Nelson Mandela said: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.” Of course, the national language of any country plays a vital role in binding the nation in one strand. Though the constitution of our country recognises many languages, yet it cannot be denied that Hindi is the language in wish we started giving vent to our emotions and thoughts.
However, does this mean that all other languages need to be disparaged? I strongly object to those who relate Hindi to Hindus, Urdu to Muslims, Punjabi to turbans and English to whites. Some even go to the extent of calling English the language reeking off colonialism. This stance is the result of linguistic chauvinism. Languages never go against each other, rather they embrace each other as sisters.
If we draw such limiting circles for our language, its development and expansion gets truncated.
Even the history of freedom struggle testifies that it was not one language that contributed to bring out the awareness among people. Our very national anthem jan gan man and national Song vande matram are originally in Bangla. The revolutionising slogan karo ya maro, Dilli chalo were coined in Hindi, inqilab zindabaad was coined in Urdu. Tarore’s Gitanjali shot to fame after getting translated into English. The greats of Hindi literature like Munshi Premchand and Dushyant Kumar had rare and sweet blend of Hindi and Urdu in their writings. Apart from Hindi and regional languages, Raja Ram Mohan Roy made English the instrument of social awakening. He tried to use this language as a bridge between Indians and British.
We cannot afford to forget that the English language has brought laurels to the nation. Nehru’s Discovery of India, R K Narayanan’s Malguddi Days, Raja Rao’s Kanthapura, Kiran Desai’s Inheritance of Loss, Arundhati’s God of Small things, are a few of those creations in English that raised the stature and status of the country on world stage.
Often, some Hindi lovers make hue and cry that Hindi is in danger. But, the fact is that Hindi is the second biggest language spoken in the world after Mandarin. As Hindi has its own sustaining capability, there is no question of its being in danger.
The magnanimity of any language lies in its tendency to imbibe words from other languages. That way English stands at top as it has borrowed words from many languages. Hindi should also not hesitate to borrow the words from other languages if they come naturally to its usage. The use of high flown words does make a language great. It is the simplicity that touches the heart of the people. And the language that becomes the language of heart of the masses grows like deodar and expands like peepal.
Of course, Hindi must be kept comparatively at the higher pedestal, but honour and learn other languages also as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe has avered: “Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own.”