History of Bishnupriya Manipuri Language
This language is spoken in most parts of Tripura and Assam in India and also in other parts of Myanmar, Bangladesh and other nations as well. It is diverse from many Indo-Aryan languages like Assamese, Bengali and Oriya. Bishnupriya Manipuri Language originated and developed in Manipur and mainly confined to the surrounding of Loktak Lake. Some of the historians have mentioned that this language was existent in Manipur before the 19th century. It was Dr. Grierson who called the language as "Bishnupuriya Manipuri", while some other writers call it simply "Bishnupriya". The main locations where this language is spoken are; Heirok, Mayang Yamphal, Bishnupur, Khunan, Ningthankhong, Ngaikhong, Thamnapoxpi.
A major part of the population who speak Bishnupriya Manipuri Language escaped from Manipur and took shelter in Tripura, Assam, Cachar and Sylhet during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries due to Burmese attack and due to domestic conflicts among the princes of Manipur. As a result it became increasingly difficult for small number of Bishnupriyas who stayed back to retain their own language in the face of the huge impact of Meitei. Although, historian Dr. G.A. Grierson in 1891 have found the subsistence of significant number of speakers in three or four villages near Bishnupur, that was locally known as Lamangdong. But slowly the language stated to lose its grip in Manipur against the backdrop of large number of Meiteis and is also slowly facing it's decompose in Cachar and Bangladesh against a gigantic majority of Bengali-speakers. Bishnupriya Manipuri Language is still spoken in parts of Manipur in Jiribam, Cachar District in Assam and in some pockets in Tripura and Bangladesh.
Source and Origin of Bishnupriya Manipuri Language
The speakers of this language know this language as Imar Thar that means "Language of my Mother". They refer to themselves and to their language as "Manipuri" and also use the term "Bishnupriya" to differentiate them from other ethnic races of Manipur. The very term "Bishnupriya" is probably derived from the place named "Bishnupur" along with the suffix "-iya", that means "people of Bishnupur", the old capital of Manipur. Traditionalist feels that, just after the Battle of Kurukshetra, the Bishnupriya Manipuri Language was carried over to Manipur by immigrants from Hastinapura and Dvaraka. It is often believed that these group of immigrants led by son of Arjunaand Chitrangada, Babhruvahana.
From surveillance of the morphology, the vocabulary, and the phonology of the Bishnupriya Manipuri language, some historians have come to support the theory of Mahabharata origin of Bishnupriya Manipuri. It says that this language is highly influenced by Maharastri and Sanskrit as well as Sauraseni Prakrits.
However, the Bishnupriya Manipuri language is closer to the Indo-Aryan group of languages with extraordinary influence from Meitei both grammatically and phonetically, and surely not one of the Tibeto-Burman languages. At a different stage of development of the language the Sauraseni, Maharashtri and Magadhi languages and the Tibeto-Burman languages exerted influence on it as well. So it was most likely developed from Sauraseni-Maharashtri Prakrit, Sanskrit and Magadhi Prakrita. The Sauraseni-Maharastri relation can be tracked by observing some features of pronouns. The element of Magadhi is also very important. The language retains many features of Magadhi. Bishnupriya Manipuri Language also retains some of the old and precious Meitei sound vocabulary, as the bulk speakers of the language left Manipur during the first part of the 19th century.
Places Where Bishnupriya Manipuri Language is Spoken
The language is still spoken in the Jiribam subdivision, in Manipur. Ages ago major section of the Bishnupriya Manipuri people settled in Assam, mainly in the districts of Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi. The population are counted as one of the main groups in the Karimganj districts and Cachar. In the Tripura, the Bishnupriya Manipuri population can be divided into Dharmanagar sub-area, a Kailasahar sub-area, a Kamaipur sub-area and a West Tripura sub-area. In Meghalaya, Mizoramand Arunachal Pradesh there is a presence of scattered Bishnupriya Manipuri population.