Tuesday, 13 March 2018

"Chup sha, Hari Singh raghlay" (stay quiet, Hari Singh is coming)


On twitter i saw Lahori/Punjabi writer Salman Rashid ((Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society) making the following remark about Hari Singh Nalwa :-




He claims that  Pashtun mothers were hushing their kids with the name of Hari Singh as late as 1980s. In his blog he writes ;
"It was this man who had taken Punjabi arms across the Sindhu River and into the Pukhtun heartland. Such had been his terror that for nearly a hundred and fifty years after his death Pukhtun mothers were to restrain recalcitrant children with a whispered, ‘Chup Sha! Hari Singh raghle!’ (Be quite! Hari Singh comes!).

Salman Rashid and his ethnic Kinsmen on other side of Wahga sees it as a "historical truth"and takes the expression literally. But it is just a metaphorical expression, just like "the wolf drinking at the same fountain as the goat" or "the lion lying down with the lamb". You will find this expression of mothers hushing their children with names in literature all around the world ; for example
"In Palestine, which was the scene of Richard's greatest deeds, his name became a terror to all for ages. The Saracen mothers would hush their children into silence by raising the threatening finger and whispering, "Be still, King Richard will come." [Romance of Biography, Illustrated in the Lives of Historic Personages, 1855, p-299]
"It is said that his character [ Sir John Talbot] became far and wide so formidable to the French, owing to the constant success which attended his expeditions, that mothers used to hush their children into silence by pronouncing the name of the "great Doggc Talbot" ["History of Cheadle, in Staffordshire, and Neighboring Places", 1885, p-202]

In fact you will also read that Indian mothers used to silence a crying child with the name of Pathan. You will find the usage of the same metaphorical expression in several Mughal sources. For example Zakhiratul Khawanin, a biographical dictionary of Mughal nobility of early 17th century says that a Turkman Quch Ali terrorized Afghans of Sibi so much that their mothers used to utter "Qoje Ali raghle" to silence a crying child . He used to used to boil people alive and around one thousand Afghans and Baluchs were killed in such manner :



I understand that Salman Rashid being a Punjabi is gloating over Hari Singh for "taking Punjabi arms across the Sindhu River and into the Pukhtun heartland". But the fact is Hari Singh was a poor general and he jeopardized Sikh hold over Peshawar due to his recklessness. Charles Masson in 1840s writes :









Hari Singh Nalwa

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