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Origin of Kashmiri Language / A New View Point

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 literature.

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 India.".

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. from Prakrit.

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 & Yakhshas.

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 Kanojana"

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 the valley.

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 important work.

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.

[Mailing address : 207/12 Udhampur 182101 (J.K)]

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