Maithili Language | History,Geographical Distribution and Importance of Maithili

Maithili is a language spoken mostly in the eastern part of the Indian sub-continent mainly in Bihar state of India and the eastern region of the Terai in Nepal. It is one of the 22nd officially recognized languages of India which is also specified as the second most spoken language of Bihar, after Hindi.

Some key points about the Maithili language:

Classification: Maithili is an Indo-Aryan language which is a part of the Indo-European language. It comes across some of the languages from the area, e.g. Bhojpuri and Magahi.

Script: Maithili is written in Tirhuta or Maithili script, which is based on the Brahmi script. At present, the Devanagari script is frequently used in Maithili.

Literature: Maithili language has been used in writing for a very long time, since 14th century. Vidyapati Thakur, was a great poet in Maithili literature.Maithili literature is traditionally divided into many types which include poetry, drama and plays etc.

Status: Even though Maithili is spoken by more than 34.7 million people, it didn’t get much attention historically. But efforts were made to promote and save Maithili. Now, acknowledged as a language of Bihar.

Cultural Significance: Maithili language and culture are deeply connected with each other. It’s not just a way to talk, but also holds the heart of Maithili culture and traditions.

Geographic Distribution: Apart from Bihar and Nepal, the Maithili-speaking communities are also found in the some parts of Jharkhand, West Bengal and Assam in India.

Modern Usage: In some recent years, there has been a strong focus on promoting of Maithili language and literature again. Cultural groups, schools, and government initiatives are working hard to make it happen.

mithila culture5

History of Maithili Language :

The history of the Maithili language is rich over many centuries.:

Early Development: Maithili language began during very ancient time period(1500–500 BCE) of Vedic period. It was derived from the natural languages which were spoken in the ancient India and very much impacted by Sanskrit, which is the classical language of the ancient India.

Medieval Period: Literature was also developed in Maithili during mediaeval age mostly in the period between 11th and 17th centuries. In those time many of the very famous Maithili poets and writers was available including Vidyapati Thakur (1352–1448) who was  the greatest poet in Maithili language. His compositions of Vidyapati remarkably promoted the growth of the Maithili literature and also its popularity.

Literary Tradition: Maithili literature has various types like poetry, plays,drama which are very rich.Some of the other Maithili poetsexcept Vidyapati, the other Maithili poets, are Jayadeva Mishra, Gangadevi and Chandeshwar Thakur. Maithili literature covers many different topics like love, faith, problems in society, and traditional stories.

Script: Till now the Maithili language is written in Maithili script or Tirhuta script. This script evolved from the Brahmi script and was employed for writing the Maithili texts since very 1st period of modern times. 

Colonial Era: During the time when India was ruled by foreigners, Maithili and other local languages, faced many difficulties because English was seen as more important and Hindi was promoted as the national language. This made fewer people interested in Maithili as a written language.

Modern Period: After India got independence, people worked hard to support and save the Maithili language and its culture. It’s recognized as one of  scheduled languages in some places of India which gives it official status. Many groups, schools, and cultural organizations are involved in promoting and improving this language.

Present Day: Maithili continues to be spoken by tens of millions of human beings primarily in the Indian states of Bihar and Jharkhand, as well as inside the  Terai place of Nepal. Although there are some challenges like making the language more consistent and modern, growing interest in Maithili literature, teaching the language, and cultural activities. 

Primary Historical Script For the Maithili Language :

Tirhuta (Maithili)

The Tirhuta (also called Mithilakshar) script has historically been used for writing the Maithili language.

Below are Maithili numerals 1-10 in romanization.

consonant 3
consonant 5

Maithili Literature :

The literature of Maithili is massive and numerous, spanning many centuries and protecting numerous genres :

Medieval Literature:  Maithili literature arrived from the 11th to the 17th centuries, which is called the medieval period. It was a great time for Maithili language with lots of poetry, stories, and plays being created. Some famous poets from this era include Vidyapati Thakur, who is well-known for his love songs and devotional poetry. Other notable poets include Jayadeva Mishra, Gangadevi, and Chandeshwar Thakur.

Poetry: Poetry is very important in Maithili literature. Different types of poetry are liked, such as love songs (Maithili Padavali), devotional poetry (Bhakti Kavya), storytelling poetry (Katha Kavya), and lyrical poetry (Padya). Maithili poets have written about many topics like love, faith, nature, society, and stories from mythology.

Prose: Prose literature in Maithili includes a wide variety of genres including essays, testimonies, novels, and ancient chronicles. While poetry ruled the medieval length, prose won prominence in later centuries. Notable prose writers encompass Chanda Jha, Harihar Thakur, and Vachaspati Mishra.

Drama: Maithili drama, although less distinguished as compared to poetry and prose, has its personal tradition. The earliest Maithili dramas date returned to the medieval length and were encouraged by Sanskrit drama. Themes of Maithili dramas frequently revolve round mythology, folklore, and social troubles.

Folk Literature: Maithili folklore and people literature are wealthy and various, reflecting the cultural heritage of the vicinity. Folk songs, folks memories, and oral traditions have been exceeded down through generations, preserving the customs, ideals, and values of the Maithili-talking community.

Modern Literature: In the modern length, Maithili literature continues to evolve and adapt to changing instances. Writers and poets explore cutting-edge themes and experiment with new literary paperwork and styles. While conventional issues and motifs continue to be influential, modern-day Maithili literature additionally addresses troubles which include social change, globalization, and identification.

Revival and Promotion: Efforts have been made to revive and promote Maithili literature and language, together with literary gala’s, cultural activities, and academic projects. Various literary organizations, publishing homes, and government organizations paintings towards the upkeep and development of Maithili literature, ensuring its legacy for destiny generations.

Famous Poets in Maithili Literature :

vidyapati thakur

Maithili literature has a strong tradition of poetry, with many famous poets who have made big impacts on the literary world. Here are a few famous poets in Maithili literature:

Vidyapati Thakur (1352–1448): Vidyapati is  the most famous poet in Maithili literature. He is famous for his wonderful love songs (Padavali) and spiritual poetry (Bhakti Kavya), which is based on love, devotion, and spiritual ideas. His writings have had a big impact on Maithili literature and culture.

Jayadeva Mishra (seventeenth century): Jayadeva Mishra was a famous Maithili poet known for his beautiful songs and stories. He often wrote poetry based on love, nature, and issues in society. Mishra’s poetry shows how rich and varied Maithili literature is. 

Gangadevi (16th century): Gangadevi was a female poet from the Mithila region known for her spiritual poems and writings. She is famous for her poetric talent and her contributions to Maithili literature, especially in the Bhakti tradition.

Chandeshwar Thakur (seventeenth century): Chandeshwar Thakur was a Maithili poet famous for his spiritual poems and writings dedicated to Lord Krishna. His works are known for their deep spirituality and strong emotions, making him an important figure in Maithili literature.

Vachaspati Mishra (18th century): Vachaspati Mishra become a prolific Maithili poet recognised for his versatility and literary skill. He wrote poetry on diverse issues, together with love, mythology, and social troubles. Mishra’s contributions to Maithili literature have earned him a place a number of the great poets of the vicinity.

Lakshminath Jha (twentieth century): Lakshminath Jha became a present day Maithili poet known for his progressive outlook and social statement. His poetry frequently addressed contemporary issues including social reform, education, and human rights, making him a substantial parent in Maithili literature of the 20 th century.

Baidyanath Mishra  (20th century): Baidyanath Mishra, popularly called Yatri, changed into a distinguished Maithili poet and literary figure. He contributed considerably to Maithili literature via his poetry, essays, and literary grievance. Yatri’s works reflect his deep know-how of Maithili tradition and society.

Geographical Distribution and Speakers of Maithili :

Geographical Distribution and Speakers of Maithili

The Maithili language is mainly spoken in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent, especially in Bihar, India, and the eastern Terai region of Nepal. Here’s the some regions where Maithili speakers are generally available:

  1. Bihar, India: Bihar is the region where most Maithili speakers are available. It’s spoken in many districts like Darbhanga, Madhubani, Saharsa, Muzaffarpur, and Samastipur. Maithili is also an official language in Bihar.

  2. Jharkhand, India: Some areas in Jharkhand, especially in the northeast near Bihar, also have Maithili speaking communities. Places like Deoghar, Dumka, and Godda have Maithili speakers.

  3. Eastern Terai Region, Nepal: Maithili is the primary language in the eastern Terai region of Nepal, especially in districts like Sarlahi, Siraha, Dhanusha, Mahottari, and Saptari. Many Madhesi people in Nepal speak Maithili.

  4. Other Regions: There are smaller Maithili-speaking communities in nearby states of Bihar, Jharkhand, and the eastern Terai region of Nepal like West Bengal, Assam, and Uttar Pradesh.

  5. Diaspora: People who speak Maithili can also be found in various states of India and around the world who migrated for any reason. In cities such as Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Chennai, there are communities of Maithili speakers, many of whom moved from Bihar and Nepal.

Importance of Maithili Language :

The Maithili language is very important for many reasons, both culturally and linguistically. Here are some of its importance:

  1. Cultural Heritage: Maithili language and stories have a long and rich history. They include poetry, songs, stories, and traditional cultures that are very important for the people of Mithila. 

  2. Linguistic Diversity: Maithili is one of the official languages spoken in India. It adds to the variety of languages spoken in the country, showing the special language heritage of the Maithili region.

  3. Literary Contributions: Maithili language has produced famous poets, writers, and thinkers who have made big contributions to Indian literature. Poets like Vidyapati Thakur are famous for their writing, which has influenced Indian literature a lot.

  4. Identity and Pride:  Language is very important for  identity and pride of the people. It connects them to their history, culture, and community, making them feel proud of where they come from.

  5. Communication and Expression: As like other language, Maithili helps people talk to each other and express themselves. It lets them to share their thoughts, feelings, and stories, which helps them connect with the others and be creative.

  6. Preservation of Tradition: Maithili language helps to keep traditional knowledge, rituals, and customs alive. It’s used in religious ceremonies, cultural events, and family gatherings, passing on important traditions from one generation to the next.

  7. Community Togetherness: Maithili language brings people  to become closer together. It helps them talk to each other, share experiences, and do things together, making the community stronger.

Useful Maithili Language Phrases:

Just like other languages, Maithili has lots of different phrases that people uses every day. These phrases include greetings, polite expressions, sayings, and common sayings. Here are a some list of phrases in Maithili.

Englishमैथिली (Maithili)
Swagat aichh
Hello (General greeting)प्रनाम (Pranaam) – frm
Halchal ki chho? (inf)
Hello (on phone)Hello
How are you?सभ कुशल मंगल (Saab kushal ṁangal?)
Aahan kehan chhi?
Reply to ‘How are you?’Hum thik chhi
Long time no seeBadd din bhagel aanha ke dekhala
What’s your name?Anhake naam ki achhi?
Apne ker shubh naam?
My name is …Hamar naam … aichh
Hamar naam aichh …
Where are you from?Aanha kat sa chhi?
Apne ke ghar kat bhel?
I’m from …Hamar ghar … aichh
Pleased to meet youAhase mili k prasannta bhel
Aanha se milalau badd khushi bhel
Apne bhetal, badd prasannta bhel
Good morning
(Morning greeting)
Bhorak pranaam.
Good afternoon
(Afternoon greeting)
Dopahar ke bad namaskar
Dupaharak prannam.
Good evening
(Evening greeting)
Shubh sandhya
Sanjhek pranaam.
Good nightShubh ratri
Ratrik pranaam
(Parting phrases)
Jai chhi
Bida del jau
Good luck!Aanhak nik bhagya hoye
Cheers! Good Health!
(Toasts used when drinking)
Aanhak swasth nik rahe sadkhin!
Have a nice dayAanhak din nik hoai!
Bon appetit /
Have a nice meal
Aanhak bhojan!
Khaik nik hoye!
Bon voyage /
Have a good journey
Aanhak yatra shubh hait!
Yesहँ (Hô)
MaybeBha sakai chhai
I don’t knowHam nai janait chhi
I understandHam buijh geli
I don’t understandHam nai bujhali
Please speak more slowlyKripayak asthir sa baju
Please say that againKripayak ek ber aar kahiyau
Please write it downKripayak e likhiyau
Do you speak English?Aanha angreji me baaj sakaichhi?
Do you speak Maithili?Aanha maithili baaj sakaichhi?
Yes, a little
(reply to ‘Do you speak …?’)
Han, kanik kam
Speak to me in MaithiliAanha hamara sa maithili me baaju
How do you say … in Maithili?Aanha kona bajbai … maithili me?
Excuse meChhama karab
Kani sunu
How much is this?Katek ye i?
SorryBadd dukh bhel
Badd dukhi bhelau
PleaseKripa karu
Thank youDhanyabad
Bahut bahut dhanyabad
Reply to thank youSwagatam
Anhu ke dhanyabaad
Where’s the toilet / bathroom?Shanka grih ker jankari del jao
Katta ye aanhak bathroom
This gentleman will pay for everythingEe manukh aanhak i sab ker paisa det
This lady will pay for everythingEe mahila aanhak i sab ker paisa det
Would you like to dance with me?Aanha hamara sathe naach karabai?
I miss youAanhak ham yaad karaichhi
I love youहम अहाँ स प्रेम करेछी
(Hawm ahāṃ se prem karechi)
Get well soonJaldi sa nik bha jaau
Go away!Chail jaau atasa!
Leave me alone!Hamra akela chhoed dia!
Hamara ekant me chhoed diy!
Help!Kani madaid kôrait jau!
Kani madad karu!
Call the police!Police ke phone kariyauk!
Christmas greetingsChristmasak badhai
Easter greetingsEaterak badhai
Birthday greetingsJanam dinak badhai
One language is never enoughEk got bhasha kafi nai hait
My hovercraft is full of eelsHamar hovercraft eel machalion sa bharal aichh

How People Speak Maithili ?

Here is an some videos as for example people speaking in maithili –

Mithila Panchang 2023-24 PDFDownload Now
Vivah Din 2024Click Here
Dwiragaman Din 2024Click Here
Panchak 2024Click Here
Upnayan and Mundan Din 2024Click Here
Gharvas Din 2024Click Here
Top 10 Mithila Painting January 2024
Click Here
Top 10 Madhubani Painting ArtistClick Here
Top 5 Madhubani PaintingClick Here
Maithili : Official Language of IndiaClick Here
Download Apan Mithila APPClick Here

FAQs :

1. What is Maithili Language?

Maithili is an Indo-Aryan language spoken primarily in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent, particularly in the Indian state of Bihar and the eastern Terai region of Nepal.

2. How many people speak Maithili?

It is estimated that over 30 million people speak Maithili worldwide, primarily in Bihar, India, and the eastern Terai region of Nepal.

3. What script is used to write Maithili

Historically, Maithili was written in the Maithili script, also known as the Tirhuta script. However, in modern times, the Devanagari script is more commonly used for writing Maithili.

4. Who are some famous poets in Maithili literature

Vidyapati Thakur is one of the most celebrated poets in Maithili literature. Other notable poets include Jayadeva Mishra, Gangadevi, and Chandeshwar Thakur.

5. Is Maithili a recognized language in India?

Yes, Maithili is recognized as one of the scheduled languages of India. It holds official status in the Indian state of Bihar and is one of the languages protected by the Constitution of India under the Eighth Schedule.

6. Where can I learn Maithili language and literature?

There are various educational institutions, cultural organizations, and online resources that offer courses and materials for learning Maithili language and literature. Additionally, there are Maithili literature festivals and cultural events where enthusiasts can engage with the language and its heritage.

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