India is a land with a diverse culture with so many languages, scripts, food habits that it is virtually impossible to go through all of them in one life time. And what we see today is just a miniscule of the languages and scripts which were there earlier. But so many languages and scripts have fallen prey to modernization and migration. The fallout is that today we risk losing so much of this rich cultural heritage – they are actually a repository of our past. Languages give us a direct peek into a culture, many of which could tell us so much more about our past. This need to have uniformity and standardization is slowly killing our cultural past.
A look into the lost and about-to-be-lost languages is so fascinating. Bangani, spoken in a corner of Garhwal in Uttarakhand, had a distinct vocabulary that seemed to indicate a kinship with ancient European languages like Latin and Greek. If we had kept this language alive, maybe we could have unraveled more about migration in ancient times. Or did you know that Brahmi is the written manuscript in Kashmir when the Pandits used, now fallen to disuse. Derived from this is the Mahajani script, which was used by the mercantile community in and around Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan to maintain financial records. There are so many of these records but there is no one who knows the script to help translate this. In some parts of Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka, a mix of Arabic and Tamil was used – Arwi and something similar is found in Kerala too – depicting the interactions of these coastal states with the Arab traders then. Meitei, the state language of Manipur, on the other hand, is from the Tibeto-Burman family.
Kathi was the script used to write Hindi but when the British came, to standardize the script, they mandated Devanagari as the preferred script and Kathi was soon forgotten and gone.
This scares one – 50 years ahead, will we have just English as the main and only language because the world prefers it?