Origin of Kashmiri Language / A New
by Arjan Dev Majboor
Each and every scholar maintains that Kashmiri
is one of the ancient languages of India. Its peculiar pronunciation of some
alphabets, its structure and a vast vocabulary are testimony to the above fact.
Due to its linguistic patterns and literary works many European scholars have
done a lot of research work on this language and various genres of its
The survey of Northern Indian Languages done by George Abraham Grierson
included Kashmiri into his work and gave his full volume No-8 to explain the
origin and development of this language. He concluded that Shina of Dardic-group
of languages is the origin of Kashmiri. Some scholars said that the Hebrew is
the origin of this ancient language. But it did not cut the ice. The research
continued on; Dr. T.N. Ganjoo Head of the Dept. of Hindi, Kashmir University,
some twenty year back in his Departmental Journal said that the Sanskrit is the
origin of Kashmiri and he dedicated the whole Journal to this issue. Later ,
after some time his book on the same subject came to the market. This book gives
a detailed account of the evolution of this language and proves the view point
of the author of various tables and examples.
After Independence the research work on various Indian Languages was taken
into hand. Due to introduction of Linguistics some Universities did a
commendable job in this direction. Central Institute of Indian Languages Mysore
(Karnataka) along with its regional centres helped various writers of Indian
Languages to publish their research works besides the books published by the
C.I.I.L. Though a good number of books were published by the Kashmiri writers
and the Academy of Art, Culture and Languages besides books and translations
published by the Sahitya Academy New Delhi, very little work was done on the
origin-aspect of this language. Research is a continuous process & with this new
facts come to light. The historic-research in a language brings forth many facts
about the civilization of certain area and some time, earlier view-points need a
change. This article is being written in keeping this fact in view.
The new researches include Dravidian group of languages, Vedic, Prakrit,
Sanskrit etc. Dr. Rambilas Sharma a well-known critic said that though G.
Abraham Grierson did a lot of work about Indian languages, but taking into
consideration the present development of linguistic science, his work is not
sufficient and more is needed to be done in this direction. One important
question raised by some scholars is that Aryans did not come from outside but
they were the real inhabitants of India. This controversy is on and both sides
try to establish the fact with historic and pre-historic facts.
As regards Dravidians, Hunger Ford Holdic in his work-India says, that
Dravidians have come from outside India. He says
"There is no doubt that Dravids entered Balochistan prior to Aryans. They
went forth from Balochistan to rehabilitate themselves in the South of India. 'Holdic'
names them as "Toorani" He further says that Dravids came from the green lands
of Mesopotamia and Persian Hilly areas, in groups and entered the territory of
According to Kalhan's Rajtarangini some Dravid Brahmins were settled at
Sempora when Raja Jaya Simha (1128-1149) ruled over Kashmir. This place is on
the bank of Vitasta and it is said that this village is the birth place of great
Lallashwari. Prior to this, says Raja Tarangini, that Dravids lived in Sidha
Khetra. The place has not been identified.
According to Grierson, Maxmuller, Suniti Baboo and Dharmendra Verma the
evolution of Indian Languages goes like this :
1. Lokik Sanskrit from Vedic Sanskrit
2. Prakrit from Lokik Sanskrit
3. Apabhramsha from Prakrit
4. Some Modern Indian (languages like; Marathi, Gujrati, Bangla, Hindi etc.
But Nemi Chandra Shastri, quoting Dr Jain explains the development as below :
"The Prakrita, evolved from Ancient Aryan Bhasha Chhaandas. The Lokik
Sanskrit also has its' roots in 'Chhandas'."
Taking this into consideration Prakrit and Sanskrit; both are sister
languages and their origin is the same.
Sh. Venkatesh Ketkar has done a remarkable work on Indian Languages.
According to his research Prakrit was in common use in the time of Mahabharata.
The Prakrita of the primary age was not much different than Sanskrit.
It is a fact that the relation of Prakrit and Sanskrit is historically
analysed, but the importance of Prakrita has not been fully explained. Ketkar
takes Indian History to the Age of Mahabharata and he gets his research work
'Ancient Maharashtra' to the period of Saatvahanas. Ketkar says that even the
great Grammarian Panini, when taking Vedic Sooktaas into consideration
maintains the form of Prakrita as different. He does not see that Prakrita
originated from Sanskrita.
Taking these facts into consideration famous Researcher Dr. Raj Mal Bora
says, that we should think over Aryan and Dravidian Languages while keeping
Prakrit into the midst of these two language groups. He maintains that there is
no doubt that the area of Sanskrit language is the whole Bharata, as the
Sanskrit is written in the same form, from Kashmir to Kerala. But on the other
side the Geographic Areas of Prakrit language have been denoted in the whole of
India. It is also possible that some Prakrits must have been extinct giving
their place to new modern Indian Languages.
Pishachi is one of the important Prakrits. This has been named as
GandharaPrakrit also. Panini, belonged to Shalatur near Peshavar and in his
times the forms of Prakritas were in common use. Panini's age comes prior to
Gautam Buddha. One more renowned Grammarian Patanjali came into prominence
after Mauriya Rule. The period between these two Grammar Scholars is the age of
the progress of Prakritas.
According to Dr. Raj Mal Bora the formation of Prakritas with Vedic-Sanskrit
is Pishachi. Thus Vedic and Paishachi seem reflection of each other.
Ketkar says that "Mag" have ruled Peshavar in the olden times and it seems
that 'Peshawar' word is related to Pishachi.
Dr. Ram Bilas Sharma, says that Pishach means 'Pishang' and it indicates
brown or yellow colour. The great lexican 'Sayin' says that it means "hiraneya"
or yellow. "Pish" in Sanskrit has been used as beautification. It has been used
in the same meaning by the languages of Indo-European Group. "Pish", also means
raw flesh. In Atharva Veda "Pishach" word has been used along with 'Gandharvas'
and 'Apsaras'. Pishach have been living in North-Western India. According to
Neelmat Purana the field of activity of 'Pishachas' has remained in Himachal &
Kashmir. Kalhana mentions Pishachak pura in his work. A hill named Pishachaka is
near the famous 'Meeru' mountain. Kabera, who was the king of Pishachas lived in
a palace situated at 'Pishachka' hill. Neelmata clearly mentions of Kubera and
gives a detailed account of how Raja Neel of Nagas with the help of Chandra Dev
ended the enemosity between Nagas & Pishachas and the "Gad Batta" (Fish and
rice), Khechi mavas (The auspicious day when all K.Ps., prepare "khich di" at
their homes) are celebrated even today and these remind us of Nagas, Pishachas &
In Pishachi Prakrita 'Magdhi', 'Ardha Magdhi' and 'Shorseni' are eminent. Ram
Sarman and Markandeya mention eleven Pishachi Prakritas in the following Saloka
Kancheya Desha, Pandeya, Panchala, Gowda, Magdhi, Vrachad, Dakhshinateya,
Shorseni, Kykeya, Shabar and Dravid, are the eleven Pishachi Prakrits.
The 'Pishachi' of Kykeya was taken as the standard Pishachi. In the period of
Panini, the forms of 'Magdhi', 'Ardha Magdhi', Shorsaini and Maharashtri
Prakritas were in vogue. This shows that the branches of Pishachi had spread
from Peshawar to Sri-Lanka.
P.C. Bagchi mentions Kashmirikas in Choolika Pishachi. This fact is also
supported by China-Sanskrit vocabulary. A scholar Lakhshmi Dhar mentions eleven
Pishach areas as below :
"Kekeya, Balahika, Sahya, Nepal, Kuntal, Gandhar, Sudes, Bhot, Haiva and
According to Neelmat Purana Pishachas earlier lived for six months in Kashmir
and later they began to live with Nagas peacefully and settled in some areas of
These facts indicate that the real origin of Kashmiri language was Pishachi,
which was an important language of the whole country. It was due to this that
Gunadeya wrote Seven Lac Salokas in this very language. This book called
Brihat-Katha was used by Brahmins at Bhori-Kadal (Srinagar) for prediction of
future in the year 1936. I was a sixth class student at that time.
Due to the ignorance of the King of Patliputra, Gunadeya did not receive any
appreciation from the king and burnt six lac salokas in fire in a forest. Som
Deva, a famous Sanskrit Scholar translated the stories of Gunadeya into Sanskrit
under the title of Katha-Sarit-Sagar (The sea of stories). This famous book
gives a complete picture of the ancient India especially its economic and social
conditions. Som Deva was also a scholar in Pishachi. This shows that Pishachi
was a language of eminence during this period.
According to the footnote given by Sh. R.S. Pandit in his translation of Raj
Tarangini of Kalhana, Khemindra, a famous Sanskrit Scholar & poet of Kashmir
tells that he was the first person to render into Sanskrit the work of Gunadeya
The "Brihat Katha", which was in Pishachi. This work composed in ancient Pushto
in the first century of Cr. Era must have rivalled the Maha Bharata as it is
stated to have consisted of one lac Salokas. Bhatta Som Deva a younger
contemporary of Khemindra, translated into Sanskrit Gunadev's work at the
request of Suryamati, who became a 'Sati' in 1801. Which is now famous as
Katha-Sarit Sagara, translated into numerous modern languages.
While writing this article I came to know that Professor Sateya Bhama Razdan
(Linguistic Dept. of Kashmir University) has published her book-Kashmiri Grammar
History and Structure, and she too has been working on the Pishachi Kashmiri
theme. This book is really a new addition to the topic of this article. She has
given the origin and the structure of Kashmiri language in detail. Her opinion
is based on theoretical as well as the practical aspects of this issue.
This new book is an approach to go deeper with a new zeal towards the origin
of Kashmiri language. She has compared both Pishachi & Kashmiri and I hope that
linguistic scholars will evaluate her work, giving their opinion about this
I have also requested Dr. Raj Mal Bhora a famous scholar of Indian Languages
to write a detailed article on the origin of Kashmiri language. I hope that his
article will also be of importance to know the origin of a language which is one
of the important ancient languages of our country.
The author is one of the renowned poets of Kashmir; a Sahitya Academy
award winner. His recent book of poems, "Waves Vol. II", was published by
Kashmir Sabha, Calcutta.