chapter  4
Making passion popular
Sung poetry in Urdu and its social effects in South Asia
WithScott Kugle
Pages 20

Social integration is not possible without a common language – a “vernacular.” Yet a common language needs to be spiritually charged if it is to inspire ethical social integration; it needs to have literary refinement, artistic adaptability and religious vision. Sufis contributed greatly to crafting Urdu from a spoken language of trade into a literary language used in spiritual music and ethical teachings that extol passionate love. This chapter explores Urdu poetry and song to better understand how Sufism – through language, poetry and song – can contribute to the goal of social integration. This chapter examines several Sufi poets belonging to the Chishti tariqa to show how they moved from Persian to Urdu and helped transform Urdu from a vernacular language of trade into a literary language. It focuses on the Deccan region of south-central India and illustrates how Sufis owing allegiance to popular Chishti Sufi master Burhan al-Din Gharib negotiated between Persian and the maturing idiom of Urdu. This chapter also explores the early forms of Urdu known as Gujari and Deccani.