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History and origins of Maithili Languages

Maithili Language

The Maithili language is spoken in the state of Bihar in India. Considered to be a dialect of both Hindi and Bengali, Maithili achieved an independent language status in India in the year 2003. This could happen only because of a mass movement that called for providing Maithili an official status through its inclusion in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution so that it may be used for education, government and other purposes.



In the very inception, Maithili used to be written in the Maithili script, which has some resemblance to the Bengali script and is also known by names like Tirhuta and Mithilakshar. Apart from this, the Maithili language was also written in the Kaithi script. However, it is the Devanagri script that is most commonly used for writing Maithili in the present times. A proposal has been drafted to preserve as well as develop the Maithili script by using it in the digital media by encoding the script in the Unicode standard.

Maithili that is even today it is spoken by approximately 4.5 Crore people in India boasts of rich literature. If you start tracing the history of Maithili literature, you will find that the most famous literary figure in Maithili was poet Vidyapati. He is responsible for elevating Maithili from the status of people's language to one used for official work in Bihar, by impressing the maharaja of Darbhanga with his poems. Earlier, the state language used to be Sanskrit that distanced commoners from the state and its functions.

Varn Ratnakar by Jyotirishwar is probably the earliest work in Maithili literature dated at about 1224 AD. The medieval period of Maithili was during the Karnat Dynasty and litterateurs like Gangesh, Padmanabh, Chandeshwar, Vireshwar and others were famous during this period. Though poet Vidyapati was a Sanskrit scholar, he wrote many poems on Bhakti and Shringar in the Maithili language.

In fact, this language was also employed by many authors to write on humour and satire. For instance, writers like Dr Hari Mohan Jha took measures to bring about crucial changes in the ancient Mithila Culture. In fact, his renowned work 'Khatar Kaka Ke Tarang' is considered to be like a crown embellishing the modern Maithili literature. After the Maithali language was accepted by India's Sahitya Academy, it has won awards almost every year. Literary works in the Maithili language have also won a number of other awards.

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