GUWAHATI, Nov 10 � Emerging study and research suggest that Kamrup or Pragjyotishpur � as Assam was known in the days of yore � could well have been the place where language first originated.
Linguistic research carried out by prominent scholars Bernard Comrie and Dorian Fuller point out that the Indo-European languages evolved at a place where agriculture originated. This conclusion they derived from the presence of agricultural-related cognate words in the languages of this family separated widely by geography, but all having had their origin from one common ancestral language at a common place.
�The widely-held belief that Anatolia (Turkey, West Asia) is the origin of agriculture is being challenged now. This is because a region of cold desert and grassland can harbour pastoralist populations, but not farming. As per genetic study, prehistoric migration took place from tropical region to temperate region,� Ashok Sarma, researcher on ancient Assam, says.
According to Fuller, Sarma says, agriculture might have originated near a South Asian core area. �Prof TC Sarma has also pointed out that the North-east of India played an important role in domestication of a number of food-producing plants � including rice � essential for men in prehistoric times. Similarly, Peter Bellwood specifically mentioned the probable domestication of native Indica rice might have taken place in the North-east India. Again, scholar Ian C Glover held that the North-east was the most favourable single area of the origin of domesticated rice,� Sarma says.
The DNA studies of rice, cattle, buffalo and mice, too, support an Indian (North-east) origin of rice farming. Based on these factors, it can be surmised that the North-east of India (Kamrup or Pragjyotishpur) was the place of origin of agriculture.
According to scholars, the Vedic language entered India from the north-west corridor of India and the Prakrit language evolved from the Vedic language (Dr Nagen Thakur). The Assamese language evolved from Magadhi Prakrit (Dr Banikanta Kakoti), and Magadhi Prakrit had evolved from Western Prakrit of India (Dr Nagen Thakur). If Indo-European languages originated in Kamrup, the question arises as to how it was possible for the Assamese language to have evolved from Magadhi Prakrit.
According to the findings of genetic studies, the mtDNA and Y-chromosome gene pools of the Indian subcontinent and East/South East Asia are related but overall fairly distinct. From the relatedness and distinctiveness it can be surmised that the North-east Indian passageway mainly acted as a barrier to migration.
�Again, genetic studies that linked with O2a(Y) haplgroup suggested that from the North-east of India, migration had taken place to South East Asia and then to other parts. So, the language of the North-east, i.e., Indo-European language, did not pass in India directly from Kamrup, but by other routes passing through central Asia. The Aryans, who were supposed to bring the Vedic language, and composers of the Rig Veda entered India from the northwest corridor of India. In Rig Veda 5.47.3 we get the mention of Kamakhya. It means that the Aryans knew about Kamrup long before they had entered India. This mention of Kamrup in Rig Veda corroborates the fact that the Indo-European Language which originated in Kamrup, had been carried by different noble sections of people to different parts of the world,� Sarma says.
Again, the Prakrit languages of western and northwestern part of India have close similarity with the Vedic language as per explanation of Dr Nagen Thakur. The Assamese language also has close similarity with these Prakrits as claimed by Dr Banikanta Kakoti, A Grierson and Dr SK Chatterji.
�Even in case of words and pronunciation, the Assamese language has close similarity with the western language of India and some other European languages. So, we cannot say that the Assamese language evolved from Magadhi Prakrit; rather we should say that not only the Aryan languages of India but other Indo-European languages have evolved from the Kamrupi language,� Sarma says.