Author : Rtn. Gangaram Shamdas Purswani(P.H.F)
Khudabadi Sonara Community invented Khudabadi Script for Sindhi Language. The Khudabadi Sonara community, while residing in Khudabad, around 1550 felt it necessary to invent a very simple script so that they can send written messages to their relations, who were living far away from them in their own home towns. The new script had no vowels and to be written from left to right ((like Sanskrit) and continued to be in use for very long period of time among Khudabadi Sonara Community. Due to its simplicity, the use of this script spread very quickly and got acceptance in other Sindhi communities. The Script became known as Khudabadi Script because it was originated from Khudabad. George Abraham Grierson in his “Linguistic Survey” of India ISBN8175363614” – 1919 A.D. (Vol. VIII – PART I) had reported that the Khudabadi script was originated from Khudabad. Captain George Stack in his “Dictionary, English & Sindhi” (American Mission Press, Bombay – 1872) and Earnest Trumpp in his “Grammar of the Sindhi Language” (Triibner & Co., London & F.A. Brockhaus, Leipzig.) had expressed the similar views.
The Sindhi traders started maintaining their accounts and other business books in this new script and therefore, later Khudabadi script became known as Vaniki, Hatvanki or Hatkai script. Suddenly, the knowledge of Khudabadi script became an important criterion for employing new persons who intended to go to Sindhwark (overseas), so that their business accounts and books can be kept secret from foreign people and government officials. Very soon, the Khudabadi script became very popular in Sindh, to extent that the schools started teaching the Sindhi Language in Khudabadi script.
Sindhi Language is now generally written in the Arabic script, but it belongs to the Indo-Arayan language family, and over seventy percent of Sindhi words are of Sanskrit origin. Even 300 years, after the Arab conquest, at the time of Mohd. Ghaznavi, Al-Biruni, the historian, found the Sindhi in three scripts – Ardhanagari, Saindhu and Malwari, all to be, variations of Devnagari. When British arrived, they found, the Pandits writing Sindhi in Devnagari. Hindu women were using Gurumukhi, Government servants were using Arabic script and traders keeping their business records in an entirely unknown script called Khudabadi Script (which was later known as Vaniki or Hatvaniki or Hatkai).
The British scholars found the Sindhi language Sanskritic and said that the Devnagari script would be suitable for it, which the government servants, many of whom were Hindus, favored the Arabic script, since they did not know Devnagari and had to learn it a new. Azimusshan Haider in his book “History of Karachi – 1974” had reported, with reference to educational, demographical & commercial developments, that a big debate started, with Capt. Burton favoring the Arabic script and Capt. Stack favoring Devnagari. Sir Bartle Frere, the Commissioner of Sindh, then, referred the matter to the Court of Directors of British East India Company, which directed that:
- The Sindhi Language in Arabic Script for government office use, on the ground that Muslim names could not be written in Devnagari.
- The Educational Department should give the instructions to the schools in the scripts of Sindhi which can meet the circumstance and prejudices of Mohammedan as well as of Hindus. Therefore, it is thought necessary to have Arabic Sindhi schools where the Arabic Script be employed for teaching Mohammedan and to have Hindu Sindhi Schools where the Khudabadi Script be employed for teaching Hindus.
The above notification symbolized the importance of Khudabadi Script for Sindhi Language and thereby glorified Khudabadi Sonara Community for their significant historical contribution in inventing a popular script for Sindhi Language. Incidentally, Khudabadi script for Sindhi language could not further progressed due to absence of vowels. Never the less, it still remained limited to the traders who continued to maintain their business records in this script till partition, 1947.
In July 1853, Sir Richard Burton, an orientalist, with the help of local scholars Munshi Thanwardas and Mirza Sadiq Ali Beg evolved a 53-Letter Sindhi Alphabet. Since, the Arabic script could not express Sindhi sounds; a scheme of dots was worked out for the purpose. As a result, the Sindhi Script today, not only has all its own sounds, but, also all the four Z’s of Arabic.
In the year 1868, the Bombay Presidency assigned Narayan Jagannath Vaidya (Deputy Educational Inspector of Sindh) to replace the Abjad script used for Sindhi with the Khudabadi script. The script was decreed a standard script modified with ten vowels by the Bombay Presidency. The Khudabadi script of Sindhi language did not make further progress. Traders continued to maintain their records in this script till the independence of Pakistan in 1947.
The present script predominately used in Sindh as well as in many states in India and else, where migrants Sindhi have settled, is Arabic in Naksh styles having fifty two alphabets. However, in some circles in India, Devnagari is used for writing Sindhi language. Government of India recognizes both the scripts.
Khudabadi script was added to the Unicode Standard in June 2014 with the release of version 7.0.
Khudabadi is being used as the unified encoding for all of the Sindhi scripts except for Khojki, because each Sindhi script is named after the mercantile village in which it was used, and a vast majority are not well-developed enough to be encoded. Local scripts may be encoded in the future, but at the present, Khudabadi is recommended to represent all of the Landa-based Sindhi scripts that have been in use.
The Unicode block for Khudabadi, called Khudawadi, is U+112B0–U+112FF: