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  • Forgetting Prakrit

    Andrew Ollett

    Chapter from the book: Ollett, A. 2017. Language of the Snakes: Prakrit, Sanskrit, and the Language Order of Premodern India.


    This chapter traces Prakrit’s “displacement” from the language order of India, which I associate primarily with the use of vernacular languages for literature starting in South India around the ninth century, and in North India around the twelfth. From its prominent place in imperial courts—represented here by the partiality of Bhoja, one of India’s great poet-kings, for Prakrit literature—Prakrit rapidly disappeared in all but name. I analyze the apparent surge of interest in Prakrit in early modernity (from the thirteenth to seventeenth centuries) as reactions to an all-too-obvious tendency for Prakrit to be replaced, in representations of language as well as in actual practice, by either Sanskrit or the new literary vernaculars. One example of this tendency is the very designation “language of the snakes.”

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    Ollett, A. 2017. Forgetting Prakrit. In: Ollett, A, Language of the Snakes. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.37.g

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    Published on Oct. 10, 2017