The Rise & Fall of Dakkani Urdu in South India

Chennai: During the reign of Muhammad bin Tughlaq, Devagiri was the capital of  Dakkhan  (South) which included Hyderabad, Golkunda, Gulbarga, Aurangabad, Bijapur, a portion of Mysore kingdom and the province of Chennapattinam (now called Chennai). Dakkani Urdu was born and brought up in this area. It was the lingua franca  of the masses. Naturally, therefore, sufis and Islamic scholars patronized it. It received due regard from the rulers too. During the regime of Feroze Shah Bahmani, the famous saint Khawja Syed Mohammed Hussain Gaysudaraz Bandanawaaz did a lot to promote Dakkani Urdu.

From 1350 to 1857 CE, Dakkani Urdu dominated the whole of Dakkan, i.e., South India. The following kingdoms  patronized it by making it a royal language:

  1. Feroze Shah Bahmani kingdom – from 1350 to 1490 CE.
  2. Adil Shahi kingdom – from 1490 to 1508 CE.
  3. Qutub Shahi kingdom – from 1508 to 1686 CE.
  4. Nizam’s Asafjahi kingdom – from 1686 to 1708 CE.
  5. Nawab Walajahi kingdom – from 1708  to the year of the First War of Independence viz., 1857.

When the Mughals expanded their empire and penetrated into the extreme South, they gave Dakkani Urdu a new shape by mixing in it Persian words. Shahenshah Aurangzeb began the process and Bahadur Shah Zafar gave it finishing touches.

Dakkani Urdu was not only the language of the common masses but was popular with eminent royal poets such as:

Khawasi who wrote “Nasbul Mulk”

Tayyabee who wrote “Deh-o-Gul-Andaam”

Nusrathi who wrote “Gulshan-e-Ishq”

Mashafi who wrote “Chandra Baid Meyaar” and

Aajiz who wrote “Laal-o-Gowhar”’

The "Masnavi" in Dakkani Urdu by Ibn-e-Nashaati namely “Phool Ban” is also part of this rich heritage.

I will be failing in my duty as a research scholar if I fail to refute the false and baseless allegation that Dakkani Urdu is a language of the Indian Muslim community. Apart from Muslims, the Maharathas, the Kabiliwallahs, the Khojas, the Marwaris, the Rajasthanis, the Punjabis, the Reddys and Naidus, the Saurashtrians speak Dakkani Urdu but the dialect differs from place to place and one section of society to another.

Alas! Dakkani Urdu is on the last stage of its life in my state viz., Tamilnadu. Strong and effective steps should be taken by Dakkani Urdu Wallahs to save their beloved language –  delay will prove to be extremely dangerous.