Dr. Achlanand Jakhmola (Dehradun)
Garhwal Region. From the administrative and linguistic point of view Uttarakhand broadly consists of two regions i.e. Garhwal and Kumaon. Garhwal region comprises seven districts viz. Pauri, Rudraprayag, Chamoli, Tehri, Uttarkashi, Dehradun and Haridwar. Situated between 29o 10’ N and 31o 28’ N latitudes and 79o 43’ E to 80o 10’ E longitudes its area is about 32,200 sq. Km. and the population approximately 25 lakhs.
Ancient Names. How was this region known in ancient times? What was its nomenclature? All this is shrouded in the dark. Scholars are not unanimous with the views of Bhajan Singh ‘Singh’ that the Aryans were the original inhabitants of Garhwal. But there is no denying the fact that Aryans were aware of this tract of land. In the Rig Veda this area has been mentioned asHimwant and in the Yajur Veda as Haimawata or Madhya Haimwata.Aittreya Brahmana calls it Uttarkuru. According to Dr. S.P. Dabral the earliest name of this region in was Ushinara and it extended from the river Ganges to river Kali. In the Kaunopnishad and the Mahabharat the termsUshnar and Kuru Panchal have been used for this region. The Buddhist literature (Divyavadan and Vinaypitaka) has many references to this tract of land. Lord Buddha himself is said to have visited Ushirddwaja which has been identified with Chandi Pahar near Kankhal in Haridwar. Due to the influence of Buddhism, the Badhan area of Garhwal was known asBauddhanchal for a long period in the past. Many place names in theMahabharat are co-related to areas of present day Garhwal region. The land drained by Yamuna (Jamuna) was called Yamun Pradesh which is confirmed to be the present Jaunsar area located in the north west of Dehradun.Kalshail was the old name of Kalsi. Bharadwaj janpad of the Markandeya Puran and frequently mentioned in the Mahabharat has been identified by Partizer with the Gangetic valley of Garhwal. Uttar Kaushal (Ramayan), Uttaranchal, Uttarapath, Karupath, Yugshail, Singhpur, Parvatakar, Brahmapur, Karttrirpur, Kedarbhumi, Kiratmandal, Khashdesh,Sapadlaksha, Aryavart, Bhrahmawart, Ilavart, Ilavritta, Rudra Himalaya, Chulla, Sapta Saisandhav nomenclatures for whole or part of this area have also appeared in various scriptures and ancient literary works. This region was addressed Swargbhumi and Devbhumi in ancient times.
The Term Garhwal. The historians and scholars generally agree with the conjecture of Pt. Hari Krishna Raturi (Garhwal ka Itihas) that the term ‘Garhwal’ is a compound word formed by combining its two componentsgarh + wala > garhwala (possessor of forts) > Garhwal. It is said that this region had many forts and fortresses. In the Rig Veda there is a reference to King Shamber of the Asurs who had 100 forts in Garhwal region. As time passed, these forts were restricted to about fifty two or so which were conquered and consolidated by king Ajaypal of the Pawar dynasty around early 16th century A.D. However, Dr. Shiv Prasad Dabral, disagrees with this view and opines that this term is derived from ‘gaarh (uneven land) +wala > Garhwal. Most of the scholars still consider Pt. Raturi’s derivation more logical and convincing.
The term ‘Garhwal’ or ‘Garhwar’ seems to be in vogue after its capital was shifted to Shrinagar by king Ajaypal around 1517 A.D. A copper plate inscription of Raja Man Shah of the year 1610 A.D. in the temple of Raghunathji at Deoprayag, the word Garhwal is recorded. Again, a copper plate kept in the Gorakhnath cave near Shrinagar mentions about the sankalp(resolution, vow) of King Prithwipati Shah at the time of his coronation (1641 A.D.) calling himself Garhwal Santaan (son of Garhwal). Its occurrence is also found in a couplet by poet Bhushan to eulogize king Fateh Shah (1634-1716 A.D.) whom other contemporary poets of Bhushan, such as Ratan Kavi and Mati Ram have also referred to as ‘Garhwaar Turaksah’. The authentic mention of this term is found in the works of celebrated artist-poet Mola Ram around 1875 A. D.
Garhwal in the Scriptures and Epics. The Skand Puran, referring to this land as Kedar Khand ,also give its boundaries, saying that in the north lies theSwetagiri (Dhaulagiri mountain), Gangadwar (Haridwar) is in the south,Bauddhanchal (Badhan) is in the east and Tamasa (Tons) in the west. It further mentions that the total expansion of this heavenly abode of gods and goddesses is 50 yojan from north to south and 30 yojan from east to west. In the Sabha Parva of Mahabharat the longitudinal and zonal divisions have been given as Upgiri (Sivalik ranges); Bahirgiri (above Sivalik, up to 1000’(Central Himalayas); Kraunch Parvat (trans-Himalaya); and Kailash Parvat or Sweta Parvat. In the present context Swet Parvat is considered to be Tibet. Thus Kraunch Parvat should have formed the northern boundary of Kedarkhand (present day Garhwal region).
The Land. The northern part of Garhwal is mostly rugged and characterised by deep valleys and precipitous slopes. The higher Himalaya region is above 2500 meters with peaks like Nanda Devi (7817 meters), Kamat (7756 meters), Chaukhamba (7138 meters), Trishul(7120 meters), Dunagiri(7066 meters) and Kedarnath (6940 meters). These peaks are garlanded by a series of glaciers (Gangotri, Pinder, Kedarnath, Bhagat Kharak) and bugyals.The bugyals are meadows or pasture lands with velvety dark grass which are used by shepherds for grazing their ponies and sheep during summer season. The best known bugyals are Baidani, Dayara, Auli, Panar and Badrinath.
Below the lower Himalaya zone is a massive mountainous tract with a number of ridges such as Mussoorie ridge, Nag Tibba ridge, Pauri ridge and Gopeshwar ridges. Many tals (lakes) and kunds (pool consecrated to a deity) exist here. The plain area around the meeting point of two hills is called ‘Khal’. There are a number of Khals, Tals (lakes) andDhals(slopes),and dhars (ridges) in this hilly region. Many names of settlements established at these places are normally added with‘Khal’ (Paukhal, Dwarikhal, Jaharikhai)or‘dhar’(Nagdhar,Devidhar)etc. The Sub-Himalayan range known as Shivalik hills extending to foot-hills of Tarai- Bhawar and Haridwar, forms the southern boundary of Garhwal. There are longitudinal valleys in between the Shivalik and Himalaya which are called ‘doon’. Most important of these are Dehradoon (Dehradun) and Har-ki-doon.
The Rivers. There are numerous rivers and rivulets in Garhwal region. The most revered by all Hindus in India and abroad (Ganga), is termed as Bhagirathi up to Devprayag where it meets Alaknanda and becomes Ganga. It originates from Gaumukh in the Gangotri glacier north of Uttarkashi as Bhagirathi. As Ganga from Devprayag, it further flows down to meet Yamuna at Allahabad before merging with Bay of Bengal. The Saraswati rises south of Mana Pass region in north- west of Badrinath before joining Alaknanda. In Garhwal some small rivers meeting Alaknanda at various places are also known as ‘ganga’ e.g. Vishnuganga, Garudganga, Patalganga, Birahiganga. These rivers join Alaknanda at Vishnu Prayag, Nand Prayag, Karna Prayag, Rudraprayag and Devprayag respectively. The term ‘Prayag’ is the confluence of two rivers. These prayags, numbering five in Garhwal are centres of great religious importance. The Yamuna rises from Jamnotri glacier situated on the south western slopes of the Bandarpuncch. River Mandakini originates from the southern slopes of Kedarnath peak and Nandakini river from the glacier situated on the western slopes of Trisul. The Tons emerging from the northern slopes of Bandarpoonchh joins Yamuna near Kalsi. Other important rivers of Garhwal are Pinder, Nayar, and Song
The People. Some scholars hold the view that Rampithecus, a branch of human race inhabited a part of Garhwal some fifteen millions years ago. Dr. D.N. Majumdar in his ‘Races and Culture of India’ opines that Koltas of Jaunsar-Bawar represent koles, the aborigines inhabiting Garhwal region in ancient times. According to him Kole, Bhill, Dom (Domba), the descendants of Munda ethnic group of Negrito-Austroloid family and the Dasyus > Dasas of Rig Veda, are the other original inhabitants of this region. The present dayShilpkars (Koli, Lwar, Aujis, and other artisan classes) residing in the villages of Garhwal region and the Dravidians are said to be from the descendants of the aforesaid ethnic groups. Many other races, such asTangana, Patangana, Kirata, Kinnara, Shaka,Yaksh, Naga, Hun, Khasha etc. came to this region subsequently and inter-mixed with the original inhabitants or the different groups of other immigrants who had come earlier and settled down here. The Khashas, frequently referred to in the epics, Puranas, and Smrtis emerged as the most powerful race in Garhwal and Kumaon.
In the present social stratification of Garhwal we find three main castes viz. the Brahmins, the Rajputs and the Shilpkars. Besides, there are a good number of Vaishyas, Sikhs and Muslims in cities and big towns. The Brahmins are supposed to have migrated from the plains. It is said that many Muslims entered Garhwal with Suleman Shikoh, the son of Dara Shikoh, and settled here. A large number of Rajputs are said to have migrated from Rajasthan to seek service under the Hindu kings of Garhwal. Some of them moved en-masse and re-grouped themselves occupying one particular area. PattiAjmer and Patti Udaipur in lower Garhwal testify this version.
In the past the people of Garhwal followed simplicity of character and adherence to truth. As quoted by Rai Pati Ram Bahadur in his ‘Garhwal : Ancient and Modern’ Mr. Trail who had administration of Garhwal under him as the first Commissioner of Kumaon Division, mentions thus about the people of Garhwal - “.......The total absence of theft and extreme morality of the people, renders police unnecessary.......The people as a whole may be regarded as honest and truthful to the trust imposed upon them......”. Subsequently, he also adds “.......they are envious of each other, prone to equivocation and petty cunning”. Another commissioner of the region Mr. Batten writes “..........In dealings they are trustworthy; in pecuniary dealings with one another....had no recourse to written agreements..............In northern Garhwal the inhabitants appear more energetic, open and manly like most of the hill men”. Gradually, however, after coming in the contact and mixing with outside world, there is now hardly any difference in their traits and character.
Rearing of cattle and Agriculture was the main activity of the people of Garhwal in the past. Presently neither of these occupations is considered sufficiently remunerative. After gradually emigrating to plains in search of better fortunes, whatever youth remains back in the villages, is attracted towards Army, Para-Military forces or other organisations in the plains. Most of the villages in hilly districts of Garhwal region now appear deserted and agricultural fields are barren.
The term Garhwali. This term has been derived from the stem ‘Garhwal’ by suffixing the morpheme –‘I’ to it and used as noun as well as adjective.When used as noun it indicates the language or the people of this region. In the adjectival form it qualifies the following noun e.g. Garhwali culture, Garhwali dish, Garhwali dances etc. Here we are deliberating upon Garhwali only as a language.
Brief History of Garhwali language. The vocabulary of Garhwali has originated from many sources in the past but its root word-source is said to be the dialects of the tribes such as Kol, Domba, Bhill, Munda, Dravid, affiliated to Negrito, Proto-Australoid family who inhabited this area during pre-historical times. Tangans, Kirats, Darad, Pishaach and powerful tribes like Khas, Shaks, Huns, Gurjars etc. influenced the Garhwali language and its vocabulary in the early stages. Vedic Sanskrit, Shauraseni Prakrit and north-eastern Rajasthani enriched the Garhwali language and played an important role in its development. During the medieval period Gujarati, Marathi, Bengali, Punjabi and some foreign languages like Persian, Arabic, French and mostly English made the vocabulary of Garhwali richer. Hindi played a very dominant role in shaping it. Despite these external influences it is to be particularly noted that nearly one-third of the words in Garhwali are of local origin maintaining its ancient form still intact.
The earliest forms of Garhwali are available in the inscriptions on the remains of forts, coins, royal stamps, the danpatras (certificates given to priests and temples), royal decrees and orders inscribed on stones slates of various temples, copper plates and deeds of gifts given to priests, temples or individuals. These contain many words of corrupted Sanskrit. Some words and verbs are missing. The Dholsagar, folklores, lyrical Jagar songs,Maangal Geet, various types of folk songs, folktales, tales of gallantry,Aanaa-Pakhaana (maxims-idioms), riddles, children’s songs etc. have been retained and preserved through generations to generations.
The Dialects and Sub-dialects. Garhwali is the assemblage and assimilation of various dialects and sub-dialects of the region. It is used by people living in all the five hilly districts of Garhwal region and in the northern parts of Dehradun and Haridwar districts. George Abraham Grierson, I.C.S., was the pioneer in carrying out the Linguistic Survey of India (1894-1927 A.D.). Garhwali is covered in Part IV, Vol. IX. He mentions that the State of Tehri Garhwal and to its east British Garhwal is the domain of Garhwali language, and that in the mountainous tract that forms its home the language changes from place to place.
It is however, doubtful whether Grierson ever visited the area personally. He appears to have left the survey to his revenue officials who broadly classified the language in nine groups and named them according to the relatedParganas. The dialects covered in the survey are - Shrinagari, Salani, Rathi, Badhani, Nagpuria, Lobhya, Manjhkumaiya, Dasaulya andTehriyali. This classification was done mainly on administrative (Pargana) basis and not on any linguistic principles. Whereas the entire Tehri state was covered in one dialect i.e. Tehriyali, the language of British Garhwal was divided in eight dialects. Subsequently these encouraged further divisions and the dialects of the region reached to twenty or so! Recently, Bhasha Research and publication centre Vadodara, after a fresh survey, added Jaunsari, Jaunpuri, Jad, Ramoli, Rawalti, Bangani and Marchha as tribal dialects of Garhwal,
In this context the fact has been forgotten that the exterior model, internal organisation and grammar of almost all these dialects are identical. The inhabitants of Garhwal do not have any problems in understanding each other’s dialects or in mutual conversation. This classification has resulted in disunity. Grierson had mentioned that Shrinagari is the standard language of Garhwali. It is well known that most of the composed literature is in Salani, Shrinagari or nearby Tehriyali. But no consensus could be achieved on the issue of standardisation so far. Various pronunciations in Garhwali poses a big challenge.
Salient Characteristics. It is to be noted that Garhwali has syntactic as well as analytic properties. Majority of words have two or three syllables. Monosyllable words are also in abundance. There is a special pattern of accent, voice pattern, pitch, rhythm, and stress. Most sounds are similar to Hindi. Garhwali has all the aspirated speech sounds as in certain dialects of Hindi. Majority of the vowels are characterised as closed, open, frontal, back, central, rounded, unrounded, and nasalised. There is no clear-cut difference in the pronunciation of short and long vowels. Usually long vowels in the word-final position are shortened if there are long vowels in the preceding syllable, e.g. chaabi instead of chaabii (keys), diidi instead ofdiidii (sister), laathi instead of laathii (stick). ‘o’ and ‘oo’ are interchangeable. Verbs normally end in ‘u’ or ‘o’ or ‘oo’. Similarly nouns also end with ‘oo’, ‘o’ or ‘u’ in singular and with ‘aa’ in their plural forms.
In the context of consonants the pronunciation of sounds ‘sh’ and ‘ksh’ are in free variation with ‘s’and ‘ks’ respectively. The bilabial ‘b’ and ‘v’ are in freely interchangeable in the word final position. When two aspirated sounds occur together, the aspiration of the second alphabet becomes un-aspirated, e.g. ‘chhanch’ instead of ‘chhanchh’ (Buttermilk, whey), ‘hat’ instead of ‘hath’ (hand), ‘bhook’ instead of ‘bhookh’ (hunger}, ‘dhanda’ instead of ‘dhandhaa’ (business). Normally aspirated sounds become de-aspirated in the word-final position, e.g. ‘bag’ (tiger), ‘mag’ (name of a month), ‘dood’instead of ‘doodh’ (milk).
Syntax and Grammar. The arrangement of sentence and grammar is similar to Hindi. The anterior part is subject and the posterior is predicate. Noun words are in abundance as compared to other words. There are two genders, masculine and feminine. Gender of most of the nouns can be predicted by their ending in vowels, e.g., those which end with aa, oo, and o are masculine and those which end with aa, i, and ii are feminine. Animate nouns fall under natural gender category. Plurals are formed by adding the suffixes like -sab, -jhaN or -log to the singular forms. Particles prefixed in the root are mainly used in the form of case signs. There are some case suffixes and postpositional case markers which are peculiar to Garhwali. In agentive, instrumental and ablative case, agentive marker -n or -l are added in the root word in place of inflexion, e.g., min/mil (I) e.g. mil/min bwal (I said),bald/baldan(bullock,ox), lathi/lathin (stick-staff/with a stick- staff). In relative case ou is a added in the root word e.g. baldou sing (the horn of bullock).
In Garhwali there are fourteen suffixes used in ablative case. Suffixes are used in abundance. In the same way in the genitive case, there is a mixture of vowels like u or (oo)-(a)- after the case suffixes, e.g. myaru (mine), manakhyo (of people), baldou sing (the horn of bull).There are similar suffixes for dat.ive and possessive cases. Sometimes, two postpositions are also used together. Most suffixes are of native origin, some are foreign and some are derived from Sanskrit. The main sources of particles are Sanskrit and Prakrit. Garhwali is full of imitating particles. --Most grammatical roots are either native or tadbhav (a word evolved organically from Sanskrit but used in a slightly changed form). The verbs in infinitive form end with –u, or oo, or –o, giving the .meaning in ‘raha hai’ (is doing) which is really in present continuous form.
A large number of verbs of local origin are there in Garhwali. One peculiarity is the presence of dual roots in them. The auxiliary verb forms are chha/cha(‘is’/ ‘be’). There are numerous words for depicting notions and meanings. Many words represent the sounds of animals and birds. The other peculiarity of Garhwali is that there are numerous words for depicting different smells, tastes, sounds, tactile sensations, sensitivities, emotions and feelings. Many synonyms represent the same verb, idea, motion and object. There is a capacity of forming new words with the use of prefixes and suffixes. By adding the suffix ‘aaN’or ‘aaT’ different words of various kinds of smells can be formed e.g. mirch (chilly) > mirchyaaN (smell of chillies); tel (oil) >telyaaN (smell oil), gu (faeces) > guaaN (smell of faeces), jalNu ( to burn) > jalyaaN (smell of burning), moot (urine) > mutaaN (smell of urine). AgainvasyaaN is stale smell and kukraaN is smell of burning cloth, syunsaaT is sound of fast flowing water and chyunchaaT is sound of chirping of birds. Similarly smells of burning of flesh, blood, hair, cotton cloth, woollen cloth have different expressions.
Garhwali on the Verge of Extinction. As a result of rampant migration of people to plains, the Garhwali language is vanishing rapidly. Since this language does not assure of jobs to youth, they are turning to Hindi and English for greener pastures. A stage is fast approaching when there will be very few speakers of this native tongue. This language has already been listed as endangered by the UNESCO. The people belonging to older generation continue to revel in the pride of old Garhwali culture and native language. Although zealous efforts are being made to get Garhwali language included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution but looking at the present state of affairs more concrete and practical steps are needed to foster, develop and conserve this language and save it from extinction.