the world.


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