Languages of India >>Ancient Languages
ANCIENT LANGUAGES OF
Pali and Prakrit are the
languages that belong to the Middle Indo-Aryan period i.e. 600 BC-1000 AD.
Prakrit was the Indo-Aryan speech which was in the form of uncultivated popular
dialects. Prakrit came down to us in inscriptions dating back to 4-3 BC.
Practically all over India, Prakrits were freely used for inscriptions almost up
to the Gupta age. Vararuci's
Prakita-prakasa (5 AD) and Hemachandra's Prakrit grammar (12 AD)
are the earliest grammatical works in Prakrit.
In the course of time, the Prakrits were transformed into what are known
as the Apabhramsa dialects, which were
widely used in popular and folk literature. The various Prakrit dialects
described by Prakrit grammarians are
Maharastri, Sauraseni, Magadhi, Paisaci and
Pali and Ardha-Magadhi are
also Prakrits and were used in early Buddhist and Jain literature.
The Prakrits and Apabhramsa represent the Middle Indo-Aryan stage of language
development. The Satavahana rulers
were great patrons of Prakrit. Hala,
the 17th Satavahana ruler himself authored a Prakrit work called
earliest of the Buddhist literature is in
Pali. Indologists differ in
their opinion as to the origin of Pali.
Some consider Pali as Magadhi Prakrit or
Magadhi-bhasa, while others point to a
close relationship of Pali with
Paisaci Prakrit spoken at that time in
the Vindhya region. The
Tripitakas; Milindapanha; Petakopadesa
and Visuddhimagga are some early works