The Indo-Aryan languages is not sbtrictly a geographical term.
SIL International in a 2005 estimate counted a total of 209 varieties, the largest in terms of native speakers being Hindustani (Hindi and Urdu, about 540 million), Bengali (about 200 million), Punjabi (about 100 million), Marathi (about 90 million), Gujarati (about 45 million), Nepali (about 40 million),Oriya (about 30 million), Sindhi (about 20 million) and Assamese (about 14 million) with a total number of native speakers of more than 900 million.
The earliest evidence of the group is from Vedic Sanskrit, the language used in the ancient preserved texts of the Indian subcontinent, the foundational canon of Hinduism known as the Vedas. The Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni is of similar age as the Rigveda, but the only evidence is a number of loanwords.
In about the 4th century BCE, the Sanskrit language was codified and standardised by the grammarian Panini, called "Classical Sanskrit" by convention. Outside the learned sphere of Sanskrit, vernacular dialects (Prakrits) continued to evolve.
The next major milestone occurred with the Muslim invasions of India in the 13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries. Under the flourishing Mughal empire, Persian became very influential as the language of prestige of the Islamic courts. However, Persian was soon displaced by Urdu. This Indo-Aryan language is a combination with Persian elements in its vocabulary, with the grammar of the local dialects.
The two largest languages that formed from Apabhransa were Bengali and Hindi; others include Gujarati, Oriya, Marathi, and Punjabi.
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