History of Maithili

History of Maithili

Maithili language, with Magadhi (Magahi) and Bhojpuri is one of the three main languages of Bihar state.Among all these Maithili is the only Bihari language with a script of its own, called Tirhuta, and a strong literary history. For centuries, the pandits of Mithila have been famous for their learnings.

While looking into the history of maithili we found that it is one of the Indo- Aryan languages.Even in its linguistics, we will get that Maithili is considered as Eastern- Indic language,therefore making it diffrent from Hindi, which is Central Indic in origin. It is believed that Maithili was a corrupt form of Hindi until the Maithili grammar appeared in 1880-81. This language is derived from Avahattha. The name of the language is derived from the word Mithila which is said to be the ancient kingdom of Sita's father King Janaka. Though it is said that in ancient times in Mithila, Sanskrit was used by the scholars for their literary work and Maithili was the common language of the local folk.

The various dialects of Maithili are standard Maithili, southern standard Maithili, eastern Maithili, Western Maithili, Jolaha and Central Colloquial Maithili.The central/ Madhubani dailect or Sotipura is considered as standard form of Maithili.It is spoken mainly in Darbhanga and Madhubani district of Bihar.

Maithili was traditionally written in the Maithili, 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. An official statement by government shows that, Mithilakshar emerged as a language in 10 Century AD. The oldest form of the language was found in Sahodara stone inscriptions of 950 AD.The script has been used throughout Mithila from Champaran to Deoghar. Maithili Grammar is considered to be a very standard Grammar. It is based on the based on the sutras of Sanskrit grammar of Panini.

When we talk about literature of Mithila then we get that it has a very rich literary history with its own script,which makes it diffrent from other folk languages of the region and gives it the dignity of being called 'Bhasha'(language),rather then just being a 'Boli'(folk language).

If we start tracing the history of Maithili literature, then we will get that most of the works in Maithili is done by a very prominent figure of Mithila "Vidyapati" who was in the court of Maharaja Shiva Simha of Sugaona ,who flourished in the middle of the l5th century. But the credit to start the literary works in Maithili goes to'Jyotirishwar Thakur' as his book "Varn Ratnakar" 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.

In 1965, Maithili language was officially accepted by Sahitya Academy. After that, it has won awards almost every year. Literary works in the Maithili language have also won a number of other awards. Maithil Mahasabha, the first social organization was established in 1910 for the development of Mithili and Maithili languages. Maithil Mahasabha had also campaigned for official recognition of Maithili as a regional language.In 2003 it was recognized in the VIII schedule of the Indian Constitution as a major Indian language.

Lack of using Mithilakshar script has become a reason for the language's decline. Government is taking some of the measures recommended to protect the Maithili language. The use of this script has been declining since the last 100 years, which is the primary reason for the cultures decline. Maithali language is getting developed in a composite manner despite having been accorded a constitutional status in the constitution.

~Yasha Sandilya