Apabhraṃśa is a term
Terminology is the study of terms and their use. Terms are words and compound words that in specific contexts are given specific meanings, meanings that may deviate from the meaning the same words have in other contexts and in everyday language. The discipline Terminology studies among other...

 used by Sanskrit grammarians since Patañjali
Patañjali is the compiler of the Yoga Sūtras, an important collection of aphorisms on Yoga practice. According to tradition, the same Patañjali was also the author of the Mahābhāṣya, a commentary on Kātyāyana's vārttikas on Pāṇini's Aṣṭādhyāyī as well as an unspecified work of medicine .In...

 to refer to dialects that deviate from the norm of Sanskrit grammar
Sanskrit grammar
The grammar of the Sanskrit language has a complex verbal system, rich nominal declension, and extensive use of compound nouns. It was studied and codified by Sanskrit grammarians from the later Vedic period , culminating in the Pāṇinian grammar of the 4th century BC.-Grammatical tradition:The...

. The term in Sanskrit literally means "corrupt" or "non-grammatical language". It is used as a cover term for the dialects forming the transition between the late Middle Indic and early Modern Indic languages (e.g. Brij Bhasha
Brij Bhasha
Braj Bhasha , also called Brij Bhasha , Braj Bhakha , or Dehaati Zabaan , is a Central Indian language closely related to Hindi...

), spanning the period between the 6th and the 13th centuries, though some scholars use it more narrowly to refer primarily to the transition period, leaving the earlier part to the Middle Indo-Aryan languages
Middle Indo-Aryan languages
The Middle Indo-Aryan languages are the early medieval dialects of the Indo-Aryan languages, the descendants of the Old Indo-Aryan dialects such as Vedic & Classical Sanskrit, and the predecessors of the late medieval languages such as Apabhramsha or Abahatta, which eventually evolved into the...


The term Prakrit
Prakrit is the name for a group of Middle Indic, Indo-Aryan languages, derived from Old Indic dialects. The word itself has a flexible definition, being defined sometimes as, "original, natural, artless, normal, ordinary, usual", or "vernacular", in contrast to the literary and religious...

(which includes Pāli
- External links :* *...

) is used for the popular dialects of India which were spoken until the 4th - 8th century, but some scholars use the term Prakrit throughout the Middle Indo-Aryan period. Middle Indo-Aryan languages gradually transformed into Apabhraṃśas which were used until about the 15th century. Apabhraṃśas evolved into modern languages which are equally today spoken by millions of people. Languages such as Hindi
Standard Hindi, or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi, also known as Manak Hindi , High Hindi, Nagari Hindi, and Literary Hindi, is a standardized and sanskritized register of the Hindustani language derived from the Khariboli dialect of Delhi...

 (337 million speakers), Bengali
Bengali language
Bengali or Bangla is an eastern Indo-Aryan language. It is native to the region of eastern South Asia known as Bengal, which comprises present day Bangladesh, the Indian state of West Bengal, and parts of the Indian states of Tripura and Assam. It is written with the Bengali script...

 (232 million speakers), Marathi
Marathi language
Marathi is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by the Marathi people of western and central India. It is the official language of the state of Maharashtra. There are over 68 million fluent speakers worldwide. Marathi has the fourth largest number of native speakers in India and is the fifteenth most...

 (90 million), Urdu
Urdu is a register of the Hindustani language that is identified with Muslims in South Asia. It belongs to the Indo-European family. Urdu is the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan. It is also widely spoken in some regions of India, where it is one of the 22 scheduled languages and an...

 (65 million speakers), Gujarati
Gujarati language
Gujarati is an Indo-Aryan language, and part of the greater Indo-European language family. It is derived from a language called Old Gujarati which is the ancestor language of the modern Gujarati and Rajasthani languages...

 (46 million speakers), Oriya
Oriya language
Oriya , officially Odia from November, 2011, is an Indian language, belonging to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family. It is mainly spoken in the Indian states of Orissa and West Bengal...

 (45 million speakers), Punjabi
Punjabi language
Punjabi is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by inhabitants of the historical Punjab region . For Sikhs, the Punjabi language stands as the official language in which all ceremonies take place. In Pakistan, Punjabi is the most widely spoken language...

 (110 million speakers), Sinhala (15 million speakers) are all representative languages of large modern day states, unlike Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 (>50 thousand speakers) which has fallen out of modern day use. The boundaries of these periods are somewhat hazy, not strictly chronological. The modern north Indian languages are often considered to have begun to develop a distinct identity around the 11th century, while the Apabhraṃśas were still in use, and became fully distinct by the end of the 12th century.

A significant amount of Apabhraṃśa literature has been found in Jain
Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state...

 libraries. While Amir Khusrow and Kabir
Kabīr was a mystic poet and saint of India, whose writings have greatly influenced the Bhakti movement...

 were writing in a language quite similar to modern Hindi, many poets, especially in regions that were still ruled by Hindu kings, continued to write in Apabhraṃśa. These authors include Saraha
Saraha , Sarahapa , or Sarahapāda , originally known as Rāhula or Rāhulbhadra, was the first sahajiya and one of the Mahasiddhas, and is considered to be one of the founders of Buddhist Vajrayana, and particularly of the Mahamudra tradition. His dohas are compiled in Dohakośa, the 'Treasury of...

, Tilopa
Tilopa was born in either Chativavo , Bengal or Jagora, Bengal in India. He was a tantric practitioner and mahasiddha. He developed the mahamudra method, a set of spiritual practices that greatly accelerates the process of attaining bodhi...

 and Kanha
Kanha or Kanhapad was one of the poets of Charjapad, the earliest known example of bangla literature. He was a tantric buddhist and his poems in Charjapad are written in a code, whereby every poem has a descriptive or narrative surface meaning but also encodes tantric buddhist teachings...

 of Kamarupa; Devasena of Dhar
Dhār is located in the Malwa region of western Madhya Pradesh state in central India. It is the administrative headquarters of Dhar District. The town is located west of Mhow, above sea level...

 (9th c. CE); Pushpadanta of Manyakheta
Manyakheta on the banks of Kagina River in Gulbarga district, Karnataka state was the capital of Rashtrakutas from . It is 40 km from Gulbarga city. The capital was moved from Mayurkhandi in Bidar district to Mānyakheṭa during the rule of Amoghavarsha I...

 (9th c. CE); Dhanapal; Muni Ramsimha; Acharya Hemachandra
Acharya Hemachandra
Acharya Hemachandra was a Jain scholar, poet, and polymath who wrote on grammar, philosophy, prosody, and contemporary history. Noted as a prodigy by his contemporaries, he gained the title Kalikāl Sarvagya "all-knowing of the Kali Yuga"....

 of Patan
Patan, Gujarat
Patan was a capital of Gujarat in medieval times. It is the administrative seat of Patan District in the Indian state of Gujarat and administered by municipality. The city contains many Hindu and Jain temples as well as few mosques, dargahs and rojas...

; and Raighu
Raighu was the last of the great Apabhramsha poets. He also supervised the pratishtha of the many, perhaps most of the Jain idols carved on the hill side in the Gwalior Fort during the rule of Tomar Dungarsingh.He wrote many books during sam...

 of Gwalior (15th c. CE). An early example of the use of Apabhraṃśa is in Vikramorvashiyam of Kālidāsa
Kālidāsa was a renowned Classical Sanskrit writer, widely regarded as the greatest poet and dramatist in the Sanskrit language...

, when Pururava asks the animals in the forest about his beloved who had disappeared.

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