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The Rise of Standard Hindi and Early Hindi Prose Fiction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 March 2011


Pre-nineteenth-century prose and prose fiction in Hindi dialects. It is well known that the use of Sanskritized prose in Hindi dialects dates from long before the beginning of the 19th century A.D. The pre-19th-century prose texts which have been preserved in Braj Bhāṣā, Khaṛi Bolī, and Rājasthānī dialects have a collective importance for our subject as antecedents of the Sanskritized style of standard Hindi, based on Khaṛī Bolī, which emerged in the 19th century. Their existence demonstrates that before this time there were already recognized traditions of prose-writing in the main western Hindi dialects, and that within these traditions it was customary to use Sanskrit words to supplement the vocabulary of one's dialect, and to work in the Devanāgarī script.

Copyright © The Royal Asiatic Society 1967

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1 Dialects current within the area within which standard Hindi is now the cultural language.

2 Vārṣṛey, L. S., Ādhunik hindī sāhitya kī bhūmikā, Allahabad, 1952, 256 ff.Google Scholar, surveys most of the material; see also Śrīvāstav, H., Madhyakālīn hindī gadya, Delhi, 1959, 38 ffGoogle Scholar.

3 See Tessitori's, L. P. descriptions in A descriptive catalogue of bardic and historical manuscripts, I (Bardic and Historical Survey of Rajputana, Bibliotheca Indica, N.S. 1409), Calcutta, 1917Google Scholar, especially Pt. II (Bikaner), Nos. 9a, b; 15a, b; 20a; 22a, xiv (collections of kahāniyāṁ); 15y, z, A (translations).

4 Nāpai Sāṁkhalai rī vāta, ibid., 39, 50, 69.

6 There are minor variations in the text given by different authorities (Grierson, , LSI Vol. IX, 103 ff.Google Scholar; Śukla, , Hindī sāhitya kā itihās, 11th ed., Banaras, 1957, 382 ff.Google Scholar; Vārṣṛey, op. cit., 277 ff.). I follow the Hindi edition of S. S. Dās, Nāgarī Pracārinī Sabhā, Banaras, 1925, based on texts in Persian script.

6 hindavīpan bhī na nikle aur bhākhāpan bhī na ho. This means most probably “You will write within neither the Muslim nor the Hindi literary traditions?” i.e. neither Urdu nor Sanskritized Braj Bhāṣā. Śukla and Vārṣṛey do not cite specific evidence for their view that the expression bhākhāpan means literary (Sanskritized) Kharī Bolī. Grierson, loc. cit., translates the first phrase as “that the quality of Hindui should not appear” (my italics). This does not square directly with Inśā's opening statement that only Hindī (Hinduī) will be used, and he can adopt it (as Clint and Sprenger before him, JASB, XXI, 1852, 1 ff.Google Scholar) only by emphasizing the element of Urdu grammar and style in Inśā's language, and interpreting the word hindavīpan as referring only to the (uncultivated) style and grammar of Hinduī (which should not appear) rather than to its tadbhava vocabulary. But it is unlikely that this was Inśā's intention, since he is here representing his critics as objecting to his statement that he will write only in Hindi language (which involves primarily the non-use of foreign vocabulary).

7 See The College of Fort William in Bengal (official papers), London, 1805, p. 27Google Scholar. The College replaced a seminary for the study of Indian languages founded in 1798.

8 For an acknowledgement of the value of a study of another form of language than Persianized Hindustani, see a report of a speech by the Acting Visitor of the College in the Asiatic Journal, 1, 1816, 164–5Google Scholar… “The study of the Hindi … becomes important and even necessary to those who may have to maintain an extensive intercourse and personal communication with all classes of the Indian population; more especially is it requisite for the military officers of the Company's service, because a large proportion of the Sepoys of the army on the establishment of Bengal speak either the Braj Bhasha or a dialect of which the Hindi forms a chief component part.”

9 The great majority of the works of Lallū Jī Lāī, the most famous of the bhakha munshis, was in the new style. The title-page to his Premsāgar, which was the most widely used of all the texts prepared at Fort William College, states that it was translated into Khaṛī Bolī from a Braj Bhāṣā version of part of the Sanskrit Bhāgavata Purāṛa, at the order of John Gilchrist (Vārṣṇey, op. cit., 384 f., 402 f.).

10 An early vocabulary to the Premsāgar bears the title “A Khuree Bolee and English Vocabulary” (Roebuck, T., Annals of Fort William, Calcutta, 1819, 473Google Scholar).

11 The first edition ran to 1,000 copies; a second edition of 4,000 copies was printed in the following year. Translation of the Old Testament into Hindi had been completed by 1818. Translations into Braj Bhāṣā were a separate enterprise (Grierson, G. A., “Early publications of the Serampore missionaries”, Indian Antiquary, 23, 1903, 242Google Scholar).

12 Badley, B. H, Indian Missionary Directory, Lucknow, 1876, 75, 131Google Scholar.

13 One such story, called Kucālī bālak kī kathā, was printed in an edition of 5,000 copies by the Church Vernacular Education Society of Allahabad, in 1876.

14 See reports of its activity in the Asiatic Journal for Jan., 1835, and Oct., 1836. Between Jan., 1835, and May, 1836, it issued 4,000-odd copies of books in Hindul, compared with 32,000- and 3,000-odd copies of books in English and Hindustani respectively for the same period.

15 Boman-Behram, B. K., Educational controversies in India, Bombay, 111Google Scholar.

16 Its aim was “the instruction of Mahomedan and Hindu youths in Persian and Hindi, chiefly, with provision for more advanced studies in Arabic and Sanskrit”. See Asiatic Journal, Feb., 1825.

17 See the report of an address by the Acting Visitor of Fort William College, Asiatic Journal, 03, 1828Google Scholar.

18 B. K. Boman-Behram, op. cit., 269 ff.

19 A weekly called Udant Mārtaṇḍ, it ran from May, 1826, till Dec, 1827 (Ojhā, Baṅkaṭlāl, Hindī Samacarpatra sūcī, Pt. 1, Hyderabad (Deccan), 1950Google Scholar).

20 One of the most successful of the early journals was the Kavhacansudhā, edited by Bhārtendu Hariścandra. It is said to have run from 1868 till 1885, first as a monthly and later as a weekly, and to have carried poetry, dramas, and translated novels as well as social and political comment (Das, Rādhākṛṣṇa, “Hindī bhāṣā ke sāmayik patrom kā itihās”, Granthāvalī, I, Allahabad, 1930, 496 ff.Google Scholar).

21 Another example was Harishchandra's Magazine, first published in 1873. It carried articles in both English and Hindi, and described itself in its opening number as “a monthly journal published in connection with the Kayivacansudhā containing articles on literary, scientific, political and religious subjects, antiquities, reviews, drama, history, novels, poetic selections, etc.” Five hundred copies of the first number were printed. See Lists of publications registered in N.-W. Provinces, 1867-, India Office Library (there are some omissions). In the present article details of editions are given from this source.

22 The first part of the Bengali novel Durgeśnandinī appeared serially in translation in the Kavivacansudhā, and thereafter in book form in 1882 in a n edition of 500 copies. It is a fairly close translation of the original; there are one or two alterations which are calculated to meet a more conservative taste. There were many other translations from Bengali until well into the 20th century.

23 By Bāl Kṛṣṇa Bhaṭṭ, 5th ed., Lucknow, 1928.

24 Sau anjān aur ek sujān, ed. cit., 1.

25 By Devkī Nandan Khatrī, Banaras, 1892 (1,000 copies).

26 G. W. M. Reynolds (1814–79), a prolific writer of melodramatic novels and serialized sketches of London life between 1835 and 1860.

27 By Ratnacandra, B.A., 1893 (1,000 copies).

28 For a good example, see 3rd ed., 1922, 55.

29 By Ambikā Datt Vyās, Bhagalpur, 1893.

30 By Kärttik Prasād Khatrī, Banaras, 1896 (1,000 copies).

31 K. P. Khatrī wrote a number of novels, biographies, and other miscellaneous works in Hindi (Varmā, Bāl Mukund, Bābū Kārttik Prasäd Khatrī kā sankṣipt jīvancaritra, Banaras, 1904Google Scholar).

32 For a good example see 3rd ed., Banaras, 1913, 90–92.

33 Banaras, 1894 (1,000 copies).

34 To some extent from Caṭṭopādhyāy's, B. C. novel Kapālkuṛḍalā (1866)Google Scholar, with which it shares the character of a murderous tantric hermit. But the two novels differ widely in the use they make of this character.

35 śuddh āryabhāṣā. The phrase insinuates that modern Sanskritized Hindi is a form of language traditional in the central Ganges plain, the “heartland” of ancient Hindu India; Hindi had already begun to be considered by some as the vehicle of traditionally Hindu cultural values.

86 Banaras, 1901. (A second edition of 750 copies in same year.)

37 Lilāvati, ed. cit., 447 f.

38 3rd ed., Vṛndāvan, 1914.

39 Candrikā, vā jaṛāucampākalī upanyās; Candrāvali, vā kulṭakutuhal; Banaras, 1904. (3rd editions of 1,000 copies, 1914.)

40 It first appeared in 1901 and printed 1,000 copies of 50 pages per number.

41 First published serially in the Jāsūs māsik pustakin 1903–4 (1,000 copies in 1904).

42 Cakkardār corī, introduction.

43 The word Bhārat, now used in Hindi to denote the modern state of India, is here used as a synonym of Hindustān, which means properly Northern India.

44 Jabalpur, 1894 (1,000 copies).

45 Bombay, 1902/3: first published in a Bombay journal, āri Venkaṭeśvar samācār, in 1901 or 1902.

46 Bombay, 1904.

47 Ed. cit., introduction.

48 See, for instance, the conversation between Sarasvatī and Suśīlā and its sequel, 14 ff., and one of the accounts of the final break-up of the family, 65.

49 Paṭnā, 1905.

50 The author expounds his theory of non-Sanskritized Hindi in a preface abounding with Sanskrit expressions. He justifies this by saying that the ideas he is advancing are complicated (and adds that he has had to write it quickly). A better proof of the potential stylistic value of Sanskritized Hindi could hardlybe found.

51 The pseudonym of Dhanpat Rāy Śrīvāstav for most of his career.

52 This work was written in Urdu (as Bazar-e-ḥusn), but published first in Hindi, probably in late 1918 or early 1919; see Rāy, Amṛt, Kalam kā sipāhī, Allahabad, 1962, 654Google Scholar, also Premcand's letter of 24th April, 1919, referring to the success of the Hindi version, Premcand ciṭṭhī-patrī, ed. Rāy, A. and Gopāl, M., Allahabad, 1962, 1, 82Google Scholar. Sevāsadanhas usually been dated between 1914 and 1916.

53 Translated from the Urdu Jalva-e-iṣār (1912), but perhaps based on a draft of an earlier novel, see Gopal, M., Munshi Premcand; a literary biography, New York, 1964, 86Google Scholar. The Hindi version appeared in 1921 (A. Ray, op. cit., 654).

54 Vardān, 3rd ed., 1953, 90–92.

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