Dogri belongs to the Indo-Aryan sub group of the Indo-Persian languages. It is actually a member of the Western Pahadi language family. It is spoken by over two million people. It is spoken mostly in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir. It has been recognised officially as a national language of India. It received recognition on 22nd December 2003 when it was declared as a national language of the country in the Indian Constitution.

Dogri has come from classical Sanskrit which is a Vedic language. The earliest reference we can find to written Dogri or `Duggar’ goes back to `Nuh Sipihr’ or `The Nine Heavens’ which was written by the famous Indo-Persian poet, Amir Khusro, in 1317. Dogri language featured in Amir Khusro’s list of Indian languages along with Sindhi, Lahauri, Kashmiri, Dhursamundari, Tilangi, Gujarati, Malabari, Gaudi Bengali, Awadhi and Dehlavi.

Inscriptions dating from the twelfth century contain Dogri expressions and there is evidence of some sanads, letters, title deeds and agreements written in the Takari script and Dogri language. In 1916, a Dogri translation of the New Testament is said to have been published by Christian missionaries of Sirampur. Jyotishi Vishveshvar translated `Lilavati’, a Sanskrit work on mathematics into Dogri in 1873 AD.

The Dogri language is also spoken in Himachal Pradesh and Northern Punjab. The Dogri speaking people are known as Dogras and the region where they speak is called Duggar.


This language has its own dictionary and grammar. The grammar of Dogri language has a strong Sanskrit base.

The development of Dogri from the Vedic period to its present day form can be determined by means of changes in phonology. Let us take for example, the word `son’. It is written as `putra’ in the Vedic times around 1200 BC, `putha’ in the Middle Indo-Aryan period around 400 BC and `puthar’ in Dogri around 1100 AD.

The documented phonological changes pertain to nasalisation and the transposition of phonemes within a word which is known as metathesis. Other factors in the changes were the shifts in voice and aspiration. The Dogri language uses length, nasalisation, emphasis and tones that are levelled, rising and falling to differentiate between its ten vowel phonemes and twenty eight consonant phonemes. Dogri’s grammatical structure and vocabulary has been affected by the Persian (Farsi) and the English languages.

Dogri was written first in the Takari script in the early fourteenth century; then, it was written in the Dogra script which became the official script of Jammu and Kashmir during the ruling period of Maharaja Ranbir Singh in the early nineteenth century but later during the twentieth century, Dogra script has been replaced by the Devanagari script.

Dogri is also derived from Sauraseni Prakrit. Dogri has been sometimes described as a dialect of Punjabi and Cameali. Some seventeen dialects are spoken in the area of Duggar.

Some important phonological features of Dogri are:

  • V (is pronounced as b) and y (is pronounced as j). Ch usually changes to (S).
  • Nasalisation is phonemic (ja, jan)
  • Vowel lengths and consonant lengths are phonemic.

The main morphological characteristics of Dogri are:

  • Preference for passive voice constructions.
  • The conjugation of the auxiliary verb is in accordance with the gender of the subject.
  • The use of additional vowel (i) in the past verbal forms.

On analysing the phonology, the grammar and the vocabulary of Dogri, it is observed that Dogri like many other modern Indian languages has a very strong Sanskrit base of Sanskrit words that have been received in Dogri either in pure form (Tatsama) or with some phonetic changes (Tadbhava). Even some Vedic words which are not preserved in classical Sanskrit are preserved in a slightly changed form in Dogri. Sanskrit words are mostly used in Dogri conversation at the time of religious functions and social functions. While worshipping girls in Devi Pujana, the term `kanjaka’ is used which is derived from Sanskrit `kanyaka’ but the pure form `kanya’ is used in marriage ceremonies. Like many other modern Indian languages, Dogri uses pure Sanskrit terminology in the fields of grammar, poetry and philosophy.



The steady evolution of the literature of Dogri language saw the texting of `Rajauli’ which is a translation of an original Farsi work by Tehaldas. In the early twentieth century, the Dogri language and literature saw a big development in areas of short stories, prose, poetry and novels. One of the famous names in Dogri literature, Dr. Karan Singh, has made a tremendous contribution to the language through his philosophical treatises, travelogues and a good number of novels. He has also done much while translating some famous Dogri songs into the English language in order to popularise them. Dogri literature has a rich collection of several dramatic works, fictional stories and poems.

The Dogri literature has seen a substantial growth in the last five decades. The literary process in the Dogri language can be analysed in stages of earlier writings and continuous writings.

The earlier writings in Dogri literature belong to the era between sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. Even in this long period, you can come across very few literary or semi-literary writings. This earlier stage saw multi lingual literary activities in the region when many writers were experimenting with their creativity in other Indian languages like Brajbhasha and Hindi. Few writers were putting in efforts in Dogri by means of short poems, some translations and devotional songs.

An example can be found in 1565 AD in the works of Manak Chank of Kangra and of Ganbhir Rai in 1650 AD. Devi Ditta who was the court poet of Maharaja Ranjit Dev of Jammu during the eighteenth century wrote good qualitative poems in Dogri.

Many Dogri poems were written due to the creative efforts of the Dogri Samstha though very few of them got published. The very first anthology of poems was compiled by Dinu Bhai Panth who was the pioneer poet of the continuous stream stage entitled `Gutlun’ (meaning titillation). He has also written poems on a variety of themes involving awakening of labourers and peasants, manipulation of leaders, humour and pathos connected with ill matched alliances and on the natural beauty of the region.

Since 1950, many poets have come on to the Dogri literary scene from different backgrounds spreading from Jammu City to the interior parts of Jammu province. They have made good contribution to Dogri poetry. Among some well known poets are Charan Singh, Padma Sachdev and Kehri Singh Madhukar. They have been pillars of Dogri poetry.

Dogri folk tales deal with duality of themes. They range from mythologies and fables to parables and comedies. There are folk tales dealing with social and domestic problems relating to local deities, saints and places of pilgrimage. About two thousand folk tales have been published by non-governmental institutions. The Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages has published fifteen collections of Dogri folk tales. Some individual efforts have also been there to collect and publish such folk tales. Even then, there are thousands of folk tales that have not seen the light of day or print.


Sahitya Akademi has recognised Dogri as a literary language and has conferred honours on many Dogri writers. Sahitya Akademi is India’s National Academy of Letters supported by the Indian Government. Since its inception in 1954, the Sahitya Akademi has awarded prizes and brochures to outstanding books deserving literary merit that have been published in any of the major Indian languages that are recognised by the Academy. The award gives a monetary compensation of Rupees fifty thousand and a plaque. Sahitya Akademi gives twenty four awards to the literary works in the languages it has recognised. These awards are announced after a year long process of scrutiny, discussions and selection. The awards are meant to recognise and promote excellence in Indian writing and acknowledging new trends and movements in literature throughout the year. Their decisions reflect on the state of current tastes and take into account sensitivity in the field of literature. The award for Dogri language started in 1970.


Dogri is studied in schools, colleges and the University of Jammu at undergraduate and post-graduate levels. There was a great demand for its inclusion in the Eighth Schedule.

University of Jammu is recognised as the one and only University in India which has the facility of post graduate teaching of Dogri language and conducting research on Dogri literature. Most of the research work on various aspects of the Dogri language, literature, culture, history, folklore and script is being conducted by the Post Graduate Department at the University of Jammu as there is no other agency to carry on the work.

The Post Graduate Department of the University of Jammu provides research material to its students and visiting scholars who depend mostly on the facilities being offered for their research activities. This Department has been entrusted with the responsibility of churning out students and research scholars of high calibre.


Pandit Ravi Shankar and Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma have composed Dogri folk melodies and adapted them for their respective Sitar and Santoor instruments.

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Tahseen Nakavi

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