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- Preface
- Contributors
- Kashmiri and the Linguistic Predicament
- Roots, Evolution and Affinity
- The Sharada Script
- The Dogri Language
- Gujari Language
- Sanskritic Impact
- The Balti Language
- Balti, Bodhi, Spiti & Lahuli Speeches
- Urdu in Jammu and Kashmir
- Hindi in Kashmir
- Language and Politics
- Appendix A
- Appendix B
- Appendix C
- Appendix D
- Select Bibliography
Jammu, Kashmir & Ladakh - Linguistic Predicament

Edited by: P. N. Pushp and K. Warikoo
Himalayan Research and Cultural Foundation
Har-Anand Publications

Sanskritic Impact on the Speech of Ladakhi Garkhuns
- by Malvika Bandyopadhaya

Samskrita as the name suggests, means "put together, constructed", "well formed", "perfected" (sam + s - krta or samskrta). (The formation of samskr in place of samkr is on the analogy of pariskara and upaskara). Presumably "well formed" suggests two factors:

(i) Some speech was existent before that was well formed (samskrta). Attention may be invited to some sutras from the Astaddhyai of Panini:
Mayura vamsakayasca (2.1.72)
mundascasau kambajas'ceti-kambaja-munda. Similarly, may yavanamunda be referred to. Panini also took care of peculiar forms which had been in usage. For example: Kumarah sramanadibhih is compounded as Kumarasra-mana (2.1.70).
(ii) The language after being refined becomes well-formed. For instance, Panini (in 4.3.127-28) refers to the formation of the Sakala in forming alternative words in adjective. For instance:
samgha - 'nka - laksanesva -
an -yan, inam an. (4.3.127)
Panini in his Astadhyayi mentions some of his predecessors like Yaska, Sakatayana and Varsyayani, who might have been predecessors in endeavouring the systematization of the language spoken by the locals in evidence. Probably Panini appeared 400 years before the Christian era. He belonged to Kashmir, when it was the gateway from Central Asia to India. Panini ventured to compose his Sutra a Samskrta bhasa in eight chapters to establish Arianization in the area to which he belonged. He had a wide vision and close association with the then Aryavarta. In this respect some studies have already been made by the scholars of India and abroad. An attempt prevails in Western linguistics to hunt the intellectual ancestor of Panini, what is known as the ancestor hunt. In this regard Adam Makkai and William M. Christie have discussed in detail in their article "whose Intellectual Ancestor was Panini - Really?" (See S.K. Chatterjee Commemoration volume, Ed. by Bhakti P. Mallik. The University of Burdwan, 1981 pp. 134-144).

Regarding the advent of the Aryans it is linguistically accepted that they came through Iran. It is needless to enter into the discussion about the homeland of Aryans in the context of the present study of the Garkhuns. Garkhuns reside in the western-most part of Ladakh in Kashmir on the bank of the river Indus at an altitude of about six thousand feet. To reach the area one should cross stiff, barren hill tracks towards the North Western Ladwags.

The word Garkhun appears to be Tibetan word dgar khun. Here dgar suggests separated out of the word dgar ba. Here dagar ba means to separate, confine, fold up (Jaske Dic. p. 83) in respect of men, cattle, goods. The final part of the word khun is probably built up 'khun, which means a note of groaning, to groan like animals. They themselves, however, interpret as agar khun, which suggests a resident of tent, like Brog pa nomads. Agar means camp and khung means hollow cavity. Unfortunately Garkhuns of the above mentioned area fail to recollect their origin now. As regards their physique and features of the body of men and women, a Garkhun does not belong to Mongoloid group.

Mongoloids have the following distinction in physical features:-
Skin  Yellow, Brown
Eyes and hair  Dark brown, black (epicanthitic fold)
Hair  Straight
Body hair  Slight
(Mouth and Jaw)
Paws  Small
Head  Upright

The Garkhuns, however, have different physical structure with bright skin, tipped nose, black hair, white eyes and so on. Moreover in food habits and other material needs, the Garkhuns maintain their special characteristics. It is a wonder that a pocket of small non-Mongoloid group living among the Mongoloids may be found in the remote area. It is striking to note that their speech does not belong to the Bhotia group of languages as spoken by the Mongoloids in Ladakh and adjacent areas.

Before we discuss the language traits of the Garkhuns, some peculiarities of Ladakhi speech may not be irrelevant. In Ladakh the language is called Bodhi, sometimes Bhoti. Bodhi is a corrupt form of Tibetan Compound Bod-yi in which the Buddhist literature is preserved. Bhoti refers to the language by the Bhot people. In general Bodhi or Bhoti is monosyllabic, but it betrays a tendency towards bysyllabic or polysyllabic too. It is to be noted that the Bodhi speech does not always observe sound sintrification as is found in the central Tibetan speech which is regarded as the standard Tibetan speech. As a result, the preceding letter is prefixed and conjoined letters retain their sound in pronunciation. For example - Skardu, Jangskar, Spituk, Kharkhel (Kargil) may be cited. In spite of the spread of the Arabic language the Bodhi influence prevails.

In contrast to that, the Garkhun speech is sometimes inflectional and polysyllabic like Sanskrit. A comparative chart of counting of numbers as found in the Garkhun and Bhoti speeches is shown below:

Numerical order
Garkhun speech Bhoti of  Ladakh Central Tibetan with sound simplification
1. ek/ik  (g) cik cig
2. du  (g) nis nyi
3. tra  (g) sum sum
4. chor  zhi (sbyi) hsi
5. pus  nga/gha/sha nga
6. sra  druk/(cut) ruk  du (k)
7. sat  (r) dung/dun dun
8. ast (r) gyat/gat g(y) a
9. nu  rgu / gu gu
10. das  beu/rscu cu

The above comparison clearly shows that the Garkhunpas follow the counting in Sanskrit though the Ladakhis recount the numerals in Tibetan. The pronunciation of the later speech varies from that of the standard Tibetan.

 While counting the twelve months, the Garkhunpas follow the Ladakhi expression as: 
dawa Langpo 1st month
nyispa 2nd month
sumpa 3rd month
zipa 4th month
hugapa 5th month
tukpa 6th month
dunpa 7th month
trgyapa 8th month
rdgupa 9th month
chapa 10th month
chuchik 11th month
chunyispa 12th month

It is evident from the instances detailed in the appendix, which were collected during field work in the area, that Sanskritic impact is still at work in the spoken language among the Garkhun Community in the Western Himalayas.

That the community did not spread in other regions of India, may be explained by the following conjectures:

1. Garkhunpa, as the name implies, is the settler in the remote area, which is almost inaccesible even today. Pony is the means of communication in those stiff areas.
2. The speech used by them obviously remains concerned in a small area. Although they are accustomed to communicate in Bodhi (the general spoken language of Leh area) for their general communication in market, they do not preserve Kanjur or Tanjur as their sacred books in spite of their religious nomenclature being Buddhist.
3. They are not Mongoloid. Obviously they express their rigidity in preservation of blood purity or racial solidarity. No inter-marriage with the Mongoloids generally occurs. The kins and descents are limited within themselves.
4. Economically they are pastoral with small attempts to cultivate barley and other cereal crops for their own use. They exchange mostly animal hides and animal products. The recent endeavours by the government to introduce horticulture has not been successful due to harsh climatic condition.
In India Sanskrit is still a live language. Garkhuns of Ladakh and the Lohars of Punjab speak a potois of Sanskrit, obviously non-Paninian, sometimes broken. In the case of Garkhuns some broken forms of Sanskrit are still in vogue. In the cultural history of Westerm.Himalayas the spoken language of the Garkhuns is the living specimen of the residue of Old-Indo Aryan speech. In spite of the upheavals of social and political conditions of the Western Himalayas, the Garkhuns have preserved their identity distinct from the Mongoloids by secluding themselves within their kins and descendants. The inhabitants of that remote corner of India still retain the legacy of the Sanskrit speaking Aryans.


Dialogue A
1. kim naman cheda  - May I know your name please?
2. anda namam Bhagatram  - My name is Bhagatrama.
3. kim ham demmanoc  - Where do you come from?
4. ga colin ca baka  - I am a Bhutanese.
5. ki ca lun kiti an  - Do you like tea or beer?
6. ha ga mai anka ho la se  - I have already taken tea?
7. ki tha kaman sa baha vadaen  - What is your engagement?
8. ga dakavanom  - I go to the post office.
9. to to khasa lisa madu  - Thank you sir.
10. Kila kimo to ate bhaya du - How many brothers have you at home?
11. ma anda ate bhya maica - None, I have no brother.
12. kina loca (a)  - Have you any sister?
13. han igakta gato rinda tom  - Yes, I have only younger sister.
14. kim bapu tha kaman lanca - What is your father?
15. anda bapu jamidari kaman lanca  - He is an agriculturist (Cultivator).
16. kina ama cho lano nica  - What does your mother do?

Dialogue B
1. kin kimn je ladga toca - Have you cattle at home?
2. anda kimo nis dama  - Yes, we have a pair of Oxen, three cows, five pigs and twenty five sheep.
3. kin rimo halam lanca  - Can you plough a field?
4. ma, anda vapu halan lanca  - No, my father can.
5. ki kina vapu pan hala madata radaca toi - How do you help your father?
6. ga vian mecatoka, chao lavaja toka - I sow seeds, plant paddy, and reap harvest.
7. no lin sese phasala hala duye - Don't you look after cattle?
8. khas dam ma duye - No, my mother does.
9. Lekin vajato mamta dam duve - What does your sister do?
10. kin danda to ca - She cuts grass for her pet.
11. Caraio khuden bhimn vyaca - Did you yield oranges last year?
12. kin kim rago pansidtova  - Yes, we did.
13. anda kim bhino para sidanto, chapati-dino tan  - Why?
14. khas li ninonus ma baca - Have you a stable?
15. ki porno hasal punanca - Do you ride a pony?
16. chumagada yumu piya - Certainly, for upward journey a pony is essential.

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