Languages In India
India is a land of a variety of linguistic communities, each of which share a common language and culture. India is a vast country, with lot of cultural and geographical diversities. This has resulted in a number of different languages spoken across the country. Though there could be eighteen principal languages there are hundreds of thousands dialects that add to the vividness of the country. Some of these languages are accepted nationally, while others are accepted as dialects of particular regions. All these languages originated from the great languages of the past, with most of them belonging to several major linguistic families, like Indo-Aryan (spoken by 70% Indians), Dravidian languages (spoken by 22% Indians), Austro-Asiatic languages and Tibeto-Burman linguistic languages.
18 languages are officially recognized in India of which Sanskrit and Tamil share a long history of more than 5,000 and 3,000 years respectively. The population of people speaking each language varies drastically. For example Hindi has 250 million speakers, while Andamanese is spoken by relatively fewer people. The Indian Constitution (Article 343) declares Hindi to be the official language of the Union. Hindi is also the mother tongue of about 20% of the Indian population, living in the area known as the 'Hindi-belt' or the 'cow-belt' of northern India. This includes the states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttaranchal, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. Haryana and Himachal Pradesh also have Hindi as their official language.
Tribal or Aboriginal language speaking population in India may be more than some of the European languages. For instance Bhili and Santali both tribal languages have more than 4 million speakers. The vividness can be ascertained by the fact that schools in India teach more than 50 different languages; there are Films in 15 languages, Newspapers in 90 or more languages and radio programmes in 71 languages!
Indian languages come from four distinct families, which are: Indo-European, Dravidian, Mon-Khmer, and Sino-Tibetan. Majority of Indian population uses Indo-European and Dravidian languages. The language families divide India geographically too.
Indo-European languages dominate the northern and central India while in south India; mainly languages of Dravidian origin are spoken. In eastern India languages of Mon-Khmer group is popular. Sino Tibetan languages are spoken in the northern Himalayas and close to Burmese border. In terms of percentage, 75% of Indian population speaks languages of Indo-European family, 23% speak languages of Dravidian origin and about 2% of the population speaks Mon-Khmer languages and Sino-Tibetan languages.
English language is the commonly used official language of India. It enjoys a special status and remains the additional official language of India. It is also the authoritative legislative and judicial language. Apart from the more widely spoken English and Hindi, there are the various regional languages as well. In fact, each state of India has its own official language, apart from the numerous dialects. However, the 8th schedule of the Constitution of India lists 22 such regional languages only, giving them official status.
The official language of Assam, Assamese is the easternmost Indo-Aryan language. Though mostly spoken in the state of Assam, the language is also used in parts of Arunachal Pradesh and other northeast Indian states. Basically found along the Brahmaputra valley, Assamese sounds quite similar to Bengali, with the exception of a few, minor differences only. In fact, the old text Charya Padas is claimed by both Old Assamese and Old Bengali. To know more about Assamese language, its history, literature writing style and grammar, browse through the following lines.
History: There is not much information on the history of Assamese language, either in the form of historical records or otherwise. All that we know is that the initiation of Assamese and the other related languages, such as Maithili, Bengali and Oriya, came from Magadhi Prakrit. In fact, Magadhi Prakrit gave rise to four Apabhramsa dialects, out of which one further gave rise to the dialects in West Bengal and Assamese, in the Brahmaputra valley. With time, the language recorded developments and today, it is spoken by a large number of people in India.
Literature: The oldest Assamese writer was Hema Saraswati, who wrote the famous Prahlada Charita in late 13th century AD. Madhava Kandali (14th century) was another well-known figure in Assamese literature, having written a vernacular Ramayana. The prominent works of 15th century Assamese writers include Giti Ramayana by Durgavara, poems and songs from the Puranas by Pitambara and Manakara and the mass of literature called 'Mantras' (of unknown authorship). The echoes of the Bhakti Movement of 15th century, which took over the whole of India, were felt in Assam too, under the leadership of Shankara Deva.
Vishnu and his incarnation, Krishna, took the altar position in Assam, as the God of Love and the Vaishnava Renaissance followed. While Shankara Deva wrote a host devotional songs and translations from the Sanskrit canon, Rama Saraswati's lucid translation of the Mahabharata and Vadha Kavyas (stories from the Puranas) also achieved immense popularity. This was the best thing that could happen to literature - not only was it made easier for the common people, but Assamese as a language also got a facelift.
Here, we must mention Ahoms of Burma, who ruled Assam and gradually settled penned down chronicles called Buranjis (1228 to 1824), a unique collection of prose. During this phase, a mass of technical literature on astrology, medicine, mathematics, music, dancing and so on, based on Sanskrit works, was also written. In the modern period, the political upheavals too, were felt in the literary scene. Though Bengali gained an upper hand, it was not long before the Christian missionaries, Nathan Brown and Miles Bronson, helped resume writings in Assamese.
The later half of the 19th century witnessed a flood of literary activities in Assam, the enthusiasm of which spilled over to the present century. Dictionaries, like Hema Chandra Baruwa's Hema Kosha, were written and magazines, such as Arunodaya Samvad Patra (1846) and Asam Bandhu (1885), were launched. A fresh style of prose, based on the spoken language, became the order of the day. Anandaram Dhekial Phukan (1829-96) and Gunabhiram Baruwa (1837-95) were the two big names of this age. Short poems and novels, dramas, lyrics and folk poetry pleased the literary circles.
A generation of novelists and poets like Rajanikanta Bardaloi (1867-1939), Hiteshwar Bezbarua (1871-1931), Chandra Kumar Agarwala (1867-1938), Padmanath Gohain Baruwa (1871-1946), Benudhar Raj Khowa (1872-1935) and his contemporary Raghunath Chaudhari, wrote profusely in an age of nationalism and social reforms. The Assamese literature of today has a vibrant short-story genre. Some of the best writers of the present generation are Phul Goswami, Indira Goswami, Harendra Kumar Bhuyan, Arupa Patangia Kalita and Manoj Kumar Goswami.
Writing Style & Grammar: A variant of the Eastern Nagari script, Assamese script has its roots laid down to the Gupta script. The language had a unique style of writing, on the bark of the saanchi tree. In fact, the religious texts and chronicles in Assamese have been written on the same bark only. The spellings in Assamese, which were initially in use, are not phonetic. Instead, Hemkosh, which is the second dictionary of Assamese, is known to have introduced Sanskrit-based spellings in the language, which are deemed as standard, today.
Bengali Language or Bangla is an Indo-Aryan language spoken mostly in the East Indian subcontinent. It has evolved from the Magadhi Prakrit and Sanskrit languages and is the second most spoken language in India. Currently, the language belt of Bengali ranges from Bangladesh to the Indian state of West Bengal, Assam and Tripura. With about 230 million speakers spread all over the world, the Bangla Language is also one of the most spoken languages in the world.
History: Bangla Language is also a member of the Indo-European family of languages. It takes its birth from a form of Prakrit or Middle Indo-Aryan to finally emerge from the Apabhramsa-Avahatta in the tenth century. The Bengali script has been derived from the Brahmi alphabet of the Ashokan inscriptions (273 to 232BC). History of Bengali language has been divided into three eras' Old Bengali (950-1350), Middle Bengali (1350-1800) and Modern Bengali (1800 to the present day). Old Bengali is survived only through a collection of forty-eight poems (1050-1200) known as the charva songs. These were composed by the siddhacharyas (enlightened ones) who were mainly Buddhist.
Middle Bengali covers a huge period. The 15th century mostly covered the narrative poetry genre, the theme being mainly of religious content. Among these, Krittivas' Ramayan has been credited to be a classic. Other narrative poems include Srikrishnavijaya by Maladhar Vasu and Srikrishnakirttan by Baru Chandidas. Literary exploits of the 15th century also include Chaitanyamangal or Chaitanya Bhagavat (1540), the biography of Saint Chaitanya, by Brindavan Das. In the 16th century Bengali literature contained narrative epic poems dealing mainly with the stories of popular goddesses like Chandi (Chandimangal by Kavikanan Mukundaram Chakravarti) and Manasa. Towards the end of this century there was a wave of Vaishnavism and this gave way to the new lyrical activity in the form of music combined with poetry.
The 17th century has nothing much to boast of, except for its secular romantic verse tales that were written solely by Muslims. Even the Muslims of Arrakan, who had close intellectual contact with Bengal, were active in literary pursuits in Bengali. Daulat Kazi, the first Bengali Arrakanese poet wrote the romantic verse tale Sati Mayana. Eighteenth century saw Bengali literature take an affinity to secular poetry and the narrative verse. Rameshvar Bhattacharya's Sivasankirttan portrayed Shiva as a poor farmer and Gauri, his wife, as a human heroine. The end of the eighteenth century saw two new forms of poetry come into age, the Kavi and the Panchali.
Nineteenth century was the period when the actual literary renaissance of Bengali took place. Michael Madhusudan Datta (1834-1873) and Bankim Chandra Chatterjee (1838-1898) were the founders of the modern age in Bengali literature. Madhusudan was the first Bengali poet to write in blank verse and combined western influences into the essence Indian literature. His Meghnadvadhkavya (1861) written in blank verse has the same flavour of Milton's Paradise Lost. Madhusudan treated Meghnad, one of the villains of Ramayana, in the same human angle as Milton portrays Satan, absolutely away from the traditional approach.
Literature: The evolution of Bengali Literature started in the later half of the 19th century. The first truly romantic Bengali novel is Bankim Chandra's Durgeshnandini (1865), while the first Bengali novel of social realism is Peary Chand Mitra's Alaler Gharer Dulal (1858). The leading novelist of the age was Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, who gave the nation its national song Vandemataram from his political novel Anandamath. This century also saw the advent of the periodical press in the form of Digdarshan (a monthly magazine) and Samachardarpan (a weekly), both published by the Serampore missionaries. Drama and literary prose also saw a huge renewal in this age. The great dramatists of the 19th century were Girishchandra Ghosh (1844-1911), Amritlal Bose (1853-1929) and D L Ray (1863-1913), and the great prose writers were Debendranath Tagore and Ishvarchandra Vidyasagar.
Popularity of poetry also grew in this period. Biharilal Chakravarti's (1834-94) Saradamangal (1879) and Sadhar Asan (1888-1889) brought in a breath of fresh air by its tender and refined lyrics. This style of writing even influenced Rabindranath Tagore who himself gave a new meaning to Bengali literature. Tagore was a poet, novelist, short-story writer, dramatist, essayist and literary critic all rolled into one. No other Bengali had written at such length and breadth of a language and age. He was the first Indian to receive a Nobel Prize, which he got for his poem Gitanjali. The post Tagore age had very few writers of his calibre, some of whom were Sarat Chandra Chatterjee (1876-1938), Prabhatkumar Mukherjee (1873-1932) and Abanindranath Tagore (1871-1951).
The modern age begins with a group of writers who wrote for Kallol, a modernist movement magazine founded in 1923. The most popular among the group were Kazi Nazrul Islam and Mohitlal Majumdar. In this age two people who had the same literary ability as Tagore were Jibananda Das (poet) and Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyaya (novelist). Pramathanath Bisi and Rajshekhar Basu were exponents in literary criticism and humourous writings respectively. Tarashankar Bannerji is most notable for his novels while Annadashankar for his prose of ideas. The contemporary period is led undoubtedly by Sunil Gangopadhyaya (poet, novelist, children's story writer), Buddhadev Guha (fiction writer dealing mainly with jungle stories), Mahashweta Devi, Nirendranath Chakraborty and Samaresh Majumdar.
Writing Style and Grammar: The Bengali writing system is not a purely an alphabetic script such as the Latin script rather it is a variant of the Eastern Nagari script used throughout Bangladesh and eastern India. It is said to be emerged from the modified Brahmic script around 1000 CE. It is similar to the Assamese script, the Oriya script and Mithilakshar. The Bengali Grammar is different from that of Hindi as the Bengali nouns are not assigned gender as well as the verbs does not change in accordance with the noun. There is also minimal changing of adjectives in the language.
Gujarati: It is the official language of Gujarat. 70 percent of the State's population speak Gujrathi but it the most spread language not only in India but also abroad.
Hindi: The official language of India, accent and dialect differs with different regions but almost every Indian has a working knowledge of Hindi. It is written in a Devanagiri script.
The constitution of India (Article 343) recognises Hindi as the official language of India. Hindi is also the main language in many states of India such as Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal/ Uttarakhand, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh and Himachal Pradesh. It is spoken by more than 437 million people in the world. The other dialects of Hindi are Brajbhasha, Bundeli, Awadhi, Marwari, Maithili, Bhojpuri, to name only a few.
Hindi can be traced back to as early as the seventh or eighth century. The dialect that has been chosen as the official language is Khariboli in the Devnagari script. Other dialects of Hindi are Brajbhasa, Bundeli, Awadhi, Marwari, Maithili and Bhojpuri.
It was in the 10th century that authentic Hindi poetry took its form and since then it has been constantly modified. History of Hindi literature as a whole can be divided into four stages: Adikal (the Early Period), Bhaktikal (the Devotional Period), Ritikal (the Scholastic Period) and Adhunikkal (the Modern Period).
Adikal- Adikal starts from the middle of the 10th century to the beginning of the 14th century. The poetry of this period has been divided into three categories Apabhramsha Poetry, Heroic Poetry and Miscellaneous Poetry. Apabhramsha Poetry includes the Siddha literature (750-1200), the Nath literature and the Jain literature. Siddha literature was written in the popular language and this echoed devotional themes combined with a strong erotic feeling. Between the 7th and the 14th century, the poet Gorakhnath and his followers mainly composed the Nath literature. They avoided eroticism, scorned racial discrimination and put stress on moral values, using the Doha (couplet) and the Chaupai (quartet) styles in their poems. These compositions had a great influence on the Sant (devotional literature made popular by Rahim and Kabir et al) literature. During this period Jain poets like Swayambhu, Som Datt Suri, Sharang Dhar and Nalla Singh composed the Charit Kavyas, which propagate moral tenets and portrayals of Nature. Heroic Poetry was composed wholly in the native speech.
Bhakti Kal or the Devotional Period: The bhakti kal stretched between the 14th and the 17th century. During this age Islamic customs were heaped upon the common people and the Hindus were quite dejected by this. The poets of this period felt that it was their moral duty to arouse a sense of devotion through religious poetry. These poets have been divided into two groups: Nirguna and Saguna poets, depending upon the devotional attitude towards the Lord. Nirgunas have been further divided into two groups on the basis of different sadhanas (disciplines) followed by them. Those that put emphasis on the importance of knowledge for the realization of God were called the Saint poets. Kabir Das, Guru Nanak, Dharma Das, Maluk Das, Dadudayal, Sunder Das belong to this genre. In their Sakhis (couplets) and Padas (songs) they condemned rituals and laid emphasis on the theory of Monotheism (the belief that there is one God).
Poets who believed love was the path of realizing God were called Sufi Poets. Jayasi, Manjhan, Kutuban and Usman were the pioneers of this school. Poets of the Saguna style are also divided into two groups: the followers of Rama and those of Krishna. Tulsi Das is the leading poet of the former group along with Agra Das, Nabha Das and Pran Chand Chauhan. Tulsi Das depicts Rama as the Ideal Man in his classical works Ramacharitamanasa, Gitavali, Kavitavali and Vinay Patrika. The devotees of Krishna have, however, portrayed him according to his popular image, that of the playful Krishna. These poets like Surdas, Nand Das, Parmananda Das and Meera have written about love and beauty. The devotional period created immortal literature and is distinguished as the golden age of Hindi Poetry.
Ritikal or the Scholastic period: The poets of Ritikal can be classified into two groups on the basis of their subject: Ritibaddha (those wedded to rhetorics) and Ritimukta (free from rhetorical conventions). The former poets composed on definitional and (Lakshana) and illustrative (Lakshya) themes. The essential nature of Rasa, Alankara, Nayikabheda were illustrated by them through Saviyas and Kavithas. Poets like Chintamani, Keshav, Mati Ram, Deva, Kulpati Misra and Bhikari Das were leaders of this style. The second group consists of free-minded poets like Alam, Ghananand, Bodha and Thakur. They wrote in a spontaneous manner with feelings of love, quite quite dissilimar to rhetorical poetry. This age saw two more poetic trends. Didactic poetry in stray verses composed by Vrinda, Vaital and Giridhar and Heroic Poetry by Bhushan, Sudan, Lal and various others.
Adhunikkal or Modern Period: Modern Hindi literature has been divided into four phases; the age of Bharatendu or the Renaissance (1868-1893), Dwivedi Yug (1893-1918), Chhayavada Yug (1918-1937) and the Contemporary Period (1937 onwards). Bharatendu Harishchandra (1849-1882) brought in a modern outlook in Hindi literature and is thus called the 'Father of Modern Hindi Literature'. Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi later took up this vision. Dwivedi was a reformist by nature and he brought in a refined style of writing in Hindi poetry, which later acquired a deeper moral tone. This was the age of revival when the glory and grandeur of ancient Indian culture was fully adopted to enrich modern life. Social, political and economic problems were portrayed in poetry while songs were of social awakening. This trend helped in the emergence of National Cultural Poetry whose leading poets were Makhanlal Chaturvedi, Balkrishna Shama 'Navin', Siyaram Gupta and 'Dinkar'. These poets put more stress on moral aspect of life rather than on love or beauty, which later evolved in the Chhayavada style of poetry.
Kamayani is the zenith of this school and Chhayavada was best represented by Prasad, Nirala, Pant and Mahadevi Verma. After the decline of this movement in came the leftist ideology which found voice in two opposite styles of Hindi poetry. One was Progressivism and Prayogavada or later called Nai Kavita. The former was an effort of translating Marx's philosophy of Social realism into art. The most notable figure of this movement was Sumitranandan Pant. The latter safeguarded artistic freedom and brought in new poetic content and talent to reflect modern insight. The pioneers of this trend were Aggeya, Girija Kumar, Mathur and Dharamvir Bharati. A third style called Personal Lyrics also appeared, aiming at free and spontaneous human expressions with Harivansh Rai Bachchan as the leader of this trend. The history of Hindi poetry, thus, extends over a period of almost one thousand years.
The proper development of Hindi prose followed the rise and growth of Khari Boli (colloquial dialect). Pre-Bharatendu writers like Ram Prasad Niranjani, Sadasukh Lal, Insha Allah Khan and Sadal Misra composed proses mainly based on mythological stories. Insha Allah Khan used the typical Khari Boli while others were more influenced by Sanskrit and Braj Bhasha. The development of Hindi prose has been classified into three periods: The first phase (1868-1918), the period of growth (1918-1937) and the present age of excellence (1938 onwards).
The First Phase: Prose literature of Bharatendu and Dwivedi era covers the first phase. The writers of this age developed drama, novel, short story, essay and literary criticism.Popular dramatic compositions were done mainly by Bharatendu Harishchandra, Bal Krishna Bhatt and Radha Krishna Das. They inclined more towards satires on contemporary conditions, social and patriotic plays. Eminent prosateurs of this age included Devaki Nandan Khatri (novelist), Chandradhar Sharma (short-story writer), Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi (essayist) and Padma Singh Sharma (critic).
The period of growth: This is represented by Jayshankar Prasad, Rai Krishna Das and Mahadevi Varma. Drama acquired a distinct place for itself in this period but the theatre did not respond to it. Again, fiction attained new proportions with Premchand as its most outstanding representative.
The period of excellence: This period came more whole-heartedly after the Independence of India in 1947. Hindi drama of this period laid emphasis on realistic expressions and two new forms evolved like poetic Drama and radio play. Now the theatre also became interested in enacting these plays. 'Ashka' Jagdish Chandra Mathur, Mohan Rakesh and Lakshminarayan Lal have acquired distinction amongst modern playwrights. Fiction made a wonderful progress during this period. Realism, psycho-analytical techniques and prose-style was the main ingredient of the plot structure. Modern Hindi fiction found its mentors in Yash Pal, Agyeya and Renu. Essay and literary criticism also developed during this period. Essayists like Hazari Prasad Dwivedi, Mahadevi Varma and Siyaram Sharan Gupta found new ways of expressing themselves through reminiscences, reportage and sketch. The history of Hindi prose is not expansive, as it had started out quite late. However, it has progressed at a rapid pace.
Kannada: A language of Karnataka and is spoken by 65 percent of the state's population. It belongs to the Dravidian family.
Kannada is one of the most well known Dravidian languages of India. It is as old as Tamil, the truest language of the Dravidian family. It is spoken predominantly in the state of Karnataka in India. Though a significant number of Kannada speaking people can also be found in USA, UAE, Singapore, Australia and UK, all of which have migrated from India. On an average, there are about 35 million Kannadigas i.e. the Kanadda speaking people in the world, making it the27th most spoken language in the world. It is one of the official languages of India and the official and administrative language of the state of Karnataka in the country.
History: The early development of the Kannada language is very similar to that of other Dravidian languages and has been independent of the Sanskrit influence. However during later centuries, Kannada, like the other Dravidian languages like Telugu, Tamil, and Malayalam was greatly influenced by Sanskrit in terms of vocabulary, grammar and literary style. One of the old Ashoka Rock edicts of 230 B.C. also contains identifiable Kannada.
Literature: The early (pre 800AD) bits and pieces of Kannada literature are insufficient to lay claims to the literature's origins. The oldest extant book is king Nripatunga's literary critique Kavi Raja Marga (circa 840). Jainism being a popular religion at the time, there were some Jaina poets like Srivijaya and Guna Varman. A new trend began with the 'Three Gems' of Kannada literature, Pampa, Ponna and Ranna in the 10th century, where prose and verse were mixed with the campu style. The three poets extensively wrote on episodes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata and Jain legends and biographies. Chavunda Raya, Ranna's elder contemporary then came up with an elaborate work on history of all the 24 Jaina tirthankaras (saintly teachers). The Chola kings of Tamil-land got too aggressive around the 11th century and fought wars. This meant a lean phase in literary activities except for the works of a few writers like Naga Chandra, known for his Jain Ramayana, the Jain poetess Kanti, the grammarian Naga Varman II who wrote Karnataka Bhasha Bhushana in Sanskrit sutras (aphorisms), and Kirtti Varman and Vritta Vilasa.
The middle phase of Kannada literature saw the power of Puranic Hinduism over Jainism. A very distinct phase of writing began in the second half of the 12th century in the Vira-Shaiva phase with Basava's Vachanas. There was a spate of writers like Harihara, Raghavanka and Kereya Padmarasa writing fervently about Shiva in the 12th-13th centuries. Rebellion against the orthodox rituals came from the brilliant poetess Akkamahadevi, a harbinger of Bhakti poetry . The Jains, too, weren't idle all this while; they composed legendary histories of various tirthankaras (ford makers). In all, the 13th century was chock-full with poems, literary criticism, grammar, natural science and translations from Sanskrit.
Kannada literature took a strong Hindu bend with the orthodox Vijayanagara kings (14th-15th AD). Some eminent names were Bhima Kavi, Padmanaka, Mallanarya, Singiraja and Chamarasa. The Bhakti movement also affected Kannada literature in the 15th and 16th centuries. The Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas were translated afresh using the folk meters satpadi and regale. Devotional songs of dasas or singing mendicants were compiled, which formed an important part of popular literature.
The next two centuries were a busy period with many rulers and kingdoms such as the Wodeyar kings, Bijapur Sultans and Mughals that led to much literary activity. Bhattakalanka Deva's Karnataka Shabdaushasana (1604AD) on grammar, Sakdakshara Deva's romantic campu- the Rajshekhara Vilasa (1657AD), the historical compositions of the Wodeyar period (1650-1713AD), Nijaguna Yogi's Viveka Chintamani of Shaiva lore (mid 17th century), Nanja Raja's Puranic works the Shiva Bhakti Mahatmya and Hari Vamsa (circa 1760), were some of the notable creations. The popular Yakshagana, dramatization of Puranic tales with much singing, was an innovation of the late 18th century. A good mass of folk poetry thus came to be written.
Modern education made a late entry in Karnataka as compared to other parts of India. Works based on Sanskrit models, like Shakuntala of Basavappa Shastri, continued till the late 19th century. With a little initiation from the Christian missionaries, the Academy of Kannada Literature was set up in Bangalore in 1914. Gradually modern literature gained tempo and translations were made from English, Bengali and Marathi. Kerur and Galaganatha attempted the first novels in Kannada, followed by a host of novelists like Shivarama Karanta, K. V. Puttapa, G P Rajaratnam, Basavaraja Kattimani, Nanjanagudu Tirumalamba (the first major woman writer in modern Kannada) and others. The short story too made its advent with Panje Mangesha Rao and Masti Venkatesha Ayyangar. A new trend in drama began with the use of colloquial language. Poetry, too, wasn't left behind; B. M. Shrikanthayya took Kannada poetry to great heights with innovations like the blank verse. Literature in Kannada today is a big enterprise, with bustling centres like the University of Mysore, the Karnataka University at Dharwar and the Kannada Sahitya Parishad of Mysore.
Writing Style and Grammar: The script of Kannada language is syllabic. The language uses forty nine phonemic letters which are segregated into three groups- Swaragalu, the vowels, the Vyanjanagalu , the consonants and Yogavaahakagalu ,the two characters which are not vowel or consonant. The Character set is very similar to that of other Indian languages. The script is fairly complex as like other complex scripts it has also been derived from Brahmi script. As far as Kannada Grammar is concerned, it is a highly inflected language with three genders- the masculine, feminine and the neutral, there are two numbers-singular and plural. Kannada is inflect for gender, number and tense, among other things
Kashmiri: Though the language is mistaken as a state language of Kashmir only 55 per cent of the state's population speak Kashmiri.
Kashmiri Language is spoken primarily in the Kashmir Valley of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. According to the 201 census, India has about 5,554,496 Kashmiri speakers. Even about 105,000 Kashmiri speakers in Pakistan are mostly the immigrants from the Kashmir Valley. Kashmiri Language basically belongs to the geographical linguistic sub-grouping called the Dardic part of the Indo-European Language Family. It is also one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is also the official language of Jammu and Kashmir.
History: Kashmiri Language has an interesting linguistic history. Like the other North Indian languages, it branched off from the Indo-Aryan Sanskrit, but had another ancestor before that- the Shina languages of the Indo-Iranian family. But when mighty Sanskrit came, Shina was thickly overlaid. From about the 14th century, medieval Persian too started creeping into Kashmiri. With such foreign influences, the Kashmiri language boasts of peculiarities like certain vowel and consonant sounds which no other Indian language has. Kishtawari is the most popular dialect of Kashmiri.
Literature: It is said that Kashmiri is the only Dardic Language with a literature. The literary history of Kashmiri, beginning from 12th century AD, is equally interesting. Poetry is the key word, with writers experimenting with different forms of it in all ages. Anyway, contrary to what happened in other literatures (or rather what has been recorded of them), the first great Kashmiri writer was a woman. She was everybody's favourite- Lal Dad or Granny Lal. Her sensitivity and mysticism in the verses "Vaakh" appealed to the Hindus, Muslims, scholars and peasants alike. Other works of this formative phase (till about 1555 AD), though not as brilliant as Lal Dad's, are Shrukhs of Sheikh Noor-ud-din, Mahanay Prakash of Shiti Kantha, Banasura Katha of Bhatavatar and Sukhadukhacharitam of Ganaka Prashasta.
Love-poetry flourished in the next few centuries. Along with the mystical and esoteric verses perfected by Habib Ullah Navshohri (1555-1617) and Rupa Bhawani (1625-1720), a new kind of love poetry developed. This was the beautiful lol-lyric, sung mostly by women. Habba Khatoon (1551-1606) and Aarnimal (late 18th century) were the ruling ladies of this genre of mellifluous verses.
Persian literature became quite an influence on Kashmiri in the late 18th century. And Kashmiri littrateurs like Mahmud Gani and Waliullah Motoo (both mid-19th century) took to translations from Persian and writing masnavis (couplets expressing one emotion) and ghazals (romantic poetry set to music) in a big way. The legendary love tales of Laila and Majnu, Shirin and Farhad, Sohrab and Rustum, and many more were brought in which, a hundred years later, also became excellent fodder for hit films.
Lila-poetry was another innovation where the poet sang like a lover-devotee of the Creator's exuberance. Paramanand (1791-1885) excelled in this, while others like Prakash Ram, Maqbul Shah, Lachman Raina, Rasul Mir and Shams Faqir dealt with other forms of poetry. The Kashmiris are a singing people; songs and ghazals have always been a part of their literary culture. The cult of the maikhana (liquor house) and sharaab (wine) in ghazals, popular in Urdu poetry too, was created in the 1890s and 1900s. The first few decades of the 20th century saw a prolific writing of mystical and secular poetry, ghazals, masnavis and geets (songs).
Prose appeared pretty late in Kashmiri, only in the beginning of this century. But there's really not much good Kashmiri prose, except for a few translations. It was also the time of great socio-political movements all over the country, which had their impact on modern poets like Ghulam Ahmed Mahjoor (1885-1952), Zinda Kaul and Abdul Ahad Azad. Dramas are a recent entry in Kashmiri, with only a few noteworthy like Somnath Zutshi's Modur Mas and Viji Vaav, and some from the Machaama series of Pushkar Bhan.
Writing System and Grammar: Till recent present Kashmiri Language has been a spoken language. Though few ancient documents of this language have also been found in Sharada script and in Perso-Arabic script. Currently, the language is written in Perso-Arabic script with slight modifications. Though attempts to make the language available on Devanagari script, especially on the internet is being constantly done by the Hindus. The Grammar of the Kashmiri Language is very much unlike other Indo-Aryan languages and follows Subject Verb Object word order like that of English. There are four cases in Kashmiri language viz. nominative, genitive, and two oblique cases.
Konkani: Spoken in the Konkan region stretched across Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka.
Maithili: Mostly spoken in the parts of Bihar and the eastern Terai region of Nepal
Maithili language is mostly spoken in the eastern part of India in state of Bihar and the eastern Terai region of Nepal. It was earlier considered to be a dialect of Hindi and Bengali. However, Maithili achieved an independent language status in India in the year 2003. This could happen only because of a mass movement that called for providing Maithili an official status through its inclusion in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution so that it may be used for education, government and other purposes. It is spoken by approximately 4.5 Crore people in India. It is the 16th most spoken language in India and 40th most spoken language in the World.
History: It is said that the Maithili language is Eastern Indic in origin, thus different from Hindi which is Central Indic in origin. The name of the language is derived from the word Mithila which is said to be the ancient kingdom of Sita's father King Janaka. Though it is said that in ancient times in Mithila, Sanskrit was used by the scholars for their literary work and Maithili was the common language of the local folk. The earliest work of Maithili found till now is the Varn Ratnakar by Jyotirishwar Thakur dated about 1224 AD. However, the language got literary prominence in the medieval age when Maithili scholars like Gangesh, Padmanabh, Chandeshwar, Vireshwar, Vidyapati, Vachaspati, Pakshadhar, Ayachi, Udayan and Shankar came up with some magnificent work. The modern era of Maithili began with the invent of Maithili Theatre by Shri Kaushal Kumar Das in 1982.
Literature: Maithili has a rich literature. If you start tracing the history of Maithili literature, you will find that the most famous literary figure in Maithili was poet Vidyapati. He is responsible for elevating Maithili from the status of people's language to one used for official work in Bihar, by impressing the maharaja of Darbhanga with his poems. Earlier, the state language used to be Sanskrit that distanced commoners from the state and its functions.
Varn Ratnakar by Jyotirishwar is probably the earliest work in Maithili literature dated at about 1224 AD. The medieval period of Maithili was during the Karnat Dynasty and litterateurs like Gangesh, Padmanabh, Chandeshwar, Vireshwar and others were famous during this period. Though poet Vidyapati was a Sanskrit scholar, he wrote many poems on Bhakti and Shringar in the Maithili language.
In fact, this language was also employed by many authors to write on humor and satire. For instance, writers like Dr Hari Mohan Jha took measures to bring about crucial changes in the ancient Mithila Culture. In fact, his renowned work 'Khatar Kaka Ke Tarang' is considered to be like a crown embellishing the modern Maithili literature. After the Maithali language was accepted by India's Sahitya Academy, it has won awards almost every year. Literary works in the Maithili language have also won a number of other awards.
Writing Style and Grammar: In the very inception, Maithili used to be written in the Maithili script, which has some resemblance to the Bengali script and is also known by names like Tirhuta and Mithilakshar. Apart from this, the Maithili language was also written in the Kaithi script. However, it is the Devanagri script that is most commonly used for writing Maithili in the present times. A proposal has been drafted to preserve as well as develop the Maithili script by using it in the digital media by encoding the script in the Unicode standard. Maithili Grammar is considered to be a very standard Grammar. It is based on the based on the sutras of Sanskrit grammar of Panini.
Malayalam: The state language of Kerala. It is the youngest of all developed languages in the Dravidian family.
One of the 22 official languages of India, Malayalam language is principally used in the state Kerala, the intellectual centers of India and also the state with the highest literacy rate. The language is one of the Dravidian languages and has its roots to the 10th century. Considered as an offshoot of old Tamil, Malayalam remained in the shadows for a long time before gaining independent identity in the 10th century. Malayalam has drawn influence from both Indian and foreign languages, such as Tamil, Sanskrit, Prakrit, Pali, Hebrew, Hindi, Urdu, Arabic, Persian, Syriac, Portuguese, Dutch, French and English. Though it had a humble beginning, Malayalam, today, is rich in poetry, fiction, drama, biography, and literary criticism. To know more about the history and literature of Malayalam language, browse through the following lines.
History: Belonging to the family of southern group of Dravidian languages, it is believed that after the 9th century, the common stock of Tamil and Malayalam diverged ways, which resulted in the emergence of Malayalam, as a language distinct from Proto-Tamil. However, soon after Malayalam gained a distinction of being a sole language, it met with the biggest challenge, Sanskrit. Thanks to the endeavors of the Namboodiris, the powerful feudal aristocrats of Kerala, Aryan Sanskrit had almost replaced Malayalam in its own land.
The Mani-pravalam or 'ruby and coral style' was the baby of such a pileup, a style, which meant using as many Sanskrit words as possible. The linguistic result of the two dominions, however, had been a happy one, as the orchestral resources of Malayalam have been infinitely enriched. While Tamil and Sanskrit took turns in stamping their authority, a third kind of Malayalam evolved and survived - the pure Malayalam. This was the folk stream of lullabies, wedding songs and dirges, which flowed through the centuries and became the source of Malayalam literature later. The third kind of Malayalam had traces of Christian and Muslim elements as well.
Malayalam literature took a lazy and winding route till the end of the 14th century, after which the modern period begins. The Ramacharitam (1300AD) is the oldest Malayalam text known. The writings of the first few centuries were mostly in Mani-pravalam or the 'high style'. This continued, until Cherusseri Namboodiri turned his attention to pure Malayalam and wrote Krishna Gatha in early 15th century, which was again followed by a generation of campu compositions, a mixture of prose and verse with a liberal sprinkling of Sanskrit words. During this phase, the themes chosen were mostly from the great Sanskrit epics and Puranas.
It was only in the 17th century that the first big Malayali poet, Tunchattu Ramanuja Ezhuttachchan adopted the Sanskrit alphabet in place of Malayalam's incomplete one. A new literary type arose in the 18th century, the Tullal or dance drama, which again gave way for the themes based on the epics, Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas. Kotungallur (in North Kerala) and Trivandrum (in South Kerala) became the hubs of literary activity in the second half of the 19th century. Volumes of translations were being written Valiya Koyil Tampuran's Shakuntala (1881), Kunnikkuttan Tampuran's Hamlet and Mahabharata, Vallattol Narayana Menon's Ramayana (1878) and others.
Literature: Apart from translations, original works with a flood of essays on historical and literary topics, dramas, novels and poems and literary journals featured during the 19th century. The first original novel in Malayalam was T. M. Appu Netunnati's Kundalata (1887). However, it was Chantu Menon's Indulekha published in 1889 that gained immense popularity. Some of the later novelists were Vennayil Kunniraman Nayanar, Appan Tampuran, V. K. Kunnan Menon, Ambati Narayana Potuval and C. P. Achyuta Menon, who grounded the present day Malayalam prose style. Vaikkom Mohammad Bashir is one of the most loved literary figures of Kerala. Some poets of the modern school are Kumaran Ashan, G. Sankara Kurup, K. K. Raja, Channampuzha Krishna Pilla and N. Balamaniyamma.
Manipuri/Meitei: official language of state of Manipur.
Manipuri Language is originally known as Meitei. It is the official language of the south eastern Himalayan state of Manipur in India. There are about 1,500,000 people in the world which speak Manipuri. The major chunk of this population resides in North East India mostly in Manipur. The rest of the Manipuri speaking population can be found in some parts of Bangladesh and Myanmar. This is also the language used by the offices and government institutions in the state of Manipur. It has been recognized as a scheduled language by the Indian Union and is taught up to Ph.D. level in the Indian Universities. It is also the medium of education in Manipuri Schools. This language has been a major adhesive in the integration of all ethnic groups of Manipur.
History: The Manipuri Language belongs to Kuki-Chin group of Sino- Tibetan family of languages. As per the earliest written evidence on the history of Manipuri, the language dates back to the 11th century. It had an independent script that was in use until 18th century. This script was derived from the Tibetan group of scripts. With the arrival of the British rule, the script was modified and came to be known and used as the Bengali script. This script is being used till date. Efforts are being made to restore the original script and renew it. This will give it further recognition and importance among the current generation. In Manipur, more than 60 percent of the people converse in Manipuri and there is an urgent need to revive its original script before it completely fades away from the memories of the people.
Literature: The Manipuri Literature can be divided into three phases-the old phase, the medieval phase and the modern phase. The period from the eighth century to 1074 AD is the old phase of the Manipuri Literature. It is the period when the dialect of the Ningthoujas gradually attained the status of the standard norm. Early Manipuri Literature consists of only folk and poetries. The early medieval phase ranges from 1074 to 1709 AD. It was the time when Shans (Pong) migrated to Manipur from Burma. In the later years, from about 1074 A.D. to 1469 AD, Shans who called themselves the Tais outnumbered Mnaiiouris and exerted considerable influence on the culture and literature of the state. During the late medieval period i.e. after the 1709 A.D, the Manipuri literature went through a new phase with the arrival of Burmese in the area. Later after the British invasion, a new phase i.e. the beginning of the modern period in Manipuri literature began with British influence. Quite later the short stories and novels also became popular in the Manipuri Literature. H. Guno Singh and Pacha Meiti are the popular names in Manipuri Literature in contemporary times. .
Writing Style and Grammar: Meitei had its original script named Meitei-mayek which was in use up to the 18th century. However, later the Eastern Nagari or Bengali script adopted for scripting Manipuri. It is also the script used till now. However, efforts to revive the Meitei-mayek are still on. The Grammar of the Manipuri Language is interesting yet simple; the phonological system of the Manipuri language can be basically divided into three levels- Vowels, Consonants and Tones. In Manipuri Grammar, there are two types of roots-the free roots and bound roots. All nouns, in Manipuri, are free roots. There is also no grammatical gender in Manipuri, the human and animate nouns are addressed according to the masculine or feminine on the basis of the natural sex.
Marathi: An official language of Maharashtra. It has a fully developed literature of the modern type.
Marathi is the official language of the state of Maharashtra. It is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by the Marathi people of western India. The 4th most spoken language in India and the 15th most spoken language in the world, Marathi has almost 90 million fluent speakers worldwide. It is spoken in India, Israel and Mauritius. Marathi speaking population is also found in United States, Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Netherlands, Canada, UAE, South Africa, Israel, Pakistan Singapore, Germany, UK, Australia and New Zealand.
History: The history of Marathi can be traced back far beyond the 10th century. It descends from Sanskrit through Pali, Maharashtri and Maharashtra - Apabhramsa. It is said have evolved from Sanskrit through Prakrit and Apabhramsha, with grammar and syntax derived from Pali and Prakrit. A gradual process of change and modification in the spoken language has led to the present day Marathi. The origin and growth of Marathi literature is indebted to two important events. The first was the rise of the Jadhava dynasty, whose capital was Devgiri.
The Jadhava's adopted Marathi as the court language and patronized Marathi learned men. The second event was the coming of two religious sects known as Mahanubhav Panth and Warkari Panth that adopted Marathi as the medium for preaching their doctrines of devotion. Writers of the Mahanubhav sect contributed to Marathi prose, while the saint-poets of Warkari sect composed Marathi poetry. However, the latter group is regarded as the pioneers and founders of Marathi literature.
Writing System: During the 11th century, written Marathi first appeared in the form of inscriptions on stones and copper plates. It is written in both Devanagari and Modi script.
Devanagari Script: Marathi has been written with the Devanagari alphabet since 1950. Marathi Devanagari script, also known as Balbodh script is written from left to right and is different from Hindi or any other languages. It consists of 16 vowel letters and 36 consonant letters making a total of 52 letters.
Modi Script: It was written with the Modi alphabet from the 13th century until the mid 20th century. Most writings of the Maratha Empire are seen in Modi script. It was written in modi script which was basically designed for minimizing the lifting of pen from paper while writing.
Dialects: Dialects are the linguistic varieties that generate when slight changes in the original language are seen. There are many varieties of Marathi language, depending upon the various parts, region, areas and most importantly the speakers. Indic scholars distinguish 42 dialects of spoken Marathi. Historically, according to the scholars, the major dialect divisions have been Ahirani, Khandeshi, Varhadi, Wadvali, Samavedi Are Marathi, Konkani, Thanjavur Marathi, Namdev Marathi, Dangii, Jud'o-Marathi, Kadodii, Warli, Dakshini, Deshi, Deccan, Nagpuri, Ikrani and Gowlan.
Nepali: The official language of Nepal, it is also spoken in some north eastern parts of India
Nepali language, originally, belongs to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family. It is one of 22 official languages of India, incorporated in the 8th schedule of the Constitution of India. The official language of Nepal, it is spoken in some north eastern parts of India. In India, the influence of Nepali language can be seen in the state of Sikkim as well as the Darjeeling district of West Bengal, where it has been declared the official language. It is also widely spoken in the state of Uttaranchal and Assam. Also known as Nepalese, Gorkhali and Gurkhali (which means the 'language of Nepali Gorkhas'), the language has a rich cultural history. The oldest term used to describe Nepali is "Khaskura", which came from the rice growing Indo-Aryan settlers, known as Khas.
History: It is said that some 500 years back, the Khas settlers migrated towards the east, in the lower valleys of the Gandaki basin, mainly because the place was well suited for rice cultivation. One of their extended families settled in Gorkha, a small place between Pokhara and Kathmandu. Around the year 1700, an army of Gurungs, Magars and other hill tribesmen came together under Prithvi Narayan Shah. They set out to conquer dozens of small principalities in the foothills of the Himalayas. The Gorkha replaced the former homeland of the Khas as the military and political headquarters. Khaskura was renamed as Gorkhali, i.e. language of the Gorkhas. After Nepal became the new center of political initiative, Gorkhali, language of Gorkha, came to be known as Nepali.
Related To Other Indian Languages: Nepali is considered to be the easternmost of the group of Pahari languages (languages spoken in lower Himalayan ranges of northern India). It is spoken in the areas that fall in the Himalayan ranges, like Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal and Sikkim. Nearby countries, like Burma and Bhutan, are also influenced by this language and it is also spoken there too. However, the Nepalese spoken over there is a mixture of Tibeto-Burman languages. This language also resembles Hindi, the official language of India, to quite an extent, as it uses many derivations from Sanskrit.
Nepali Literature & Writing Style: Nepali language boasts of its own collection of great literature. During the later half of the 19th century, Sundarananda Bara wrote the Adhyatma Ramayana in Nepali. Bhanubhakta is famous for writing another version of Ramayana in the Nepali language. A short collection of folk stories, known as Birsikka, has also been compiled in the language. Some time back only, a new version of the Holy Bible was taken out in Nepali. Laureates like Poudyal, Devkota, and Sama have contributed greatly to Nepali literature. Nepali language is written in Devanagari script and can be easily understood by Hindi and Urdu speakers.
Oriya: A branch of the Indo-Aryan family, is the official language of the State of Orissa.
Punjabi: The official language of the State of Punjab. It is written in Gurmukhi script, created by the Sikh Guru, Angad.
Punjabi is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by inhabitants of the historical Punjab region both in Pakistan and India as well as in their Diasporas. Punjabi is spoken by approximately 88 million native speakers, making it the 11th most widely spoken language in the world. Punjabi is a significant language for the Sikhs and Punjabi speaking population is one of the greatest of the Indian subcontinent and, indeed, the world. The majority of Punjabi speakers live in Pakistan, but the language has gained no official status in Pakistan at all. In comparison to Urdu, it is not much used as a written language. Punjabi is the official language of the Indian state of Punjab and the shared state capital Chandigarh. It is one of the official languages of Delhi and the second language of Haryana. Punjabi is the provincial language of Punjab (Pakistan), the largest province of Pakistan.
History: A successor of Sauraseni Prakrit, the chief language of medieval northern India, Punjabi emerged as an independent language in the 11th century from the Sauraseni Apabhramsa. Many ancient Sufi mystics and later Guru Nanak Dev ji, the first Guru of the Sikhism started the literary tradition in Punjabi. The early Punjabi literature has had a very rich oral tradition and was principally spiritual in nature. Muslim Sufi, Sikh and Hindu writers composed many works in Punjabi between 1600 and 1850. Baba Bulleh Shah was the most famous Punjabi Sufi poet who put Saraiki language Culture into the Punjabi Language
Major Punjabi dialects
Majhi: It spans the Lahore, Sheikhupura, Kasur, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Narowal, Gujrat and some parts of Jhelum in Pakistani Punjab and Amritsar District and Gurdaspur District of the Indian State of Punjab.
Jhangochi or Rachnavi: It is the oldest dialect of the Punjabi which is spoken throughout the area, starting from Khanewal and Jhang at both ends of Ravi and Chenab to Gujranwala district. It then goes down to Bahawalnagar and Chishtian araes, on the banks of river Sutlej.
Shahpuri: This dialect is spoken in Pakistani Punjab. This language has been spoken by the people of District Sargodha including Dera Chanpeer Shah, Khushab, Jhang, Mianwali, Attock, parts of Faisalabad (formerly Lyallpur), parts of Dera Ismail Khan, Dera Ghazi Khan, Bahawalnagar, Chakwal, Mianwali, Sargodha, Khushab and Mandi Bahauddin districts.
Pothowari: This dialect is spoken in north Pakistani Punjab. The area extends in the north from Muzaffarabad to as far south as Jhelum, Gujar Khan, Chakwal and Rawalpindi.
Hindko: This dialect is spoken in north-west Pakistani Punjab and NWFP. This dialect is mainly spoken in districts of Peshawar, Attock, Nowshehra, Mansehra, Balakot, Abbotabad and Murree and the lower half of Neelum District and Muzafarabad.
Malwi: This is spoken in the eastern part of Indian Punjab. Main areas are Ludhiana, Ambala, Bathinda, Ganganagar, Malerkotla, Fazilka, Ferozepur. It also includes the Punjabi speaking northern areas of Haryana like Ambala, Hissar, Sirsa, Kurukshetra etc.
Doabi: Doabi spoken in Indian Punjab between the rivers of Beas and Sutlej. It includes Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur districts.
Pwadhi: Kharar, Kurali, Ropar, Nurpurbedi, Morinda, Pail, Rajpura and Samrala are the areas where the Pwadhi language is spoken.
Sanskrit: The classical language of India that has lost it's value in the modern world. It is also one of the oldest languages in the world- perhaps the oldest to be recorded. All the ancient scripts are found to be written in the same language.
Sanskrit is one of the official languages of India and is popularly known as a classical language of the country. It is considered as the mother of all languages. It belongs to the Indic group of language family of Indo-European and its descendants which are Indo-Iranian & Indo Aryan. The meaning of Sanskrit is refined, decorated or produced in perfect form. The language is also known for its clarity and beauty. It is also a language of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Sanskrit is now attracting the modern world. This is the only language that is used in holy functions and ceremonies of Hindus, as it has always been regarded as the sacred language of the religion. Sanskrit mantras, when recited in combination with the sound vibration, have a specific effect on the mind and the psyche of the individual.
History: It is said that Brahma was the creator and introduced Sanskrit language to the Sages of celestial bodies. Therefore, this language is also called Dev Vani, which means the language of gods. It was during 18th century when a similarity between Sanskrit, Latin and Greek was found, which gave the reason to study and discover the relationship of all Indo-European languages. The earliest form of Sanskrit language was Vedic Sanskrit that came approximately around 1500-200 B.C. This was the period when knowledge was imparted orally through the generations.
Literature: One of the oldest languages known for over thousands of years, Sanskrit literature is the richest literature in the history of humankind. The composition of hymns, poems, puranas during the Vedic period formed sacred scripts of Hindus. The oldest known texts in Sanskrit are the Rigveda, Sama-veda, Yajur-veda and the Atharva-veda. Classical Sanskrit based on the old Vedic speech came up approximately between 500 B.C.-1000 A.D. It was the period after which Panini composed his grammar of Sanskrit. The two great epics of this period were Ramayana and Mahabharata.
Number of speakers: Around 49,736 of the population speak the Sanskrit language fluently, according to the 1991 Indian census. Many Buddhist scholars of Japan, China, Thailand use Sanskrit language apart from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, some areas of south and Southeast Asia.
Writing system: Through the development of early classical Sanskrit literature, the oral tradition was maintained. Sanskrit was spoken in an oral society and the writing was not introduced to India until after Sanskrit had evolved into the Prakrits. The regional scripts of the scribe influenced the choice of writing system. Devanagari has been considered as the effective writing system for Sanskrit since the late 19th century. The reason for this could be the European practice of printing Sanskrit texts in this script. Brahmi developed into an array of scripts of the Brahmic family, many of which were used to write Sanskrit. The Kharosthi script was used in the northwest of the subcontinent. The Gupta script that has been derived from Brahmi, became prevalent around the 4th to 8th centuries CE. The Bengali script and the Oriya script were used in Eastern India. In the south, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam and Grantha were the scripts used for Sanskrit.
Santhali: Santhal tribals of the Chota Nagpur Plateau (comprising the states of Bihar, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa)
Santali, a language spoken by about six million people in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan, is a language in the Santali subfamily of Austro-Asiatic, related to Ho and Mundari. The literacy rate in Santali speaking regions is very low, just around 20-30%. It is basically spoken by the tribal people of India. The tribe that speaks this language is quite backward as far as the standard of living is concerned. Most of them work in the coal mines or the steel factories of Asansol and Jamshedpur. The tribe that speaks this language is known as Santhal. There is not a very regular distribution of people who speak the Santhali language. States like Jharkhand, Assam, Bihar, Orissa, Tripura and West Bengal are some of the place where one can easily find the speakers of this language. This language is actually a dialect of the Munda language.
Writing System: Even though the language is not much in use these days, some educated Santhals still use it to write books and other literary pieces. This language was written in the Roman script during the British rule. But now, Santhali is written in the Devanagari script. Due to its similarities with the Bengali language, many educated Santhali writers prefer writing it in Bengali. The reason for doing so is because of its similarities in the use of phonetics. It is estimated that the Santali language is older than the Aryan languages. The Santhal script is a relatively current advancement. Until the twentieth century, Santhali did not have a written language and it used Latin or Roman, Devanagari and Bangla writing systems.
Contribution of Pandit Raghunath Murmu: A need for the separate script was felt by some visionary Santhals, as none of the existing scripts was sufficient to communicate the Santali language phonetically. This further resulted in the invention of new script called Ol Chiki. This script was invented by Pandit Raghunath Murmu in 1925. Raghunath Murmu is popularly known as Guru Gomke among the Santals, a title awarded to him by the Mayurbhanj Adibasi Mahasabh. The alphabets of the language are known as Ol Chiki, though people are not very well versed in it. Pandit Raghunath Murmu is respected among Santhals for his noble deed, action and contribution of the script Ol Chiki for the Santhal society. For uplifting the Santhal community, he contributed a lot through his pen and writings. He wrote over 150 books covering a wide range of subjects. It includes works such as grammar, novels, drama, poetry, and short stories in Santali using Ol Chiki as part of his extensive programme. Among the most acclaimed of his works are Darege Dhan, Sidhu-Kanhu, Bidu Chandan and Kherwal Bir Pandit.
Sindhi: Is spoken by a great number of people in the Northwest frontier of the Indian sub-continent comprising parts of India and Pakistan.
Tamil: The State language of Tamil Nadu. Tamil literature goes back to Centuries before the Christian era and is spoken by more than 73 million people. It belongs to the Dravidian language family.
Telugu: A language of Andhra Pradesh. It is numerically the biggest linguistic unit in India.
Telugu Language is the official language of Andhra Pradesh, a southern state of the Indian subcontinent. According to the historical records, the language was originated in the 1st century AD, or perhaps even before. Early inscriptions of the language date from around the 6th century, but a proper literary career starts five centuries later. The script, almost similar to that of Kannada, took shape in 1000AD from the Pahlava script of 7AD. The vocabulary of Telugu language is largely Indo-Aryan and has been influenced by Sanskrit, which is regarded as the mother of the Indian languages.
Translation From Sanskrit: Most literatures began with translations from Sanskrit. So did Telugu, with Nannayabhatta (1020AD), the adikavi or 'first poet' of Telugu translating the Mahabharata. It was an unusual translation, with lots of clever innovations, but no deviations from the story. However, Nannayabhatta couldn't complete the job. Tikanna in the around 13th century contributed in the translation. However, it was Yerrapragada (14th century) who was finally able to clinch it. Nannaya, Tikanna and Yerrapragada are known as the kavitraya or "the three great poets" of Telugu for their mammoth effort. Other such translations followed, like Marana's Markandeya Purana, Ketana's Dasakumara Charita, Yerrana's Harivamsa and others.
Original Telugu Works And Poetry: By the time the Telugu poets wrote down some original stuff along with translations, it was almost the end of the 14th century. Slowly, but steadily, they picked up, some landmarks being Srinatha's Sringara Naishadha, Potana's Dasamaskandha, Jakkana's Vikramarka Charitra and Talapaka Himmakka's Subhadra Kalyana. Literary activities flourished, especially during the mighty Vijayanagara emperors. The 16th century was the golden age in the history of Tamil literature, thanks to the king Krishna Deva Raya. The raja, a poet himself, introduced the prabandha (a kind of love poetry) in Telugu literature in his Amukta Malyada.
He had in his court the Ashtadiggajas (literal: eight elephants), who were the greatest of poets of the times. Original verse compositions and stories were written in a new zeal. Of those eight, Allasani Peddana (1510-1575AD) is known as Andhra Kavita Pitamahudu or 'Grandfather of Andhra Poetry'. Kankanti Paparaju's Uttara Ramayana in campu style and the play Vishnumayavilasa were highly admired during 19th century. Tyagaraya of Tanjore (19th century) composed devotional songs in Telugu from the repertoire of the classical ragas of South India.
Telugu Books: The first printed Telugu book was out in 1796. Young men acquainted with English literature tried to imitate Shelly, Keats and Wordsworth, and a new type of romantic poetry called the Bhavakavithwa was born. Bengali novelists like Rabindranath Tagore, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee and Ramesh Chandra Dutta were a major influence on modern Telugu fiction. Viresalingam Pantulu (1848-1919) wrote the first novel in Telugu, Rakashekharacharitramu. Other writers such as the dramatist Dharmavaram Krishnamachari, Chilakamarti Lakshminarasimham (also called the blind poet of Andhra Desha) the poets and dramatists Gurujada Apparavu and D. Krishnamacharlu contributed to build modern Telugu literature.
Sahiti Samiti: The literary group Sahiti Samiti was set up in 1921, and their 'progressive and rationalist' journal Sahiti was followed by several others. Even now many writers like Tirupati Venkata Kavulu, Sripada Krishnamurthy Shastry and Vavilakolanu Subbarao preferred the old traditional style. Today the drama, novel, short story, essay and criticism in Telugu have reached high standards although they started only a century ago.
Urdu: The state language of Jammu and Kashmir and is spoken by more than 28 million people in India. Urdu and Hindi have proceeded from the same source. Urdu is written in the Persio - Arabic script and contains many words from the Persian language.
Urdu is regarded to be the most poetic of all languages in India. Spoken by more than 28 million people in the country, the language has been written in the Perso-Arabic script. The word Urdu (court or camp) stems from the Persianized Turkish word 'Ordu', which meant "the camp of a Turkish army". Unfortunately, the lyrical language of Urdu no longer enjoys the same position that it used to. However, Urdu is still encouraged in a number of Indian states, especially Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab and Hyderabad. Present day Hindi has borrowed a lot from Urdu, in terms of grammar, diction and even idioms.
History: North Indian Muslims moved to south and central India with their own dialects and settled among the Marathas, Kannadigas and Telugus. The dialects used by them formed the basis of a literary speech known as Dakhni or the "Southern Speech", and was spoken in the Deccan. Later, north Indian Muslims, who came with Aurangzeb, for his conquests down south, and some Dakhni writers saw the possibility of evolving a new language. This language, based on the literary traditions of Dakhni and having Persian script, along with generous usage of Perso-Arabic words, idioms and theme ideas, came to be known as Urdu.
Shamsuddin Waliullah, a famous poet of the Dakhni, actually started North Indian Urdu. Other poets also joined in this new literary upsurge and subsequently came to Delhi. With this, the Delhi style of Urdu took birth. Court circles, Persian and Arabic scholars and especially the Muslims of Delhi adapted this language with great eagerness and by the end of the 18th century, the Mughal house turned only to Urdu. The term Four Pillars of Urdu is attributed to the four early poets: Mirza Jan-i-Janan Mazhar of Delhi, Mir Taqi of Agra, Muhammad Rafi Sauda and Mir Dard.
During this time, Lucknow became a rival centre for the patronage of Urdu literature and masters of Urdu poetry received patronage from the court of the Nawabs. The most illustrious poets of the pre-modern period were Muhammad Ibrahim Zauq of Delhi and Nazmuddaulah Dabiru-i-Mulk. However, Urdu literature can never be complete without the mention of Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib. A Sufi mystic, Ghalib wrote in both Urdu and Persian. The humane feelings, Sufi sentiments, simplistic lines and deep observations of Ghalib made him the greatest Urdu and Persian poet of all times.
Modern Urdu Literature: Modern Urdu literature covers the time from the last quarter of the 19th century till the present day and can be divided into two periods: the period of the Aligarh Movement (started by Sir Sayyid Ahmad) and the period influenced by Sir Muhammad Iqbal. However, Altaf Husain Panipati, known as Hali or "the Modern One", was the actual innovator of the modern spirit in Urdu poetry. Hindu writers of Urdu were not far behind and among the earliest writers; we can count Pandit Ratan Nath Sarshar and Brij Narain Chakbast. One of the most famous poets of modern Urdu was Sayyid Akbar Husain Razvi Ilahabadi, who had a flair for extempore composition of satiric and comic verses.
Modern Urdu Writers: After 1936, Urdu picked up a progressive attitude and leaned more towards the common problems of life. Poetry, novels, short stories and essays were the avenues of liberal expression. The main exponents of this new line of approach were the short story writers Muhammad Husain Askari, Miranji, Faiz Ahmad 'Faiz', Sardar Ali Jafari and Khwajah Ahmad Abbas. Munshi Premchand, the greatest novelist of Hindi, initially began writing in Urdu, but switched to Hindi later on. In spite of Urdu being considered a little tilted towards Islamic lines, there have been some great Hindu writers, such as Krishan Chandar, Rajindar Singh Bedi and Kanhaiyalal Kapur, who made the language their very own.