- The meaning of ‘Prakrit’ is ‘Natural’.
- The word Prakrit is used for the group of languages spoken in ancient India.
- Jainism has a great relation with Prakrit Languages.
- In ancient India, Sanskrit was spoken only by Vedic Brahmins, while common people’s language was Prakrit.
- Jains always promoted their religion through people’s languages.
- So, most of ancient Jain literature was written in various Prakrit Languages.
- This language had been an integral part of social life and polity for centuries.
- Prakrit started losing importance after the 12th century, the time when regional languages in the northern part of the country emerged.
- The fact that Prakriti was spoken by the common people was also one among the reasons the scholars of that time ignored it.
- At that time Sanskrit gained recognition while Prakrit was sidelined.
Receiving attention recently:
- In recent years, the Prakrit has been receiving attention.
- Few universities in India and abroad are offering courses in Prakrit studies.
- Young scholars of Japan have developed an interest in Prakrit studies.
- Many works of Jain scholars in Prakrit have been translated into Russian.
- These are those languages which are ancient, of an independent nature and not a derivative of any other tradition.
Criteria for declaring Classical Language:
The criteria to declaration a language as a Classical language is as under:-
- High antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over a period of 1500-2000 years.
- A body of ancient literature/texts, which is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers.
- The literary tradition should be original and not borrowed from another speech community.
- The classical language and literature being distinct from modern, there may also be a discontinuity between the classical language and its later forms or its offshoots.
Classical languages in India
- In 2004, the Government of India declared that languages that met certain requirements could be accorded the status of a “Classical Language in India”.
- Languages so far declared to be Classical in India are:-
- Tamil (in 2004)
- Sanskrit (in 2005)
- Kannada (in 2008)
- Telugu (in 2008)
- Malayalam (in 2013)
- Odia (in 2014)
The following benefits are available for languages which are declared as classical languages:
- Two major annual international awards are given to the scholars of eminence in the concerned language.
- A ‘Centre of Excellence for Studies in Classical Languages’ can be set up.
- The University Grants Commission can be requested to create, a certain number of professional chairs for classical languages and for scholars of eminence in the concerned language.
Section : History & Culture