By Nithin Sridhar
Hindi language is among the most widespread languages in India. It is not only a mother tongue for at least 258 million Indians (according to 2001 census), it is also a link language that connects millions of Indians from different regions of India.
Hindi traces its origins in Sanskrit language and the current form has been developed over more than a thousand years. A language, says Dr. Pratibha R. Mudliar, can be distinguished into Standardized version and dialects which are in common usage. When a language is standardized according to the rules of grammar, then such a standardized language will no longer undergo any evolution or transformation. But, the dialects of that language continue to evolve and slowly they give rise to newer languages.
Dr. Pratibha R. Mudliar is the Chairman and Professor of Hindi Department in the University of Mysore.
Speaking exclusively to NewsGram about the development of Hindi, Dr. Mudliar, said: “The origins can be traced to Sanskrit. From Vedic Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit languages were formed. Pali was the language of the Buddhists and books like Tripitakas were composed in that language. After Prakrit was formed, it further underwent four divisions into Maharashtri Prakrit, Ardha-Magadhi Prakrit, Magadhi Prakrit, and Shauraseni Prakrit. From these four forms of Prakrit four forms of Apabhramsha language were formed. From the Shauraseni branch of Apabhramsha language, thus formed, one can trace the direct evolution of modern Hindi.”
When asked to elaborate regarding evolution of Hindi from Apabhramsha language to its present form, she said that the evolution could be divided into four stages: Adikal (the Early Period), Bhaktikal (the Devotional Period), Ritikal (the Scholastic Period) and Adhunikkal (the Modern Period).
The Adikal began in 1075 CE and lasted till 1375 CE. Most of the literature of that period like those of Prithviraja Raso were all written in Apabhramsha languages. But, one could see usage of a language similar to modern Hindi (Khariboli) in the works of Amir Khusrow. Later, in the works of Kabir also we could find similarity to modern form. Thus, she added: “one can trace the roots of modern Hindi directly to the works of Amir Khusrow.”
The Bhaktikal extended from 1375-1700 CE. During this period, Tulasidas wrote in Awadhi, Surdas in Braj, and Kabir in Sadu-kari (or mixed) language. These different languages like Awadi, Braj, etc., which are now considered as dialects, were evolved out of Apabhramsha forms.
The Ritikal extended from 1700 CE to 1900 CE. This period also saw composition of many literatures in Braj, Awadhi, etc. More importantly, it was during this period in 1885 CE that Bhartendu Harishchandra started writing in Kharboli dialect from which the modern Standardized Hindi later evolved. Thus, she said, Bhartendu was often called as the father of modern Hindi literature. The period after 1900 CE was considered as Adhunikkal. Therefore, she concluded, the Modern Hindi or Modern Standard Hindi had evolved from Khariboli, which in turn had evolved from Apabhramsha.
Speaking about the various dialects of Hindi and their geographical origins, she said that Hindi could be divided into Pashchimi Hindi (western) and Poorvi Hindi (eastern). The eastern Hindi mainly consists of dialects of Awadhi and Bhojpuri, whereas the western Hindi mainly consists of Braj, Khariboli, etc. She added that Awadhi was mainly prevalent in Ayodhya, Lucknow, Meerut and surrounding areas and similarly, Braj was more prevalent in Agra, Mathura, and surrounding areas.
When asked about the evolution of Urdu and Hindi’s relationship with Urdu, Dr. Mudliar, said: “Urdu was basically a language of the camps, i.e. a language that was developed in the military camps.” She elaborated that when the Mughals had come into India, they had brought the Persian language with them. But, because they could not interact with the locals who spoke Khariboli dialect, the language of Urdu was born as a mix of Persian and Khariboli languages. This Urdu was also called as ‘Hindavi’.
Later, when the influence of Persian and Arabic words became more prominent, then Urdu broke away from Hindavi as a separate language. On the other hand, a desire for pure Hindi resulted in the composition of literature in Standardized Hindi derived from Khariboli starting from Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi in the beginning of 20th century. Thus, Standard Hindi and Standard Urdu later developed into separate languages.
Therefore, concluded Dr. Mudliar that Modern Urdu and Mordern Hindi both had their origin in Khariboli dialect. But, the former was more influenced by Persian and Arabic, while the latter was the Sanskritized version of Khariboli.
Speaking about the influence of Sanskrit on Hindi, she said that Sanskrit was the “mool-basha” or root-language for Hindi and Hindi drew heavily from it. The usage of a large number of Sanskrit words called as ‘Tatsam’ was a good example that demonstrated this. Then, the grammatical structures and elements like cases had all been derived from Sanskrit as well.
When asked whether it is possible to impart higher technical education in Hindi language as demanded by certain sections of society and whether Hindi is equipped to take up this challenge, Dr. Mudliar said that Hindi could definitely be used as a medium for imparting technical knowledge.
She added that there was a commission called ‘Vaigyanik Tatha Takniki Shabdavali Aayog’ of the central government, which was working tirelessly for compiling and creating technical terminologies in Hindi. Hence, Hindi can definitely be used to convey technical knowledge. Moreover, the teachers may also borrow technical terms from English and use it wherever necessary while keeping Hindi as the medium of instruction.