Brief Essay on the Origin of Hindi Literature in Ancient India

Taking Western and Eastern Hindi together, along with their various dialects, Hindi occupies the most central position and also covers a much larger area than any other language. On the other hand the modern form of literary Hindi was developed very late, in fact not until the end of the eighteenth century.

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The reason for this was that earlier writers had used other dialects of Hindi (e.g. Braj Bhasha or the Eastern Hindi of Tulsl Das), whereas the Kharl boll, originally the dialect of the Delhi-Meerut area, on which both Hindi and Urdu are based, was developed in the first place under the in­fluence of the Muslims.

The first literary language to emerge from it was therefore Urdu, written in the Arabic script, and borrowing an extensive vocabulary from Arabic and Persian. At the same time, in a somewhat simplified form, it gained extensive currency as a non-literary colloquial, and this is still very widely used. On the other hand literary Hindi, written in the Devanagari alphabet and drawing for vocabulary on Sanskrit, hardly appears at all until the beginning of the nineteenth century.


The partition of the subcontinent between India and Pakistan had natur­ally considerable effects on language. The principle result was that Hindi was adopted as the official language of India, while Urdu occupies a similar posi­tion in Pakistan. Bengal was divided into two, with consequent differences developing between the Bengali of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and that of West Bengal. A similar division took place in the case of Panjabi.

The pre-Aryan languages of India are grouped into two, families, Dravidian and Munda (or Kolarian), but languages of literary status are found only among the former group. These are the Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, and Kannada languages, occupying respectively the states of Madras, Kerala, Andhra, and Karnataka.

In addition there are a number of unwritten, tribal languages in central India, and the family is represented even as far away as Baluchistan by Brahul, which has also remained a non-literary language. It is quite likely that the extension of Dravidian was originally much wider than at present, and that it has receded before the advance of Indo-Aryan.

It is also possible that other families existed which have been displaced by Indo-Aryan, leaving no trace. The Indus civilization possessed a written language, but it is undeciphered and nothing can be said about its nature and affiliation.

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