There is a demand from Kashmir to honor its ancient and literarily rich languages by conferring upon it the classical language status. However, this proposal is still pending with the Central Government, because erroneously the scholars have treated the Kashmiri language as a descendent language of Sanskrit or Iranian. This error prevents this language from getting classical status. Though the Kashmiri language fulfills the criteria of being Classical, the linguists those blindly believe in Indo-European Language theory and its distribution with the demographic movement of the certain stock of the people do not want to lose their illusory supremacist status. To understand this, let us have an overview of linguistic history.
Position of the Vedic and Sanskrit language
Though the Vedic language has been claimed to be the origin of the Sanskrit and its descendant languages, the linguistic facts are otherwise. Language of the Rig Veda in its present form contains grammatical contamination from other contemporary languages, such as Iranian and Indian Prakrit languages. It is replete with borrowed vocabulary from Prakrit having the base of the Prakrit grammar. Also, many Prakritic forms are left untouched in the Rig Veda. This makes Vedic language, as per J. Bloch, a hybrid language, having no originality.
According to Hargovindadasa Seth, the vocabulary and suffixes of Prakrit have more affinity with Vedic language than Sanskrit. Had Prakrits emerged from Sanskrit, this wouldn’t have happened
Linguist Richard Pischel states that the Prakrit languages cannot be traced back to any common source as they could not have developed from Sanskrit as is held by Indian scholars and Hoffar, Lassen and Jacoby. According to him, all Prakrit languages have a series of common grammatical and lexical characteristics with the Vedic language and such are significantly missing from Sanskrit
Classical Sanskrit appears only after the first century AD. It differs significantly from Vedic language in vocabulary, lexicon, and syntax. The classical Sanskrit language is an artificial language that was developed carefully as a means of communication between the cultures and persons across India. Classical Sanskrit is a product of Vedic and Prakrit languages and not vice versa, emphatically states J Bloch.
Instead, archeologically origin of the Prakrit languages can be traced back to the Bogazkoy Treaty and Horse Training Manual of Kikkuly belonging to 1400 BC. In which we find the Prakrit forms of the numeric and proper names such as Indara (For Indra), Varena (for Varuna) and Eka (for Ekam), Panza (For Panch) Satta (for Sapt), Tusaratta (For Dasharatha) etc. This will prove that the Prakrit has more antiquity than the Vedic and Sanskrit languages. The Sanskrit forms provided in the bracket are obviously a later development in the process of making language.
Had Vedic language been present prior to the Prakrit languages, no matter how short, a specimen would have emerged from somewhere in India or elsewhere, but this is not the case. The oral tradition has been seriously doubted by the scholars because even if we consider that the religious literature was preserved by the oral tradition, written records of the socio-political transactions would be extant somewhere to show the existence of this language the way we find abundant inscriptional and numismatic proofs of the several Prakrit forms. In fact Kashur, like her sister languages, finds her origin in very remote times when human species developed speech, no matter how rudimentary it was in its originality.
Kashur languages was not only colloquial; rich traditions of the religious and nonreligious literature has been preserved orally by them. Kashur language (the name Paishachi was given by the outsiders) spoken in the Himalayan mountain range has several dialects due to the unique geological formation. Gunadhya’s Brihatkatha was the oldest known epic written in this language. Though the original Paishachi version is lost in the sands of the time, from Kashmir Kshemendra and Somadeva translated Brihatkatha in Sanskrit. The global literature has been influenced by Brihatkatha as many tales from it traveled across the globe gaining high popularity.
Paishachi or Bhut Bhasa is the term coined by the grammarians and other authors living in the mainland in sheer ignorance about the Kashmiri people and thus they created strange stories about them in sheer imagination. They thought this land belongs to the fiends and serpents speaking a strange language.
This is why the Indian grammarians have not been able to provide much information on the structure of this language in detail. Kashmiri people have been calling their language “Kashur or Koshur” since antiquity and the name has a regional reference which is natural for any language. The translation of Brihatkatha could take place in Kashmir only because the local scholars knew the archaic forms of their language.
Though Kashur or Kashmiri language, also known as Bhuta or Paishachi was never considered worthy of study by foreign or indigenous scholars. Sir Walter Roper Lawrence states that the vocabulary of Kashur is rich, that its phrases are direct and unambiguous and that many terms in it are full of poetic thought.
Linguist George Abraham Grierson was wrong in his assumption that the Pishacha language spoken in the valley is part of Shina-Khowaar group and occupies a position between Sanskritic language of India proper and Iranian languages of their west. (Linguistic Survey of India, vol. VIII, Part 2, p.2) It is obvious that his assessment was under the influence of the Indo-European languages Theory, an evil outcome of the Aryan Invasion Theory which was prominent in his time.
Calling Prakrit languages “Middle-Indo-European Languages” is an injustice to linguistic science because there is not a shred of evidence to establish the fact that the Prakrit languages, including Kashur, have been born from Sanskrit or any Proto-Indo-European or Iranian language. In fact, all the available evidence is contrary to this unscientific notion.
Incidentally, intellectuals from Maharashtra have come forward joining the voice of Kashmir to have her own language to get Classical status. Dr. Sadanand More, Sanjay Nahar of Sarhad, Milind Joshi et all are leading this movement from Maharashtra. Delaying or denying this status would be severe injustice with the Kashmiri language.
(Published in daily Greater Kashmir)