A Living Portrait of India
Urdu, by origin, is a dialect of the Western variety of Hindi, spoken for centuries in the neighborhood of Delhi and Meerut, and directly descended from Saur Senic prakrit. However, there is a popular misconception that it is an offspring of Persian. Hindi and Urdu are actually of the same parentage, but they have developed along different lines.
Under the tutelage of the Muslims, Urdu has drawn inspiration from Persian literature, while Hindi has done so from Sanskrit. Persian, Arabic and Turkish words have got absorbed into Urdu. The Urdu language now has an enormous stock of words and written Urdu has strength as well as beauty, power as well as refinement. The first poetry in Urdu was by the Persian poet Amir Khusru. But Urdu literature really took off with the poets of the Deccan and the Muslim courts of Bijapur and Golconda in the 16th and the 17th centuries.
Urdu poetry by Wali (1668-1741) inspired poets of the North like Zahruddin Hatim (1699-1792), and Khan Arzu (1689-1756). Then came a glorious period of poets like Mazhardard Soz, Qaim Yaqin, Biyan, Hidayat, Qudrat and Zaya, followed by another era of poets like Asar, Hasan, Insha, Juraat and Firaq.
The next age expelled indigenous words, improved the language, imported intricate Persian construction, and developed originality of thought. This is the age of Naseer, Zouk, Ghalib, Momin and Zafar. The center of Urdu literature then shifted from Delhi to Lucknow, with Nasikh and Atish.
Poets of later periods are Nazeer Akbarabadi who wrote about landscapes for the first time in Urdu literature, Ameer Dagh, Jalal and Taslim, who drifted into Muslim courts of Hyderabad and Rampur after the First War of Independence in 1857. Urdu poetry changed character and became more simple and spontaneous. Western influence liberalized Urdu poetry, as works by Hali, Azad, Akbar, Iqbal and Hasrat show.
Modern Urdu prose came into being at the start of the 19th century
as part of translation programmes undertaken by the Fort William College,
Calcutta. The rhyming prose of earlier times also flourished.
In 1803, the Quran was first translated into Urdu. In 1832, Urdu was
substituted for Persian as an official language. Prose and poetry in
Urdu continued to develop. Osmania University was founded in Hyderabad
in 1918 with Urdu as its medium of instruction. Premchand,
the noted Hindi writer, wrote in both Hindi and Urdu.