By the end of the 10th century AD, Śauraseni Prakrit (a vernacular derivative of Classical Sanskrit) had started corrupting into regional dialects like Braj Bhasha, Awadhi, and Dehlavi. The "corruption" didn't really stop there though.
With time, each of those "dialects" evolved into languages in their own right, many even mutually unintelligible today. One of these was khariboli, the successor to Dehlavi and today, the primary register of standard Hindi as spoken in and around Delhi.
In the northwest, the Prakrit corrupted differently and Punjabi was born. Do remember though that the Punjabi spoken then isn't terribly similar to the one spoken today. Just as the 10th century Dehlavi would be barely intelligible to the average Hindi speaker today.
Why this unintelligibility? Because Hindi in its defining syntax and vocabulary was still centuries away when the first Dehlavi speaker showed up. Back then, Awadhi and Braj Bhasha were tongues of prestige in most courts across North India.
Then came the Muslims. This was the beginning of the 13th century. Some of the first invaders had a Turko-Afghan heritage. The Mughals followed later with their Mongolian Chagtai language. But for some reason, they adopted Persian as the court language.
Muzaffar Alam posits that Persian was easy to introduce as language of administration due to its non-sectarian feel, just as English is today. Apparently Chagtai was too Muslim and Dehlavi or Hindavi (coined by Khusro), too Hindu. Persian was foreign and less threatening.
Over centuries, Dehlavi continued to absorb more and more Persian loanwords and eventually came to be referred to as Hindustani. Hindustani started replacing Braj Bhasha and other erstwhile "prestige tongues" as the lingua franca outside the courts.
Persian remained the language of administration and vernacular like Braj and Awadhi, of Sufi literature. In 1648, Shahjahan completed the walled city of Shahjahanabad. And just outside those walls were camps of defending armies along with a vibrant marketplace for them.
An English name for a large number of fighters or wandering troops is horde. This word has a curious etymology. It comes from Russian орда via Polish horda and German Horde. The Russian word itself goes back to Kipchak Turkic orda. They all mean more or less the same thing.
Since a large number of senior officers in the Mughal army were of Turkish descent or influence, they referred to the army by the Turkic name, orda. Consequently, the army camps right outside the Red Fort came to be called Ordu Bazaar.
The military register had experienced much Persian influence over the years and by the end of the 17th century, Zaban-e-Ordu (lit. language of the horde) was born. For writing, a cursive form of the Perso-Arabic script called Nasta'liq was adopted.
By the end of 17th century, Zaban-e-Ordu had started replacing Persian among Delhi's elite. Some like Meer and Sauda had already started calling it Hindi, as a derivative of Hindavi. By 1780, Zaban-e-Ordu had become just Urdu, credit goes to poet Mashafi.
Parallel to this, another Hindustani register with a relatively lighter Persian influence was born for poetry. Since poetry needed mass appeal, it needed to be more intelligible and reducing Persian was one way of achieving it. Thus, Rekhta was born.
By 1800, Hindustani was firmly the lingua franca while Persian remained the language at the courts. Hindustani remained one common tongue to both Hindus and Muslims. This changed in 1837 when the East India Company inadvertently added a communal color to the language.
Thus far, nobody had a problem with Persian, nor with Hindustani (or Urdu as it was referred to in some circles). In 1837, the Company decided to do away with Persian. They replaced it with Hindustani written in the Nasta'liq script. This move triggered the Hindus.
Urdu wasn't very different from the rest of Hindustani (there was no Language called Hindi then) except in the script. But the difference in script WAS along communal lines. Hindus wrote in Devanagari, Muslims in Nasta'liq. But Persian remained acceptable to both.
Even as late as early 1900s, there were celebrated Hindu writers like Premchand who were fluent in Persian and never ostracized. There were also Muslim scholars that wrote in impeccable Braj Bhasha and studied Sanskrit without any backlash.
But the decision to replace Persian with Urdu in 1837 did trigger many Hindus who saw Urdu as a Muslim language and Persian, secular. Their reservation? Hindustani ought to be in Devanagari and not Nasta'liq. This is when "Modern" Hindi was born.
The first real seeds of Hindu chauvinism were sown by one man from Gujarat named Narmad between 1833 and 1836. By 1850, Hindi and Urdu each acquired an identity independent of the other. In 1870, Shardha Phillauri wrote the first devotional song in Hindi, Om Jai Jagdish.
The following decades saw Hindi and Urdu accelerate on divergent paths. As Urdu started absorbing more and more Persian words, Hindi cozied up to Sanskrit. This divergence was as synthetic as it gets. By 1881, Hindi was the official language in Bihar, a first.
The list of major Hindi chauvinists include a surprising name: Mahatma Gandhi. With the idea of gently "imposing" Hindi in the South, he floated the Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachara Sabha 1918. The endeavor didn't help much with Hindi penetration in the region though.
By 1947, Hindi for Hindus and Urdu for Muslims had become an idea cemented in politics. Although India avoided any temptation to have a national language (Nehru did make Hindi mandatory in central govt. offices though), Pakistan went with Urdu. Now came the impositions.
While India legislated Hindi as an official language, one of many, in 1950, Pakistan adopted Urdu as the national tongue 2 years later. The ONLY one. The first practical backlash to Hindi imposition was experienced in 1965 when @INCIndia lost TN to DMK over the issue.
This tug-of-war between Hindi and other Indian languages has remained a prominent ethno-political feature in southern and northeastern India till date. The friction had only intensified in recent years after a brief lull, thanks to the Union government's childish maneuvers.
Hindi imperialism warrants a thread unto itself, a few brief tweets aren't nearly enough to illustrate how the fault-lines have deepened on our side of the border and how Hindi has almost killed richer older tongues like Haryanvi and Awadhi. This one's about Urdu.
Urdu's story began in undivided India as we already saw earlier. The story of its chauvinism also began in undivided India, not Pakistan. Our man of interest is Sir Syed Ahmed Taqvi bin Syed Muhammad Muttaqi, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan for short.
Born in a Mughal India, educated in Scotland, and later employed in the EIC, Khan was quite the bridge between the East and the West. He remained a curious character hard to decipher. Having sided with the Brits in the 1857 mutiny, he was also a bitter critic of the Brits.
Through his earlier years, Khan remained a vocal proponent of Western-style scientific curriculum, Islamic reformation, and other progressive ideas. He even read Darwin and partially agreed with evolution. Then came the Aligarh movement and things started changing.
Khan's advocacy of reformations and Western education expectedly earned him fatwas and criticism from the clergy, especially the Deobandis. But that didn't deter him from the mission. But the Aligarh movement added another dimension to his activism: Urdu.
The Aligarh movement coincided with the Hindi-Urdu controversy. This was triggered by the Brits replacing Persian with Urdu as the official language of administration, offending Hindi speakers. By 1881, Bihar announced Hindi as its official language.
By then Khan had become fully invested in the controversy as a champion of Urdu hegemony. His Mughal roots had a major role to play in the shaping of this emotion. Soon, Urdu was made the medium of instruction at all institutions run by him.
Once he's said to have exclaimed, "Urdu was the language of gentry and Hindi that of the vulgar," triggering massive backlash. In 1869, Khan embarked on a tour of England where he was deeply influenced by the grandeur of Cambridge. This seeded ideas in his mind.
The ideas fructified upon his return in 1875 in the shape of the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College, today we know it as the Aligarh Muslim University. By then Khan had already turned into a full-blown Urdu nationalist.
His influence traveled as far as Hyderabad where Urdu became the official State language and the medium of instruction at Osmania University. This was a state where majority of people including Muslims spoke Telugu and Dakhani Hindi, as they do even today.
As the calls for an independent Muslim homeland intensified, Khan began active advocacy of that cause as well. Soon, he started enjoying support from the same Deobandi and Wahhabi clerics who had once issued fatwas calling him a Kafir for his reformations.
Khan died in 1898, but his Urdu nationalism didn't. The baton passed on to the likes of Jinnah and Iqbal who championed the notion of Urdu as a language of Muslim identity. This association never really died despite many non-Muslims making their mark as Urdu scholars.
Pakistan went independent in 1947 with Urdu as the national language and English as one of its official languages. At this point it must be noted that Pakistan had a rich assortment of languages from Sindhi to Punjabi to Balochi to...Bengali. All became tertiary overnight.
One big-ticket casualty of this policy was East Pakistan. Despite its Muslim population, the region has always been very touchy about its Bengali identity. Jinnah's Urdu imposition was a direct assault to their ethnic sovereignty. They rebelled. Bangladesh was born.
The loss of East Pakistan triggered understandable paranoia in what remained of Pakistan after. The Muslim League intensified its efforts around the One Unit campaign and began active Urdu imposition as part of its anti-Balkanization measures. Balochistan was one victim.
Despite its rich ethnic identities, Pakistan's polity was heavily dominated by imports from India's UP. The Muhajirs. They spoke Urdu. And their numerical minority did little to impede their influence. The most influential of these Muhajirs was PM Liaquat Ali Khan.
The Baloch aren't barred from speaking Balochi, never were. But the language is not taught in government schools, even though Arabic is. Result? People can speak but not read or write their own mother tongue. It's Urdu all the way. https://www.dawn.com/news/871217/teaching-balochi-in-schools
Sindhi is spoken by somosto 15% of Pakistan, mostly in the Sindh province. Still the language of instruction in the province remains Urdu. At best, it's toggled between Urdu and English, but never Sindhi.
Barring a tiny minority of Muhajirs in Karachi, nobody really speaks Urdu as a native tongue in Sindh. But Urdu continues to dominate the landscape with even private schools shying away from Sindhi since the language isn't an essential for jobs. https://nation.com.pk/10-Sep-2015/the-imposition-of-urdu?version=amp
So what does it mean for a language to be given the third-class treatment in its own birthplace? Here's one example.
Language chauvinism isn't just a matter of one language killing another, no, it's much more than that, for language represents culture. Urdu hegemony isn't just killing indigenous tongues but also the cultures that embody — the literature, the history, the whole shebang.
One prime example is the legacy of Dulla Bhatti. Once a Punjabi icon, one whose composition, Sundari-Mundari still remains a Lohri staple, his grave remains a neglected piece of concrete in his own land today. Never acknowledged and rarely visited.
All of the above said, let's be abundantly clear that this hegemonic attitude isn't an Urdu monopoly. English did it to Welsh and Gaelic, French to Breton, Hindi to Haryanvi, Marwari, and countless other tongue...the list is long.
One may argue that it's not illegal for one to speak their native tongue. True, but that's not how language imposition works. A far more efficient way is to gradually edge it out of education. Label it "low language." Make it redundant.

That's what happened in Pakistan.
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