The poem of Ghalib, the notable poet of the 'Rekhta' dialect
RegionAround Delhi
Era13th-18th centuries[1]
Perso-Arabic (Urdu alphabet)
Language codes
ISO 639-3

Rekhta (Urdu: ریختہ [ˈreːxtaː]; Hindi: रेख़्ता [ˈreːxtaː]) was an early form of the Hindustani language. This style evolved in both the Perso-Arabic and Devanagari scripts and is considered an early form of Modern Standard Urdu and Modern Standard 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" (Persian: ھندوی, lit.'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 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]


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]

Origin and usage

Amir Khusrau, a 13th-century Urdu poet.

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 Persianized, "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]


See also: Hindustani classical music

Zehal-e-Miskin is the first ghazal in Urdu literature, written by Amir Khusrau, through combining the Old Hindi language Braj Bhasha (Hindavi) and Persian. This Persianised combination was later known as Rekhta (the ancestor of Modern Standard Urdu).[12][13] The poem effectively conveys the agony experienced due to the distance from the beloved. This sentiment is skillfully portrayed through a remarkable fusion of both languages, resulting in a harmonious blend that enhances the overall impact of the poem.[14]

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.
  12. ^ "ze-haal-e-miskin makun taghaful durae nainan banae batiyan". Rekhta website. Attributed to Amir Khusrau, this is the first ever Ghazal written in Rekhta. The first line of which is in Persian whereas the second is in Hindvi. An extremely popular romantic Ghazal, it has long been a stable for a host of Qawwali singers.
  13. ^ "Translating Amir Khusrau's 'Zihaal-e-Miskeen', The Ghazal Of Ghazals". Any translation can be endlessly improved upon, but especially of the ghazal "Zihaal- e-Miskeen" by Amir Khusrau. It is composed in two languages, Persian, and Brij Bhasha — also called "Hindavi" and considered to be an archaic form of what later became Urdu.
  14. ^ "Zehaal-e-Miskeen -~Amir Khusrau". Zehaal -e Miskeen is a master piece written in both the languages in Persian (bold) and Brij Bhasha (italics). In the first verse, the first line is in Persian, the second in Brij Bhasha, the third in Persian again, and the fourth in Brij Bhasha. In the remaining verses, the first two lines are in Persian, the last two in Brij Bhasha. The poem expresses the agony of separation from the beloved, in both the languages with a superb fusion…which to my understanding signifies how different yet similiar [sic] is the expression of the agony of separation amongst the elite ( representing Persian) and the common man ( through Braj Bhasha).