Braj Bhasha

Braj Bhāshā is a Western Hindi language. Along with Awadhi (a variety of Eastern Hindi), it was one of the two predominant literary languages of North-Central India before the switch to Khariboli in the 19th century.

Braj Bhasha
ब्रज भाषा
Native toIndia
RegionBraj region of Uttar Pradesh , Madhya Pradesh, and Delhi
Native speakers
1,556,314 (2011 census)[1]
Census results conflate some speakers with Hindi.[2]
Language codes
ISO 639-2bra
ISO 639-3bra

Brij Bhasha is spoken by people in the nebulously defined region of Vraja Bhoomi, which was a political state in the era of the Mahabharata wars. According to ancient Hindu texts such as the Bhagavata Purana, the Kingdom of Surasena is described as spreading through the Brij (also known as Vrija or Vraja), where the incarnation of Vishnu, Krishna was born and spent his childhood days. This region lies in the Agra-Mathura-Firozabad,Aligarh area, and stretches as far as the environs of Delhi. In modern India, this area lies mostly in northwestern Uttar Pradesh, the eastern extremities of Rajasthan i.e. Bharatpur & Dholpur and the southern extremities of Haryana. Northern regions of Madhya Pradesh like Morena are also included.[4] Today Braj Bhoomi can be seen as a cultural-geographical entity rather than a proper state. It is the vernacular of the region and boasts a rich culture and literature by famous poets like Surdas, Bhai Gurdas and Amir Khusro. Brij Bhasha is very close to Awadhi, spoken in the neighbouring Awadh region.

Much of the Hindi literature was developed in Braj in the medieval period. However, today Khariboli dialect has taken its place as the predominant standard dialect of Hindi.

In modern India, Braj Bhasha exists as an unofficial dialect spoken colloquially by natives of the region of Braj Bhoomi, with great cultural and religious significance. Much of Hindi poetry, especially that of 'Bhakti' or devotional poetry is in this language. Some devotional poems for Krishna are also composed in Braj Bhasha. The pioneering Urdu poet Amir Khusrow, also spoke and composed poetry in this language. Famous Braj Bhasha folk songs or poems include Chhaap Tilak Sab Chheeni by Amir Khusro, and the popular devotional song, Main Naahin Maakhan Khaayo by Surdas. Braj Bhasha is also the main language of Hindustani classical music compositions.

Geographical distribution

Braj Bhasha is mainly a rural tongue currently, predominant in the nebulous Braj region centred on Mathura & Agra in Uttar Pradesh and Bharatpur & Dholpur in Rajasthan. It is the predominant language in the central stretch of the Ganges-Yamuna Doab in the following districts:

It stretches across the Ganges into the non-Doabi districts of Badaun and Bareilly and goes up to the foothills of Nainital at Udham Singh Nagar in Uttarakhand.

Besides Uttar Pradesh, it is spoken in the bordering areas of Rajasthan, mainly in the following districts:

as well as parts of Karauli, from where onwards it merges into Rajasthani languages.

It is also spoken in the western areas of Uttar Pradesh, mainly in Mathura district and eastern areas of Palwal and Noida districts.

In Madhya Pradesh it is spoken in the districts of Bhind, Morena, Gwalior, and Shivpuri.[4] It is spoken in several villages of Mathura, specially in Vrindavan, Madhuvan, Kaman, Kosi Kalan, Chhata, Baldeo, and all other villages belongs to Braj Area with Bajna, Surir, Bhidauni,


Most Braj Bhasha literature is of a mystical nature, related to the spiritual union of people with God, because almost all of the Braj Bhasha poets were considered God-realised saints and their words are thus considered as directly emanating from a divine source. Much of the traditional Northern Indian literature shares this trait. All traditional Punjabi literature is similarly written by saints and is of a metaphysical and philosophical nature.

Another peculiar feature of Northern Indian literature is that the literature is mostly written from a female point of view, even by male poets. This is because the saints were in a state of transcendental, spiritual love, where they were metaphorically women reuniting with their beloved. (In its inversion of the conventional genders of worshipper and worshippee, Maulana Da’ud's Chandayan departs from this tradition.)

Important works in Braj Bhasha are:

Basic Phrases of the Brij Bhasha (Sample sentences)

Brij Bhasha Meaning
Kahan ja rao he (to a male, Kahan ja rai hai (to female) ? Where are you going?
kaa kar rao he ( to male), kaha kar rai hai (to female)? What are you doing?
tero naam kaah hai (to male )? What is your name?
kaah khayo? What did you eat?
kaah hai rayo hai? What's going on?
moye na pato. I don't know.
toye kaah dikkat hai ? What is your problem?
kaha koye re tu? What's the name of your place?
Ghar kon- kon hai re? Who's at home?
tero ghar kahan hain? Where is your home?
Roti khaay layi kaah? Had your meal?
kaah haal-chal hai? How are you?
batayo toh I told you.
je lali meri hai . She's my daughter.
je humaro lalla hai He's my son.
tu kab awego ? When you will be coming?
Tero hi baat dekharo. I was waiting for you.
Tero byah hai go kaah? Are you married?
Kahan koon/ kit koon jaro hai? Which place you are going to?
yahah / nyah aa . Come here.
humbe hanji Yes/no both with expression
chalo chalo lets move
chup hai ja silent
Non diyo nek so Give me little salt
mere jhore nai I don't have
je bus kitau ja rai hai? Where will this bus go?
jyada mat bol don't speak too much

See also


  1. "Statement 1: Abstract of speakers' strength of languages and mother tongues - 2011". Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Retrieved 7 July 2018.
  2. "Census of India: Abstract of speakers' strength of languages and mother tongues –2001". Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  3. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Braj". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. "International Encyclopedia of Linguistics". Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  5. "Google Notebook". Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  6. Sujit Mukherjee (1998). A Dictionary of Indian Literature: Beginnings-1850. Orient Blackswan. pp. 425–. ISBN 978-81-250-1453-9.

Further reading

  • Rupert Snell, The Hindi Classical Tradition: A Braj Bhasa Reader 0728601753
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