The Word Yarghaal in Amir Krorr’s Epic Poem


Abdul Hai Habibi


Amir Krorr writes:

په ژوبله يونم يرغالم پر تښتېدونو باندي

I go to battle and attack those who are fleeing.[1]

First we need to recognize the verb yarghaalam[2] يرغالم to see if the original word is yarghaal  يرغال or yarghel يرغل?

Amir Krorr lived around 130 H (761 A.D.) but later during the 12th century this word has been used in Skarandoi’s poem as following:

زمري کله کاږي ځان له يرغل گريو

A lion does not flee his attackers.[3]

Later during the time of Khushal Khan Khattak (17th century) it was used as follows:

عشق دئ چه هميش يې په توبه باندي يرغل سي

It is love that always attacks repentance.[4]

From these examples it is evident that the root of the verb is yarghel and not yarghaal. In Amir Krorr’s epic yarghalam is used as a first person present tense verb. Sometimes the letter alif is added to the verb. In my opinion this yarghalam comes from yarghal and in the verbal form an alif has been added to it. Now we will analyze to see how yarghel has been transformed into a Turkish word.

There is no such reason except that certain self-interested persons may have compared yarghel with the Turkish aleghaar ايلغار. First we need to elucidate that aleghaar is a Turkish word meaning attack, which is close in meaning to the Pashto yarghel. This makes one think that the Pashto yarghel may have been derived from the Turkish aleghaar. The pronunciation and closeness of sound of words is only a valid measure when two languages are from the same family like Pashto and other Aryan languages. If a word in Pashto is similar to a word in Arabic we cannot say with certainty that it was acquired by Pashto from Arabic. Arabic belongs to a different family of languages and is a Semitic language. Turkish is not a part of the Indian European languages and if certain Turkish words are in use in Pashto such as jirgah, ulus, and tarang they are introduced words which amalgamated with Pashto words before Islam during the reign of the Kushanid, Hepthalite and Turkish rulers. These words are now unreservedly considered as Pashto words.

It is also incorrect to mix words on the basis of resemblance. There are many examples of words which resemble each other but convey different meanings in different languages such as the chaar چار (work) of Pashto which in Dari means four, the Pashto zaar زار (dear) which in Dari means afflicted. The Pashto daarدار (to hang) which in Arabic means a house, the Pashto naar نار (twig) which in Arabic means fire and the Pashto sadrey سدري (vest, which in Avesta is sadra سدره) is not the Arabic sadrey (supreme) صدري. Hence just on the basis of resemblance the Pashto yarghaal cannot be associated with the Turkish aleghaar. Had this Pashto word been derived from Turkish then it probably would have taken the form of yalghar, alghar or some other form.

What affinity has the Pashto yarghal with the Turkish aleghaar? It is a different word from the Aryan Pashto language. The other is a Turkish word from the Altanian family of languages. Another idiosyncrasy is that the closeness of languages and neighborliness effects each other. Before Islam the Turks ruled in Afghanistan. Prior to the arrival of Subuktageen the rulers of Bost and Ghazni were local Turks. We see Turkish words in Kushanid inscriptions such as alug, and qizil and Turkish words have entered both  Pashto and Dari languages and the speakers of both languages use and understand them. During the time of the Ghazavids, Kashghari wrote the Diwan-e Lughat al-Turk (collection of Turkish words). He considers tarang to be a Turkish word meaning a ravine and drainage. We have the Tarnak river which flows from Zabul to Helmand.  

We come across a large number of introduced words which have been in use in the language for a long time and their usage dates back to 1,500 years. Let us assume according those who claim that yarghel has come to Pashto from the Turkish aleghaar . There is not a single language which has not taken words from other languages.

During the time of Amir Krorr Turkish families ruled in Takhar and the Hindu Kush mountains. It is possible words from their languages may have entered Pashto and Dari. It is a reality that Afghanistan was a melting pot of various cultures. Greek, Arab and Turkish cultures made their way through Afghanistan to India. The vestiges of their culture remain in our history, languages and social life.

The history of the word yarghal extends from the time of Amir Krorr to the time of Khushal Khan and we consider it to be a Pashto word. If someone deliberately wants to argue that it comes from the aleghaar of Turkish it does not damage the integrity of Pashto or that of Amir Krorr because the reality of this matter is what I described. It is possible that long before Amir Krorr aleghaar may have been metamorphosed to yarghel. If that is not the case then what is the use of annexing a Pashto word to another language? Leaving aside the notion of self-interest yarghel has been a Pashto word from the time of Amir Krorr to the period of Khushal Khan, it still is and will be so.[5]














[1]. Pata Khazana, p. 34.

[2]. A verb in the first person present tense from the infinitive yarghalal, which is not used at the present time. In the poetry of the Middle period it was used as yarghal meaning to attack.

[3]. Pata Khazana, p. 55.

[4]. Khushal Khan’s Diwan, p. 529.

[5]. Kabul Magazine, 1361 H. Vol. 5, p. 50-52.