Rajasthani Raag

This article is part of a series of events under the title Indic Bequeathals conducted by Poetry Club for the preservation and appreciation of regional dialects, languages and literature.

Rajasthani – Language and Dialects

Rajasthan” – ‘The land of Kings ‘. Well , what comes to your mind when you hear it ? A desert ? -that land of sand-dunes , palaces , sweets and unparalleled hospitality with a history of pride, valor and fame and also the songs and poems and music – you drink in all of this through your eyes and it never really leaves you . The simplicity of life is evident in its fashion – fashion that is a consequence of culture and a culture that has glorious roots.
Do you find its architecture , food , music , tradition , culture and people overwhelmingly beautiful ? – I’d say even that dusty road, upon which that young lady carries a water pot every day by the dawn, is simple and beautiful and equally beautiful is the language she speaks in – Rajasthani 🙂

‘Rajasthani’ – well as far as the facts go, is a group of Indo- Aryan languages and dialects . It has a literary tradition dating back approximately 1500 years and has Prakrit as one of its ancestors .
Within the state of Rajasthan the language finds multiple local dialects – Marwari in marwar region , Dhundari in Jaipur region and Mewari spoken around the Mewar region – the sweetness of these dialects will touch you in the heart while Shekhawati – another local dialect carries a tint of ruggedness due to a Haryanvi touch.


The majority of literary works in these languages are that of Bhakti Ras and Veer Ras giving us a glimpse into culture of the land and thereby into the minds of the people .
What does the following stanza tell you?

Kesariya Balam, Aavo ni, Padhaaro mhaare des.

My Saffron Darling, Come, Welcome to my country.

Piya Pyaria Dhola, Aavo ni, Padhaaro mhaare des.

Sweetheart, Beloved, Come, Welcome to my country.

Sone ri dharti, jhatadi, chaandi ro aasmaan,

Golden land below, skies of silver.

Rang rangilo, ras bharyo, mhaaro pyaaro Rajasthan.

Flooded with color, brimming with vigor/vitality, my beloved Rajasthan.

‘ Padharo Mahare Des ” — the sweetness of this culture and the innocence in the hospitality is world famous .

Rajasthani has its roots in Sanskrit and Prakrit ( Spoken around Mathura ) . This then developed into Maru-Gurjar, the common language of Rajasthan and Gujrat. Maru-Gurjar started taking a definite literal form around 1050AD. Then came Maru-Bhasha also known as Dingal around 1450AD. And in the eastern region Dingal mixed with the Braj Bhasha of Mathura and formed Pingal. Now both Dingal and Pingal were the languages of Bhatts and Charans who composed songs and poems in the courts of that era. Dingal was mostly used for “Virkvya” or the songs of war and ceremonies and Pingal was used for devotional poems of love. Rajasthan being a land of warriors, Dingal virkavya flourished here. An example of the traditions of the Dingal Virkavya are the epic poems and eulogistic couplets written in the praise of Pabuji Dhandhal Rathor, a 14th century Rajput gallant. These continued for long and slowly evolved into the various dialects that we have today.Even in the pre independence times, poets revisited the dingal virkavya to vent out and even publicise their anti british sentiments.

An example of Dingal Virkavya is a couplet from the poem Haldighati by Kanhaiyalal Sethia, describes Maharana Pratap’s determination to fight on against the Mughals at all costs –

हूँ भूख करूँ हूँ प्यास मरूँ
मेवाड़ धरा आज़ाद रहै
हूँ घोर उजाड़ा में भटकूँ
पण मन में माँ री याद रह्वै

One very beautiful thing about our country that usually goes unnoticed by urban people is that after every 100 or so kilometers a new dialect an a new way of speaking the same language is observes and this gradually turns into an entirely different language over large distances – in Rajasthan ths variation is observed much more rapidly-

“Ate kai hove ni sa, k har gaanv ri apni bhasha bhasha hove “.

Most famous of these dialects is Marwari, spoken in the marwar region of rajasthan, in and around the Jodhpur District. Then we have Mewari, spoken around Udaipur. Both Marwar and Mewar regions are world famous for their hospitality and a lot of this is owed to the sweetness and respect in these dialects. You can always hear someone referring to you or someone else as “hukum” or in other words master, which is a way of showing respect.
Then there’s Dhundhri or Jaipuri, spoken around the Jaipur region. Dhundhri is the language that we mostly hear in the new rajasthani songs. Then we have Hadoti, spoken in Kota and Jhalawar, being so close to the border of rajasathan and MP, Hadoti shares a lot of traits with Malvi. And then there’s Shekhawati, spoken in and around the dist. of Jhunjhunu. Shekhawati shares a lot of traits with Haryanvi, with its ruggedness .

Stories of Bravery preserved in folklore

Coming to the literature or rather to say a treasure of expressions – Rajasthani literature works have inspired the whole country by virtue of the heroism as well as the Bhakti Ras. Gurudeva Rabindranath Tagore once said that the Veer Ras of Rajasthani poets is something the whole country should be proud of and take inspiration from. The main work has been done by the Charans. Charans held the position of royal poets. They have written the major texts in Rajasthani which includes epic poems and various stories. Mostly the Rajasthani literature available to us is in oral form. We have amazing folk tales which describe the life of kings and the struggle of Rajasthani people. The festivals as well as common issues that are faced by people, like the importance of water, each has some poem or song associated with it.

Prithviraj Chauhan

This land has been mother to multiple national heroes , to list a few were : Prithviraj Chauhan , Maharana Pratap , Rana Sangha , Gora – badal and many many more .

Let me elaborate on the history of Maharaja Prithviraj Chauhan, to tell you as to why they are national heroes -Prithviraj Chauhan was the ruler of Ajmer kingdom. We know much about him from the epic poem Prithviraj raso by Chandbardai. Chandbardai was Prithviraj’s close friend and one of the many poets in his court. Prithviraj Chauhan was a master of Shabdbhedi ban, in which, just by vocal instructions, the archer has to identify the target and shoot the arrow. Since Prithviraj’s kingdom shared boundaries with Punjab, when Mohammed Ghori attacked the region, Prithviraj, with his army, courageously faced off Ghori. Ghori invaded 17 times and was defeated by Prithviraj Chauhan for the first 16 times. Unfortunately in second battle of Tarrain he was defeated and captured by Ghori and was taken back to him kingdom. He was blinded there and kept as slave. Regional folklore tells us that Chandbardai was also an accomplice there with him and Ghori was deeply moved by him. Once when there was a discussion on Shabd bhedi baan and Prithviraj Chauhan’s skills were brought up, Ghori called him in his court to show his skills. Then, Chandbardai directed him with his verses (for directing the arrow), which are one of the most famous lines from Prithviraj Raso-

Chaar baans chaubees gaj, angul asht praman|
Taa upar Sultan he, Matt Chuko Chauhan||

The arrow hit Ghori, he was seriously injured and before guards approach Prithviraj and Chandbardai then took each others life.

In another age but on the same land and under the same sky as Maharaj Prithviraj Chauhan , Maharana Pratap constitutes the history of Rajasthan –
Maharana Pratap, the legendary ruler of Mewar who fought against the mighty force of Akbar in the fierce battle of Haldighati. Maharana Pratap’s life is a source of inspiration for every Rajasthani individual. His sacrifice was more than what any mighty ruler had done. Every Rajasthani Kingdom had surrendered in front of Mugal King Akbar, yet only Mewar refused to do so. There’s a great poem by poet Madhav Darak that describes the life of Maharana around the ensuing Haldighati battle:


Haldi ghati me samar ladyo voo chetak ro aswaar kathee
Mayan tharo vo poot kathe vo ekling deewaan kathe
Vo maharana partaap kathe?

After the battle of haldighati Maharna went to hills of Aravali and took an oath that he wont take any of the royal pleasures until his kingdom is restored.
A famous poem shows his struggles in the exile.

Hare gaas ri roti hi
Jad ban bilawado le bhagyo
Nanho amaryo cheekh padyo
Rana ro soyo dukh jagyo||

Food was so scarce that once when a wildcat stole the food, Maharana’s son began crying of hunger.
Looking at this, the Maharana’s heart sank.

Following his oath Maharana’s forces engaged enemy in the guerilla warfare and 90% of his original territories were regained.

There are no words in the language that is capable enough to praise enough such valor, and that’s all that I can say, where there is goodness of character, bravery is just a consequence – and another consequence is spirituality.

MeeraBai and the Bhakti movement

Who can forget Meera Bai when it comes to that – another gem mother Earth once held , who had walked upon the dusty lanes of Rajasthan.
Meera bai was 16th century poet and one of the greatest devotee of lord Krishna. Originally she was the wife of Raja Bhoj and the queen of Mewar. Meera bai was so moved by Kabir’s hatyog that she left all her royal privileges and started praying in Shri Krishna’s name. Away from the materialistic lifestyle, her life was spent in composing and singing songs of devotion for Shri Krishna. Because of her devotion she lost all her interests in the royal life and therefore the king and elders considered her as threat to the royal family as she wasn’t following any of her duties.
There is a famous poem by her which is as follows :

Pag gungroo band Meera Nache re,
Log akhe meera bawri nyat kahe kulnaasi re|
Vish ro pyalo ranaji laya meera hasi re,
Meera k prabhu Girdhar Nagar, Sahaj meli Anvinasi re||

“Bhagwaan ki ananya Bhakt Meera Bai ke jeevan ka yeh ek prasang atyadhik prachlit hai – Ek samay Mathura me Bhagwan Krishna ke bhakto ka mela laga tha aur pure Bharat se kai diggaj kavi/gavaiye yaha padhare the . Jab Meera Bai ji ne bhajan gana arambh kiya to ek mahashay bole ki -“Aapka bhajan to bahut meetha hai kintu apney rag me nahi gaya ” – jispar Devi ne kaha – ” Mai janti hoon maine raag me nahi gaya kyoki yeh geet eeshwar ke liye gaya jaa raha hai , munushyon ko rijhaney ke liye nahi – Eeshwar ke liye matre Anurag ki awashayakta hai Rag nahi ” Kya yeh eeshwar pradhan prem evam bhakti ka suchak nahi hai ? Jis adhbut ras me yeh vakya Meera bai dwara kaha gaya hai veh sampurn kavyon ki tulna me aata hai | “

Today meera bai is the major pillar of Bhaktiras and an icon for women all over the country. We have institutions named after her (including Meera bhawan 🙂 ). There are major temples devoted to her where u can find that iconic statue of her,” Haath me Veena gehui saare aur bhakti me leen moorat.”

Talking of poetry and spirituality ….It would do injustice to our people of Ajmer here to not mention the famous ‘ Dargah ‘ – which welcomes many piligrims every year who come here in faith. Ajmer has Ajmer Sharif Dargah of a revered sufi poet Mounidin Chisti who had formulated the famous Chistiya order which went on to become a dominant spiritual group of the most beloved sufi poets including nizzamuddin aulia and when speaking of him , Amir Khusrau can not be forgotten who happened to have a very pure relation with the Nizam , infact both are even burried together !
An example of Khusrau here would say a lot about sufi dimension of poetry here :

“Khusrau darya prem ka , ulti va ki dhaar .
Jo utra so doob gaya , jo dooba so paar ” ……..

which translates as -” Oh Khusrau the river of love runs in strange directions,
one who jumps into it drowns and one who drowns gets across . “

Such a GLORIOUS history is rarely found on other parts of the globe – and at present – All the literary works in rajasthan have been kept alive for centuries by the people of rajasthan. Like other thing this work also gets passed on by the elders to the younger generations. The rajasthani songs and music has played a major role in the perseverance of the language .
Many famous bollywood songs like baware, Genda fool, gumar and other are our folksongs which are sung in common gatherings and any special occasions.
Apart from this There are societies working solely to preserve the culture and language of rajasthan. Bills have been passed by govt. Of rajasthan in state assembly as well as a campaign is going on to get rajasthani as a recognized language by Central government .
Every song , every poem connects you to the day to day life – to your culture and to that which has formed a warm cushion of a sence of belonging .

This article therefore concludes with the lines —

Mayan Bhasha Ladli, Jan Jan Kantha Haar
Lakha lakha ro mol h gao mangalchaar||

Thank you for reading !

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Thank you so much for your support for this session!

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Our Insta Live session on Rajasthani Language.

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