Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Baluchistan and East Pakistan

By Samuel Baid

Can Baluchistan go the East Pakistan way? That is the question being asked increasingly, from every quarter. To, begin with let us compare the two. First of all the literacy aspect. Before its liberation in 1971 East Pakistan had the highest literacy rate in all the provinces of united Pakistan in addition. Political leadership in East Pakistan rose from middle classes whereas West Pakistan's political leadership was rooted in an obscurantist feudalistic system where the middle class were absent. Thus the masses in East Pakistan were more politically alive and focused than was the case in West Pakistan.

The current anger of Sardars is against the Chinese funded Gwadar Project which has been launched without taking even the Provincial Assembly into confidence. The Federal Government leaders have proudly announced that Gwadar area would become a rival to Dubai. As a result, the land prices have risen many times. The poor Baluch have been selling their land. The Baluch Sardars see it as a threat to the Baluch community in this development.

They also complain that Baluch youths do not get jobs in the Gwadar Project while thousands of fishermen have been deprived of their livelihood. Sardars have been able to unite the Baluch community against this project. Then, as said earlier, Sardars resent the control of Province's natural resources by outsides and the construction of military posts and cantonments.

In Baluchistan, a unified leadership to press the people's demands has not yet emerged. The alliance of four nationalist parties did not lead to a unified command. The Kalat grand Jirga in September had called for a single Baluch Party, but it is not known what followup steps are being taken.

The Marri Tribe is the largest followed by Bugti and Mengal tribes. The three Sardars, who have always been in limelight, are Kher Bux Marri, Nawab Akbar Bugti (now no more) and Nawab Ataullah Mengal. They have shown unity in different degrees at different time's vis-a-vis the Federal Government. Kher Bux Marri, Nawab Bugti and Nawab Mengal have been very bitter critics of the Pakistan Establishment for its shoddy treatment of Baluchistan and usurpation of its resources. But all three of them showed different stands on relations with Pakistan as under :-

Akbar Bugti-
He had favoured Baluchistan's merger with Pakistan. He was basically responsible for the dismissal of the Baluchistan Government and the subsequent military crackdown on Baluch in 1973. The dismissal of the Government resulted from Bugti's charge to the then Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto that the Baluchistan Government was smuggling arms through the Iraq embassy. This charge was never proved or sought to be proved by Bhutto or Bugti but the latter was made the Governor of Baluchistan as a reward.

When he left governorship he was quite disillusioned about Pakistan Establishment. He refused to speak Pakistan's national language Urdu for some months. Strictly speaking, his fight with the Establishment was confined to his rights over the Sui gas royalty. Two years ago when he had bitter verbal dual with the Establishment, he told other Sadars that he was fighting his own fight. That disappointed Nawab Marri and Nawab Mangal. However, since last year he had been fighting for Baluch cultural traditions and their rights to Baluchistan's Sahil (coast) and wasael (natural resources). He had allowed Bugti young people to join Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA). But it should be noted that even when his armed war with the Pakistan Army had become bloody and ferocious and he had become convinced that the Army wanted to kill him, he did not give a call for liberation of Baluchistan.

Ataullah Mengal- He stood somewhere between Nawab Bugti and Kher Bux Marri. Between 1972 and 1973 he was the Chief Minister of Baluchistan. Then ZA Bhutto sacked him and jailed him. After his release from jail by Gen Ziaul Itaq in Deeenhe 1977, he went away to London where he said he would not return till Baluchistan was liberated. However, he returned but has not accepted Baluchistan's ‘‘forcible’’ inclusion in Pakistan. He fully supported Bugti's protest against usurping of Baluchistan's land and its resources.

Khair Bux Marri- He is very decidedly for independence of Baluchistan. He had trained an army of Baluch young people in Afghanistan to liberate their province from Pakistan. However, Bhutto's removed by Gen. Ziaul Haq in 1977 and the Soviet troops entry into Afghanistan in 1979 and the subsequent United States led war in that country had changed the scenario. The core of the BLA is veterans who had fought the US-led forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

In other words, though there is enough anger and sense of alienation in Baluchistan there has been no unified leadership so far to canalize this mood into a freedom struggle as did Sheikh Mujib in East Pakistan. In the case of Baluchistan, Pakistan's opposition parties strongly supported Baluch before and after the killing of Nawab Bugti on August 25. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and the Press stood by them. The World Sindh Institute (WSI) sent a strong appeal to the Chairman of US International Relations Committee drawing his attention to the Government's atrocities in Baluchistan. The Institute also organised demonstrations against the killing of Nawab Bugti at Capitol Hill in Washington D C Pakistan political Parties support must have given Baluch some sense of belonging to Pakistani political system- something that was missing in East Pakistan.

What should make a Baluch decision to separate from Pakistan morally difficult. One less known fact about the liberation of East Pakistan is that the Bengali separation came about as a result of Ayub Khan's conspiracy in the 1960s. Ayub saw no point in keeping Bengalis with Pakistan after synthetic jute came in the international market thus affecting Pakistan's Jute export earning. The Jute produced in East Pakistan was the main foreign exchange earner for Pakistan.

Late Khan Abdul Wali Khan revealed in an interview with Lahore's Urdu Weekly Chatan (December 21, 1981) that once Ayub Khan invited him and some other politicians to seek their support to his plan to let east Pakistan go.Lt Gen AAK Nlazi who surrendered to Lt Gen Jagjit Singh in Dhakei on December 16, 1971, wrote in his auto biography ‘‘The Betrayal of East Pakistan’’ that he was made a scapegoat in East Pakistan for the diabolic conspiracies hatched in West Pakistan. According to him, it was not the intention of the High Command in Rawalpindi to keep East Pakistan with Pakistan. Baluchistan, on the other hand, is very important for Pakistan which will go all out to prevent its separate from it. - CNF

Links to in-depth Baluchistan facts and figure:








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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Language development and history – II

Continual churn and evolution of languages is a feature of all dynamic civilizations. Such has always been the case in India. As described earlier, the administrative and literary language of a particular age has to become standardized and resistant to change to serve these twin purposes. After some time it becomes archaic and loses touch with the common people among whom the spoken language continues to evolve with changes in pronunciations, lengthening or shortening of vowels, dropping of consonants, development of new words, etc.

Apabhramsa, which became a pan-Indian link language and replaced the regional Prakrits by 900 CE, lost that status by 1300 CE. On this occasion there was no spoken language ready to take its place because that loss of status was a result of the Islamic invasions.

Beginning at the close of the 10th Century and reaching a peak in the 13th Century, the Turk conquest damaged the Hindu civilization by the bloodshed and enslavement of its people, and the destruction of its cities and temples. In the 14th Century a great effort made by these invaders to subjugate the whole of India ended in failure by the losses they suffered in Rajputana and South India—these setbacks inspired the various Muslim satraps to revolt and set up their own petty sultanates in regions like Gujarat, Bengal, and Maharashtra. This fragmented political condition lasted till the formation of the Mughal Empire in the 16th Century.

Political effect on language

After the initial bloodshed and chaos, when the Turks settled down to govern the conquered areas, they used Persian and the local languages for the purpose of administration. Apabhramsa, the old pan-Indian language was of no use to them since they had no pan-Indian control. So the effect of the Muslim conquest was a breakdown of the old cultural unity of India and the development of regional chauvinism. This chauvinism became evident in the language splits that occurred in this period and in the competition between these new languages for claiming the cultural and literary themes of the past.

The areas that were not conquered also had no use for a link language that wasn’t used in the economic and cultural centers of the Ganga plains. So here too the local languages came to the fore. However the Rajput courts continued to patronize Apabhramsa as a literary language till the 16th Century. The Jains of western India, living under protection of the same Rajput Kingdoms, also rendered their religious and secular literature into Apabhramsa and produced works in that language till a late period.

The various regional Apabhramsas split along the following lines:

Magadhi: covering the eastern parts of India, Magadhi Apabhramsa split up into two great streams that divided further into the modern Indian languages. The first consisted of Oriya-Bengali-Assamese…out of the three Bengal came under Muslim rule while Orissa and Assam maintained their independence and developed as separate languages. The other stream was of Bihari-Bhojpuri-Maithili. Out of these the tiny state of Mithila, at the foot of the Himalayas, alone maintained its independence until the late 14th Century and made a great contribution to the preservation of Hindu culture. The literature produced in Maithili was eventually absorbed into Hindi, while later Bihari and Bhojpuri also came to be looked upon as dialects of the national language.

Ardh-Magadhi: further west the languages spoken in Awadh (which came under Muslim rule), Baghelkhand, and Chhatisgarh (which remained independent) were all sister languages derived from Ardh-Magadhi Apabhramsa. All of these were absorbed into Hindi in a later period.

Sauraseni: the area covered by this Apabhramsa gave birth to Hindi (i.e. Khariboli), as will be described later. The other languages of this group in fact developed closely together and shared their literary output—these were Brajbhasha and Kanauji. Of this group only the Bundeli language area remained independent from foreign rule but it too was ultimately absorbed by Hindi. The Jaipuri language, on the other hand, seceded from this group and joined Rajasthani as will be shown later.

Saindhavi: the Apabhramsa of Punjab was alternatively termed Gandhari and Madra. It broke up into Western and Eastern Punjabi—of these the former region remained on the fringes of Indo-Muslim civilization and split very early into Lahndi, Hindko, and Potohari. Eastern Punjabi on the other hand was under the domination of the Delhi Sultans and even earlier had been under the influence of Sauraseni languages. This can be seen clearly in the Adi Granth, the Sikh text, which has a surfeit of Brajbhasha and Awadhi peppered by only a few Punjabi phrases.

Western Apabhramsa: the land of the original and definitive Apabhramsa also saw language splits occurring in Gujarati-Marwari, and Mewari-Malavi. Of these, Gujarat and Malwa came under Muslim rule, while Mewar and Marwar fought and won independence under their own rulers. Here again regional chauvinism between Marwari and Gujarati became evident with the Turk conquest of the latter. Both claimed the old Apabhramsa literature as their own heritage and describing the other as a mere dialect. When the Rajput saint-princess Mira Bai composed poems and songs in her native Marwari, these were quickly rendered into Gujarati and were claimed as the literary compositions of that language!

Apart from these the Sindhi language developed from the old Vrachhada Apabhramsa and Marathi from the Maharashtri Apabhramsa. The various Himalayan languages from Dogri in the west to Gharwali and Nepali in the east had their own independent development. (Nowadays Gharwali and Kumaoni are wrongly regarded as dialects by Hindi chauvinists while Dogri, Bilaspuri, and Kangri are claimed as dialects by Punjabi chauvinists. In the same way Bengali chauvinists in Bangladesh, in their ignorance, claim Assamese to be a mere dialect of their language.)


The Rajasthani language is being discussed separately—not for its literary output, which is meager, nor for its status, which is abysmal (Rajasthani is not even recognized as a separate national language by the Government of India to this day). But while the other modern Indian languages developed by splitting from larger groups, Rajasthani is a unique case of the union of separate languages into one.

Geographically Rajasthan is made up of four distinct regions: the dry plain of Marwar, the fertile Jaipur plains, the Mewar hills, and the plateau region of Hadoti. The quintessential Rajasthani is Marwari (the old Dingal), which produced a mass of literature under the powerful Chauhan clan that ruled that region for a long period. Mewar, on the other hand, first came into prominence only during the Islamic invasions when the fort of Chittor was repeatedly attacked by those invaders. The mass of literature in Mewar was produced much later under the Sesodia Ranas who expelled the Muslims from Rajputana in the 14th Century.

In that same period the Hada Chauhans, under the tutelage of the Mewar Ranas, annexed a portion of the Malwa plateau (from the Muslims) into Rajasthan, bringing yet another language (Malavi now called Hadoti after the conquering clan) into Rajasthani. The expansion of the Kachawa clan into the area north of Ajmer, and the conquests of their important branch the Shekhawats, brought the Dhundhar region (modern Jaipur) from the Delhi Sultanate into Rajputana. The Sauraseni spoken here now became part of Rajasthani.

All these states formed a close alliance centered on the accepted leadership of Mewar, and all their languages were after all descended from a common source (Sanskrit>>>Prakrit>>>Western Apabhramsa). If this alliance had prevailed, Rajasthani would have been like the old Apabhramsa, which was propelled to a pan-Indian status by the 8th Century Imperial Pratiharas from the same region. But the alliance was short-lived, and in the Mughal period each Rajput state promoted it’s local speech and a commonly accepted Rajasthani did not emerge until the 20th Century. By that time it had already been outstripped by the more prolific language of the Ganga plains.

The rise of Hindi

The Turk conquerors of the Indo-Gangetic plain almost immediately lost control of northwestern India to the mighty Mongols, and of the plains southwest of Delhi to the Chauhan Rajaputras. Their effective rule was over eastern Punjab and western UP, roughly the area where offshoots of Sauraseni Apabhramsa were spoken. This speech was given the generic name Hindui/Hindawi (the language of the Hindus) by the Turks who used it for administrative purposes along with Farsi (Persian). With passage of time the pronunciation evolved to Hindi, which took the identity of the Khariboli spoken around Delhi, with Devnagari as its script.

This Hindi, even though a spoken language, could not become a pan-Indian language (in the place of Apabhramsa) in that early period because the Delhi Turks failed to conquer the whole of India, and failed even to keep the conquered regions united under a single ruler. But where political causes could not elevate this language, cultural reasons propelled it to a national status. For it was in this very period of political vacuum (14th-16th centuries) that the flow of literary themes and devotional songs helped in the rise of Hindi.

First the heroic stories of Rajputana (Prithviraj Raso, Alha-Udal, Khuman Raso, etc.), which were a source of inspiration to the subject people of the Ganga plains, were re-written in Hindi. Then the romance themes from Rajputana and other provinces were also subject to such translations. The devotional songs of the numerous saints of that age (Kabir, Mira Bai, Chaitanya, Vallabhacharya, etc.) were all rendered into Hindi and now form part of its vast literature.

The formation of the Mughal Empire (16th century) placed some hurdles before the development of a pan-Indian language due to the confusion between Hindi-Urdu-Hindustani. Essentially these are forms of the same language, the oldest of which is Hindi. Urdu was formed by the admixture of Hindi with the languages of the (foreign) Muslim soldiers in the Mughal army camp (ordu). Hindustani was the spoken form of Urdu—the latter is specifically a literary language written in the Persian script.

Hindustani/Urdu never became pan-Indian languages because their prose was too elaborate, and their speech too sophisticated for the masses. The other important elements of the Mughal army, namely the Rajput cavaliers, the mostly Hindu infantry, and the mostly Hindu camp followers did not have any use for Hindustani in their own homes and stuck to their native languages. Instead Hindustani became the lingua franca of cities in the Indo-Gangetic plains (and also some cities in the Deccan) because the foreign Muslims settled down in these places. Even today every such city has a Mughalpura, an Afghan mohalla, a Sayyidganj, or a Sheikhupura, where these soldiers settled down with their extended families.

The fall of the Mughals (early 18th Century) signaled the death of Hindustani, which was eventually absorbed into Hindi. Urdu had a great rebirth and became the language of poetry and music—however the continued use of the Persian script made it inaccessible for the masses. With the establishment of the British Raj in the 19th Century Hindi began producing prolific amounts of literature and captured the popular imagination.

It acquired a pan-Indian status because:
The brand name "Hindi" was not provincial but national unlike Awadhi or Bundeli.

In Devanagari it had the best and most legible script.

Having already absorbed Brajbhasha, Awadhi, Bundeli, and numerous hill dialects, it went on to swallow Rajasthani, Bagheli, Chhatisgarhi, Malavi, Bihari, and Maithili. More importantly the speakers of these languages freely adopted Hindi as their language, even if they used elements of their own local speech in pronouncing it.

The freedom-fighters campaigning against the British chose to address public meetings in different parts of the country, in Hindi. Later the Government of India accepted Hindi (Khariboli form) as its national language, but made it very Sanskritized to find some common ground with languages like Marathi and Telegu.

In modern times Hindi has acquired an Apabhramsa like status with varying regional pronunciations for the same language. But it has surpassed Apabhramsa in reach, covering almost the whole of the Indian continent, and being taken overseas by immigrant populations. Ironically the decision of the founders of Pakistan, to make Urdu its national language, has only furthered the influence of Hindi. Since Urdu is based largely on Hindi, and an Urdu-speaker can understand Hindi better than he understands Pushto, Baluchi, or Bengali, the impact of Indian cultural themes is widespread in Pakistan and beyond. Bangladesh on the other hand chose Bengali as its national language, after that country became independent of West Pakistan during the 1971 Indo-Pak war, but the early impact of Urdu and the latter-day influence of Indian cultural themes have still made Hindi knowledgeable in that country.

The future of languages in India

All through the period that saw the rise of Hindi, there was the sad spectacle of the headlong decline of Sanskrit. The status of the literary, scientific, and intellectual language was taken by English, and is maintained to this day. Original works in Sanskrit are no longer produced, and even reproductions and re-interpretations of earlier works are not happening.

But Sanskrit is still alive in religious hymns (mantras), devotional songs, ceremonies, and of course in the hearts of most Indians. In the old days royal patronage aided in the study of Sanskrit, but at least there were scholars in those times eager to express their ideas in this ancient language. The greatest contribution to Sanskirt came from individuals in every age, from Patanjali (2nd century BCE) to Vachaspati Misra (15th century CE). The availability of numerous technological tools makes the preservation and propagation of Sanskrit today a comparatively easy task if any inspired individual chooses to make such an effort.

Hindi continues to expand worldwide and, if the Government of India wills it, could become one of the many international languages. The preservation of regional languages also continues—most Indians are multi-lingual, speaking their parents’ language at home, English at work, and Hindi on the streets.

It will be interesting to see which region produces the next pan-Indian language....and when!
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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Language development and history

The historical evolution of languages helps scholars in writing socio-political history—this is especially true for the Indian continent where the numerous literary and archaeological sources of history were destroyed in the tumultuous Islamic invasions. Additionally language development is important in studying the migrations of tribes and warrior clans, which provide clues to the changes brought about in military tactics and technologies by these movements.

Unfortunately the study of Indian languages so far has been dominated by the colonial historians who followed their own racist agenda in making interpretations. Their views have influenced the minds of generations of Indians for the past 200 years.(Note that this article will look only at the dominant language of the times: from ancient Vedic to modern Hindi. The detailed metrics, grammar, and lexicon of these languages are of use only to linguists and can be studied elsewhere. In any case most of the intervening languages, like the Prakrits and the Apabhramsas, are today extinct. But beyond linguistics, their rise to prominence parallels the politico-military movements in India through the ages, as will be shown here.)

Vedic and Samskrit

There is no name given to the earliest language of India, but for the sake of convenience it is called Vedic, since the oldest recorded examples of this language are in the ancient Vedic texts[1]. These records are not literal but oral, and it is a great achievement of the ancient Indians and the Brahman families that the exact pronunciation of the language was passed down the generations and preserved over thousands of years.

The time period of the Vedic language covers the growth of urban settlements along the Gujarat coast (3000 BCE), on the banks of great rivers like the Sindhu and the Saraswati, and up to the rise of historic kingdoms (1200 BCE) further east. In such a long period there are bound to be variations in the spoken language and these are evident even in the four books of the Vedas—the Rig Veda having the most archaic form of the language. These variations have fortunately been preserved in an oral form to this day, which means that such preservation of the Vedic language was begun in this later period. Traditional history confirms this finding—it was at the close of the Mahabharat War (fought near Delhi) that Rishi Veda Vyas compiled the Vedic hymns into texts and commanded their preservation down the generations.

After 600 BCE the administrative language in a large part of India was called Prakrit (natural or spoken), which was closely related to Vedic and was considered its spoken form—it may have emerged much earlier since regional variants were apparent even in that Magadhan age. The age of the Prakrits as administrative and literary languages lasts till 800 CE—an almost as long a period as Vedic.

In these fast changing times a need was felt for preserving[2] the original language of the Vedas—it was given the name Samskrit (Sanskrit[3]), which means perfect. A distinct grammar for this language was provided by the ancient grammarian Patanjali in 150 BCE—all subsequent works produced in this perfected language are denoted as Classical Sanskrit by modern linguists. This preservation through the centuries and millennia of turmoil was a monumental feat. It kept Sanskrit alive while the other spoken languages changed in form and even in name—the provision of a scientific grammar made Sanskrit the language of literature, philosophy, science, and the arts. It continued to influence every period of Indian History through the ages.


The period of the Prakrit languages covers the Maurya, Kushan, Satvahan, and Gupta Empires. The geographical variants of this Prakrit were Magadhi (Bihar and Bengal), Ardh-Magadhi (Eastern UP, MP, and Chhatisgarh), Sauraseni (Western UP, Eastern Punjab, and Eastern Rajasthan), a Himalayan Prakrit, Saindhavi (Western Punjab and Sindh), the Maharashtri Prakrit, and a Prakrit covering Western Rajasthan and Gujarat.

The rise of the monarchies in the east of the country propelled the language of that region to the position of a literary language—this was Pali. Closely related to the Ardh-Magadhi Prakrit, Pali emerged as a literary language for the Buddhist teachers and monks of that region. In fact the word Pali was originally just the name of the Buddhist texts—it was only after the 4th Century BCE that it became known as the name of the language in which those texts were written. With the ascendancy of Buddhism Pali acquired the status of a literary language across India, and went with its faith to Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Siam.

The Jain religion, which also rose to prominence in the Ardh-Magadh region, adopted that Prakrit for its religious and literary texts. In the manner of Pali, the Ardh-Magadhi of the Jain texts eventually acquired the name of Jain Prakrit and developed separately from the former.

Throughout this period Sanskrit maintained its ascendancy over the spoken and literary languages. Royal patronage was extended to Sanskrit even by avowedly Buddhist or Jain rulers and reached astronomical heights under the Gupta Empire. Its recognized status as the language of the ancient texts, its popular status as the language of the Gods, and its continued preservation and study by the Brahmans, ensured the ascendancy of Sanskrit.

Both the Jains and Buddhists felt the need to connect with the intellectual pulse of the land by studying and debating in Sanskrit—from the earliest times Sanskrit phrases were freely used in Prakrit and Pali texts. They were also compelled to render their texts into Sanskrit because in this long time the spoken languages had seen the rise of another monumental change.


For the sake of administrative uniformity and scholarly needs, the Prakrits that were once the spoken languages, became conservative and unchanging. In the mouths of the masses though, the spoken language continued to evolve, by changing pronunciations and from the constant migrations of the Indian peoples.

Such changes were subtle and differed according to the province and even according to the profession of the speakers. As far back as 150 BCE, the ancient Sanskrit grammarian Patanjali in his great work Mahabhashyam, first uses Apabhramsa as a term for any corrupt pronunciations of Sanskrit. But in later periods, while the spoken languages of the upper classes (many of them Buddhists and Jains) were the Prakrits, this term Apabhramsa came to be used for the speech of the commoners.

In every age the language of the commoners becomes the language of the saints, poets, and gurus, who move among the people. This was how the Prakrits were first adopted by the Buddhist and Jain monks of the past. A particular Apabhramsa of the northern Punjab came into notice as a language increasingly being used by poets across North India. In the early centuries of the Common Era the foreign invasions and formation of the Kushan Empire caused the movement of some Indian warrior clans to Rajasthan, which became a base for resisting the foreigners.

The roots of a new Apabhramsa were thus established here. In that period the pastoral Abhiras were noted as vassals of the Sakas in Gujarat and Sindh. The peculiarities of their Apabhramsa mingled with the local variants and ultimately with the Apabhramsa of Rajasthan—this mixed Apabhramsa language acquired the status of a literary language even as the Gupta Empire united most of the Indian continent under its rule (4th century). In the 6th Century CE King Dharasena of Vallabhi (Gujarat) recorded an inscription where he mentions his father Guhasena's proficiency in Sanskrit, Prakrit, and Apabhramsa poetry.

Already a literary language, this particular Apabhramsa of Rajasthan-Gujarat was raised to the level of an administrative language first by the Pratihar chieftains of Gurjara province and subsequently by the other clans of the Rajput period. For the sake of convenience this language is termed Western Apabhramsa by modern scholars. With the formation of the Pratihar Empire[5](750-1000 CE), Western Apabhramsa[6] became a pan-Indian language and its use also spread east into Bengal and south into Maharashtra.

In fact every regional Prakrit was transformed into a regional Apabhramsa with the changed influences coming from Western Apabhramsa[7]. This change of term does not mean a change in language, since the early Prakrit forms of each region were still maintained. It were these Apabhramsas that eventually gave rise to the modern North Indian languages, including Hindi.

The Jain writers rendered their texts into Apabhramsa since they flourished mostly in the western parts of India. Among the most famous of these was Hemachandra, the 11th Century grammarian, who wrote in a period when the Prakrits were no longer spoken and were even dying out as literary languages. In a later age these Jains continued to produce works in Apabhramsa, which also received patronage from the Rajput Kings till the 16th Century. Throughout this period Sanskrit continued to exercise its dominance and every Apabhramsa work contained references to, and lengthy quotes from, that ancient language.

The Rajput period thus saw a continued cultural unification with Western Apabhramsa as a pan-Indian link language and Sanskrit as the universal language of intellectuals. In the next period, along with other calamities, this linguistic unity is broken and another pan-Indian language does not emerge till the middle of the 19th Century!


[1]The oldest of which was the Rigveda, followed by the Samveda, the Yajurveda, and the Atharvaveda.
[2]The Vedic texts contained mantras that were chanted in sacrificial prayers and for meditation. It was believed that mispronunciation of these words would deprive the worshipper of the full benefits—this was another reason for preserving the language of the Vedic texts.
[3]In modern English the word was written as Sanskrit—but in fact it is nasal sound that is neither close to n or m of English.
[4]The Abhiras fill the gap between the fall of the Kushan Empire and the rise of the Gupta Empire.
[5]Even though the Pratihars faced stiff competition from the Palas and Rashtrakutas, it was their language that succeeded in gaining a pan-Indian status.
[6]In fact Apabhramsa of that age was like Hindi of the 19th and 20th Centuries….their rise to pan-Indian status has some interesting parallels, which will be described later.
[7]With the fall of the Pratihars, Western Apabhramsa also sees the development of some regional variants, with the Jaipuri group joining Sauraseni Apabhramsa, while the Gujarati, Marwari, Malvi, and Mewari form their separate identities. But these changes became evident only in the next period of Indian History.
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