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Constitutionally recognised languages of India
22 Official Languages of the Indian Republic

Assamese  · Bengali  · Bodo  · Dogri  · Gujarati
Hindi  · Kannada  · Kashmiri  · Konkani  · Maithili
Malayalam  · Marathi  · Meitei (Manipuri)  · Nepali
Odia  · Punjabi  · Sanskrit  · Santali  · Sindhi
Tamil  · Telugu  · Urdu


Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India
Official Languages Commission
Classical Languages of India
List of languages by number of native speakers in India

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The Government of India recognises six languages as the Classical languages of India. In 2004, the Government of India declared that languages that met certain strict criteria could be accorded the status of a "Classical Language" of India.[1] It was instituted by the Ministry of Culture along with the Linguistic Experts' Committee. The committee was constituted by the Government of India to consider demands for categorization of languages as Classical Languages.

Classical languages

The declared Classical languages (Sashtriya Bhasa) of the Republic of India: Kannada, Malayalam, Odia, Sanskrit, Tamil and Telugu.

Language In own script Recognition Ref
Tamil தமிழ் 2004 [2]
Sanskrit संस्कृतम् 2005 [3]
Telugu తెలుగు 2008 [4]
Kannada ಕನ್ನಡ 2008 [4]
Malayalam മലയാളം 2013 [5]
Odia ଓଡ଼ିଆ 2014 [6][7]


In the year 2004, the tentative criteria for the age of antiquity of "classical language" was assumed to be at least 1000 years of existence.[8]

In a 2006 press release, Minister of Tourism and Culture Ambika Soni told the Rajya Sabha the following criteria were laid down to determine the eligibility of languages to be considered for classification as a "Classical Language",[9]

High antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over a period of 1500–2000 years; a body of ancient literature/texts, which is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers; the literary tradition be original and not borrowed from another speech community; the classical language and literature being distinct from modern, there may also be a discontinuity between the classical language and its later forms or its offshoots.[10]


As per Government of India's Resolution No. 2-16/2004-US (Akademies) dated 1 November 2004, the benefits that will accrue to a language declared as a "Classical Language" are:[11]

  1. Two major international awards for scholars of eminence in Classical Indian Languages are awarded annually.
  2. A Centre of Excellence for Studies in Classical Languages is set up.
  3. The University Grants Commission will be requested to create, to start with at least in the Central Universities, a certain number of Professional Chairs for Classical Languages for scholars of eminence in Classical Indian Languages.[12]

Demands for other languages

Further information: Meitei classical language movement

Over the next few years, demands have been made for other languages to be accorded Classical status, including Pali,[13] Bengali,[14][15] Marathi,[16][17] Maithili[18] and Meitei (officially called Manipuri).[19][20][21]

See also


  1. ^ "India sets up classical languages". BBC. 17 September 2004. Retrieved 1 May 2007.
  2. ^ "Front Page : Tamil to be a classical language". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 18 September 2004. Archived from the original on 3 March 2018. Retrieved 1 August 2010.
  3. ^ "National : Sanskrit to be declared classical language". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 28 October 2005. Archived from the original on 4 September 2016. Retrieved 1 August 2010.
  4. ^ a b "Declaration of Telugu and Kannada as classical languages". Press Information Bureau. Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Government of India. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 31 October 2008.
  5. ^ "'Classical' status for Malayalam". The Hindu. Thiruvananthapuram, India. 24 May 2013. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  6. ^ "Odia gets classical language status". The Hindu. 20 February 2014. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  7. ^ "Milestone for state as Odia gets classical language status". The Times of India.
  8. ^ "India sets up classical languages". BBC. 2004-09-17.
  9. ^ "CLASSICAL LANGUAGE STATUS TO KANNADA". Press Information Bureau, Government of India. 8 August 2006. Archived from the original on 18 January 2012. Retrieved 6 November 2008.
  10. ^ "Reviving classical languages – Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis". 13 August 2015. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  11. ^ "Classical Status to Odiya Language". Press Information Bureau, Government of India. 14 August 2013. Retrieved 18 January 2023.
  12. ^ "Classical Status to Oriya Language". (Press release). 14 August 2013. Archived from the original on 12 January 2014.
  13. ^ Singh, Binay (5 May 2013). "Removal of Pali as UPSC subject draws criticism". The Times of India. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  14. ^ "Didi, Naveen face-off over classical language status". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 2020-02-12.
  15. ^ "Bangla O Bangla Bhasha Banchao Committee". Archived from the original on 2022-02-26. Retrieved 2020-02-12.
  16. ^ Clara Lewis (16 April 2018). "Clamour grows for Marathi to be given classical language status". The Times of India.
  17. ^ "Marathi may become classical language". The Indian Express. 4 July 2013.
  18. ^ Jagran Team (9 July 2021). "बिहार की एक भी भाषा अब तक नहीं बनी शास्त्रीय भाषा, मैथिली हो सकता शामिल". Jagran.
  19. ^ "Manipur steps up to renew push for inclusion of Manipuri among India's classical languages (time duration of the movement)". Imphal Free Press. The movement for recognizing Manipuri as a classical language began in 2013, yet there has been a gap in the follow up actions.
  20. ^ "MP for classical language status : 23rd sep20 ~ E-Pao! Headlines".
  21. ^ "Process for recognising Manipuri as classical language of India underway: MP Sanajaoba". Imphal Free Press.