Braj (also known as Brij or Brajbhoomi) is a reference to a region in Uttar Pradesh of India or the language called Braj Bhasha. Braj, though never a clearly defined political region in India but is very well demarcated culturally, is considered to be the land of Krishna and is derived from the Sanskrit word vraja. The main city in the region is Mathura.
Brij Bhasha also called Braj Bhasha or Dehaati 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.
Braj Bhasha is spoken by 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.
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.
- See Wikipedia article on Braj for more information