Tuesday, 16 September 2014

The decline of Brahminism and rise of Hindi and its dialects

Many flag bearers of Brahminism are inclined to believe that it has always been Indian majority's world view since times immemorial. It is not true. Brahmins were always in a minority but had created an exclusive access to Sanskrit which they described as Dev Bhasha , the language of Gods and gradually codified all forms of knowledge (from holy Vedic Mantras to the basic rules of grammar, jurisprudence( Nyaya) and mathematics) in this language . In time they come to exercise a clout far greater than their numbers by becoming the final arbiters of tradition including spiritual temporal matters. They realized that the brunt of worldly pressures is faced by kings who must often break the laws that they preach. So they withdrew from direct rule ( except in a few cases like the Shungas) and ruled by proxy as advisors to the king the Rajguru.
Intelligence however, can not be circumscribed so easily. So by 4th century before the Christian calendar the authority of Brahmins was being challenged by sects like Jainism and Buddhism . Mahavir and Buddha , both high born Kshatriyas, deconstructed the caste system that gave the Brahmins and Kshatriyas the ultimate authority . With the Mauryas, kings from the middle castes grabbed power and these non Vedic religions were proclaimed as state religions, with the full force of the state machinery behind them .
Leaders of both Buddhism and Jainism while denouncing the ritualistic Vedic religion, also renounced Sanskrit and chose to address the masses in common peoples' language Pali or Prakrit. This helped the growth and hybridisation of various dialects . This process shaped the first prototype of Hindi or Khadi Boli that drew its basic structure from the dialects of the western part of north India inclusive of UP Haryana and parts of Punjab. This language was hybridised further and carried to the entire northern region by the peripatetic wandering Sadhus belonging to the Nath and Siddha sects. Watching his followers use uncouth language against other sects, Guru Gorakhnath, one of the chief leaders of the Nath sect, proclaimed that his disciples must observe celibacy in life and use civil language . A man, he says, who uses bad language and is slack in observing celibacy is the lowest form of life, he said.
By the 11th and 12th centuries the local dialects created intimate linkages with the Persian and Arabic spoken by Muslim invaders' armies that camped in western north India at Agra, Delhi and the Kurukshetra regions, and thus a new peoples' language was born called the language of the Bazaar. This was the prototype for what Nehru dubbed as Hindustani. Written in Nagri script it was Hindi, in the Persian script it got to be known as Urdu.
To date fluent Hindi or Urdu speakers do not know which language is which. Their symbiotic relationship became strained only around the 1940s when Urdu was dubbed a Muslim language and Hindi that of the Hindus. Encouraged by political power seekers, Hindi and Urdu began to distance themselves from their common parents : the dialects Brij, Awadhi, Punjabi, Magahi and Bhijpuri. Urdu began mining for words in Persian and Hindi in Sanskrit.
As their people centric gaze dimmed both Urdu and Hindi became Sarkari languages: hard to understand, unmusical and limited to Sarkari offices and ponderous tracts.
     

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