A RESPLENDENT HERITAGE OF THE WORLD THEATER.
Shankardeva used Brajabuli language in his plays. It is observed in various vernacular plays that the used languages or even the dialects in these plays are practiced by the mass people of the concerned region or the state. It was unprecedented that the language used by Shankardeva in his plays was a newly created language which was not familiar to the people before and it is not yet been a spoken language. Shankardeva created the new language to use in his plays which can be treated as a subject of gratification not only for the theater world but for the world of literature too. In the world history of linguistics and literatures it is rare to get any name of person as a creator of language. But it is still in darkness for scholars, students and other intellectuals that we can name a person as creator of language, which is known as Brajabuli language and the creator of the language is Indian cultural mentor Srimanta Shankardeva. [1449 AD – 1568 AD] So the credit of creating new language and use of prose in drama in entire Indian territory of medieval period goes to Shankardeva. Dr. Hiren Gohain once expressed in one of his writings that in an all India level scholar`s discussion it was told that the use of prose is an approach of modern era in Indian theatrical expressions. But Dr. Gohain elaborated that the use of prose in plays has been observed since the medieval period of Assam which was started by Shankardeva. But unfortunately no one of the assembled scholars were agreed to the comment of Dr. Gohain. From the above incident it is clear that the pragmatic perfectness of the subject has not yet been getting due to lack of proper investigations. All sorts of discussions and debates are taking place in Assam without having any creative and informative expression to the rest of the country and the world. Someone may feel that I am placing unset subject here but I want to recall the unfortunate incident when Government of Assam went to deliver the most prestigious Shankardeva Award to Oscar winner film director Satyajit Ray of Bengal , he asked the Government`s representatives that - Who was Shankardeva ? If a person of neighboring state does not have any information of Shankardeva then what can be expected from the rest of the country? Who is responsible for such incidents? It must be confessed that we have not been giving proper attention to the subject and security of our past heritage. The language which was created by Shankardeva to use in his plays, and which has been in use in Shankarian Theater is nevertheless a resplendent heritage of World Theater.
Regarding the creation of the new language Dr Dasarath Ojha, eminent writer and Indologist, formerly Professor and Head, Department of Hindi, Delhi University expressed that `` I along with J.C.Mathur, collected and studied the original plays written in medieval times in various regions of India. After poring over these dramas, we found that Umapati of Mithila was the first to introduce Desi Git into Sanskrit drama, namely Parijata Harana; but the credit of writing the entire play in a Desi Bhasa [Regional language] goes to Mahapurusa Shankardeva of Assam. Although prior to him, a kind of poetic play was composed and staged in Avahattha in the form of Ras, no play in prose and poetry is to be found till we come to Shankardeva. `` Going depth of the newly created language and aims and objectives of using the language in Shankara`s plays, Dr. Ojha deed a comparative study , which can be outlined for briefing hooks and corner of the subject. As Dr. Ojha`s language – ``Having achieved mastery over a number of languages, Shankardeva must have pondered over the problem of evolving a suitable form of prose for his drama. He was already familiar with the beautiful songs in Maithili, which perhaps induced him to make that language the basic of the idiom he was to coin for his dramas and which came to be known as Brajabuli ( known as Bajrawali-bhasa in Assam). Dr. Sukumar Sen., making a distinction between this Brajabuli and Brajabhasa, says: ``the artificial language was given the name of Brajabuli because it reminded one of Vraja, the land sanctified by the presence of Radha and Krishna. The term Brajabuli however should not be confused with the name of Brajabhasa. The later is the name of actual spoken language, a form of western Hindi of the district round Mathura. `` Kaliram Medhi does not agree with Dr. Sen. In his opinion Brajabuli was not an artificial language. He says, ``But the truth appears to be that Brajabuli must have been based on some spoken dialect, for no artificial language is known to have been created out of nothing. In support of his view, he has cited the example of the Vedic, the Gatha and the Pali languages. It is a well known fact that these languages are based on some local dialect or other. Whatever might be the reason of naming the language of the songs of the Vaishnava poet as Brajabuli, it is clear that Brajabuli differs from Bengali, Assamese and Oriya. `` In continuation of briefing his comparative study Dr Ojha stated that the language used by Umapati and others are not comparable with the language of Shankardeva. Because the differences are quite clear to all that the language used by Shankardeva was newly designed and decorated. To establish the truth Dr. Ojha made a comparison of writings in between Umapati and Shankardeva as follows; ``Let us analyze one of his Gits (songs) philologically. Krishna sings the following Git (song) in the Malavar raga:
``Aruna purusa disi bahali sagari nisi gagana Magana bhela canda ||
Muni geli kumudini naio tohara dhani munala mukha aravinda || ``-- -- In the east the dawn is shining and the night has passed away. The moon has set, and the chanticleer proclaims the opening day. He loudly cries O lotuses, the lilies of the night have closed their petals; wake ye up and open to the light.-- -- `` In this song some words like `sagari`, `bhela`, `geli`are specially used in Magadha and Mithila. The language of Shankardeva`s prose is different from the language of Umapati. Shankardeva writes in his Kalidamana Nat about Krishna: ~Aare~ sabhasada~ loka, ~ ye ~jagataka~ parama~ guru, ~ parama~ purasa, ~ purusutttama~ sanatana~ Brahma~ Mahesa~ sevita~ carana-pankaja~ Narayana~ Shri Krishna, ~ Ohi~ sabhamadhye~ Kaliyadamana~ Lila~ yatra~ koutuke~ karaba: ~tahe savadhane~ dekhaha-sunaha~ niranntare~ Hari bola Hari~. ``- In this passage, 28 out of 34 words are pure Sanskrit. Only six words ~ohi~, ~karaba~, ~tahe~ ~dekhaha~, ~sunaha~and ~bolo~ are taken from local dialects which are easily understood by the entire people of Northern India. ~ohi~karaha~dekhaha~sunah~bola~tahe~ are frequently used in the eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. ~Hari bola Hari~ is a common phrase in Bengal, Assam, Magadh and Bhojpuri area.
From the above statement it is clear that the language created by Shankardeva was a new language, where he used some local dialects with Sanskrit. It is also clear to all that there may not be any artificial language depending on the subject of spoken or unspoken. Though the term artificial, planned , constructed are used differently in various analysis of linguistic aspects but it is also true that many scholars deny the term artificial language because there may not be anything unnatural or artificiality in case of expression of thought and feelings through any language in human communication. According to the analysis showed by linguist we have the three types of languages which are constructed by a person or by any group of people. The three types are known as Engineered, Auxiliary and Artistic language. It is also stated in the linguistic analysis that when the constructed language is used for communication by community or fluent native speakers then the language losses it`s constructed status. Stating an example linguist expresses that Modern Hebrew was modeled on Biblical Hebrew rather than engineered from scratch, and has undergone considerable changes since the state of Israel was founded in 1948. However linguist Ghil`ad Zuckermnn argues that Modern Hebrew, which he terms `Israeli`, is a Semito-European hybrid, based not only on Hebrew but also on Yiddish and other languages spoken by revivalists. In such a scenario it can be said that all languages are conventional and constructed. Shankardeva tried to create such a language through which the entire India can be united. Today all scholars are agreed with the statement that Shankardeva could have expected to be used the language Brajabuli as Lingua franca of Indian people. The evidence is still alive through the language of Shankarian play. Because the Brajabuli (Bajrawali) language of Sankarian play is quite understandable to the people of India even today. As Dr. Ojha rightly said `` Although it is very difficult to learn so many language, it is still more difficult to coin such novel idioms for the expression of philosophical ideas and the description of delicate situations in a drama in a way that may be understood by all. Only a creative writer like Shankardeva could perform this in a wonderful way.
The Brajabuli language is seen in the Oriya and Bengali tradition too. But in various elaborations a short note is noticed on Brajabuli that the language which can be said as mystical language and used by the Vaishnava poets in the medieval period. But the corm of the language is not yet been analyzed, so the language is deprived of its proper valuation. It is true that the Brajabuli language is differs from Assamese, Bengali and Oriya language. On the other hand the language used by other Vaishnava poet in the name of Brajabuli is also differs from the language used by Shankardeva. So the reasons are to be clarified without fail. Because we cannot generalized all writings of Vaishnava poets of medieval period, depending only on Brajabuli language. Through such analysis an unfair behavior is done to the creator of the Brajabuli language. Shankardeva created the Brajabuli language in his first pilgrimage when he was 52 years old, at Vadrikashram, in 1481 AD. He first used his created language in his song (which are popularly known as Borgeet) ``Mono meri Ram charanahi lagu--``. On the other hand the first song of Brajabuli language in Bengal was ``Nripatihasana Jagata Bhusana`` written by Yashawanta Raj kha, and the time of its composition was in between 1498 – 1500AD. Shankardeva used Bajrawali or Brajabuli language in his plays and songs. It is clear from many elaborations given by scholars that the foundation of Brajabuli language of Bengal and Orissa are of Maithili language mixed with Hindi and other languages. But the Brajabuli of Assam is directly based on Maithili with Assamese, Sanskrit and words of Charjya Pada. The Brajabuli languages of Bengal and Orissa are almost same and these were constructed on the blue print of Shankardeva`s Brajabuli language. We get many words of Charjya Pada in Shankarian Brajabuli language which is not seen in those of Bengal and Orissa.
Now a days, the use of Brajabuli language is seen only in Shankarian theater and songs (Borgeet), which are treated as traditional asset of Assamese culture as well as the foundation of Assamese race. Though the Brajabuli language has not got the status of spoken language but the use of this language in Shankarian theater and songs are still continuing. But the new trend of Shankarian theater which is commonly known as Matrivasa Bhaona is going to be more popular comparatively with the plays of Brajabuli language. The Shankarian plays written in Brajabuli language are performed generally by the patronage of Sattras (Vaishnava Monasteries). It is observed that a major section of Shankarian theater artists are giving much importance on Matrivasa Bhaona than that of Brajabuli language. So effort has been made from the side of Vaishnava monasteries of Majuli and other socio-cultural groups of the state for the safe guard of this unique language and culture. In this regard it can be said that under the guidance of scholars, like Srijut Narayan Chandra Guswami, Satradhikar of Notun Kamalabari Sattra of Majuli , Keshavananda Guswami of Bali Satra, and Jaganath Mahanta, full length Shankarian play can be written and staged. On the other hand the scripts which are in Matrivasa (Assamese language.) can be translated in to Brajabuli language through which the lost popularity among the Shankarian theater players can be gained. Otherwise the precious asset of Assamese culture will be rowed as endangered language. However in the socio-political and economically grim situation of Assam, the effort done by Srijut Narayan Chandra Guswami for the sake of Shankarian culture is worthful and worthy of salutation. He has already been published the grammar of Brajabuli language along with the dictionary besides other valuable writings on Shankarian culture. This is a unique beginning of this venture; let it be bold and broad in coming future. At last in the same tune of Dr.Ojha`s statement, I must say that Shankardeva played a very important role in integrating the country by inculcating the spirit of nationalism, purity and devotion to the almighty. At a critical time when the country was passing through a great turmoil and darkness, he held a beacon light to the right path. He raised the standard of morality and removed despair and melancholy from the hearts of the common people. He was the real harbinger of peace and tranquility within India; hence, the whole country must be indebted to him and his creations and contributions are to be saved and honored.
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