Prakrit Language Classes at Oxford

Manuscript of the 'Uttaradhyayana Sutra', written in Prakrit prose and verse in the 16th century.

The term 'Prakrit' is commonly translated as 'natural' and refers to a variety of languages and dialects originally used in India. Most of the modern Indian languages have their roots in Prakrit languages, and the classic Sanskrit language also has its roots in old prakrit language spoken in North-India in Vedic & Prevedic period.

There are numerous Prakrit languages known to have existed, some examples being:

  1. Ardhmagadhi: the language of people in Magadh, Bihar (600BC-100AD)
  2. Shourseni: spoken in the Shoorsen region of North India (100BC-500AD)
  3. Jain Maharashtri: the language of non-agamic Jain literature.
  4. Maharashtri: the language used for Jain epics and songs.
  5. Apbhransh: not a single language but there are many Apbhransh languages which were born from various Prakrit Languages. Apbhransh languages were spoken between 500CE to 1000CE. There is lot of Jain literature written in Apbhransh languages in the Medieval period