Apr 12,2021

5 Most Popular Languages in India: A Complete Guide

“Once an Indian, Always an Indian” - that is the sentiment people away from their homeland identify with. While you can settle in the daily humdrum of a foreign land, there is something familiar and deep-rooted within you that gets stirred when you hear familiar sounds and phonics. The first thing you seek - is a familiar language.

Currently, 121 languages are spoken in India. The number of dialects spoken is around 19,500. Moreover, India has become a multilingual nation with the majority of the population well-versed in more than two languages. When you look at a few of the most popular languages of India, you realize the number of speakers, the usage in popular culture, entertainment is all-pervasive. So much so, that the Oxford dictionary has started adopting the most popular and used Indian words in its dictionaries.

India has always supported the idea of spreading knowledge, where the “Guru” (the teacher) transferred whatever knowledge he had to his “Shishyas” (the disciples).

So, whether you are a Guru or Shishya spread the significance of Indian culture and heritage across the globe, start by teaching or learning about Indian languages. Here, we will be discussing the five most popular languages in India and some interesting facts about the same.

1. Hindi

Hindi has originated from the Sanskrit language. However, it is influenced by other languages too, namely, Arabic, Portuguese, English, Turkish, and Persian. Interestingly, it is the most prevalent language across the country with many dialects that vary across the entire Hindi belt. The Hindi belt primarily comprises the states of Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh. In terms of the number of native speakers, Hindi ranks first in India. As per the 2011 census, there are roughly 53 crores native Hindi speakers across the country, constituting approximately 44% of the Indian population.

  • On a global scale, Hindi is the fourth most spoken language after Mandarin, Spanish, and English.

  • Some major Hindi dialects are Awadhi, Haryanvi, Braj, Bhageli, Bundeli, Kannauji, and Chhattisgarhi.

2. Bengali

In India, the second most popular language is Bengali. As per the 2011 census, roughly 8% of the Indian population speaks Bengali. In absolute figures, the number of native Bengali speakers is approximately 97.24 crores. Although the primary language of the state of West Bengal, Bengali speaking people are widely spread across the neighboring country of Bangladesh and in many north-eastern states, namely, Assam and Tripura. Also, it is the national language of Bangladesh.

  • It is one of the languages offered at Karachi University, Pakistan.

  • This language has a rich cultural heritage. Charyapada, the earliest Bengali literary work, dates back to the 10th century. It is a collection of mystical Buddhist songs.

  • Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore is a prominent figure of Bengali literature. He wrote our National Anthem - Jana Gana Mana in Bengali.

  • Our national song, Vande Mataram, is also in Bengali. It was penned down by Bankim Chandra Chaterjee.

3. Marathi

Widely spoken across the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Daman, Diu, and some parts of Gujarat, Marathi is the third most popular language of India. As per the 2011 census, there are approximately 8.3 crores native Marathi speakers in India. They constitute roughly 7% of the total Indian population. This language has its roots in the ancient language of Sanskrit. For example, Hindi lipi and Marathi lipi are similar to Sanskrit. Similar origins and vocabulary often make it easier for Marathi speakers to learn Hindi and Punjabi. Broadly, there are five major dialects of Marathi - Deshi, Marathwadi, Konkani, Vaidharbhi, and Varhadi.

4. Telugu

Telugu is the fourth most popular language in India. It ranks first among the Dravidian language family in terms of the number of native speakers. As per the 2011 census, there are close to 8.11 crores of native Telugu speakers in India. They constitute roughly 6.70% of the Indian population. It is the official language of the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Notably, many words in Telugu are borrowed from Kannada - the official language of the state of Karnataka. In the past, many Shaivite poets composed poems in both languages. The earliest references to the Telugu language date back to the 6th century. Some popular Telugu dialects include Berad, Dasari, Konda-Reddi, Golari, Guntur, Kamathi, etc.

  • Telugu has its roots in both Sanskrit and Prakrit. Telugu vocabulary was found in many Prakrit inscriptions dating back to the 2nd century.

  • Telugu grammar was originally written in Sanskrit.

5. Tamil

The fifth most popular language in India is Tamil. As the name suggests, it is the official language of the state of Tamil Nadu. It is also spoken in some parts of Karnataka. Interestingly, it is one of the official languages of the neighbouring country of Sri Lanka and Singapore. Native Tamil speakers can be found in some parts of South Africa and the Fiji Islands too. As per the 2011 census, there are roughly 7 crores native Tamil speakers in India. They constitute approximately 6% of the Indian population.

  • The earliest Tamil inscriptions date back to 300 B.C. Thus, it is an ancient language plus the longest surviving too.

  • UNESCO has given Tamil, the oldest living language, the status of a classical language of India.

  • The Palakkad dialect is heavily influenced by the Malayalam language.

Does the above discussion entice you to learn and know more about the Indian languages? If that is the case, then Vimarza is the perfect platform for you to master the art of multiple Indian languages. We, at Vimarza, promise a holistic learning experience for both teachers and students through our live classes, pre-recorded lectures, and cultural events.

Each online art courses at Vimarza is carefully designed by our team of experts who are stalwarts in their chosen fields. Besides, we offer tailor-made courses and on-demand videos in Indian languages, traditions, and performing arts. Join us and stay committed to promoting Indian culture and heritage through its myriad courses through this e-learning platform. Here, you can not only learn but also teach about different languages through various designed courses. Looking forward to your association with us!