Spoken in India
Extinct developed into Marathi, Konkani, Maldivian and Sinhalese
Language family
Language codes
ISO 639-3 pmh

Maharastri or Maharastri Prakrit, SIL: Mahārāṣṭri Prākrit (Devanagari:महाराष्ट्री प्राकृत), is a language of ancient and medieval India which is the ancestor of Marathi, Konkani,[1] Sinhala and the Maldivian language as well. It is one of the many languages (often called dialects) of a complex called Prakrit, and the chief Dramatic Prakrit. Maharashtri was spoken for 1000 years (500 BC to 500 AD). It was used in numerous works of literature, and its literary use was made famous by the Sanskrit playwright Kālidāsa.



Maharashtri was the most popular amongst all Prakrit languages. It was spoken from Malwa and Rajputana (north) to the Krishna and Tungabhadra River region (south). Sanskrit lost its status as a "communication language" somewhere around 500 B.C., when Prakrit came into use. Historians agree that Maharashtri and other Prakrit languages prevailed in what is now modern Maharashtra.[2] Maharashtri was widely spoken in western India and even down south in the parts which speak Kannada.[3]

Early literature

The ruler Hāla (r. 20-24 CE) mentioned in the Puranas as a member of the Satavahana dynasty, used Maharashtri, then popular, to write the Gāhā Sattasaī, Setubandh and Karpurmanjari (कर्पुरमंजरी). It was used by Vakpati or Vakpatiraj to write the peom Gaudavaho.[4][5] It is also used in the dialogue and songs of low-class characters in Sanskrit plays, especially the famous dramatist Kālidāsa.[4]

Royal patronage

Maharashtri was(literally, the "Language of the Empire"), which was the official language of the Satavahana Empire in the early centuries of the Common Era. Under the patronage of the Satavahana Empire, Maharashtri became the most widespread Prakrit of its time, and also dominated the literary culture amongst the three "Dramatic" Prakrits of the time, Maharashtri, Sauraseni and Magadhi. A version of Maharashtri, called the Jaina Maharashtri, also was employed to write sections of Jain scripture. The Satavahana Emperor Hala's Sattasai, an anthology of over 700 love poems, has been established as the most famous work of literature in Maharashtri.

See also


  1. ^ "Roots of Konkani" (in English,Konkani). Goa Konkani Akademi. Retrieved 2009-09-03. 
  2. ^ V.Rajwade, Maharashtrache prachin rajyakarte
  3. ^ C. V. Vaidya, History of Medieval Hindu India, Being a History of India from 600 to 1200 AD, in 3 vols.: Vol. I, p. 317. ISBN 81-7020-438-0
  4. ^ a b The Linguist List
  5. ^ Dr.Kolarkar, Marathyancha Itihaas

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