First Gurmukhi course concludes

By Ali Usman

LAHORE: The graduates of the first Gurmukhi Certificate Course were awarded certificates on Wednesday after the completion of the course at the Punjab Institute of Language, Art and Culture (PILAAC).

The Gurmukhi Learning Certificate Course – the first course of its kind in Pakistan to teach the Gurmukhi script of Punjabi commenced at the institute last month. Some 35 students were registered for the course, of which 21 qualified the final examination. Gurmukhi is the universal script used for writing Punjabi, and is quite close to the Hindi script. In Pakistan, the Shahmukhi script (also called the Persian script by some) is used for writing Punjabi.

The aim of the course was to equip the students with the basic skills of Gurmukhi and making them able to read and write the script. The course instructor was eminent Punjabi scholar Jameel Paul. Speaking at the ceremony, Paul said Gurmukhi was the universal script for writing Punjabi. He said there were around 100,000 Punjabi websites, and only two used the Shahmukhi script for the language. He said by learning this script, the poetry of great Sufi poets like Baba Fareed, Shah Hussain, Waris Shah and Bulleh Shah could be written in Gurmukhi and the people living in Eastern Punjab could learn about this rich Punjabi treasure. PILAAC Director Dr Abbass Najmi said the institute would keep organising such courses in future.\21\story_21-5-2009_pg13_2


8 responses to “First Gurmukhi course concludes

  1. Salaams.

    It is incorrect to say Gurmukhi is the universal script for writing Panjabi. It is the script of the Sikh religion and tradition. Sikhs are only 20% of all Panjabi. Even if one presumes all Panjabi Hindus also use it, it still means 55% of Panjabis who are Muslim do not. Guru Arjun invented the Gurmukhi script from existing variations of the script used for record keeping by Panjabi non-Muslim trading castes called Pothi Lippi (Ledger Script). Guru Sahib did not want to use the king’s script for writing down the teachings of the Gurus, hence, the Sikh term for it: Shahmukhi. The only problem is for Panjabi Muslims it is not the script of the king, but the script of the Prophet (saw) and his spiritual inheritors, the pirs. Baba Farid did not write his shlokas in Gurmukhi, he or his followers wrote them in the Perso-Arabic script. Perhaps it would be less offensive and mutually acceptable to call it Pirmukhi instead of Shahmukhi because the latter is too closely associated with the exclusively Sikh view of history.

  2. Harpreet Singh

    Dear Malik Sahib,

    Guru Nanak wrote a composition called the “Patti” that contain 35-stanzas, each beginning with a letter of the Gurmukhi alphabet, much in the style of the “Si Harfi” genre. Therefore, the Gurmukhi script dates much farther back than Guru Arjan. While the Perso-Arabic script dates even farther back, no Sikh text from the premodern period can be found that uses the word “Shahmukhi” to describe it. This term that was probably coined by Muslims themselves in response to the term “Gurmukhi”; and this probably happened in the last fifty years with the resurgence of Panjabi among Muslims of West Panjab who wanted the same prestige for their script that was enjoyed by Gurmukhi in the East Panjab. Remember that the Sikhs ruled the Panjab from 1799 to 1849 and they had no trouble using Persian or the related Pers0-Arabic script for their official record-keeping and literary activity.

    In the absence of reliable literary evidence, it is presumptuous to think that Baba Farid actually wrote down his composition. There is no literary source other than the Guru Granth Sahib that exists in which the “Farid-Bani” is recorded. Scholars such as Khaliq Ahmad Nizami (Aligarh: 1955) don’t even think these compositions belong to Baba Farid since no Chisti malfuzat account that talks about the great Ganj-i Shakar mentions his Panjabi dohas. Nizami’s theory may well be proven wrong with the discovery of a relatively recent manuscript of Hidayat ul Qulub (c. 1350) from Khuldabad in the Deccan (, which contains a few dohas that are attributed to Baba Farid, one of which are also found in the Guru Granth Sahib. The only issue is that the manuscript itself is from the 17th century, so we must wait for fresh scholarship to shed light on the question of authorship of these verses.

    Much of your response above is inventing a version of history that is simply not true. The two scripts can coexist and both Sikhs and Muslims need to know them both if they are to benefit from over 500 years of shared literary activity in the Panjab.

  3. Harpreet Singh Ji,

    Greetings. Why would Muslims use the term Shahmukhi for the Farsi Rasm al-Khat, when the script primarily has religious significance? Panjabi Muslims have never used another script besides the Perso-Arabic one. In contrast, as you yourself say in your comment, the Sikh community used two scripts in pre-modern times. The Gurmukhi script was used for sacred texts and the Perso-Arabic one for secular business, like affairs of the court. In fact, as you might know, respectable Sikh ladies only learnt the Gurmukhi script and not the Perso-Arabic one, just as respectable Hindu ladies learnt only the Devanagari one. The Perso-Arabic was considered suitable for men only as they had to deal with the outside world. If the Sikhs used two scripts did they not have a name for each? What did they call the script used at the royal court?
    In any case, your comment affirms my original objection to Mr. Jameel Paul’s claim that the Gurmukhi script is universally used to write Panjabi. Even the Sikh community extensively started using the script outside a religious context only after the Singh Sabha Movement started promoting it as the cultural and religious script of the Sikhs during the 1880s. I am quite sure you can find the term Shahmukhi in their polemical tracts.
    As it is, the position of Panjabi in Pakistan is precarious at best, and irresponsible and invidious statements like this one can do a lot of damage. I am all for learning and sharing the collective heritage of Panjabi, and have been using the Gurmukhi script myself for about twenty years now. Nevertheless, we must not forget that for Panjabi Muslims to learn Gurmkhi – and those serious about the language should – is as significant as Urdu speaking Muslims learning the Devanagari script. The same cultural and religious and historical sensitivities are involved. Falsifying history is not going to help.
    On another note, I was not claiming Hazrat Baba Farid himself actually wrote down the shlokas we have that are attributed to him. I was only trying to point out that if he or his disciples did write down anything it would be in the Farsi Khat. In the same vein, not everything attributed to Hazrat Guru Nanak was necessarily written or composed by him. Since I do not know what is the religious status of the Patti you mention in the Sikh canon I will not comment on it directly, but will point out that since it is patterned after the si-harfi the history of the latter might shed some light on its date of composition.
    Adnan Malik

  4. hakeem ali asghar

    this gurmukhi certicates (PILAAC)is equal to other university degree?if yes please email me.

  5. hakeem ali asghar

    this gurmukhi certicates (PILAAC)is equal to other university degree?if yes please email me.

    i shall be thankfull to you.

  6. Good to learn that some Punjabi lovers are promoting Gurmukhi script in Pakistan

  7. Please see .

    It is a utility for transliteration from Shahmukhi to Gurmukhi, developed by the Advanced Centre for Technical Development of Punjabi language, Literature and Culture of the Punjabi University, Patiala.

    BTW, I, for one, couldn’t care less as to which of the scripts is used by more people or is older, etc. The language i. e. Punjabi is supreme. A script, after all, is only a means to convey it in the written form.

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