Marathi is spoken mainly in Maharashtra and the Central part of India. It is the official language of Maharashtra State. The main Marathi speaking areas in India are Maharashtra, and parts of Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. It is also spoken and understood in the southern part of Gujarat. Konkani, Goanese, Deccan, Varhadi, Nagpuri, Ikrani, Gowlan are various dialects of Marathi. The language occupies a distinct position in the field of Indian Literature and will continue to do so even in the near future.
The native people of Maharashtra speak Marathi language.
Marathi belongs to the group of Indo-Aryan languages, which are a part of
the largest of group of Indo-European languages, all of which can be
traced back to a common root.
All of the Indo-Aryan languages originated from Sanskrit. Three Prakrit languages, simpler in structure, emerged from Sanskrit. These were "Saurseni", "Magadhi" and "Maharashtri". Marathi is said to be a descendent of Maharashtri, which was the Prakrit spoken by people residing in the region of Maharashtra.
The earliest reference to spoken Marathi is found in the 8th century poem "Kuvalaymala" of Udyotansuri. The odyssey of written Marathi begins from 11th century AD from stone inscriptions and copper plates. Marathi was the court language during the reign of the Yadava Kings.
There are various stone inscriptions in Marathi found at Akshi in Raigad (former Colaba) district, Patan, Pandharpur, Dive-Agra etc. The most famous among these is the one found at the bottom of the statue of Gomateshwar (Bahubali) at Shravana Belagola in Karnataka. The saint poet Jnaneshwar gave a higher status to Marathi by writing the book popularly known as Jnaneshwari, in which he explains the 'Gita' in Marathi with his own rich poetic style.
The script currently used in Marathi is called 'Balbodh'
which is a modified version of Devnaagari script. Earlier, another script
called 'Modi' was in use till the time of the Peshwas (18th century). This
script was introduced by Hemadpanta, a minister in the court of the Yadava
kings of Devgiri (13th century).
This script looked more like today's Dravidian scripts and offered the advantage of greater writing speed because the letters could be joined together. Today only the Devnaagari script is used, which is easier to read but does not have the advantage of faster writing.