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BIHARI (properly Bihārī), the name of the most western of the four forms of speech which comprise the Eastern Group of modern Indo-Aryan Languages (q.v.). The other members are Bengali, Oriya and Assamese (see Bengali). The number of speakers of Bihari in 1901 was 34,579,844 in British India, out of a total of 90,242,167 for the whole group. It is also the language of the inhabitants of the neighbouring Tarai districts of Nepal. In the present article it is throughout assumed that the reader is in possession of the facts described under the heads of Indo-Aryan Languages and Prakrit. The article Bengali may also be studied with advantage.

“Bihārī” means the language of the province of “Bihār,” and to a certain extent this is a true description. It is the direct descendant of the old Māgadhī Prakrit (see Prakrit), of which the headquarters were South Bihár, or the present districts of Patna and Gaya. It is, however, also spoken considerably beyond the limits of this province. To the west it extends over the province of Agra so far as the longitude of Benares, and to the south it covers nearly the whole of the province of Chota Nagpur. Allowing for the speakers in Nepal, its area extends over about 90,000 sq. m., and the total number of people who claim it as a vernacular is about the same as the population of France. Bihari has been looked upon as a separate language only during the past twenty-five years. Before that it was grouped with all the other languages spoken between Bengal and the Punjab, under the general term “Hindi.”

The usual character employed for writing Bihari is that known as Kaithī, a cursive form of the well-known Nagari character of Upper India. The name of the character is derived from the Kāyath or Kāyasth caste, whose profession is that of scribes. Kaithi is widely spread, under various names, all over northern India, and is the official character of Gujarati. The Nagari character is commonly employed for printed books, while the Brahmans of Tirhut have a character of their own, akin to that used for writing Bengali and Assamese. In the south of the Bihari tract the Oriya character belonging to the neighbouring Orissa is also found.

Bihari has to its east Bengali, also a language of the Outer Band. To its west it has Eastern Hindi, a language of the Intermediate Band (see Indo-Aryan Languages). While it must decidedly be classed as an Outer language, it nevertheless shows, as might be expected, some points of contact with the Intermediate ones. Nothing is so characteristic of Bengali as its pronunciation of the vowel a and of the consonant s. The first is sounded like the o in “hot” (transliterated o). In Eastern Bihari the same vowel has a broad sound, but not so broad as in Bengali. As we go westwards this broad sound is gradually lost, till it entirely disappears in the most western dialect, Bhojpurī. As regards s, the Māgadhī Prakrit pronounced it as ś, like the sh in “shin.” The Prakrits of the West preserved its dental sound, like that of the s in “sin.” Here Bengali and Eastern Hindi exactly represent the ancient state of affairs. The former has the ś-sound and the latter the s-sound. At the present day Bihari has abandoned the practice of the old Māgadhī Prakrit in this respect, and pronounces its s’s as clearly as in the West. There are political reasons for this. The pronunciation of s is a literal shibboleth between Bengal and Upper India. For centuries Bihár has been connected politically with the West, and has in the course of generations rid itself of the typical pronunciation of the East. On the other hand, a witness as to the former pronunciation of the letter is present in the fact that, in the Kaithi character, s is always written ś. In the declension of nouns, Bihari follows Bengali more closely than it follows Eastern Hindi, and its conjugation is based on the same principles as those which obtain in the former language.

The age of Bihari as an independent language is unknown. We have songs written in it dating from the 15th century, and at that time it had received considerable literary culture. Bihari has three main dialects, which fall Language. into two divisions, an eastern and a western. The eastern division includes Maithilī or Tirhutiā and Magahī. Magahi is the dialect of the country corresponding to the ancient Magadha, and may therefore be taken as the modern representative of the purest Māgadhī Prakrit. Its northern boundary is generally the river Ganges, and its western the river Son. To the south it has overflowed into the northern half of Chota Nagpur. It is nearly related to Maithili, but it is quite uncultivated and has no literature, although it is the vernacular of the birthplace of Buddhism. Nowadays it is often referred to by natives of other parts of the country as the typically boorish language of India. Maithili faces Magahi across the Ganges. It is the dialect of the old country of Mithilā or Tirhut, famous from ancient times for its learning. Historically and politically it has long been closely connected with Oudh, the home of the hero Rāma-candra, and its people are amongst the most conservative in India. Their language bears the national stamp. It has retained numerous antiquated forms, and parts of its grammar are extraordinarily complex. It has a small literature which has helped to preserve these peculiarities in full play, so that though Magahi shares them, it has lost many which are still extant in the everyday talk of Mithila. The western division consists of the Bhojpuri dialect, spoken on both sides of the Gangetic valley, from near Patna to Benares. It has extended south-east into the southern half of Chota Nagpur, and is spoken by at least twenty millions of people who are as free from prejudice as the inhabitants of Mithila are conservative. The Bhojpuris are a fighting race, and their language is a practical one, made for everyday use, as simple and straightforward as Maithili and Magahi are complex. In fact, it might almost be classed as a separate language, had it any literature worthy of the name.

(Abbreviations: Mth. = Maithili, Mg. = Magahi, Bh. = Bhojpuri, B. = Bihari, Bg. = Bengali. Skr. = Sanskrit, Pr. = Prakrit. Mg. Pr. = Magadhi Prakrit.)

Vocabulary.—The Bihari vocabulary calls for few remarks. Tatsamas, or words borrowed in modern times from Sanskrit (see Indo-Aryan Languages), are few in number, while all the dialects are replete with honest home-born tadbhavas, used (unlike Bengali) both in the literary and in the colloquial language. Very few words are borrowed from Persian, Arabic or other languages.

Phonetics.—The stress-accent of Bihari follows the usual rules of modern Indo-Aryan vernaculars. In words of more than one syllable it cannot fall on the last, whether the vowel of that syllable be long or short, pronounced, half-pronounced, or not pronounced. With this exception, the accent always falls on the last long syllable. If there are no long syllables in the word, the accent is thrown back as far as possible, but never farther than the syllable before the antepenultimate. Thus, ki-sȃ-n(a) (final a not pronounced); pȃ-nī, há-ma-rā; dé-kha-lả-hū. In the last word there is a secondary

accent on the penultimate, owing to the following imperfect vowel (see below). When the first syllable of a word has not the main stress-accent, it also takes a secondary one, as in dè-kha-li-ai-nhi. When the letter a follows a syllable which has the accent (secondary or primary) it is only half pronounced, and is here denoted by a small a above the line. In Mth. (but not in Mg. or Bh.) a final short i or u is often similarly very lightly pronounced, and is then represented by the same device. Before such an “imperfect” i or u the preceding syllable has a secondary accent, if it has not already got the main one.

When a word ends in a preceded by a single uncompounded consonant, the a is not pronounced; thus, kisȃna, sounded kisȃn. This vowel is sometimes pronounced with a drawl, like the a in “ball,” and is then transliterated å. When a has this sound it can end a word, and in this position is common in the second person of verbs; thus, dēkhå, see thou. This sound is very frequently heard in Bhojpuri, and gives a peculiar tone to the whole dialect, which at once strikes the casual hearer. The usual short form of the letter ā is a, but when this would lead to confusion it is shortened in Mth. and Mg. to a sound like that of a in the German Mann, and is then transliterated . In Bh. it is always shortened to a. As an example, from pānī, water, is formed the word paniyā, but (in Mth. and Mg.) from the word mārab, to strike, we have Mth. mảra, Mg. mảralī′, I struck, because mara (-) would mean “I died.” In Bh. mara actually has both these meanings. The letters e and o may be either long (ē, ō) or short (e, o). In Skr. the diphthongs āi and āu (here transliterated āī, āū) are much longer than the Bihari ai and au, which are contractions of only a + i and a + u respectively. We may compare the Sanskrit, or tatsama, āī with the English “aye,” and the tadbkava ai with the English “I.” In counting syllables in Bihari, ai and au count each as two syllables, not each as one long syllable. The Skr. appears only in tatsamas. Nasalization of vowels is extremely frequent. In this article it is represented by the sign ~ over the vowel, as in mūh, mảra and dekhalahū.

As regards consonants, and ḍh, when medial, are pronounced as strongly burred and ṛh, and are then transliterated as here shown. There is a constant tendency to change these to an ordinary dental r and rh; thus, ghōḍā, pronounced ghōṛā or ghōrā. The semivowels y and v are always pronounced like j and b respectively, unless they are simply euphonic letters put in to bridge the hiatus between two concurrent vowels; thus yāūvana pronounced jāūban, and maliyā for mali-ā, ghoṛawā for ghoṛa-ā. The sibilants ś and s are both pronounced as a dental s, but (a relic of the old Mg. Pr.) are both invariably written as a palatal ś in the Kaithi character. Thus, the English word “session” (seśan) is written śeśan and pronounced sesan. The cerebral , when uncompounded, is pronounced kh. When compounded, it generally has its proper sound. Thus, ṣaṣṭha, sixth, is pronounced khaṣṭh. As a general statement we may say that Bihari spelling is not fixed, and that there are often many ways of writing, and sometimes two or three ways of pronouncing, the same word.

The main typical characteristics of Mg. Pr. are that western Pr. s becomes ś, and that western Pr. r becomes l. We have seen that the change of s to ś occurs in Bengali but not in Bihari, and have given reasons for the change back to s in the latter language, although the Mg. Pr. ś is retained in writing. In both Bengali and Bihari, a western r is not now represented by l, but is represented by r. This deviation from the Mg. Pr. rule is only apparent, and is due to the letter r representing two distinct sounds. In Skr., in the western Prakrits, and in the modern western languages, r is a cerebral letter, with a cerebral sound. In the modern eastern languages, r is a dental letter, with a dental sound. Everywhere, both in old times and at the present day, l was and is a dental letter. The meaning, therefore, of the change from western Pr. r to Mg. Pr. l was that the western r lost its cerebral sound, and became a dental letter, like l. That dental character is preserved in the r of the modern eastern languages. In fact, in Bihari r and l are frequently confounded together, or with n, another dental letter. Thus, we have kālī or kārī, black; phar or phal, fruit; Skr. rajju-, B. leju-rī a string; Lakhnaur, the name of a town, quite commonly pronounced Nakhlaul; and the English names Kelly and Currie both pronounced indifferently karī or kalī. Compare Assamese saril for Skr. śarīra-.

The genius of the Bihari language is adverse to the existence of a long vowel in a tadbhava word, when it would occupy a position more than two syllables from the end. Thus, ghōṛā, but ghoṛa; mārel, but mảra. This is subject to various subsidiary rules which will be found in the grammars. The principle is a most important one, and, indeed, pervades all Indo-Aryan vernaculars of the present day, but it is carried out with the greatest thoroughness and consistency in Bihari. The whole system of declension and conjugation is subject to it. When ā preceding i or e is shortened, the two together become ai, and similarly a shortened ā + u or o become au.

Declension.—Bihari has a stronger sense of gender than the other languages of the Eastern Group. In the modern language the distinction is in the main confined no animate beings, but in the older poetry the system of grammatical, as distinct from sexual, gender is in full swing. Except in the case of the interrogative pronoun, there is no neuter gender—words which in Skr. and Pr. were neuter being generally, but not always, treated as masculine. The plural can everywhere be formed by the addition of some noun of multitude to the singular, and this is the universal rule in Mth., but in Mg. and Bh. it is generally made by adding n or (in Bh.) nh or ni to the singular, before all of which a final vowel is shortened. Thus ghōṛā, a horse, ghōṛan, horses.

As for cases, the Apabhraṁśa locative -hi (-) and the ablative -hu (see Prakrit) terminations have survived in poetry, proverbs and the like, and each of them can now be used for any oblique case; but in ordinary language and in literature - and -hi have become contracted to and ē, the former of which is employed for the instrumental and the latter for the locative case. Thus, ghar, house; gharẻ, by a house; gharē, in a house. The old termination -hu has also survived in sporadic instances, under the form , with an ablative sense. Cases are, however, usually formed, as elsewhere, by suffixing postpositions to a general oblique case (see Indo-Aryan Languages). The oblique case in Bihari is generally the same as the nominative, but nouns ending in n, b, l or r, and some others, form it by adding ā (a relic of the old Mg. Pr. genitive in āha). Thus, maral, the act of striking, obl. mảra (Mg. Pr. mảri-allāha). Another set of verbal nouns forms the oblique case in ai, e or , thus, Bh. mār, the ace of striking, mārē-la, for striking, to strike. In Mg. every noun ending in a consonant may have its oblique form in e; thus, ghar, a house, ghar-ke or ghare-ke, of a house. The ai- or e- termination is another relic of the Apabhrarhsa -hi, and the is a survival of the Ap. -hu.

The usual genitive postposition is k, which has become a suffix, and now forms part of the word to which it is attached, a final preceding vowel being frequently shortened. Thus, ghōṛā, gen. ghōṛāk. Other genitive postpositions are ke, kar and kēr. These, and all other postpositions, are still separate words, and have not yet become suffixes. The more common postpositions are[1] Acc.-Dat. ke; Instr.-Abl. så, sē; Loc. må., mē. The genitive does not change to agree with the gender of the governing noun, as in Hindostani, but in Bh. (not in Mth. or Mg.), when the governing noun is not in the nominative singular, the genitive postposition takes the oblique form ; thus, rājā-ke mandir, the palace of the king; but rājā-kā mandir-mē, in the palace of the king. In Mth. and Mg. pronouns have a similar oblique genitive in ā. There is no case of the agent, as in Hindostani; the subject of all tenses of all verbs being always in the nominative case.

Every noun can have three forms, a short, a long and a redundant. The short form is sometimes weak and sometimes strong. Occasionally both weak and strong forms occur for the same word; thus, short weak, ghōṛ; short strong, ghōṛā; long, ghoṛawā; redundant, ghoṛauwā. This superfluity of forms is due to the existence of the pleonastic suffix -ka- in the Prakrit stage of the language (see Prakrit). In that stage the k of the suffix was already elided, so that we have the stages:—Skr. ghōṭa-ka-s, Pr. ghōḍ-a-u, B. ghōṛā (by contraction) or ghoṛa-wā (with insertion of a euphonic w). The redundant form is a result of the reduplication of the suffix, which was allowed in Pr. Thus. Skr. *ghōṭa-ka-ka-s, Pr. ghōḍa-a-a-u, B. ghoṛauwā (contracted from ghoṛa-wa-wa-a). The long and redundant forms are mainly used in conversation. They are familiar and often contemptuous. Sometimes they give a definite force to the word, as ghoṛa, the horse. In the feminine they are much used to form diminutives.

As in other languages of the Eastern Group, the singulars of the personal pronouns have fallen into disuse. The plurals are used politely for the singulars, and new forms are made from these old plurals, to make new plurals. The old singulars survive in poetry and in the speech of villagers, but even here the nominative has disappeared and new nominatives have been formed from the oblique bases. All the pronouns have numerous optional forms. As a specimen of pronominal declension, we may give the most common forms of the first personal pronoun.


Maithilī. Magahī. Bhojpurī.
  Sing. Nom.  
    Gen.
    Obl.
  Plur. Nom.  
    Gen.
    Obl.
  ham
  hamār
  hama
  hamarā sabh
  hamarā sabhak  
  hamarā sabh
  ham
  hamār
  hama
  hamaranī
  hamaranī-ke  
  hamaranī
  ham
  hamār
  hama
  hamanī-kā
  hamanī-ke  
  hama


The important point to note in the above is that the oblique form singular is formed from the genitive. It is the oblique form of that case which is also used when agreeing with another noun in an oblique case. Thus, hamār ghar, my house; hamarā ghar-mẽ, in my house; hamarā-kē, to me. In Mth. the nominative plural is also the oblique form of the genitive singular, and in Bh. and Mg. it is the oblique form of the genitive plural. In Bengali the nominative plural of nouns substantive is formed in the same way from the genitive singular (see Bengali). The usual forms of the pronouns are ham, I; tṍ, tṹ, thou; Mth. apanahī, Bh. raurā, Your Honour; ī, this; ō, that, he; , who; , he; , who? Mth. , Mg.,

Bh. , what? keo, keu, any one; Mth. kicchu, Mg. kuchu, Bh. kachu, anything. The oblique forms of these vary greatly, and must be learned from the grammars.

Conjugation in Maithili and Magahi.—It is in the conjugation of the verb that the amazing complexity of the Mth. and Mg. grammars appears. The conjugation of the Bhojpuri verb is quite simple, and will be treated separately. In all three dialects the verb makes little or no distinction of number, but instead there is a distinction between non-honorific and honorific forms. In Mth. and Mg. this distinction applies not only to the subject but also to the object, so that for each person there are, in the first place, four groups of forms, viz.:—

I. Subject non-honorific, object non-honorific.

II. Subject honorific, object non-honorific.

III. Subject non-honorific, object honorific.

IV. Subject honorific, object honorific.


Object: non-honorific Object: honorific
  Person.   Short Form Long Form Redundant Form. Group III.
  (Subject: non-  
honorific)
  Group IV.  
(Subject:
honorific)
Group I.
  (Subject: non-  
honorific)
Group II.
(Subject:
  honorific)  
Group I.
  (Subject: non-  
honorific)
Group II.
(Subject:
  honorific)  
Group I.
  (Subject: non-  
honorific)
Group II.
(Subject:
  honorific)  
1




2

mảra or mảralakū mảraliai
  Or (with object in 2nd person)  
mảraliau
mảraliaik
  Or (with object in 2nd person)  
maraliauk
mảraliainhi
mảralẽ   Same as 1st  
person.
mảralảh   Same as 1st  
person, but
no forms for
object in 2nd
person.
mảralahảk   Same as 1st  
person, but
no forms for
object in 2nd
person.
mảralahūnhi   Same as 1st  
person.
3 mảralak mảralanhi mảralakai
Or (with object
in 2nd person)
mảralakau
Wanting mảralakaik
Or (with object
in 2nd person)
mảralakauk
Wanting mảralakainhi mảralathīnhi


In Mth. all the forms in which the object is honorific end in -nhi. Mg. closely follows this, but the forms are more abraded.

Forms in which the object is non-honorific may be, as in the case of nouns, short, long or redundant. The long forms are made by adding ai (or in the second person -ảh) to the short forms, and the redundant forms by adding k to the long forms. Again, if the object is in the second person, the ai of the long and redundant forms is changed to au. Finally, in the first person the non-honorific and honorific forms depending on the subject are the same, and are also identical with those forms of the second person in which the subject is honorific. We thus get the following paradigm of the Mth. past tense of the verb mārab, to strike. The Mg. forms are very similar. Besides the above there are numerous optional forms. Moreover, these are only masculine forms. The feminine gender of the subject introduces new complications. It is impossible here to go into all these minutiae, interesting as they are to philologists. They must be learnt from the regular grammars. On the present occasion we shall confine ourselves to describing the formation of the principal parts of the verb.

In Mth. the usual verb substantive and auxiliary verb is, as in Bengali, based on the root ach (Skr. ṛcchati), the initial vowel being generally dropped, as in chī, I am; chalahū, I was; but achi, he is. In Mg. we have or hikī, I am; halū, I was. The finite verb has three verbal nouns or infinitives, viz. (from the root mār, strike), Mth. māri or Mg. mār; mārab; and māral. All three are fully declined as nouns, the oblique forms being mārai or māre, māra, and mārala, respectively. There are two participles, a present (Mth. mảrait = Pr. mārentu) and a past (Mth. māral = Pr. māri-allu). The Mg. forms are very similar. The old Mg. Pr. present and imperative have survived, but all other tenses are made from verbal nouns or participles. The past tense (of which the conjugation for a Maithili transitive verb is given above) is formed by adding pronominal suffixes to the past participle. Thus, māral + ī, struck + by-me, becomes mảr’lī, I struck. In the case of intransitive verbs, the suffixes may represent the nominative and not the instrumental case of the pronoun, and hence the conjugation is somewhat different. The future is a mixed tense. Generally speaking, the first two persons are formed from the verbal noun in b, which is by origin a future passive participle, and the third person is formed from the present participle. Thus, mārab + ahū, about-to-be-struck + by-me, becomes mảrabahū, I shall strike, and mảrait + ảh, striking + he, becomes mảratảh, he will strike (compare the English “he’s going,” for “he is on the point of going”). A past conditional is also formed by adding similar suffixes to the present participle, as in mảritahū, (if) I had struck. This use of the present participle already existed in the Pr. age (cf. Hēma-candra’s Grammar, in. 180). In Mth. the present definite and the imperfect are formed by conjugating the present or past tense respectively of the auxiliary verb with the present participle; thus marait chī, I am striking. Mg. (like vulgar English) substitutes the oblique form of the verbal noun for the present participle, as in māre hī, I am a-striking. The perfect is usually formed by adding the word for “is” to the past; thus, Mth. mảralī achi, I have struck, lit. struck-by-me it-is. A pluperfect is similarly formed with the past tense of the auxiliary verb.

There are numerous irregular verbs. Most of the irregularities are due to the root ending in a vowel or in a weak consonant such as b (= Pr. v). Thus root pāb, obtain, past participle pāol, first singular, past tense, paulī. More definitely irregular are a few roots like kar, do, past participle kail. These last instances are cases in which the past participle is independently derived from a Skr. past participle, and is not formed as usual by adding the pleonastic suffix -al or -il (Skr., Pr., -alla-, -illa-, see Prakrit) to the Bihari root. Thus, Skr. kṛta-s, Pr. kaa-u, ka-ill-u, B. kail, instead of kar-al.

There is a long series of transitive verbs formed from intransitives and of causal verbs formed from transitives, generally by adding āb (Skr. āpaya-, Pr. āvē-). Compound verbs are numerous. Noteworthy is the desiderative compound formed by adding the root cāh, wish, to the dative of a verbal noun. Thus, ham dēkhả-kē cahait-chī, I am wishing for the seeing, I wish to see.

Conjugation in Bhojpuri.—The Bh. conjugation is as simple as that of Mth. and Mg. is complex. In the first and second persons the plural is generally employed for the singular, but there is no change in the verb corresponding to the person or honour of the object. The usual verb substantive and auxiliary verb is derived in the present from the root bāṭ or bāṛ, be, as in bāṭē or bāṛē (Skr. vartatē, Pr. vaṭṭai), he is. The past is derived from the root rah (Skr. rahati, Pr. rahai), as in raha or (contracted) rahȋ, I was. The verbal nouns and participles are nearly the same as in Mth.-Mg., the first verbal noun and the present participle being mār and mārat, as in Mg. The old present and imperative, derived from the Mg. Pr. forms, are also employed in Bh. Thus, mārē (Pr. mārēi), he strikes. This tense is often used as a present conditional. When it is wished to emphasize the sense of a present indicative, the syllable - is suffixed. The same suffix is employed in Rajasthani, Naipali and Marathi to form the future, and in Bh. it is often also used with a future sense. The past tense is formed, as in Mth.-Mg., by adding pronominal suffixes to the past participle; thus, mara (māra + ), I struck, as explained above. Similarly, for the first and second persons of the future we have mara, I shall strike, and so on, but the third person is mārī (Pr. mārēhi), he will strike, marihen (Pr. mārēhinti), they will strike. The periphrastic tenses are formed on the same principles as in Mth. As an example of Bh. conjugation we give the present, past and future tenses in all persons. There are a few additional optional forms, but nothing like the multiplicity of meanings which we find in Mth. and Mg.


Present. Past. Future.
  Sing. 1  
2  
3  

Plur. 1  
2  
3  
  Not used  
māre-lē
māre-lā

mārī-lā
mārả-lả
māre-lē
  Not used  
maralas
mara

mara
mara
maralen
  Not used  
mara
mārī

mara
mara
marihen


It will be observed that the termination of the present changes in sympathy with the old present to which it is attached. In some parts of the Bh. area, especially in the district of Sāran, u is substituted for al in the past. Thus, maruȋ, I struck. The maru- is merely the past participle without the pleonastic termination -alla- which is used in Bihari, as explained under the Mth.-Mg. conjugation.

Irregular verbs, the formation of transitive and causal verbs, and the treatment of compound verbs, are on the same lines as in Mth.

Bihari Literature.—In all three dialects there are numerous folk-epics transmitted by word of mouth. Several have been published at various times in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal and in the Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenländischen Gesellschaft. The only dialect which has any Literature. real literature is Maithili. The earliest writer of whom we have any record is Vidyapati Ṭhakkura (Bidyapati Thakur), who lived at the court of Rājā Śiva Siṁha of Sugaonā in Tirhut in the 15th century. He was a voluminous Sanskrit writer, but his fame rests chiefly on his dainty lyrics in Maithili dealing with the loves of Rādhā and Krishna. These have exercised an important influence on the religious history of eastern India. They were adopted and enthusiastically recited by the reformer Caitanya (16th century), and through him became the home-poetry of the Bengali-speaking Lower Provinces. Their language was transformed (we can hardly say translated) into Bengali, and in that shape they have had numerous imitators. A collection of poems by the old Master-singer in their Maithili dress has been published by the present writer in his Chrestomathy of that language. The most admired of Vidyapati’s successors is Manbōdh Jhā, who died in 1788. He composed a Haribans, or poetical life of Krishna, which has great popularity. Many dramas have been composed in Mithila. The fashion is to write the body of the work in Sanskrit and Prakrit, but the songs in Maithili. Two dramas, the Pārijāta-haraṇa and the Rukmiṇī-pariṇaya, are attributed to Vidyāpati. Among modern writers in the dialect, we may mention Harṣanātha, an elegant lyric poet and author of a drama entitled Uṣā-haraṇa, and Candra Jhā, whose version of the Rāmayāṇa and translation of Vidyāpati’s Sanskrit Puruṣa-parīkṣā are deservedly popular.

Authorities.—The Linguistic Survey of India, vol. v. part ii. (Calcutta, 1903), gives a complete conspectus of Bihari in all its dialects and sub-dialects. See also G. A. Grierson, Seven Grammars of the Dialects and Sub-dialects of the Bihárí Language, parts i. to viii. (Calcutta, 1883-1887—these deal with every form of Bihari except standard Maithili); and S. H. Kellogg, A Grammar of the Hindí Language, in which are treated High Hindí ... also the Colloquial Dialects of ... Bhojpur, Magadha, Maithila, &c. (2nd ed., London, 1893).

For Maithili, see G. A. Grierson, An Introduction to the Maithilí Language of North Bihár, containing a Grammar, Chrestomathy and Vocabulary; part i. Grammar (Calcutta, 1881; 2nd ed., 1909); part ii. Chrestomathy and Vocabulary (Calcutta, 1882). For Vidyāpati Ṭhakkura, see J. Beames, “The Early Vaishnava Poets of Bengal,” in Indian Antiquary, ii. (1873), pp. 37 ff.; the same, “On the Age and Country of Vidyapati,” ibid. iv. (1875), pp. 299 ff.; anon, article in the Baṇga Darśana, vol. iv. (1282 B.S.), pp. 75 ff.; Sāradācarana Maitra, Introduction to Vidyāpatir Padāvalī (2nd ed., Calcutta, 1285 B.S.); G. A. Grierson, Chrestomathy, as above; “Vidyāpati and his Contemporaries,” Indian Antiquary, vol. xiv. (1885), pp. 182 ff.; “On some Mediaeval Kings of Mithilâ,” ibid. vol. xxviii. (1899), pp. 57 ff.

For Bhojpuri, see J. Beames, “Notes on the Bhojpurí Dialect of Hindí spoken in Western Bihár,” in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, vol. iii. N.S., 1868, pp. 483 ff.; A. F. R. Hoernle, A Grammar of the Eastern Hindí compared with the other Gaudian Languages (here “Eastern Hindí” means “Western Bhojpurī”), (London, 1880); J. R. Reid, Report on the Settlement Operations in the District of Azamgarh (Allahabad, 1881—contains in appendices full grammar and vocabulary of Western Bhojpurí).

No special works have been written about Magahi.

 (G. A. Gr.) 


  1. The origin of the postpositions is discussed in the article Hindostani.