Raaj Bhasha or Maatri Bhasha?

Every language has two sides . The ‘sunny’ side and the ‘shadow’ side ; ‘Dhoop- Chaanv’ . The language of ‘Governance’ and the language of ‘daily use’ . The language of ‘utility’ and the language of ‘creativity’. The language of ‘power’ and the language of ‘love’. The language of ‘control’ and the language of ‘freedom’. […]

Every language has two sides . The ‘sunny’ side and the ‘shadow’ side ; ‘Dhoop- Chaanv’ . The language of ‘Governance’ and the language of ‘daily use’ . The language of ‘utility’ and the language of ‘creativity’. The language of ‘power’ and the language of ‘love’. The language of ‘control’ and the language of ‘freedom’. The language of the ‘literate’ and the language of the ‘illiterate’. Both have their roles in a State and Society. One is the ‘Sun’ the other ‘Moon’- ‘Raaj Bhasha and Maatri Bhasha’. Both are involved in the progress and development of language but it is seen and observed that ‘Maatri Bhasha’ contributes in larger measure.

14 September is observed as ‘Hindi Day’ and a fortnight from that date is declared as ‘Hindi Pakhwara’ ( Hindi Fortnight). During the fortnight all Government offices and institutions conduct programmes in Hindi. To monitor the progress of Hindi a parliamentary official language committee is constituted which monitors the progress of Hindi.

There is much lament among large number of people regarding non implementation of Hindi as the official Language of the State and insufficient progress being made in growth and development of the language. A report on education titled AISHE 2018 ( all India survey of higher education) states that though for post graduation courses in India about 15.12 lakhs students enrol in various universities and colleges, only 0.6 percent students opt for language courses.

However on ground there is much growth and progress of Hindi. In accordance with the 2011 census Hindi speakers increased from 41.04% to 43.63 about 53 crore people spoke Hindi in 2011,though unofficially this figure would be higher. The single most factor for increase is the Hindi cinema and Hindi cinema songs, TV serials, OTT etc. In a statement on Hindi Cinema the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh stated “ films have made unprecedented contribution to the development of Hindi language in the country” (UP Government official portal). In an article titled ‘Is Hindi becoming more popular in South’ published in ‘Mint’ on 12 June 2019 by Sneha Alexander it is stated “A major channel for the spread of Hindi is culture and specifically Bollywood is the critical vehicle for the spread of Hindi. For instance as far back as 1987, linguist S N Sridhar had suggested that cinema was the most effective and pervasive tool in spreading Hindi across India”. In 1952 the then minister of information and broadcasting Shri B V Keskar banned the broadcast of Hindi cinema songs on ‘Vividh Bharti’/ ‘All India Radio’ stating that the songs were spoiling the Indian youth and that that were western in culture, he wanted promotion of Indian classical music. Taking this ban as an opportunity the ‘Radio Ceylon’ started the famous ‘Binaca Geet mala’ on every Wednesday in which popular Hindi film songs were played. The programme became so popular within months of its launch that they were flooded with thousands of letters from its listeners recommending songs for broadcast. The letters were from India and subcontinent and also from abroad, East Africa and other countries. Ammen Sayani the legendary conductor of this programme has said that it became impossible for them to handle such large number of mail and therefore they had to change the rules and it was decided to pick songs based on the sales of the records received from the reputed sales outlets in India and on the basis of the recommendations of the radio clubs. The listeners were not necessarily Hindi speaking people but they were lovers of the music. they identified with the songs ‘emotionally’ their ‘surs’ matched. I have personally interacted with a few singers in restaurants in South Indian cities and congratulated them and realized that they could not speak Hindi but ‘sang’ Hindi!

In recognition to the immense value and emotion attached to ‘Mother Languagege’ the United Nations observes 21 February as ‘International Mother Language day to promote awareness of ‘linguistic’ and ‘cultural’ diversity and to promote ‘multilingualism’. ‘Maatri Bhasha’ is the language of culture and creativity. All great works of literature by Indian and other poets and writers are in mother tongue. Regarding propagation and proliferation of a language it is evident that anything which is imposed is repelled by the people. People adopt a language if they identify with it and it appeals to their emotions . Jawaharlal Nehru in 1937 in a letter to ‘Hindi Sahitya Sammelan’ Madras states “this we have to remember that languages are not evolved or do not progress by compulsion. A literature blooms like a flower ; if force is applied , it withers.” In the recent years ‘Rekhta’ a festival of Urdu language and literature has started in Delhi, they have a vibrant website too and it is observed that a large number of people and young people are attracted to it, they seem to identify with it emotionally.

‘Maatri Bhasha’ with its easy, simple, unpretentious, unimposing attributes is more acceptable. Words exchanged with a Taxi driver from a distant state and language, watching cinema, interacting with friends, informal office discussions, chat and voice calls on mobile, debates and arguments in a moving local train, haggling with a vegetable vendor; it is in these places that language forms roots and flourishes and grows. Development and growth of language could also be ascertained by the number of prose and verse being done in that language. Firaq Gorakhpuri states in his essay on ‘Importance of Prose’- “ India was conquered by English Prose . Earlier it had been conquered by the Turkish, Persian and Arabic prose’. He further states in the preface to his collection of Hindi poems titled ‘Dharti Karwat Legi’ that “sansar bhar ki uchh se uchh Kavita ki bhasha aur shabdawali prayah anpadh jan sadharan ki bhasha se hi bani hai” (world over the language of the greatest poetry has often been in the language and vocabulary of the illiterate, common and ordinary”.

And indeed great literature in India was written in the language of the illiterate. Goswami Tulsidas regarded among the greatest poets despite being a Sanskrit scholar wrote in Awadhi – Ramcharitmanas, facing the opposition and criticism by the established Pundits who were critical of him not writing in Sanskrit. It is believed that when he completed his epic poem on ‘Shri Ram’ he placed it as a gesture of reverence and to seek blessings of ‘Lord Shiv’ in Kashi Vishvanath temple at Varanasi. The next day the following words were ascribed on the manuscript: ‘Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram’ (Truth, Devine and Beautiful). ‘Ramcharitmanas’ continues to captivate its readers and audience world wide, it’s popularity is perennially on the rise. The indentured Indian labourers during the colonial time would carry this book among their limited possessions when being shipped to Mauritius, South Africa and West Indies; this was their emotional and spiritual anchor. Tulsidas also gave to Indian society the prayer book ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ which invokes the glory of ‘Lord Hanuman’. It is recited daily by millions of Indians. It was so popular that even M S Shubhalakshami of Tamil Nadu, the famous Carnatic singer and Bharat Ratna had sung it. The simplicity of the ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ and the inherent ‘music’ in it is perhaps key to its immense strength and popularity.

Sant Kabir Das sang in the language of the unlettered:
“Pothi Padh Padh Jug Mua Pandit Bhaya na koi
Dhai Akhar Prem Ka Padhe so Pandit Hoi”
(we have devoted life time reading scriptures but could not attain scholarship
Whereas ‘two and half letters of Love’ would have made us Pundits ! )

These ‘two and half letters’ of love are indeed the language of ‘Maatri Bhasha’ the emotions and feelings of the common Man and society. Once Hindi cinema songs popularized the language and continue to do so but with the revolution in IT there is ‘mobile phone’ in the hand of the majority where they carry their world – entertainment, communication, finance, friends and enemies. They sing their own songs, comment incessantly, watch OTT, serials and films. They also have their ‘You Tube’ channel and make ‘Reels’ and have experienced this unique voice and freedom. All this helps in the progress of the language. Such dramatic changes are often not registered in surveys but on ground the progress is tremendous which helps in uniting people, it helps people to acquire other cultures and strengthen their emotional bond.

It is famously said “let me make the songs of the Nation and I care not who makes its Laws”.

Therefore we should be satisfied with the progress of Hindi as it is slowly singing its way to be the ‘unofficial’ National language.