Nepalese Language

NepalBhasa- The Newar Language

The Newars have their own language Nepalbhasa. It is a Sino-Tibetan language. It is believed that there are about five hundred Sino-Tibetan Languages in the world. Among them Nepalbhasa is the oldest of this language group in South Asia. Also it is forth in Sino-Tibetan languages which have old literature extant. First, second and third being Chinese, Tibetan and Burmese respectively.

Literature Extant

Many Nepalbhasa words are found in Lichhivi inscriptions. As it had been popular as public language in early Malla period (9th Century), Nepalbhasa writing had started at the very time. In the manuscript of ‘Nidan’ (901 A.D.) , the date has been written in Nepalbhasa- (Kwoyeya pwalam mikhaya pwalam sambat nepalaya thuli). The concluding line (Sidhayeka juro) is in Nepalbhasa, in ‘Tathagat Guhyak’ manuscript (1104 A.D.). In Guthi paper (1114 A.D.) found in Rudrabarna Mahabihar, a long description has written in Nepalbhasa. In this way, from the very beginning of 12th century, Nepalbhasa was used as independent expression language. Stone inscription found in the courtyard of Bajrayogini Temple of Sankhu (dated 1173 A.D.) is the oldest ever found stone inscription and copper inscription found in Kasthamandap (dated 1374 A.D.) is the oldest ever found copper inscription in Nepalbhasa.

The oldest book (manuscript) in Nepalbhasa found till now is ‘Haramekhala’ (1374 A.D.), a medical book, which is Nepalbhasa translation of book written in Prakrit language, by Bengal Poet ‘Madhuk’. Other found books of that period are Nyayashastra (1380 A.D.) , Putrapautradibodhini (1381 A.D.), Amarkosh (1386 A.D.) etc. Gopalraj Banshawali (a chronicle) is the first original Nepalbhasa book, of which first sixteen page has been lost, from 17 to 30 (A), it has been written in Sanskrit language and from 30(B) to 63 in Nepalbhasa.

Dashaphala (1399A.D.), Bhasajyotis (1422 A.D.), Sumatikarana (1512 A.D.) and others can be mentioned in astrological book written in Nepalbhasa. ‘Dashakarma Paddati’ (1498 A.D.) is the oldest book on rituals written in Nepalbhasa. After ‘Bhagwat Puran’ (1505 A.D.), creative literature in Nepalbhasa starts from ‘Tantrakhyan’ (1518 A.D.).

Creative literature at a glance 

First Story Book – Tantrakhyan (1518 A.D.) 

First Song – Walangata Simule Swambaraya (In reign of Pranmol malla, 1523-1550 A.D.) 

First One-act Play – Ekadashi Brata (1633A.D.) by Sidhhinarasigh Malla 

First Drama – Mooldev Shashidev by Jagat Prakash Malla (1645-1673 A.D.)