Struggling to revive Gurmukhi

Struggling to revive Gurmukhi

KARACHI: Sikhs and Nanak Panthi Hindus of Sindh in their attempt to save Gurmukhi are arranging special classes of the language through Guru Nanak Trust -- a joint platform of Nanak Panthi Hindus and Sikhs.

Since the sacred books of Hindus and Sikhs are not available in Pakistan, therefore, the trust has arranged to bring the syllabus from other countries and reprinted it in Pakistan so that students may learn Gurmukhi.

Sardar Ramesh Singh, a leader of the Pakistan Sikh Council and advisor to Guru Nanak Trust, said the trust provides books, copies and transportation to students.

The special classes are held at City Hall, a small but silent hall of historical Swami Narain Temple. Each of them carries booklets titled "Gurmukhi Pathshala".

These special evening classes are arranged at four different places in Karachi, where more than 100 students are studying Gurmukhi.

"There are different levels of Gurmukhi and we start teaching from level 1 and after reaching certain level, any student can read Gurmukhi," said Haresh Kumar, a volunteer who teaches Gurmukhi language at Swami Narain Temple.

He is a Hindu and working as an assistant in the air traffic department in an airline and he studied Gurmukhi when he was a child. "Gurmukhi is the language of Guru (Guru Nanak) and it is my prime duty to teach this language, therefore I volunteered for this noble cause," he said.

Eight year old Tania Kumari is one of the students of this unique classroom. Her family hails from a small mountainous town of Mol located in Kohistan region of Jamshoro district in Sindh and they shifted to Karachi few years ago and now live in Garden area of the city.

After returning from school and finishing her routine homework, Kumari takes her small bag and leaves her home with her four siblings. A school van comes in the late evening and brings students to this unique classroom. Majority of these students are Hindus.

"My father recites Granth Sahib and he wants me to learn Gurmukhi, so that I too can read Granth Sahib, therefore, I come every day here to learn Gurmukhi" Tania Kumari told Daily Times.

Though the religious language of Hinduism is Sanskrit, all these Hindu students take two-hour classes every day to learn Gurmukhi, which means "from the mouth of the Guru" and is the religious language of Sikhism.

Gurmukhi is actually Punjabi language written in Landa scripts and is used by Sikhs while the same language written by Muslim Punjabis in Shahmukhi "from the King's mouth" scripts, which is written in Perso-Arabic alphabet.

The learning of Gurmukhi by Sindhi Hindus depicts communal harmony between both the communities, as Sindh is always hub of religious harmony and for centuries Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs lived peacefully in Sindh. Some of the Hindus of Sindh, majority of them belong to northern Sindh districts call themselves "Nanak Panthi Hindus" and they worship Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikh religion and even they read Granth Sahib, the religious book of Sikhism.

In Sindh, many temples of Guru Nanak are run by these Nanak Panthi Hindus where Granth Sahib is recited on daily basis. Inside Karachi's one of the most important Hindu temple Swami Narain there is a temple of Guru Nanak and its run by Nanak Panthi Hindus and Sikhs.

Explaining the history of the communal harmony between Sikhs and Hindus of Sindh, Singh said since the times of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh, Hindus are reciting Granth Sahab and there are so many temples across Sindh that are mutual worship places for Hindus and Sikhs.