Comparing Hindi and Tamil Literature

University of Regina

Recently, there have been one or two postings in sct denigrating Hindi in deliberate and offensive language, and also making some comparative statements in praise of Begali vis-a-vis Hindi.

I do not know how much Hindi or Bengali the poster knows, whether he/she/they can read, write, speak, understand any of these languages or not. Well, I am fluent in thamizh, English and Hindi. I can read, write, speak and understand all three languages. I can read printed Bengali, understand much of spoken Bengali, provided it is more of the West Bwngal, urban dialect. I used to be able to speak Bengali also but it has gone a bit rusty because I acquired it only in my adulthood. I also have a smattering of Spanish, German and French, but not much. I can understand some Malayalam and even less of Madras city Telugu. I have had and continue to have a life-long love affair with literature the world around and respect all languages and literature WITHOUT LOSING MY LOVE FOR thamizh.

It pains me to note that some folks feel compelled to dump on another language, another literature in order to parade their loyalty to their own, in order to praise their own. Such slavish and ignorant love for one's own and hatred and contempt for the others' is not a healthy sign, not worthy of mature and civilized minds. It won't do to go petulant and claim: "Oh! You should know that others have done this or that, or said this or that about our language. Claimed language x or y was dhEvabAsha etc." All that is drivel. Recall the wise old saying in thamizh: " avan malaththaith thi_n_nAn enRal n^eeyum malaththai thi_n_naNumA?"

For your information, Hindi has had a very rich and glorious literature since mAlik mohammed jaycee's time. That it is not of as great an antiquity as thamizh is no argument for its being worthless. bengAli is not as old as thamizh either! Hindi and its various closely related and recognizable dialects - avadhi, vraj bhAsha, bhOjpuri and kharibOli to name a few, all have a very rich and glorious literature. I challenge anyone knowledgeable in both languages to prove that meerabhAi is inferior to A_NdAL. thulsi dAs's "rAm charith mAnas", "vinay patrikA" and his dOhAs are among the greatest achievements of mankind. So also soordAs's vAthsalya ras poems and the incomparable kabeer dAs's dOhAs ( A dOha is a two liner, much like the kuRaL in thamizh poetry - I mean the kuRaL form; however, there are differences.) Premchand as a novelist and short story writer and original literary thinker is to be numbered among the greatest writers any language, any country anywhere has produced. His broad humanism, historical sense, feeling for and support of the downtrodden, his opposition to the abominable caste system and the zameen dhAri are legendary. It is a marvel that in his finest creations he could give expression to all these without sacrificing an iota of the requirements of great literature. In modern times, Hindi has produced great writers and poets and thinkers too, vAsudhEvasaraN agrawAl, sumitrAn^andhan pan^th, mahAdhEvi varmA, subhadra kumAri chauhAn, agnYEyA, yashpAl, mythilee saraN guptA to name just a few. There have also been great Hindi film lyricists like shAhir ludhiAnavi who would rank among great poets as much as a kaNNadhAsan or vairamuththu.

Let us cherish thamizh. Let us try to support thamizh writers and thamizh literature. But it would be a sad day indeed, and unworthy of us if we cannot do so without denigrating some other language or literature or people.

Faculty of Administration
University of Regina
REGINA, Saskatchewan
Telephone: (306) 585-4988
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