Maharashtri Prakrit

Maharashtri or Maharashtri Prakrit (Mahārāṣṭri Prākṛt), is a language of ancient and medieval India which is the ancestor of Marathi and Konkani.[6] 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[1][2][3] to 500 CE). It was used in numerous works of literature, and its literary use was made famous by the Sanskrit playwright Kālidāsa.[2]

महाराष्ट्री प्राकृत
RegionMaharashtra and some parts of India
Era500 BCE[1][2][3] – 500 CE; developed into Marathi, Konkani[4]
Language codes
ISO 639-3pmh

Maharashtri Prakrit was commonly spoken until 875 CE[1][2][3] and was the official language of the Satavahana dynasty.[7] Works like Karpurmanjari and Saptashati (150 BCE) 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 were widely used in Jain literature, forming an important link in the evolution of the language.


The rise of the Prakrits is dated to the middle of the second millennium BCE when they existed alongside Vedic Sanskrit and later evolved into highly developed literary languages.[8] It is a subject of scholarly debate as to whether Sanskrit or the Prakrits are older with some scholars contending that Sanskrit was born out of the Prakrits.[9] According to the Sanskrit scholar, Rajaramshastri Bhagawat, Maharashtri is older and more vivacious than Sanskrit.[10]

Vararuchi, the oldest known grammarian of Prakrit, devotes four chapters of his Prakrita-Prakasha (IAST: Prákṛita-Prakáśa) to the grammar of Maharashtri Prakrit. The other popular Prakrits—Shauraseni, Ardhamagadhi, and Paishachi—merit only one each.[11] This preeminence of Maharashtri is confirmed by Dandin (fl. 6th–7th century) who, in his Kavyadarsha, grants it the highest status among all Prakrits.[9]


Maharashtri is the most attested amongst all Prakrit languages.[12] 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.[1] Maharashtri was widely spoken in Western India and even as far south as Kannada-speaking region.[13]

Early literatureEdit

The Gaha Sattasati is attributed to King Hāla (r. 20-24 CE). Other Maharashtri Prakrit works include Setubandh , Karpuramañjarī and SriHarivijay. The language was used by Vakpati to write the poem Gaüdavaho.[2][3] It is also used in the dialogue and songs of low-class characters in Sanskrit plays, especially the famous dramatist Kālidāsa.[2]

Royal patronageEdit

Maharashtri was the official language of the Satavahana dynasty in the early centuries of the Common Era.[14] 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 Magadhi. A version of Maharashtri called Jaina Maharashtri was also employed to write Jain scripture.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d V.Rajwade, Maharashtrache prachin rajyakarte
  2. ^ a b c d e f The Linguist List Archived 2009-12-25 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b c d Dr.Kolarkar, Marathyancha Itihaas
  4. ^
  5. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Maharastri Prakrit". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  6. ^ "Roots of Konkani" (in English and Konkani). Goa Konkani Akademi. Archived from the original on 2008-08-28. Retrieved 2009-09-03.
  7. ^ Austin, Peter (2008). One Thousand Languages: Living, Endangered, and Lost. California: University of California Press. p. 118. ISBN 0520255607.
  8. ^ Dani, A. H. History of Civilizations of Central Asia. Unesco Publishing. p. 357. ISBN 92-3-102719-0.
  9. ^ a b "Prakrit languages". Encyclopædia Britannica.
  10. ^ "Submission for Classical Status Of Marathi Language" (PDF). November 2013. p. 81. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 April 2016. Retrieved 25 June 2017.

    Through many evidences Ketkar and Bhagwat have demonstrated that Marathi has not originated from Sanskrit but it is as old as Sanskrit. While highlighting the conclusion of research of Rajaramshastri Bhagwat, Durga Bhagwat (1979, p. 2) remarks, “He showed that old Mahārāṣṭrī is older and more vivacious than Sanskrit.” It is an important observation and view both as it comes from Rajaramshastri Bhagwat and Durgabai Bhagwat who were both scholars of Sanskrit and Marathi and their dialects, respectively.

  11. ^ Verma, C.B.; Varma, C.B. (2002). "The Prakrit Bloom". Indian Literature. 46 (1 (207)): 144. JSTOR 23344538.
  12. ^ Alfred C. Woolner. Introduction to Prakrit.
  13. ^ 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
  14. ^ Peter, Austin (2008). One Thousand Languages: Living, Endangered, and Lost. California: University of California Press. p. 118. ISBN 0520255607.