[pah-hahr-ee, puh-]
Pahari, languages or dialects of the Indic group of the Indo-Iranian subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages. See Indo-Iranian languages.

Pahari (or Pahaari) is a general terms for a range of dialects spoken across the Himalayan range, not limited to a single country in the subcontinent. The word is derived from 'pahar' meaning mountain. The word 'Pahaari' or 'Pahari' is an adjective in Hindi, Urdu, or Punjabi and it literally means 'of the mountain' - when used in a linguistic context it means "language of the mountain people."


Pakistan, India and Nepal are all countries along which the Himalayas run, and in all three countries the word for mountain is Pahar, as Urdu, Nepali, Hindi and Punjabi are all related languages (i.e., they are all Indic languages of the Indo-European family, as are the Pahari languages). Mountains have the tendency of isolating communities from change, hence dialects in the mountains tend to have their own characteristics with some similarity to others mountain dialects while remaining isolated from one another - there does seem to be a dialect continuum.

The southern face of the Himalaya has from time immemorial been occupied by two classes of people. In the first place there is an Indo-Chinese overflow from Tibet in the north. Most of these tribes speak Indo-Chinese languages of the Tibeto-Burman family, while a few have abandoned their ancestral speech and now employ broken half-Aryan dialects. The other class consists of the great tribe of Khas / Khasas or Khasiyas, Aryan in origin, the Kavcoc of the Greek geographers. Who these people originally were, and how they entered India, are questions which have been debated without arriving at a definite conclusion. They are frequently mentioned in Sanskrit literature, were a thorn in the side of the rulers of Kashmir, and have occupied the lower Himalayas for many centuries. Nothing positive is known about their language, which they have long abandoned. Judging from its relics which appear in modern Pahari, it is probable that it belonged to the same group as Kashmiri, Lahnda and Sindhi.

They spread slowly from west to east, and are traditionally said to have reached Nepal in the early part of the 12th century A.D. In the central and western Pahari tracts local traditions assert that from very early times there was constant communication with Rajputana and with the great kingdom of Kanauj in the Gangetic Doab. A succession of immigrants, the tide of which was materially increased at a later period entered the country, and founded several dynasties, some of which survive to the present day. These Rajputs intermarried with the Khasa inhabitants of their new home, and gave their rank to the descendants of these mixed unions. With the pride of birth these new-born Rajputs inherited the language of their fathers, and thus the tongue of the ruling class, and subsequently of the whole population of this portion of the Himalaya, became a form of Rajasthani, the language spoken in distant Rajputana.

The Rajput occupation of Nepal is of later date. In the early part of the 16th century a number of Rajputs of Udaipur in Rajputana, fled north and settled in Garhwal, Kumaon, and western Nepal. In A.D. 1559 a party of these conquered the small state of Gurkha, which lay about 70 m. north-west of Katmandu, the present capital of Nepal. In 1768 Prithwi Narayan Shah, the then Rajput ruler of Gurkha, made himself master of the whole of Nepal and founded the present Gurkhali dynasty of that country. His successors extended their rule westwards over Kumaon and Garhwal, and as far as the Simla Hill states. The inhabitants of Nepal included not only Aryan Khasas or Khas, but also, as has been said, a number of Tibeto-Burman tribes. The Rajputs of Gurkha could not impose their language upon these as they did upon the Khasas, but, owing to its being the tongue of the ruling race, it ultimately became generally understood and employed as the lingua franca of this polyglot country.


The Pahari languages, also known as Northern Zone languages, are a group of related Indo-Aryan languages or dialects spoken in the lower ranges of the Himalayas from Nepal in the east to the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh in the west. These languages fall into three groups: an eastern, consisting of the various dialects of Nepali, also known as Gorkhali, Gurkhali, Khaskura, or Parbatiya; a central, spoken in Uttarakhand state, in Kumaon and Garhwal; and a western, spoken in Himachal Pradesh.


Khas-kura has a small literature which has grown up in recent years. We may mention the Birsikka, an anonymous collection of folk-tales, and a Ramayana by Bhanu Bhakta. There are also several translations from Sanskrit. Of late years local scholars have done a good deal towards creating an interest in Central Pahari. Special mention may be made of Ganga Datt Upreti's Proverbs and Folklore of Kumaun and Garhwal (Lodiana, 1894); the same author's Dialects of the Kumaun Division (Almora, 1900); and Jwala Datt Joshi's translation of Dandin's Sanskrit Dasa Kumara Carita (Almora, 1892). A local poet who lived about a century ago, Gumani Kavi by name, was the author of verses written in a peculiar style, and now much admired. Each verse consists of four lines, the first three being in Sanskrit, and the fourth a Hindi or Kumauni proverb. A collection of these, edited by Rewa Datt Upreti, was published in the Indian Antiquary for 1909 (pp. 177 seq.) under the title of Gumani-niti. Western Pahari has no literature. Portions of the Bible have been translated into Khas-kura (under the name of "Nepali"), Kumauni, Garhwali, Jaunsari and Chambiali.

Authorities. - S. H. Kellogg's Hindi Grammar (2nd ed., London, 1893) includes both Eastern and Central Pahari in its survey. For Khas see also A. Turnbull, Nepali, i. e. Gorkhali or Parbate Grammar (Darjeeling, 1904), and G. A. Grierson, "A Specimen of the Khas or Naipali Language," in the Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenleindischen Gesellschaft (1907), lxi. 659 seq. There is no authority dealing with Western Pahari as a whole. A. H. Diack's work, The Kulu Dialect of Hindi (Lahore, 1896), may be consulted for Kuluhi. See also T. Grahame Bailey's Languages of the Northern Himalayas (Royal Asiatic Society, London, 1908). Vol. ix., pt. iv., of the Linguistsc Survey of India contains full particulars of all the Pahari dialects in great detail. (G. A. GR.)


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