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Literature

India is the land from where two of the world's original language systems - the supra
languages came. Both Sanskrit and Tamil, the Ur languages of many modern meta
derivatives be it Latin or German spring from this land. Consider too that the mother
language, Sanskrit, is used unbroken in tradition, as it was more than 3000 years ago
in the first utterances of civilizing man, in the Rig Veda.
The Rich Lineage of Sanskrit
The Maturing of Literature in Sanskrit
The Urdu Influence on Indian Literature

The Rich Lineage of Sanskrit
From the broken inchoate utterances of the wild Indo Aryans sprung an equally wild language,
Sanskrit, that was nurtured in a continuing oral tradition that remains unbroken till today. Sanskrit is
perhaps the oldest and richest language to be recorded, though the earlier Harappan civilization used
a proto-Dravidian language. The hymn books, the medicine books of the early Aryan shamans, were
all in Sanskrit still unprocessed but the natural impulse for story telling created the longest epics (the
Mahabharata and the Ramayana) that are still recounted with relish all over the country. These tell of
the usual human emotions of greed, deceit, life and death, though not much of love.
For detailing love, India produced the still unsurpassed delight of classification, the Kamasutra and
the Ananga ranga (the colours of the love god). The Puranas, were tales and homilies for the
common man, all paved with gems of worldly-wise knowledge. Remember however that this was a
great oral tradition like the Greek epic tradition and what was chanted in the early barren plains of
India is repeated verbatim, without a syllable being changed thanks to this. Most of the Sanskrit
epics or other didactic-cum-entertainment collections like the Hitopadaesha were cleverly kept in
circulation by allowing them to be part of the street theatre and dance repertoire.
Classical literature reflects the great changes that came over the conditions in India after the Vedic
times. Though Sanskrit became the great support for religious debate and drama, it transformed in
more peaceable times into an entertainment mode. People went to see plays, attended poetry
competitions and thus enriched the language.

The Maturing of Literature in Sanskrit
Around 500 AD, Sanskrit started being written. There was scope for corruption, and new modes
crept into earlier descriptions. Abhigyanashakuntalam and Meghadutam by Kalidasa, are among the
best examples of literary writing of this era. Buddhism contributed to India's vast storehouse of tales
from the Puranas and the now legendary Panchatantra with the Jataka tales. India's wisdom that is
inevitably, though slowly, being acknowledged by the West today was also written down in
innumerable treatises and doctrinaire works in statecraft. The Arthashastra by Chanakya that
foreshadowed Machiavelli's Prince, the grammarian Panini's Ashtadhayay, Bhaskaracharya's Lilavati
on mathematics, Aryabhata's Suryasiddhanta on astronomy, Sushruta's and Charaka's seminal works
on surgery and Ayurveda, are some notable examples.

sermons and dialogues. The deity of MAA with her beautiful eyes is indeed a beautiful sight. Then there was the religious poetry of the Alwars and Nayanars. contains Buddha's speeches. The Vetalapanchavimshati is another collection of tales. It is said that Kalidasa got his boon from Maa GADKALIKA. Shudraka. Finally there has been an effort made to translate for the world the even more hidden love poetry and folk poetry of the aborigines of India who predate Sanskrit. the Gonds and the Bhils. Bharavi. Bhavabhuti are famous Sanskrit writers and poets whose translations are now available. and a lyrical poem. and endearing human characters. Magha. The British introduced the printing press in Bengal in the early 19th century which kickstarted publishing and defined the literature of each of the 18 major languages of India. all considered literary masterpieces. short stories. In every branch of literature. The advent of the missionaries increased literacy. drama. two epic poems (Raghuvamsha and Kumarsambhava). with efforts at translation of the Bible inadvertently leading to the discovery of some forgotten texts of history. literary criticism. novels. . Tripitaka is a collection of Buddhist tenets. The Chola kings gave a great impetus to art in the early ninth century followed by the Pandyas and the Vijayanagara kings. the founder of the Vedanta system known as Advaita. Two other collections are Shuka-saptati and Simhasanadvatrimshika. Bhatti. contains rules and regulations for Buddhist monks and nuns. Ashvaghosha. Sutta Pitaka. But subsequently Prakrit and Pali. composed the lyric Saundarya-lahari. in the form of a narration by an evil spirit to a ghost. The Urdu Influence on Indian Literature With the advent of the Turkish and Mongols tribes a new impetus of Islam came into the northern part of the land giving rise to Urdu literature especially poetry. who has left behind at least three lyrical plays (Malavikagnimitram.Let's not forget that Sanskrit was the language of the elite and the intellectual classes. Bhattanarayana. started producing literature as well. the Nobel laureate ranks among the world's best literary figures. Shriharsha. Kumaradasa. The Dravidian stream of literature had its own worldview. In fact Kashmiri. Indian literature has a tremendous variety to offer. a part of Tripitaka. (See picture). another part of the Tripitaka. Punjabi and Hindi literature began following the Persian styles of literature. Vikramorvashiya. clever animals. What is wonderful about Sanskrit literature is not just the lovely phrase but a clear recounting of the mores of those times which helps us build a rather succinct picture of that age. Bhasa. poetry. full of cunning ghosts. especially the Buddhist teachings. King Harsha. Tamil literature has an extremely wide reach and experimental impulse that is borne out of an ancient literary history. Even today the original Hindi is inextricably mixed with Urdu. Vinaya Pitaka. The most famous of them is Kalidasa. Dogri. lowly forms of Sanskrit. and Shankuntalam). Vishakhadatta. The theory of aesthetics was also developed in the Natya shastras for dance and the Shilpa Shastras for the great sculpting tradition of India. Rabindranath Tagore. The Pattupattu and the epic of Kannagi are still alive. Shankaracharya. Their striking images and the unfettered expression are truly remarkable and have contributed significantly to the rich treasure trove of Indian literature. Meghadootam.