The first mention about the Marathi country was made in Frier Jordanus' Mirablia Descripta (1328 A.D.), whereas the earliest mention of Marathi language was made in John Fryer's A new account of East India Persia, London (1698 A.D.).
Marathi is an Indo-Aryan language. It belongs to the southern group of outer sub-branch of the Indo-Aryan family of languages. It originated from Maharashtri Prakrit, which is a middle Indo-Aryan language. The Prakrit, along with Pali of the Buddhist cannons and Jain maharashtri belonged to the western part of India. Maharashtri Prakrit belongs to the latter stage of the middle Indo-Aryan languages. Apabhramsha dialects also contributed for the formation of Marathi language.
Marathi language is spoken in Maharashtra. Marāṭhā, the word implies the dominant peasant-warrior caste of Maharashtra region.
Marathi and Middle Indian languages have some similarities. The form of the Middle Indian Marathi is the basis for literature from many centuries.
In Marathi, one can see the influence of local Dravidian substratum. Two phonetic particularities in Marathi, separate it from the other Indo- Aryan group because these particularities are found only in Dravidian languages.
Ex: The change of initial e- and a- as diphthongs are pronounced as oye- and wo-. The loss of hissing character of the semi-occlusive palatals before posterior vowels, draws Marathi near Telugu.
Marathi is re-constructed with the help of a debris which is preserved by the middle Indian and modern Indo-Aryan languages, which are spoken to the east of the Indus. Simhalese, Romany and the dialects of north-western Himalayas have an evolution which is parallel to that of the Indo-Aryan, but have some special innovations. Other Prakrit languages go back to the same common language which are observed in the various documents of middle Indian languages that have similar evolution. The divergence in these languages does not enable one to divide them into separate groups. Therefore, Marathi, which geographically borders Gujarat has some different features.
The word Marathi is derived from mahārāṣtrī, mahā means ‘great’ and rāṣtra means ‘nation’ or ‘land’, and hence mahārāṣtrī means ‘the language of the great land’. It belongs to the modern Indo-Aryan languages in its word order, gender, number systems and in its Sanskrit lexicon. The quotative markers, participial systems, the borrowings of Kannada and Telugu words show that the Dravidian languages influence Marathi. Marathi is originated from Sanskrit, and Mahārāṣtrī Prakrit and apabhramśa are the two major chronological stages of both Sanskrit and Marathi. There are three major stages in the development of Marathi. The scholars have classified them as (1) Old Marathi [1000-1300 C.E.], (2) Middle Marathi [1300-1800 C.E.], and (3) Modern Marathi [1800- ]. The oblique base of Marathi and its case suffixes, is linked with the Jain Marathi Apabhramṣa. The first Marathi inscription is available at Shravanabelagola in Karnataka. Other inscriptions of Parel, Patan, Pandharpur and Pur are also available in Marathi. Tulpule states that the first attested record of Marathi may be earlier than 1200 B.C. [1969:313]. Viveka Sindhu which is written by Mukundaraja in 1188 B.C. is considered as the early Marathi text.
During the reign of Ashoka, Maharastra was called as Māharaṭha:tha. Ashoka sent a Buddhist missionary named Maha Dharma Rakshita to the far corners of the known world in 245 B.C. ( Dr. Geiger’s Mahavamśa, ch.XII p. 85 note). During Buddha’s period it was known as Aśmaka or Assaka.(see Aśmaka). Its ancient capital was Pratiṣṭhana (Paiṭhān) on the Godavari. It was the capital of the junior princes of Andhrabhṛtiya dynasty of puranas who were called as Sātakarṅis or Saivāhanās. Pulu māyi was the most powerful king of Andhrabhṛtiya kings. He ruled this region from 130-154 B.C.E. After the Andhrabhṛtiyas, Kshatrapa dynasty ruled the part of Deccan from 218-232 A.D. Later, ābhiras ruled up to 399 B.C.E. It was later the Rashtrakutas also called as Raṭṭis or Rāshṭrikās, from whom the names Mahāraṭṭis (mahrāṭṭā) and maha-rashṭrika (maharāshtra) are derived, ruled from 3rd to 6th century A.D. Chalukyas also ruled this region from 6th century to 753. It was during the reign of Pulakeshi II, the Chinese traveller Hieu- en-Tsang visited Mahārashtra (mo-ho-la-cha). Again in 748, Rashtrakuta emperor Dantidurga ascended the throne by defeating chalukya king. Govinda I was the most powerful king of Rashtrakuta. His son Amoghavarsha made Manyakheta (modern Malkhed) his capital. In 973 Rashtrakuta dynasty was subverted by Tailapa of chalukya dynasty. Ahavamalla or Someswara I reigned this region from 1040 to 1069 and he made Kalyana which was in Kuntala-Desa, his capital. His son Tribhuvanamalla Vikramaditya II reigned from 1076 to 1126. Later this throne was usurped by Vijjala of Kalachuri dynasty up to 1192. Then Yadavas ruled the whole Deccan. Bhillama of Yadava dynasty founded the city Devagiri, (modern Daulatabad) which was the capital till 1187. Sīṅghane was the most powerful king of this dynasty. The last independent Hindu sovereign of the Deccan was Ramachandra or Ramadeva. Allauddin Khilji defeated Ramachandra and established Muhammadan empire in 1318.
The race of Maharashtra is called Maratha. The men are robust and they are cultivators. The women are not well featured nor well shaped.
Satavahanas who were the founders of Maharashtra were the famous rulers of Maharashtra. They left a plethora of literary, epigraphic, artistic and archeological evidence. Later, the Vakatakas, who establised pan-Indian empire developed Maharashtra in the fields of learning arts and religion. Ajanta caves and fresco paintings were the evidence of their supreme rule. After Vakatakas and kalachuri dynasty, the most important rulers of Maharashtra were Rashtrakutas and the Yadavas. The Yadavas ruled the large part of Deccan with Marathi as a court language During the rule of Bahamani, Maharashtra extended its land and culture, but under the rule of Shivaji, it had a glorious time. The Peshwas established the Maratha supremacy from the Deccan plateau to Attock in Punjab. Indian National Congress was established in Maharastra for the first time. Maharashtra was in the first place in freedom struggle. From Maharashtra, the congress movement was led by Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi. It was the home of Gandhiji’s movement. In the beginning of the Christian era, Saka satraps' dynasty which is founded by Bhumaka ruled this region. In 5th century A.D. Chandragupta Maurya II of Gupta dynasty defeated the Sakas of Saurashtra. Later in 7th century, the Chalukya king Pulakeshi II (608-642) ruled this region. Then Rashtrakutas, Yadavas of Devagiri and Delhi Sultans ruled this region. Later it became a part of Bahamani kingdom and was divided between Ahmadnagar and Bijapur. It was a separate entity in the middle of 17th century.
Shivaji, the son of Shahaji, was the creator of the independent Maratha nation. He was born in 1627. It is he who inspired unity among the Maharashtrians. He united Maratha chiefs from Maval, Konkan and Desh regions. He stabilised the state with effective civil and military administration and adopted a policy of religious tolerance to accommodate all religions and sects in his state. He was the first Maratha ruler who started the royal era and he issued the gold coin, Shivarai Hon- on the occasion of his coronation (1674).
Before his death, i.e., in 1680, he made Maharashtra an independent Hindu kingdom. Shivaji’s direct line ended in 1749 with the death of his grandson Shahu. After his death, the kingdom of Maharashtra was passed on to Peshwas. They made Pune their capital. Peshwas rule ended with the death of Baji Rao II at the hands of English in 1681. Maratha continued to be an important factor in Indian politics. The Gaikwar of Baroda, Sindhia of Gwalior, Jholkar of Indore and Bhonsla of Nagpur who are the chieftains of Maratha ruled the part of central and southern India. Later these states merged with the Republic of India in 1948-1949. In his nine years reign, Shivaji's son Sambhaji (1657-1689), had a domestic feud and confronted with the Siddis, the Portuguese and the Mughals. When he was murdered by the mughals in 1689, a wave of patriotism inspired in the Maratha region. The Marathas, under the leadership of Rajaram (1670-1700), waged a War of Independence against the imperial army of Aurangazeb.
BajiraoI is considered the founder of Great Maharashtra. It was under his reign that Maharashtra became the centre of Indian politics. During his short career, he established Marathi supremacy in the Deccan and political hegemony in the North. His son, Balaji (1740-1761) expanded the Maratha borders to Attock (Punjab). The Peshwas became the de facto rulers of Maharashtra, and Pune became the centre of Maratha politics. It was in the Panipat war in 1761, the Marathas temporarily lost their power, at the hands of the Afghan ruler, Abdali. Madhavrao I (1761-1772), a noble Peshwa, restored Maratha prestige and introduced efficient administration. His early death was a great loss to Marathas.
The domestic feuds that ensued led to the murder of the next Peshwa leader, Narayanrao (1773). Narayanrao’s posthumous child, Madhavrao II (1773-1795), managed the affairs of state with the help of the Barbhai council, of which Nana Phadnis and Mahadji Shinde were prominent members. Power thus shifted from the Peshwas to the Karbharis (managers). The English gradually began to intrude into Maratha territory. They were humbled in 1781. But the last Peshwa, Bajirao II (1795-1818) succumbed, and surrendered power in 1818. Mountstuart Elphinstone, the liquidator of Maratha power, then created a Maratha state at Satara by installing Pratap Singh (1793-1847), a descendant of Shahu, on the throne as Raja to win the sympathies of the Marathas. He was deposed in 1839, and his brother Shahaji became Raja. The state lapsed to the English in 1849. Thus the hegemony of the Marathas-who had dominated the political scene of Indian history for over two centuries-came to an end.
After the Independence of India in 1947, western Maharashtra and present-day Gujarat were joined as Bombay state. The eastern districts were then part of Hyderabad State, but were later added to Bombay in 1956. The present state was formed in 1960 when the Marathi and Gujarati linguistic areas of former Bombay state were separated. Bombay city became the capital of the new state.
Marathi is the principal language of Maharashtra. The Devanāgarī alphabet is descended from the Brahmi script in 11th century A.D. It was originally developed to write Sanksrit but later it was used to write many other languages. Devanagari script is used with the addition of ‘ḷ’ for orthography. Devanagari is used in Hindi and Sanskrit also. The Devanagari script of Marathi is phonemic. Every letter symbolises a separate phoneme. Marathi has developed its own spelling system. Yadava kings of Maharashtra used Marathi in both official and literary forms. It was started with Bhillama (1189-1294). The special modification of the Indian alphabet for Marathi called modi took place during this period. The modi alphabet was employed in 18th century. After this, Nagari (as was used for Sanskrit) script which is locally called as 'balbodh' script was adopted in place of modi. At present, the modi script is used only for some private transactions, for letter writing or documentation. Devanagari script is used for all official purposes. It has a unified system of orthography which is based on historical (syllabic) principle.
Marathi mainly belongs to Indo-European family and it comes under Indo-Aryan sub-family.
Indo-European | Indo-Iranian | Indic | Sanskrit (1500-600 B.C.E.) | Pali/Prakrits (600-500 B.C.E.) western prakrit eastern prakrit Maharashtri Other prakrits | Jain Apabhramsha (600 C.E.) | Old Marathi(1000-1300 C.E.) | Middle Marathi (1300-1800 C.E.) | Modern Marathi (1800 C.E.- )
After the linguistic re-organisation of Indian states in 1956, Maharashtra recommended a bigger bilingual Bombay state, by bringing all Marathi speaking people together under one roof. It included the Gujarati speakers of Gujarat districts, Bombay presidency, the Saurashtra region and the union territory of Kutch. The Kannada speaking districts of north Karnataka were separated and merged with the Mysore state (Karnataka). In May 1960, all the Marathi speaking areas came under Maharashtra. The Vidarbha region of Nagpur demanded for a separate Vidarbha state. On May 1, 1960, the administrative evolution took place in Maharashtra. The state had four different administrative hegemonies, namely
i. District between Daman and Goa which formed the part of original British Mumbai province.
ii. Five districts of the Nizam’s domination of Hyderabad.
iii. Eight districts in the south of central provinces (Madhya Pradesh) and
iv. A sizeable number of small native states that come under the above areas, that later merged with adjoining districts.
The speech variety is considered as full-fledged (autonomous) language by its speakers. Marathi is a developed language. All social activities are done by using Marathi. It serves as a tool of advanced civilization. According to the Linguistic re-organisation of states act of 1956, Marathi comes under the Indian. It is considered as one of the Schedule VIII languages of Indian constitution.
1. Genetic: Genetically, Marathi belongs to Indo-Aryan language group of Indo-European language family.
2. Typological: Like most of the Indo-Aryan languages, Marathi has Subject-Object-Verb (SOV) pattern in the structure of the sentence. It is an inflexional language.
3. Areal: The Western Ghats between Warda on the east and sea on the west is called Maharashtra. It has three major regional divisions such as (a) Konkan, which is situated in between the Western Ghats and the sea. (b) Maval, which is only 20 miles in breadth, situated in the Eastern Ghats (c) Desh, which lies to the east of Maval. The hill tops are well supplied with water and afford natural facilities for fortifications.
Maharashtra has 3,07,713 sq. kms. of area. Its capital is Mumbai. The total population of the state is 7,89,37,187. Maharashtra has its limit in the upper Godavari, situated in the banks of Krishna. It occupies the sea-coast in large and the upper basin of the eastern rivers from a triangle. The Sahyadri Range is the physical backbone of Maharashtra. It falls in steep cliffs, to the Konkan on the west. The Konkan, lying between the Arabian Sea and the Sahyadri Range is narrow coastal lowland, barely 50 km. wide. Though mostly below 200 m., it is far from being a plain country. The Satpudas, hills along the northern border, and the Bhamragad-Chiroli-Gaikhuri Ranges on the eastern border form physical barriers preventing easy movement, but also serve as natural limits to the state.
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