Prakrit

Prakrit

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Prakrit'
Start a new discussion about 'Prakrit'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Prakrit (Sanskrit
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...

: ) is the name for a group of Middle Indic, Indo-Aryan languages
Indo-Aryan languages
The Indo-Aryan languages constitutes a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages, itself a branch of the Indo-European language family...

, derived from Old Indic dialects. The word itself has a flexible definition, being defined sometimes as, "original, natural, artless, normal, ordinary, usual", or "vernacular
Vernacular
A vernacular is the native language or native dialect of a specific population, as opposed to a language of wider communication that is not native to the population, such as a national language or lingua franca.- Etymology :The term is not a recent one...

", in contrast to the literary and religious orthodoxy
Orthodoxy
The word orthodox, from Greek orthos + doxa , is generally used to mean the adherence to accepted norms, more specifically to creeds, especially in religion...

 of

Prakrit (also transliterated as Pracrit) (
Sanskrit
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...

: {{unicode|prākṛta प्राकृत (from pra-kṛti प्रकृति)}}) is the name for a group of Middle Indic, Indo-Aryan languages
Indo-Aryan languages
The Indo-Aryan languages constitutes a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages, itself a branch of the Indo-European language family...

, derived from Old Indic dialects. The word itself has a flexible definition, being defined sometimes as, "original, natural, artless, normal, ordinary, usual", or "vernacular
Vernacular
A vernacular is the native language or native dialect of a specific population, as opposed to a language of wider communication that is not native to the population, such as a national language or lingua franca.- Etymology :The term is not a recent one...

", in contrast to the literary and religious orthodoxy
Orthodoxy
The word orthodox, from Greek orthos + doxa , is generally used to mean the adherence to accepted norms, more specifically to creeds, especially in religion...

 of

Prakrit (also transliterated as Pracrit) (
Sanskrit
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...

: {{unicode|prākṛta प्राकृत (from pra-kṛti प्रकृति)}}) is the name for a group of Middle Indic, Indo-Aryan languages
Indo-Aryan languages
The Indo-Aryan languages constitutes a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages, itself a branch of the Indo-European language family...

, derived from Old Indic dialects. The word itself has a flexible definition, being defined sometimes as, "original, natural, artless, normal, ordinary, usual", or "vernacular
Vernacular
A vernacular is the native language or native dialect of a specific population, as opposed to a language of wider communication that is not native to the population, such as a national language or lingua franca.- Etymology :The term is not a recent one...

", in contrast to the literary and religious orthodoxy
Orthodoxy
The word orthodox, from Greek orthos + doxa , is generally used to mean the adherence to accepted norms, more specifically to creeds, especially in religion...

 of {{IAST
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...

. Alternatively, Prakrit can be taken to mean "derived from an original," which means evolved in natural way. The Prakrits became literary languages, generally patronized by kings identified with the Kshatriya
Kshatriya
*For the Bollywood film of the same name see Kshatriya Kshatriya or Kashtriya, meaning warrior, is one of the four varnas in Hinduism...

 caste, but were regarded as illegitimate by the Brahmin
Brahmin
Brahmin Brahman, Brahma and Brahmin.Brahman, Brahmin and Brahma have different meanings. Brahman refers to the Supreme Self...

 orthodoxy. The earliest extant usage of Prakrit is the corpus of inscriptions of Asoka, emperor of India. Besides this, Prakrit appears in literature in the form of Pāli Canon
Pāli Canon
The Pāli Canon is the standard collection of scriptures in the Theravada Buddhist tradition, as preserved in the Pāli language. It is the only completely surviving early Buddhist canon, and one of the first to be written down...

 of the Theravada Buddhists
Theravada
Theravada ; literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India...

, Prakrit canon of the Jains, Prakrit grammars and in lyrics, plays and epics of the times. The various Prakrit languages are associated with different patron dynasties, with different religions and different literary traditions, as well as different regions of the Indian subcontinent.

Dramatic Prakrits


Dramatic Prakrits were those that were devised specifically for use in dramas and other literature. Whenever dialogue was written in a Prakrit, the reader would also be provided with a Sanskrit translation. None of these Prakrits came into being as vernaculars, but some ended up being used as such when Sanskrit fell out of favor.

The phrase "Dramatic Prakrit
Dramatic Prakrit
Dramatic Prakrits were those standard forms of Prakrit dialects that were used in dramas and other literature in medieval India. They may have once been spoken languages or were based on spoken languages, but continued to be used as literary languages long after they ceased to be spoken...

s" often refers to three most prominent of them: Sauraseni
Sauraseni
A Dramatic Prakrit, Shauraseni was the chief language used in drama in northern medieval India. Most of the material in this language originates from the 3rd to 10th centuries AD, though it was probably a spoken colloquial around the 5th century BC...

, Magadhi
Magadhi Prakrit
Magadhi Prakrit is of one of the three Dramatic Prakrits, the written languages of Ancient India following the decline of Pali and Sanskrit. Magadhi Prakrit was spoken in the eastern Indian subcontinent, in a region spanning what is now eastern India, Bangladesh, and Nepal. It is believed to be the...

, and Maharashtri
Maharashtri
Maharastri or Maharastri Prakrit, SIL: Mahārāṣṭri Prākrit , is a language of ancient and medieval India which is the ancestor of Marathi, Konkani, Sinhala and the Maldivian language as well. It is one of the many languages of a complex called Prakrit, and the chief Dramatic Prakrit...

. However, there were a slew of other less commonly used Prakrits that also fall into this category. These include Pracya, Bahliki, Daksinatya, Sakari, Candali, Sabari, Abhiri, Dramili, and Odri. There was an astoundingly strict structure to the use of these different Prakrits in dramas. Characters each spoke a different Prakrit based on their role and background; for example, Dramili was the language of "forest-dwellers", Sauraseni was spoken by "the heroine and her female friends", and Avanti was spoken by "cheats and rogues".

Maharashtri
Maharashtri
Maharastri or Maharastri Prakrit, SIL: Mahārāṣṭri Prākrit , is a language of ancient and medieval India which is the ancestor of Marathi, Konkani, Sinhala and the Maldivian language as well. It is one of the many languages of a complex called Prakrit, and the chief Dramatic Prakrit...

, the root of modern 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...

, is a particularly interesting case. Maharashtri was often used for poetry and as such, diverged from proper Sanskrit grammar mainly to fit the language to the meter of different styles of poetry. The new grammar stuck which leads to the unique flexibility of vowels lengths, amongst other anomalies, in Marathi.

As a Vernacular


Prakrit is foremost a native term, designating "vernaculars" as opposed to Sanskrit
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...

. Some modern scholars follow this classification by including all 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...

 under the rubric of "Prakrits", while others emphasise the independent development of these languages, often separated from the history of Sanskrit by wide divisions of caste
Caste
Caste is an elaborate and complex social system that combines elements of endogamy, occupation, culture, social class, tribal affiliation and political power. It should not be confused with race or social class, e.g. members of different castes in one society may belong to the same race, as in India...

, religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

, and geography
Geography
Geography is the science that studies the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of Earth. A literal translation would be "to describe or write about the Earth". The first person to use the word "geography" was Eratosthenes...

. While Prakrits were originally seen as "lower" forms of language, the influence they had on Sanskrit, allowing it to be more easily used by the common people, as well as "Sankritization" of Prakrits gave Prakrits progressively higher cultural cachet.

Ardhamagadhi ("half Magadhi"), an archaic form of Magadhi which was used extensively to write Jain scriptures, is often considered to be the definitive form of Prakrit, while others are considered variants thereof. Prakrit grammarians would give the full grammar of Ardhamagadhi first, and then define the other grammars with relation to it. For this reason, courses teaching "Prakrit" often teach Ardhamagadhi.

Pali
Páli
- External links :* *...

 (the liturgical language of Theravada
Theravada
Theravada ; literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India...

 Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

) tends to be treated as a special exception, as classical (Sanskrit) grammars do not consider it as a Prakrit per se, presumably for sectarian
Sectarianism
Sectarianism, according to one definition, is bigotry, discrimination or hatred arising from attaching importance to perceived differences between subdivisions within a group, such as between different denominations of a religion, class, regional or factions of a political movement.The ideological...

 rather than linguistic reasons.

Each Prakrit represents a distinct tradition of literature within the history of India. Other Prakrits are reported in old historical sources, but are no longer spoken (e.g., Paisaci
Paisaci
Paisaci, also known as Paisachi, or Paishachi, is an extinct language of classical India, mentioned as a medium of debate and literary expression in various Theravada Buddhist sources, and in Prakrit and Sanskrit grammars of antiquity...

).

Etymology


According to the dictionary of Monier Monier-Williams
Monier Monier-Williams
Sir Monier Monier-Williams, KCIE was the second Boden Professor of Sanskrit at Oxford University, England...

, the most frequent meanings of the Sanskrit term {{IAST|prakṛta}}, from which the word "prakrit" is derived, are "original, natural, normal" and the term is derived from {{IAST|prakṛti}}, "ma kristiane
king or placing before or at first, the original or natural form or condition of anything, original or primary substance". In linguistic terms, this is used in contrast with {{IAST|saṃskṛta}}, "refined". Traditionally, many{{Who|date=January 2010}} have believed that the Prakrits are older than Sanskrit, and that it was from the Prakrits that Sanskrit was refined. However, from a comparative Indo-European
Indo-European
Indo-European may refer to:* Indo-European languages** Aryan race, a 19th century and early 20th century term for those peoples who are the native speakers of Indo-European languages...

 point of view, Sanskrit (especially Vedic Sanskrit) is closer to reconstructed Proto-Indo-European
Proto-Indo-European
Proto-Indo-European may refer to:*Proto-Indo-European language, the hypothetical common ancestor of the Indo-European languages.*Proto-Indo-Europeans, the hypothetical speakers of the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European language....

 than are the Prakrits, so that Sanskrit belongs to a linguistically earlier stage of history.

Some scholars{{Who|date=January 2010}} restrict the use of the term "Prakrit" to the languages used by Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 and Jain writers only; others{{Who|date=January 2010}} include the Buddhist languages, such as Pali and Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit
Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit
Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit is a modern linguistic category applied to the language used in a class of Indian Buddhist texts, such as the Perfection of Wisdom sutras. BHS is classified as a Middle Indic language...

, and the inscriptional Prakrits. Other Prakrits include the Gāndhārī
Gandhari language
Gāndhārī was a north-western prakrit spoken in Gāndhāra. Like all prakrits, it is thus descended from either Vedic Sanskrit or a closely related language. Gāndhārī was written in the script...

, and Paisāci
Paisaci
Paisaci, also known as Paisachi, or Paishachi, is an extinct language of classical India, mentioned as a medium of debate and literary expression in various Theravada Buddhist sources, and in Prakrit and Sanskrit grammars of antiquity...

, which is known through grammarians' statements{{Citation needed|date=January 2010}}. The modern languages of Northern India developed from the Prakrits, after the intermediary stage of the Apabhramsa language
Apabhramsha
Apabhraṃśa is a term used by Sanskrit grammarians since Patañjali to refer to dialects that deviate from the norm of Sanskrit grammar. 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...

.

External links



{{Indo-Iranian languages}}
{{Languages of South Asia}}