1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Prakrit

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PRAKRIT (pr̥ākrta, natural), a term applied to the vernacular languages of India as opposed to the literary Sanskrit (saṁskr̥ta, purified). The place which the Prakrits occupy in regard to the Indo-European languages (q.v.), ancient and modern, is treated under that head. There were two main groups of ancient Indo-Aryan dialects, or Primary Prakrits, viz. the language of the Midland or Ārydvārta, and that of what is called the Outer Band. The language of the Midland became the language of literature, and was crystallized in the shape of literary Sanskrit about 300 B.C. Beside it all the Primary Prakrits continued to develop under the usual laws of phonetics, and, as vernaculars, reached a secondary stage marked by a tendency to simplify harsh combinations of consonants and the broader diphthongs, the synthetic processes of declension and conjugation remaining as a whole unaltered. The process of development closely resembles that of old Italian from the Italic dialects of Latin times. It should be noted that although the literary dialect of the Midland became fixed, the vernacular of the same tract continued to develop along with the other Primary Prakrits, but owing to the existence of a literary standard by its side its development was to a certain extent retarded, so that it was left somewhat behind by its fellows in the race.

The Secondary Prakrits, in their turn, received literary culture. In their earliest stage one of them became the sacred language of Buddhism, and under the name of Pali (q.v.) has been widely studied. In a still later stage several Secondary Prakrits became generally employed for a new literature, both sacred and profane. Not only were three of them used for the propagation of the Jaina religion (see Jains), but they were also dealt with as vehicles for independent secular works, besides being largely employed in the Indian drama. In the last-named Brahmans, heroes and people of high rank spoke in Sanskrit, while the other characters expressed themselves in some Secondary Prakrit according to nationality or profession. This later stage of the Secondary Prakrits is known as the Prakrit par excellence, and forms the main subject of the present article. A still further stage of development will also be discussed, that of the Apabhraṁśa, or “corrupt language.” The Prakrit par excellence, which will throughout the rest of this article be called simply “Prakrit,” underwent the common fate of all Indian literary languages. In its turn it was fixed by grammarians, and as a literary language ceased to grow, while as a vernacular it went on in its own course. From the point of view of grammarians this further development was looked upon as corruption, and its result hence received the name of Apabhraṁśa. Again in their turn the Apabhraṁśas received literary cultivation and a stereotyped form, while as vernaculars they went on into the stage of the Tertiary Prakrits and become the modern Indo-Aryan languages.

In the Prakrit stage of the Secondary Prakrits we see the same grouping as before—a Midland language, and the dialects of the Outer Band. The Prakrit of the Midland was known as Śaurasēnī, from Śūrasēna, the name of the country round Mathurā (Muttra). It was the language of the territories having the Gangetic Doab for their centre. To the west it probably extended as far as the modern Lahore and to the east as far as the confluence of the Jumna and the Ganges. Conquests carried the language much further afield, so that it occupied not only Rajputana, but also Gujarat. As stated above, the development of Śaurasēnī was retarded by the influence of its great neighbour Sanskrit. Moreover, both being sprung from the same original—the Primary Prakrit of the Midland—its vocabulary, making allowances for phonetic changes, is the same as in that language.

The Prakrits of the Outer Band, all more closely connected with each other than any one of them was to Śaurasēnī, were Māgadhī, Ardhamāgadhī, Māhārāṣṭrī, and an unknown Prakrit of the North-west. Māgadhī was spoken in the eastern half of the Gangetic plain. Its proper home was Māgadha, the modern South Bihar, but it extended far beyond these limits at very early times. Judging from the modern vernaculars, its western limit must have been about the longitude of the city of Benares. Between it and Śaurasēnī (i.e. in the modern Oudh and the country to its south) lay Ardhamāgadhī or “half-Māgadhī.” Māhārāṣṭrī was the language of Māhārāṣṭra, the great kingdom extending southwards from the river Nerbudda to the Kistna and sometimes including the southern part of the modern Bombay Presidency and Hyderabad. Its language therefore lay south of Śaurasēnī. West of Śaurasēnī, in the Western Punjab, there must have been another Prakrit of which we have no record, although we know a little about its later Apabhraṁśa form. Here there were also speakers of Paiśācī (see Indo-Aryan Languages), and the local Prakrit, if we are to judge from the modern Tertiary vernacular, was a mixed form of speech. We have a detailed description of only one Apabhraṁśa—the Nāgara—the Apabhraṁśa of the Śaurasēnī spoken in the neighbourhood of Gujarat, and therefore somewhat mixed with Māhārāṣṭrī. We may, however, conclude that there was an Apabhraṁśa corresponding to each Prakrit, so that we have, in addition to Śaurasēna, a Māgadha, an Ardhamāgadha and a Māhārāṣṭra Apabhraṁśa. Native writers describe more than one local Apabhraṁśa, of which we may mention Vrācaḍa, the ancient dialect of Sind. There were numerous Prakrit subdialects to which it is not necessary to refer.

Of all these Prakrits, Māhārāṣṭrī is that which is best known to us. It early obtained literary pre-eminence, and not only was the subject of long treatises by native grammarians, but became the language of lyric poetry and of the formal epic (kāvya). Dramatic works have been written in it, and it was also the vehicle of many later scriptures of the Jaina religion. We also know a good deal about Ardhamāgadhī, in which the older Jaina writings were composed. With Māgadhī we have, unfortunately, only a partial acquaintance, derived from brief accounts by native grammarians and from short sentences scattered through the plays. We know something more about Śaurasēnī, for it is the usual prose dialect of the plays, and is also employed for the sacred writings of one of the Jaina sects.

The materials extant for the study of the Prakrit are either native grammars or else literary works written in accord with Language. the rules laid down therein. Originally real vernaculars with tendencies towards certain phonetic changes, the dialects were taken in hand by grammatical systematizers, who pruned down what they thought was overluxuriant growth, trained errant shoots in the way they thought they ought to have gone, and too often generalized tendencies into universal rules. Subsequent writers followed these rules and not the living speech, even though they were writing in what was meant to be a vernacular. Moreover, at an early date, the Prakrits, qua literary languages, began to lose their characteristics as local forms of speech. A writer composed in Māhārāṣṭrī, not because it was his native language, but because it was the particular Prakrit employed for lyrics and in formal epics. In the same way, in dramatic literature, Śaurasēnī and Māgadhī were put into the mouths of characters in particular walks in life, whatever the nationality of the dramatist might have been. There was thus a tendency for these literary Prakrits to adopt forms from the vernacular dialects of those who wrote them, and, en revanche, for the very popular lyric poetry of Māhārāṣṭrī to influence the local dialects of the most distant parts of India. On the other hand, although to a certain extent artificial, the literary Prakrits are all based on local vernaculars, a fact entirely borne out by a comparison with the modern Indian languages, which closely agree with them in their mutual points of difference. We now proceed to consider the general points in which the Prakrits differ from Sanskrit and from each other. The reader is throughout assumed to be familiar with the general outline of the article Sanskrit.

[Contractions: Skr. = Sanskrit. Pr. = Prakrit. Ś. = Śaurasēnī. Mg. = Māgadhī. AMg. = Ardhamāgadhī. M. = Māhārāṣṭrī. Ap. = Nāgara Apabhraṁśa.]

Vocabulary.—The vocabulary of Ś. is to all intents and purposes the same as that of Skr. In the languages of the Outer Band there are numerous provincial words (dēśī or dēśya), the originals of which belonged to Primary Prakrits other than those of the Midland. In the Outer Band there is also a rich variety of grammatical forms, many of which are found in the Veda and not in classical Sanskrit, and some (e.g. Pr. -hi, Pali -dhi, Greek -θι) which cannot be traced to any known Primary Prakrit form, but which must have existed in that stage and beyond it, back into Indo-European times.

Phonetics.—The Skr. diphthongs ē and ō are treated in Pr. as pure vowels, and may each be either long or short. Āi and āu become either ē̆ and ō̆ or and respectively. The vowel becomes a, i, or, under the influence of a neighbouring labial, u. Before two consonants an original long vowel becomes short, and i and u are (according to the grammarians) changed to e and o respectively. The last rule is an instance of grammarians' over-generalization, and is not universally true. Examples, Skr. mārga-, Pr. magga-; Skr. sindura-, Pr. sendura-; Skr. pustaka-, Pr. potthaa-. Conversely, a short vowel before two consonants is lengthened on one of them being elided. Thus, Skr. īsvara-, Pr. issara- or īsara-; Skr. jihvā, Pr. jīhā. In Ap. the quantity of vowels is very loosely observed.

In all dialects n becomes unless it is followed by a dental mute, but in Jaina works nn and initial n remain unchanged. judgirlg from modern vernaculars, the latter seems to have been the real state of affairs. In Mg. j becomes y and r becomes l. Here also s and s become ś, a peculiarity still preserved by the modern Bengali. Elsewhere ś and s usually become s, but the change of a sibilant to h is not uncommon in the Outer Prakrits (even in Mg.), though rare in the more archaic Ś.

Initial y becomes j except in Mg., in which, on the contrary, j becomes y. Subject to the foregoing general rules, all other initial consonants usually remain unchanged. As regards medial single consonants:—

1. K, g, c, j, t, d and y are usually elided. As a hiatus is caused by the elision, a faintly sounded y (or in some cases v) is substituted for the elided consonant, though only written in Jaina MSS. Examples: Skr. lōka-, Pr. (y)a-; Pr. maa = Skr. mata-, mada-, maya-, mr̥ga or mr̥ta-. The latter example illustrates the extraordinary confusion which results from the strict application of this rule of elision of medial consonants. Such a Prakrit would have failed in the main object of a language—the connotation of distinct ideas by distinct sounds. To the present writer it seems impossible that such a language could ever have existed, and he is persuaded that the rule just given is merely another instance of grammarians over-generalization. A rule has been made out of a tendency, and this tendency was evidently, first, to soften a hard letter, and then (but not necessarily) to elide it. We see this well illustrated by Apabhraṁśa, in which k, t and p are usually preserved under the forms g, d and b. In the Outer Prakrits also k often becomes g, as in Skr. śrāvaka-, Jaina M. and AMg. sāvaga-, Mg. śāvaga-. Ś. and Mg. always preserve a medial t, changing it to d; thus, Skr. gata-, S. Mg. gada-, elsewhere ga(y)a-.

2. Kh, gh, th, dh, ph and bh similarly become h. Also, as above, Ś. and Mg. change th to dh. Ṭh becomes ḍh, and ph may become bh. The other aspirates (ch, jh, ḍh), and also sometimes bh, remain unchanged. In Ap., as before, kh, th and ph are usually preserved in gh, dh and bh respectively.

3. becomes , becomes (often written l), which when doubled becomes dentalized to ll, as in the case of the Jaina nn. P and b usually become v. The Outer languages often cerebralize dental sounds and change to l.

4. N, m, l and h remain unchanged. V disappears before u, but otherwise generally remains unchanged. In Ap. m may become a v nasalized by anunāsika; thus, Skr. bhramara-, Ap. bha?ara-.

Final consonants usually disappear altogether, except nasals, which become anusvāra. Thus, Skr. samantāt, phalam, Pr. samantā, phalaṁ.

The following rules will be found to include the great majority of possible cases of compound consonants. They show clearly the character of alll changes from Primary to Secondary Prakrit, viz. the substitution, mainly by a process of assimilation, of a slurred for a distinct pronunciation:—

1. In Pr. a conjunct consonant cannot consist of more than two elements, and, except in Mg. and Ap., can only be a double consonant or a consonant preceded by a nasal, a consonant followed by r, or one of the following: ṇh, nh, mh, lh. The consonants r and h cannot be doubled.

2. In Pr. the only conjuncts which can begin a word are ṇh, nh, mh, and lh. If any other conjunct consonant be initial, the first member of the Pr. form of it is dropped. Thus, in Pr. kr becomes kk, and the Skr. ākramati becomes Pr. akkamaï. If we omit the initial preposition ā- (Pr. a-), the kk becomes initial, and we have kamaï, not *kkamai Similarly, Skr. sthira- becomes Pr. thira- for *tthira-.

3. L and v are elided when they stand first or last in a compound, and the remaining letter is doubled, if it admits of doubling. Thus, Skr. ulkā, Pr. ukkā; Skr. pakva, Pr. pakka-. The same rule is followed regarding r, but when it follows a consonant it is sometimes, especially in Ap., retained even when initial. Thus, Skr. arka-, Pr. akka; Skr. priya-, Pr. pia- or (Ap.) pria-.

4. M, n and y are elided when standing last in a compound, and the remaining letter is doubled; thus, Skr. raśmi-, Pr. rassi-.

5. K, g, , , t, d, p, ś, and s are elided when standing first in a compound, and the remaining letter is doubled as before; thus, Skr. bhakta-, Pr. bhatta-; Skr. skhalita-, Pr. khalia- for *kkhalia (see rule 2).

6. The above rules hold in the order given above; that is to say, rule 3 holds in preference to rules 4 and 5, and rule 4 in preference to rule 5. Thus, in the Skr. compound kr, the r is elided under rule 3, and not the k under rule 5, so that the Pr. form is kk.

7. Special Rules for Mg.—In this form of Pr. there are several peculiar changes. Dy, rj, ry, all become yy; ṇy, ny, , ñj become ññ; medial cch becomes śc; ṭṭ, ṣṭ, ṣṭh become sṭ; and rth, sth become st. Other changes also occur, besides dialectic variations of those given above.

Declension.—Pr. has preserved the three genders of Skr., but has lost the dual number. As a rule, the gender of a noun follows that of the Skr. original, though in AMg. there is already a tendency to substitute the masculine for the neuter, and in Ap. these two genders are frequently confused, if the distinction is not altogether neglected. In the formation of cases, the phonetic rules just given are full applied, but there are also other deviations from the Skr. original The consonantal stems which form an important part of Skr. declension are frequently given vocalic endings, and there is a general tendency to assimilate their declension to that of a-bases, corresponding to the first and second declensions in Latin. This tendency is strongly helped by the free use of pleonastic suffixes ending in a, which are added to the base without affecting its meaning. Of these the most common are -ka-, -ḍa-, and -alla-, -illa- or -ulla-. The first of these was also very common in Skr., but its use became much extended in Pr. In accordance with the general rule, the k is liable to elision; thus, Skr. ghōṭa-ka-, Pr. ghōḍa-a-. It may even be doubled, as in Skr. bahu-, much, Pr. bahu-a-a-, for bahu-ka-ka-. -Ḍa- is confined to Ap., and may be used alone or together with the other two, as in Skr. bāhubala-, strength of arm, Ap. bāhubal-ulla-ḍa-(k)a-. Illa- is most common in the Outer languages, and especially so in AMg. and M.; thus, Skr. pura-, M. pur-illa-.

All the Skr. cases are preserve except the dative, which has altogether disappeared in the Midland, but has survived in the singular number in the Outer languages. Everywhere the genitive can be employed in its place. Most of the case-forms are derived from Sanskrit according to the phonetic rules, but Ap. has a number of dialectic forms which cannot be referred to that language (cf. the remarks above about -hi = θι). It also rarely distinguishes between the nominative and the accusative. As an example, we may give the commoner forms of the declension of the Skr. putra, Pr. putta-, a son (see next page). It should be understood that numerous other forms were also in use, but the ones given here are selected because they are both common and typical.

The declension of neuter a-bases closely resembles the above, differing only in the nominative and accusative singular and plural. Ap. has almost lost the neuter termination in the singular. Feminine a-stems are declined on the same lines, but the cases have run more into each other, the instrumental, genitive and locative singular being identical in form. Very similarly are declined the bases ending in other vowels. The few still ending in consonants and which have not become merged in the a-declension, present numerous apparent irregularities, due to the inevitable phonetic changes, which must be learned from the textbooks.

  Skr. Ś. Ap. M. AMg. Mg.







 Singular: 
 Nom. putras puttō puttu puttē puttē puttē
 Acc. putram puttaṁ puttu puttaṁ puttaṁ puttaṁ
 Instr. putrēṇa puttēṇa puttē̃ puttēṇa()  puttēna()  puttēṇa
 Dat. putrāya puttāa puttāē puttāa
 Abl. putrāt puttādō puttahu puttāō puttāō puttādō
 Gen. putrasya puttassa puttaho,  puttassa puttassa, puttaśśa
      puttaha     puttāha
 Loc. putrē puttē putti, puttē, puttē, puttē,
   *putrasmin     puttammi puttammi puttammi, 
      puttahī     puttāhiṁ
 Plural:
 Nom. putrās puttā putta putta puttā puttā
 Acc. putrān puttē puttē puttē puttē, puttē
      putta puttā puttā  
 Instr.  *putrēbhis puttēhiṁ puttahī puttēhim puttēhiṁ puttēhiṁ
 Abl. putrēbhyas puttāhiṁ-tō puttahū puttāhiṁ-tō puttēhiṁ-tō puttāhiṁ-tō
 Gen. putrāṇām puttāṇaṁ puttahā puttāṇaṁ puttāṇaṁ puttāṇaṁ,
            puttāhā
 Loc. putrēsu puttēsu() puttahī puttēsu puttēsu puttēśu()

All the Skr. pronouns appear in Pr., but often in extremely abraded shapes. It would, for instance, be difficult to recognize the Skr. tvām in the Ap. paï. There is also a most luxuriant growth of by-forms, the genitive plural of the pronoun of the second person being, e.g., represented by no less than twenty-five different words in M. alone. We also find forms which have no original in classical Skr. Thus, in that language, the pronoun sa-, he, is only used in the nominative singular of two genders, but occurs also in other cases in Pr.

Conjugation.—The Pr. verb shows even more decay than does the noun. With a few isolated exceptions, all trace of the second, or consonantal, conjugation of Skr. has disappeared, and (much as has happened in the case of nouns) all verbs are now conjugated after the analogy of the a-conjugation. This a-conjugation, on the other hand, falls into two classes, the first being the a-conjugation proper, and the second the ē-conjugation, in which the ē represents the aya of the Skr. 10th class and of causal and denominative verbs. The ātmanēpada voice of Skr. has practically disappeared in the Midland, and even in the Outer languages it is not common. The present participle is the only form which has everywhere survived. The other forms are supplied by the parasmaipada. All the past tenses (imperfect, perfect and aorists) have fallen into disuse, leaving only a few sporadic remains, their place being supplied, as in the case of the tertiary vernaculars, by the participles, with or without auxiliary verbs. The present tense of the verb substantive has survived from Skr., but it is usual to employ atthi ( = Skr. asti) for both numbers and all persons of the present, and āsī ( = āsīt) for both numbers and all persons of the past. It is interesting to note that the latter has survived in the modern Panjabi , was, in which language it is universally, but wrongly, described as a feminine. Another verb substantive (Skr. √ bhū) has also survived, generally in the form hōi or huvaï for bhavati. In AMg. and M. we also have bhavaï pretty frequently, and the same form also occurs, but less often, in Ś. and Mg. Its usual past participle is hūa- or Mg. hūda-, Ś. bhūda-. The forms are given here as they are important when the history of the Tertiary Prakrits comes under consideration. These two verbs substantive make periphrastic tenses with other participles, and, in the case of the past participles and gerundives of transitive verbs (both of which are passive in signification), the agent or subject is put into the instrumental case, the participle being used either personally or impersonally, as in the tertiary languages. Thus, tēṇa girivarō diṭṭho, by him a mountain was seen, i.e. he saw a mountain; tēṇa paḍivannaṁ, it was acknowledged by him, he acknowledged. The gerundive, or future passive participle, is also used impersonally in the case of intransitive verbs, as in dūraṁ gantavvaṁ, it is to be gone far, we must go far.

Besides the participles, the infinitive and the indeclinable participle (gerund) have also survived. So also the passive voice, conjugated in the same tenses as the active, and generally with parasmaipada terminations. The causal has been already mentioned. There are also numerous denominative verbs (many of them onomatopoeic), and a good supply of examples of frequentative and desiderative bases, mostly formed, with the necessary phonetic modifications, as in Skr. The present participle in the parasmaipada ends in -anta- (-enta-), declined according to the a-declension, and in the ātmanēpada in -māna-. The termination -(i)ta- of the Skr. past participle passive has survived under the form -ia-. Many direct representatives of Skr. participles in -ta- (without the i) and -na- also appear. Thus, Skr. dṛṣṭta, Pr. diṭṭha, seen; Skr. lagna-, Pr. lagga-, attached. As usual there is a tendency to simplification, and the termination ia is commonly added to the Pr. present base, instead of following Skr. analogy. Thus, not only have we tatta- formed directly from the Skr. tapta-, but we have also tavia- from the Pr. present stem tav-aï ( = Skr. tapati), he is hot. All the three forms of the future passive participle or gerundive, in -tavya-, -anīya- and -ya-, have survived. The infinitive has survived, not only with the form corresponding to the classical Sanskrit termination -tum, but also with several old Vedic forms. The same is the case with the gerund, in which both the classical forms in -tvā and -(t)ya have survived, but with the loss of the distinctive use which obtained in Sanskrit. Besides these there are also survivals of Vedic forms, and even of Primary Prakrit forms not found in the Veda. The passive is generally formed by adding -jja or, in Ś. and Mg., -īa-, to the root or, more often, to the present stem. Thus, M. pucchïjjaï or Ś. pucchīadi, he is being asked.

The following are therefore the only tenses which are fully conjugated in Pr.: the present, the imperative, the future and the optative. Except in Ap., the personal terminations in general correspond to the Skr. ones, but in Ap. there are some forms which probably go back to unrecorded Primary Prakrits and have not as yet been explained. As an example we take the conjugation of the base puccha-, ask (Skr. pr̥cchati), in the present tense.

  Skr. Ś. Ap. M. AMg. Mg.







 Sing. 
 1.  pr̥cchāmi  pucchāmi  pucchaū̃  pucchāmi  pucchāmi  puscāmi
 2.  pr̥cchasi  pucchasi  pucchasi or -hi   pucchasi  pucchasi  puścasi
 3.  pr̥cchati  pucchadi  pucchaï  pucchaï  pucchaï  puścadi
 Plur. 
 1.  pr̥cchāmas   pucchāmō  pucchahū̃  pucchāmō   pucchāmō   puścāmō
 2.  pr̥cchatha  pucchadha   pucchahu  pucchaha  pucchaha  puścadha 
 3.  pr̥cchanti  pucchanti  pucchahī  pucchanti  pucchanti  puścanti

The imperative similarly follows the Skr. imperative. The Ś. second person singular is generally puccha, while the Outer languages often have a form corresponding to pucchēhi. The base of the optative is generally formed by adding -ejja- in the Outer languages and -ēa- in Ś.; thus, Ś. pucchēaṁ, others pucchejjāmi, &c., may I ask. The Skr. future termination -isya- is represented by -issa- or -ihi-; thus, pucchissāmi or pucchihimi, I shall ask.

Prakrit Literature.—The great mass of Prakrit literature is devoted to the Jaina religion, and, so far as it is known, is Literature. described under the head of Jains. Here it is sufficient to state that the oldest Jaina sūtras were in Ardhamāgadhī, while the non-canonical books of the Śvētāmbara sect were in a form of Māhārāṣṭri, and the canon of the Digambaras appears to have been in a form of Śaurasēnī. Besides these religious works, Prakrit also appears in secular literature. In artificial lyric poetry it is pre-eminent. The most admired work is the Sattasaī (Saptaśaptikā), compiled at some time between the 3rd and 7th centuries A.D. by Hāla. The grace and poetry of this collection, in which art most happily succeeds in concealing art, has rarely been exceeded in literature of its kind. It has had numerous imitators, both in Sanskrit and in the modern vernaculars, the most famous of which is the Satsaī of Bihārī Lāl'(17th century A.D.). Hāla's work is important, not only on its own account, but also as showing the existence of a large Prakrit literature at the time when it was compiled. Most of this is now lost. There are some scholars (including the present writer) who believe that Sanskrit literature owes more than is generally admitted to works in the vernacular, and that even the Mahābhārata first took its form as a folk-epic in an early Prakrit, and was subsequently translated into Sanskrit, in which language it was further manipulated, added to, and received its final shape. In literary Prakrit we have two important specimens of formal epic poetry—the Rāvaṇavaha or Sētubandha (attributed to Pravarasēna, before A.D. 700), dealing with the subject of the Rāmāyaṇa, and the Gaüḍavaha of Vākpati (7th–8th century A.D.), celebrating the conquest of Bengal by Yaśōvarman, king of Kanauj. Reference must also be made to the Kumārapāla-carita, the title of the last eight cantos of the huge Dvyāśraya Mahākāvya of Hēmacandra (A.D. 1150). The whole work was written to serve as a series of illustrations to the author's Sanskrit and Prakrit grammar, the Siddha-hēmacandra. The last eight cantos are in Prakrit, and illustrate the rules of the corresponding portion of his work. Its hero is Kumāra-pāla of Aṇhilvāḍā. Dramatic literature has also an admired example in the Karpūra-man̄jarī (“Camphor-cluster,” the name of the heroine) by Rāja-śēkhara (A.D. 900), an amusing comedy of intrigue. An important source of our knowledge of Prakrit, and especially of dialectic Prakrit, is the Sanskrit drama. It has already been pointed out that in works of this class many of the characters speak in Prakrit, different dialects being employed for different purposes. Generally speaking, Śaurasēnī is employed for prose and Māhārāṣṭri (the language of lyric poetry) for the songs, but special characters also speak special dialects according to their supposed nationality or profession. In India there is nothing extraordinary in such a polyglot medley. It is paralleled by the conditions of any large house in Bengal at the present day, in which there are people from every part of India, each of whom speaks his own language and is understood by the others, though none of them attempts to speak what is not his mother tongue. The result is that in the Sanskrit drama we have a valuable reflection of the local dialects. It is somewhat distorted, for the authors wrote according to the rules laid down by technical handbooks, and the dialects which they employed were, in the case of the later writers, as dead as Sanskrit. But nevertheless, if not an absolutely true representation, it is founded on the truth, and it is almost our only source of information as to the condition of the Indian vernaculars in the first five centuries A.D. The drama which gives the best examples of these dialects is the Mr̥cchakaṭikā. For further particulars regarding the Sanskrit drama, reference should be made to the article Sanskrit.

Authorities.—The father of Prakrit philology was Ch. Lassen, the author of the Institutiones linguae pracriticae (Bonn, 1837). This famous work, a wonderful product of the learning of the time, is now out of date, and has been definitely superseded by R. Pischel's Grammatik der Präkritsprachen (Strasburg, 1900). As an introduction to the study of the language, the best work is H. Jacobi's Ausgewählte Erzählungen in Mâhârâshṭrî zur Einführung in das Studium des Prâkṛit, Grammatik, Text, Wörterbuch (Leipzig, 1886). The best editions of the native grammars are E. B. Cowell's of Vararuci's Prākṛta-prakāśa (London, 1868), R. Pischel's of Hēmacandra (Halle, 1877, 1889) [see above], and E. Hultzsch's of Śiṁharāja's Prākṛtarūpāvatāra (London, 1909). For Dēśya words, see Pischel's The Deśînâmamâlâ of Hemachandra (Bombay, 1880). For Apabhraṁśa, in addition to his edition of Hēmacandra's grammar, see the same author's Materialen zur Kenntnis des Apabhraṁśa (Berlin, 1902). For the mutual relationship of the various Prakrits, see S. Konow, “Mâhârâshṭrî and Mârâthî,” in the Indian Antiquary, (1903), xxxii., 180 sqq. For Jaina Prakrit, see under Jains. As regards the secular texts mentioned above the following are the best editions: A. Weber, Das Saptataçatakam des Hāla (Leipzig, 1881); another edition by Durgāprasād and Kāśīnāth Pāṇḍurang Parab under the title of The Gâthasapataśatî of Śâtavâhana (Bombay, 1889) [a good commentary]; S. Goldschmidt, Rāvaṇavaha oder Setubandha (Strasburg, 1880–1883) [text and translation]; Śivadatta and Parab, The Setubandha of Pravarasena (Bombay, 1895); Shaṅkar Pāṇḍurang Paṇḍit, The Gaüḍavaho, a Historical Poem in Prâkrit, by Vâkpati (Bombay, 1887); the same editor, The Kumârapâla-charita (Bombay, 1900); Rajaçekhara's Karpūramañjarī, edited by S. Konow, translated by C. R. Lanman (Cambridge, Mass., 1901).

The literature of the Sanskrit drama is given under Sanskrit.

(G. A. Gr.)