Like a long, winding river
That carries weary pebbles,
A language in its quiver
Carries primeval parables.
Lived experience of ages
Wisdom of unknown sages
Pitched battles and rages
And many, many pages.

- Dr. Amit Ranjan

Hindi/Urdu is a language spoken by over 600 million people across the world and is increasingly becoming more important in a globalised context. Young professionals are increasingly seeking to travel to South Asia either for professional reasons or cultural curiosity. This language is a confluence, an amalgam of various languages – Sanskrit, Prakrit, Hindvi and Persian. A major part of its vocabulary is drawn from Sanskrit and Persian, and in syntax it is a living cultural heritage that has evolved from Sanskrit. Colonial influence has also shaped the language in many ways. The language is a repository of over three thousand years of cultural, socio-political and academic knowledge, and a point of departure for a lifetime of a quest. South Asia is home to all the major world religions, and the region has a multicultural history of several millennia. From the ancient myths of Ramayana and Mahabharata, to the huge treasure trove of ancient philosophical texts like Vedas and Puranas, to the history of Buddhism and Jainism, to the splendid Mughal architecture, to the long literary and musical grassroots movement of Bhakti/Sufi saints, to colonialism, to the pulse of modern South Asia – learning Hindustani (Hindi/Urdu) can take a learner in any direction.

Apart from India, Hindi/Urdu is spoken in Pakistan and Nepal in the Indian subcontinent; and Fiji, Mauritius, Suriname and West Indies because of the colonial heritage of plantation labour. India also has a burgeoning diaspora in USA, Canada, UK and several other countries where Hindi is a major force to reckon with now. As a language Hindi is easier to learn than many others because it is a phonetic language – there’s no difference between what is spoken and what is written, ever. Also, the alphabets are arranged scientifically according to their place of enunciation.

In short, Hindi opens up for a student 3000 years of layers of socio-cultural history, music, philosophy as well as the modern day politics of the world’s largest democracy demographically.