Languages and Eighth Schedule

Geetanjali Shree writes: What Hindi purists don’t understand about Hindi


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Bhartrihari Muni

Mains level : Claims Made by Rashtrabhashawadis

Central idea

Language, a magical interplay of sounds, is celebrated in Hindi as a rich connector of cultures. Challenges arise as some advocate for a rigid and exclusive form of Hindi, risking the loss of diversity and inclusivity. Balancing standardization with openness ensures Hindi remains vibrant and accessible to all.

Who are Hindi purists?

  • Hindi purists are individuals or groups who advocate for a more traditional and conservative approach to the Hindi language.
  • They often emphasize linguistic purity, seeking to preserve Hindi in its classical form and resist the influence of foreign languages, especially Persian and Arabic.
  • Hindi purists may promote the exclusive use of Sanskrit-derived vocabulary and resist the incorporation of words from other languages.

Key Characteristics of Hindi Purists:

  • Sanskritic Purity: Hindi purists often advocate for purging Hindi of loanwords from Persian, Arabic, and other languages, aiming to maintain a more Sanskritic purity.
  • Resistance to Linguistic Evolution: They may resist linguistic evolution and changes in grammar, vocabulary, or pronunciation, striving to uphold a more traditional and classical version of the language.
  • Opposition to English Influence: Hindi purists may express opposition to the increasing influence of English on the language, advocating for the preservation of Hindi’s unique identity.
  • Promotion of Indigenous Culture: Emphasis on promoting indigenous culture and values through language, rejecting elements perceived as foreign or detrimental to the cultural heritage of Hindi.

Key Highlights:

  • Dhwani – The Magic of Sound: Bhartrihari’s philosophy highlights dhwani (sound) as the magical element infusing meanings into words, emphasizing the dynamic and ever-changing nature of language.
  • Eclectic Nature of Hindi: Hindi, the author’s mother tongue, is celebrated for its eclectic richness, connecting individuals to diverse cultures, philosophies, and histories.
  • Contested Position of Hindi: Modern Hindi faces contestation as questions arise about its openness to cultural influences. Anxieties stem from claims made by rashtrabhashawadis, leading to concerns among both non-Hindi and Hindi speakers.


Prelims focus


Bhartrihari Muni, an ancient Indian philosopher and poet.


Era: Lived around the 5th century CE.


Philosophy of Language: Notable for the “Vakyapadiya,” a seminal work in linguistics and philosophy of language.


Poetry: Explored themes of love, detachment, and the impermanence of life through his poetic works.


Significance: Revered for shaping Sanskrit literature and leaving a lasting impact on linguistic and philosophical thought in ancient India.




  • Threat to Openness: Grand claims by language purists pose a threat to the inherently eclectic and open character of Hindi, causing anxieties among those who admire its diversity.
  • Language as an Expansionist Monster: Hindi speakers are doubly threatened as the language faces a negative image and attempts to be portrayed as an expansionist force.
  • Same Language Everywhere: People want Hindi to be the same for everyone, which might make all the different ways of speaking Hindi disappear.
  • Not Letting Hindi Change: Some folks don’t like Hindi changing and learning new things, which might stop it from growing and getting better.
  • Some People Feel Left Out: Making Hindi super important might make people who don’t speak it feel left out.

Key Phrases for mains value addition:

  • Heritage of Words: Language is described as a heritage of words, with a live, ephemeral, and dynamic quality.
  • Metaphorical Significance: Hindi is metaphorically termed as both “Om” and “Earth,” symbolizing its deep-rooted significance.
Claims Made by Rashtrabhashawadis Aim/Objective
Language Purity Make Hindi more Sanskritic; Remove Persian and Arabic influences.
Urdu-Hindi Separation Establish Hindi as distinct from Urdu; Project them as separate and antagonistic languages.
Official Language Promotion Establish Hindi as the sole official language; Minimize the use of regional languages.
Purist Language Standards Set strict standards for Hindi; Resist linguistic diversity and regional dialect influences.
Nationalistic Language Identity Tie Hindi closely to a nationalistic identity; Position it as a symbol of a culturally pure nation.

Constitutional Status of Hindi:

  • Official Language (Article 343):
    • The Constitution of India designates Hindi as one of the official languages of the country. It, along with English, is used for official communication at the central government level.
  • Directive for Development (Article 351):
    • Article 351 emphasizes the duty of the Union to promote the spread of the Hindi language and to develop it so that it serves as a medium of expression for all the elements of the composite culture of India.
  • Special Provisions for Hindi States (Article 345):
    • States with Hindi as their official language receive special provisions under Article 345 to regulate the use of Hindi in official matters within the state.

Government Schemes on Hindi Language:

  • Rajbhasha Vibhag Scheme: Aimed at promoting the use of Hindi in government offices and public institutions. It includes initiatives for organizing Hindi workshops, promoting Hindi correspondence, and ensuring official documents are primarily in Hindi.
  • Hindi Teaching Programs: Schemes dedicated to enhancing Hindi education, especially in non-Hindi speaking states. This involves the development of Hindi teaching modules, training programs for Hindi teachers, and incentives for schools promoting Hindi language skills.
  • Hindi Literature Promotion Fund: A fund to support the publication, translation, and promotion of Hindi literature. This scheme encourages the dissemination of Hindi literary works globally and fosters cultural exchange.


  • Historical Forces Shaping Hindi: Colonial connections and national awakening historically shaped modern Hindi, showing its openness to new influences and challenges.
  • Separation of Languages: The article traces the separation of Hindi and Urdu, once part of Hindustani, into two distinct and antagonistic languages during a historical campaign.

Key Data:

  • Chronology of British Expansion: Hindi, as Khari Boli, embraced Bengal’s leadership as a late entrant to the modern world during British expansion in India.
  • Contributions from Other Languages: Hindi literature is enriched by individuals from languages like Urdu, Punjabi, Gujarati, and Marathi, exemplifying its cosmopolitan vision.

Way Forward:

  • Global Collaboration: Encourage collaboration among countries to preserve language diversity. For instance, platforms like UNESCO could facilitate international agreements on language preservation, promoting the sharing of linguistic resources and knowledge.
  • Innovation-Friendly Policies: Encourage policies that foster innovation and balance the interests of diverse language speakers, promoting a competitive and sustainable linguistic ecosystem.
  • Digital Literacy: Initiatives like “Digital Language Literacy” courses, equipping individuals with the skills to navigate and comprehend the evolving nature of language in digital spaces.

In essence, the article explores the magical essence of language, the contested position of Hindi, challenges to its openness, and advocates for a future that embraces linguistic diversity and dynamicity.


Quotes for mains value addition


हिंदी हमारी पहचान, भाषा हमारी शान।” (Hindi Hamari Pehchaan, Bhasha Hamari Shaan) – “Hindi is our identity, our language is our pride.”


हिंदी भाषा का महत्व उसकी सामाजिक, सांस्कृतिक और राष्ट्रीय एकता में है।” (Hindi Bhasha ka Mahatva Uski Samajik, Sanskritik aur Rashtriya Ekta Mein Hai) – “The importance of the Hindi language lies in its social, cultural, and national unity.”


हिंदी हैं हम, वतन हैं हिन्दोस्तान हमारा।” (Hindi Hain Hum, Vatan Hai Hindostan Hamara) – “We are Hindi speakers, and our homeland is Hindostan.”


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