Majlis e Frogh e Urdu Adab (MFUA), Doha, Qatar and other prominent local Urdu literary figures have condoled the demise of Prof Dr Gopi Chand Narang (91), renowned Urdu scholar, linguist, theorist, critic, researcher and intellectual, who wrote in Urdu, Hindi and English.
He was the chairman of the jury which decided the names of winners of Majlis e Frogh e Urdu Adab Award, from India since 1996, MFUA chairman and Mohamed Atiq recalled in a statement.
Dr Narang passed away peacefully in his sleep on Wednesday in Charlotte, North Carolina, US, where he was living with his son. He was born in 1931 in Dukki, a small town in Baluchistan (now in Pakistan). His father, Dharam Chand Narang, a litterateur and a scholar of Persian and Sanskrit, developed the young Narang's interest in literature. He received a master's degree in Urdu from Delhi University and a research fellowship from the Ministry of Education, to complete his PhD in 1958.
Dr Narang taught Urdu literature at St Stephens College (1957-58) before joining Delhi University, where he became a Reader in 1961. In 1963 and 1968, he was a visiting professor at the University of Wisconsin, also teaching at the University of Minnesota and the University of Oslo. Dr Narang joined Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi as a Professor in 1974, rejoining the University of Delhi from 1986 to 1995. In 2005, the University named him a Professor Emeritus.
Dr Narang's first book (Karkhandari Dialect of Urdu) was published in 1961, a sociolinguistic analysis of a neglected dialect spoken by indigenous workers and artisans in Delhi. He published over 64 books (45 in Urdu, 12 in English and seven in Hindi). Many of his books have been translated into other languages. Though he was living and based in Delhi, he was travelling around the world to participate in international seminars and conferences and hence known as the Ambassador of Urdu.
Through his perspective analysis, academic rigour and theoretical grounding, Dr Narang was instrumental in making literary criticism, a full-fledged branch of knowledge in Urdu literature. His seminal work, Urdu Ghazal aur Hindustani Zehn-o Tahzeeb is remembered for examining and tracing the roots of the genesis of the Urdu ghazal.
Dr Narang never saw ghazal as merely a love poem. He explored its philosophical complexity and maintained that its communication with absolute consciousness is in sync with the Upanishadic philosophy. His works, Hindustani Qisson Se Makhooz Urdu Masniviyan and Hindustan ki Tehreek-e-Azadi aur Urdu Shayari, blazed a new trail in understanding not only the nuances of Urdu prose and poetry but also the socio-cultural context in which they were penned.
Dr Narang devoted his entire life in extricating Urdu from the confines of orthodoxy and communalisation. He would always say language will adjust and survive, like a river it keeps changing its bank. In 1995, Dr Narang won the Sahitya Akademi Award for his comprehensive work - Sakhtiyat, Pas-Sakhtiyat aur Mashriqui Sheriyat (Structuralism, Post- Structuralism and Eastern Poetics).
He was also the chairman of Sahitya Akademy for many years, until recently. Dr Narang was the first Urdu scholar who received the Padma Bhushan Award from India and Sitara-e-Imtiaz Award from Pakistan. He also received 7th Aalmi Frogh e Urdu Adab Award of the MFUA in 2002, the statement added.