SOURASHTRA LANGUAGE (TAMIL NADU)
A Note submitted to
NATIONAL MEET ON MINOR, MINORITY AND
TRIBAL LANGUAGES IN SCHOOL EDUCATION
is being held on January 21-23, 2014 at New Delhi by NCERT.
This is really an opportunity to know the state of affairs of minor languages and the plight of the speakers of those languages.
This paper deals with Sourashtra (Saurashtra) language spoken in Tamil Nadu. It is a distinct language emanated from the Sauraseni Prakrit, which is very ancient.
Sourashtras living in Tamil Nadu are believed to have migrated from the Saurashtra region of Gujarat State. The language spoken is called Sourashtram which is distinct from Gujarati. It is not the dialect of Gujarati as is wrongly classified by Census of India Language Division.
Pandit Lakshmanacharya, Sanskrit Professor of Christian College, Chennai has published the earliest version of Sourashtra script during the period 1876-1880. Later his disciple Prof. T.M.Ramarai developed the script further to suit to the printing needs and published various books in Sourashtra language in Sourashtra script and paved the way to convert the language as a Literary language. His book ‘First Catechism of Sourashtra Grammar’ in 1905 attracted the attention of Dr.H.N.Randle, M.A., D.Phil., I.E.S., Librarian, India Office, While Hall, London S.W.1 while classifying the books. Later he studied this language through correspondence with the Scholars in Madurai and wrote an Article ‘An Indo-Aryan Language of South India – Saurashtra Bhasha’ in the Bulletin of School of Oriental and African Studies (BSOAS) 11 Part I p.104-121 and Part II p.310-327 (1943-46). He also wrote an Article ‘The Saurashtrans of South India’ in the Journal of Royal Asiatic Society, London in October 1944. He writes
“It certainly appears to belong to the Gujarati-Rajasthani linguistic type; but although it has some forms such as a causative in –ḍ- and passive –ῡ- which connect it specifically with Gujarati, its inflections are not those of Gujarati and its basic vocabulary is predominantly Marathi. For these reasons it is not possible to regard it as a dialect of Gujarati. It has of course come under Dravidian influence …….. Sourashtran publications are sufficient proof that it is an adequate medium for literary expression”.
Though Literature was produced and was made a literary language, it remained for a number of years as spoken language only for it could not be taught in Schools.
Poverty made the people not to pay much attention for the development of their language. Only a few scholars kept the language alive and lively by printing many books using many scripts like Telugu and Tamil, though Sourashtra script was available for the simple reason that many were able to read Telugu and Tamil script rather than Sourashtra script which was yet to get popularized.
As the number of educated people, increased they felt the need to introduce their language in schools and they gave Memorandums to the National Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities periodically as given below:
- To The Asst. Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities during his visit to Madurai on 3.10.1063.
- To the Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities on 21.8.1964.
- To the Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities on 10.6.1968.
after his visit to Madurai on 28th May 1968.
- To the Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities on 3.11.1969.
- To the Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities on 1.4.1970.
- To Mr.Yadav, Minister for Education, Govt. of India on 8.1.1975 and a copy
endorsed to the Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities.
- To the Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities during her visit to Madurai on 18.1.1975.
- To Smt.Neera Dogra, Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities during her visit to Madurai on 8.4.1976.
- To the Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities during her visit to Tamil Nadu on 3.11.1976.
- The Asst. Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities on 25.4.1982.
- The Asst. Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities on 26.12.1983.
enclosing a note to the Secretary, Minorities Commission, New Delhi.
- A note to Mr.J.S.Taleyar Khan, Member, Minorities Commission, on 23.5.1986
through Sri C.Thangaraju, IAS, Commissioner and Secy. To Govt. Social Welfare Dept. Govt. of Tamil Nadu.
- To the Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities on 1.10.1998.
- To Sri Kewal Krishan Sethi, National Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities on his visit to Madurai on 11th December 2004.
- Memorandum submitted during the Golden Jubilee Celebrations & Minor Language Conference held in New Delhi on 24th March 2007.
- To Sri S.K.Tripathi, Asst. Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities, Allahabad on 8.4.2008.
- Memorandum submitted to the Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities on the eve of International Mother Language Day Conference held at New Delhi on 21st February, 2010.
The above can be verified from the Reports of the National Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities.
But nothing has emerged so far with regard to the introduction of Sourashtra language in Schools.
Government of India, Sahitya Akademy has recognized this minority language and has conferred Bhasha Samman Award to Two Sourashtra Scholars, viz. Sri K.R. Sethuraman and Sri Thada Subramanyam.
After Dr.H.N. Randle, a Japanese Indologist, Dr.Uchida Norihiko has made research of this language and he has written the book ‘Oral Literature of Saurashtrans (1979) and compiled ‘A Saurashtra-English Dictionary’ (1990) and ‘The Language of Saurashtrans in Tirupati’ (1991)
Dr.I.R. Dave, Saurashtra University, Rajkot has written the book ‘The Saurashtrians in South India’ (1976).
Many works in Sanskrit and Tamil are translated. Bhagavath Githa and Thirukkural translations in Sourashtra language are available. Many Articles are written in magazines etc. Two journals ‘Bhashabhimani’ and ‘Jabali’ are published in Sourashtra script.
Sourashtram is a well developed language and the delay in introducing the teaching of this language in Schools does not look nice to the Government of Tamil Nadu.
Though steps are being taken to preserve the minor languages and tribal languages, yet the Government is not coming forward to provide Education in Mother Tongue in Elementary Schools.
The Government should give grants for the production of new fonts and printing of Text books in Sourashtra language.
The Government of Tamil Nadu is to call for a meeting of Representatives of Sourashtra language and introduce this language teaching in Elementary schools and fulfil the aspiration of Sourashtra Linguistic Minorities in Tamil Nadu.
Secretary, Sourashtra Vidya Peetam,7/9, MAA ROJA STREET, MEENAAKSHI NAGAR,VILLAPURAM, MADURAI-625012.
Ph.0452-2670230 Mobile +919894522461