RegionSouth Asia
Era13th century[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3

Rekhta (Urdu: ریختہ [ˈreːxtaː]; Hindi: रेख़्ता [ˈreːxtaː]) was the early form of Hindustani language, as its dialectal basis shifted to the Delhi dialect. This style evolved in both the Perso-Arabic and Devanagari scripts and is considered an early form of Modern Standard Urdu and Hindi.[2] According to the Pakistani linguist and historian Tariq Rehman, Rekhta was a highly Persianized register of Hindustani, exclusively used by poets. It was not only the vocabulary that was Persianized, but also the poetic metaphors, inspired by Indian landscapes and seasons, were abandoned in favor of the Persian ones i.e bahaar (spring) replacing barsaat (rainy season).[3]

The 13th century Indo-Persian Muslim poet Amir Khusrau used the term "Hindavi" (meaning "of Hind or India") for the 'Rekhta' dialect (the ancestor of Modern Urdu), the Persianized offshoot of the Apabharamsa vernacular Old Hindi, towards its emergence during the era of Delhi Sultanate,[4][5][6][7] and gave shape to it in the Islamic literature, thus called "the father of Urdu literature".[8] Other early Muslim poets, includes Baba Farid, who contributed in the development of the language.[9] later from the 18th century, the dialect was became the literary language and was further developed by the poets Mir and Ghalib in the late Mughal period, and the term eventually fallen out and came to be known as "Urdu", by the end of the century.[6][10]

Origin and usage

Rekhtā (from Persian verb ریختن [ɾeːxˈtan]) means "scattered" but also "mixed".[11] The name was given to an early form of courtly literature in Delhi, where poems were made by combining Persian and early Hindustani (referred to as Hindavi or Dehlavi). Sometimes this was done by writing some lines of the poem in Persian, and others in Hindavi. Alternatively, both Persian and Hindavi could feature in a single line.[6]

As Hindavi began to evolve into a literary language in the 18th century, the term Rekhta carried over to describe this new form. It denoted the Persianised, "high" form of Hindavi used in poetry, as opposed to the speech of the common population. The word was used alongside names like Urdu and Hindi. Its usage in this sense lasted into the 19th century, as evidenced by a sher of Mirza Ghalib:[6]

ريختہ کے تُم ہی اُستاد نہیں ہو غالِبؔ
کہتے ہیں اگلے زمانے میں کوئی مِیرؔ بھی تھا

[ɾeːxt̪eː keː t̪ʊm hiː ʊst̪aːd nəɦĩː ɦoː ɣaːlɪb]

[kɛht̪eː hɛ̃ː əɡleː zəmaneː mẽː koiː miːɾ bʰiː t̪ʰaː]

By the eighteenth century however, the term Rekhta had largely fallen out of use and terms like Hindi, Hindustani and Urdu were favored.[3]


Main article: Rekhti

The grammatically feminine counterpart of Rekhta is Rekhti, a term first popularised by the eighteenth-century poet Sa'adat Yar Khan 'Rangin' to designate verses written from the perspective of women. The Lucknow poet Insha Allah Khan was another well-known poet who composed rekhtis, according to Urdu scholar C M Naim.

See also


  1. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". Rekhta is the old name of Urdu. Amir Khusrau, the late 13th Century poet wrote in Rekhta. It changed its name many times and came to be known as Dakkani, Gujari, Hindavi, etc at various points of time. Mir and Ghalib also wrote in Rekhta, which later came to be known as Urdu in the late 19th Century.
  2. ^ "Rekhta: Poetry in Mixed Language, The Emergence of Khari Boli Literature in North India" (PDF). Columbia University. Archived (PDF) from the original on 28 March 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  3. ^ a b Rahman, Tariq (2011). From Hindi to Urdu: A Social and Political History. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-906313-0.
  4. ^ Kathleen Kuiper, ed. (2011). The Culture of India. Rosen Publishing. p. 80. ISBN 9781615301492. Hindustani began to develop during the 13th century AD in and around the Indian cities of Dehli and Meerut in response to the increasing linguistic diversity that resulted from Muslim hegemony.
  5. ^ Keith Brown; Sarah Ogilvie (2008). Concise Encyclopedia of Languages of the World. Elsevier. ISBN 978-0-08-087774-7. Apabhramsha seemed to be in a state of transition from Middle Indo-Aryan to the New Indo-Aryan stage. Some elements of Hindustani appear ... the distinct form of the lingua franca Hindustani appears in the writings of Amir Khusro (1253–1325), who called it Hindwi[.]
  6. ^ a b c d Rahman, Tariq (2011). From Hindi to Urdu: A Social and Political History (PDF). Oxford University Press. pp. 29–31. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 October 2014.
  7. ^ "All writings of Amir Khusraw".
  8. ^ Bhattacharya, Vivek Ranjan (1982). Famous Indian sages: their immortal messages. Sagar Publications.
  9. ^ Masica, Colin P. (1993). The Indo-Aryan Languages. Cambridge University Press. p. 54. ISBN 9780521299442.
  10. ^ Sweta Kaushal (20 September 2015). "Meer Taqi Meer: 10 couplets we can use in our conversations". Hindustan Times (newspaper). Retrieved 18 July 2020.
  11. ^ Hindustani (2005). Keith Brown (ed.). Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics (2 ed.). Elsevier. ISBN 0-08-044299-4.