Forman Christian College, commonly known as FC College, now a chartered university, is celebrating 150th year of its establishment. At a time when the institute is having gathering its best alumni and remembering the yesteryears, it would not be unfair to forget the work done by Dr Charles W Forman (1821-1894), the founder of Rang Mahal Mission School and The Mission College later named Forman Christian College, Lahore.
The college named after him, was a great educationist and linguist. Since the year 1849, when British annexed Punjab he spent a large part of his time in educational work. He had been associated with the work of the Education Department from the time of its formation in 1856 and had served on many educational committees, besides being a member of the Senate of the Punjab University College (1870) and Punjab University (1882) until his death in 1894. He had been greatly distinguished as “Most Experienced Teacher in Punjab”.
He was acquainted with numerous languages like Arabic, Sanskrit, Persian, Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu. He had been a great admirer of Urdu, language and literature. In the beginning of January, 1848 Dr. Charles W. Forman reached Calcutta (India). He stayed for few months there and then he came to Agra, where he developed interest in native languages and obtained primary knowledge therein. His next destination was newly annexed territory of Punjab. Dr. Forman reached Lahore on 21st November 1849 accompanied by Rev. John Newton (who afterwards became his father-in-law). They established a small Mission School on 19th December 1849, which was located outside Bhatti Gate, Lahore. Although it was an English medium school, yet Dr. Forman did not ignore the importance of Eastern languages and learnings.
Molvi Noor Ahmad Chishti, an eminent historian was known as an expert in teaching of Persian, Punjabi and Urdu languages to civil and military officers and ruling elite who came to India in those days. He charged Rs.20 per mensem as tuition fee and devoted one hour daily to each student. About 2000 foreigners had learnt different native languages from him until his death in 1867. Dr. Charles was also a student of Molvi Noor Ahmad Chishti. He got full command in a very short span of time. Keeping in view his command and experience in Urdu, the Punjab Government appointed him as a senior member of “Text Book Committee on Urdu Books” in 1873. Dr. Forman wrote a large number of books in Urdu language, which is a clear proof of his love and devotion for Urdu language.
During my MPhil research work in various libraries and archives, I came across a large number of published writings of Dr Charles which were written during his 45 years stay in Punjab. Most of his published writings are in Urdu language on social and religious subjects.
Dr Forman’s writings in Arabic language comprised on narration of different chapters of Holy Quran. He has also highlighted educational matters in his Hindi writings. His love for Sanskrit poetry could be seen in his Hindi translation work. I have confined myself here only to the works done by him in Urdu language.
I cannot claim that the list of his work given is a complete one but just a beginning and lot of works of Dr CW Forman are yet to be traced out.
A list of published writings of Dr. Forman along with its date of publication is given as under: -
Zikar-i-Istifan or Description of Stephan, 1867
Iltimas or Petition, 1868
Rah-i-Salamat or the Path of Peace, 1868
Ummaid-i-Janat or Hope of the Heaven, 1868
Sahargah dar Inglistan or The day dawn in England, 1868
Kashif-i-Jurm-i-Adam or The fall of Adam, 1870
Palus ka Qissa or The Account of Paul, 1870
Ahwal-i-Masih or Events of Christ’s life, 1874
Iliya ka Qissa or The story of Prophet Elijah, 1875
Qissa-i-Mar-i-Biranji or The Brazen Serpent, 1875
Risala-i-Bayan-i-Farqalit or The Paraclet explained, 1875
Risal-i-Wafat-i-Masih or The death of Christ, 1875
Tuhfa-tul-Musalihin or The good news for the mediators, 1875
Qissa-i-Tufan or The story of a disaster, 1875
Sawal-o-Jawab or Questions and Answers, 1875
Tegh-o-Sipar Iswi or The Christian sword and shield (3 parts), 1875
Risala-i-Tahrif or Journal written in reply to the charges made against Christians that their holy books are corrupted, 1876
Qissa-i-Qarzdar or The story of a debtor, 1877
Tariq-i-Tahqiq or The methods of research, 1877
The writer is a Professor of Urdu at FCC, Lahore.