The History of the Bengali Language/Lecture 12

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search


The Literary Prākṛtas

Mr. Stenkonow very rightly holds that the Prākṛta speeches, we meet with in the dramas of olden days, or in which the poetical works like the সেতুবন্ধ and the গৌড়বহো were composed, were not really spoken vernaculars, but were rather essentially literary fictions founded on the vernaculars. It was no doubt unavoidable in the very nature of things, that the authors of the class of literature, indicated above, had to use many words and grammatical forms, as were really current in the living vernaculars of their time, but it is difficult now to differentiate the real from the unreal elements, as occur in their works.

The Prākṛta grammarians of old did not think very much to preserve for us the provincial vernaculars of their time, but were concerned in the main, to frame some rules (with reference to some actual phenomena, no doubt) by which Sanskrit could be reduced to the Prākṛtas of their classification. These rules were useful alike to the authors and the readers, in dealing with not only the literary Prākṛtas, but also the অপভ্রংশ forms of partially artificial character. Again, the rules were needed not merely to standardise the provincial Prākṛta or অপভ্রংশ forms, by referring them to their Sanskrit originals, but also to serve a curiously queer purpose: the তৎসম words which were in actual use in the vernaculars and those which had to be used as loan words, to express new ideas, had to be reduced to imaginary Prākṛta forms, as in their queer sense of propriety, in the matter of diction, the authors could not allow the তৎসম words to be mixed up with the অপভ্রংশ words. Even to-day the use of our highly expressive দেশী and অপভ্রংশ words in the company of popular তৎসম words, are not countenanced by some Pandits, for in their opinion a 'শব-পোড়া' or 'মড়াদাহ' speech may be created thereby. Mr. Beams has rightly shown in his work on the comparative grammar of our vernaculars; that though of the word রাত্রি, for example, রাত্তির, রাতি and রাত have been the real অপভ্রংশ forms with the peoples of all provinces, the unreal form রাই occurs in the Prākṛta works. No doubt the Prākṛta literature abounds with genuine অপভ্রংশ forms, but it is difficult to determine now, when and where those forms came into use: for instance, as derived from আত্মন, first অত্তন and then অপ্পন appear to have come into use, but exactly when and where we do not know.

I take the following words from the Gauḍa Baho Kābya, edited by the late renowned scholar Sankar Pandurang Pandit, which will show what an anomaly the Prākṛta authors created by reducing different words into one and the same form. The words are—'ওআর' from অবতার, অপচার and অপকার; গঅ from গজ, গদ, and গত, কঅ from কৃত and কচ, মঅ from মৃত, মৃগ, মদ, মত and ময়, বাঅ from বাত, বাদ, বাক and বাজ. We may also notice that though the word অতি (very much) has retained its pristine purity from the Vedic times to the present day, it has been reduced to অই (as in অইদীহ = অতিদীর্ঘ) in the কর্পূরমঞ্জরী.

I adduce here one example from the Setubandha, to show how by reducing different words artificially to one and the same form, a verse in যমক has been composed almost in the form of a riddle; the verse 47 of the 9th Canto stands as:

রম্মঅন্দরাঅচ্ছঅং রম্মঅন্দরাঅচ্ছঅম্৷
সগ্‌গ গ্‌গহণি সামগ্‌গঅং সগ্‌গগ্‌গহণি সামগ্‌গঅম্॥

The Sanskrit form of the verse will be:

রম্য রাগচ্ছদং রম্যকন্দরাবৃক্ষকম্৷
সর্গগ্রহনিঃ শ্যামাগ্রকং স্বর্গগ্রহণী সামগ্র্যম্॥

As many old Aryan words have been reduced to unreal forms in the প্রাকৃত, it will be interesting to notice the following words, more than 50 in number, as have not undergone any decay or অপভ্রংশ in Bengal from remotest antiquity till now; the words here grouped together are such as are used and understood by even the uneducated people in rural areas in Bengal. Some of these words have no doubt changed their original meaning, but have not changed their form. The words marked with asterisks were not in use in the early Vedic time, but have been in use in Sanskrit, since a very remote time. The words are:

অতি, অলঙ্কার, অহংকার, আকাশ, আচার, আনন্দ, ইচ্ছা, উপর, কপাল, কাল, খুর,* গন্ধ, গুরু, গোল, ঘন, ঘাস, ঘোর, চিন্তা, চির (as in চিরদিন), ছাগল,* জল,* জাল, তাল,* তিল, দণ্ড, দূর, দোষ, ধন, নল, নাম, পর, পশু, পাপ, পার, ফল, ফাল, বুদ্ধি, ভাগ, ভার, ভাব, মন্দ, মাঘ, মানুস, মাস, মূল, মেঘ, রস, লোক, বন, বল, শীত, সার, সুখ, হার৷

It is difficult to say what linguistic value should be attached to the old time classification of the literary Prākṛtas. Looking to such names of the Prākṛtas as Māgadhi, Sāuraseni and Mahārāṣṭri as occur in some works on poetics and dramaturgy, one is naturally inclined to hold, that there were good grounds for classifying the Prākṛtas by their respective provincial names, but these Prākṛtas now survive in such an artificial form that the elements of real, provincial speech in them elude our grasp. Moreover, the characteristic peculiarities of Mahārāṣṭri, for instance, as have been noted in the aforesaid works, are not what can be shown to bear genetic affinities with the modern vernaculars of the Mahārāṣṭra country. If really the Mahārāṣṭri প্রাকৃত was based upon a living vernacular, we must say, that either the old ethnic element has disappeared from the Mahārāṣṭra country, or that by virtue of a serious revolution, a new ethnic element of dominating nature has come into the composition of the people of the country. I am aware that one or two scholars have tried to show on the strength of a few examples of word-forms, that the modern Mārāṭhi can be affiliated to the old Prākṛta of the same name. Referring to this unscientific procedure, I can simply say, that if the scholars under review, choose to collect an equally good number of words from the literary Māgadhi Prākṛta, they will find that they may equate them as well with some words of the modern Mārāṭhi speech. It will be interesting to the aforesaid scholars to note this anomaly, that many so-called Mārāṭhi and Sauraseni forms of old are conspicuous by their absence alike in Mārāṭhi and W. Hindi, and by their presence in Bengali and Oriya, which are directly connected with old Māgadhi (as has been demonstrated before) and are not at all connected either with Mahārāṣṭri or Sauraseni. Here are a few illustrative examples:

(1) অচ্চব্ভুদ—অপভ্রংশ of this very so-called Sauraseni form became current in Bengal and Orissa; Oriya still retains the early form অচ্চাভুআ and in old Bengali we get it as আচাভুআ. (2) কণ্ডারেই (Mahārāṣṭri) = Carving stone, etc., into statues. This form unknown in the literary Māgadhi of the artificial classification, is in existence in Oriya; we get the অপভ্রংশ of it as কণ্ঢেই, to signify a doll. (3) The Mahārāṣṭri form কহম্ and not the Sauraseni form কধম্ as derived from কথম্ is traceable in Hindi and Oriya. (4) কোড্ড (Mahārāṣṭri) = strong desire; its অপভ্রংশ কোট্, signifying strong persistent desire, is in use in Bengali only. (5) খিড়ক্কি দুআর (Mahārāṣṭri) = back-door; খিড়্‌কির দুআর, to signify the very meaning, is in use in Bengali only. On reference to Jaina Sanskrit, we get the form 'কিলকিত দুআর'; this shows that the literary Mārāṭhi of old classification must have borrowed the term from Māgadhi. (6) From তিষ্ঠতি comes the Sauraseni form চিট্‌ঠদি, and the Mahārāṣṭri form of it is ঠাই; ছিড়া of Oriya and দাঁড়া of Bengali are connected with the first form, while the second form is in use in Bengali, as an undeclinable adverb in such a phrase as দু ঘন্টা ঠায়ে দাঁড়িয়ে আছে; note also that the form ঠিঅ from স্থিত is similar to ঠাই, and the current Oriya form is ঠিআ to indicate standing. (7) থোর (Mahārāṣṭri) from স্থূল = large; in use in old Oriya only as in থোর হস্ত, to signify the trunk of the elephant. (8) দেউ—as the Mahārāṣṭri form of দদাতু—is in Oriya and in old Bengali; the modern Bengali form is with an otiose ক as দেউক or দিক. (9) ধাড়ী or ধাটী (Mahārāṣṭri) = assault; in this meaning the word is met with in old Oriya only. (10) ফরক্কিদ (Mahārāṣṭri) = that which swings (স্ফারীকৃত); ফরি is in use in Oriya to signify the end of the পাগ্‌ড়ী (head-dress), that swings about. The plume of a bird is still called ফড় or ফোড়্ in some parts of Eastern Bengal, but it is from the foreign word পর = plume. (11) মেল্ল্ (Mahārāṣṭri) = to loosen, to scatter; to loosen the rope of a boat, for example, is expressed in Oriya by নাও মেলি দেবা; to spread or to scatter for drying a thing is মেলে দেওয়া in Bengali; cf. also মেলানি of old Bengali and modern Oriya, which signifies parting or farewell; we may note the name of the ceremonial dinner given at parting which is called মেলানি ভাত in Bengal. (12) বাঅ, which is the Mahārāṣṭri form of বাত is often met with in the poetic literature of Bengal; e.g., 'তুই আয় রে মলয় বাঅ' (বায়).

One or two grammatical forms of the standard literary Prākṛta may be noticed in this connection to further illustrate the case. (1) It is very well known that in the Prākṛtas, no distinction is made in the use of the কৃৎ suffixes ত্বা and য়, and both the suffixes are found reduced to one simple form 'অ'; thus we get for example করিঅ and বিণিজ্জিঅ for কৃত্বা and বিণির্জিত্য respectively. It is in Bengali that we get the forms করিয়া, প্রকাশিয়া, etc., exactly corresponding to the standard প্রাকৃত forms, and these forms or rather this form cannot be met with either in Marathi or in Hindi. It may be noted that the contracted Bengali form করি or প্রকাশি for করিয়া or প্রকাশিয়া, is in use in Oriya. (2) The case-denoting suffix ই of the so-called Mahārāṣṭri Prākṛta, as occurs extensively in the Setu Bandha for example, is in use in Bengali in its later form এ; in our modern literary Bengali this 'এ' is written as 'য়'; for example ইচ্ছাই = ইচ্ছয়া (because of the desire or by the desire) corresponds to old Bengali ইচ্ছা-এ or modern Bengali ইচ্ছায়; to express the sense conveyed by the form, either সে or মে has to be added to ইচ্ছা in Hindi which is supposed to be derived from Sauraseni; how the modern Marathi form differs from this form need not be mentioned. What these seeming anomalies mean or tend to prove, will be discussed presently. I may notice however, that Oriya, the origin of which must undoubtedly be traced to an old Māgadhi speech, had developed in it some forms akin to modern Marathi, centuries before Orissa came in contact with the Marathas: for example, the Oriya forms করিণ (by doing) and এঠুঁ (from here) are closely allied to the Marathi forms করুণ and এথুন্ respectively.

As to the name মহারাষ্ট্রী for the standard প্রাকৃত, a word need be added. We do not exactly know when the noted work নাট্য শাস্ত্র which is fathered upon ভরতমুনি, was composed, or rather compiled; but we can confidently pronounce that the bulk of the book including the Chapter XVII came into being long before the time of the Prākṛta Prakāśa of Vararuchi. In Vararuchi's work, Mahārāṣṭri is the প্রাকৃত par excellence, while Sauraseni occupies the second place. In the Nātya Śāstra of Bharata Muni however, the name Mahārāṣṭri for a Prākṛta is wholly unknown, and it is Sauraseni which has been accorded the rank of honour. Be the composition in prose or in poetry, the language of a drama should be শৌরসেনী according to the dictum of the Nātya Śāstra; the direction is 'শৌরসেনং সমাশ্রিত্য ভাষা কার্য্যা তু নাটকে.'

Even the country name মহারাষ্ট্র was unknown in the days of নাট্যশাস্ত্র, since in noticing a provincial linguistic peculiarity of the Mahārāṣṭra country, as well as of some tracts adjoining to that country, only a general geographical description occurs in the 60th verse which runs as:

সুরাষ্ট্রাবন্তি দেশেষু বেত্রবত্যুত্তরেষু চ
যে দেশাস্তেষু কুর্বীত চকার বহুলামিহ৷

If the statements and illustrations of the নাট্যশাস্ত্র be compared with those of later works on Dramaturgy, we can clearly see that the high class artificial প্রাকৃত which is closely allied to Sanskrit, has been called শৌরসেনী in the নাট্যশাস্ত্র and মহারাষ্ট্রী in the later works. It appears that the artificially got-up standard Prākṛta obtained the name শৌরসেনী in the নাট্যশাস্ত্র, as perhaps the seat of Northern culture was transferred in the days of the Nātya Śāstra, from Magadha to the country watered by the Jumna; it seems that for similar reasons, the standard Prākṛta, acquired the name Mahārāṣṭri, in the days of Vararuchi. It is highly probable, that the name of the standard Prākṛta indicates culture-centre, and does not signify any provincial language or dialect. That the standard প্রাকৃত was the Prākṛta, of no particular province, but was in reality a language fabricated by reducing Sanskrit to Prākṛta forms, can be detected very easily, on referring to the poetic composition in the standard Prākṛta language. For example, the Prākṛta verses are found composed in such works as শকুন্তলা, রত্নাবলী, etc., in such an artistic manner, that if for the প্রাকৃত words their Sanskrit equivalents are substituted, the verses correctly maintain their meters.

The rules laid down in the first part of Chapter XVII of the Nātya Śāstra relating to the use of provincial peculiarities in the speeches of the actors cf different rank and position, very distinctly mention that the standard Prākṛta of the drama has only to be nominally modified to suggest provincial peculiarities to the audience. The peculiarities or rather the points of deviation from the standard Sauraseni have been noted as follows: (1) The speech of all people of the Eastern Gangetic valley is to be made full of এ-sound:[1] গঙ্গা সাগর মধ্যে তু যে দেশাঃ সংপ্রকীর্ত্তিতা; একার বহুলাং তেষু ভাষাং তজ্মঃ প্রযোজয়েৎ. (2) ন is said to be the characteristic peculiarity of all peoples of the tract extending through the Vindhyas to the sea-coast;[2] (3) 'উ' is said to be the peculiarity in North-West India,[3] and (4) 'চ' is noted to be the characteristic of the speech of the peoples of Surāṣṭra and its neighbourhood as has been mentioned above.[4] Regarding the aboriginal tribes (Barbaras), it has been said that they have not to speak their own speeches but that a few শবর peculiarities have to be introduced by them. It is highly interesting to note by the way, that in the list of non-aryan peoples or hordes, we get the আভীরs in the company of ওড্রs, শবরs, চণ্ডালs and so forth; these আভীরs have been mentioned by Hem Chandra of the 12th century as wholly অপভ্রংশ-speaking people.

The directions in the works on Dramaturgy that the domestic servants and artisans should speak the Māgadhi speech, may be interpreted perhaps by the fact, that from the 6th century onward, the people of various industrial occupations flowed from Magadha into other parts of the country. It will not be correct to hold, with reference to the statements in the works which are later in date than the Nātya Śāstra, that actual Māgadhi speech had to be spoken by dramatic characters representing the industrial or labouring classes. That the dramas had not really to be made polyglot in character, but only some suggestions had to be offered to the audience regarding the various provincialities of the Dramatis Personae can be clearly gathered from the rules occurring in the নাট্যশাস্ত্র; however to make the matter convincing an analogous phenomenon which occurs in our widely popular and very familiar Jātrā-Gān, may be noticed here. In this Jātrā-Gān, a person enacting the part of a door-keeper or a porter speaks Bengali slightly incorrectly, in the manner in which the Behāris at times speak Bengali, merely for this reason that the Behāris usually come to Bengal to do the work indicated above; the clown usually imitates Eastern Bengal provincialism by only substituting হ for শ all throughout. Here the door-keeper does not speak Behāri, and the clown does not care to imitate correctly the provincialism of our Eastern districts; the actors, by their linguistic suggestions only work up the imagination of the audience regarding the special situation in the plot. That this is exactly what took place in ancient times in the matter of representation of provincial speeches on the stage, can be very clearly inferred not only from the rules given in the works on dramaturgy but also by the analysis of the language of the plays.

It may very reasonably be urged that the early time Prākṛta works which contain many দেশী words and no portion of the text of which can be easily rendered into Sanskrit, by only substituting corresponding Sanskrit words for the Prākṛta words, should be considered to represent some ancient living vernaculars. গাথাসপ্তশতী which is regarded by some as the earliest known Prākṛta work, is the only book I know, which answers to some extent the description given above, but questions relating to its time, authorship and place of origin, are not free from difficulties. From the reference to it by বাণভট্ট, it appears that the book once bore the title জাতিকোষ and according to general tradition, it was composed under the auspices of some Andhra rulers at Paiṭhān or প্রতিষ্ঠাণপুর. The present book does not appear to be that old work, for in the first place, it is an anthology containing the poems composed by various poets, as admitted in the colophon portions of the work at the end of each section; in the second place the verses occurring even in one and the same section are very loosely connected together without there being any unity of thought or purpose; in the third place, many verses bear evident marks of lateness, all of which cannot be fully discussed here. I note here however, one point which will show that this book of anthology cannot be said to have been composed in the 2nd century A.D. We know that রাধা as the principal heroine among the গোপীs, around whom all other গোপীs are but satellites, does not appear in any secular literature or পুরাণ, which is of a date earlier than the 8th century or at best the 7th century A. D., but this রাধা is met with in the 89th verse of the first section of this book; moreover the relationship that রাধা is a 'মামি,' of her lover, is also found in the 93rd verse. It must be admitted however in respect of many words used in this book, that they are not artificial reductions of Sanskrit words; a few of these words are noted here: (1) রেহই (akin to vernacular রহ) = রাজতে, (2) লডহ (read in one manuscript as পডহ akin to পোড়া of Bengali and Oriya) = বিদগ্ধ, (3) ছিত্ত (to touch as well as to sprinkle; in the first sense it is equal to ছিব্ব = স্পৃষ্ট, but in the second sense it is akin to ছিটা of Bengali), (4) পাব = প্রাপ্নুহি (the final ব (v) being pronounced as 'ও' as usual it becomes wholly akin to vernacular পাও of the Imp. Mood), (5) বুড্ড (বুড়া or বোড়া and its variant ডুবা or ডোবা current in many vernaculars) = মজ্জ, (6) থো-অ (or থোক) = স্তোক (compare our adverb থোকে in such a phrase সবগুলি জিনিস থোকে কিনিলাম).

As it is uncertain when and where all the poems of the book were composed, nothing definitely can be said of the language of it. I must notice, that at the time of the collection of the manuscripts one copy of this গাথাসপ্তশতী with a Bengali commentary was obtained at শান্তিপুর in the নদীয়া District; how old that manuscript was, is not on record.

As it appears that the authors of the প্রাকৃত books used the অপভ্রংশ forms of various provinces in one and the same work, in order to make their composition universally intelligible, we fail to localize the literary প্রাকৃতs; under the circumstances, we can refer to all the প্রাকৃত works to trace the history of our অপভ্রংশ forms, no matter in which vernacular those অপভ্রংশ words now occur. I shall have occasion presently to adduce some undeniable evidence of the fact that the authors of many প্রাকৃত works used indiscriminately the অপভ্রংশ forms of various provinces in the same composition.

We see that the class of literary Prākṛta, we have reviewed in this lecture, does not give us such definite material, as may enable us to determine the character of the Māgadhi speech with which we are mainly concerned in tracing the history of the Bengali language. We may note however, that in enumerating various styles (রীতি) of composition রাজশেখর substitutes the term মাগধী for the usual term Gauḍi in the introductory portion of his কর্পূরমঞ্জরী; this indicates, what has been asserted previously, that Bengal did not get the name Gauḍa before the 10th century. How the early Māgadhi speech, Pāli, and the Jaina Prākṛta are related to Bengali, has been discussed in the previous lecture; that these old Prākṛtas in their later transformation, have not been properly represented in the dramatic literature of old, need not be any further discussed. We may now take up for consideration some Prākṛta effusions of a comparatively recent date, which now survive only in fragments, and are found embodied in the Prākṛta Paingala. This work on the Prākṛta metrical system has been very ably edited by Dr. Chandramohan Ghose, B.A., M.B., and I take all my examples from that edition of the work. The learned editor has very rightly held that this work did not come into its present form earlier than the latter half of the 14th century A.D., and that it cannot be later than the early decades of the 16th century. I need hardly point out that all the Aryan Vernaculars of India which are literary languages to-day, became well-developed literary languages, previous to the 14th century. Many effusions appearing as illustrations in the Prākṛta Paingala, which can be easily detected on account of historical allusions, to have been composed in the 12th or in the 13th century, must be admitted to have been artificially composed in Prākṛta, at a time when full-fledged vernaculars, could be made by the authors their vehicles of thought. That even Oriya acquired its distinctive characteristics in the 12th century A.D., by being fully differentiated from Bengali and Bihari, can be proved by the text of the Rock inscription which has been preserved in the Khameśwari temple at Sonepur; a portion of this inscription runs as: যে হরই তাহার মুণ্ডরে ব্রহ্মতাল রুদ্র তাল পড়ই.

As the literary fragments which will be quoted presently very liberally, came into existence when the maintenance of artificial long and short sounds of vowels became very difficult with the authors on account of their settled pronunciation and the prevalence of provincial pronunciation in the vernacular composition, many metrical irregularities may be noticed in them; the author of the Prākṛta Paingala has been forced to formulate a rule as to where the long vowel is to be treated short. The rule reads: জই (যদি) দীহো (দীর্ঘ) বিঅ (অপি or ও) বণ্ণ (বর্ণ) লহু (লঘু) জীহা (জিহ্বা) পটই (পড়িতে হয়), হোই (হয়) সোবি (সেও) লহু৷ বণ্ণ বি তুরিঅ (ত্বরিত) পটিও (পঠিত), দো তিনি বি এক্ক জাণেহু৷

The rule purports to indicate, that if a varṇa is দীর্ঘ or long in form, but it is usual to read it লঘু or short, it is to be read as লঘু; again, if the usage of the language requires it, two or three letters should be read together in quick succession to form one syllable, for a word of two or three letters may be required to be treated as one syllable. The verse illustrative of the rule is:

অরেরে, বাহহি কাহ্ন! নাব ছোটি; ডগমগ কুগতি ন দেহি৷
তই ইৎথি নই-হি সন্তার দেই, জো চাহহি সো লেহি৷

The directions in respect of the verse are that the first রে of অরেরে, and বা of বাহহি are to be treated short, while হি of বাহহি is to be read (no doubt on account of emphasis) long; again, ডগমগ is to be read as ডগ্‌মগ্, and though the first two syllables of সন্তার are long, only the first syllable স has to be read long; then it is stated that জো of the 4th line is to be read হ্রস্ব for the evident reason that a stress or emphasis on চাহহি renders the initial syllable short in the metre. That the irregularities have been due to the usual vernacular pronunciation of the words, can be well illustrated by the example of a Bengali তোটক, in which only unawares, the Bengali author has made the last two syllables of সাঁতারে (i.e., তা and রে) short; the, lines are:

কত কাল পরে,
বল ভারতরে

দুখ সাগর সাঁতারে পার হবে৷

In respect of the language of the above-quoted প্রাকৃত verse, a few remarks may be offered. The metre is no doubt Hindi: but there are many forms which are foreign to Western Hindi, and which prevailed only in a comparatively recent time in Eastern Māgadhi, which is undeni­ably very closely allied to Bengali. তই for thou is Eastern Māgadhi; this very form was in use in old Bengali and it is now current in Assamese. The Māgadhi form ইৎথি became a special property of Bengali amid the speeches of the Eastern Gauḍi group; the ablative case-denoting suffix থি as occurs here, has transformed itself in modern Bengali into 'থে' which appears as 'থেকে' with an otiose ক. The form দেই is wholly equivalent to our old Bengali form, and this very form is still current in Oriya; the modern Bengali form দিয়া only slightly varies from it. The locative denoting হি as in নই-হি is also peculiar to Eastern Māgadhi. We can therefore very easily say that the language of the verse represents the Māgadhi speech which was current at a time not far removed from the date of birth of the Eastern modern vernaculars.

I proceed now to give some examples to show that the authors of several verses wrote in Prākṛta, at a time when modern vernaculars became respectable literary languages. I shall quote generally those verses which have been composed in that Māgadhi which is very much allied to Bengali, or which may be reasonably supposed to be proto-Bengali. I use this word of caution here, that some examples will disclose the fact that some authors in collecting obsolete প্রাকৃত words could not discriminate between different provincial forms, and as such mixed up the forms of different languages in one and the same poem. The first example given below is of a poem which was composed to describe the expedition of হমীর of admittedly recent time.

ঘর লগ্‌গই অগ্‌গি,জলই ধহ ধহ;
দিগ-মগ ণহ-পহ অণল ভরে৷
সব দিস পসরি,পাইক্ব লুলই ধনি,
থণ হর জঘণ দিআব করে৷
ভঅ লুক্কিঅ থক্কিঅবইরি তরুণি জন
ভইরব ভেরিঅ শদ্দ পলে৷
মহি লোট্টই পিট্টই,রিউসির টুট্টই,
জক্‌খণ বীর হমীর চলে৷[5]

It should first be noted that this metre of প্রাকৃত which was taken up by the author is move allied to Bengali metre than to any other. The dropping of the locative sign এ in ঘর (= ঘরে), দিগ-মগ (= দিক্-মার্গে), ণহ-পহ (= নভ-পথে), etc., is due to the metre in which long sound with এ cannot be tolerated. ভরে (ভরিল or ভরিয়াছিল), করে (করিয়াছিল), পলে (পলাইয়াছিল), and চলে (চলিয়াছিল) are interesting past forms; the older past forms আসী, করী, ধরী, etc., should be compared with these forms, and it is to be noted, that in the 3rd person 'এ' came into use for 'ঈ.' It is significant that the past form here illustrated, is in use in modern Bengali, as we may note the use in such a sentence as সে আমাকে আগে মারে, তাই আমি মারি; again, when negative sense is indicated, this past form is specially idiomatic in Bengali, for example, সে করে নাই, আমি মারি নাই are more idiomatic than সে করিয়াছিল না, or আমি মারিয়াছিলাম না, as at times noticed in Eastern Bengal speech. It is highly interesting that the commentators of the verse, have failed to understand the meaning of the word ধনি which means woman in the text; that the soldiers were seeking for women is clear from what subsequent lines distinctly indicate; Hem Chandra gives the right meaning of the word in his দেশী নামমালা, but the word is in use in Bengal alone. ভঅ লুক্কিঅ থক্কিঅ is equivalent to Bengali ভয়ে লুকাইয়া থাকিয়া which is exactly the meaning of the phrase. The women, it has been stated, did flee afterwards from their hiding places on hearing the fearful sound of ভেরী; so we see that ভেরিঅ is in the possessive case. Thus it is doubtless that the language of the text is not only Eastern Māgadhi, but is proto-Bengali.

The following verse shows that the Oriya form কাইঁ has been used in the midst of that Māgadhi language which did not develop the special provincial Oriya form on the soil of Magadha. It is also noticeable, that the term ছইল or ছইলি, which means coquette and is in use in Oriya now, occurs in the verse; the word স্বৈরিণী was, we know, reduced to ছৈরিণী or ছৈনিলী on one side, and to ছৈনিলি or ছিনারি on the other; the form ছিনার which occurs in Hem Chandra's দেশী নামমালা under a misconception, has been the form in Hindi, as well as in Bengali. I have to add, that the metre of the following verse was never adopted in Oriya, and the term ধনি for a woman has been the special property of Bengal.

রে ধনি, মত্ত মতংগঅ গামিনি,
খঞ্জন লোঅণি চন্দমুহি,
চঞ্চল জোব্বন জাত ন জানহি?
ছইল, সমপ্পহি কাইঁ নহি?

The next verse I quote, contains grammatical forms which were undoubtedly formed on the soil of Bengal, when Bengali was wholly differentiated alike from Māgadhi and Oriya.

নব মঞ্জরি সজ্জিঅ চূঅহ গাছে;
পরিফুল্লিঅ কেসুলঅ বন আছে;
জই এৎথি দিগন্তর জাইহি কন্তা
কিঅ মম্মহ নৎথি কিনৎথি বসন্তা?

The reading লিজ্জিঅ for সজ্জিঅ (সজ্জিত) does not alter the speech, for we get the form লিজ্জ in such an old Bengali শুভঙ্করী formula as কাঠায় কুড়ুবা কাঠা লিজ্জে. চূঅহ (চ্যূতের for আমের) seems unnecessary prākṛtization, since it is আম and not চ্যূত which has ever been in use in all the Northern Indian Vernaculars. It is true, that for emphatic expression of possessive, 'হ' was generally used in Prākṛta for the possessive-denoting অ, which being boneless had subsequently to be reduced to 'র.' The forms গাছে and আছে are purely Bengali; from গচ্ছ we got গাছ because of our accent on the first syllable, while on account of the accent on the last syllable গ-ছ and গছ came into use in Oriya and Maithili respectively; for similar reasons it is not অছি but আছে (in the 3rd person) which has been the Bengali form derived from অৎথি. We notice again, that it is not জব্ but জই (যদি) which is the form here, as met with in Bengali, Oriya and Assamese. That এৎথি is proto-Bengali, has already been remarked. The আ final of কান্ত and বসন্ত is peculiar to many nominative (as well as objective) formations in old Bengali. The হি suffix in the subjunctive mood, indicating futurity, is a speciality in the later মাগধী প্রাকৃত.

That the following verse was composed in Bengal has partly been admitted by a commentator:

ওগ্‌গর ভত্তা রম্ভঅ পত্তা,
গাইক ঘিত্তা দুধ্‌ধ সজুত্তা,
মইলী মচ্ছা নালিচ গচ্ছা,
দিজ্জই কন্তা খা পুন বন্তা৷

It is significant that the non-Bengali commentators have failed to explain ওগ্‌গর ভত্তা; ওগ্‌রা ভাত is a familiar thing with us in Bengal and it must be therefore provincial in formation. We notice that to denote possessive case there is the old অ in রম্ভঅ as well as the later ক in গাইক; possessive with ক-ending is in use in Hindi now. মইলী fish is মৌরলা which is a delicacy in Bengal, and নালিতা which signifies the leaves of jute plant may be found still in use in Bengal.

The poem I next quote reminds us of Jayadeva; there are many lines in some other poems occurring in the প্রাকৃত পৈঙ্গল which are almost word for word equivalent to some lines of Jayadeva's গীতগোবিন্দ: for example, মুনিজন মানস হংস is met with in the প্রাকৃত পৈঙ্গল.

জিনি কংস বিনাসিঅকিত্তি পআসিঅ

মূট্টি-অরিট্টি বিনাশ করে

গিরি হৎথ ধরে;

জমলজ্জুন ভঞ্জিঅপঅভর গঞ্জিঅ

কালিঅ কুল সংহার করে,

জস ভুঅন ভরে;

চাণূর বিহণ্ডিঅনিপকুল মণ্ডিঅ

রাহামুহ মহু পান করে,

জিমি ভমর বরে;

সো তুম্‌হ নরাঅণবিপ্প পরাঅণ,

চিত্তহ চিন্তিঅ দেউ বরা,

ভব-ভীই হরা৷

'জিনি' (who—honorific) is wholly and purely Bengali. Some foreign commentators unfamiliar with Bengali have read it জিন as a variant of Sanskrit যেন and have made বিনাসিঅ (বিনাসিয়া), পআসিঅ (প্রকাশিয়া), etc., বিনাসিত, প্রকাশিত, etc.; no doubt 'অ' stands equally for ত, for র (of modern vernaculars), and for the প্রত্যয় 'ত্বা' or 'য়,' but the construction 'যেন বিনাশিত' etc., fails, because the passive voice cannot be thought of in the sentence ending with the finite verb করে; again, it will be noticed that 'জিনি' is related to 'সো' which occurs in the beginning of the 7th line. I must remark by the way, that old Bengali did not inherit জেন or জিন (by whom) as is supposed by some; in দোহাকোষ edited by the renowned scholar Haraprasad Sastry, very wrongly a 'ন' has been added to শুশে (in thirst) to indicate instrumentality (দোহাকোষ, p. 115); the ন in question has been wrongly taken over to the end of শুশে, while really it is the initial letter of the next following word, which has been reduced to ভজ্জল signifying rain water; that the meaning of the decapitated word is rain water, has been admitted by the commentator, but he has not seen that it is নভজ্জল which yields the proper meaning. Why the form সো occurs for সে, in the poem above quoted has been stated before in a general remark. In জিমি ভমর বরে (যেমন ভ্রমর বর) the ease-denoting suffix এ of the Eastern Māgadhi Prākṛta, has to be noted. That the form দেউ is in use in Oriya, and was in use in Bengali, and that it does not differ from দেউক and later দিউক, need not be discussed. The অ ending of চিন্তিঅ is certainly equivalent to 'ত.'

I dare say we have got enough material to examine the various forms of মাগধী speech which transformed itself into Bengali. We do not exactly know, when the effusions quoted above adorned the Prākṛta literature, but we can see very clearly, by comparing the language of the poems with our modern language, that the forms which occur in the poems are genuine predecessors of our modern forms. I do not mean to say that the passages, I have quoted from the Prākṛta Paingala, should alone be referred to in tracing the history of our modern forms, and that the other literary Prākṛtas dealt with in this lecture, should be left altogether out of view because of their artificial character. I have no doubt tried to show, that the old classification of the literary প্রাকৃতs by some names indicating provincial origin of the speeches, is highly misleading, but it must be remembered that inspite of their provincial names, the artificially got up প্রাকৃতs contain forms and idioms of the dialects of the provinces, which their names do not indicate; as such we must look into the treasures of all the literary প্রাকৃতs, to get the মাগধী elements of our quest.

We have noticed this significant peculiarity in our investigation, that from the remotest time our literary languages have been different from the real living speeches of the people. The standard literary speech is bound to differ from the vulgar speech in every country, but the sort of gap which we notice in India, between the literary and the popular, is of such width and character, as is generally unknown in Europe. I cannot take up to discuss those social and other conditions of India, by virtue of which the people of this country were never stirred up to do those adventurous deeds, which all nations of Europe have always been forced to underlake. For various reasons, the Indian peoples of all social conditions, did never combine together to attain an object of common aspiration; the high class literary men of ample leisure and decent competence have always created a literature in India, which the common people settled in industrious or agricultural life, could never take any interest in. There was never such a thing as mass education, for hardly the common people felt any necessity to make themselves literate. I cannot discuss this subject of great historical moment in these lectures, but this special peculiarity of Indian civilisation should always be remembered, to account for the character and qualities of our literature.

It concerns more the history of literature than the history of language, to deal with the questions why the literary men of old, took at all to writing in the Prākṛtas, when they were conversant with Sanskrit, and how for erotic composition the authors were principally drawn to the Prākṛtas; but in tracing the history of a language, we cannot afford to forget facts as they stand, and must take due note of them. We should also bear in mind, that the special Indian tendency, I have spoken of, in giving the peculiar character to literary speeches, is still our heritage; if we overlook this fact, we are sure to fail to estimate properly the value of our modern literary idioms and syntactical structure.



  1. This is perhaps on reference to the nominative-denoting এ.
  2. The tract seems to be of the Hinduized Dravidians using ম or ন at the end of nouns; the বিভাষা speaking tribes including Oḍras, were certainly excluded.
  3. In later times the apabhraṅśa-speaking Ābhīras are given this characteristic; but the Ābhīras are বিভাষা speaking here. উ is rather the Maithili characteristic in later প্রাকৃত. To reduce some vowels to উ sound in names as in কালু, নরু, বীরু, হরু, etc., has been usual in Bengal, since long.
  4. In modern Marathi, genitive-indicating suffix is চ; but this could not possibly have been the characteristic here referred to.
  5. A few remarks as to the correct reading are needed.
    L. 1. লগ্‌গিঅ of MS. B for লগ্‌গই seems better.
    L. 2. কই as the initial word in the published text requires that for the sake of metre two syllables of the text should be deleted; in the second place proper construction with কই requires a negative particle in the line to signify—nothing could be visible anywhere because of the conflagration; as such, either the reading of MS. F is to be partly accepted or কই has to be omitted; I omit কই to avoid all complications.
    L. 3. The reading দিস of MS. A is adopted.
    L. 4. জঘণ of MS. B, C & E substituted for জহণ; দুহাব of MS. F to signify 'to hanker for' is evidently a better reading.