Pali and Prakrit

Exact Match
  Indo Aryan

  Early Dravidian

  Medieval Period
  Bhakti Period
  Bhakti in Hindi
  Bhakti in Bengali
  Bhakti in Punjabi
  Bhakti in

  European Impact
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Pali and Prakrit were the spoken languages that evolved from Vedic and classical Sanskrit. Buddhists and Jains used these languages for their religious writings.

In the Hindu world, the only people usually allowed to read the sacred Sanskrit texts were the brahmins (priests). But the teachings of the Buddha, who lived in the 500's B.C., were meant to be open to all. So the early Buddhist scriptures were written in the Pali language. These sacred religious writings are called the Tripitaka (threefold basket), because they were written on palm leaves and stored in baskets.

Pali literature includes the colourful Jakata tales, stories of the past lives of the Buddha. Once Pali had been labelled as the language of Buddhism, it was regarded as sacred and, like Sanskrit, was preserved in its existing state. Pali is still important as a Buddhist language in Sri Lanka.

In the same way, some forms of Prakrit were used for writing the scriptures of Jainism. Because of their religious importance, early Buddhist and Jain manuscripts were carefully preserved in monasteries.

Other Prakrit literature includes moral tales and poetry. The best-known poet in Prakrit is Hala (A.D. 300's). Hala also compiled Gathasaptashati (700 verses), an anthology of erotic poetry.

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