The Impact of the Partition of India on the Study of Hinduism in the Urdu Language
Religion, language, and race have been among the most crucial factors behind the formation of various national and communal identities in modern South Asian history. Just like the political division of British India, the complex interplay of these factors also culminated in a bifurcation of linguistic boundaries along the religious lines according to which Urdu became associated with Islam and Muslims. In contrast, Hindi became increasingly connected to the Hindu culture. These historical developments also affected the extent and nature of the academic materials on Hinduism in the Urdu language, which the present paper examines. The paper takes stock of different relevant materials. Then, it discusses how the changed socio-political realities quantitatively and qualitatively affected the works on Hinduism in the Urdu language as the majority of the Hindu scholars lost enthusiasm to write on their religion in Urdu considering its increased perception of being a Muslim language. Muslims in Pakistan, on the other hand, lost opportunities of everyday interaction with Hindus and easy access to the original Hindi and Sanskrit sources resulting in a considerable decline in Hindu studies on their part. Thus, the overall production of literature on Hinduism in the Urdu language declined sharply. By implication, the paper hints at how decisively socio-political and historical contexts bear on the pursuit of the academic study of religion.