Maharashtri Prakrit

महाराष्ट्री प्राकृत
Region Maharashtra and some parts of India
Era 500 BCE – 500 CE; developed into Marathi, Konkani, Dhivehi (Maldives), and Sinhalese[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 pmh
Linguist list
Glottolog maha1305[2]

Maharastri or Maharashtri Prakrit (Mahārāṣṭri Prākṛt), is a language of ancient and medieval India which is the ancestor of Marathi and Konkani,[3] It is one of the many languages (often called dialects) of a complex called Prakrit, and the chief Dramatic Prakrit. Maharashtri was spoken for 1000 years (500 BCE to 500CE). It was used in numerous works of literature, and its literary use was made famous by the Sanskrit playwright Kālidāsa.

Maharashtri Prakrit was commonly spoken until 875 and was the official language of the Satavahana dynasty. Works like Karpurmanjari and Saptashati (150 BC) were written in it. Maharashtri Prakrit was the most widely used Prakrit language in western and southern India.

Maharashtri apabhraṃśas remained in use until the 13th century and was used widely in Jain literature and formed an important link in the evolution of Marathi. This form of Apabhraṃśa was re-Sanskritised and eventually became Marathi.


Maharashtri was the most popular amongst all Prakrit languages. It was spoken from Malwa and Rajputana (north) to the Krishna River and Tungabhadra River region (south). Historians agree that Maharashtri and other Prakrit languages prevailed in what is now modern Maharashtra.[4]

Maharashtri was widely spoken in Western India and even as far south as Kannada-speaking region.[5]

Early literature

The Gāhā Sattasaī is attributed to King Hāla (r. 20-24 CE). Other Maharashtri Prakrit works include Setubandh and Karpuramañjarī. The language was used by Vakpati to write the poem Gaüdavaho.[6][7] It is also used in the dialogue and songs of low-class characters in Sanskrit plays, especially the famous dramatist Kālidāsa.[6]

Royal patronage

Maharashtri was the official language of the Satavahana dynasty in the early centuries of the Common Era. Under the patronage of the Satavahana Empire, Maharashtri became the most widespread Prakrit of its time, and also dominated the literary culture amongst the three "Dramatic" Prakrits of the time, Maharashtri, Shauraseni and Magahi. A version of Maharashtri called Jaina Maharashtri was also employed to write Jain scripture.

See also


  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Maharastri Prakrit". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. "Roots of Konkani" (in English and Konkani). Goa Konkani Akademi. Retrieved 2009-09-03.
  4. V.Rajwade, Maharashtrache prachin rajyakarte
  5. C. V. Vaidya, History of Medieval Hindu India, Being a History of India from 600 to 1200 AD, in 3 vols.: Vol. I, p. 317. ISBN 81-7020-438-0
  6. 1 2 The Linguist List
  7. Dr.Kolarkar, Marathyancha Itihaas
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