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Forgotten Sindhi Script – Waranki

Forgotten Sindhi Script – Waranki

The search for any indigenous Brahmi based scripts often starts & terminates at Hat-Wanaki. This despite that fact that Sindhu-Saraswati civilization of Sindh had the very nucleus of not only Indus valley civilization but of Vedic civilization as well.  Arabic Writer Al- Burni in his writings on ancient Sindh did mentioned three  scripts to be in vogue before the Arab invasion of Sindh  viz. Malwari, Hinduvi & Ardhanagri. Yet confusion remains. One of the reasons of such confusion had been lack of historical evidences to counter verify the usage of Brahmi based scripts in Sindh. In 1958 a team led by researchers led by F A Khan did find some sort of evidences of the scripts used in ancient  Sindh city of Bhanbhor which was approximately 40 Miles from the Sindh’s capital Karachi. Unfortunately the volume of such evidence is too little to construct the entire script as it existed in ancient Sindh.  One of the main reasons needless to say had been the massive Arab Invasion of Sindh which swept all traces of Hindu culture. What Arabs destroyed never got rebuild

In the context of Writing Systems in Sindh one can conveniently divide Sindh’s History in two parts. Viz. One before the Arab invasion and the other that followed after the massive upheaval that changed Sindh in all possible manner – culturally, socially and politically. Needless to say while almost all the North and west Indian Scripts could easily be traced to its brahmi , Sindhi never been that much fortunate. A close analysis revels more than once reason for loss of Historical loss of archeological evidence viz.

A)    Post Arab Invasion there was an virtual slaughter of Sindhi Hindu Sadhus- the custodian of Learning in ancient India  – Such void had a disastrous effect on Sindh which never could be reversed.

B)     Post Arab invention every attempt was made to wipe out Hindu civilization & Culture including language from Sindh

C)    In Kashmir & Punjab where even Hindus regained power from Muslims, the contemporary rulers reintroduced Brahmi based scripts but in Sindh Post Dahir Hindus never to could settle themselves and even those who did settle themselves after accepting Islam never bothered to reintroduce Sindhi Language in Sindh leave apart the Brahmni scripts

D)   Ever since the massive Arab invasion Hindus were in a bitter struggle of existence. A struggle that continues even today in post-partition Sindh

E)    Despite Sindhi Muslim pride for Mohen Jo Daro civilization there had been very few instances where they had been interested in preserving pre Islamic Hindu culture of Sindh.

There had been a near unanimous consensus based on hard archaeological proofs that almost all of the scripts  of South Asia including those of Indian subcontinent have their origin in Brahmi script. It had been conclusively proved that a gradual transformation did take place spanning thousands of years for the present day scripts to develop as they are today. The figure below depicts the most likely path that Brahmni took in Sindh, Punjab & Kashmir.

Path of Waranki from Brahmi to Present Day
Path of Waranki from Brahmi to Present Day

In the year 1958 a research team headed by Dr F A Khan while looking for ancient civilization in Southern Sindh did traced some ancient script. Apart from this there had been very few traces which would clearly establish the link which would conclusively proves that path that Sindhi script might have taken to reach  Waranki Script – A form of Landa scripts. Moreover there is still a mystery as how and when Brahmi in Sindh drifted towards Sharda script- The general belive is that the script of  Ancient Kashmir Sharda is to be the mother of North western Indo-Aryan Languages.

In 1843 with the advent of British in Sindh, Sindhi Language got back it official status after 1500 years of brutal Islamic rule. Among those westerners who worked on contemporary scripts were Garrison (Linguistic Survey Of India), Captain George Stack  (Writer of Sindhi Grammar & Dictionary in Devanagari  Script) and William Litnenar (1882) A collection of specimen of commercial and other Alphabets .

The scripts that were in vogue at time of advent of British are as follows as collected by Garrison

Scripts of Sindh by Garission
Scripts of Sindh by Garission
Scripts of Sindh by Garission
Scripts of Sindh by Garission

In total Garrison suggested 13 scripts being used in various parts of Sindh but an insight into the scripts show striking similarity among them. An close analysis of Socio-Political conditions prop up multiple reasons for the variations of the Landa based Waranki scripts.

A)    Ever Since the fall of Maharaja Dahir Sindhi Language was shunted out for Arabic or Persian Languages. Even Arabic Sindhi Scripts used by Muslims till the advent of British lacked consistency. With practically no support from  Muslim rulers Sindhi was reduced to a almost a Spoken Language. Hindus in Sindh used to write in Sindhi only to the extent of maintaining business accounts.

B)    There was a tendency among Sindh’s Business class to modify the script as they wished as Hindu Businessmen tend to modify it in order to codify the language a bit as it is normally done today for secrecy

C)    Hindus pundits  who used us teach Warenki made very little attempt to implement some form of standardization in Scripts across Sindh.

D)   Since no literature used to be written in this script it was merely reduced to an Mercantile script

In the Pre-British days, Arabic was the official language. Among Hindus who used to work under Muslim rulers had to learn the Arabic & Persian mandatory. The business class however continued with the home grown scripts and lac of knowledge of these scripts among ruling Muslim class if fact benefited them. Among the various reasons on why  Muslim rulers started the policy of recruiting Hindus was latter knowledge of Hindu scripts as it was called in those days. Situation in the context of script however changed once British occupied Sindh and Sindhi was reinstated as sole official Language of Sindh. Under British rule  all Government  officers (both British & non Sindhi Indians)  to clear an exam on Sindhi mandatorly  before being recruited to work in Sindh. As expected Script become an issue in Sindh. Although Hindus in committee set up for the standardization of Script opted for Devanagri a parallel movement started to recognize Warenki/Khudabadi as the standard Sindhi Script. Sindh Sanskar Sabha,  Hyderabad Sindh had been the frontal organization leading the moment for acceptance of such script, Coincidentally in 1867 while Sindh was still a part of Bombay Presidency a Script based of Waranki was put forward. The creator of the script was none other than deputy Inspectior of Education Mr Nayayan Jagarnath Vaidya. The script was a modified version of Khudabadi version of Warenki and some admixture of Shikarpuri version. Termed as Hindu-Sindhi or Hindi Sindhi , the script cleared the issue with vowels – a major drawback of its previous versions.

Waranki Script by Mr Nayayan Jagarnath Vaidya
Waranki Script by Mr Nayayan Jagarnath Vaidya

The British Government not only initiated Primary Education in this script but even started maintaining lower court records in the script. In the days & months even Sindhi Literature started to appear in this script. The first book in modified Hindu Sindhi was of Folk tale of Dodo Chaneser and in 1899 the first sindhi literary magazine “Sukhri” came up.  The popularity of the script could be measured by the fact that Sindh Bible society published its sermons of St. Matthew too in this script.


Unfortunately the golden days of the Hindu-Sindhi Script did not last long. The way Sharda script was opposed in Kashmiri Muslims Waranki too was bitterly  opposed by Muslims in  Sindh. Coincidently for the same reason that so called Brahmi based scripts cannot accommodate muslin vocabulary. Muslims in Sindh oppose not only Waranki but Devanagri as well based on same logic.

A close analysis of script visa a vis Sindhi communities as existed in Sindh however brings to fore a different prospective. Another Brahmi based scripts was in vogue in Sindh which haven’t been talked about significantly viz Khojki. The word  Khojki comes from Persian work “Khwaja” meaning Master. This script was a modified version of Lohanki script with additional marks to express Persian / Arabic words. Compared to Khudabadi or any other formats which were used for Business purpose Khojki was used for Writing religion teaching of Ismali sect among Muslims. Spread across Sindh, Kutch & Kathiawar (in present day Gujarat) this script was widely employed to spread religions teaching and have found its way across multiple states. Legend says  writings of Ismali Muslims were kept secret and the access was limited to few followers for years and that is how this script eventually survived the turbulent Islamic rule in Sindh. This script only showed up in latter part of 19 & early 20th. Century.

An Comparative study of Khojki with Warenki/Khudabadi, Gurumukhi & Devanagri proves that the script was much ahead of Waranki and had the potential to even replace Warenki however that never happened and Sindhi Language remain captive of foreign scripts.

The Figures below clearly demonstrates the power of Khojki

Khojki Script
Khojki Script
Khojki Script
Khojki Script

As regards the Status of Landa depended Brahmi based script in Sindh & Punjab, the scripts that comes closest of all non Landa scripts in Takri. Takri was initially widely used in Southern Kashmir & Himachal Pradesh for writing the so called Pahari (Mountain ) Languages before being eventually replaced by Devanagri. The study of Takri clearly demonstrated its similarity with Landa especially its Vowel signs. Moreover since till the time of Maharaja Dahir the border of Sindh touch Southern Kashmir which make one believe that in ancient times Sindhis & Kashmiri might had a very close relationships.

Till 1947 Hindus could not convince Muslims to agree of Khojki or Khudabadi scripts. One prime reason being that Muslim always see any Indian brahmni based scripts as “Hindu” Scripts. It was even difficult in Sindh considering that Muslims had been using a form of corrupted Arabic- Persion Script. Although not perfect the script had a large following and it was unlikely that they would have accepted. The socio-Politial conditions in British Sindh too did too do not support such acceptance considering that in Sindh Muslims as community drifted towards what is referred as their Arabic roots.

A close analysis of Landa script had a remarkable feature in Sindh & Punjab. Both the flavors might have a common origin but when it came to development have been on different angles. Another major difference has been the case of Gurumukhi. Which Sikhs in Punjab transformed Punjabi Landa into Gurmulki in Sindh Landa remain in the first stage and could not proceed much. Incidentally in Northern Sindh Gurumukhi was even used to Write Sindhi. Popularity of Gurumukhi in writing Sindhi was such that even Capt. George Stack even considered as to be more adaptable to Sindhi words than Devanagri. However surprisingly it may seem but Sindhis never used their version of Landa but were open to the use of Punjabi Landa aka Gurumukhi

A close analysis of Landa (both of Sindh & Punjab), Takri and Sharda shows remarkable similarity between the scripts which re-established the fact that Sindh, Punjab & Kashmir including Jammu & Himachal Pradesh shows close proximity to with each other and significantly it reinforces the belief that Both Sindhi script (Warenki) and Gurumukhi might have a common ancestry in Sharda.

Takri-Gurumukhi- Landa comparision

In Sindh Warenki (or Khojki) could not make any return to glorious days. Some linguistic believe it could never been possible though. Majority Muslim Sindh would never have accepted any Brahmni based script. Needless to say even if British had accepted Warenki or Devanagari Script as an official script of Sindhi Language , there was a real likelihood of Muslims in Sindh of accepting Urdu (considered de-facto language of Muslims in British days) as sole official Language of Sindh  just as Muslims did  in Pre-Partition Punjab  & Kashmir.

For the Hindus in Sindh they hardly any other choice then to accept a modified Persio-Arabic script for Sindhi. Had they not accepted there was near certain likelihood that Sindhi language would have suffered in Sindh massively but Sindhi Hindus made huge blunders in India by insisting upon Arabic script as the official script of Sindhi Language. Post migration Sindhis got a excellent opportunity to clean up the mess regarding the script but internal divisions among sindhis in the name of Scripts insured that they lost the opportunity. The irony is that sindhis fought among themselves on the scripts viz Arabic & Devanagari while their own indigenous languished in the sidelines.

While Hindu Sindhis got entangled in an Pitch battle there was an parallel movement to revive Khudabadi Script as the sole script of Sindhis in India. Pandit Kishanchand Jetley of Pune not only devoted himself for the propagation of Waranki script and had devoted both  time and effort to remove the imbalances in terms of vowel errors in Warenki/Khudabadi Script. He was the pioneer in equating Warenki script to that of Script of Harrapa & Mohen-jo-daro . One may recall the fact that Mohen jo Daro script having some sort of link with the ancient Brahmi Script have been collaborated by well know linguistic  Mr Suniti Kumar Chatterjee et al

Pandir Kishan Chand Jetley Script
Pandir Kishan Chand Jetley Script
Pandir Kishan Chand Jetley Script
Pandir Kishan Chand Jetley Script

Had Sindhi Hindu community accepted either Khudabadi or even Khojki it would have said goodbye to all wangling on the script issue. Sindhis could have put to rest the issue of script controversies and more significantly it would provided very clear direction to its younger generation the way to go and an understanding to feel their roots.  But unfortunately that never materialized and conclusively insured that Sindhis younger generation continue have to drag on with a legacy (Arabic Script) which most feel has been thrust upon them. One may say  Sindhi community last a golden opportunity to clear the mess created by 1300 yrs of Islamic Rule ever since the fall of Sindh to Arab Muslim Invaders.

Contrary  to the popular belief among many Devanagari sympathizers , Devanagari was never used for writing Sindhi till the advent of British. Despite the fact that Hindus in Sindh were well  aware of Devanagari Script. Devanagari in Sindh till the advent of British always considered a script exclusively for reading Hindu religious scriptures. Writings of  Hindu scriptures in Vernacular Sindhi started late after the advent of British and an end of Islamic rule in Sindh.

By the time British occupied Sindh most of the British officers were fully aware of Devanagari. Both Earnest Trump & George Stack wrote in Devanagari and promoted it too. Incidentally among the various script employed for Sindhi Devanagri need just to add for additional Four letters peculiar to express sindhi Sounds . Sindhi being the genuine daughter of Prakarit/Sanskrik hardly needs any major changes to write Sindhi. However it is the strive of separate identity of the scripts that had prompted many and continue to promote  many Khudabadi script as has the base of Gujarati and Gurumukhi languages these days.

Unfortunately there had been a Indian Sindhi reluctance in embracing their roots when it comes to Script. Ever since the script crysis way back in 1842 with the advent of British both Hindus and Muslims tend to pickup already know script which implied that neither Arabic nor Devanagri could  permanently settle the script issue once for all. In the last 65 yrs which Sindhi Arabic users in India have gone down rapidly there haven’t been the prosponal rise of Devanagri users which implies that newer generation have been avoiding Sindhi to a great extent although Devanagri remains a popular script among Hindu Sindhis in India.

To counter the rapid rise of Devanagri Sindhi  yet another script is put forward & promoted by a group of Sindhi writers who previously being the vocal critic of Devanagri Sindhi. There had been some well orchestrated programmes to Promote Sindhis in Roman Script citing the reason that Sindhis stay in more than 60 countries although India is the only country where Sindh is recognized an officially recognized national language- This despite the fact that such attempt among migrated  Kashmini Pundits have failed miserably. In fact  in India none of the attempt of writing any Indian Language every succeeded the reason being it being  that Roman characters are largely considered unfit for expressing Sanskrit based words in Indian Language.!!!

Fortunately the case of Warenki is not lost. With Unicode giving a new life to vernacular Languages world-wide significant work had been done in almost forgotten South Asian Script by Angshuman Pandey. Both the sindhi scripts of Khudabadi & Khojki have made significant progress in their pursuit of being eventually coded for Unicode. The coding  once eventually implemented is likely to give a new lease of life and will bring up the issue invariable.

If Sindhi Language has to survive among Hindu Sindhis then the script tangle has to be resolved. Languages don’t survive with multiple scripts. Multiple scripts among to close kit communities creates confusions  which ultimately leads to confused  newer users/ generation and that is what invariably happened to Sindhi. Among the various scripts being used for  Sindhi only Khudabadi or for that matter Khojki enjoys the distinction of not only expressing all the sindhi sounds in its original form but provide a sense of distinct Sindhi identify who no other scripts but the question remains for  Sindhis in India and abroad is are we ready to take the plunge ?? Are we……

वाणिकी- हिक विसरियल सिंधी लिपी

सिंधी जी असलोकी ब्रामणी कृत लिपी जी गो॒ल्हि घणो तणो वाणिकी- खूदाबादी ताईं अचि निबरिंदी आहे। जेतोणेकि अल-बिरनी सिंध जी लिपीयूंनि बाबत टिन लिपयूंनि जी गा॒ल्हि लिखी हूई मसलनि मालवाडी, हिंदवी ऐं अर्धनागरी पर सिंध में लिपीयूंनि जी गा॒ल्हि रूगो॒ वाणिकी या सिंधी लंडा ते ई अचि बिहिंदी आहे छा काण त लंडा खां अगो॒णो रूप जा पुख्ता सबूत असा जे अग॒या आहिनि। 1958 में भंभोर मां जेतोणेकि के मिसाल मिल्या पर संदनि तादात तमाम थोडी आहे। लडा॒ खां अगु॒ असी केडही लिपी में लिखिंदा हवासि इन जी पुख्ती जा॒ण न हूजण जो हिकु सबब इहो भी थी थो सघे त अर्बनि की काहि वक्त सिंधी साधुनि जो जेको वडो॒ कतलेआम थियो जहिं सबब तालिम जो सिंध मां लग॒ भग॒ सफायो थी पयो। जड॒हि लिपी सांडे रखण ऐं संसकृति जो सफायो थी वञे त इन हालत में लिपी जो बचण लग भग नामूमकिन थी पवंदी आहे।

सिंध जे लिपी नसबत इतिहास बिन भाङनि में विराऐ सघजे थो हिकडो इसलामी अर्बनि की सिंध कब्जे खां अगु॒ ऐं ब॒यो इन काहि खां पोइ। आम तोर सां इहो डि॒ठो वयो आहे त हिंदुस्तान जूं ब॒यूं अण सिंधी भाषाउ ब्रामणी खां संदुनि लिपीअ जो फेरे जा नमोना ऐतिहासिक सबूतनि जे साण पेश करण में कामयाब थी वया आहिनि पर सिंध ऐतिरो खुशकिसमत नाहे रही। इअं न थी सघण के अहम सबब पिणि मोजूद आहिनि मसलनि ….

क)    अर्बीनि के काहि वक्त या उन खां थोडो पोइ सिंध में साधु संतनि ऋषियूं को वडो॒ कतलेआम थियो हो जहिं सबब भाषा सां वासतो रखिंदडन जो सफायो थी पयो हो। ज्ञान डिं॒दड जेकरि न रहिंदा तह लिपी कहिंखे यादि रहिंदी

ख)    अर्बनि के काहि बैदि पुरी सिंधी हिंदु संसकृति जो वजूद मिठाण जी पूरी कोशिश कई वई

ग)     कशमिर, जम्मू ऐं कहिं हद ताईं पंजाब में जिते भी हिंदु पहिंजी हकूमत बि॒हर हथ कई उतोउं  जा राजा महाराजा बि॒हर हिंदु लिपी खे भी हिमतायो जड॒हि त सिंध में इअं किन थियो वरी जेके हिंदु भी मूसलमान थिया ऐं पहिंजे राज्य भी कायम कयो तनि भी इन हिंदु लिपी खे बचाअण त परे पर हूनिनि सिंधी भाषा सोघो करण जी भी का कोशिश किन कई।

घ)     सिंधी हिंदुनि जी पहिंजे ऐतिहासिक तारिखि विरासत बचाअण में दिलचस्पी न जे बराबर रही आहे।

ङ)      सिंधी मूसलमान भी इअं भले मोअन जे दडे बाबत भले फकरु कनि पर अर्बनि के काहि खां अगु॒ वारी विरात खे सांडे सरण में हो भी दिलचस्पी घठि ई वठिंदा आहिनि।

भाषा जे माहिरनि में हिअर हिक राय आहे तह न रूगो॒ हिंदुस्तान जी पर समूरे ड॒खिण ऐशिजा जे लिपियूंनि जी माउ ब्रामणी रही आहे। जुदा जुदा लिपीयूं पोई इन लिपी के फेर फार खां नितकतयूं। सिंध में इस्तमाल थिंदड लिपीयूंनि बाबत संदुन राय मोजिबु लिपीयूंनि जो फेर फार कजहि हिन रित थियो

ब्रामणी खां वीणिकी ताईं जी राह
ब्रामणी खां वीणिकी ताईं जी राह

1958 में ड॒खिण सिंध जे भंभोर शहर में जोकि कराची खां 40 कोहि ई मस जेडहो परे आहे, उते ब्रामणी लिपी जा के अगो॒णा मिसाल लधा वया हवा पर इन खां सवाई सिंध में ब्रामणी खां लंडा जो सफर बाबत सबूत न जे बराबर रहया आहिनि। सिंध में ब्रामणी मां फेरो नागरी वारी वाटि वरती या कशमिरी शारदा – इहो चवण निहायत ई डु॒खयो आहे छाकाण त अर्बनि की काहि खां अगु॒ वारो ऐतिहासिक वरसो रहयो ई कोन्हि। अर्बनि जे काहि बैदि जेका लिपी असां खे हथ अचे थी सा आहे लंडा । इन जो मसलब इहो निकतो तह 712 खां डहीं सदीअ ताईं सिंधी लिपीअ बाबत राहि अजु॒ भी असां लाई गु॒झरात ई बणयलि रही आहे । 1843 में ज॒ड॒हिं अंग्रेजन सिंध फतहि कई तह संदुनि धयान सिंधी भाषा खां सवाई लिपी ते पिणि वयो। अंग्रेजनि के डि॒हनि में तहिं महल वाहिपे में सिंधी लिपी में वडी॒ मेहनत सभिनि खां अग॒वाटि केपटेनि जार्ज स्टेक पहिंजे सिंधी वयाकरण (1849), गेरिसन (लिंगविस्टिक सर्वे आफ इंण्डिया) ऐं विलियम लेअटनर (1882) पहिंजे किताब – A collection of specimen of commercial and other Alphabets में कई ।

गेरिसन पारां पेश कयलि  जुदा जुदा नमूना कजहि हिंन रित आहिनि

गेरिसन पारां तयार कयल फहरसत
गेरिसन पारां तयार कयल फहरसत


गेरिसन पारां तयार कयल फहरसत
गेरिसन पारां तयार कयल फहरसत

मशहूर भाषा विज्ञानी जार्ज गेरिसन सिंध में 13 लिपयूंनि जा नमूना ड॒सया, पर वडी॒ गा॒ल्हि इहा आहे त इहे सभ लहजा हिक बे॒ सा मिलिंदड जुलिंदड हवा। सिंध में वाणिकी (इन लिपी खे वाणिकी इन लाई कोठयो वेंदो हो छा काण त इहे हिंदु लिपी घणो तणो धंधो कंदडनि पारां ई इस्तमाल थिंदयूं हयूं ) जा ऐतरा वधीक नमुननि जो हूअण जा हिंक खां वधीक सबब थी था सघनि मसलनि

क)   हूकूमत पांरा सिंधी जे वाहिपे में का भी दिलचस्पी न वठण  (अर्बी लिपी जो भी तहिं महल साग॒यो हाल हो जे अखरनि ते मूसलमानि जी पी पक किन हूई)

ख)   वाणियनि में सभको पहिंजे लेखे अखरनि जो फेर फार कनि (थी थो सघे पहिंजा हिसाब खाता घुझा रखण सबब इअं करण जो रिवाज हूजे)

ग)    वरि बा॒रनि खे तामिल डिं॒दड बा॒भण भी इन चूक खे सुधारण जो को भी दबाउ न हूजण।

घ)    इन लिपीअ में हिंदुनि पारां साहित्य लिखण पढहण जी चाहि न हूजण

अंग्रेजनि खां अगु॒ सिंध में सरकारी बो॒ली अर्बी-फार्सी हूई। जेके हिंदु नौकरयूं कनि तनि खे अर्बी-फार्सी लाजमी तोर पढहणी पवे। रहया हिंदु वाणिया त तनि लाई त हिसाब जेतिरा गु॒झा रखी सघिनि उतिरो ई सुठो । पर जड॒हिं मूसलमान जो राज्य खत्म थियो ऐं सिंधी भाषा सिंध में तसलिम थी त हिक लिपी जी जरूरत महसूस थी जहिं में तालिम भी डि॒ञि वञे। तनि जे डि॒हनि में सिंध संसकार सभा पारां काफी कोशिसयूं कयूं वयूं हयूं जिअं वाणिकी खे हिक सिंधी लिपी करे तसलिम कयो वञे। सन् 1867 में जड॒हिं सिंध अञा बम्बई प्रेसिडेंती जो हिस्सो हूई त अंग्रेज हूकूमत पारां हिक लिपी त्यार कई वई हूई जहिं खे हिंदु – सिंधी जो नाले डि॒ञो वयो हो। इन लिपीअ जो जोडाईंदड श्री नारायण जगनाथ वैदय जेको कि नाईब तालिमी इंसपेकटर हो बांम्बे प्रेसिडेंती जो। हून सिंधी वाणिकी जे खुदाबादी लहजे खे सुधारे ऐं इन में शिर्कारपूरी लहजे जी मदद सा इहा लिपी त्यार कई। हून साई मात्राउनि में सुधारे ऐं सिंधी भाषा के लफतनि जो धयान रखिंदे इहा लिपी त्यार कई।


सिंध में इन लिपी में बा॒राणी तालिम तोडे अदालतनि रेकार्ड ताईं में इसतमाल थेअण लगी॒ हूई। इन बैदि होरियां होरिया इन लिपी में सिंधी साहित्य ताई शाई थइअण लगो॒। सिंधी साहित्य में वाणिकी लिपी में पहिंरो किताबु दोदो चनेसर जी लोक कथा जो किताब शाई थियो। 1899 में सिंधी साहित्य की पत्रीका सुखरी पिणि वाणिकी में शाई थी। इहो ई न पर सिंध बाईबेल सोसाईटी इसाईनि जा धर्मी किताब वाणिकी में शाई कया।

दोदो चनेसर बाबत किताबु
दोदो चनेसर बाबत किताबु
सेंट मेथयू  जो फर्मान
सेंट मेथयू जो फर्मान

बद किसमती सां वाणिकी का सुनेहरा डि॒हिं को घणा वक्त कोन हलया। कशमिर जी असलोकी लिपी शारदा जो जहिं रित कशमिरी मूसलमानि विरोध कयो सागी॒ रित सिंध में भी वांङुरु वाणिकी जो सिंधी मुसलमान विरोध कयो जहिं सबब इहा लिपी हली कोन सघी। अजबु जेडही गा॒ल्हि त इहा आहे बि॒हिनि सुबनि हिकडो ई सबब डि॒ञो वयो …त इहे लिपयूं जरिऐ मूसलमानिका लफज नथा लिखी सघजिनि। इहो याद रखण घुर्जे त सिंध में मूसलमानि रूगो॒ इन लाई वाणिकी या वरि देवनागरी जो विरोध कयो त इन जरिऐ  मूसलमानिका नाला नथा लिखी सघजिनि। मतलब त कशमिरी मूसलमानि वाङुरु सिंधी मूसलमानि भी पहिंजे दीन धर्म खे वधीक अहमियत डि॒ञी।

ऐडही गा॒ल्हि किन हूई त सिंध में रूगो॒ हिंदु ई इन लिपीअ जो हिकु रूप खोजकी जे नाले इस्तमाल कंदा हवा। सिंध जा शिया इसमाईली बिरादरी जा मूसलमान पारां इन लिपीअ जो इसतमाल जाम कयो पयो पहिंजे धर्मिक किताबनि में। छा काण त इसमाईली शिया कच्छ, काठियावाड (गुजरात) में बी जाम हवा इहा लिपी कामयाबी पिणि माडी। चयो थो वञे इहा लिपी सिंध खां बा॒हरि बी जाम फैलाई पई इसमाईली शियां पारां।

खोजकी सिंधी – वाणकी या लोहाणी जे जमाम घणो वेझो लेखी वेंदी आहे जिअ हेठि तसविर मां पधिरो पयो थिये। खोजकी जा घणो तणो अखर बिलकुल वाणिकि जेडहा आहे जोतोणेकि किन खे सुधोरो पिणि वयो आहे। कुल मिलाऐ खोडकी हिक निहायत सुहिणी लिपी लेखजण खपे।

खोजकी, वाणिकी, घर्मूखी ऐं देवनागरी
खोजकी, वाणिकी, घर्मूखी ऐं देवनागरी
खोजकी, वाणिकी, घर्मूखी ऐं देवनागरी
खोजकी, वाणिकी, घर्मूखी ऐं देवनागरी

मथे जा॒णायलि मात्राउं खां सवाई खोकजी लिपी में खास करे मूसलमानकी अखरनि खे अर्बी फार्सी उच्चार मोजिबु लिखण लाई के धार मात्रराउं जो पिणि इस्तमाल कयो वेंदो हो । हिक गा॒ल्हि धयान रखण जेडही आहे त खोजकी हरू भरू हर अर्बी अखरनि खे लिखण ते जोर किन डि॒ञो पर रूगो॒ उहे इ खअर खया पया जंनि को सुर चिठि रित पधिरा हुजिनि ऐं नंढे खंड जा इसमाईली मूसलमान उच्चारिनि। कुल मिलाऐ खोजकी सिंधी वाणकी या खुदाबादी खां भी बेहतरिन लिपी थी उभरी पर सिंधी कोम छो त हिंदु मूसलमिम फर्कनि खां उभरी किन सघयो सो सिंधी भाषा हिक बे॒हतरिन लिपीअ खां परे इ रहजी वई।

सिंधी जी खोजकी लिपी (सुधरियलि)
सिंधी जी खोजकी लिपी (सुधरियलि)
सिंधी जी खोजकी लिपी (सुधरियलि)
सिंधी जी खोजकी लिपी (सुधरियलि)

जेसिताईं वाणिकी जे जड जी गा॒ल्हि आहे त मञयो इहो वेंदो आहे त वाणिकी लंडा लिपी मां निकती आहे जहिंजा ब॒ लहजा जा॒णाया वया आहिनि हिकडी पंजाबी लंडा ऐं बी॒ सिंधी लंडा। पंजाबी लंडा खे सिखनि 16 सदी में फेरे गुर्मूखी जो नाले जाम फेर घार करे पेश कयो ज॒ड॒हिं स सिंध में इहा वाणिकी कोठजण में आई। लडां ड॒खण कशमिर, हिमाचल प्रदेश ऐं जम्मू  में गा॒ल्हिईंदड पाहाडी बो॒लयूं मसलनि डोगरी जी लिपी लाई इसतमाल थिंदड टकरी लिपी सां जाम मिलिंदड झुलिंदड आहे जिअं हेठि मिसालनि मां पधिरो पयो थिऐ। इहो याद रखण घुर्जे त टकरी ड॒खिण कशमिर जी लिपी आहे ऐं महाराजा डा॒हिर जे डि॒हनि में सिंध जी सर्हद कशमिर ताईं फैलयलि हूई। मूमकिन आहे तह वाणिकी (लंडा) ऐं टकरी लग॒ भग॒ हिक ई वक्त शारदा मां धार थी या वरि टकरी मां ई फेर फार थी मटजी लंडा पैदा थी जेका वरी फिरी वाणिकी थी।

वाणिकी, शारदा , टकरी ऐं गुर्मूखी जे भेट
वाणिकी, शारदा , टकरी ऐं गुर्मूखी जे भेट

सिंध जो ड॒खण पंजाब जे मूलतान वारे इलाईके सां तमाम घणो रिस्तो रहयो आहे। चयो वेंदो आहे त आगो॒ठे जमाने जो सिंधु सुवेर जे ऐलाके में  कच्छ, काठियावाड , सिंध ऐं मूलतान जी गड॒यलि हकूमत हकूमत हूंगी हूई। जेका लंडा मूलतान में मूतानी कोठबी हूई तहि में ऐं सिंधी वाणिकी में भी जाम हिंकजेडहाई पसबी आहे। हेठि सिंधी ऐं मूसतानी जी लिपी भेटि पई आहे। इन मां सिंध ऐं मूलतान मे इसतमाल थिंदड लंडा मंझ वाईडो कंदड हिकझेडाई पई डि॒सजे।

मूलतान ऐं सिंध जी लंडा लिपी
मूलतान ऐं सिंध जी लंडा लिपी

सिंध में रहिंदे वाणिकी ( या खोजकी) लिपी सिंधी भाषा जी लिपी तसलिम कोन थी, इअं थेअण भी मूशकिल हो, थी भी कोन सघे हा । सिंधी मूसलमान कड॒हि इन खे तसलिम कोन कनि हा। जेकरि अंग्रेज हकूमत वाणकीअ खे तसलम कनि हा त मूमकिन आहे त सिंधी मूसलमान अर्बी ही पडहिंदा अचनि हा या इहो भी मूमकिन हो त हो भी कशमिरी तोडे पंजाबी मूसलमानन वाङुरु उर्दू खे वडे॒ मयार जी बो॒ली तसलिम कंदे सरकारी बो॒ली तसलिम करण जी घुर कनि हा। खैर जेसिताईं हिंदुनि जी गा॒ल्हि आहे यकिनि सिंधी मूसलमानि खे मञाअण संदुनि वस खां बा॒हर हो। पर गलति असी सिंधी हिंदु हिते कई जड॒हिं असी पहिंजी लिपी वाणीकी खे पाण खां पासिरो संदे धारी धारी लिपी अर्बी खे मयार जी लिपी मञण शूरू कयोसिं।

लिपीअ जे नसबत पंजाब ऐं सिंध में फर्कु इअं त न जे बराबर आहे। ब॒ई कोमअ लडां खे अपनायो, जेतोणेक फर्क अगे॒ हलि कजहि वधया, पर जड॒हि तह पंजाबी सिख लंडा खे हिक मयार जी लिपी करे पेश करण में कामयाब थी वया सिंधी लिपीअ जे बदलाउ जे पहिंरे पडाउ ते इ रहजी वया। अजबु जेडही गाल्हि त इहा आहे जे सिंधी खास करे उतर सिंध जे अलाके में गुर्मुखी में सिंधी ताईं लिखिंदा हवा पर पहिजी लिपी खे उहा अहमियति या गुर्मूखी जी वाठ वठी पहिंजी सिंधी लंडा खे सुधारण में तमाम घट दिलचस्पी वरती।

सिंधी हिंदुनि जो हिंदुस्तान में लडे॒ अचण हिक हिक बेहतरिन मौको डि॒ञो हो तह सिंधी भाषा सा थिअल नाहक खे पोईते छडि॒दे वाणिकी खे हिक मयार जी लिपी करे पेश कयूं। पुणे जे रहवासी पंडित कृष्णचंद जेतली काफी मेहनत कई त सिंधीजी भी हिंक खसूसी लिपी हूजे त सिंधी जी बी हिक धार सुञाणप हूजे पर अफसोस त सिंधी लेखकनि इअं थेअण किन डि॒ञो। पंडित जेतली हर हिक सिंधी वाणकी लिपीअ जे अखर खे दुरुस्त करे इन खे सही रूप डि॒ञो। ऐतरो इ न पर मोअन जे दडे में इसतमाल थिअल लिपीअ सा भी भेटयो। किनि भाषा विज्ञानियूंनि मसलनि सुनिती कुमार चैटरजी जेडहनि जो मञण आहे त जेतोणेकि मोअन जे द़डे जूं लिपी में 400 नमूना इसतमाल कया वया आहिन पर इन के वावजूद के अखर मोअन जे दडे ऐं ब्रामणी जा हिक बे सां खाफि हिजेडाई डि॒सजे पई जहिं सां इहो थो सयो भाईंजे त मूमकिन आहे त अगो॒णे अर्यनि खे किथे न खिते इहा लिखावट जा के नमूना नजर आया हूजिनि ऐं संदनि इन नमूनन खे इसतमाल कंदे ब्रामणी जो इजाद कयो हूंदो। अजबु जेडही गा॒ल्हि त इहा आहे जे जड॒हिं त असीं मोअन जे दडे खे सिंधी कोम सां गंडणनि में मिंटु देर कोन कयूं पर लिपी जे नाले ते इन लिपी खे पहिंजो करे लेखण लाई असुल ई त्यार नाहियो।

पंडित कृष्ण चंद जेतली की वाणीकि लिपी
पंडित कृष्ण चंद जेतली की वाणीकि लिपी


जेकरि असीं वाणिकी खे अपनायों हा त शायदि लिपी जा गो॒ड सिंधी बो॒ली तोडे भाषा जे नसबत हमेशाह लाई निबरी वञिनि हा। असी इहो चई सघयूं हा वाणिकी ई सिंधी जी निजी॒ लिपी आहे ऐं सभिनि खे वाणिकी लिपीअ में इ सिंधी जी लिख पढ करणी आहे पर इहो मूमकिन किन थी सघयो। असां पाण ई पहिंजी लिपीअ जा वेरी थी विठासि। इन लिपीअ खे हेठि करे डे॒खारण में को बी मोको पहिंजे हथनि को विञाअण डो॒हू समझोसिं।

वेझडाईअ में ऐडहयूं कोशशयूं थोणेक थयनि पयूं जहिं जी मदद सा वाणिकी (खोजकी ) या खुदाबादी खे बि॒हर हिक मयार जी लिपी करे उभारयो वञे। अमेरिका वासी अंगशुमन पांणडेय हिंदुस्तान तोडे दखण ऐशिया जूं ब्रामणी कृत लिपीयूंनि ते जाम कम कयो आहे जिअ इहे विसरी वयलि लिपयूं कमपयूटर जरिऐ भी लिखजिन। लिपी यूनिकोड जहिऐ लिखजे इन लाई पंज डा॒कणयूं पर पयूं करणयूं पवि ऐं खोजकी ऐं वाणिकी 4 डा॒कणयूं पार करे चकयूं आहिनि पर इन जे बावजूद सिंधी समाज हमेशाह वाङुरु इन कम बाबत बेपरवाहि ई रहयो।

सिंध में देवनागरी इस्तमाल थिंदी हूई छा खाण त उहा संसकृत जी लिपी हूअण सबब हिंदु शाशत्र सभ संसकृत लिपी यानी देवनागरी में लिख्यलि आहिनि। सिंध में धार्मिक ग्रंथनि जो रिवाज सिंधी में लिखण जो रिवाज पोई पयो। पर जेसिताई गा॒ल्हि देवनागरी जरिऐ सिंधी लिखण जी आहे त सिंध में सिंधी बो॒ली लाई देवनागरी जो इस्तमाल सभिनि खां अगा॒वटि अंग्रेजनि कयो। इन में को भी शकु नाहे तह देनवागरी  संसकृत जी लिपी हूअण सबब सिंधी सुधी लग॒ भग॒ हर भारतिय बो॒लियूंनि लाई काराईती लिपी आहे। पर इन जो मतलब इहो नाहे त पहिंजी लिपी विसारिजे। लिपयूं रूगो॒ कहिं भी बो॒लीअ खे लिखण जो जरिओ ई न पर इन जी सुञाणप ऐं संसकृति जो हिंक बेहद अहम हिस्सो थिंदी आहे। हिंदी ऐं उर्दू जी लडाई जो हिक वडो॒ सबब लिपी ई हूई। वरि अंगेरजनि जे वञण खां पोई ऐडहा भी मोका आया जड॒हि हिंदी लाई भी सुझान डि॒ञा वया तह हिंदी खे भी रोमन लिपीअ में लिखजे पर हिंदी लेखकनि इअं थेअण किन डि॒ञो।

बदकिसमतीअ सां सिंधीयूंनि कड॒हिं भी इन सवाल ते संजिदगी कोन डे॒खारी। सिंधीयूंनि में जड॒हि भी लिपीअ जी गा॒ल्हि आई आहे असां किड॒हिं भी पहिंजी संसकृती खे न पर लिपीअ जे वाहिपे या दिन धर्म खे अहमियत डि॒ञी आहे। हिंदुस्तान में अञा मस अर्बी मां निजात भी कोन पाती आहे जे रोमन जो गो॒ड मथे ते अची वेठो आहे। ऐडही गा॒ल्हि नाहे त लिपीयूं मठबूं नाहिनि। हिंदुस्तान में गुजराजी, मराठी पिणि लिपी मठाऐ चका आहिनि पर लिपीयूंनि जो मठजण ऐडहो भी  नाहे जे बिलकुल धारी बो॒ली जूं लिपयूं अपञायों। अर्बी या वरी रोमन पहिंजी साख जे बो॒लयूंनि लाई हिक मयार जी लिपी थी थूं सघिनि पर सिंधी या कहिं भी ड॒खिण ऐशिया जी भाषा लाई इन लिपी जी का भी अहमियत नाहे।

सिंधीयूंनि लाई हित वडो॒ सवाल इहो आहे जे छा हिंदुस्तान तोडे परडे॒हि जो सिंधी समाज पहिंजे संसकृति सां गंढण लाई त्यार आहे … छा असां पहिंज अतित खे सोघो करण लाई तयार आहिंयूं….सिंधीयूंनि जे वहिवार सां इअं लगे त कोन थो जे असीं पहिंदी संसकृति खे याद करण जी जरे जी भी चाहि रखउं था



 A paper by C J Daswani, New Delhi India 

Shri C J Daswani Sindhi Scholar
Shri C J Daswani Sindhi Scholar

According to the Indian Census of 2001, there are over thirty-one lakh mother-tongue speakers of Sindhi in India.  An unofficial estimate of the number of Sindhi speakers in India is almost double the official figure.  It is well-known that a large number of ethnic Sindhis in India do not declare Sindhi as their mother tongue.  In the absence of a Sindhi speaking region, Sindhis are scattered all over the country and learn to communicate with their local interlocutors in languages other than Sindhi. Whatever the actual number of Sindhi speakers, a very small number of Sindhis in India receive education through the medium of Sindhi.  Although Sindhi is a recognized national languages, it is taught in  very few schools in the country.  Over the years, since 1947, Sindhi has become largely a spoken language.  All attempts at enthusing native Sindhis to learn to read and write their language have been unsuccessful.  The primary reason for this situation appears to be the script in which Sindhi is written.  This paper examines the question of the survival of the Sindhi language in India and critically evaluates the role of the choice of script in this struggle for survival.




When India was divided in 1947, the Hindu refugees from the Pakistani Panjab and Bengal migrated largely to the Indian half of Panjab and Bengal respectively where they encountered a homogeneous culture and language.  The existence in India of geographic regions where the Panjabi and Bengali languages were spoken as native languages contributed significantly to the emotional and cultural rehabilitation of these linguistic groups.  The fate of the Sindhi refugees, on the other hand, was quite different from that of the Panjabi and Bengali refugees, mainly because there was no geographical region in India where Sindhi culture and language had an independent existence.  Consequently, the Sindhi refugees scattered almost all over India and although, in the process, a number of pockets of refugee settlements came up, especially in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, the Sindhi refugees found themselves in the midst of non-Sindhi speaking majority populations.  This factor of being dispersed over the entire country has contributed to a number of problems for the Sindhi migrants, including that of the script for the Sindhi language.




After the Partition, over twelve lakh Sindhi Hindus migrated from Sindh to India.  The compulsion to migrate was an intuitive action, necessitated by incomprehension of what had happened, confusion about their plight, and despair.  Starting in September-October 1947, the unending exodus lasted for over two years. And the process of migrating to India continued for decades; and continues even today with a continuous trickle of Sindhi Hindus crossing over into India.


In the initial period, many families did not know where they were going and what the future held for them, but they felt they had to leave the land of their ancestors.  People traveled by road, rail and sea, some even by air.  They traveled in large groups, often in clusters of neighbourhoods (Thakur, 1959); for they felt there was safety in numbers.  Once in India, they encountered a host of problems: there was no Sindhi speaking region or province where they could settle as a homogeneous group. Most families had to struggle to find avenues of livelihood.  Initially, most families were accommodated in ‘Refugee Camps’ set up by the provincial and federal governments.  Many families moved from one refugee settlement to another, in search of work, to look for lost relatives, or in the hope that the grass on the other side would be greener!  And yet, the despair was replaced by strength, courage and determination to reverse the tragedy that fate had doled out to them.


The struggle that the Sindhi community in India had to face is well known and recorded in numerous documents and literary works.  The purpose of the present paper is not to recount the hardships, the struggle and the turmoil that the Sindhi community faced in the early days in India.  It goes to the credit of the community as a whole that they did not submit meekly to the cruel fate.  Like the mythical phoenix, the community rose from the ruins of physical displacement and economic penury to build a new life in their new adopted homes.  It is well known that in those early days no Sindhi was ever seen to beg or ask for charity!  In place of loss of motherland Sindh, in India the community found solace within a larger cultural milieu.


Even as the community was finding new opportunities for work, many individuals and groups were engaged in social, cultural, educational and spiritual rehabilitation of the community.  Although the community had to contend with reconciling themselves to the changed conditions of social and educational dispensation in local Indian languages, a number of Sindhi medium schools were set up, especially where the Sindhi settlements were large.  Many well known litterateurs and thinkers, who had been established writers in Sindh, along with school teachers and college dons, devoted themselves to the intellectual and educational rehabilitation of the community.


While the larger Sindhi community in India was bravely facing the struggle to survive, the Sindhi writers, social workers and leaders were seized with a major struggle for the inclusion of the Sindhi as one of the ‘recognized’ languages in the Indian Constitution, which was adopted in 1950,.  The Constituent Assembly that was drafting the Indian Constitution had failed to include Sindhi in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution where all the major Indian languages had been listed. The struggle for the inclusion of Sindhi in the Eighth Schedule took twenty years, and the language was finally included in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution in 1967.  (A detailed account of the ‘Movement for the Recognition of Sindhi’ is available in Daswani, 1979.)




Several scholars of Sindhi, both in India and Sindh, (Jairamdas Daulatram, 1957; Khubchandani, 1969; Allana, 2002) have traced the history of the Sindhi script. There is historical and archeological evidence that Sindhi has been a written language for many centuries.  Even before the Arab conquest of Sindh in 712 AD, Sindhi had a well established writing tradition.  In fact, it is claimed that even before 712 AD, Sindhi was written in more than one script.


It has been shown, with impressive documentary evidence, that until the British conquest of Sindh in 1843, the Sindhi language was written in a script related to the Devanagari script (Jairamdas Daulatram, 1957).  When, after the British conquest, Sindhi was made the language of administration in Sindh, the British rulers, quite arbitrarily and against the opinion of competent scholars and grammarians, imposed the Arabic script as the official script on Sindhi.  The Hindu Sindhi population at that time agitated against this move, as a result of which the British government also recognized the original Sindhi (Khudawadi) script as an additional script to be taught to school children in the municipal schools in Sindh (Khubchandani, 1969).


However, within a short period of less than ninety years from 1853, when the Arabic script was made the official script of Sindhi, to 1947 when the country was partitioned, the Arabic script became increasingly popular because of the administrative favour and  economic  advantages flowing out of the knowledge of the Arabic script.  What had been introduced as an administrative convenience came to be associated in the minds of the people as the only script for Sindhi.


Looking at the development of Sindhi language, it is clear that over the centuries, the language has always been written in more than one script.  Until the imposition of an official script for political reasons by the British, Sindhi was written in several scripts.  It may be noted here that even the ‘official’ script took nearly half a century to become a ‘standard’ script.


At the time of the Partition, then, the Hindu Sindhis who migrated to India could be divided into two groups: those who wrote and read their language in the Arabic script, and the others who wrote and read their language in a script other than the Arabic, viz. the Devanagari script, the Khudawadi Sindhi script, and the Gurmukhi script.  Many Sindhi Hindus were literate in more than one script – Arabic, Khudawadi and Gurmukhi.  (Those who had learnt English, could also employ the Roman script to write the Sindhi language.)  The first group comprised those who had been through the formal school system in the major urban centres (with Sindhi as the only medium of instruction at the primary stage), and intended to make a career in the civil and administrative services.  The second group comprised largely the urban Hindu business community, the rural Hindu population, the supporters of the Devanagari script for Sindhi and the Hindu women, who were taught to read and write Sindhi in the Gurmukhi script in the local gurdwaras (tikanas) (Daswani, 1985).




In India, even before the Sindhi leadership mounted the movement for the recognition of Sindhi, the community had to face the problem of the choice of a script for teaching the language in schools.  As early as December 1948, several educationists, social and spiritual leaders as well as political leaders organized a meeting in Bombay where more than 200 delegates proposed that the language be written in the Devanagari script in the changed circumstances in which the community found itself in India. Historicity and appropriateness of the Devanagari script, as well as the use of this script before 1853, was cited as reasons for the change from the Arabic script.  A resolution, supporting the change of script, was sent to the Government of India (GOI) and was accepted by the government in early 1949.  The GOI directed all the concerned ministries and departments to effect the change.  However, in July 1949, a number of head masters of Sindhi schools in Bombay appealed to the government not to change the script. After a protracted period of representations and counter-representations, in 1951, the government decreed that while the script for the language in India would be the Devanagari script, in schools where the pupils and their parents wanted to learn in the Arabic script, they could do so.  The reverse ghost of the British decision in 1851-53 had risen once again!


The Arabic-Devanagari controversy was picked up by several prominent writers who had already spearheaded the demand for the recognition of the Sindhi language.  The question of the changeover to the Devanagari was put on the back-burner, and the government left it to the community to decide which script they wanted for the language.  Consequently, many provinces in India switched over to the Devanagari script, while some other provinces, notable Bombay (later Maharashtra), chose the Arabic script. It is another matter that as a result of this controversy and confusion, many to the legal and financial provisions available to other Indian languages are denied to Sindhi. This was the death-knell for the Sindhi language!




Distinguished and greatly respected Sindhi writers, who had migrated from Sindh and settled largely in Bombay and its suburbs, took up the cudgels for the Arabic script.  All in their late twenties and early thirties, these writers continued to write in the Arabic script.  It must be recalled that it was this band of writers who chronicled the early struggles of the community in their writings.  It must be recognized that these writers were the most psychologically and emotionally attached to their status in Sindh, which had become only a memory.  While they wrote about the Indian Sindhis, they continued to pine for Sindh and the Sindhu.  For years, they wrote about their lost motherland and their belief that they would return to Sindh one day.  This mindset had detrimental effect on younger and emerging writers.  Influenced by their seniors, they too pined for Sindh, and although they lived in rain-soaked Bombay, they wrote about the sands of Sindh!  In retrospect, it is possible to see that the senior Sindhi writers influenced everything that had anything to do with the fate of the Sindhi language in India.


One of the arguments forwarded in favour of the Arabic script by these writers was the  need to ensure contact with the Sindhi litterateurs and scholars in  Sindh.   For many years after the Partition, there was no formal or official contact possible between the two sides.  However, there was unofficial traffic of writings and ideas, as well as personal contact between the intellectuals in Sindh and the Indian Sindhi writers.  It may be recalled that during this period the Sindhi language in Sindh was undergoing far-reaching changes.


Many Sindhi creative writers continued to write in the Arabic script, with the result that while they wrote about their thoughts and emotions, not many wrote for the newer generations of Sindhi learners; and in any case, whatever textual material was produced for schools could not be shared by all learners in the country because of the dual script policy and practice.  Over a few decades, a vast chasm appeared between the writers and readers.  Because the newer readers were unable to read the literature being produced, gradually the writers became their own readers; there being no contact between the writers and the community. With the borders between Sindh and India having become more open recently, the Indian writers have found a newer readership among the Sindhis in Sindh, and have been writing for their new found readership, with the result that the gap between the writers and readers in India  continues to widen further.




In the past sixty years the Sindhi community in India has undergone a massive transformation.  The Sindhis in India have made good.  The present-day Sindhi in India is by definition highly qualified. There is no profession where a Sindhi has not shown his mettle.  Financially, Sindhis in India are well-off; many families have some members working overseas, which has influenced the cultural mores in the community.  Naturally, the language too has been influenced by these changes.


By and large, in India most Sindhi children may acquire their mother tongue naturally, ‘may’ because many Sindhi families have already become bilingual or multilingual and the child does not hear only Sindhi in the early years.   Those Sindhi children who have picked up the language naturally are able to communicate in Sindhi in limited contexts with their parents and others at home. This is not unusual, for every normal human being is able to master her/his mother tongue by the age of four or five.


However, once the Indian Sindhi child goes to school, his situation changes dramatically.  When an average non-Sindhi child goes to school, she/he receives education through the medium of the mother tongue.  The Sindhi child, on the other hand, invariably learns through a language other than his mother tongue. One may be tempted to assert that there  are many Sindhi medium schools where Sindhi children are taught through the Sindhi medium.  Of course, the ground reality is very different.  Over the years, the number of Sindhi medium schools has dwindled.


A large number of Sindhis in India live in small towns where their number is often limited.  It is impossible to think of Sindhi medium schools in such small centres.  In the larger urban areas where it is possible to find Sindhi medium schools, the economic and social pressures compel Sindhi parents to send their children to either English medium schools or to vernacular medium schools.  These parents realize, and rightly too, that if they send their children to Sindhi medium schools, then their children might not be able to participate with advantage in the competitive adult world.  Therefore, in order to equip their children with the best possible education, they send their children non-Sindhi medium schools.  Consequently, over the years, most Sindhi medium schools all over the country have closed down for want of learners.


This is not the entire story – Sindhi children themselves (unless they live in an exclusively Sindhi neighbourhood, which is unlikely in most places in India) find the linguistic pressures from their peer group, both inside school and outside, so great that they prefer to communicate in the language of the region, be it Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Panjabi or any other.  In fact this pressure is so great that it is not unusual to find Sindhi children speaking with their parents and siblings in the regional language or English.


Currently, Sindhi is used largely by those generations of Sindhis who had some formal education in Sindhi in the pre-Partition Sindh.  Generations of Sindhis born in India have very little motivation for using Sindhi in any extended social context.  Frequently, their competence in Sindhi is passive; they may comprehend Sindhi in limited communicative contexts, but are not able to communicate in the language.  It is not surprising, therefore, that many parents and grandparents speak to their children in the regional language or English rather than in the mother tongue.




After the 1971 census, the initial language data seemed to indicate that the Sindhi population in India had declined between 1961 and 1971.  At first glance this seemed unlikely if not alarming.  The present author, drew up a research proposal to study the sociolinguistic profile of Indian Sindhi and Sindhis.  It was hypothesized that possibly a sizeable number of Sindhis in India were not declaring Sindhi as their mother tongue.  If true, the hypothesis would have serious implications for the Sindhi language and culture in India.  The research was supported by the Central Institute of Indian Languages, set up by the GOI to advise the government on language policy and programmes.


As part of this research project an all-India pilot study was conducted during 1974-77 to measure the perceptions of Sindhis about their language and culture, and to measure how far they identified with the language and culture and whether they maintained their language identity.  For the purpose of the study a questionnaire was constructed to elicit responses across three generations: G1, those who were adults (25+) in 1947, and had received education in Sindh; G2, those who were adolescents (12+) in 1947 and had received primary education through the mother tongue before they migrated to India; and, G3, those who were infants (under 2) in 1947 or were born and educated in India.  The results of the study (Daswani and Parchani, 1978) were revealing and startling.


It was discovered that while G1 was largely positive about their language and culture, G2 was ambivalent in their attitude towards the language and culture, and G3 had already moved away and assimilated, by and large, to the local culture.  What was revealing was the discovery that even G1 was gradually losing control over the language.  On vocabulary recall, all groups had virtually lost the basic native vocabulary and were using Hindi cognates.  G1 was not able to distinguish  Sindhi dialects one from the other (which were recorded and played to the respondents).  There was no awareness of ‘standard’ Sindhi.  All respondents considered their own variety of Sindhi as ‘standard’. It was discovered that many Sindhis tended to change identity markers, such ‘-ani’ ending surnames to hide their Sindhi identity.


What is the role of Sindhi language then?  The Sindhi language for the Indian Sindhi is, in fact, a restricted language almost like a code language which is used for the limited purposes of intra-group communication, limited to the immediate family.  It is used, in a limited context as a means of group (not individual) identity.  Paradoxically, it is also attested that some Sindhis do not speak their language because they do not want to be identified as Sindhis.  There is a recorded instance of a Sindhi filing an affidavit negating his identity as a Sindhi.


The tendencies and shifts discovered in 1974-77 have continued and the language, especially the written version, has been subject to severe attrition.  The writers write in a variety which the average Sindhi neither understands nor uses in his daily life. A fully standard and living language of pre-1947 era has, in a matter of sixty years, become ‘de-standardized’ and decayed (Daswani, 1989; 2006).





What is the future of the Sindhi language in India?  From the present indications it would seem that the future of Sindhi in India is very bleak.  It is believed that if urgent steps are not taken the language may become seriously atrophied.  The question arises: can anything be done to save the language from total attrition?  One possible solution would be to create conditions whereby Sindhi children are enthused to continue to use the language of their childhood.  One of the drawbacks, of course, is that currently Sindhi children do not or cannot learn Sindhi in schools.  The native mastery that many Sindhi children have acquired over the language during infancy should be strengthened.  The immediate task, therefore, is to make it easy and attractive for Sindhi children to learn to read and write Sindhi.  The learning of Sindhi literacy should be designed to take as little time and effort as possible.




A happy augury in an otherwise bleak scenario is the resurgence of the oral culture among the Sindhis in India today.  Because of the growth and influence of the electronic media, programmes in Sindhi – of music, plays, and films have been on the increase.  A host of performers have appeared who perform regularly before live audiences as well as on the electronic media.  National TV channels now have programmes in Sindhi several times a week.  Sindhi NRIs living in foreign countries have been the prime movers in this resurgence.  Also, many TV programmes broadcast from Sindh are easily available in some parts of India. This resurgence of oral culture will perhaps attract the young Indian Sindhi to his language




For objectively determining the choice of a script for Indian Sindhi two significant factors need to be considered.  These factors can be termed as the Pedagogical Factor and Linguistic Factor.


Pedagogical Factor: As argued above, efforts should be made to make the learning of Sindhi reading and writing for the Indian Sindhi children as swift and easy as possible.  One way in which this can be achieved is to exploit the literacy (scriptal) skills that the Sindhi children acquire in school as part of the school curriculum, without imposing an additional script, i.e. the Sindhi-Arabic script, on them, a script which has very limited function in the Indian context.  In other words, the reading and writing skills of the Sindhi children in a script already learned in school should be exploited for teaching them to read and write Sindhi.


Therefore, in order to exploit the reading and writing skills of Sindhi children who go to non-Sindhi medium schools, it is necessary to write Sindhi in the script that the Sindhi children have to learn in school as part of the school curriculum.  If Sindhi is written in a script that the children have already learned then there is greater likelihood of their reading books in Sindhi and also writing Sindhi for various purposes.  On the other hand, if the children have to learn a script especially for reading and writing in Sindhi, i.e. Sindhi-Arabic script, they are reluctant to take on this additional burden of learning, given the limited social and economic functions of Sindhi.  Needless to say, children are very perceptive and learn to distinguish between useful and not useful.


If there is any one script that all Indian Sindhi children have to learn in school, it is the Devanagari script.  Over 95% of the total Sindhi population in India lives in what might be called the Devanagari Zone: Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttrankhand, Bihar, Jharkhand, Haryana, Delhi and Panjab.  All school going children in this zone have to learn the Devanagari script as their first script.  Even those children who go to English medium schools have to learn the Devanagari script at the primary school stage.  Moreover, even those children who go to Sindhi medium schools and learn the Sindhi-Arabic script, need to learn the Devanagari  in the post primary stage.  In fact all Indian school children (except in Tamil Nadu) have to learn the national language Hindi in the Devanagari script.  It is unreasonable and pedagogically unsound to insist that the Sindhi children write their mother tongue in a script that can only have very limited use and relevance. It would be an enormous waste of resources to teach the Sindhi children a script that has limited use.  It would be more profitable to write Sindhi in a script that the children know and read and write in regularly – the Devanagari script.


It is relevant to note here that Sindhi children themselves are in favour of the Devanagari script.  In a school in Delhi run by a Sindhi organization, Sindhi children (about 10 percent of the total) are required to learn to read and write in Sindhi.  These children are willing to learn the language in the Devanagari script, but not in the Arabic script.  Programmes of Sindhi language instruction organized by the National Council for the Promotion of Sindhi language are more successful when delivered through the Devanagari script.


Linguistic Factor: Several supporters of the Arabic script have argued that that is the only script suitable for writing Sindhi.  A consideration of their claims brings up the second crucial factor, which may be termed as the Linguistic Factor.


Linguistically, an ideal script for any language is one in which all the distinctive sounds of that language are written by distinct symbols. Any script that has more than one symbol for one sound, or one symbol represents more than one sound is inadequate.  The Arabic script, which is ideal for the Arabic language, becomes inadequate when employed for any non-Arabic language.  The Arabic script has a number of symbols which do not have corresponding sounds in Sindhi.  Consequently, several Arabic symbols are used for writing Arabic loan words in Sindhi and the Sindhi words are written with other symbols, although in the speech of the native speakers there is no sound-distinction between the loan words and native words.  Sounds like /s/, /z/, /h/ are written with more than one symbol.  This leads to learning problems for and spelling errors by Sindhi learners.  There are arrested cases where even reputed and recognized writers of Sindhi make spelling errors when they write in the Arabic script.


The Devanagari script, on the other hand, is ideally suited for any Indo-Aryan language, and Sindhi is an Indo-Aryan language.  In the Devanagari script all the native sounds of Sindhi, except the implosives, have unique symbols.  The implosives can be written with corresponding plosive sounds with a diacritic.  Persio-Arabic sounds borrowed by Sindhi already have symbols in the Devanagari since it is used for writing Urdu as well, which has these Persio-Arabic sounds.


Another argument that the supporters of the Arabic script forward is that if we continue to write Indian Sindhi in the Arabic script, then we are likely to maintain links with the Sindhi language in Sindh.  This is a weak argument because even a casual examination of the Sindhi language written by writers in Sindh will show that there has been a great deal of Urduization of Sindhi there, while Indian Sindhi has become Hindiized.  These changes in the two varieties of Sindhi are natural results of language contact and these tendencies will continue.


The question before the Sindhi community in India is: can we do anything to prevent the Sindhi language in India from becoming extinct through disuse?  Clearly, in order that the language survives, it is necessary to ensure that the language is used regularly by the Indian Sindhis, especially the younger generations.  The one way of doing this is to make it possible for the Sindhi children to be able to read their language (and want  to read it).






The only solution lies in writing Sindhi in the Devanagari script.  It is indeed ironic that the demand made by the leaders of community in 1948 was thwarted and the language has suffered in the past sixty years.  Even if the Devanagari script is adopted as the official script for Sindhi in India, it would take several years, perhaps decades for the language to revive and take an equal place with other Indian languages, growing and flourishing as a major Indian language.  The nine Indic scripts (including the scripts used for writing the Dravidian languages) used in India, all come from one source – the Brahmi script (Daswani, 1994).  The Devanagari script will give Indian Sindhi a renewed life and return it to the fold of Indo-Aryan languages, which it had been severed from under the influence of Arabic.


The Devanagari script alone holds the promise of rejuvenation and survival of Indian Sindh




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* Paper read at the First Sheikh Ayaz Conference, University of Sindh, Jam Shoro, Sindh