Brajavali: An indo- Aryan language dilect of Assam

Guwahati: If I want to give definition in single sentence then, Brajavali was a literary language used by Sankardev (1449–1568) for some of his compositions (Borgeets and Ankia Naats) in the context of his Vaishnavite. “Karatala Kamala” the first poem written by Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardev before he was taught the vowel which has started a new genre of literature in the Assamese language. Saint Sankardeva was not only the founder of the Vaishnavite movement in Assam but also the first person to exercise the use of Assamese prose in writing.

Along with his socio-cultural background, he was also known as a leading playwright and director of Assam as well as India. His maiden play “Chihna yâtrâ” launched the movement of regional plays in the modern Indian languages. The prose used by the playwright is known as Brajawali. Brajawali is a language which plays a significant role in Assamese society to unite the people of Assam as well as to bring a reform to the Assamese literature history.

karatala kamala kamaladala nayana |

bhavadava dahana gahana vana sayana ||

napara napara para satarata gamaya |

sabhaya mabhaya bhaya mamahara satataya ||

kharatara varasara hatadasa vadana |

khagachara nagadhara fanadhara sayana ||

jagadagha mapahara bhavabhaya tarana |

parapada layakara kamalaja nayana ||

Brajawali was a literary language used by many scholars like Madhaba kandali, shankardev, Madhabdev etc to compose their devotional lyrics, among which Shaankardev was the earliest composer of these lyrics in brajawali. According to the S. N Sharma Brajawali, is an artificial language, a blend of Maithili with the then Assamese language. it was found that the similar languages were used in the Vaishnavite contexts in Odisha and Bengal too, but the one used in Assam was different, as it was based on Maithili which is an Indo-Aryan language spoken in Mithila state of Nepal and written in the Devanagari script, to which Assamese and a sprinkling of Western Hindi was added.

In general, the vocals and idiomatic expressions of Brajavali were local (Assamese), while the inflectional forms were Maithili, easily understood by the people of Assam but which carried the flavor of Brajbhasa, the language of choice of the Bhakti poets. The purpose of using this language is still not clear but many scholars said that to exalt the devotion in the mind of the common people of Assam, Sankardeva might have used the language brajawali, as it was the prevailing language of brajadhama, the home of lord Krishna. According to the Birinchi Kumar Baruah, Brajawali was in vogue among the mediaeval Vaishnavite poets of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa and Sankardev was impressed by them. At the same time, to influence the common people, he adopts such a language for his play write which is neither a spoken nor an unintelligible language, on the contrary, it was a language through which he could draw the attention and develop an awesome regards and devotion among the common people towards Vaishnavism. Madhab Kandali was an another great scholar of 14th century, who translated Ramayana to Assamese which is known as Saptakanda Ramayana. He translated Ramayana to the regional Indo-Aryan language of Assam i.e Brajawali. There is no doubt that Barajawali plays a very important role in Assamese literature. The way they used the language in such a simple and forceful manner that, this language become an important part of Assam. Even today “Bhaona” which were written by Sankardev and Madhabdev are generally performed in Brajawali language which includes dance-drama with songs and dialogues in Brajawali.


  1. LANGUAGE IN INDIA Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow.
  2. Ankiyâ Play and Bhâonâ of Srimanta Sankaradeva by Dr. Sanjib Kumar Borkakoti.


Posted by on June 26, 2016. Filed under Editorial. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.