Our article, published in The Speaking Tree (of Times of India)!

In contemporary popular culture, Sanskrit is sometimes understood to be the mother of all languages and a major tongue spoken by a majority of ancient Indians. However, this is not an entirely accurate view.

Large parts of the population in the subcontinent spoke various dialects, each of which have their own histories and characteristics. These dialects are collectively known by contemporary scholars as Prakrit, or ‘natural language’.

It is no surprise that the earliest Jains and Buddhists not only spoke and preached, but also composed their literature in various Prakrits. Like Sanskrit, the origins of Prakrit are unknown, and their early evolution is not well-understood.

The preference of Prakrits over Sanskrit among the earliest Jains indicates a step away from the conversations centred around gods, rituals, and priests to conversations centred around people, nature, and one’s own actions.