Brief History of Punjabi Language and Literature

History of Punjabi Language and Literature

According to scholars Punjabi grew out of the Sauraseni Apabhramsa in the 11th century A.D. Some scholars also see Paisachi influence in its development. The development of modern Punjabi Literature in India has been parallel with formation of the Gurumukhi script drawn up by the Sikh gurus.

Punjabi Literature in India emerged only in the 15th century. From the time of Guru Nanak to the time of Guru Gobind Singh, a remarkable amount of religious and mystic poetry of high quality was produced in Punjabi Language, most which is to be found in the Adi Granth. Poetry in Punjabi Language was influenced by Sufi and Qissa poetry, genres in which Bulhe Shah and Waris Shah composed beautiful verses. Waris Shah’s Heer Ranjha (1766) is considered a classic.

The earliest specimens of prose in Punjabi Language are the janam sakhis (biographies of the Gurus), parmaraths (commen­taries on scriptures) and Gurus’ sayings. Prem Sumarg, said to have been written by Guru Gobind Singh, Paras Bhag by Addan Shah, Gian Ratnavali by Bhai Mani Singh are some important prose works.

When the Christian Mission at Ludhiana set up the first printing press in Punjab, moderm Punjabi literature began in India. Bhai Vir Singh (1872-1957) is considered the father of modem Punjabi literature and the best product of the Singh Sabha Movement. His Rana Surat Singh was the first successful attempt at blank verse in the Punjabi language. His novels in Punjabi Language are historic records. Puran Singh was another notable poet.

The nationalist spirit produced poets like Gurmukh Singh Musafir and Hira Singh Dard. Mohan Singh and Amrita Pritam brought a progressive note into the poetry. Amrita Pritam was given the Jnanpith Award. In the field of drama, I.C. Nanda did some pioneering work. Sant Singh Sekhon and Balwant Gargi have made an excellent contribution to drama. Punjabi literature in India has been sewed well by journalism. Gurbaksh Singh enriched Punjabi prose through his books and his magazine, Preet Lairi. Nanak Singh and Jaswant Singh Kanwal became popular novelists who instructed as well as entertained.