(Last Updated on : 24-10-2013)
Konkani language is an Indo-Aryan language belonging to the Indo-European family of languages spoken in the Konkan (or Karavali, is a rugged section of the western coastline of India from Raigad to Mangalore) coast of India. The language possesses approximately 7.6 million speakers of its two individual languages, Konkani and Goan Konkani. Konkani is the official language in the Indian state of Goa and is also one of the Official languages of India. However, prior to delving deep within the variances and diversification of Konkani literature, it is essential to be enlightened about the origin of this extremely unusual and extraordinary language. The ancestries and lineages of Konkani language from the historic point of view are arresting when analysed. The Aryans who had migrated to India, had acquainted and adjusted themselves in North India and consequently founded various languages based on local influence. Based upon their topographical distributions, two distinctive groups of Konkani can be categorised. Punjabi, Rajasthani, Gujarati, and Hindi had germinated from Prakrit of Magadha and Sindhi Maithili, Assamese and Bengali had developed from Shouraseni Prakrit. Konkani falls within the second group, and thus a group of scholars regard Bengali or Assamese as the mother of Konkani language. However, in effect, the three are sisters of the same (presently non-existent) intermediary mother language. Disputations on the matter although prolong to spawn various kinds of reactions among linguists. Some historians maintain that Konkani was the language of Aryans who had travelled further south to the Konkan and hence the name Konkani. The most crucial point to note here is that Konkani language and hence literature, is first viewed in the Konkan area in western India. Early adopters of the language thus had made use of the Brahmi script for penning purposes, but with time and due to local persuasion, Nagari (a.k.a. Devanagari script) was employed for the benefit of comparatively swelling audiences.
It was precisely during this time that Konkani as a language witnessed flourishings in Goa. During the 1300s, the development of Marathi language and the handiness of religious and literary works in Marathi, led to its all-extensive use for religious purposes within the Hindus of Goa. Konkani at that time, existed only in a spoken version, with literature coming into this competitive scenario much later, precisely with the sailing of the Portuguese.
The Konkanis who had colonised in Goa, engrossed themselves in creative pursuits in literature and began to determine grammar for using the language. In the interim, the Portuguese were ravenous for usurping lands and had started invading the Indian west coast. According to their plans, they encroached upon the land and started plaguing and disturbing the Konkanis. These Portuguese religious irrationals desired to fill the entire Eastern land with followers of Christianity and coerced their own language, customs and religion on the dwellers. They even had actually authorised a law banning Konkani. In fact, they also had mercilessly burned down all the Konkani literature available during the time, precisely in 1548 A.D.; the Konkanis had thus become 'cultural orphans'. The non-citizens had in truth burnt alive the Konkanis who did not abide by Christianity and vehemently converted the frailer strata of the society. The Portuguese even had converted their names to Christian ones. In order to carry on their identity, the Konkanis were driven to migrate to different parts of India. This is the single-most reason why Konkani possesses such an assortment of dialects; those who had travelled to different parts of the country, were influenced by their local languages. In Vengulra, Sawantavadi and Ratnagiri, they adopted Marathi, and Malavani had thus come into being. In south and north Kanaras, Konkani language was influenced by Kannada, and in Kerala, the Malayalam words were incorporated within the language.
However, in spite of such appalling news going against the Konkanis, coupled with being persecuted, the Konkanis vehemently clung to their culture and the Portuguese thought it much wiser for them to learn and memorise Konkani in order to convert the Konkanis, thus acceding under native pressure. They named Konkani the 'language of the Brahmins', 'language of the Kanarese' and even 'language of Goan Brahmins', etc. The clergy began to translate the Christian religious texts to Konkani with able assistance from the converts and hence a new form of Konkani literature gradually took shape. The Portuguese had employed the Roman script for the translational purposes. Since they translated word by word, there could sadly be witnessed any exquisiteness in literary styles; even the sentence structure and grammar seemed deformed and misplaced.
Early in the times of Portuguese colonisation, the fact of propagating in local languages and tongues had dawned upon the Christian missionaries. They thus translated Christian literature into Konkani and occasionally in Marathi, the most notable amongst them being Fr. Thomas Stephens. Nevertheless, in 1684 C.E., the Portuguese administration enforced upon the employment of local languages in their Indian territories. They dictated the usage of Portuguese not just for official purposes, but also everyday conversations, with speaking at homes or bazaars. Such an act was performed solely because local languages served as an effective medium for Hindu religious preachings. The Portuguese also cherished to dissolve any links the new converts had with their culture. Coupled with the enforcement of Portuguese as an official language, it lead to a steep declination of Konkani, which unlike most Indian languages possessed absolutely no state benefaction. Konkani literature, for an interim period, appeared to be dwindling and sinking into oblivion and nothingness.
In the meantime, the Hindus of Goa had been employing Marathi as a language of religious rituals and celebrations for a long period. Also, the interface between Marathis and Konkanis in the past that had led to Konkanis going bilingual with Marathi now surfaced the status of Marathi as the liturgical and literary language of Hindus in Goa, encompassing Konkanis. Likewise, upper class Christians utilised Konkani only to converse with the lower classes and poor, employing Portuguese in upscale social gatherings. The utilisation of Portuguese resulted in the influence of Portuguese in Konkani, principally in the dialects spoken by the Christians. In the interim, the migrant communities outside Goa had been magnificently keeping Konkani alive, resulting in the becoming more fragmented.
Konkani literature was back then advancing in no way, with Marathi and Portuguese seizing every place of opportunity. Seeing this, Vaman Raghunath Varde Valaulikar set about on a mission to amalgamate and unify all Konkanis, Hindus as well as Christians, irrespective of caste or religion. He viewed this movement not just as a nationalistic movement against Portuguese rule, but also against the excellence of Marathi over Konkani. Almost single-handedly Varde Valaulikar combated and struggled, penning a number of works in Konkani. He is looked upon as the groundbreaker of modern Konkani literature and affectionately commemorated as Shenoi Goembab. Vaman Raghunath Varde Valaulikar's death anniversary, 9th April, is celebrated as World Konkani Day (Viswa Konkani Dis). Following India's Independence and its consequent reconquest of Goa in 1961, Goa was assimilated into the Indian Union as a Union Territory, directly under central administration. Thus, Konkani literature began its prolonged walk towards contemporaneity, holding hands with Goa and its yet to arrive gifted men.
If tracing in the lines of modernity and contemporaneity, Konkani literature can be governed primarily in their major concentrated bases, precisely in Karnataka, Goa and Kerala. Unique and exceptional in their own right, Konkani literature in Goa
, Konkani literature in Karnataka
and Konkani literature in Kerala
virtually possess colossal amount of every ancient influence, rising sky high in present times.