Brij Bhasha (ब्रज भाषा), also called Braj Bhasha, Braj Bhakha, or Daihaati Zabaan (country tongue), is a Central Indian language closely related to Hindi. In fact it is usually considered to be a dialect of Hindi, and was the predominant literary language of North-Central India before the switch to Khariboli in the 19th century. It is spoken by more than 42,000 people in the nebulously defined region of Braj Bhoomi, which was a political state in the era of the Mahabharata wars. According to ancient Hindu texts such as the Shrimad Bhagavatam, the kingdom of King Kams is described as spreading through the Braj (also known as Vrij or Vraj), where the incarnation of Krishna was born and spent his childhood days. This region lies in the Agra-Mathura area, and stretches as far as the environs of Delhi. In modern India, this area lies mostly in northwestern Uttar Pradesh, the eastern extremities of Rajasthan and the southern extremities of Haryana. Today Braj Bhoomi can be seen as a cultural-geographical entity rather than a proper state. It is the vernacular of the region and boasts a rich culture and literature by famous poets like Surdas, Bhai Gurdas and Amir Khusro. Brij Bhasha is very close to Avadhi, spoken in neighbouring Avadh region.
Brij bhasa is spoken in the cities of Mathura, Vrindavana, Agra, Firozabad, Hathras, Etah, Aligarh, Bareli, Bulandhshahar, Bharatpur and Dhaulpur. Much of the Hindi literature was developed in Brij in the medieval period. However, today Khariboli dialect has taken its place as the predominant standard dialect of Hindi.
In modern India, Braj Bhasha exists as an unofficial dialect spoken colloquially by natives of the region of Braj Bhoomi, with great cultural and religious significance. Much of Hindi poetry, especially that of 'Bhakti' or devotional poetry is in this language. Some devotional poems for Krishna are also composed in Braj Bhasha. The pioneering Hindi poet Aamir Khusro, also spoke and composed poetry in this language. Famous Braj Bhasha folk songs or poems include 'Chhaap tilak sab chheeni' by Aamir Khusro, and the popular devotional song ,"Main naahin maakhan khaayo" by Surdas. Braj bhasha is also the main language of Hindustani classical music compositions.
- Braj Bhasha at the Ethnologue.
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