History of Assamese Language in a nutshell

Sivasagar, Prangan Duarah: Six Billion people living on the planet earth are same. Cultural heritage is the only difference among these six billion people who live in the different corner on this earth. Language is the brightest part of a cultural heritage. Assam the land of multi-culture is well known for its rich cultural heritage. The language that connects 15 to 30 million people of Assam is Assamese, which is actually known as Axomia. Most of the areas along Brahmaputra valley speak The Assamese language. Other than Assam, The Assamese language is also used by a few people in Meghalaya, Arunachal-Pradesh, Bhutan, and Nepal.

It is said that Assamese is a branch of the Indo-Aryan language which evolved in 7th century A.D, which having its root from Sanskrit. It is generally believed that Assamese (Assam) and the Kamatapuri lects (North Bengal and Assam) derive from the Kamarupa dialect of Eastern Magadhi Prakrit and Apabhramsa, by keeping to the north of the Ganges, though some authors contest a close connection of Assamese with Magadhi Prakrit. It is found that its vocabulary, phonology, and grammar have substantially been influenced by the original inhabitants of Assam, such as the Bodos and the Kacharis. The history of Assamese language starts from Pre-Vaishnavite and Vaishnavite period of 5th and 6th A.D. Hema Saraswati, who wrote the most popular Prahlada Charita, is the earliest known Assamese writer. Another prominent writer of early Assamese language was Madhab kandali, who wrote the epic Ramayana in the native language. The earliest forms of Assamese in literature are found in the ninth-century Buddhist verses called Charyapada, and in 12-14th-century works of Ramai Pundit (Sunya Puran), Boru Chandidas (Krishna Kirtan), Sukur Mamud (Gopichandrar Gan), Durllava Mullik (Gobindachandrar Git) and Bhavani Das (Mainamatir Gan). During the rule of Ahom, the Ahoms had brought with them an instinct for historical writings which are known as “Buranji”. In the Ahom court, historical chronicles were at first composed in their original Tibeto-Chinese language, but when the Ahom rulers adopted Assamese as the court language, historical chronicles began to be written in Assamese. This period is known as a period of the prose chronicles (Buranji). Mahapurush Srimanta Shankardev shaped this language. Shankardev wrote numbers of devotional songs and also translated a lot of ancient script from Sanskrit to Assamese. This period can be considered as one of the brightest periods for The Assamese language. At that time, this language got popular among the people.

The period of modern literature began with the publication of the Assamese journal Jonaki (1889), which introduced the short story form first by Laxminath Bezbarua. Thus began the Jonaki period of Assamese literature. In 1894 Rajnikanta Bordoloi published the first Assamese novel Mirijiyori. During this period Assam witnessed a number of eminent writers and literary work like Hema chanda baruah’s “Hema kosh”, writing of Anandaram Dhekiyal Phukan, Guanbiram Baruah, the starting of Assamese newspaper and magazine like “Arunudoya” and “Assam Bandhu”, the publication of the Bible in Assamese prose by the American Baptist Missionaries and many more excellent poem and novels from prominent writers like Padmanath Gohai Baruah, Rjanikanta Bardoloi, Chandra Kumar Agarwala etc. After a lot of sacrifice and struggle by these people Assamese language was declared as a major language of the republic of India by Indian constitution.

The modern Assamese language got a facelift during that period. Many people sacrifice a lot for this language. But nowadays in Assam, it seems that people are more attracted towards other languages than their own language. I am completely agreeing with the fact that in the age of globalization learning other languages like English, Hindi etc is essential. But we should not neglect our own language. It is our turn to save our language and to save our culture.