Dialogue  July-September,  2011, Volume 13 No.1

Uzbekistan-India :  Some Traces of Convergence in Medieval Folklore


Azad Shamatov

As it‘s well known folklore traditions are considered as a very effective impetus, stabilizing and nourishing creative trends in the development of written speeches and respective literary activities. Referring to Folklore in general we may underline the following points:

Firstly, it seems absolutely obvious that  the Folklore has not only perpetuated  plots and images from the days of yore, but that also   mirrors the people‘s posture to historical events and personalities.

Secondly, no one can reject a fact that all the main genres of literature are, in their initial  form, contained in folklore (Erman 1984, 13).

Thirdly, the genres of folk poetry were engendered by life itself, by the process of work and its various occupations.

And at last, fourthly, the Folklore in all its varieties both genetically and typologically, not to speak of its primitive forms, indeed, is certified to be utterly transparent for structural analysis (Meletinski 1973, 393).

Regarding Uzbek and Indian peoples they are mutually connected from the ancient times in many respects, especially this matter is strongly expressed in cultural field.  In particular, Buddhism‘s spread over South and Cenral Asia had created many cultural values, equally revered by both peoples. For example, worldwide famous “Panchatantra” became particularly familiar to Uzbek people‘s ancestors through a lot of translations into Arabic, Persian and Turkic under the common title “Kalila and Dimna”. Besides it was al-Beruni‘s “India”, where the author depicts certain legends, which surprisingly put together our folklore traditions1. So that it‘s too difficult to underestimate its influence on intellectual life of pre-Islamic Central Asia.

These phenomena, indeed, became intensified after the advent of Islam in both the regions, because it left a substantial impact on the very nature and direction of literary activities as a whole.  First of all in both regions there are clear traces of the intermingling of numerous sujets, legends, coming from Arabic and Iranian sources, like “Yusuf Zuleikha”, “Laila Majnun” and “Shah-Nama”, whose images and heroes used to become immensely popular in various layers of local population irrespective of their creeds and religious preferences1a.

That‘s why as a main target of the paper one would concentrate on certain modes of historical interaction between the regions in the sphere of Folklore with special emphasis on Hindustani, Punjabi, Kashmiri and Uzbek Literary traditions. These developments inevitably entailed a strengthening of Language Contacts and Interference Processes as well as widening a framework of Medieval Central-South Asian Language Union as a whole2.

In particular, according to Russian Academician N.I. Konrad, two centuries before A.D. Alexander the Great had been the first in world history to indicate that endless vast space i.e. in terms of modern times the stretch, embracing the Central Asia, Afghanistan, North-West India, Iran, Trans-Caucasus, as well as Mediterranean, South-West Asia and North-East Africa states apart from the geographical and political points altogether do constitute not just a local, but in the most important sense a  hotbed of culture /Konrad 1972, 273/. So that a certain type of European and Afro-Asian mixed Cultural Complex started to form over there since the 4th century B.C.

Meanwhile one cannot ignore socio-political, religious and economic factors, which played immense role in creating favourable conditions and tolerant atmosphere for development of Literary activities, supported by Folklore traditions in Central Asia during early period of Islam‘s penetration into the region.  As it‘s well known  the advent of Islam to Central Asia in the 8th – 9th centuries  in fact caused a complete elimination of all visible signs of preceding spiritual culture, pertaining to Buddhist, Zoroastrian, Manichean and Nestorian roots, forcibly converting the local population to the tenets of the new religion. 

But as it was already stated, the situation in own turn gradually improved by means of creating a new forms of synthesis on the basis of mixing indigenous elements with brand new ones. In particular, initial centuries of the new period had witnessed a number of statehoods, among which the most favourable conditions for such a convergence arose, to our mind, under Samanids Dynasty (875-999), established in Bukhara, embracing different cultural and trade centres as Samarqand, Nishapur, Marw, Urganch, Herat, Balkh and Ghazni.  According to reliable historical sources, there was a situation of religious tolerance and harmony among representatives of diverse beliefs – Sunni and Shia Muslims, Christians and Zoroastrians, who even served at the rulers‘ court, too3

Actually it was a golden age for such geniuses as al-Farabi and Ibn Sina, adorning the Samanids‘ state. In the sphere of Literary activities there reigned such eminent poets and writers like Daqiqi, a devout Zoroastrian, Rudaki, a Muslim and others, who commenced a principally new trend in local belles-lettres, marking a transition from Arabic and Sogdian to (Dari) Perso-Tajik. The most outstanding part in this respect undoubtly belongs to Rudaki for his selfless deeds to promote and strengthen positions of his mother tongue as a common speech, accessible to many tribes, inhabiting not only the Samanids state, but  vast lands of Central Asia at large, indeed4. Consequently these traditions developed in broad scale, involving not only Perso-Tajik Poetry5, but also the Turki (Old Uzbek) Literature, which started  emerging in the 15th century to be adorned by such talented figures as Lutfi, Durbek, Amiri, Sakkaki and gained its climax in the unique creations of the Uzbek Literature‘s founder Alisher Nawai (1441-1501).

As for medieval India, after a long span of political instability and internecine wars during the 10th - 12th centuries, it witnessed an upsurge of literary activities in local vernaculars like Punjabi, Bangla, Braj, Awadhi and Southern Hindustani (Dakkhini)6, as well as in Persian to have become a court language of Muslim poetry, with its first genius Amir Khusro (1253-1325)7.

Referring to the principal features of their activities, combining rather global scale regional process as a whole, one can not help paying attention to the fact, that the main source of their inspiration were Folklore and Epic traditions of many Asian peoples.

Thus, proceeding from these one can formulate the main purpose of the present paper, which proposes an investigation into main features of such a process in Uzbek and Indian Literature of Islamic period, pertaining mostly to the 15th -18th centuries and concentrating on development of Masnawi genre in Hindustani, Punjabi and Kashmiri as well as Uzbek and Tajik literary varieties with special reference to Laila-Majnun sujet. This approach is basically motivated by not only geographical proximity of the both regions, but also by cultural and social similarities in the life of those nationalities and tribes, which do constitute now their modern descendants.

One should also emphasize, that during medieval times both India and Uzbekistan demonstrated a specific picture of Language Situation, where along with vernaculars they used certain classical languages. For India these were Sanskrit, Braj Bhasha and Awadhi apart from different varieties of Hindustani like Hinduvi and Dakkhini, while in Uzbekistan alongwith local spoken forms of Turki there was flourishing Persian, i.e. Perso-Tajik poetical which was intelligible to majority of the Central Asian people as a whole, not to speak of Arabic, which remained as a language of sciences and philosophy.

So now one should analyze the modes of Folklore Interaction in both regions, which might be roughly divided in spoken and written traditions, indeed.                                

Concerning the spoken tradition, one can specify some common paremias (proverbs and sayings), proceeding to such illustrious and manifacetted genre of Folk tradition, including also catch-words and aphorisms.

In medieval period it was quite natural that the writers always exploited widely the Folklore data, poeticizing the proverbs and sayings, a huge bulk of which gradually started turning to the catch-words. These in their turn passed from Literary speech to Colloquial one again.

So there one can find a Perso-Tajik proverb Khaab-e khargosh, meaning literally “the sleep of hare”, which actually denotes “light, sensitive sleep”. The proverb as it is known now is largely used in Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi and other languages of North-Western India and Pakistan.

Besides there are also two more such instances – the first one is   Qatrah qatrah  jama’ gardad -o omgahii daryaa shavad  rendered by Sa‘adi Shirazi in his work, which corresponds to the Hindustani “Buund buund men taalaab bhar jaataa hai”, i.e. “Drop by drop would compose a sea”, and another  one - Kore bikun bahar savob na siikh bisozad na kabob, i.e. “Let us make safe a spit as well  as a roast”, which was transformed by Nizami as “Miyanji chunan kun zi bahar savob Ki ham siikh bar jaa buvad ham kabob” /Koroglu 1961, 6-7/.

One can also refer to some common legends and stories, spread over the two regions. Following A.Irisov, a prominent Uzbek specialist in Arab Philology, who has also shown himself as a painstaking scholar of al-Beruni‘s “India’s” original version, there is a very old fable legend in Uzbek Folk tradition about magic transformation of a baby to golden piece, which ultimately served as a means of   existence for its mother. She managed to do so selling out the golden body piece by piece. In al-Beruni‘s narration the same plot is considered as an Indian legend, where analogous transformation happened with the man, who found a magic grass and put it on fire.

Moreover there is another legend relating to Ibn Sina, who was said to have discovered a remedy for immortality. Before he died he handed it over to his disciple, bidding him to make forty drops one by one. When he died the disciple started dropping the remedy and as soon as he reached a thirty ninth drop he stopped, because he was still anxious of debt, of golden coins, of  the teacher. That‘s why he didn‘t drop a fortieth one and Ibn Sina couldn‘t come to life again.

A similar legend is recollected by al-Beruni, having borrowed it from Ancient Indian sources. A no less popular topic, exploited in similar legends, is heroic deeds done for the sake of defending one‘s motherland from invading enemies. In Central Asia it pertains to widely popular legend of Shirak, who sacrifices his life, having deceived the Persian king Darius by enticing his hordes into vast boundless desert, thus, dooming most of them to perish over there. The same plot is present in the Indian legend on Kanik Raja and king of Kannauj. So the deed of Shirak proved to have been accomplished by a chief minister of Kannauj in the wake of Kanik Raja‘s troops intrusion.                           

As far as the written tradition is concerned, if one would look through the early history of exploiting common Islamic plots in both the regions there might be discerned certain compositions, based on the same religious or secular stories, in various poetical genres of Arabic or Iranian origin.

In particular, while proceeding to the Masnawi as a specific genre, it should be underlined that actually it is considered to be a big poem with epic, philosophic-didactic or romantic contents.  In its epic form the genre is perceived as “Shah-nama”, a great national epic of Iranian tribes, which was utilized first by Perso-Tajik poet Abulqasim Firdousi (940-1020-30), who in own turn had in fact completed  a version, started by Daqiqi, mentioned above as a Zoroastrian poet of the 10th century under Samanids` dynasty. This work is thought to be the largest composition of those times, comprising over 55 thousand couplets.  So it had presumably heroic content, going back to mythological essence of Avesta.

As a classic example of philosophic-didactic Masnawi, belonging to Nizami (12th c.), whose sujets and even metrics used by him in “Hamsa” (“The Five Books”) later on emerged as direct object for many imitations in Perso-Tajik and Turki Literary traditions. As the most eminent masters of the genre there had been such famous Perso-Tajik poets as Attar, Sana`i, Saadi, Amir Khusro and Jami, while in Turki the same position was occupied by Lutfi, Nawai and Fuzuli.

Treating some popular sujets laid down for the genre first of all there is Laila Majnun, being the most popular n Medieval Times in  both the regions.

Though from the very beginning the Islamic period of Arabic poetry was signified by the transfer of the Poetry‘s centre to the lands conquered by Arabs during propagation and spread of new religion, yet the Folklore oriented literature flourished first and most within the framework of Bedouine environment, supported by love lyrics tending to idealize a so called Uzrit love, i.e. “a love to single beloved”.  In this context a poet and his beloved do represent an unchangable couple of lovers to be always unfortunate and doomed to beñome a prey of circumstances, eventually dying either of unsatisfied passion or of a grief on the death of the partner.

Among such couples there were many ones, but only Majnun and Laila acquired ultimately a great fame in the East, thanks to the poem, composed under the same title by the 12th c. Perso-Tajik poet Nizami, who collected together scarcely written and folklore fragments of the story and composed a smart poem in 11888, having exploited the Arabic Legend of two lovers8.

In fact the Masnawi tradition has created a fruitful exchange between Indian and Central Asian folklore sources, especially through either borrowing new sujets or direct translation from local languages into Perso-Tajik and reverse. For example, the great Indian poet Amir Khusro had taken advantage of the interesting story of tragic love of Khizr Khan, the son of Delhi Sultan Allauddin Khilji and Gujarati princess Dewal Rani.

As another brilliant example of utilizing old specimens of folklore it may be considered a love story of Nala and Damayanti, going back to glorious Indian epic “Mahabharata” and “Puranas” literature. Its plot in turn was used by Indian poet Sur Das (1483-1563), the representative of Bhakti poetry and the author of “Nal Daman” poem, written in Braj literary tradition, and passed over to the endeavours of Persian poet Faizi, who lived under the first Mughals. Faizi, having translated the poem into Persian, substantially enlarged  its  topic, with new details, thus, making it more emotional and suitable for Persian speaking readers..

Thereafter under the third Mughal emperor Akbar, the Great there was Mulla Nawai Khavusani, who completed a masnawi “Soz-o Gudaz” in 1506, which is based on typical Indian plot. The masnawi narrates of two lovers belonging to Hindu creed9.

An analogous phenomenon was recorded under Jahangir, the fourth Mughal emperor, when Amir Hasan Sijji, the Persian poet compiled his composition “Ishq-Nama”, comprising a story of Indian lovers.

As far as purely Indian legends translated into Persian are concerned, there were excellent examples of such outstanding folklore masterpieces as “Madhumalti”, by Adil Khan Razi in 1654 under the title “Madhumalti and Manohar”10. Just after four years the same author had revived in Persian a famous Awadhi poem of Malik Muhammad Jayasi “Padmavat”, renaming it as “Shama Parwana” (“Candle and Butterfly”).

Besides in forthcoming period during the 17th century there came to be translated into Persian two other legends of Indian origin. The first one was “Kamrup and Komalta” with its translator Muhammad Murad. The second one, based on a South Indian poem in Dakkhini ‘Chandarbadan and Mahiyar” by Muqimi, was translated by Bayyani under the famous name “Ishq-Nama”.  

Undoubtly all these translations and remakes afterwards became an integral part of literary interests of Uzbek people as well, because as a matter of fact the Perso-Tajik had been viewed as a main literary language throughout the whole territory of present Central Asia so that all Uzbek poets to start from Islamic times up to the early 20th century were bilingual, creating their work both in Uzbek and Persian. Even Alisher Nawai, the founder of Uzbek Classic Literature used to hold two different pseudonyms – “Nawai” i.e. “melodious” for the compositions in Uzbek and “Fani” i.e. “perishable, transitory” for those composed in Perso-Tajik11.

So on the basis of the facts, observed above, one can now proceed to compare Indian and Uzbek literary versions of “Laila Majnun”, being a poetical elaboration of the Arabic legend on tragic love of young Qais (Majnun) and beautiful lady Laila, where a scene of Majnun`s death is depicted with esclusive sense of expressiveness and strength12.

Concerning chronological parameters of the versions13 under comparison, it should be stressed that the Uzbek one was created first in the 15th century by Alisher Nawai, greatly inspired by both Nizami and Amir Khusro‘s versions, whom he mentions especially as his teachers. Meanwhile the Indian one belongs to the early 17th century‘s Dakkhini poet Arifuddin Ajiz, who himself confessed that his poem actually represents a translation of Persian poet Hatifi‘s work. Besides both differ in length. For example, the Alisher Nawai‘s version consists of over 5 000 lines, while the Ajiz‘s one contains 1 278 lines, only.

As far as a main content is concerned, we tried to undertake a comparative investigation between the Punjabi Folk story named “Qais kii Lailii” /Narendra Dhiir 1989, 82-92/, Alisher Nawai`s version and the one of Ajiz /Ajiz 1967/ in order to find out what kind of additions and creative supplements had been carried out by these two authors while translating the main features of the Arabic legend. So with this purpose one has outlined a special table, demonstrating similarities and differences between the three sources, first of all taking into account the titles of the chapters, included in the Uzbek and Indian versions, and major peripetia of the Folk story proper, described by Narendra Dhiir. Bearing in mind, that the Uzbek one comprises 26 chapters, we limited the comparison with just 12 chapters, where for the first time there appears on Naufal, a positive character, at the same time presenting the other versions without any abridgement.

As was seen from the comparison, the Uzbek version might be characterized as a rare lyrical elaboration of the legend, adding many new colourful details, expressed by the means of artistic metaphors amd similes, comparing the hero with nightingale and depicting the heroine as “shedding bloody tears”. Meanwhile, the Indian version might be interpreted as shortened and laconic one to seem in many respects obviously quite different from the main story and from the Uzbek version as well. For example, in Indian version the narration starts right away from adult  Laila`s dreams instead the Uzbek one begins with the birth of Majnun. Moreover if in Indian version the father of Majnun is depicted as a king while in the Uzbek one he appears a chief of several tribes. There are also some differences in the characters` names and their positions, too.

Now while one can proceed to Yusuf Zulaikha‘s sujet it should be noticed that its origin seems to be derived from the legend incorporated in Bible and Qur‘an respectively, depicting virtues of Joseph, the handsome, loved by a wife of Potipharus, the chief of Faraoh‘s bodyguards. Though the Qur‘anic version is rather short being an object of literary adaptations with some distinct details, borrowed from Arabic folklore, that of Bible seems to be close to folklore tradition proper and, perhaps, goes back to ancient Egyptian legend. The first one was observed in poetic remake as early as in the 9th century. The renowned poem by Abdurrahman Jami, the Tajik poet from Hirat, enlarged its sujet with some episodes and details. Eventually the sujet gained great popularity in Persian, Urdu, Punjabi and Kashmiri literatures as well. For example, in Persian literature apart from Abdurrahman Jami there were several attempts to use the sujet by Amani and Abu-l-Muayad Balkhi in the 11th century.

Meanwhile in the realms of  Hindustani literature this endeavour was carried out by Hashimi Bijapuri in the 17th century, whereas in Punjabi  this work was done by Khafiz Barkhurdar(16th c.). As for Kashmiri Literary tradition there was a distinguished literateure Srivara (died 1489), who completed supplementing “Rajatarangini” and became one of the first imitators of Abdurrahman Jami`s poem, having composed in simplified form of Sanskrit the work “Kathakautuka”, which seems to preserve Jami`s metrics.

So now let us summarize all data given above in special table‘s framework, including also another facts and figures in order to demonstrate a large scale of Folklore Convergence between the two regions from the period the 6th- 5th centuries B.C. (‘Nalopakhyan’) to early 19th century A.D. (‘Anvari Suhaili’ by Ibrahim Bijapuri).


        Comparative chronological data on Folklore Convergence   


       Comparative chronological data on Folklore Convergence   


Original‘s name    Translations and remakes

   and  period   ——————————————————————

  of creation           Arabic    Perso-Tajik            Turki       (Uzbek) Dakkhini


Mahabharata                       Nal-o Daman               –                          –

Nalopakhyan                         Abul Faiz Faizi,

the 6th – the 5th c-s B.C.               the 16th c.

Nal Daman”,

Sur Das, the 15th-16th c-s


Pancatantra         Kalila and Dimna,              Anvari Suhaili                            

the 3rd-4th c-s ab.the 8th c   .the 12th c. the 15th – 16th c-s Ibrahim Bijapuri,


Alif Laila          Hezar afsane                 Qissai Sayful-       Sayfulmuluk-

translated into Arabic from Pehlevi        Muluk                    Badiuljamal

in the 9th c. , deriving probably from     the 16th c.               the 17th c.

some Ancient Indian  Source                  Majlisi                    Gawwasi


Shukasaptati        – -   Tuti-nama         –  -                             –   -

the 11th-14th c-s         the 14th c.              after the 15th c.      the 17th c.

                                                                       (India)                      Gawwasi



                  Yusuf                                                        Zulaikha              

(Bible, Qur‘an)   Arab   Abdurahman “Qissa-i Yusuf”the 13th c.,  Hashimi

                      folklore     Jami the 15th c.   Durbek the 14th c.        Bijapuri                            

                                                                                                 the 17th c.                               

North Indian      –        Ismat-nama                            Maina Satvanti

 Folk story                     Hamidi                                    (“Canda-o Lurak”)

“Chandayan”                                                                                    (date ?)                                                                             

Gawwasi, the 17th c.  

by  Mulla Daud,

the 14th c.


Manohar Madhumalti          Mehr-o mah                        Gulshan

 (1545)   Manjhan                   Adil Khan                             -e ishq”                     

                                               Razi, 1654                          Nusrati, 1657

                                                                                        “Lal-o gohar”,

                                                                                          Ajiz (1718)14                     


Padmavat                                  Shama Parwana    –      Padmavat                                                          

Malik Muhammad Jaysi             1658 Adil Khan Razi,      Ghulam

Ali (1680)                                        

about 1540

                                                                                    Qissasul anbiya

                             Arabic folklore         the 13th c.      the 17th c.



            abic folklore                                            Meraj-nama

                                                                                       the 15th   c.

           the 17th c.                                                                                                                            

Said Bulaqi


           Arabic folklore                                                      Leila Majnun                                     

                                 Nizami, the 12th c.   –     Alisher Navai,the 15th c.        

Ahmad, Ajiz                 

                                                               Amir Khusro, the 14th -15th c-s                                                                                                                                

                                                                                                    the 17th c.  

                             Husn-o Dil, Yahya Ibn    –       Husn-o Dil                        

Sab Ras                                

                             Sibaq Fattahi, the 15th c.       Nishati, the 18th c.         

Vajahi, the 17th c.,


Valiulla Qadri, the               


18th c.


Iranian folklore                                                Bahram-o  Sayqali,

Gulandam          –                                                             

                                                                                                              the 18th c.       

Tabai, the 17th c.

                                                                                                    Both are based

on a  Persian folk  story 

                                                                                                   on love of  king

Bahram to a fairy15

Rizwanshah-o                                   –                              –                    –


Ruh--e Afza


Dehlevi (the 17th c.)


"Gulzar-e ishq"                                  –                           –                          –


Agah(the 18th c.)



“Treatise on birds”   "Mantiq ut-Tayr”     “Lisan-ut Tayr”  “Panchi bacha”

  the 11th – 12th c-s         Fariduddin Attar                                                   Alisher

Nawai                                                 Wajdi,

                                   Nishapuri, the 12th c.                                          the 15th c.16                            

the 18th c.


    Thus, one can observe following points, resulting from the data given above:

(1) Perso-Tajik literature became enriched by a number of translations from Sanskrit(3 cases), Arabic(4 cases) Awadhi(3 cases).

(2) Indian (Dakkhini) literature has gained immense fame for numerous  translations and elaborations of the sujets of Arabic and Iranian origin (16 cases).

(3) Uzbek literature had been replenished by such translations and elaborations, too (9 cases).

(4) There is a lot of Folklore Convergence between Uzbek and Indian Literature (9 cases in total).

And now let us generalize the data, relating to those cases, which demonstrate an enrichment process of Hindustani (Hindi and Urdu), Punjabi and Kashmiri Literary activities by the borrowed  folklore sujets, because the process actually has taken place during the 15th – the 20th centuries in the lands on the very edge of both regions under comparison16a.

Spread of common  folklore sujets in Hindustani, Punjabi and Kashmiri                   

                                                Table  3                                                                                                          


Origin                                Hindustani                                               Punjabi                          



”Alif Laila” and          “Saifulmuluk-o                       “Qissai Sayfulmuluk-

   and “Hezar afsane”  Badiuljamal” Gawwasi,          o-Badiuljamal

                                               the 17th c.


“Yusuf                                  Zulaikha”                      “Kathakautuka”        

Hafiz                                      Barkhurdar                      Srivara (15th c.),


“Yusuf-o Zulaikha”,         Bijapuri

                                                                                                the 17th c.

                                                                                                the 16th c.


Ghami  the19th c.

                               Tiriya Charitar (“Feminine Ruses”)

                               a part of  “Dasam Granth”,

                               Gobind Singh (the 17-18th c-s) 17


                       Arabic folklore                                                                         “Laila Majnun”                                     

                                                                                                            Hashim Shah, 18th – 19th c-s.

                                                             Ahmad, Ajiz                                            Qais kii Lailii                                             

Mahmud Ghami

                                                                 the 17th c.                                                     folk story18                                           

the 19th c.    


       Iranian folklore                                                                                               “Shah-nama”                                                                                        

“Shah-nama”                           the 18th – the 19th c-s


Abdul Vahab Khar

     the 10thc.

19th th - 20th c-s


“Iranian folklore”       “Bahram-o Husnbanu”              translated twice                


                                          Amin (the 17 th c.)


The data given above enables one to draw following conclusions:

(1) Almost in all cases (5) Hindustani versions are supplemented with Punjabi ones.

(2) Kashmiri versions are rather rare (3 cases).

(3) All three literatures are influenced equally by the sujets of Arabic and Iranian origin.

In conclusion, as it becomes evident from mentioned above, the Folk tradition appeared to be a powerful factor, enhancing either directly or indirectly an enrichment and mutual benefit among two great Asian civilizations. Mentality and modes of life in ancient and medieval times, embodied in the speech and other means of communication. The latter impacted the spoken and the written Literary process in both regions to be treated in certain sense as a common phenomenon, resembling an indivisible stream, in particular supported by Buddhism, on the one hand, and as Perso-Tajik Language and Poetry, on the other. Thus, regional languages of India and Uzbekistan (representing here Central Asia) had abundant common resources of expression, including those of tales and legends as well as proverbs and sayings. The Folk Tradition envisaged also a wide and profound process of Language Union Formation, based on moulding a similar Lexicon and Phraseology and influencing certain changes in many varieties of local vernaculars and written languages, like Hindi and Urdu (Hindustani), Punjabi, Kashmiri, Uzbek, Tajik, Turkmenian, etc.

In particular, the comparative analysis of various versions of “Laila Majnun” has indicated that our both people’s literary activities founded on Folklore Tradition had implemented many different modes of creative writing out of the common sujets, having mobilized rich artistic means of their own languages.      

So the main objective of  the paper, dealing with investigation of those issues in such compositions of Indian, Arabic and Persian Origin as “Padmavat”, “Manohar Madhumalti”, “Alif Laila”, “Laila Majnun”, “Yusuf Zuleikha” and “Shah-Nama”, which produced and activated such attractive romantic images and similes, inspired and motivated by Folklore and Epics themes, like Gul-o Bulbul (i.e. Rose and Nightingale), Shama Parwana or Diwa Patanga (i.e. Candle and Butterfly), Chand Chakor (i.e. Moon and Partridge), not to speak of scores of colloquial proverbs and aphorisms, like Chupa Rustam (hidden hero), Rustam-e Hind (the Rustam of India) now has been achieved here.            



Ajiz (1967), Laila Majnun – “Qadim Urdu”, volume 2,  Research Publications of the Department of Urdu,Osmania University, ed. GhulamUmar Khan, Hyderabad, India, pp. 1-137.

Bhaalchandrarao Telang(1975), Hinduii banaam dakkhini (bhaashik evam saanskritik samanvay), Aurangaabaad (MahaaraaShtra).

Erman V.G. (1984) Preface to “Classical Drama of Ancient India”, Moscow (in Russian)

Gary Dick and Nasir Kambarov(2003): Preface to “The Language of the Birds” by Alisher Navai, Tashkent

Irisov A.(1963): Al-Beruni and India, Tashkent (in Uzbek).

Konrad N.I.(1972) On the Epoch of Renaissance – “West and East” (Collection of papers), Moscow (in Russian)

Koroglu H.G. (1961): Preface to “Persian proverbs and sayings”, Moscow (in Russian)

Meletinsky E.M.(1973): Comparative typology of Folklore (Historical and structural varieties) -  Philologia. The Research works on Language and Literature, Leningrad (in Russian)

Mirzoev A.M. (1968): Rudaki. Life and Creativity, Moscow, (a Russian translation from Tajik).

Rahmat Ullah (1982) Dakkhinii Hindii aur uske premaakhyaan (Southern Hindi and its love legends), Anubhav Prakaashan, Kanpur (in Hindi).

Serebryakov I.D. (1985): The Literature of Indian People, Moscow (in Russian)

Serebryakov I.D. (1968):  The Punjabi Literature, Moscow

Shamatov A.N.(2000): Central and  South  Asia as Medieval Linguistic  Area – “Abstracts of the  XXXV1 International  Congress of  Asian and African Studies, Montreal, Canada.

Sukhochyov N.S.(1972): Urdu Literature,  Kratkaya Literaturnaya Entciklopedia, Moscow, vol. 6 (in Russian)

Valitova A.A(1968): Leili i Mejnun, Kratkaya Literaturnaya Entciklopedia, Moscow, vol. 5 (in Russian). 


   1.  Cf. our paper “On Interaction of Central and South Asian folklore traditions as a constructive factor in Medieval language Formation” , published  in “Uzbekisch-deutsche Studien III Sprache – Literatur – Kultur – Didaktik . Teilband I . Begegnung von Orient und Okzident in der Literatur Linguistik und Varietateten” , Lit Verlag Dr. W.Hopf Berlin 2010, pp. 417-428.

1a.  For example, thanking to the latter Rustam, a proper name of the “Sha-Nama”s main character baecame extremely popular in Uzbekistan as well as over whole Central Asia, Caucasus and even  in Trans-Volga  land of Russia, inhabited by Turki origin people – Tatars and Bashkirds as well.

   2.  Cf. Central and South Asia as Medieval Linguistic Area – “XXXVIth International Congress of Asian and North African  Studies Book of Abstracts”, Universite de Montreal, Palais des  Congress, Canada, from August 27 to September 200, p. 156

   3.  "These had given a full flow of expression of their views so that nobody was suppressed for scientific or confessional creeds, as that usually took place under Ghaznevids or Saljukids. This was among major reasons of knowledge, philosophy and theoretical sceince development/Mirzoev 1968, 35/.

   4.  “Notwithstanding doubtless influence of Arabic as well as a borrowing from it a lot of words .. the speech long before advent of Islam  alongwith Sogdian was spread over the territories of Mawerannahr and Khorasan and .. strongly restricted a sphere of Sogdian speech usage, indeed” (Mirzoev 1968, 35).

   5.  It was represented by such classics as Daqiqi(died in 977), Omar Khayyam (the 11-12th c-s),   Firdousi(the 10th– 11th c-s), Anvari(12th c.), Sanai(the 11th -12th  c-s), Attar (12th c.), Nizami (the 12th– 13th c-s), Saadi(the 13th c.), Hafiz (the 14th c.), Abdurahman Jami(15th c.),

   6.  It has a whole list of the brilliant names of poets like Farid Shakrganj (the 12th– 13th c-s), Biddapoti, Chondidash (both - 14th – 15th c-s),  Kabir (ab.1440-ab.1518), Nanak (1469-1539), Sur Das (ab.1483-ab.1563) Mulla Daud, Manjhan(the 16th c.), Malik Muhammad Jaysi (the 16th c.), Tulsidas (1532-1624), Muhammad Quli Qutbshah(the 16th– 17th c-s),  Daulot Qazi, Saed Alaol(both in the 17th c.), Vajhi (17th c.) etc.,

   7.  It‘s also certified that besides Persian (Perso-Tajik), Amir Khusro excelled himself in Khari Boli, Braj and Turki, too. For example, cf. our paper entitled “On Linguistic Authentity of Amir Khusro`s Indian Compositions” – “Indiyskoe yazykoznanie” collection,. Moscow, “Nauka” Publishing House, 1978, pp. 216-224 (in Russian).

   8.  It should be proper to mention in particular that the legendary couple Laila Majnuni nitially appear in Perso-Tajik poetry not early as in the 10th century‘ lyric poems by Rudaki, very vividly resembling Ghazal. “My heart is crushed down  by Salma`s coquetry, Just like Majnun‘s soul by curles of Laila”/Mirzoev 1968, 265 /.

8a.  Nizami‘s poem was later on translated into English, French, German and other languages.

   9.  According to Rahmat Ullah, in 1912 it was rendered in English by Anandkumar Swami/Rahmat Ullah 1982, 37/.

10.  As it‘s well known, the sujet had been perceived earlier in Sufi work after Muslim author Manjhan, who excelled himself in Awadhi and wrote under the same title a poem – Masnawi in 1545, which gives a beautiful depiction of love between prince Manohar, a son of Kanaygiri‘s Raja Surajbhan, and  princess Madhumalti, a daughter of Maharas Nagar‘s Raja Vikram Ray.

11.  His “numerous writings, endowments, and his life example have had lasting influence... His proverbs are on the tongues of Uzbeks, Turkmens and Tajiks. He is cons idered the father of the Uzbek language and greatest poets of Central Asia“ /Gary Dick 2003, 6/. Treating himself as a disciple of the outstanding classic poet of the Perso-Tajik Literature Abdurrahman Jami,  Alisher Nawai “established  a profound impact not only on later Central Asian authors, who wrote in Turki up till the beginning of the 20th century, but also on the development of Azerbaijan, Turkmen, Uygyr, Tatar and  Turkish literatures.

12.  As for “social significance of the poem it`s plot is founded on the challenge to the rigid norms and regulations of feudal society as well as to the indifference towards a life and destiny of an ordinary man. A humanistic pathos and emotional conflict, a powerful artistic impact on the reader became a motivation for tremendous influence of the poem on many Eastern literarures and especially on Uzbek folklore, indeed” /Valitova 1968,. 64/.

13.  Though Rahmat Ullah, referring to Deccani Masnawi Tradition, stated that since 1608 in Dakkhini i.e. Southern Hindustani a creation of love stories on the basis of Arabic, Persian and Turki masnawis /Rahmat Ullah 1982, 50/, yet one cannot trace any case of Turki masnawi‘s exploitation in this tradition at all.

14.  The date is proposed by Dr. Gopichand Narang /Bhaalchandra Telang 1975, 62/.

15.  The plot does strikingly resemble a popular Ancient  Indian sujet of Kalidasa‘s “Vikramorvashiyam”, depicting a love between king Pururavas and celestial lady Urvashi.

16.  In complete comp liance with Sufi teachings the Masnawi highlights an image of guide (Pir or Shaykh) on the path of enlightment. “In the book the wise bird Hoopoe become the bird‘ Shaykh. As he listens to each bird‘s excuse he admonishes each one with the exact anecdotes that they need to hear. These stories that Hoopoe uses so capably often come from the oral history of the Silk Road and Islam”/Gary Dick and Nasir Kambarov 2003, 7/

16a. To our mind, such particular chronological feature of Kashmiri literature compared to Punjabi and Hindustani might be explained by the fact that Islamic culture came to Kashmir in 14th century, while other parts of North-Western India witnessed the fact earlier from the 8th century like Central Asia and present Uzbekistan.

17.  In the opinion of I.D.Serebryakov, a famous Russian indologist in that period Punjabi Literature “was lavishly enriched by the folklore of numerous tribes and peoples that were assimilating themselves with the Pujab people throughout the 14th– 16th centuries. This found vivid expression in the development of the kissa  jenre – the lyrical-epic poem. According to origin the plots of kissa fall into main groups: those created in the Punjab, and those borrowed either from ancient Indian literature (Nal and Damayanti, for example), or from Arab literature (Laila and Mainun), or else from Persian-Tajik literature (Farhad and Sirin)” /Serebryakov  1968, 38-39/.

18.  Cf. Narendra Dhiir, Pancnad kii prem-kahaaniyaan, Naii Dillii, 1989, pp. 82-93.



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