Persian and Urdu


Urdu emerged as an independent langauge towards the end of the 4th century AD. Arabic and Persian were introduced in India with the coming of the Turks and the Mongols. Persian remained the court langage for many centuries. Urdu as a language was born out of the interaction between Hindi and Persian.

After the conquest of Delhi (1192), the Turkish people settled in this region. Urdu was born out of the interaction of these settlers and soldiers in the barracks with the common people.

Urdu became more popular in the early eighteenth century. People even wrote accounts of later Mughals in Urdu. Gradually it achieved a status where literature - both poetry and prose-started being composed in it.

The earliest Urdu poet is supposed to be Khusrau (1253-1325). He started writing as a poet in the reign of Sultan Balban and was a follower of Nizam ud-din Auliya. He is said to have composed ninty-nine works on separate themes and numerous verses of poetry. Among the important works composed by him are Laila Majnun and Ayina-I-Sikandari dedicated to Alau-din-Khalji. 

Among other well-known poets are Ghalib, Zauq, and Iqbal. Iqbal’s Urdu poetry is available in his collection called Bang- i - dara. His Sarejahan se achcha Hindostan hamara is sung and played at many of the national celebrations in India.

Among the best prose writers were people like Pandit Ratan Nath Sarshar, who wrote the famous Fasanah-i-Azad.

Urdu has given us a new form of poem that is called a nazm. Urdu was patronised by the Nawabs of Lucknow, who held symposiums in this language. Slowly it became quite popular. Pakistan has adopted Urdu as the state language.


As Persian was the language of the court, much of the literature produced in this period was written in Persian. Amir Khusrau and Amir Hasan Dehelvi wrote superb poetry in Persian. Historians like Minhas-us-Siraj and Zia Barani and Ibn Batuta who came to India during those days wrote accounts of rulers, important political events and incidents in this language.

In the medieval period, Persian was adopted as the court language.

Babar wrote his tuzuk (autobiography) in Turkish language, but his grandson Akbar got it translated into Persian. Akbar patronized many scholars. He got Mahabharata translated into Persian. Jahangir’s autobiography (Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri) is in Persian and is a unique piece of literature.

It is said that Noorjahan was an accomplished Persian poetess. Quite a fair amount of Persian literature has been produced by the courtiers of the Mughals. Abul Fazl’s Akbarnamah and Ain-e-Akbari is a fine piece of literature.