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 gathering its best alumni and remembering the yesteryears, it would 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.
He 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 a 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 learning.
Molvi Noor Ahmad Chishti, an eminent historian was known as an expert in teaching Persian, Punjabi and Urdu languages to civil and military officers and ruling elite who came to India in those days. He charged Rs20 per mensem as tuition fee and devoted one hour daily to each student. About 2,000 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 the 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 C W Forman are yet to be traced out.
A list of published writings of Dr Forman along with their 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
- Ummid-i-Janat or Hope of the Heaven, 1868
- Sahargah dar Inglistan or The 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