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A history of urdu literature.
Author: Saksena, Ram Babu
Keywords: Urdu Literature Urdu History
Publisher: Ram Narain Lal, Allahabad
Source: Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad
Received From: Salar Jung Museum
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Urdu Literary Criticism
- Abdul Qavi Desnavi
- Muhammad Husain Azad
- Altaf Hussain Maulana Hali
- Shibli Nomani
- Abdur Rahman Bijnori
- Allama Niyaz Fatehpuri
- Rasheed Ahmad Siddiqi
- Syed Abid Ali Abid
- Ehtesham Hussain
- Syed Waqar Azeem
- Majnun Gorakhpuri
- Mumtaz Hussain
- Ali Sardar Jafri
- Gopi Chand Narang
- Shamsur Rahman Faruqi
- Muzaffar Hanfi
- Aslam Farrukhi
Progressive Writers Movement/ ( ترقی پسند تحریک)
According to The Dawn, “ Progressive Writers Movement ” in Urdu literature was the strongest movement after Sir Syed’s education movement. The progressives contributed to Urdu literature some of the finest pieces of fiction and poetry. Undoubtedly, they were the trend-setters for the coming generation of writers, and their role cannot be denigrated or denied.”  Aamir Sohail(Abbottabad Public School,Abbottabad,Pakistan)
The modernist movement started in Urdu literature near 1960. The two most eminent names in this movement emerged are Shamsur Rehman Farooqui and Gopichand Narang. Eminent poets like Noon Meem Rashid and Meeraji are related to it. Apart from them a number of other poets like Zafer Iqbal, Nasir Kazmi, Bashir Bader and Shahryar are related to this movement. This movement laid more stress on symbolic and other indirect expressions as opposed to direct and clear expressions
The post modernism was introduced in a big way by Gopi Chand Narang. There are many other critics in Urdu literature who are also attached to this approach of criticism. The post modernism does not claim to be a movement and does not demand any writer to adopt a particular style of writing. It generally concentrates on a method of understanding the contemporary literature in the light of its content – mostly to the features like feminism, dalit, regional and other types of literature as opposed to a seeking uniformity in the global literature on the basis of internationally established trends.
By the end of the 1980s the atmosphere in Urdu literature became very depressing.The progressive movement was almost dead and the modernist movement had started showing it’s complete infertility. But this was also time for upsurge of new creative forces which was basically rooted in the new life that was metamorphosing the socio-economic and political climate in the sub-continent after the days of partition and freedom. It was under this climate that the a new era of fiction started withthe publication of Paigham Afaqui’s novel Makaan. Almost allergic and fed up with the attempts of various literary movements to influence the styles and thoughts of the writers and the literary politics emerging out of the commitments to the movements which created a vicious circle of promoting chosen writers and misuse of resources and awards for promoting their own brands by these movements,Paigham Afaqui and other writers refused to be identified by any movement and displayed complete independence in using personally developed styles and technique for writing novel and explored their own philosophy and vision of life that suited their need.It was a serious departure from the theme of partition which dominated writers like Qurtul Ain haider and Abdullah Hussain and the theme of existentialism which was the benchmark of modernism. Writers like Ghazanfer and Musharraf Alam Zauqi have further widened the horizons of new themes and concerned.
The Persian newspapers of West Bengal were fore-runners of the Urdu press. Two prominent periodicals were Jam-i-Jahan-Numa, founded by Lal Sadasukh Lal in 1822 and Mirat-ul-Akhbar (Mirror of News) by Raja Rammohan Roy. After the decline of Persian as an official language, Urdu gained prominence. There was extensive growth in Urdu jurnalism from the 1850s till Independence in 1947.
On 14 January 1850, Munshi Harsukh Rai started the weekly Kohinoor, which had a remarkably high (for those times) circulation of 350 copies. In 1858, Manbir Kabiruddin started the Urdu Guide, the first Urdu daily, from Calcutta. Another important paper founded that year was Roznamha-e-Punjab from Lahore. Oudh Akhbar by Munshi Nawal Kishore was the first Urdu newspaper from Lucknow, also begun in 1858.
The first Urdu newspapers of Delhi were Fawaid-ul-Nazarin and Kiran-us-Sadai, founded by Rama Chandra in 1852. The Urdu press in Delhi became highly critical of the British government. The best example of them is the Urdu Akhbar, edited by Syed Hasan, which highlighted many civic issues like drainage, sanitation, adulteration of food, and corruption.
In 1877, Maulvi Nasir Ali, one of the founders of Anjuman Islamia- the Islamic intellectual and political movement- founded 3 newspapers- Nusrat-ul-Akhbar, Nusrat-ul-Islam and Mihir-e-Darakhshan. All three focused on current civil and political affairs and were valuable aids of Muslim empowerment. In 1877, Oudh Punch, the first humour magazine in Urdu was started by Sajjid Hussain. The first women’s journal in Urdu was Akhbar-un-Nisa.
Urdu journalism took on a strongly nationalistic note towards the turn of the 20th century. Zameendar, was started in Lahore in 1903. It was the first Urdu newspaper to subscribe to news agencies. Zameendar was intensely nationalistic, which boosted its circulation to over 30,000 copies. In 1902, Maulvi Sanaullah Khan started the weekly Watan, meaning motherland. Watan was intensely nationalistic and continued for 33 years. Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar started Naqeeb-e-Hamdard in 1912. Another powerful political periodical was the Madina, edited by Hamidul Ansari.
The greatest Urdu periodical that time was Al Hilal, started by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. (refer notes).
In 1919, the Pratap was started in Lahore by Mahshe Krishnan. It vigorously supported Gandhi’s policies and the Indian National Congress. It was a victim of government harassment and suspended publication several times. It had great influence among the Urdu reading Hindus of Punjab and Delhi.
In 1923, Swami Shraddhanand founded the Tej with Lala Deshbandhu Gupta as editor. It had a wide circulation in Rajasthan, U.P. and Delhi. It was confiscated several times by the government and banned in a number of princely states. In the same year, 1923, the Arya Samaj started the Milap, a daily in Lahore. It was known for its powerful nationalistic editorials. Jawaharlal Nehru founded Qaumi Awaaz in 1945.
Urdu journalism suffered heavily, during and after Partition. Riots in Lahore lead to mobs raiding the office of Milap and burning machines and newsprint. Its Managing Editor, Ranbir was stabbed and the paper was closed for six weeks. It then shifted to Delhi. Due to the unrest, the Pratap also shifted to Delhi.
Some of the Urdu newspapers after partition in India are Dawat, now a bi-weekly, started by the Jamat-e-Islami Hind. Maulana Abdul Waheed Siddiqui started Nai Duniya, a popular Urdu weekly, now run by his son Shaheed Siddiqui. The Sahara Group started a weekly-Aalmi Sahara.There are more number of urdu newspapers published in hyderabad , India The Siasat Daily , The Munsif Daily , Indian Etemaad and Rehnuama E Deccan . Bombay now Mumbai also have some good publication of urdu daily The inquilab daily and Urdu Times and from West Bengal Urdu newspapers like The Azad Hind daily , The Akhbaar -e- Mashriq daily , The Aabshaar daily and The rashtriya Sahara daily are also being brought out from CALCUTTA at present Kolkata In Pakistan the Daily Jang is one of the most widely circulated newspapers in the country. Other popular news papers are Daily Imroze , Daily Mashriq , Khabrain , Millat and Nawa-i-Waqt .
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Top 10 Urdu Novels List of All Time
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Urdu Literature - Optional for UPSC Civil Service Exam
Urdu Literature is one of the optional subjects offered by the UPSC in the civil services mains examination. Although not many candidates opt for this optional subject, every year there are a few successful candidates with this optional subject.This article shares information on the success rate, syllabus, and reference books for Urdu Literature Optional subject.
Aspirants would find this article very helpful while preparing for the IAS Exam .
How Many take Urdu Literature Optional?
The following table shows the number of candidates who had taken the Urdu optional and cleared the exam from 2010 to 2015, as per the latest official figure released by the commission.
UPSC Urdu Literature Success Rate
As you can see from the above table, even though there are less takers for the Urdu optional, it enjoys a good success rate in the IAS exam.
Urdu Optional Toppers
Urdu optional pros and cons.
Like any other optional, Urdu literature has its share of benefits and drawbacks for the IAS mains exam. In this section, you can read about the pros and cons of the Urdu Literature optional.
Urdu Literature Pros
- The syllabus is static and you do not have to update any current affairs for this optional unlike subjects like pub ad, political science, economics, etc.
- There is less competition here because of the relatively less number of takers for Urdu literature.
- You do not have to be a graduate in Urdu for you to take this as your optional. You only need to know the basics of the language and have a genuine interest in it. But, please remember, you should be able to write this language well. Just an appreciation of the Urdu language and a knack for reciting Urdu couplets without good writing skills will not help you in this paper.
- The questions asked are mostly direct and straight-forward.
Urdu Literature Cons
- You have to know the language and be fluent in writing if you wish to do well in the IAS exam.
- You might find it difficult to get hold of a good test series for this optional. Guidance is also hard to come by.
- There is a need for a good understanding of the language and subject especially to perform well in paper II.
UPSC Urdu Syllabus
Let us take a look at the syllabus for Urdu Literature for the UPSC mains exam.
There are two optional papers in the UPSC exam pattern. Both the papers are for a total of 250 marks making the total optional marks to 500.
Urdu Syllabus for UPSC:- Download PDF Here
Urdu Literature Optional Strategy for IAS
Urdu literature optional mandates good reading from a variety of sources. The sources are mentioned below:
For this section, you should read Urdu ki Lisaani Tashkeel by Mirza Khaleel Beigh.
- Refer to Urdu Nasr ka Tanqeedi Mutala and Urdu Shayari ka Tanqeedi Mutala by Sumbul Nigar.
- As you can see, paper I requires you to read the above three books. Now, let us see how to go about reading these three books:
- You should memorise certain lines from these books. To illustrate, let us take a topic literary criticism. There are various writers on literary criticism such as Ale Ahmad Suroor, Kaleemuddin Ahmad, etc. You should prepare notes on them and memorise points so that you can reproduce them in the paper.
- It is better to read one thing from one specific source and avoid multiple sources, for example, study Ghazal from Sumbul Nigar and not from any other source/notes.
- Paper I involves a bit of cramming especially the bit about Urdu history and the different genres of Urdu like ghazal, nazm, afsana, etc.
There are two sections here – prose and poetry.
This involves reading the works of six writers.
You don’t have to read all the works completely. Each of them are discussed below:
- Read Bagho-Babar by Mir Amman completely, it is very important. It is a small book anyway.
- Intikhab-e-Khutoot-e Ghalib – You just have to read 5 – 6 letters and nothing beyond that.
- Apne Dukh Mujhe Dedo by Rajendra Singh Bedi – This book should be read fully.
- Premchand’s Godan – You just need to read 30 – 40 pages of this one.
- Read Ghubar-e-Khatir by Abul Kalam Azad completely and thoroughly.
- Nairang-e-Khayal by Mohd. Husain Azad is a collection of inshaiya (sort of essays). You need to read about 5 – 8 inshaiya from this book.
As you can see, you only need to read three books on the list completely namely, Bagho-Babar, Apne Dukh Mujhe Dedo and Ghubar-e-Khatir.
- Here, you need to do seven poets. Again, you don’t have to read the entire books in detail. Only the important points and sections are to be covered.
- Understand what are the important sections by going through the previous years’ UPSC question papers and relating them to the works of these poets.
- Answer writing is very important and you must practice questions asked previously by the UPSC and get them corrected by a teacher or senior.
- For Tashreeh of Mir, do a few selected ghazals from Sher Shor Angez by Shams-ur-rehman Farooqi.
- For Tashreeh of Ghalib and Iqbal, look up explanations by Yousaf Saleem Chishti.
- For Tashreeh of Faiz, refer to Sharah kalam e Faiz that is available online.
- Tashreeh of Firaq, Mir Hassan and Akhtarul Iman can be done yourselves.
- For both papers, writing practice is necessary . It is easy enough to write faster in English but it gets tricky with Urdu. For this, you need to have adequate writing practice with a timer.
Reference Books – Urdu Literature Optional for UPSC Civil Service
- Urdu Nasr ka Tanqeedi Mutala by Sumbul Nigar
- Urdu Shayari ka Tanqeedi Mutala by Sumbul Nigar
- The texts in the syllabus
- Urdu Adab Ki Tarikh by Noorul Hasan Naqvi
- Urdu ki Lisani Tashkil by Mirza Khalil Ahmad Beg
- Ansaf-e-SuKhan aur Sher Haiyyaten by Shamian Ahmed
- Mokqadwa; Tarikh-e-Zuban-e-Urdu by Prof. Maswood Husain Khan
The above details would help candidates prepare for UPSC 2023 .
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chale na jaa.e aa.ngan Te.Dhaa
a bad workman blames his tools
aage naath na piichhe pagaa
heirless, lone, lone wolf
magician, sorcerer, wizard, conjuror
the celebration of of an engagement, betrothal, engagement
to look carefully
slaves of the same master in relation to one another, slave colleagues
cage for birds
a decent way of desiring, nice way of asking
living, livelihood, course of life
state of just living a life (esp. with mediocre means), whiling away one's time means of livelihood, passing (one's) time, occupation, employment, subsistence, livelihood, means of living
spread, wide-spread, dispersed, diffused, diffuse
drowsiness or mild intoxication caused by taking opium
aa.nkh oT pahaa.D oT
out of sight, out of mind
(a business) close or be closed down, to become bankrupt or insolvent, the (banker's or merchant's), to be turned over
what is your name
charge sheet, indictment, calendar of crime
naak par Gussa honaa
to carry (one's) anger, or temper, at the tip of the nose, have a very short temper, be irritable
to stop the mouth (of)
Words tagged under "Literature"
List of Urdu words and terms related with "Literature" consisting of definitions, descriptions, elucidations and topical and subject-specific categorizations
being courteous, etiquette, polite, decorum, civility, well-bred
literature for literature's sake
literature for life's sake, literature as a true chronicle of life
very short story
story told through symbols, symbolic story, a story in which objects, persons, or situations have another meaning other than their obvious meanings
infatuated, besotted, lovesick
third hypothetical person (as Harry in 'Tom, Dick and Harry')
(Metaphorically) Zulaikha (the wife of Potiphar, whose passion for Joseph is much celebrated in the East, particularly in the elegant Persian poems by Nizami, Jami and Khusrau)
name of an ancient Irani artist
sudden discovery of most appropriate words or constructions in poetic production
one of the nine genres of Sanskrit and Hindi poetry, epic poetry
Nebuchadnezzar, a warrior-king, often described as the greatest military leader of the Neo-Babylonian empire
an Urdu poetic genre where stanzas of six lines with varied rhyme sceheme
collected works of poetry, collection of ghazals
orgin of the popular Hindi or Sanskrit poetic genre 'doha'
art of criticism
common error of language, an error that has gained currency
the act or state of laughing, laughter, laughing, mirth
(Literature) humour as a literary genre
act of composing poetry or any literary piece extempore, speaking extempore, improvisation
story-teller, story-writer, fiction writer
(Literature) maxim, proverb adage
a type of pros or poetry that reflects human emotions
majmuu'a murattab karnaa
words, sayings, proverbs, speeches, expressions, utterances, annals
poems, poetic compositions, collection of 'Nazm' as opposed to the collection of 'Ghazal'
central idea, centre of imaginative ideation
high literary expression, exquisite style
Urduized, adapted in Urdu (such as لالٹین from English word lantern)
(formula of address, especially at the beginning of a letter) My Respected Sir!
a meeting for reciting poems
rhyming, rhythmical (speech or language), harmonious, or measured (periods), rhythmical prose
poet who composes ghazals, ghazal composer
praise, eulogium, encomium (esp. of the prophet Moḥammad), poem in praise of Prophet Mohammad
poem in praise of Prophet Mohammad
one who recites verse in praise of Prophet Muhammad, one who recites a na'at
recital of poetry praising prophet Mohammad
a simple type of prose
rhythmical prose, prose following a rhythmic pattern
a kind of prose in which sentences follow rhythmic beats
beauty of features
fairy, beautiful woman, a winged legendary female being
(Literature) those verses whose meanings are not complete without adding other verses
claim of eminence in verse by a poet
sitaara sumbule me.n honaa
mutual repugnance or aversion, repugnance, repulsion
(Literature) a satirist, humorist
burlesque, a literal imitation or alteration of a piece of literature just to create humor
realist, a person who accepts a situation as it is and is prepared to deal with it accordingly
(lit.) the process of combining the different components of a piece of literature to create an impression
a single and unique affect brought forth by an artwork which overwhelms its readers, audience, or viewers
a stretched metaphor, verbosity
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नाज़ और नख़रे से आँखें फेरना, आँखें नचाना, आँखें चमकाना, आँखें धुमाना