Dogri – A language of historical significance

Rajja Sourav Singh Sarmal
Language is something that describes about someone’s culture and historical background. Language and culture are intertwined. The phrase, language is culture and culture is language is often mentioned when language and culture are discussed. It’s because the two have a homologous although complex relationship. ““A particular language usually points out to a specific folk. When you interact with another language, it means that you are also interacting with the culture that speaks the language. You cannot understand one’s culture without accessing its language directly. Language and culture developed together and influenced each other as they evolved. ““All the well-established cultures have their own independent languages. The noble tribe of Dogras who have their great historical background; whose geographical boundaries included the ancient Janpadas of Gabdika, Udumbara/ Audumbara, Trigartha, Takka, Madra, Kekayas and Drava-Abhisara have a independent language known as “Dogri”.
If we closely observe the phonology of the language, it can be easily interpreted that it has got strong base from Sanskrit. Dogri has basically originated from Prakrit, and that language is the form of the language that has got lost. ““Raja Shakti Karan (morethan 5000yrs ago), the mighty ruler of Jammu possessed the kind disposition and was adorned with qualities of learning. He therefore introduced many laws in accordance with the customs of the Shastras and devoted much time in the performance of religious rites. For this reason he came to be known as ‘Raja Shastri’. It was the Raja Shakti Karan who innovated the Dogra script for first time which came to be known as “Ganmat”. ““Ganmat was descended from Brahmi script and was an extended form of Sharda script. It was somewhat related to Devases? a script which took its place later and then in the sixteenth century, a version called Takri/Thakari became distinct enough from Devases? a that it got a separate name. Takri brought up it’s numerous variants and was the important script of the hills. ““The Historicity of Dogras and Dogri can be even traced back to the era of Alexander. Ptolemy I Soter (Pulomi), the Macedonian general who later became ruler of Egypt accompanied Alexander for his campaign into the Indian subcontinent in 323 B.C., is said to have made mention of brave populace of Durgara.
It has been firmly recorded by the Dr. Balkrishan Shastri in his splendid work “Dogri in the family of world languages(1981)”. ““Even Amir Khusrau(1253 to 1325 AD) in his book ‘Nuh Sepehr’ made to ‘Duger’ (Dogri) as language of region, when he gave a description of the languages and dialects of sub-continent as ‘Sindhi O’ Lahori O’ Kashmiri O’ Duger’. He enlisted Dogri amongst the list of well acclaimed Languages of sub-continent alongwith Sindhi, Lahauri, Kashmiri, Dhursamundari, Tilangi, Gujarati, Malbari, Gaudi Bengali, Awadhi and Dehalavi. ““Dogri has it’s numerous forms and it’s composition changes with the change in the region within Duggar. Some of the other extended forms of Dogri are Kangri, Kandyali, Chambali, Bhadyali, Kullui, Mandyali, Sirmauri, Bhadarwahi, Gojri, Pogli and Pothari, where especially Pogli and Rambani are largely influenced by Dogri. Some proportion of Kashmiri influence can also be seen on the language because of historic relation of Durgara with Kashmira alongwith the migration facts. ““Historically, it was the official language of royal courts in Duggar Desh. Another language which was taught was Sanskrit in order to deal with the neighbouring kingdoms for whom Dogri was foreign language, thus Sanskrit became mode of communication among them. This tradition was in continuation till 18th century especially among aristocrats.
““The official works were done in their own script and language in all the Dogra states. Numerous copper plates and inscriptions have been found which shows how much well acclaimed was this language. In Jammu, Maharaja Ranbir Singh ji Bahadur took initiative and worked a lot to promote his mother language in his kingdom. He invented the new adapted form of Takri script which later came to be known as “Dogra Akkhar” or “Namei Dogra Akkhar”. ““Dogri language however, became a pawn in the game of politics when the British Government wanted to change the political status of Jammu and Kashmir and in this process they changed the existing symbols of the then ‘Independent State’. Soon after the death of Maharaja Ranbir Singh on September 12, 1885, British conspired against the state when Maharaja Partap Singh acceded to throne. ““The Dogra State of Jammu and Kashmir had two official languages Dogri and Persian. Rai Bahadur Pandit Bhag Ram, a staunch Punjabi who was the Judicial Minister in court of Maharaja, on the instruction of Britishers submitted to the Maharaja a proposal for introduction of Urdu as court language for Jammu Courts.
The proposal was so cleverly worded that it made no mention of Dogri being one of the Court languages. It only sought to replace Persian by Urdu. ““It said: “it is well-known that Persian is not spoken language of Jammu nor do the people in this province understand it. It is necessary that the business of the Courts should be conducted in a language which is well understood by the plaintiffs and defendants. Therefore, I recommend that Urdu be made the court language for the courts under Sadar Adalat Jammu.” ““On February 22, 1889 Maharaja Partap Singh accepted the proposal of the Judicial Minister. Thus, circular No. 3 of 1889 while substituting Urdu for Persian gave a severe blow to Dogri as a court language and it died unsung and unwept.
““It is most interesting that as early as 1872 Fredric Drew posed a question whether it would not have better to adopt for Dogri the Devnagri alphabet itself which is known to certain classes all over lndia. This prophetic wish of Sir Fredric Drew was translated into reality after 82 years, and the new Dogri movement piloted by Dogri Sanstha adopted Devnagari script for Dogri as early as 1944. ““When Maharaja Hari Singh was betrayed and the Government formed in 1948 under Shiekh Mohammad Abdullah, he made the “New Kashmir” plan as its Magna Carta and began to implement various proposals of the plan. In October 1953, the Government appointed a Dogri Language Committee with Shri Girdhari Lal Dogra as its Chairman. ““The Committee was directed to report whether the Dogri script be retained for the Dogri language. The Committee submitted its unanimous recommendation that both Devnagari and Persian scripts may be recognised for Dogri language and it was accepted which sent the Dogra Akkhar to die in darkness. ““The Dogras have their rich heritage and which is on the extinction. The scenario is being presented among the present generation that they should chose Hindi over the Dogri in our Dogra land as they are being made to feel that their language having no significance. We can’t allow a big fish to grasp the smaller ones. The legacy of Dogri is of thousands of years and it needs to be revived. Oh Dogras! Nobody is restricting you to learn any other language but ask a question to yourself. Is it right to reject your own mother? ““The decision lies in your side how you can act to revive your ancient script and save the sweetness of your mother tongue! Don’t forget, Language is the armoury of the your mind, and at once contains the trophies of its past and the weapons of its future conquests.