Classical Languages of India | Download PDF

Scholarship Examination in India

Article 343 gave Hindi the status of official language of the Union. For Sanskrit, there is a special status mentioned in article 351, whereby Sanskrit was given a position of the primary source for many languages including Hindi.

Union Minister for Culture recently announced that the Ministry had decided to grant the classical language status to Malayalam. Spoken by over 30 million people, Malayalam was the only major language in south India that had not been classified as the classical language. Belonging to the family of Dravidian languages, Malayalam has a rich heritage of perhaps more than 2,300 years.

In a 2006 press release, Minister of Tourism & Culture Ambika Soni told the Rajya Sabha the following criteria were laid down to determine the eligibility of language to be considered for classification as a “Classical Language”.

High antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over a period of 1500–2000 years; a body of ancient literature/texts, which is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers; the literary tradition be original and not borrowed from another speech community; the classical language and literature being distinct from modern, there may also be a discontinuity between the classical language and its later forms or its offshoots.

It has been alleged that the current criterion discriminates against Malayalam, which as a member of the Dravidian family of languages is equal on every count to its sister languages of Telugu and Kannada.

Chronological Order Of Indian Classical Languages

At present there are six classical languages:

  • Tamil-(First Classical Language, 2004)
  • Sanskrit-(2005)
  • Kannada-(2008)
  • Telugu-(2008)
  • Malayalam-(2013)
  • Odiya-(Latest and Sixth Classical Language, 2014 )
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