By – Dr. J.C. Batra
You would have swayed in rhythm with poetry of Abida Parveen, without realizing that she is reciting Siraiki Kafi! One of the marker of a civilisation is the ‘language’ it produces. It is through this language that the civilisation continues, expressing itself in everyday activities, folk, culture, poetry and celebrations!! Siraiki, unfortunately is in a need for a revival.
The Siraiki language is one of the oldest languages of India and has been known by its various names as Jhatki, Multani. Lahnada, Hindki, Hindko and Western Punjabi.
The word ‘Siraiki’ has been derived from ‘Siro’ meaning Head/ North of Sindh, the people living in the North of Sindh on the banks of the river Sindhu are known as Siraiki Speaking people. This language is distinct from Punjabi and Sindhi. The famous love folk lore likeHeer-Ranja, Soni Mehwal, Sasi Punu are originated in this region. Heer was first written in Siraiki by Damodar Gulati of Dera Gazi Khan and thereafter it was written by Warris Shahafter 200 years.
The Siraiki language has been used for spreading Sufi Music, Bhakti Movement and Guru Mat. Poets, Sufi and Saints like Baba Farid, Guru Nanik, Ghulam Farid, Warris Shah, Bulle Shah, Sultan Baho, Dharam Das, Sachal Sarmast have left their mark by using Siraiki poetry in the subcontinent.
The traditional form of Siraki Poetry has been Kafi also known as ‘Multani Kafi’ and famous classical music Gharana as ‘Multani Gharana’ which has been patronized by Pandit Bhim Sain Joshi and Abida Parveen.
Siraiki is one of the most ancient Indo-Aryan languages of India centering around the ancient city of Multan (Mool-asthan). Multan was also earlier known as Kayashapura andPrehladpuri. It was in Multan, that Lord Vishnu incarnated as Narsingh Avtar to save Prehlad Bhagat from Harnaykashyap.Siraiki is a purely Sanskritical language. The renowned Grammarian Pannini and Yoga acharya Patanjali were Siraiki scholars at the ancient seat of learning i.e. Taxila, the hub of Siraiki Civilzation. The language is mother tongue of 100 Million (10 Crore) people in the subcontinent, including Two crore people living in India who migrated from the districts of Multan, Musafgarh, Mianwali, Jhang, Banoo, Kohat, Dera Ghazi Khan, Dera Ismail Khan, Bhawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Bahawal Nagar, Leiha, Kotaddu, Rajanpur, Jampur, Lodhran, Khanewal, Pakpatan, Sahiwal, Chakwal, Vihari, Sargotha, Jhelum, Bhakkar, Khushab, Jaccobobad, Larkana etc to India at the time of partition at 1947.
Multan which was known as Moolasthan,around which this language grew and flourished,is the most ancient city of the World. It was the capital of the country,on both sides of the Sindhu River.First Veda i.e.Rig Ved was written in Multan.MohenjoDaro,and Harappa Civilisations are the landmarks of the Siraiki Language Art and Culture. Two of the great avatars of Lord Vishnu – Narsingh Bhagwan and Baman Bhagwan incarnated in Multan, which was also called as PrahladPuri. Multan also had a distinction of having Sun Temple (Aditya Temple) which was more than 5000 years old, and had a 200 feet minaret made of gold. This was cause of great attraction for historians and travellers, such as Ibn Battuta and Hsuan-tsang, as well as invaders. Multan was a place of great pilgrimage.
In India,Siraiki Speaking people who were forced to migrate at a great loss of lives and property, from the Siraiki Areas of Pakistan,are mostly settled in Punjab, Haryana, and Delhi,besides states of Rajasthan,Gujrat,Bihar and Maharashtra (now nearly 10 million).The Siraikis peaking people in Delhi, Punjab and Haryana have been participating in the development of the India,but being in minority their language has not been recognised so far inspite of many representations made before.
Dr J.C. Batra, founder of Siraiki Sahitya Sangam, along with many other members of the Siraiki Samaj has been working earnestly to save and revive the great legacy of Siraiki language and unite the Siraiki Speaking people. They have formulated a Memorandum on behalf of 20million Siraiki(Multani)Speaking Citizens of India,for the Recognition of Siraiki Language Under Article 344(1)for its Inclusion in the VIII Schedule of the Constitution Of India
Dr Batra is a poet and a writer, besides being a human rights activist and frequently writes in his mother tongue Siraiki (with text in urdu and hindi) Catch some of his poetry in Siraiki here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_fdw5PhCGw and at his blog: http://siraikiinternational.blogspot.in/
Dr. J.C. Batra is a senior advocate at Supreme Court of India and is the president of Siraiki Sahitya Sangam