Ask any teenager what crosses their mind when they hear the word ‘Maithili’. Just try. Despite being one of the oldest languages of our civilisation, it is sadly unpopular among Indians, especially the youth. Wondering why? Meh. The reason is obvious, isn’t it? Keeping this in mind and in the spirit of protecting our cultural identity in changing times, BnP takes this opportunity to present to you, one of the richest and popular languages of ancient times – Maithili.
History lover, are you?
Maithili was initially spoken in the kingdom of Mithila. This kingdom’s northern frontier was marked by the Himalayas and the southern by the river Ganga. To the east, it was flanked by Mahananda and to the west by the river Gandaki. The soil of Mithila was considered to be very fertile. After wading through the parched lands of Central Asia, the Aryans couldn’t help but marvel at the opulence of the land!
In Maithili, “Bharatvarsha” is split into three words, “Bhr”, “ta” and “varsha”. The root – bhr means to “to feed” or “to maintain”, ta – “that which helps in expansion” and varsha means “land”. Bhartavarsha in one word signifies, “a fertile land where resources are present in abundance promoting the growth of civilisation.” Aptly defines our motherland, doesn’t it?
You got my attention! Tell me more…
Prákrta usually means the languages of the common folks. So when the Aryan or Vedic language died a natural death about 4000 years ago, it gave birth to seven daughters (read Prákrta), one of them being Magadhi Prákrta. Lord Buddha and Mahavira preached in Magadhi Prákrta, which is widely known as Pali today. This language in its wake gave birth to two daughters – western demi-Magadhii and eastern demi-Magadhii. Interestingly, these two branches of Prákrta are still alive today. Oriya, Bengali, Assamese, Angika and Maithili come under eastern demi-Magadhii and Magahi and Bhojpuri under western demi-Magadhii.
Our role as a global citizen
Maithili is one of the oldest languages in India after Tamil. The not-so-popular languages around the world are melting in the heat of globalisation, paving way for new ones. Most of us in the midst of catching up with foreign languages, have forgotten to look into our baggage of cultural treasures! Why bother discovering an ancient language when the most exotic language in this planet can be learnt easily at the click of a button! Isn’t it? This is why efforts are underway to revive the language through literature and safeguard it with tools of technology. As a global citizen, we need to ensure that our cultural identity is not lost in rapidly changing global times! So come, let’s dive into the history of our past and introduce our heritage to our fellow brethren. Cheers!