Old Western Rājasthāni

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Old Western Rājasthāni
EraDeveloped around the 8th century and gave rise to the Rajasthani languages and Middle Gujarati by the 14th century
Early forms
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Updeshmala, Manuscript in Jain Prakrit and Old Gujarati on paper, Rupnagar, Rajasthan, India, 1666, 76 ff. (−16 ff.), 11x25 cm, single column, (10x22 cm), 4 lines main text, 2–4 lines of interlinear commentary for each text line, in Jain Devanagari book script, filled with red and yellow, 17 paintings in colours mostly of Svetambara Jain monks, influenced by the Mughal style.

The text is a Prakrit didactic work of how best to live a proper Jain life, aimed probably at the laity. The Svetambara pontiff, Sri Dharmadasagaî, lived in the mid-6th century. The Old Gujarati prose commentary was written in 1487. The colophon gives the place, date, and the name of the religious leader, Sri Nandalalaji, on whose order the work was transcribed.

Old Western Rājasthāni (also known as Maru-Gurjari, Old Gujarātī) is the ancestor of the modern Gujarati and Rajasthani languages which developed from Sanskrit and the Prakrit Apabhraṃśas, and was spoken around 8-14th centuries in Western India.[2][3] The literary form of Old Western Rājasthāni, the Dingala language was in use as early as the 12th century.[4] While the spoken Old Western Rajasthani gave way to medieval forms of Rajasthani and Gujarati, it flourished in its literary form as Dingala till the 19th century.[5]

Early texts of the language display characteristic features such as direct/oblique noun forms, postpositions, and auxiliary verbs.[6] It had three genders, as Gujarati does today, and by around the time of 1300 CE, a fairly standardized form of this language emerged. The belief that modern Rajasthani sporadically expressed a neuter gender was based on the incorrect conclusion that the [ũ] that came to be pronounced in some areas for masculine [o] after a nasal consonant was analogous to Gujarati's neuter [ũ].[7] A formal grammar, Prakrita Vyakarana, of the precursor to this language, Gurjar Apabhraṃśa, was written by Jain monk and eminent scholar Acharya Hemachandra Suri in the reign of Chaulukya king Jayasimha Siddharaja of Anhilwara (Patan).[8]


Major works were written in various genres, for the most part in verse form, such as:[9]

  • rāsa, predominantly didactic narrative, of which the earliest known is Śālibhadrasūri's Bhārateśvarabāhubali (1185).
  • phāgu, in which springtime is celebrated, of which the earliest is Jinapadmasūri's Sirithūlibadda (c. 1335). The most famous is the Vasantavilāsa, of unknown authorship, which is undeterminedly dated to somewhere in 14th or 15th century, or possibly earlier.
  • bārmāsī, describing natural beauty during each of the twelve months.
  • ākhyāna, in which sections are each in a single metre.

Narsinh Mehta (c. 1414–1480) is traditionally viewed as the father of modern Gujarati poetry. By virtue of its early age and good editing, an important prose work is the 14th-century commentary of Taruṇaprabha, the Ṣaḍāvaśyakabālabodhavr̥tti.[9]


  1. ^ Ernst Kausen, 2006. Die Klassifikation der indogermanischen Sprachen (Microsoft Word, 133 KB)
  2. ^ Verbeke, Saartje (2013-03-22). Alignment and Ergativity in New Indo-Aryan Languages. Walter de Gruyter. p. 212. ISBN 978-3-11-029267-1. Note that Gujarati is in many respects similar to Rajasthani because they share the same ancestor (Old Western Rajasthani; cf. Tessitori 1914), whereas Punjabi displays more similarities with Hindi.
  3. ^ Dalby 1998, p. 237
  4. ^ Mayaram, Shail (2006). Against History, Against State. Permanent Black. p. 43. ISBN 978-81-7824-152-4. The lok gathā (literally, folk narrative) was a highly developed tradition in the Indian subcontinent, especially after the twelfth century, and was simultaneous with the growth of apabhransa, the literary languages of India that derived from Sanskrit and the Prakrits. This developed into the desa bhāṣā, or popular languages, such as Old Western Rajasthani (OWR) or Marubhasa, Bengali, Gujarati, and so on. The traditional language of Rajasthani bards is Dingal (from ding, or arrogance), a literary and archaic form of old Marwari. It was replaced by the more popular Rajasthani (which Grierson calls old Gujarati) that detached itself from western apabhransa about the thirteenth century. This language was the first of all the bhasas of northern India to possess a literature. The Dingal of the Rajasthani bards is the literary form of that language and the ancestor of the contemporary Marvari and Gujarati.
  5. ^ Ault, Dr Cecil Thomas Jr. (2017-02-09). Folk Theatre of Rajasthan: Introducing Three Marwari Khyal Plays Translated into English. Partridge Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4828-8816-4.
  6. ^ Mistry 2003, p. 115
  7. ^ Smith, J.D. (2001) "Rajasthani." Facts about the world's languages: An encyclopedia of the world's major languages, past and present. Ed. Jane Garry, and Carl Rubino: New England Publishing Associates. pp. 591-593.
  8. ^ Rita Kothari (8 April 2014). Translating India. Routledge. pp. 73–74. ISBN 978-1-317-64216-9. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
  9. ^ a b Cardona & Suthar 2003, p. 661

Works cited[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Bender, E. (1992) The Salibhadra-Dhanna-Carita: A Work in Old Gujarati Critically Edited and Translated, with a Grammatical Analysis and Glossary. American Oriental Society: New Haven, Conn. ISBN 0-940490-73-0
  • Brown, W.N. (1938), "An Old Gujarati Text of the Kalaka Story", Journal of the American Oriental Society, 58 (1): 5–29, doi:10.2307/594192, JSTOR 594192.
  • Dave, T.N. (1935) A Study of the Gujarati Language in the XVth Century. The Royal Asiatic Society. ISBN 0-947593-30-6
  • Tessitori, L.P. (1914–1916) "Notes on the Grammar of Old Western Rajasthani." Indian Antiquary. 43–45.
  • Cardona, George and Suthar, Babu. 2003. Gujarati. In Cardona, George and Jain, Dhanesh (eds.), The Indo-Aryan Languages, 659-697. London: Routledge.