Hindi is an Indian language spoken in most states in northern and central India. It is an Indo-European language, more specifically a prakrit. Hindi became the official language of India on January 26, 1965 and is the third most spoken language in the world, after Chinese and English. About 600 million people speak, read and write Hindi, in India and abroad, and the total number of people who can understand the language exceeds 1,300 million. In a number of countries including Fiji, Mauritius, Guyana, and Suriname Hindi is the majority language.
Linguists think of Hindi and Urdu as the same language, the difference being that Hindi is written in Devanagari and draws vocabulary from Sanskrit, while Urdu is written in Arabic script and draws on Persian and Arabic. The separation is largely a political one, for before the partition of India and Pakistan by the British, Hindi and Urdu were considered one and the same language, Hindustani.
Hindi's popularity has been helped by the Hindi film industry. These movies have an international appeal and now they have broken into the Western markets as well.
The beginnings of Hindi literature go back to the Prakrits that are a part of the classical Sanskrit plays. Tulasidas's Ramacharitamanas attained wide popularity. Modern masters include Sumitra Nandan Pant, Maithili Sharan Gupta, Mahadevi Varma, Ajneya.