Friday, May 14, 2010

Influence of Buddhism on Islam

Influence of Buddhism on Islam

Through out history, there was natural interaction through migration and conquest, travel and trade, between the Fertile Crescent, Asia Minor, Persia, Khorasan and Central Asia and Hindustan. Alexander the Macedonian went up to Bukhara and then north west Hindustan. Earlier some Indo- Aryan tribes like Mitannis had migrated from Eurasian steppes and ruled in upper Mesopotamia.  Then the Arab armies marched north east and conquered areas up to the steppes. Then the Turkish tribes marched from eastern Asian steppes to Persia! and Turkey (and the Indian sub-continent). Then came Chengiz Khan and the Mongol hordes.

Culturally, linguistically, ethnically and spiritually there is no area in the world that has so much in common as that formed by the regions connecting the river basins of Euphrates, Tigris; Amu and Syr Darya: Indus and the Ganges. This is an area with a continuous history and cradle of most civilizations and religions; Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, Judaism and Christianity and Islam and their variations. The intermingling of Semitic, Indo-Iranian and Ural- Altaic languages with local languages produced a mosaic of new languages and tongues.

Influence of Buddhism in Central Asia perhaps started from the time of Greek King Menander in Bactria. During the rule of Kushana Emperor Kanishka (who was converted to Buddhism) from Peshawar, not only traders but also religious teachers moved freely throughout his Empire which then encompassed today's Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Xinjiang, Pakistan and Northern India and laid the foundations for the spread of Buddhism. Earlier Asoka had undertaken energetic steps to spread the Dhamma, but his efforts were more successful in South East Asia and Ceylon. Buddhism was taken to Central Asia either directly or via Tibet or Eastern Turkestan (Xinjiang) where with little competition, it was easily accepted . But it was not so in Sogdiana and around it, where Zoroastrians were well entrenched, later came followers of Manichaeism and Nestorian Christians. Conquerors (and traders) spread their religions, but they were also influenced by the cultures and the creeds of the ruled.

To begin with in Buddhism symbols represented Buddha and Tantras. Sculpture representing Buddha in human form is a Greek contribution through Gandhara art from Afghanistan. Starting from Bactria, Buddhism evolved the concept of Bodhisattva Maitreya as incarnations for attaining Nirvana and return to guide and help the laity. This universal and secular religion found favour with Central Asian Turks and Mongols (also Uyghur's in Xinjiang) when it reached there.

Influence of Viharas and Stupas on darghas and khankahs in Central Asia

Excavations have revealed Viharas and Stupas all over eastern Turkistan, up to Bukhara and into Turkmenistan. To begin with, Stupas were built to keep sacred relics (of Buddha and some of his disciples) although Buddha himself was against such practices. Later Stupas became associated with the symbols of remains of saints and cemeteries. The respect and veneration is , perhaps ,based more on Aryan belief in Brahman or the Reality (Universal Soul) and Atman (individual Soul) with the saints having achieved the Union with the Reality. Prophet Mohammed had underlined that God and man are different. (Christians have still not resolved this dilemma fully). Miracles and veneration of dead persons are denounced in Quran (Sura XI, 31).

Stupas started as simple structures, as in Sanchi in Central India (1st or 2nd Cent BC) with a semi-spherical dome for the remains, fenced by a wall and 4 entrances and a Chhatri (umbrella symbolising the Lord and the Sovereign). Later a raised square platform was added under the dome with the structures then becoming more complex and sophisticated, adorned with sculptures like Bamiyan Buddhas and paintings (some times in caves i.e. in Ajanta and Barhaut in India). Viharas are monasteries with cells constructed around a court yard, with Stupa in the middle, for monks to stay during the heavy Indian monsoon rains. Normally the monks were not to attach themselves to any fixed place.

With the spread of Buddhism Central Asians including Turks and Mongols adopted and assimilated phrases from Buddhism i.e. Sanskrit and Pali words like Nirvana =Nirvana (Nibanna), Dhamma =Dharma, Cindan =Chandan (sandalwood), used for funerary ceremony, Aratna =Ratan, Stup =Stupa, Mandal= Mandala, Chakra= Chakra, Bodhistava =Bodhistav, Bakshi (accountant)=Bhikku /Bhikshu (because a Bhikshu once did accounts for the Mongols) etc. 

An excavation in 1930s at Moghoki Attar mosque in Bukhara, perhaps the oldest surviving mosque in Central Asia, revealed under it ruins of a Zoroastrian temple destroyed by Arabs and an earlier Buddhist temple beneath it. The name Bukhara itself perhaps derives from Vihara. (Tashkent could be from Tashkhund; region of stones in Sanskrit). There are many ruins of Viharas and Stupas in Termez on Amu Darya (Uzbekistan), Merv (Turkmenistan), Afrasiab (Samarkand), Khojand etc in Ferghana valley and around Lake Issik Kul in Kyrgyzstan .Of course in Eastern Turkistan (and Tibet) apart from the ruins, many thousand old Buddhist manuscripts (300 pages found in Merv too) and books were recovered. Buddhist paintings have also been found in Afrasiab and elsewhere in Central Asia. It is not a simple coincidence that after Islam's arrival all these places became centres of Sufi Islam. From Stupas and Viharas have perhaps emerged sacred tombs, khankahs, darghas and madarsas.

Tombs were not popular in Arab heartland around Saudi Arabia. But the Persian, Turkish, Asian and African, even Berber Muslims accepted Pirs, Calandars, Sheikhs, Babas, Dervishes and others and their tombs became places of worship. Freedom loving eclectic nomads and others resisted Arab warriors in Sogdiana and Central Asia and their still austere Islam. It was only the modified, personalised and spiritual Islam of Persian Samanids based in Bukhara (Ismail's tomb looks like a simple Stupa) that was first accepted by Turks and others in Central Asia .To Islam had been added strands of local religions and beliefs .It is this form of Islam that was spread in India mostly by Sufi saints, but also by forced conversions or inducements.

Sufism developed fully by 12th century by which time Arab Islam had been modified and enriched by streams from Persian, Central Asian and other religions, beliefs and philosophies .It was in the heartland of Arab Islam ie Baghdad and Aleppo, where Sufis saints Al Hajj (for insisting " Ana Al-haq "-I am the Truth) and Suhrawardy were martyred. Because of Sunni hostility tombs were erected much after the martyrdom of Imam Ali and Imam Hussein in Najaf and Karbala. The Wahhabis, Salafis remain deadly opposed to Sufism.

The major Sufi Tariqas ( ways) had central Asian origin or influence i.e., Qadiriyas, Nakshabandis (many current Turkish leaders are its adherents), Rumi's dervishes, Bektashis, the patron saint of non-Turkish (mostly Slav), non-  Muslim ( mostly Christian) born Janissary corps and top Administrators of the Ottoman Empire based on devshirme (slave ) system. Turkey's Shia Alevis' faith (majority from Turkmen Oghuz tribes) has strands from Christian, Shaman and other beliefs.

Intermingling of beliefs and faiths;

Human wish to comprehend and experience the Reality is as old as the natural talent to transcend beyond oneself, until this faculty was dimmed by technological afflictions. There are glimpses of it in earliest Aryan writings like Vedas and Avestan, even among Greek philosophers like Orpheus, Pythagoras, Socrates and others .So the environment and tools existed before formal religions evolved or were revealed.

Buddha himself went through the whole gamut of experiments and meditations including Jain like and other austerities, Hindu systems before realisng Nirvana. And his path and method of meditation were modified in east India, Tibet, China and Japan. If Buddhism influenced the evolution of Sufi Islam then Buddhism itself was influenced earlier by other religions and practices.

Indo-Iranian religion Mithraism flowered between the 2nd and 4th centuries in the Roman world and became very popular among the Roman aristocracy, military leaders and soldiers, traders and slaves with powerful patrons among Roman emperors, like Commodus, Septimium Severus, Caraculla and others. Diocletian built a temple for Mithra near Vienna on Danube as "the Protector of the Empire". He was the god of Light and Sun, contract, loyalty and justice. Celebrations for Mithra's birthday on December 25, the sun's solstice, was so popular in the Asia that Christmas had to be shifted to this day from January 6 to make it acceptable among the masses. Christianity also took over many of the rituals and symbols of Mithraism, like baptism, resurrection and prayers to honor the Sun.

India's Sikh religion also known as gurmat, the teachings of the guru, founded by Guru Nanak (1469-1539), combines many elements of Hinduism and Islam. Guru Nanak believed that one could come close to the God through meditation and devotion .God is the true guru and his divine word has come to the humanity through the 10 historical gurus. Their sacred scripture Adi Granth is also called "Guru Granth Saheb ". The Sikh temples are known as gurdwaras, Guru's door. Many Shi'ites Ghulat groups believe that Ali and the Imams are doors to God. When the Sunni Moghul emperors persecuted the Sikhs and their gurus, Sikh religion took to militancy and those who died for the panth ( gurus' path) became martyrs.

Human beings have evolved many paths to the Reality ie various Yoga systems; Tibetan, Zen, Vipassana and other Buddhist Margs, Jewish Kabbalah, Christian Hesychasm, Gurdjief way, Sufi Tariqas and Transcendental Meditation (TM) in modern times for spiritually challenged materialists. The masses accept what the saints and holy men they trust teach them.

Mosque and tombs

The word mosque itself derives from the Arabic masjid, "a place where one prostrates one's self (in front of God)." In earliest times any place could be used for private prayer with correct direction (qiblah, originally Jerusalem, but soon after Mecca). The collective prayer on Fridays, with a collective swearing of allegiance to the community's leadership also strengthens common bonds among all members of the Ummah.

According to some experts, the Quran does not utter a word for or against the representation of living things. But from about the middle of the 8th century a prohibition was formally stated .It became a standard feature of Islamic thought, even though the form in which it was expressed varied from absolute to partial. It has been suggested that Islam developed this attitude when it came into contact with other cultures and it was felt that the dreaded idol worship might return. The Qur'an (Sura ix, 31) prohibits the veneration of holy men and saints. In early Islam there was no special embellishment of funerary sites; 'the tombs of the rich and poor are! alike'. But the human desire to venerate and by many to be venerated is too old and deep rooted. The first changes occurred through veneration of the tombs of holy persons. 

It appears that the construction of commemorative buildings over certain burial places began in the late 9th and 10th centuries especially over those of Shi'ite saints. Then over the tombs, mostly in Iran and Central Asia, of rulers of marginal or semi-independent regions, who often followed non-Sunni beliefs? T! hey were to project status symbols of secular power and were rather ambitious .In contrast, the tombs of holy men were simpler – which went towards satisfying the devotional needs of the population. Generally complex ensembles grew up around the tombs of many saints, like that of the mystic Sufi poet Jalal ud-Din Rumi, in Konya, or of Bayazid, in Bistam (1313). 

Therefore the earliest surviving tombs belong to Shi'ite persona; the shrine of Fatima, sister of the Imam 'Ali ar-Rida at Qum, and that of the Imam Ali in Najaf. The earliest rulers' tombs are of 'Abbasid Caliphs al-Muntasir (in Samarra in 862), al-Mu'tazz and al-Mohtadi (built as a domed square building enclosed in an octagonal ambulatory) and are better preserved. A feature of royalty mausoleums was its concentration, like the Timurid Shah-i Zinda ensemble in Samarqand of 14th and 15th centuries or the Mamluk tombs of Cairo. 

Mausoleums were also built to commemorate Biblical persons, companions of the Prophet and scholars, popular heroes and ghazis (fighters for the Faith). From 12th century secular mauso­leums proliferated all over the world, in Egypt and Central Asia, northern and north-eastern Iran and Anatolia, and also in India and North Africa. They continue to be built, both for spiritual and secular leaders e.g., Firdausi, Avicenna, Umar Khayya! m, the late Agha Khan and the poet-philosopher Iqbal, and particularly im­posing structures for Riza Shah Pahlavl, Ataturk and Mohammed Ali Jinnah. 

The mausoleum of the Samanids in Bukhara, commonly referred to as the Tomb of Isma'il, was constructed before 943 and consists of a square structure with a large central dome and four small corner ones set over a gallery. Especially noteworthy is the use of bricks to create different pat­terns in its various parts. 

Then of course there are the famous imperial Moghul mausoleums, of Humayun (d. 1556) in Delhi, built of red sandstone and white marble; and the marvel in marble, the Taj Mahal, built in Agra by Emperor Shah Jehan for his favourite queen Mumtaz Mahal. The mausoleum of Akbar (d. 1605) is at Sikandra, and of his son Jehangir (d1627) near Lahore. The word mausoleum comes from the structure built in Asia Minor (Bodrum -Western Turkey) for an Asian ruler, Mausolus by his Queen, around the time Alexander the Great passed that way. 

September4, 2004.Bucharest.

(K Gajendra Singh, served as Indian Ambassador to Turkey and Azerbaijan in 1992-96. Prior to that, he served as ambassador to Jordan (during the 1990-91 Gulf war), Romania and Senegal.  He is currently chairman of the Foundation for Indo-Turkic Studies.  The views expressed here are his own.-



Monday, March 8, 2010





Although the influence of the Turkic languages on Indian languages began in all seriousness from ..... is owned and managed by Boloji Media Inc ...

Türk İşbirliği Ve Kalkınma İdaresi Başkanlığı
... Ahmet Mutahir, Avrupa-Orta Asya İlişkileri. Singh K. Gajendra, Türki
Dillerin Hindustani Dillerin Evrimi ve Gelişmesine Katkısı. ... - 22k -
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 -in your excellent paper... your brilliant  historical research--- .

PN Haksar.; Principal Advisor to PM Indira Gandhi,

Deputy Chairman Planning Commission of India, Diplomat etc.


Thanks for your scholarly thesis.... I  read with renewed  interest  your  paper  on  the  influence  of  Turkish on our language.......  -  a  lot of erudition has gone into it-- we can discuss it when  you  come  to Delhi.....

S. Khuswant Singh; Historian, writer , journalist, member of Parliament .


“I read the article with great interest, since precisely the same thing had been one  of the main discoveries  of  my own earlier research into the  phenomenon of  India ( South Asia ) as a * linguistic area * , culminating in a book (1976) and several articles The “discovery” was that many putative “South Asian “ features turn out, if we only deign to examine their full distributions , to extend beyond the sub-continent, and to be shared with the languages of  Central Asia  in  particular.


It seems  you have with very astute observation independently discovered many of the  same shared features  I  noted , plus a few additional ones.

Colin P. Masica, Professor Emeritus , South Asian Languages & Civilizations and Linguistics ,University of Chicago.


I  read your paper with great interest... the  most  comprehensive  study of  the South Asian ‘linguistic area’ was done by Prof. Colin Masica, University of his book... you might find another  of his books quite informative...

Prof. Alice Davison  , Dept of Linguistics,   University of Iowa.


Thank you.. for  the  very interesting enclosure.. shown to ..Dr Erica Gilson, who ,specialises in Turkish Linguistics and has shown great interest..

Prof.  Bernard  Lewis, Princeton University , New Jersey.


... I am very much interested in’”  languages in contact” and how , in  addition to lexical borrowings, languages of different typologies may be affected. As you correctly point out. very little systematic research  has been carried out regarding the relationship between the languages of the sub- continent and the Turkic  languages  ....Perhaps we can pursue the matter jointly..

Prof. Erika H. Gilson, Princeton  University., New  Jersey.


Thank you... for the  interesting and  intriguing  paper.....I have very much enjoyed reading your article. You  have  laid out  the  issues with great  clarity, and in a way which helps to remove the current distortions  brought to the  field  of  language  use  in India ...Your specific  comments on similarities between Hindustani and Turkish are also very interesting...

Dr. Rupert Snell , Head of Department of Languages and Cultures of South Asia.

School of Oriental and African  Studies, University of  London.   .


I found your article very informative, and I was quite amazed to learn about the Turkic influences on Hindustani, though it makes sense, and I entirely agree with you that linguistic interaction and translation proceeds differently from the imposition of foreign rule...

Gyan  Prakash, Associate Professor, Dept. of History , Princeton University.


I find your paper both scholarly  and  interesting( and agree entirely with your  opening remarks regarding the artificiality of the Hindi / Urdu divide ...)

Philip Lutgendorf , Associate Prof. of Hindi and Modern  Indian Studies,    .     .         Iowa University, Iowa..


I  am grateful for the off-print of  your fascinating article  in the “Foreign Policy” It  looks  very  impressive. I do hope you will continue to conduct further studies on this highly interesting topic and publish them.

Talat S.  Halman, Chairman, Dept of Near Eastern Languages and Literature

New York  University, New York.


..I  read with profit and pleasure ..your article agree that there is a great deal of ignorance about the influence of Turkic languages on the languages of India. I know of  no study which explores this influence in a serious manner and you have  certainly  taken an important step...

Feroz Ahmed, Prof. of History & University Research Professor,

University of Massachusetts,  Boston.


--the erudite Ambassador of the Republic of India in Ankara K. Gajendra Singh has prepared a very interesting cultural study on the influence of Turkic languages on Indian languages , suggestive of the linguistic integration in South Asia.

Seyfi Tashan , Director , Foreign Policy Institute, Ankara.


...   The  issues  raised. by the  author ....are relevant to scholars and students of linguistics and to those  who wish to work on the  history and grammar of   Hindustani.. serious paper ..on a hitherto little explored area  of linguistic relation ship between Turkish and Hindustani in a Historical perspective.

Prof. Suraj Bhan Singh, Chairman  , Commission for  Scientific and

Technical Commission, Dept of  Education, Govt of India, New Delhi



Sent and published in the quarterly Journal of The Foreign Policy Institute , Ankara and “Eurasia ” , journal ( in Turkish and English version ) published by TICA ,Turkish Govt. Agency for Cooperation . Permission conveyed to  “ Man and Development “, India .

Reproduced in Turkish Daily News, Ankara , Forum, Azeri Magazine and “Siyasat” , Urdu Daily , Heyderabad, India. Mentioned in “ Spanish language and the World”  by the University of Valladolid,  Spain. Criticised in Turkish fundamentalist media.

The article has been made available on internet by Universities etc in US, Turkey and India since 1995







Hindustan ... - 42k -
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Türk İşbirliği Ve Kalkınma İdaresi Başkanlığı
... Ahmet Mutahir, Avrupa-Orta Asya İlişkileri. Singh K. Gajendra, Türki
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K.Gajendra Singh


1. The term Hindustan has been used consciously so as to include Pakistan in it, by which name

the Sub-continent was known before its partition in 1947. This paper concentrates mainly on

languages as spoken by the masses, with their natural variations and not so much the written and

the literary forms. We will consider the two major languages, Hindi and Urdu, which are widely

spoken in Hindustan, although claims have been made that Urdu evolved out of Hindi and that

Hindi is only Urdu written in Devanagari script. But the fact of the matter is that both Urdu and

Hindi have evolved from the same colloquial base of Hindustani which was the lingua franca of

Hindustan till its partition. As the well- known scholar and outspoken historian Khushwant

Singh says, since then the Indians have made Hindi more Sanskritised and Pakistanis Urdu more

Persianised, with the result that it is difficult for a common man to understand either Hindi or

Urdu, specially their Radio and TV broadcasts. However, in spite of politically motivated and

necessary corrective measures which new ruling elites usher in to change the complexion of the

official language, if not the language itself, as has happened both in India as well as in Pakistan,

the lingua-franca spoken by the common man in Hindustan, specially those who are illiterate or

semi-literate has not changed that much since 1947. The best proof of this is the language

employed in Hindustani films made in Bombay (India) which really represents the spoken

language of the masses in most of India, and which also remains equally popular in Pakistan.

Whenever the film language became too Sanskritised, the films have not been very popular. At

the same time, when a film on 'Razia' (a Turkish Queen of Delhi) utilised too Persianised Urdu,

its lack of popularity could in some ways be attributed to the difficulty of the masses in

understanding it. Hindustani with its vast vocabulary, form and literary variety provides the lyric

and dialogue writer all the richness, elegance and nuances to express himself. Incidentally,

according to Encyclopedia Britannica (1990 Edition), more than 35 million Indians declared

Urdu as their mother-tongue while in Pakistan the number was less than one- fifth i.e. 6.7

million. (The compilation is old and estimates conservative.) Various forms of Hindustani are

spoken or understood by over 70% of Indian population. The Bombay films have played a major

role in spreading Hindustani in non-Hindi/Urdu speaking areas of South India and North-East.


2. The name Hindustani written as Hindoostanee was coined by an Englishman, Mr. J. B.

Gilchrist (1759-1841), who was the first President of the Fort Christian College, Calcutta which

trained British Civil Servants for service in India. Mr. Gilchrist also wrote a dictionary of

Hindustani and its grammar. As mentioned earlier, from Hindustani have emerged two literary

languages, Hindi in Devanagari script with literary and vocabulary borrowings from Sanskrit

and Urdu in modified Arabic script with borrowings from Persian. Hindustani is much older

form than Hindi or Urdu and many times it referred rather to the region and not so much to the

race or religion. As a matter of fact before the advent of Muslims and others in India, the

languages spoken in Hindustan were known as various Bhashas or Bakhas. Hindustani evolved

out of a score of dialects which are inter-related among themselves and to it. Some of these

dialects and languages are Hindwi, Khariboli, Brij Bhasha, Awadhi, Bagheli, Chhatisgari,

Bundeli, Kanauji, Bhojpuri, Maithili, Gujari, Rajsthani and when it was spoken in South it was

known as Deccani That these languages are dialects of Hindi as claimed by some is not strictly

true. Brij Bhasha was an important literary medium in 15th to 17th century. Both Brij Bhasha

and many other dialects are genetically of different Prakritic origin than Khariboli. All earlier

Hindi literature is in dialects other than Khariboli which became standardised and popular by

the end of the 17th century and language of literature only in 19th century. Brij Bhasha continued

as a medium of poetry till late 19th century. Thus, strictly speaking, the language of modern

Hindi literature is different from that employed in earlier period. The same can be said about the

Urdu which came to be written in the present form from 19th century onwards, although Urdu

poerty flourished much earlier.


3. One of the earlier writers of Hindustani was Amir Khusarao (1253 - 1325) a remarkable

scholar of Persian and Arabic but of Turkish origin. He is claimed both by the Hindi as well as

Urdu protagonists. His dictionary, Khaliq-bari, in verse, of, Persian, Arabic and Hindi words

helped spread Persian and Arabic words and development of Hindustani. In recent times,

writers like Premchand have been claimed both by Hindi protagonists as well as Urdu

spokesmen. The only difference was that the same writer wrote some times in modified Arabic

(Persian) script and some times in Devanagari script. In this paper we would use the word

Hindustani to include Hindi, Urdu and the other forms like Khariboli, Hindvi, etc.


4. The general perception is that Hindustani and its earlier forms evolved out of interaction,

since 11th century AD, between Muslim invaders, rulers, traders and religious men and others

who had come and settled in Hindustan from the north-west and the local Indian population.

Persian was then the language brought by sophisticated Muslim ruling elite from abroad, which

was used for administration, courtly intercourse, etc. Thus the main interaction was between

Persian and the Apbhramsa variation of Prakrit in North and West India, in particular the

Suraseni variety spoken around Delhi and later with the Dravidian languages in Deccan, out of

which Hindustani evolved and developed slowly and unevenly. Many of the books on the

evolution and development of Hindustani were written by the Englishmen in 18th/ 19th century,

who learnt and used it for administration as officers of the East India Company and the British

Empire. It is doubtful if any of them knew Turkish as by the time they arrived on the scene, the

pre-ponderence of Persian during the latter stages of Mughal empire was well established,

although some Turkish was still taught in some Medrasas and households. Persian and Arabic

continued to be taught at universities and schools during the British rule. Therefore, no credit at

all except for some vocabulary is given to Turkish languages in the history of development of

Urdu, Hindi or Hindustani. It is, of course, conceded that the word Urdu (Ordu in Turkish) itself

is of Turkish origin and it means army or military establishment, which was inducted into

Persian by 9l -Khanid historians and accepted in India by Sayyed ruler Khizr Khan for use by

his army and the Court, under the Timurid influence. By 17th century, during the Mughal rule, the

term, Urdu was generally applied to the imperial camp. The language Urdu/Lashkar

Bhasha/Hindustani perhaps started developing seriously as a means of communication from

end-12th century AD between the incoming Muslim rulers, soldiers, traders etc. and local

population, for use in administration, for trading with native shop-keepers, in harems, where

women and attendants were mostly of Hindustani origin. While Turks yielded to Persian words

in matters of administration, poetry and social intercourse, they retained many Turkish words for

military titles, weapons, military commands and organisations. Turkish derivations also exist in

the hunt and hunting, also in terms expressing relationships and conduct in court among the ruling

classes. We must not overlook the role played by Sufi saints in spreading Islam among the

masses by using the new evolving Hindustani. Even today, tombs of Sufi saints are revered

equally among Hindus. The objective of the paper is to advance the view that the Turkic

languages apart from vocabulary, have contributed much more than is acknowledged, both in the

basic structure as well as in the development of Hindustani languages.


5. The vast stretch of area comprising Central Asia, Iran, Afghanistan, north-west Hindustan,

Anatolian Turkey, Northern Iraq etc. has seen intermingling of various races, cultures and

languages throughout history. At least since the days of Mauryan Empire in India (4th century

BC) many rulers with their capital in Hindustan had Afghanistan and parts of Central Asia in

their domains. Therefore, the language of these rulers and their religion spread into Afghanistan,

Central Asia and Eastern Iran. Mauryan Emperor Ashoka and others sent Buddhist preachers up

to Central Asia and many of the tribes there became Buddhists. Turkic tribes like Sakas,

Kushanas, when they settled on India's borders and inside it also adopted languages and

religions of Hindustan. They also adopted Indian scripts which were also transferred to Central

Asia, specially Eastern Turkistan. The way for exchanges was well-known, through the valley of

Kabul river, Peshawar, Jalalabad and through well known routes to Tarim basin. As a matter of

fact this area provided links for commercial, cultural and political exchanges between China on

one hand and India, Central Asia and Western Asia on the other, where intermingling of people

with diverse culture, race, ethnicity, religion such as Indians, Turks and others took place. In this

area, Budhist stupas and shrines, a large number of Bhudhist writings in Prakrit and writings in

Sanskrit as well as in local languages of Central Asia, in Indian scripts like Brahmi and

Devanagari have been discovered, apart from a large number of secular documents, written on

wooden tablets, leather, paper and silk. There are also translations from Sanskrit in Kharosti

script. Translations include astronomical and medicinal subjects. Documents discovered in 10th

& 11th century from Turfan region which can be seen in Berlin cover subjects like medicines &

calendar based on Indian sources. Of course, the Turkish in these documents is quite different

from the present day Turkic languages (Uighur and Cagtai group) spoken in Eastern Turkistan i.e

Kazakhstan, Kyrghystan, Uzbekistan and the Sinkiang region of China. As many philosophical,

spiritual and religious terms of Bhudhism and even Hinduism did not exist, they were inducted

from Pali & Sanskrit into Turkish. Thus Turkish acquired many words of Pali and Sanskrit

origin, some of which have even gone into other languages; Ratan becoming Ardhani is an

example. An example how words change is illustrated from the Budhist word Dhyan

(meditation), which became Jhan in Chinese and Zen in Japanese.


6. Although the influence of the Turkic languages on Indian languages began in all seriousness

from 11th century AD onwards to which we will come to later, various Turkic tribes began their

interaction with Hindustan much earlier than that. After the collapse of Mauryan Empire in 3rd

century BC, a number of Central Asian Turkic tribes, known as Sakas in India and Scythians in

West, came to Hindustan and settled down there. Sakas were actually forced towards Hindustan

by Central Asian tribes, Yueh-chih, who also later entered Hindustan. Sakas ruled from Mathura

(South East of Delhi) and their well-known Kings in 1st century BC were Rajuvala and Sodasa.

They then shifted west to Rajasthan and Malwa. Yueh-chih's chief, Kujula-kara Kadphises

conquered North India in 1st century AD. He was succeeded by his son Vima, after whom came

famous Kanishka. Kanishka's tribe is known as Khushanas in Indian history. Their kingdom

based with Peshawar as capital extended as far as Sanchi in Central India and Varanasi in East

and also included large parts of Central Asia. Not surprisingly, administrative and political

terms from north and west India influenced similar terms in Central Asia. Kushanas became

Budhists and Kanishka spread this religion in Central Asia and elsewhere. Other major tribe

which entered later in 6th Century AD were Huns, a branch of Hephthalis or white Huns, whose

first king came to be known as Toramana in early 6th century and whose son Mihirakula was a

patron of Shavism, a branch of Hinduism. It has been said that these and other tribes which had

come earlier moved into Western and Central India i.e. in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Western

Madhya Pradesh, especially after the break-up of the Gupta Empire. Many historians claim that

by virtue of their valour and other qualities, these tribes were able to get themselves

incorporated into the hierarchy of the Hindu caste system i.e. Khatriyas and are known as

Rajputs (sons of Kings). It is no wonder that the Mongols and other Turkic speaking people

were able to form relationships with Rajputs so very easily. It is possible that some words of

Turkic languages might have been then absorbed in dialects or languages spoken in Rajasthan,

Gujarat and Central India, where these tribes settled. A common word is 'kara' which in Turkish

means 'black' and used for the same colour in West India and as 'Kala' in the rest of the country.

It is a moot point whether the word 'bai' which is written in Turkish as 'baci' and pronounced as

'baji' which means sister or elder woman has persisted from those days. But it was in areas of

Rajasthan and nearby, closer to Delhi where the seeds for the development of Hindustani

languages were sown.


7. After the expansion of Islam into Iran this religion soon spread to Central Asia. The Turks as

they advanced towards Anatolia and Hindustan via Iran and Afghanistan were also Islamised.

Being a simple but hardy people from the Eurasian steppes, where life was austere and without

frills, once the Turks acquired kingdoms, they also acquired along with it symbols and ways of

culture and civilisation, including the use of more sophisticated Persian (and Arabic), the

language of the people they conquered. (To begin with Omayands had also taken over Byzantine

system lock stock and barrel in Damascus). It is noteworthy that except in Central Asia, which

remains the home of Turks and Anatolia i.e. Republic of Turkey (and Azeri areas), in most of the

other areas they ruled, the Turks adopted the language of the ruled, albeit they introduced some

of their own vocabulary and influenced the grammar of the language of their subjects.


8. In the medieval history of Hindustan, the Turkic tribes played a major role among the Muslim

conquers and rulers who came and made India their home. The Turkic raids began in the first

half of 11th century starting with Sabuktgin and the process of establishment of their kingdoms in

North & West of Hindustan started from late 12th century. Although Sindh was conquered by the

Arabs, soon after the establishment of the Abbassid Khalifate in 8th Century AD, this played

directly only a marginal role in influencing the culture and civilisation of Hindustan. It is

interesting that in Malayalam (language of Kerala), Hindustani is known as Tuluk Bhasha and the

word Tulukan used for Muslims and Tulukachi for Muslim woman. The languages spoken by the

people of Turkey is called Tuluk Bhasha. This is interesting because the relations between the

Kerala coast and the Arab world predate Islam and there has been constant interaction between

the Malabar coast of Kerala and the Arab world but still the word for a Muslim is Tulukan.


9. The impact and embedding of Islam and Islamic and Turkish culture into Hindustan took place

during the Turco-Afghan period of India's history from end-12th century to early l6th century

(and continued during the Mughal period). Even if some of the Sultans and rulers claimed

Arabic or Afghan descent, the majority of the elite consisted of people of Turkic & Turanian

origins ( not many of these tribes and individuals came from the Rumi Seljuk or Ottoman

territories.) Many of them came as simple soldiers and some period chieftains. From the very

early days of the Islamic history (second half of Abbassid period), many non-Turkish kings and

Sultans maintained Turkish households of slaves brought over from Central Asia which

provided them loyal soldiers and military leaders. Many of them rose by hard work and merit

and reached the top ranks of the ruling elite and King makers. Some even became Sultans.


10. Some of the prominent names of Turkish rulers in Hindustan are Mahmud of Ghazni,

Muhammad Gori, Kutubuddin Aybak, Iltutmish, Balban, and of course, Khiljis (known as

Halach, in Turkish kh becomes h) and Tughlaks. According to some estimates, the Turks

comprised up to 60% or more of the ruling elite during the medieval period of Indian history. It

should also be noted that Timurid King, Babar, founder of the Mughal dynasty, was a Cagtai

Turk and wrote his Babarname in Cagtai and not in Persian. So did his sons Humayun and

Kamran write poetry in Turkish. However, by the time of Akbar's reign the percentage of Turkish

chieftains in the ruling elite had been reduced to one-fourth. It was a conscious political

decision, as Turks and specially Mongols, nomad by life style, are more independent by nature

and believe in equality and freedom. The Turanian/Mongolian concept of ruler ship is vested in

the family and not in an individual. Humayun and Akbar had great trouble in subduing and

disciplining their Turanian/Mongol origin nobles. Preference was given to Persians, Afghans &



11. It has been rightly claimed by many scholars in South India that a considerable process of

development and even preservation of Hindustani took place in Deccan where it came to be

known as Deccani, although the seeds of the birth of the language had been sown in North India

from where it was taken to Deccan by Muslims conquers starting with Turkish Khilji (Halac)

rulers and later Tughlak (again Turkish) rulers; Muhammed Tughlak even shifted his capital to

the South for some time. Later a large number of kingdoms by Turkic tribes, in which they

formed a fairly large proportion of the elite, were established in South India, i.e Bijapur,

Golcunda, etc. When Allaudin Khilji conquered Deccan, the appointed Turks as chiefs for each

villa e to look after its security, safety and administration. Most of them called their relatives to

assist them. Thus both in the beginning of the evolution of Hindustani in the North and later in its

further development in Deccan, a majority of the elite was of Turkic origin who while using

Persian for administration must have used Turkish at inter-personal level and thus helped

continue evolution of Hindustani in its various forms. The Deccani period also saw influx into

Hindustani of not only Dravadian words but also its influence on its grammar and syntax and

vice versa. We might even say that the Deccani period probably saved Hindustani from

becoming totally Persianised as perhaps happened to it at many places in North India,


12. It has been estimated that Hindustani and Turkish have thousands of words in common,

mostly from Persian and Arabic, Some estimates put them around three to four thousand, with

over five to six hundred words of Turkish origin in Hindustani. The comparison is basically

with the Republic of Turkey's Turkish (of Oguz family), which since 1930s has been purged of

many Arabic and Persian words. Perhaps the number of common words between Hindustani and

Turkish as spoken in East, i.e. Uzbekistan and East (Uighur and Cagtai family) could, perhaps,

be more. Some examples of Turkish words in Hindustani are: Top, Tamancha, Barood, Nishan,

Chaku, Bahadur, Begum, Bulak, Chadar, Chhatri, Chakachak, chikin (embroidery), Chamcha,

Chechek, Dag, Surma, Bavarchi, Khazanchi, Bakshi (accountant), Coolie, Kanat, Kiyma, Kulcha,

Korma, Kotwal, Daroga, Koka, Kenchi, Naukar, etc. Obviously, the number of Turkigh words in

Hindustani is not as large as that of Persian and Arabic, because, the latter was the language of

the Holy Koran (although Seljuk Turk rulers in Asia Minor and Iran had discouraged use of

Arabic except for religion), which exercised influence over all believers and the former was the

language of administration and aristocracy. I presume studies on the influence of Turkish on the

Persian language and Arabic, have been done.


13. Hindustani has surprising similarity in Grammar and Syntax structure with Turkish, though

origins of both the languages are from different language families. For example, normally both in

Hindustani and in Turkish first comes the subject, then the object etc. and finally tie verb, i.e.

SOV order unless emphasis is to be given, with somewhat similar stem endings. There are

considerable resemblances in the declensions of the verb in Turkish and Hindustani. But,

Turkish has only one gender while Hindustani has two. As I know soma Arabic, I can say that

there appears no similarity at all between Hindustani and Arabic syntax and grammar. I know

little Sanskrit or Persian grammar, but both languages belong to the same family of Indo-Iranian

group and my feeling is that their syntax is also closer to Hindustani. While Persian like Turkish

has one gender, Sanskrit has three, i.e. male, female and neuter. Sanskrit also allows more

flexibility in the placing of subject, object, etc. It may be admitted that human beings while

evolving speech patterns did not have much choice in shuffling subject, object, verb, etc. Still

that Sanskrit/Persian syntax is somewhat similar to Turkish, is a somewhat strange coincidence,

the latter belonging to the Ural-Altay group of languages. With Hindustani the similarity is

further accentuated. It may also be noted that the areas from where Turkish and Indo-European

languages emerged in Central Asia were not far from each other. Some similarities with Sanskrit

are: dvihyrdaya (carrying two hearts, pregnant), in Turkish "iki canli" means, the same, two

lives. In Hindi/Sanskrit, we have Chitrakar (painter), Murtikar. In Turkish we have "Sanatkar"

(Artist), Curetkar (courageous). Sun in Sanskrit/Hindi is Dinesha, while in Turkish it is

"Gunes." First segment in both "din" and "gun" means day - perhaps linked with sunrise in cold

climate. We may also note that the syntax of Germanic languages is quite different from Sanskrit

and Persian, which are supposed to belong to the same family of Indo-European languages. We

may now look at more similarities between Hindustani and Turkish. (Please note that in Turkish

C is pronounced as J and C as Ch, G is silent when placed between vowels, which it

accentuates. H: stands for Hindustani and T: for Turkish.)


14. There are no articles or declensions in Turkish or Hindustani; the relationship of the words

are expressed through 'case endings' as well as post-positions. (It would be interesting to study

if Turkish helped speedy change-over from declensions to post-positions from Apbhramsh to

Hindustani). The infinite noun functions as nominative and as indefinite. The accusative has thus

two forms: the definite (with accusative ending) and the indefinite (the same as the nominative).

Thus, "call a girl" - H: "ek larki bulao" T: "bir kiz çagir" but "call my servant", H: "mere naukar

ko bulao"- T: "Benim hizmetciyi çagir". The word order in Turkish and Hindustani is same

(This is also so in the following examples).


15. The genitive comes before the agent e.g. 'the son of the teacher' T: 'ustanin oglu' H: 'ustad ka

beta'. The genitive also expresses possession: 'whose house is this?' T. "Bu ev kimindir?", H:

'Woh ghar kiska hai?'. If a noun is in present, it goes into the genitive. It must therefore be

constructed as: 'the man(he) has a house', T: "Adamin bir evi var", H: "Adami ka ek ghar hai".

Also 'to have' as incidental possession is similarly expressed: "I have a book", T: 'Ben de bir

kitab var', H: 'mere pas ek kitab hai'. The ablative is also used to express the comparative case:

'the elephant is larger than the horse' T: 'Fil attan buyuktur', H: 'Hathi ghore se bara hai'. For

emphasis both languages use the Arabic adverb 'ziada' - for more. 'In addition it can be rendered

as in T: 'daha' or in H: 'bhi'. The adjective is before the active or passive voice and does not

change except in the case of (in H) adjectives ending with a. "The/a good girl, T: "iyi kiz", H:

Achhi lardki". The adjective can be strengthened in both languages through simple repetition as

well as through the adverb "very much " T:( pek çok); H:( bahut).In H:' Ahista ahista' (slowly),

T:' yavas yavas'. Quickly becomes, T: "çabuk çabuk", H: 'Jaldi Jaldi'( not used in Arabic and

Sanskrit perhaps). Sometimes alliteration is used, for example, H: 'ulta multa' mixed up. The

alliterations are found especially in the passive or active voice (substantive) e.g.;. H: "kitab

mitab" - books and suchlike and "bartan wartan"- dishes and suchlike, "Hara bhara"(Green),

"Chota mota"(small). In Turkish, 'kötu mötu' (so-so), 'çocuk mocuk'(children etc), 'tabak mabak',

(plates and suchlike). Popular in both languages are doubled substantives: Turn by turn or "again

and again", becomes in T: "dizi dizi" and in H: 'bari bari'.


16. Distributive are also thus expressed: "each man", T: "bir bir (or tek tek) adam," H: "ek ek

adami", the interrogative further contains the meaning of the indefinite: "whoever", T: "kim kim",

H: "jo jo". With number it is, T: "iki defa" H: "do dafa" (twice); 40 doors, in H: "Chalis

darwaza", T: kirk kapi. In both languages numbers are preferably expressed without 'and/or' e.g.

'five or ten', H: panch das, T: bes on. Post positions are characteristic in both languages; 'for the

dog'in H: 'kutte ke vaste', T: 'köpek için'; and towards the house', H: 'ghar ke taraf', T: 'evin

tarafina'. As mentioned earlier, the verb is always found at the end of the sentence. The normal

sentence structure SOV is illustrated as follows: 'I give this thick book with pleasure to that

good child', T: ben sevincle, o iyi çocuga bu kalin kitabi veriyorum, H: 'main khushi se us achhe

bacche ko yeh moti kitab deta hun'. In Turkish, verbs are often used with a Substantive or

Participle e.g. 'etmek' to make and 'olmak' to be, in H: 'karna'- to do, and 'hona' -being. For

'search' T: 'telaÿ etmek', H: 'talas karna'. Or 'be present', T: 'dahil olmak' H: 'dakhil hona'.

Factual verbs are also similarly constructed. H: 'bana' (made), 'banana' (make), 'banwana' ( have

it made); in T: 'Yapmak' (make), 'yaptirmak'( have it made), ;yapilmak'(to bo made); H:

'Badalna'(to change oneself), 'badlana'(changing), badalwana (to have it changed) becomes in T:

'degismek' (to change onself), 'degistirmek' (to change) and 'degistirtmek (to have it changed).


17. Indirect speech is made direct 'tell him to come here', H: 'Idhar ao usko bolo', T: 'buraya

gelsin diye ona söyleyin'. The verb root ending - ip in Turkish and the simple verb root in

Hindustani attached to the principal verb show the order of occurrence of an event. For example,

'they saw the thief and held him fast', H: 'chor ko dekh umon ne usko pakra', T: 'Hirsizi görup

yakaladilar'. The constructed verbal form (in Turkish)- arak and (Hindustani)-kar, -arke serves

in the rendering of Subordinate or dependant clauses - 'in which, during' e.g. 'taking a vessel, he

went to the well' H: 'bartan lekar kuan par gaya, T: 'Canak alarak kuyuya gitti'. Also common

adverbial expressions such as 'he came running', T: 'Kosarak geldi', H: 'daurkar aya'. As in

Turkish the twice repeated verb root plus e shows repeated or continuous action, as does the

twice repeated verb of the present participle, H: 'main tairte tairte thak gaya', T: 'Yuze yuze

yoruldum'. Both languages have a number of vowel compositions, (in Hindustani) as when the

root as well as the (in Turkish) root plus a are set together with the declenated infinitive e.g. 'to

be able to speak' T: 'konusabilmek', H:'bol sakna', 'he began to say' H: 'woh bolne laga', T:

'Söylemege basladi'. Some similarities in idiomatic expressions are: the showing of suffering is

pointed out through the expression of 'eating'- e.g. H: 'lakri or mar khana'; T: 'Sopa yemek' - to

eat the stick - to get a beating. Endure suffering or to grieve, becomes in T: 'Gam yemek', H:

'gham khana'. (Note: Many of the above mentioned examples have been taken from a 1955

article by Otto Spies on the subject - the only paper on the subject I have come across since I

published my earlier paper on 1.6.1994.)


18. The examples quoted above on the similarities of syntax, vocabulary, etc. Between Turkish

and Hindustani are based on comparison with the Ottoman and the present- day Turkish i.e. Oguz

branch as spoken in the Republic of Turkey. Syntax etc. of Turkish is quite similar to Eastern

Turkish i.e. Uighur branch although there are variations. But certainly the Eastern Turkish must

be closer to Hindustani as most of the Turkic tribes who came to Hindustan belonged to that

area. It may also be mentioned that of the common words in Turkish and Hindustani, whether of

Turkish origin or otherwise, 20% have quite different meanings and nuances when used in

Hindustani. This, of course is, true of even languages which have developed and evolved in

separate regions and are influenced by the environment and other factors and become quite

different from the original. Even in Turkic countries, the same words have different meaning e.g.

in Turkey or say in Sinkiang, Kazakhstan or Kyrgyzstan. It is for this reason that the Turkic

governments have set up Commissions consisting of scholars from Turkic speaking countries of

Central Asia, Turkey and Azerbaijan to prepare a comparative dictionary and grammar. (last

such attempt was made by Mahmud AI Kashghari in the 11th century AD.) The newly

independent countries in Central Asia feel that they must harmonise the syntax, grammar and

vocabulary of their languages. This has been the objective of many get togethers of Turkic

people, scholars and academicians, which have started taking place. Perhaps some Sanskirt,

Hindustani and Persian scholars could also join and discover further resemblance between

Turkish and Hindustani languages.


19. We will leave it to linguists and philologists to work out how Hindustani languages evolved

and developed but to a layman it is clear that people learn or try to learn the ruler's language or

of a dominating power. It is for this reason that we see the dominance of English and French in

their former colonies and the lasting influence of these languages on the languages of the latter.

And it is for this reason alone that English continues to dominate international communications,

earlier because of the British influence and now on account of ths USA. I believe that even

whene languages were imposed, it is not as such the movement of races, as claimed, but only of

the powerful elites; military, political or economic. There were Copts and Berbers in North

Africa when the Arabs came and Byzantine Christians when Turks entered Asia Minor. Turkey

sent over 1.5 million Christians to Greece in 1920s out of a population of over 11 million, in

exchange for Muslim Turks; this was after 6 centuries of Islamisation and Turkification.

(Ironically, these included many thousand Christian Turks, who had come to Asia Minor earlier

than the Muslim Turks and had remained Christians.) Moldova's Turks called Gagaoz are

Christians. Thus the languages and religions of the ruled do not change quickly and continue to

interact and affect each other. So was the case in Hindustan and elsewhere.


20. According to linguists the evolution of Hindustani or any other language is a result of contact

situation in which more than two languages interact on the basis of belonging to the ruler and the

ruled. The socio-linguistic forces give power and prestige to the languages of the ruler with the

result that it begins to exercise linguistic influence on the language of the ruled. First in the field

of vocabulary and later on in some vulnerable areas of syntax. But linguistic resemblance, apart

from common parentage, can also be based on geographical and physical proximity. Essentially

different but geographically and physically proximate languages are often known to exhibit

shared linguistic features. This probably explains similarities in Sanskrit and Turkish as these

languages originated around Central Asia. This also explains the similarities between

Indo-Aryan and Dravidian languages or Persian, Turkish and Hindustani. This feature was

studied in detail by Mr. Emeneau, which led him to develop the concept of linguistic areas.

perhaps Central Asia, Anatolia, lran, Afghanistan and North Hindustan could be said to belong

to overlapping linguistic areas, where languages belonging to different families have acquired

common traits following interaction, as a result of which, this vast area shows shared linguistic

features like word-order, reduplication, inter-relations, negations, compound words etc. This

also explains similarities between Deccani Hindi and Telgu in certain areas of syntax.


21. It is noteworthy that except for some inscriptions near Orhon river, which are in Turkish

Rhunic script, which itself was derived from Aramaic (a fact contested by many experts), the

mother script of Semitic languages, Turkish has been mostly written in the script of the ruled

people. Brahmi, Kharoshti and Devanagri scripts, though not of the ruled, are perhaps the

earliest of scripts used for writing Turkish as spoken by Uighur Turks in Eastern Turkistan. They

were used in spite of many difficulties in expressing the Turkish vowels (not easier to write in

Persian or Arabic script either) which do not exist in Hindustani languages. Brahmi script is of

Indian origin; it might have been inspired by the Aramaic script, but is not related to it and was

used widely in Hindustan even before the Budhist era and was used by Mauryan King Ashoka

for inscriptions in India and elsewhere. It was taken to Central Asia and other neighbouring

countries. Out of Brahmi have evolved most other North Indian scripts like Devanagari, Bengali,

Gujarati etc. Apart from the modified Arabic script, the other scripts used for writing Turkish

are Cyrillic, introduced by the Russians in what are now Central Asian Republics, although at

one time it was written in the Latin script. This change-over to Cyrillic perhaps took place both

because the Turkish Republic had adopted it in early 1930s and for reasons of state, i.e.

maintaining a scriptal cohesiveness. The Russians wanted its citizens in Central Asia to use the

same script as of the dominant Russian language for easy switch over. It has been alleged that

during the Soviet days, differences in meanings of Turkish words in different republics were

encouraged. Thus Turkic languages have evolved differently in Eastern Turkistan, i.e.

Uzbekistan, Kyrghystan Kazakhstan etc. Sinkiang Turkish with reduced contacts has perhaps

developed peculiarities of its own. To remedy the situation, the Government of Turkey has

granted tens of thousands of scholarships to students and teachers from Turkic Republics. A

large number of Turkish teachers have also gone to teach at schools and universities in these

countries. Students coming from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrghystan, etc. take a few months

before they can fully master the Turkish as spoken in the Turkish Republic. The Turkic

Republics have considered the question of change over from the Cyrillic to the Latin script.

Azerbaijan has already done so after adding three more alphabets to the script used by Turkey.

Turkmenistan had decided to switch over to the Latin script with some modifications from 1st

January 1995. Others have not decided yet. The choice is not easy as switch-over to Latin script

while opening a window to Turkey and all that Turkey has done through translations and

assimilation of knowledge from the West, would cut these Republics from their immediate past,

written in the Cyrillic script. Switch over to the Arabic script would be a political decision, as

it will make access to the Persian-Arab Islamic world easier. Those responsible for the

decision for the change-over have to consider political, cultural, religious, economic and other



22. It would appear that the Turkic rulers were much more statesmen-like and liberal in

interaction with those whom they ruled. They did not insist on their language being imposed on

the new subjects, notwithstanding the fact that the languages of some of the ruled were much

more developed than Turkish. (For beautiful, like, love; for example, Turkish has very few

synonymous, unlike say Persian, Sanskrit, Arabic, etc.) It has also been suggested that many

Turkish rulers became Muslim for political and state-reasons. It automatically combined the

powers of the Sultan and the Khalifa, thus making it easier to rule the domains. Of course, as

regards Turkish expansion of Ottoman Empire and into Hindustan, being a Gazi provided great

incentive and booty. Some have even raised doubts whether Ertugrul, father of Osman who

established the Ottoman (Osmanli) dynasty in Asia Minor (Anatolia) was Muslim by birth. It has

been suggested that he converted to Islam when he married the daughter of a powerful Islamic

Sheikh to strengthen his position. But there is no conclusive proof for this, notwithstanding the

fact that many Turks like Gagaoz and others have remained Christians. Some suggestions have

been made recently (Prof. Julian Raby of Oxford has done a PhD thesis on this subject) that

Fetih, the Conqueror of Constantinpole, seriously considered in 1450s embracing Orthodox

Christianity, as Westwards the population was mostly Christian and even in Asia Minor a fairly

large percentage of population might still have been Christian. lt was nearly 15% in as late as

1920s. The generosity of the Turkish rulers and their political wisdom and acumen is proved by

the fact that they allowed people of other religions i.e. Christians, Jews, Armenians to have their

own millets. As long as they paid their taxes, they were allowed to run their own affairs and

even contribute to the economic well-being of the state. As regards Turkey, then known as Asia

Minor, it was part of the Byzantine Empire and the Turkish blood (if one can measure it?) among

the residents of the present day Turkey may not be more than 20%. It may be recalled that the

Ottoman rulers themselves used the slave households system called Devsirme, through which,

for hundreds of years, they recruited young non- muslim Christian boys, mostly from Balkans.

Out of them emerged the Janissary corps and high level military and civilian leaders, including

grand veziers. Only one-third of grand veziers could claim Turkish descent. Barring a few,

mothers of most of the Ottoman Sultans were non-Turkish, a large number of them Christians.

The former were allowed to have their religious entourage and many Ottoman princes were

brought up almost as Christians. These examples have been given to state that Empires did not

change their religious, ethnic or linguistic character suddenly. There were long periods of

interaction between various religions, races, languages and cultures, one affecting the other. No

wonder, in Istanbul, Ankara and elsewhere in Turkey, many resemble the peoples of Balkans

and Yugoslavia who dominated the Ottoman elite. In fact, anthropologists have counted more

than 20 ethnic groups in Turkey.


23. Similarly in India, once the Turks had decided to settle down, they started inter-mingling and

inter-mixing. Allaudin Khilji and his sons married daughters of Hindu Kings and from the

earliest period set an example. Hindus occupied positions of power in his court. The practice of

marriages with families of Hindu Kings, especially in Rajasthan became very common after

Mughal Emperor Akbar. Akbar and his descendents gave full honour and positions to their

in-laws. Many of them were Mughal Commander-in-Chiefs and high officials. Accountants and

many Veziers like Birbal were Hindus. If Mehmet, the Conqueror, thought of embracing

Christianity, Akbar conversed with the sages of all religions, of which his populace consisted of

and even evolved a new religion 'Din-e-Elahi'. In contrast, Aurangzeb following fanatic policies

virtually destroyed the empire, built up by his forefathers. The inter-mixing and respect for

others' languages, religions and culture co-existed with some equality and were able to influence

each other.


24. The objective of this paper is to start discussions and further research on the question of

influence of Turkic languages on Hindustani languages, especially on Hindi and Urdu and their

various forms. Except from late 18th century till first half of 20th century there was constant

exchange and interaction between the peoples of Hindustan and Central Asia. (After India's

independence, she was able to maintain cultural and other contacts with Turkic people in the

former Soviet Union.) Now that, after the break-up of the Soviet Union, countries in Central

Asia like Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrghystan, Kazakhastan, have become independent, more

contacts and cultural and literary interaction can and should be established. The new era

provides an opportunity not only to discover old historical and cultural relationships between

the peoples of Hindustan and Turkic Republics and others, based on archives available in newly

emerged Turkic Republics and elsewhere and those lying unutilised and unread in the Hindustan;

but also to build on them further.                                                                                  





                                                                                                                   30 March ,1998