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Learn Punjabi The Creation of Gurmukhi Alphabets

Discussion in 'Language, Arts & Culture' started by Chaan Pardesi, Dec 30, 2012.

  1. Chaan Pardesi

    Chaan Pardesi
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    THE CREATION OF GURMUKHI ALPHABETS--PART ONE

    The Gurmukhi alphabets are one of the more common alphabets [letters, script] that originated in the Punjab. The Gurmukhi alphabets fall into the semi-alphabetic group of letterings.They contain the three components necessary in a phonetic structured language and group of alphabets. A language that is considered most scientific and creative is that which has alphabets that has a wealth of explanatory, descriptive and elaborative methopheric qualities of words that can express every sound and pronunciation. The English language fits this bill very well, but when compared to other Indian languages the Gurmukhi Lipi [alphabets] do not fit into this category, as it needs the additional sounds to make the words. These additional sounds come in the form of the Sihari, Bihari, Kanna etc additions added to the script [letters] of Gurmukhi. Sometimes, when sounding two sounds in one word,only one Gurmukhi letter is used, thus Gurmukhi letters remain a very much lesselaborative set of alphabets.

    There is no argument that being an Indian alphabet[script], it owes its origins and is very similar to the ancient BRAHMI alphabets that were prevalent in ancient India. However, over the years of developments, we now have the Gurmukhi alphabets in it's present form.In the Indian literary world, only the old literature written in Brahmi language remains visible to this day as records for verification of language history.

    The writings of the 3rd century during the rule of Emperor Ashok, found on the ancient religious places[temples], stones, and directional indicator stones, etc are all written in the old Brahmi alphabets. Although, in the North West Frontier province, many of these were written in the Paroshati alphabets. But it appears that BRAHMI Lipi [alphabets] remained the main lettering of India.

    It appears from the 3rd and 4th century Brahmi continue to remain the parent alphabet of all other indian originated alphabets, apart from Farsi alphabets, which came with the Mughals from Iran. The origins of Gurmukhi remain connected closely to the historical development of the Brahmi alphabets. Professor Gauri Shankar Chand Ujha, in his book, “Prachin Lipi Mala,”ascertains that two main types [groups] of alphabets developed from the Brahmi lettering. One was the Southern Group and the other was the Northern Group.

    Professor Ujha writes "From about 500 BC to about 350 AD the origins of Indian alphabets goes back to the Brahmi alphabet. It is after this period, the alphabets get divided into the Northern and Southern groups. The Northern Group of alphabets dominated the regions north of the Vindhyachal Mountain ranges and the Southern Group was predominant south of the Vindhyachal Mountains. Although literature in both alphabets has been found either side of the range occasionally."

    In the Southern Group of the Brahmi alphabet, have originated other alphabets like, Pashami, Madh-Desi, Telegu, Kanarri, Granth Lipi, Kalinga,Tamil, and Vatte Luutu alphabets. While from the Northern Group of Brahmi has originated alphabets for the Gupat Lipi, Kotil Lipi, Nagri, Shaarda, Bangla etc.. In ancient northern India, the northernBrahmi has dominated and given birth to other alphabets in various regions.

    The Northern Brahmi alphabets/Lipi gave birth to Gupat Lipi,from which the Kotil Lipi originated.From Kotil Lipi then came Shaarda Lipi. It is strongly believed that Gurmukhi Lipi came about from these two Lipis thatbelonged to the Northern Brahmi.

    To understand this further, we need to explore the writings and views of some other scholars. Professor Ujha believes that Gurmukhi Lipi originated from the Shaarda Lipi. According to Professor Ujha, Shaarda Lipi was very prevalent in Kashmir and the Punjab.An 8th century AD document that was said to belong to Raja Meruvarma of Chamba,written in Kotil Lipi , shows that Kotil Lipi too was used in Punjab.It was after Kotil Lipi that Shaarda Lipi came about into being and use.The current Kashmiri Lipi and Taakri Lipi are are also said to have originated from Shaarda Lipi. Most of the letters in current Gurmukhi are also said to be from the Shaarda letters. Professor Ujha has grouped both the Shaarda and Gurmukhi Lipi together because of their similarities.

    Two years after professor Ujha, a German linguist Dr Buhler in his book Indische Palacography in 1896, claims Taakri Lipi was the current form of the Sharda Lipi, but makes no mention of Gurmukhi Lipi.

    In 1904, Dr Grierson, in his article published in the Royal Asiatic Society, touched upon the development of the Gurmukhi Lipi. According to him prior to Gurmukhi, the Landa Lipi was commonly used on the plains of the Punjab and Sind. The alphabet of Taakri and Landa were very similar. But it appears Guru Angad Ji took the Landa letters, refined them after taking the sounding abbreviations from the Devnagri, and made them more simple to write and understand and relational to the sounds. Thus the refined version of the Landa letters is now Gurmukhi letters. Dr. Grierson believes the two main literary Lipis [alphabets]of the North West Indian region are Gurmukhi and Shaarda, while Taakri and Landa remain the non literary alphabets of the area. He also alleges the four Lipis are related, though he does not offer much thought for food on the relations between Shaarda and Gurmukhi alphabets [Lipi].

    Shortly after a Dutch scholar of Sanskrit, Vogel, who studied in depth the ancient alphabets and writings of Chamba and Kangra, wrote his findings in the "Critics of Chamba State,” in 1911. Writing about Gurmukhi, he said that there is no doubt the Gurmukhi Lipi used in current Punjab by the population, is born off the ancient Shaarda Lipi. The development of the letters ਕ ਜ ਣ ਨ ਯ ਲ ਵ & ਹ from Shaarda and in Gurmukhi appear to be the same, but overall one can see the old style of the alphabets present in the current Gurmukhi. Professor, Gauri Shanker Heera Chand Ujha, then in 1918 reiterated what Vogel had alleged, and supported Vogel’s findings.

    But in 1948, GB Singh wrote his book “Gurmukhi Lipi da Janam atte Vikaas,” used the writings relating to ancient Indian alphabets of an Arab educationist, Alberunny, a resident of Khorasan, to support his view.
    According to Alburanny, the most popular alphabet was Sidh-Matrika.

    Alburanny also claims that that the Lipi used in Bhati-desh and some parts of Sind was Ardh Nagri. Thus using these writings of Alburanny, GB Singh alleges that the origins of Gurmukhi Lipi come from Ardh Nagri, that fell between [similar] Nagri and Sidh Matirika alphabets. He says that from Ardh Nagri originated Bhatsharri Lipi, from which came Gurmukhi, Sharaffi, Uchi, and Taakri Lipi [alphabets].

    Thus two different schools of thought emerge regards the origins of Gurmukhi. One says that Gurmukhi originated from Shaarda Lipi, the other claims Gurmukhi originated from Ardh Nagri. But, if we examine these two schools of thought, it no doubt appears that the first school of thought prevails that Gurmukhi originated from ancient Shaarda for two very clear reasons.

    All Western and reputed Indian scholars/researchers have looked at the old and ancient scripts of India on record and studied them thoroughly and produced well documented evidence to suggest and ascertain that Gurmukhi, Taakri and Shaarda have historical connections, and share the same region of their use. Another reason that shoots down GB Singh's theory is the fact that there is no mention at all of an alphabet/s called Ardh Nagri in any ancient Indian writings in any of the regional languages. There is mention of Nandi Nagri, Dev Nagri, or other Nagris but not Ardh Nagri.


    [To be continued]


    Gurcharan Singh
    Kota Kamuning
    Kuala Lumpur
     
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    #1 Chaan Pardesi, Dec 30, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2012
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  3. Chaan Pardesi

    Chaan Pardesi
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    The Creation and Advent of the Gurmukhi Script

    by ...Gurcharan Singh

    Part two -Gurcharan Singh


    Without producing any further evidence or counter assertions, GB Singh repeatedly says that Gurmukhi, when compared to the other scripts of Punjab, like Shaarda, Shraffi and Taakri have more in common with Dev Nagri than with any of the other scripts. The name Ardh nagri suggests that at least half the alphabets or letters [scripts] would be from Dev Nagri, or similar to the Dev Nagri letters; but the reality is they are not at all. If we accept GB Singh's argument that Gurmukhi originated from the Dev Nagri composition, then many current letters[script] in Gurmukhi would have similarities to Dev Nagri, but again this is not the case. Except for the Gurmukhi letters of ਟ & ਠ there is no other similarity or evidence of the presence of dev Nagri influence in Gurmukhi. GB Singh goes on to say that Taakri alphabets [script]are directly the sister composition of letters [script] as found in Gurmukhi.

    It appears that GB Singh is very much plucking the origins of both Taakri and Gurmukhi off a tree and presenting it to the world. But other scholars have very strongly asserted and proved that Taakri resulted and developed from the earlier Shaarda letters. There are many similarities between Taakri and Gurmukhi. Thus, both lipis could not have developed separately in different regions and different periods. It makes more sense to remain associated with the scientifically proven track that Gurmukhi originated from the early Shaarda, then into Taakri before it was refined and made into the Gurmukhi lipi.

    It is possible that before the advent of the relatively latter name of Gurmukhi, in the 16th century the Gurmukhi lettering in their earliest form may be called Taakri/Landa, this asserts and proves that Gurmukhi script is the current modern version of the Shaarda script, that was prevalent in the Punjab region until about the 16th century.Shaarda is the mother of Taakri,/Landa and Gurmukhi in it's current form.

    Many other sources of such evidence come from the old coins, letters, and historical documents written in that period - shows that the current Gurmukhi script is very much similar and like the ancient Shaarda script.

    Sri Udder, a resident of Western Punjab, from Uush, or Uushapuri had a document of appreciation prepared, where one whole line of the script is very much like the ancient Gurmukhi or Shaarda, proves the historical linage of Gurmukhi comes through from Shaarda over period of time.

    A Muslim Punjabi scholar Yaazdani, in his book, “Epigraphia Indo Muslimca,” refers to that line as of Shaarda script. Some coins made in Lahore by Mahmud Ghazni, too have similar script that has been referred to as Shaarda, and is again similar to current Gurmukhi in appearance.

    To conclude, I assert that the origins of Gurmukhi lipi [script] come from the ancient Shaarda script, that over time became known as the Kotil script and Gupt script, and is related to the Brahmi script of the Northern group of languages and scripts. There is no doubt that the Gurmukhi alphabet [script] on which the vernacular language of the Punjab is written now a days...is a direct descendent of the ancient Shaarda. Some ashkaras like ha, ja, ya, la, va, and ha had a peculiar development, but on the whole the ancient forms have been well preserved, as according to the book “Antiquities of Chamba.” This is further very supported and demonstrated that Gurmukhi was but another name of the variety of later Sharada script that was current on the plains of the Punjab, in the 16th century.

    This very much ends the common belief among Sikhs that Guru Angad Ji founded the Gurmukhi script.Guru Ji did not find any new script, HE simply refined and made the existing Landa/Taakri script simpler and easy and flourished it among the people, so that everyone could read and write in a language.It is possible that Guru Nanak Ji wrote HIS pothi in the Gurmukhi parent script Taakri /Landa [script] originally, but as we do NOT have the originals; we cannot establish that.


    Gurcharan Singh
    Kota Kamuning
    Kuala Lumpur
     
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    #2 Chaan Pardesi, Dec 30, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2012
  4. aristotle

    aristotle
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    @Chaan Pardesi Ji,
    Thnx for the post. Interesting read....
    :D
     
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