Linguistically the Bodos include a large group of people who are the speakers of the Tibeto-Burman Speeches of the North and East Bengal, Assam and Burma. They are the Bodos or Boros of the Brahmaputra Valley, they are known as Meches in Lower Assam, West Bengal and Nepal and also known as Rabhas, Garos, Dimasas and Kacharis, Lalungs, Sonowals, Misings, Deuris, Chutias, Modahis, Ramcha, Thengal in Assam and Tipras in Tripura. Hence, Bodo is a general term, which is the generic name of the people, it means all the Tibeto-Burman(Bodo) speaking group of the Sino-Tibeto origin.

As per the classification given by Robert Snafer, in the Linguistic Survey of India describes the Boros or the Boro-Kacharis as a member of the Bodo (Boro) sub-section under the Assam Barma group of the Tibeto-Burman branch of the Sino-Tibeto-Chinese speech family.

The Bodo speaking areas of Assam at present are stretching from Dhubri in the West to Sodia in the East. In Tripura and Nagaland also a small number of the Boros or Boro-Kacharis are found to have been living. In Jalpaiguri and other adjacent districts of West Bengal, in Dimapur and adjacent areas of Nagaland, the Boros are known as Mech.

The Bodos, once were powerful and dominant race in the entire Northern and North Easter India are at present struggling for their barest existence. Racially, the Bodos, the earliest known ethnic group to inhabit to Assam(erstwhile Pragjyotishpur and Kamrupa) with their distinctive culture and linguistic traits belong to the Mongoloid stock of the Indo-Mongoloids or Indo-Tibetans.

Bodo language (Boro Rao)

The language of the Boros (Bodos) is called Boro, Boro Rao. It is known as the Meche and Boro rao in Nepal and North Bengal, Dimasa in the North Cachar and Borak or Kok-Borak in Tripura. This language has many sister languages in Assam and they are Mising, Rabha, Tiwa, Khamti, Garo, Moran, Hajong etc.

According to Dr. Sukumar Sen, the name Bodo is directly connected with the early new Indo-Aryan Bhota which probably indicate Tibetan and allied peoples and their languages which were closely connected in the Northern and North-Eastern Region. The retention of the name by the present day Bodo speakers indicates that it was once regarded as the most powerful language of the Bhota group of speakers.

As Dr. P.C. Bhattacharya has observed, the Boro (Bodo) language belongs to the branch of Borish Section under Boric Division of the Sino-Tibetan family. The Boro language of Assam has at least four clear-cut dialect areas with a sufficient number of dialectal variations, these may be called North-Eastern, South-Western, North-Central and Southern dialect areas with phonological, morphological and glossarial differences.

G.A. Griersion has explained about the Boro language widely in the linguistic survey of India(1903). The Boro language has been described by him as one of the languages of the Sino-Tibetan or Tibeto-Chinese speech family. It belongs to the Boro, Naga group of the Assam-Burmese branch of the Sino Tibetan family. Robert Sefar also has classified the Boro language as one of the branches of the Barish section of the Sino Tibetan speaking family in his classification of Sino-Tibetan Language (1955).

  • Classification as given in the linguistic survey of India (1903)
  • Classification as given in the classification of Sino-Tibetan Languages (1955)

Mr. Rajani Kanta Hazarika mentioned in the “Book Mangal Kachari Gupta Itihas” (1986) that the kings of the Kirata of that early age used the Boro language of the present age along with their subjects. During the period of the pre-Mahabharata age there was no habitant of any other nations in the Eastern part of Guwahati than the Kirata Mangal people. The people of the Bodo Kachari group of families belonged to the family of the Bana King. The people of that family used the Boro Language.

Rev. Hira Charan Narzinary also mentioned in his book-- In search of Identity. The Mech (1985) that the Kirata words and the words of the Kirata-origin were used in the epics ----- The Ramayana, The Mahabharata, Yajurveda, Atharva Veda, Yogini Tantra, Kalika Puran, Siva Purana and many other religious books. According to him and according to K.L. Baruah, “The name ‘Mairang’ was Sanskritised as Mahiranga. It is early a Bodo name ….”

According to Dr. P.C. Chowdhury and other historians the Boro language was the official and Court language of the Kirata Kings. With the help of Boro language and its medium, the Kiratas developed their art and culture and were civilized. But in the later period the Aryan Kings and the people tried to destroy the Boro Language and Mediums.

“-------- The Bodo dialects though it is spoken in Assam by more than half a million person are in their turn giving away to Aryan Language i.e. Assamese and Bengali and complete disappearance is only a matter of time”. It was the opinion of a Historian Sir Edward Gait expressed in his Book “A History of Assam” published in 1905. But we are fortunate that it is survived.

The Bodos started to convert to Hinduism from the Epic period- Ramayana and Mahabharata. Beginning from the Epic period the Bodos were reducing every year by means of conversion. On the other hand, though the Bodos had the Emperor or the Kings, they did not take the necessary step of survival of their own language and culture and even they did not take the needed step of providing education to their subjects. Instead of it, they themselves were converted to Hinduism and thus gave up their own language and culture. It was happened because they were illiterate and the so called high caste Hindus i.e. Brahmins, converted the Bodo Kings and the subjects by means of temptation. At that time, the religion of the Boros “Bathou” could not attract the people. In this way Billions of Bodo peoples have been converting till today to other religion giving up their own language and culture and now a days, they are known by separate identity like- Chutia, Deuri, Koch, Sonowal, Tengal, Ramcha, Modahi, Soronia, Muslims etc.

But, we are fortunate that, a Saint Gurudev Kalicharan Brahma by name did preach the religion “Brahma Dharma” in the year of 1906 when “Bathou” was not in a stable state. In 1929 he submitted a memorandum to the Simon Commission demanding social development, to develop language and literature, culture and educational facilities, political rights, economic development etc. These changes in different activities came to the Boro Society during the period.

In this way, Gurudev concentrated not only preaching Brahma Dharma, but also tried to bring a change by reformation of the Society and also gave most important in providing education to the backward community. As a result, most of the children received education and thus reform prevailed in the society.

After being reformed, the mind of some people were changed and though not in a large scale, the educated youths began to think about their language and literature. The activities and contributions of the Christian Missionaries towards the growth of Boro literature in the early period, Research works on the Boro language and literature had been undertaken by the Missionary workers and writers. In 1846 B.H. Hodson used Bodo (Boro) word in his writings for the first time.

The Book in Bodo language published for the first time was- “Boroni Fisa O Ayen” Laws of the Bodos. It was the customary laws of the Boros of Southern Bank of Brahmaputra under the then undivided Goalpara District of Assam published in 1915 by Habraghat Boro Sanmiloni. It was bilingual- Boro and Bengali.

On the other hand, the first organization among the Bodos on language and literature was formed in 1917 in the name and style of “ Dakshin Kul Boro Sahitya Sanmilloni” (Boro Sahitya Sabha of Southern Bank) by the Boros of the Southern Bank of Brahmaputra under the then undivided Goalpara District of Assam. The third session of that organization was held in 1919 at Dudhnoi. But, no further record of the organization is available after 1919.

In 1919 the first Bodo Student organization was formed by the students of Cotton College, Guwahati with Khagendra Narayan Brahma as the President and Satish Ch. Basumatary as General Secretary.

The first Magazine in Bodo was “Bibar” published by the Bodos in 1924.

The Government of Indian Republic had adopted its constitution on 26th January, 1950. In that constitution some provisions of Education for the development of the weaker sections have been provided.

Article 21(A): Right to Education - The state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years in such manner as the state by law, determines.

At the beginning, education was not Fundamental Right, but after 86th Amendment, education was brought under the purview of Fundamental Right as per provision provided under Article- 21(A).

Article-46: Promotion of Educational and Economic interest of scheduled caste, Scheduled Tribes and other weaker sections - The state shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and in particular, of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.

Article-350(A): Facilities for the instruction in mother tongue at primary stage- It shall be the endeavor of every state and of every local authority within the state to provide adequate facilities for instruction in the mother tongue at the primary stage of education to children belonging to linguistic minority groups, and the President may issue such directions to any state as he considers necessary or proper for serving the provision of such facility.

But the provisions provided in the above Articles of the Constitution are in pen and papers only for the downtrodden Indigenous Tribal Bodo Community. Because, though, the Indigenous Tribal Language, Bodo, is implemented as Medium of Instruction in Assam upto Secondary Level, it has received no proper care from the Provincial Government of Assam as well as from the Central Government of India as per provision provided in the Constitution.

With a view to developing Bodo language and literature, specially to establish Bodo Language as Medium of Instruction, a literary organization was formed by the then educated youths of Dhubri in the name and style of Bodo Literary Club, Dubri on 17th July, 1952 with Birendra Narayan Brahma Patgiri as the President and Rajendra Nath Brahma as the Secretary. Formation of the organization may be termed as the turning point of the Bodo language and literature. Because, under the initiation of that organization, present Bodo Sahitya Sabha (Boro Thunlai Afad) was formed on 16th November,1952. The founder President of Bodo Sahitya Sabha was Joy Bhadra Hagjer and the General Secretary was Sonaram Thaosen. Since inception till today, it has been struggling for the development and survival of Bodo language and literature and hence, it can be truly said- “The History of Bodo Sahitya Sabha is the History of Struggle”. In India, Education is the state subject and so, soon after formation of the Sabha, it had raised demand before provisional Government of Assam to implement Mother Tongue Bodo language as the Medium of Instruction, but the Government did not pay heed to the demand. So, having no alternative, the Sabha had decided and started its democratic movement from the month of December,1952. The demand was raised on the plea of the Constitution of India to provided facilities to the children to earn education through mother tongue in the primary level as per provision provided under Section 350 (A) of the Indian Constitution.

The provision provided in the constitution seemed to be in vain, because the provincial Government of Assam did not take the needful, for fulfilling the demand of Bodo Sahitya Sabha for long ten years. Lastly the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Assam, Bimala Prasad Chaliha declared Bodo language as Medium of Instruction for the primary level in the meeting held in the field of Kokrajhar High School on 18th May,1963 and since then,18th May is being observed by Bodo Sahitya Sabha as Bodo Medium Implementation Day.

The Government of Assam refused to implement Bodo as Medium of Instruction in the Secondary level and because of that the Bodo Sahitya Sabha launched democratic movements. At last, the Government agreed and implemented Bodo language as Medium of Instruction upto Secondary level vide order No.EMI-167166/PT-2 dated 2nd April,1968. In this way the concerned authorities agreed to introduce -

  • (I) Bodo as MIL in Pre-University(PU) under Gauhati university vide Circular No.4 of 1977 and that circular was communicated to Bodo Sahitya Sabha under Memo No. G / VC / Com/17/77/14331 dated 26th May,1977. After establishment of Assam Higher Secondary Education Council, the Bodo MIL was continued according to the above order in Assam in XI and XII standard.
  • (II) Bodo as MIL was introduced under North Eastern Hill University (NEHU) in Pre University vide MemoNo.CDC/C.56/80-81/246-249 dated 24th July,1981.
  • (III) Bodo as MIL in the Degree level under the Gauhati University as per Resolution No.5 adopted in the meeting of Faculty of Arts, Gauhati University held in 25th January/80.
  • (IV) Bodo as MIL in Degree Course under Dibrugarh University vide order No.DU/RG/2894 dated 22nd August,1994.
  • (V) Master of Arts (MA) Course in Bodo under Gauhati University vide Order No.M/AC/Spl/1 /97/5812-13 dated 25th November,1997.
  • (VI) Bodo as Elective Subject under Dibrugarh University vide Letter No.M/AR/99/66 dated 31st July, 1999.
  • (VII) Bodo as Elective Subject under Gauhati University vide Letter No.DU/DR-A/6-11 / 03 / 374 dated 4th August,2004.
  • (VIII) Major Course in Bodo under Gauhati University vide Letter No.M/AR/2006/55 dated 18th January,2006.
  • (IX) Bodo as Advance Subject in XI & XII standard under Assam Higher Secondary Education Council, Guwahati Vide Notification No.AHSEC/ACA/CS/11/96/184664-185564 dated 31st July,2006.
  • (X) Besides these, since Assam University, Silchar was bifurcated from Gauhati University, Bodo was continued as Major Indian Language as per decision taken earlier by the Gauhati University.
  • (XI) Also, Bodo was recognized by the Government of Assam as an Associate Official Language by an act in the floor of Assam Assembly in the year of 1985.
  • XII. 8th Schedule : Bodo Language was recognized by the Government of India as one of the Scheduled Languages under the 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution as per Agreement reached among Government of India, Provincial Government of Assam and BLT which is known as Bodoland Accord by an Act. called the constitution (Ninety-second Amendment)Act, 2003. The Act received the assent of His Highness the President of India on 7th Jnuary,2004 and published in the Gazette of India vide Notification No.8, New Delhi, Thursday, January 8, 2004.
  • XIII. Sahitya Akademi : Sahitya Akademi, the highest literary Forum of India recognized Bodo Sahitya Sabha vide letter No.SA/14A/Sub-Commtt/35089 dated 17th October,2005.
  • XIV. UPSC : The Union Public Service Commission of India, the highest forum of the competitive Examinations of Indian Administrative and other Allied Services included Bodo Language as one of the Language subjects under it vide Notification No.13018/6/2005-AIS(1) dated 3rd December,2005.
  • XV. Script Movement : The Bodo Sahitya Sabha took a decision to adopt Roman Script as the script of Bodo Language in 1970 in its 11th Annual Conference held at Mahakalguri, West Bengal. During that period “Assamese Script” was used for Bodo language. The demand was raised before the Government of Assam till 1974, but the Government refused to grant Roman Script. As a result,the Bodo Sahitya Sabha launched democratic movement from 12th September, 1974, where millions of general public and Bodo students took part. But unfortunately, instead of granting the Roman Script, the provincial Government of Assam dominated with strong hand resulting 16 peoples to death and many of the people to serious and minor injury. Later, finding no other way of solution, the Bodo Sahitya Sabha decided to adopt Devanagari Script and the Sabha called the movement off on 13th February, 1975. Later giving some terms and conditions before the Prime Minister of India from Bodo Sahitya Sabha, an agreement was reached in between Indira Gandhi the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India and the Bodo Sahitya Sabha on 9th April, 1975.

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