Thursday, January 06, 2005

Which is the real Rajasthani?

You are used to the canonical Padharo Mhare Des. But how about Padharo Mhaka Des? Or, Aaon Mhare Des. Opening a discussion on the linguistic variations of Rajasthan, something that according to a local saying changes every bara kos, is a task fraught with dangerous passion. A language, after all, touches raw nerves.

Despite established literary history, questions remain over the contemporary nature of the language. It doesn’t help even if the Sahitya Akademi, like recently, awards a prize in Rajasthani each year since 1974. The embers continue to simmer with varied dialects such as Marwari, Mewari, Waghri, Dhoondari and Hadauti.

And after the government in 2003 moved a resolution to adopt Rajasthani in the VIII Schedule, it became a political hot potato. The most vociferous opposition comes from the Bharatpur-Karauli belt, a Hindi-speaking region, that claims Marwari is being palmed off as Rajasthani.

“We have no opposition to an all inclusive form of the Rajasthani language. Because we think it’s not possible with the variations, we believe it would be best to continue with Hindi as the link language,” said RP Agarwal, the Rajasthan Bhasha Sankalp Virodhi Samiti secretary. Some like Kalanath Shastry, noted Sanskrit writer, even refer to the possible inclusion of Rajasthani in the VIII Schedule as “Balkanisation of Rajasthan”.

On the other hand, Nand Kishore Acharya, a noted litterateur based in Bikaner, sought to soothe the frayed nerves. “Why is there a controversy even before something is done about it,” he asked. “There is a standard form of Rajasthani when it comes to literature and there are people winning prizes from all parts of Rajasthan and not just Marwar,” Acharya said.

“But a standard form of the language as a medium to express thoughts would only emerge once it is used in daily life. A language evolves only when it is used, like being taught at schools and being used as the official language,” he added, who maintained that the adoption of any language has to be a democratic choice. “Even Hindi continues to evolve today with influence from Avadhi, Brij and Bundelkhandi,” Acharya said.

On the contrary, Govind Shankar Sharma, a writer and the Head of the Postgraduate Department of Hindi at SSG Pareekh College, said it was essential to document the similarities and dissimilarities of all the dialects of Rajasthani before a “lingua franca” is established. “It has not been done after the 1914 Linguistic Survey of India,” he added.

Despite the brouhaha, for some like Bihari Sharan Pareekh, a writer of Rajasthani and Dhoondari speaker, the pride of being a Rajasthani, strongly morphed with an independent linguistic identity, is a feeling that supersedes regional concerns. “Even if Marwari is adopted as the official language, we will be happy that we got the petals if not the entire rose,” he said.

One of my reports for Hindustan Times


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home