Nepali language the successor of Sanskrit
Devimahatmya manuscript on palm-leaf, in an early Bhujimol script,Bihar or Nepal, 11th century
Different scholars have been found to regard Nepali language as the successor of Sanskrit language. Nepali language was born out of the language that came into existence with the violation of Sanskrit language in the Sinja area of Gandaki region in the 11thcentury initially spoken as a natural language among the Brahmin and Kshatriya people of Aryan race. According to linguistics, Nepali language originated from the Aryan branch of Arya-lrani division through Satam branch of Indo-Aryan language family of Sanskrit language. In this way, Nepali language is regarded as a language that originated in the west and spanned all over Nepal from west to east. Discovered from the research till now, the most ancient archaeological evidence in Nepali language is the administrative copper inscription of 1312 BS belonging to Ashok Challa, the Khas king of the west. Similarly, the inscription of Akshay Malla of 1337 BS is the second most ancient archaeological evidence of Nepali language. Much archaeological evidences of Malla and Saha kings of Nepal valley of that time has been discovered. By a comparative study of all the archaeological evidences, Nepali language originated in the 11th century, though seem to be same till the 15th century get developed in the 16th century into mainly three ways: (1) Eastern (Hilly and Gorkhali), (2) central (Khasani and Jumli), (3) Western (Dotyali). After that Nepali language started developing rapidly in the western part of Gandaki region.
In historical period, Nepali language had got the recognition as the national language in Khas states of the west. Nepali language was influential in the Baisee and Chaubisee states and also seen to be expanding towards the east with the expansion of Sen states in the east. At the later phase of Malla period Nepali language had the second position after Newari language in Nepal Valley also.
With the mount of king Prithivinarayan Saha in the Modern period, Nepali language and literature also was making a gradual progress. Within this period, the literatures stimulating the feelings of bravery started to appear. Looking through the poem ‘Prithivinarayan’ written by Shubananda Das of about 1826 BS, ‘Divyopadesh written by king Prithivinarayan Saha in 1831 BS, in both prose and verse can be found the trend of writing literature with the feelings of patriotism, nationalism and national unity to be started at that time. Subhananda Das, Shaktiballav Aryal, Udayananda Panta etc. were the contemporary writers of that time.
A great depression prevailed after the Treaty of Sugauli due to the defeat of Nepal in the Anglo-Nepal War of 1871 BS, and due to this the trend of writing literature with traditional religious faith-oriented started. After that many literatures with the themes of redemption of god Rama and Krishna had appeared. During this period, Bhanubhakta born on 29th Ashad, 1871 BS in Ramgha village of Tanahau in western Nepal started to write poetries in Nepali language and later wrote epics and even Ramayana. As King Prithivinarayan Saha unified the states of Nepal politically, Bhanubhakta also unified Nepali society having a variety of dialects into a single garland of national culture by writing popular verses in simple Nepali languages. Later, youth poet, dramatist and essayist Motiram Bhatta along with the popularizing of the works of Bhanubhakta among Nepalese people also offered his genuine creations and compositions having the themes of adoration and beauty to Nepalese people. Motiram Bhatta has a special contribution in Nepalese literature after Bhanubhakta. Within this period, Nepali literature started to develop also in Darjeeling, Karseyong and Banaras.
The writing of Nepali literature got continuity even in the Rana period. ‘Pinjada ko Suga’ written by Kavisiromani Lekhnath Poudyal was in one way an autobiography of the agony and helplessness of Nepal and its people, and in the other it was a cry of humanity and a severe attack upon the cruelty of Rana rulers. When Krishnalal Adhikari wrote a book entitled ‘Makaiko Kheti’ in 1976 BS, he was declared a criminal and all the printed books were seized. Not only that, he was even sent to prison. Later, he died in the prison. This event exposing the dominating policy of Rana rulers upon literature is known as ‘Makai Parva’ in the history of Nepali literature. Around this period, Dharanidhar Koirala, Suryabikram Gyawali, Parasmani Pradhan etc. were involved in writing from outside the country attempting to spread awareness and patriotism in the country. English fiction and literature also started to get a value in Nepal after the establishment of Darbar High School on 27th Aswin, 1910 BS and Tri-Chandra Campus in 1918 AD. Mahakavi Lakshmi Prasad Devkota and Balkrishna Sama started using intellectuality in Nepali literature through the means of drama and poetry. Writers who depicted nature in literature like Mahakavi Lakshmi Prasad Devkota, Yugkavi Siddhicharan Shrestha, Rastrakavi Madhav Prasad Ghimire started to appear in Nepali literature. After the publication of ‘Sarada’ magazine in the editorship of Riddhibahadur Malla, different genres of literature started to be written and develop in Nepal. Bhimnidhi Tiwari also made a remarkable contribution in the strengthening of Nepali poetry and drama. ‘Roopmati’ written by Rudraraj Pandey can be considered as the first Nepali social novel. Gopal Prasad Rimal introduced progressive style (Pragatisil Dhar) in the field of Nepali poetry. Guru Prasad Mainali, Bisheswar Prasad Koirala, Surya Bikram Gyawali, Puskar Shumser etc. have special contribution to develop Nepali story literature (short-fiction) into a new dimension. Bisheswar Prasad Koirala has used sexual analysis and psychoanalysis in Nepali stories. Other contemporary writers of this period include Badrinath Bhattarai, Bhawani Bhikshu, Kedarman Byathit, Dharmaraj Thapa, Kamalmani Dixit, Hridaychandra Singh Pradhan and so on.
After 2007 BS, the horizon of Nepali literature became much wider and expanded. Some of the writers from earlier time applied new methods in literature writing. In the course of development of Nepali language and literature, writers including Govinda Bahadur Malla Gothale, Bhupi Sherchan, Parshu Pradhan, Bairagi Kaila, Ramesh Bikal, Bhawani Bhikshu, Bhimnidhi Tiwari, Parasmani Pradhan, Madhav Prasad Ghimire, Parijaat, Hari Adhakari, Abhi Subedi, Mohan Chapagai, Dhruva Sapkota, Banira Giri, Bhagirathi Shrestha, Usha Sherchan, Jivan Acharya, Syamal, Bam Dewan, Krishna Bhushan Bal, Bimal Niva, Pradip Nepal, Manjul, Modnath Prasit, Krishna Bause, Khagendra Sangraula, Ballavmani Dahal, Shivagopal Risal, Radheshyam Lekali, Bimal Bhaukaji, Melina, Shailendra Sakar, Sita Pandey have been appearing. In the Street Poetry Revolution (Sadak Kavita Kranti) of 2036 BS around the time of Referendum, many new and old talents like Bimal Koirala, Raghu Panta, Narayan Dhakal, Shayamal, Krishnabhusan Bal, Binod Ashrumali, Bimal Niva, Hari Adhakari, Bikram Subba, Lalijan Rawal etc. had come out in the street carrying people-oriented literature.
In the later phase, organized attempts have also been made for the development of Nepali literature. With the very sentiments, organizations like Progressive Writers’ Union (Pragatiseel Lekhak Sangh), Creative Literatute Society (Srijanseel Sahitya Samaj) etc. have started to appear. Similarly, organizations like National Public Cultural Forum (Rastriya Janasanskritik Manch), Nepal National Public Cultural Organization (Nepal Rastriya Janasanskritik Sangh) have been established for the development of peoples’ culture. Literature Journalist Union (Sahityik Patrakar Sangh) have been conducting different activities including providing appreciation to writers etc. The new practice of awarding, respecting and appreciating the writers in Nepal have given encouragement in the field of literature. Different awards have been established in Nepal to provide encouragement and respect to the writers among which Prithivi Pragya Puraskar of 400 thousand Rupees, Nepal Pragya Bhasa Puraskar of 100 thousand Rupees, Nepal Pragya Samagic Sastra darsan Puraskar, Nepal Pragya Nepali Sahitya Puraskar, Nepal Pragya Matri Bhasa Sahitya Puraskar, Madan Puraskar, Sajha Puraskar, Mahakavi Devkota Puraskar, Jhapat Puraskar, Nai Derunikhapu Puraskar, Sadananda Rastriya Puraskar, Sankhar Larnichane Puraskar, Ramesh Bikal Bangmaya Puraskar, Lekhnath Sahityakar Puraskar, Byathit Kavya Puraskar, Kirat Academy Puraskar, Nepali Prathiva Pratisthan Belayat Puraskar, Rastriya Kalashree Puraskar etc. are the major ones. ‘Sudhasagar’ is the first Nepali literary magazine published from Nepal. During the Maoist insurgency, there was a trend of writing people-oriented or progressive dramas and songs and organization of different cultural programmes especially in their influential areas. Many works have also been created replete with the experiences of the mentioned people’s insurgency. Many writers have been supporting prodemocracy through their writings till now.
Until today, the storehouse of Nepali language seem to be rich than the literature of any other languages. Many great writers have written world-class literature in Nepali languages. In this way, many individuals have contributed to make Nepali language and literature prosperous among which Aadikavi Bhanubhakta Acharya, Yuvakavi Motiram Bhatta, Mahakavi Lakshmi Prasad Devkota, Kavisiromani Lekhnath Poudyal, Balkrishna Sama, Ashukavi Shambhu Prasad Dhungel, B.P. Koirala, Bhupi Sherchan, Yugkavi Siddicharan Shrestha, Guru Prasad Mainali, Parijaat, Bhairav Aryal, Janakavi Keshari Dharmaraj Thapa, Diamond Shumsher, Ramesh Bikal, Bhawani Bhikshu, Bhimnidhi Tiwari, Parasmani Pradhan, Parshu Pradhan, Madhav Ghimire, Dhruvachandra Gautam etc. can be kept in the front row. In the later phase women are also found to make enthusiastic involvement in Nepali literature. Banira Giri, Bhagirathi Shrestha, Usha Sherchan, Momila Joshi, Benju Sharma, Indira Prasai, Sita Pandey, Kunta Sharma, Nilam Karki ‘Niharika’, Jhamak Kumari Ghimire etc. are some of the contemporary women writers of Nepal.