Kamrupi

Kamrupi (Assamese: কামৰুপি, Bengali: কামরুপি) is the language that was spoken in the Kamarupa kingdom in the first millennium, which, some linguists claim, gave rise to or influenced various eastern Indo-European languages like Assamese and Bengali.

During British India at some point Kamrup was divided into two big districts for administrative reasons one added to Assam and other to Bengal. Slowly after this division, same Kamrupi gets dialect status of Assamese and Bengali although both Assamese and Bengali rooted out from mighty Kamrupi.

Kamrupi today is an endangered language, and it will probably go to "dead" state like Latin and Sanskrit.

Dialects

Assamese

Kamrupi today denotes a group of dialects of Assamese language spoken in the undivided Kamrup district of Assam. The four main dialects that form this group are Kamrupi, Nalbariya, Barpetiya and South Kamrupi [Moral, 1992] . These dialects are spoken in the present districts of Kamrup, Nalbari, Barpeta, Darrang, Kokrajhar and Bongaigaon in Assam. The name is derived from the Kamarupa kingdom that existed from the fourth to the eleventh century, ruled by three major dynasties. The south Kamrupi dialect has been used with dramatic effect in the works of Mamoni Raisom Goswami.

Bengali

The modern Bengali scholars like Suniti Kumar Chatterjee and Sukumar Sen [http://banglapedia.org/HT/B_0137.htm] have named the dialect of Bengali spoken in North Bengal as Kamrupi. This dialect is also called "Kamatapuri" named after the Kamata kingdom that succeeded the Kamarupa kingdom in the 13th century. The Assamese Kamrupi and the Bengali Kamrupi are very similar according to Suniti Kumar Chatterjee. The division possibly occurred due to political reasons: the division in the 16th-17th century of the Kamata kingdom (under Koch dynasty) along the Sankosh river. Today the two dialects form a dialect continuum.

Apabhramsa

Some linguists claim that there existed a Kamrupi apabhramsa as opposed to the Magadhi apabhramsa from which the three cognate languages---Assamese, Bengali and Oriya---sprouted. The initial motive comes from extra-linguistic considerations. Kamarupa was the most powerful and formidable kingdom in the region which provided the political and cultural influence for the development of the Kamrupi apabhramsa. Xuanzang's mention that the language spoken in Kamarupa was a 'little different' from the one spoken in Pundravardhana is provided as evidence that this apabhramsa existed as early as the 5th century. That Kamarupa remained unconquered till the beginning of the Kamrupi language in the 14th century points to the possibility that the apabhramsa of the Kamarupa kingdom must have flourished.

Archaic forms found in epigraphic records from the Kamarupa period give evidence of this apabhramsa, of which there are numerous examples.

The Buddhist Charyapadas from the 8th to 12th century are claimed by different languages: Assamese, Bengali, Oriya and Maithili languages. But the geographical region of its composition was the Kamarupa pitha and many of the composers were Kamarupi siddhas. Therefore the language in the Charyapadas is the best example of this apabhramsa. H. P. Sastri, who discovered these poems, termed the language "sandhya bhasha" (twilight language) and this is nothing but the Kamarupi apabhramsa.

Endangered language

Kamrupi is an endangered language. The language is defined by uniquely identifiable Kamrupi grammar where Sanskritize pronunciation is used to compose present perfect form. This grammar is heavily used by Kamrupi speakers all over greater Kamrup now including in Assam and West Bengal. At least 95% of the "sloka" composed in yester year scriptures use this unique Kamrupi grammar.

Kamrupi came to endangered language during British India when for administrative reasons Kamrup was divided into two big districts one added to Bengal and the other to Assam. Thus, Kamrupi since than has never been written but only spoken and do not have a State Language status in India.

It also claims that the standard languages, Bengali and Assamese, as well as the different dialects belonging to these language groups like Radhi, Virendari etc. have branched out of Kamrupi. This claim is not well substantiated because Bengali and other languages have had independent developments since the 14th century.

References

* Hazarika, Parikshit "The Kamarupi Apabhramsa" Journal of the Assam Research Society, Vol 18, 1968

External links

* [http://www.iitg.ernet.in/rcilts/asamiya.htm Assamese] from [http://www.iitg.ernet.in/rcilts/ Resource Center for Indian Language Technology Solutions] , [http://www.iitg.ernet.in/ IIT, Guwahati]


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