Classical Languages in India

Classical Language of India:

  • In 2004, the Government of India declared that languages that meet certain requirements would be accorded the status of a “Classical Language in India”
  • Criteria:
  • High antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over a period of 1500–2000 years;
  • A body of ancient literature/texts, which is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers;
  • The literary tradition be original and not borrowed from another speech community;
  • The classical language and literature being distinct from modern, there may also be a discontinuity between the classical language and its later forms or its offshoots.


Classical languages:

  • Tamil in the year 2004
  • Telugu in the year 2008
  • Malayalam in the year 2013
  • Sanskrit in the year 2005
  • Kannada in the year 2008
  • Odia in the year 2014


Special status for Sanksrit in constitution:

  • Hindi had become a symbol of nationalist feelings during the freedom struggle of India and the leaders encouraged its use.
  • The Sanskrit had lost the position of official language of the Union by a casting vote. Article 343 gave Hindi the status of official language of the Union.
  • For Sanskrit, there is a special status mentioned in article 351, whereby Sanskrit was given a position of the primary source language for many languages including Hindi.


Benefits of Classical Languages

  • Languages in India declared as classical receive three primary benefits.
  • First, two major international awards for scholars who have made significant contributions to Classical Indian Languages are awarded annually.
  • Second, the government has also set up a Center of Excellence for the Study of Classical Languages.
  • Last, Central Universities have also been requested to provide grants for Professional Chairs for Classical Languages.