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Set 5: Block 4 Indian Literature Through Ages

Language is a medium through which we express our thoughts while literature is a mirror that
reflects ideas and philosophies which govern our society. Hence, to know any particular culture
and its tradition it is very important that we understand the evolution of its language and the
various forms of literature like poetry, drama and religious and non-religious writings. We have
already discussed the literature from Ancient India while discussing the Indian Ancient History.
In this version, we will look into Medieval and modern period and try to understand their
impact on History.


Medieval Indian literature was greatly influenced by various factors, dominated mostly by
various religions. The Middle Ages in India were an incessant period of perpetual fluctuation.
Ordinary life during medieval period was exceedingly complex, undergoing fast changes. The
continuous influx of migratory population brought with it different beliefs, customs, practices
and lifestyles, turning major portions of India into an ablaze pot. The spread of philosophical
movements or the sublime popularity of these genres, cultivated innate resources and
responses to external forces were bettered to be prepared for the worse. The end result to this
period a vibrant kaleidoscope of language and literature, which absolutely mirrored and
reflected upon these themes of competition between two dominant religions: Hinduism and
Islam. Medieval Indian literature wholly banked upon these themes, creating its own distinctive
history in the long run.

We will study the Medieval Period’s literature under following themes:

We will see literature under various Regional languages and Bhakti period first then we will
discuss the Sultanate/ Mughal period literature. We have mentioned only the most prominent
one’s here as the list can be endless.
Set 5: Block 4 Indian Literature Through Ages



 Kalhana Pandit was the pioneer historiographer who who the first ajatarangini and
described in it the history of Kashmir from the earliest time to 1148-49.
 Two centuries later the thread of the narrative was picked up by Jyots-Nakara popularly
known as Jonaraja. He wrote the history of Kashmir from 1149-1459 AD and gave the
same title Rajatarangini to it. Jonaraja work thus the earliest contemporary history of
Kashmir during the Sultanat period.
 Jonaraja’s pupil Srivara, who also rose to be a distinguished scholar, poet and musician
and engaged the patronage of Zanul Abidin and his successors, produced yet another
historical composition in Sanskrit poetry, under the title Jaina Rajatarangini. His work
contains the history of the ruling house of Kashmir from 1459-1486.
 The tradition of writing the history of Kashmir under the title Rajatarangini was
continued by “Prajyabhatta and Suka whose works help us to some extent, in
reconstructing the history of the reign upto 1596 AD. Kashmir was conquerted by Akbar
in 1585.

The Kathāsaritsāgara ("Ocean of the Streams of Stories") is a famous 11th-century collection of
Indian legends, fairy tales and folk tales as retold in Sanskrit by a Shaiva named Somadeva.

Vikramankadevacharita is a eulogy written by Bilhana praising Vikramaditya VI.

Harisena’s Katha kosa is the best example of Jain short stories in Sanskrit.


The most powerful trend of medieval Indian literature between 1000 and 1800 A.D. is
devotional (bhakti) poetry which dominates almost all the major languages of the country.
Unlike the dark middle ages of Europe, India’s middle ages brought about a very rich tradition
of devotional literature of remarkable merit which dispels the superstitious assumption of a
dark period of India’s history. Bhakti literature is the most important development of the
medieval period.
Set 5: Block 4 Indian Literature Through Ages

 It is love poetry. Love for one’s Lord, Krishna or Rama, the two main incarnations of the
great God Vishnu. This love is depicted as love between husband and wife, or between
lovers, or between servant and master, or between parents and child.
 This is personalisation of the godhood, which means a truthful perception of God
residing in you, and also harmony in life which only love can bring. Worldly love is Kama
(Eros) and divine love is Prema (mystic Eros).
 The dominating note in bhakti is ecstasy and total identity with God. It is a poetic
approach to religion and an ascetic approach to poetry. It is poetry of connections –
connecting the worldly with the divine, and as a result, the old form of secular love
poetry began to have a new meaning in all languages.
 The rise of bhakti poetry gave rise to regional languages (Bhasa). The conception of
bhakti did away with the elite tradition of Sanskrit and accepted the more acceptable
language of the common man.
 Kabir (Hindi) says that Sanskrit is like water of a well stagnant, Bhasa like flowing
 A seventh century Shaiva Tamil writer Manikkarvachakar has something similar to say
about in his book of poetry Thiruvachakam.
 Bhakti also attacked the age-old caste system and devoted itself to the worship of
humanity, because the catch-word of bhakti is that God is there in every human being.
The movement was in essence subaltern, as most of its poets belonged to the so-called
‘lower’ castes.
 Bhakti is antitheology and against any kind of conceptual erudition.

Bhakti Kal Poetry

Saguna (Human
Nirguna (Formless)

Love as path to
realise God
Set 5: Block 4 Indian Literature Through Ages

The Bhakti Kal poetry is divided into Nirguna and Saguna Schools depending upon the
devotional attitude of the poets towards the Lord. The Nirgunas believed in a formless god,
while the Sagunas believed in a human incarnation of god. The Nirgunas have been further
divided into two groups on the basis of the different sadhanas (disciplines) followed by them.
One group includes Kabir, Guru Nanak, Dharma Das, Maluk Das, Dadudayal, Sunder Das etc,
who emphasised on monotheism through their Sakhis (couplets) and Padas (songs). Another
group of the Nirguna poets was of the Sufi poets, who believed that love was the path of
realising God. These included Jayasi, Manjhan, Kutuban and Usman. The Saguna poets are
either the followers of Rama or Krishna.

Bhakti became a great platform for Hindu-Muslim unity. Kabir (Hindi) is the foremost among
the poets of the sant tradition (faith in one omnipresent god and not in many gods like Rama
and Krishna). Kabir’s poetry touches upon the various aspects of devotion, mysticism and social
reforms. Bijak is the best known of the compilations of the compositions of Kabir, and as such is
the holy scripture for followers of the Kabirpanthi religion. The Bijak is one of the earliest of the
major texts in modern Hindi. The term Bijak is derived from Bijak, meaning a document
containing sacred texts.


Nanak, the first Sikh Guru, wrote in many languages, but mostly in Punjabi, and was a great
poet of inter-religious communication. Nanak says truth is supreme, but above truth is truthful
living. Guru Nanak and other Sikh Gurus belong to the sant tradition, which believes in one
omnipresent God, and not in many gods like Rama and Krishna. The poetry of the Sikh Gurus is
collected in the Guru Granth Sahib (the Revered Book), a multilingual text which talks about the
unchanging one reality (Sat) the cosmic law (Hukum), meditation (Satnam), compassion and
harmony (Daya and Santosh). Bulleh Shah, the most famous Muslim Punjabi poet, popularised
Sufism through Punjabi Kafi (verse-form). Kafi is a small poem in stanzas followed by refrain and
is sung in a dramatic way. Shah Latif, the famous Sindhi Muslim poet (1689 A.D.) in his sacred
work Risalo explained Sufi mystic love as the divine truth.

Tulsidas (1532 A.D.) was the greatest of the Rama-bhakti poets who wrote his famous epic, the
Ramacharit Manas (the lake of the deeds of Rama). In fact, epics like the Ramayana and the
Mahabharata received a rebirth in the new languages. These languages gave a fresh life, a
renewed relevance, and a meaningful reincarnation to the great Sanskrit epics, and these epics
Set 5: Block 4 Indian Literature Through Ages

in their turn provided substance and style to the new languages too. Kamban in Tamil,
Krittibasa Ojha in Bengali, sarala Das in Oriya, Ezhuttacchan in Malayalam, Tulsidas in Hindi
and Nannaya in Telugu are well known and legion. Muslim poets like Malik Muhammad
Jayasi, Raskhan, Rahim and other wrote Sufi and Vaishnava poetry. The religious and cultural
synthesis that was a special feature of medieval India finds abundant expression in its
literature. The Islamic element is all-pervasive, next only to the Upanishadic Hindu element.

His other classical works: - Gitavali, Kavitavali and Vinay Patrika.

Surdas wrote his Sur Sagar in which he talks of Krishna as an infant, a young lad indulging in
pranks and a young man engaged in dalliance with the gopis.

He also wrote Sur Saravali.

Meera Bai is the most celebrated of the women poets of medieval times. She was one of the
most significant figures Sant of the Vaishnava bhakti movement. Some 1,300 pads (poems)
commonly known as bhajans (sacred songs) are attributed to her.

Bihari wrote his Satsai in the seventeenth century; it gives us a glimpse of shringar (love) and
other rasas.


Hindi evolved during the Apabhramsa stage between the 7th and 8th centuries A.D. and
the 14th C. It was characterized as Veergatha Kala i.e. the age of heroic poetry or the Adi
Kala (early period). It was patronised by the Rajput rulers as it glorified chiralry and
poetry. The most famous figures from this period were Kabir and Tulsidas. The rise of the
Bhakti movement and the use of regional languages by the various saints helped in their growth
and development.

Hindi literature, with its supra-regional character, attracted Namdev (Marathi) and Guru Nanak
(Punjabi) and others to write in Hindi, which by then had developed into a conglomeration of
many languages and dialects, and came to be known as an umbrella language. The centrality of
Hindi and its vast geographical area was the reason for it. Surdas, Tulsidas and Meera Bai (15th
Set 5: Block 4 Indian Literature Through Ages

to 16th Century A.D.) point to the great heights of Vaishnavite lyricism achieved by Hindi. We
have already covered those under Bhakti poetry.

It is supposed to be the first book in the Hindi language. It is an account of exploits of Prithviraj
Chauhan. It is attributed to Chand Bardai, who according to the text, was a court poet of the

A poem describing the story of the historic siege of Chittor by Alauddin Khilji in 1303 CE who
attacked Chittor after hearing of the beauty of Queen Rani Padmini, the wife of king Rawal
Ratan Singh. This book was written in Avadhi by Malik Muhammad Jayasi. His other important
works are Akhrawat and Akhiri Kalaam.



Chach, seems to be a local or dialectical form of the word “Jajja”, which is the Prakrit formof the
Sanskrit word “Yayati”. Indian history has known some people who bore the name Jajja, there
was one Jajja a brother of Jaypida, the king of Kashmir who revolted and was killed by the

This text was composed by Abu Raihan Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Bairuni al-Khwarizm.

Tarik-i-Yamini or Kitab-ul-Yamini

 It was composed by Utabi (an officer of Mahmud Gajini). It was written in Arabic
 Utabi had a firsthand knowledge of the character and activities of sultan Mahmud and
his officers.
 It gives the story of rise of the Gajni Ghaznavid power under sabuktagin and describes
the character and military exploits of Mahmud’s upto 1020 AD.
 Utabi was ignorant of Indian language and his knowledge of Indian tropography was also
very poor.
 Being an orthodox Sunni Musalman, Utbi applauds the achievements of Mahmud as
NASR AMIR UL MOMNIN who carried the banner of Islam to the land of the Idol
Set 5: Block 4 Indian Literature Through Ages

worshippers by the order of Allah and the friends of Khuda committed slaughter of the
unfields wherever they went.


 Abul Fazl Baihaqi (1996-1077) was an officer of Sultan Masud the successor of Mahmud
of Gazni. He was wrote a ten-volume comprehensive history of the Ghaznavid rulers
upto 1059 AD entitled Tarikh-i-Baihaqi or Mujalladad-i-Baihaqi, its component volumes
were captioned –

1. Tarikh us Sabuktagin 2. Tajul Futuh (History of Sultan Mahmud) 3. Tarikh-i-Masudi

(History of Sultan Masud)

“In his introduction of the tenth volume Baihaqi writes “Historical knowledge can only be
obtained with difficulty, rather by traveling round the world and undergoing trouble or
searching in trustworthy books and ascertaining the real accurrences from them.
It was written in Persian language


 Taj-ul-Masir was composed by Hasan Nizami (the court Historian of Qutubuddin Aibek),
it throws light on the history between 1192 and 1206 AD.
 It medium of expression is a unique mixture of Arabic and Persian language is poetry as
well as prose. The book comprises twelve thousand lines of which above seven
thousand are in verse, both Arabic and Persian.
 Taj-ul-Masir is partly history and partly fiction.


 It was composed by Fakra Mudabbir in 1228, it throws light on war tactics.

Amir Khusro was an iconic figure in the cultural history of the Indian subcontinent. That is why
we are dealing with his work separately.


 He has to his credit about half a dozen historical works including prose chronicles and
masnavis (poetic composition) like Qiranus Saadain, Miftahul Futuh, Khazainul Futuh,
Dewal Rani Khizer, Nuh Sipher and Tughlaq Nama.
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 Four collection of Shaikh Nizamuddin Sufi philosophy and sayings, besides numerous
treatises in prose as well as poetry. On theology, philosophy, art, literacy criticism and
various cultural themes.


 Qiran-us-Saadain of Amir Khusrau is an historical Masnavi which gives an eye witness

account of the meeting that took place in Oudh between sultan Kaiqubad and his father
Bughra Khan, the governor of Bengal.


 Futuh contains an account of the military campaigns of Jalaluddin Khalji is poetry.


 Khazaniul Futuh or Tarikh-i-ilahi is an histrographical composition in prose which

describes the conquest and other achievements of Alauddin Khalji. His military
campaigns in Deccan have been given in detail. The description of Mangal invasions on
India and the strong policy adopted by Alauddin to combat them.


 The masnavi, entitled Ashiqa or Deval Rani Khizr Khani narrates the romantic story of
Khizr Khan, son of Alauddin Khalji and Deval Rani the daughter of Rana Kuran of Gujarat.


 The poetic composition of Nuh Sipihr deals with the reign of Mubarak Shah Khalji
unworthy and incompetent successor of Alauddin Khalji.


 Tughluq Nama also an historical Masnavi was composed by Amir Khusrau to

Commemorate the victory of Ghiasuddin Tughlaq over Khusrau Khan.

In addition to the above, one of the Amir Khusrau compilation entitled “Ijaz-i-Kusravi” is a
massive collection of diverse types of document personal letters and treaties written by him to
his friend or masters or just to satisfy his literary and intellectual hunger.


Set 5: Block 4 Indian Literature Through Ages


 Sultan Firoze Tughlaq has left a brochure of thirty-two pages in autobiographical writing
called Futuhat-i-Firoze Shahi it gives a brief summary of his military campaigns.


 Amir Timur – The seourge of God on earth, who took Delhi by storm in 1398-99 has also
left an autobiography account of his exploits in the Tuzuk-i-Timuri or Malfuzat-i-Timuri.
 It is said to have been written originally in Chaghatai (Turki) which was translated into
Persian during the reign of Shershah (Shahjahan) by Abu Talib Husaini.


 Isami a scholar and poet of the fourteenth century wrote an historical Masnavi. Futu has
Salatin in 1349-50 on the Turkish rule in India from the Ghazanavids to Muhammad Bin

Mir Khwand was an Arab. He wrote the History of Central Asia entitled – 1. Rauzat us
Safa 2. The garden of purity, in two volumes divided into seven books. The works gives a
detailed treatment to carrer and achievement of Chengiz Khan, Amir Timur and there


 His original name was Ghiasuddin. He produced a standard work on the history of the
Muslim world. Entitled Khulasat-ul-Akhba in his early twenties.
 After the death of Babar Khondamir was attached to the court of Humayun for whom he
wrote a treatise entitled Qanun-i-Humayuni.


Some contemporary works, primarily related to the Mughal period also throw light on certain
aspects of the early medieval history.

1. Tuzuk-i-Baburi 2. Abul Fazl’s Akbar Nama (including Ain-i-Akbari)

2. Badauni’s Muntakhabut Twarikh 4. Tabaquat-i-Akbari of Nizamuddin Ahmad and Tarikh-

Set 5: Block 4 Indian Literature Through Ages

 Ahmad Yadgar wrote Tarikh-i-Salatin-i-Afghana or Tarikh-i-Shahi in the last quarter of

the sixteenth century. It gives an authentic accountof the Lodhi and the Sur dynasties
which is to on all the literary sourcs than available on the subject. It gives a refreshing
account of the struggle carried on by the Afghan Princs against Babaur and Humayun for
the re-establishment of their Political ascendancy in Hindustan.


 Abdullah of Koil (Aligarh) wrote Tarikh-i-Daudi in the time of the Emperor Jahangir
(1605-27) it gives a account of the Afghan rulers of India including the Lodhi and the
Surs. The book starts with the rise to power of Behlal Lodhi, the first Afghan rulers of
India and carries the narrative to the reign of Adil Shah Sur. It contains some interesting
stories and of the Sultan, particularly Sikandar Lodhi. About the discipline of history the
author writes – “History is not simply information regarding the affairs of Kings who
have passed away, it is a science which expands the intellect and furnishes the wise with


 Khwaja “Niamatullah Haravi” completed Tarikh-i-Khan Jahani in 1613 at Burhanpur

during the reign of Jahangir. He was an official histiriographer (Waqiah Navis) of
Jahangir till 1608-09. Later on, joined the personal staff of Khan Jahan Lodhi whom he
accompanied in the Deccan campaign various Afghan tribes with special to the Lodhis
and the Surs who gained political ascendancy in early medieval India.


 The Tarikh-i-Sindh written by Mir Muhammad Masum of Bhakhar in about 1600 AD

during the reign of Akbar. Also known as Tarikh-i-Masumi after its author the book gives
the regional history of Sindh. Since its conquests by the Arabs to the time of Akbar.


 Riyazus Salatin of Gulam Hussain Salim, written by in 1788 outlines the history. Bengal
since the invasion of Muhammad Bin Bakhtiyar Khalji to date.
 Mirat-i-Sikandari of Sikandar Bin Muhammad (completed in 1611), the Mirat-i-Ahmadi
of Ali Mohammad Khan (1756-61) and Tarikh-i-Gujarat of Mir Abu Turab Vali.

Book Author Remarks

Mainly on Ghurids and some info on early
Tabaqat-e-Nasiri Minhaj Siraj
Set 5: Block 4 Indian Literature Through Ages

Period of Balban to the first six years of Firuz Shah

Tarikh-i-Firuz Shahi Zia-ud-din Barani
Kitab ur Rehla Ibn battuta history of Muhammad Tughluq
A detailed account of reign of Mubarak Shah of
Tarikh-i-Mubarak Shahi. Yahya bin Ahmad
sayyid dynasty

First written in turkic translated to persian during

Tuzk-e Babri/Babur nama Babur
Akbars time
Humayun Nama Gulbadan begum
Akbarnama and Ain-e Abul Fazl(1551-
One of the best works of the period
Akbari 1602)


 The history of the Bahmani Kingdom and that of the Nizamshahi dynasty of Ahmadnagar
has been well preserved in Buhan-i-Maasir of Sayyid Ali Tabataba written between
 The “Tazkirat-ul-Muluk” written by Rafiuddin Shirazi between 1602-12, deals with the
history of the Bahmani kingdom and its subsequent offshoot, the state of Bijapur,
Ahmadnagar, Golconda, Berar and Bidar. The author was Governor of Bijapur under
Sultan Ali Adil Shah II (1557-79).
 ‘Riyazul Insha’ is a valuable collection of letters, documents and dispatches of Mahmud
Gawan. The most celebrated Prime Minsiter of the Bahmani Kingdom.


Language Writer(Period) Works Remarks

Set 5: Block 4 Indian Literature Through Ages

Krishnadevaraya Amukta malyada

allasani pedanna Manucharitam Extended patronage by

Vijayanagara rulers

Tenali ramakrishna pandu ranga mahatmyam

Bhavarh deepika

Namdev (1270-1350)
Earliest marathi works
commentaries on Ramayana
Marathi Eknath(1533-1599) Greatest Bhakti poet
and Bhagawat Purana
He was guru of Shivaji

Tukaram (1598-

Ramdas (1608-81)
Language Developed fully
after 10th century A.D

Rashtrakuta king
‘Nrupatunga’ Kavirajamarga earliest available
Amoghavarsha I kannada literary work(850
Pampa, Ponna and
Kannada 3 gems of kannada
Basava and Akka
mahadevi leaders of veerashaiva
bhakti movement, through
Under their vachanas, a type of
Hoysalas(approx poetry

Harishvara girija kalyana

Set 5: Block 4 Indian Literature Through Ages

Raghavanka Harischandra kavya

Narsih Mehto (1414- The hymn “Vyshnava jan

Gujrati Vaishnava poetry
1481) to” is his work

translation of valmiki
Kambar(12th Kambaramayanam
Vaishnava bhakti saints
Tamil Azhvars Bhakti songs
They were 10or12

Saiva saints About 60 in

Nayanmars Bhakti poets

Father of malayalam
Ezhuthachan AdhyatmaRamayanam
(evolved by 14th Poonthanam Njanappana
Hymns in Bhakti tradition
Cherusseri ( 1375 - Krishnagadha
Set 5: Block 4 Indian Literature Through Ages

Saraladasa(15th cent) Translated mahabharata First works of oriya

Upendra Bhanja Baidehisha Bilasa Labanyabati New Era of oriya


The 19th Century Indian Renaissance

In almost all the Indian languages, the modern age begins with the first struggle for India’s
freedom in 1857, or near that time. The impact of western civilization, the rise of political
consciousness, and the change in society could be seen in what was written during that time.
Contact with the western world resulted in India’s acceptance of western thought on the one
hand, and rejection of it on the other, and resulted in an effort made to revive her ancient glory
and Indian consciousness. A large number of writers opted for a synthesis between
Indianization and westernization, in their search for a national ideology. All these attitudes
were combined to bring about the renaissance in 19th century India. But it was a renaissance in
a country which was under foreign domination. So it was not that kind of renaissance which
had spread in 14th-15th century Europe, where scientific reasoning, individual freedom and
humanism were the dominant characteristics. The Indian renaissance took a different shape, in
the context of the Indian race, moment and milieu, and as a result, nationalistic, reformistic and
revivalistic thinking found its way into literature, which slowly turned itself into a pan-Indian
movement, spearheaded in different parts of the country by renaissance leaders like Raja
Rammohan Roy (1772-1833), Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, Vivekananda, Madhav Govind
Ranade, U.V. Swaminatha Aiyer, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, K.V. Pantulu, Narmada Shankar
Lalshankar Dave and othrs. The leaders of the renaissance, in fact, succeeded in instilling
nationalistic fervour in the people, and induced in them a desire for social reform and a
sentimental yearning for their past glory.
Set 5: Block 4 Indian Literature Through Ages

The most important literary event that revolutionalised literature was the emergence of literary
prose in all the modern Indian languages, and the advent of the printing press, under the
patronage of an Englishman, William Carey (1761-1834), at Serampore, Bengal. It is true that
Sanskrit and Persian had a vast body of prose, but the necessity for prose in modern Indian
languages, for use in administration and higher education, led to the emergence of prose in
different languages at the beginning of the modern period. The birth of newspapers and
periodicals in Indian languages between 1800 and 1850 was extremely important for the
development of prose. and the missionaries of Serampore started off Bengali Journalism on its
career. The emergence of prose as a powerful medium brought a kind of change that coincided
with the process of modernization.

(Source: CCRT)


Underwent revival and reform as part of Bengal renaissance towards end 19th century

Writer(Period) Works Remarks

Michael Madhusudan Dutt Meghnad Badh Kabya Among the first writers of
modern Bengali
Durgesh nandini(1865)

Bankim chandra Anand math (1882) Vande mataram

Considered among the first of
nationalist literature
Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay Parineeta, Wrote on the plight of women
Devdas(both adapted as and questioned the values of
films), middle class
Pather Dabi (A novel that
idolized violent revolution)
TaraShankar Bandopadhyay Dhatri devata, ganadevata depicted village life
and panchagram and its disintegration in his
Bibhutibhushan pather panchali and aparajita
Kazi Nazrul Islam National poet of Bangladesh Ghazal
J.C.bose foundations of science fiction
in Bengali
Set 5: Block 4 Indian Literature Through Ages


Due to his importance and stature in Indian Freedom Struggle, we are dealing him separately.

 He is son of Debendranath Tagore, a leader of Brahmo Samaj.

 The nobel prize winning work Gitanjali had introduction by W.B Yeats.
 Satyajit Ray's films Teen Kanya, Charulata,Ghare Baire are based on tagore's works
 Amar sonar bangla, National anthem of bangladesh was written in response against
partition of bengal in 1905.

Tagore list of works

Type Work
 Manasi (1890) [The Ideal One]
 Sonar Tari (1894) [The Golden Boat],
Poems  Gitanjali (1910) [Song Offerings]
 Gitimalya (1914) [Wreath of Songs]
 Balaka (1916) [The Flight of Cranes]
 Raja (1910) [The King of the Dark Chamber]
 Dakghar (1912) [The Post Office]
Novels/short stories  Achalayatan (1912) [The Immovable]
 Muktadhara (1922) [The Waterfall]
 Raktakarabi (1926) [Red Oleanders]
 Gora (1910)
 Ghare-Baire (1916) [The Home and the
 Yogayog (1929) [Crosscurrents]
 Jivansmriti(1912)
 Chelebela(1940)
(Source: Noble Prize official site: doesn’t include the whole list)

On his works:

 Tagore was an immensely versatile poet;

 he was also a great short story writer, novelist, playwright, essayist, and composer of songs,
as well as a talented painter

 His essays, ranged over literature, politics, culture, social change, religious beliefs,
philosophical analysis, international relations etc.
Set 5: Block 4 Indian Literature Through Ages

 His outlook was persistently non-sectarian, and his writings show the influence of different
parts of the Indian cultural background as well as of the rest of the world.
 His works, even when influenced by spirituality and ancient texts is rooted in humanity.

(Source: Amartya sen’s essay on Tagore)


( For reference : It comes after Bhakti Kal and before Adhunik kal)

Ritikal of Hindi literature was between 17th to 19th century in which the Sanskrit rhetorical
tradition was emulated on several aspects such as rasa, alankara and nayak-nayika bheda etc.
However, it is not true for all, the poets who were bound to the Sanskrit rhetoric were called
Riti-Baddha, while those who did not bind were called Riti-mukta.

Brajbhasha was used in poetry predominantly.

The Adhunik kal or the Modern Period in Hindi literature begins in the mid of the 19th century.
The Hindi prose evolved in this period. There was a proliferation of the use of Khari boli in
poetry in place of Brajbhasha.

This period is divided into four phases as follows:

Chhayavada Contemporary
Yug or the Dwivedi Yug
Yug (1918- Period (1937
Renaissance (1893-1918)
1937) onwards)


Bharatendu Harishchandra (1849-1882) is known to have brought in a modern outlook in Hindi

literature. He is described as “Father of Modern Hindi Literature”. Other writers of this period
include Radhakrishna Das, Pratapnarayan Mishra, Balkrishna Bhatta, Badrinarayan Chaudhuri
and Sudhakar Dwivedi
Set 5: Block 4 Indian Literature Through Ages


Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi (1868-1938) is regarded as the architect of modern Hindi prose. He
brought in the refined prose writing. Dwivedi Yug is known for portrayel of various social,
political and economic problems in Hindi Literature. Other important writers of this period are
Nathuram Sharma Shankar, Ayodhya Sinha Upadhyay , Maithalisharan Gupt, Ram Naresh
Tripathi etc.

Maithalisharan Gupt is known to have revived the epic tradition with his long narrative poems
such as Jayadrath Vadh, Panchavati, Saket, Yashodhara etc. He also translated Madhusudan
Dutt’s Meghnadvadh-kavya into Hindi.


Chhayavad refers to the romantic upsurge in poetry, in which emphasis was laid on aesthetic
and romantic subject matter instead of the formalism and didacticism. Important poets of this
era include Makhanlal Chaturvedi, Jayashankar Prasad, Surya Kant Tripathi ‘Nirala’,
Sumitranandan Pant, Mahadevi Verma and Subhadrakumari Chauhan.


The decline of the Chayavad movement saw the emergence of several different styles in Hindi
poetry such as Pragativada (progressive poetry), Hridayavad (poetry of passion) and
Prayogavad (Poetry of experiments).


The important poets among the Pragativadis were Bhagvati Charan Varma, Ramdhari Singh
Dinkar and Narendra Sharma.


Important poet of Hridayavad was Harivansh Rai Bachchan, who wrote Madhushala,
Madhubala and Madhukalas.


The experimental movement or Prayogavada was called later the ‘Nai Kavita’. Important poets
of this genre included S.H.Vatsyayan ‘Agyeya’, Shivmangal Singh ‘Suman’, Girija Kumar Mathur,
Dharamvir Bharati etc.


The development of Hindi prose has been classified into three periods:
Set 5: Block 4 Indian Literature Through Ages

Phase of Present
Early Phase:
growth phase (1938
(1918-1937) onwards)

Early Phase: (1868-1918): This includes the prose literature of the Bhartendu and Dwivedi. This
phase is known for the development of drama, novel, essay, short story etc.

Phase of growth (1918-1937): The period of growth is represented by Premchand, Jayshankar

Prasad and Mahadevi Verma. The period of growth is represented by Jayshankar Prasad (Chaya,
Akash Deep), Rai Krishna Das and Mahadevi Varma. Munshi Premchand was the greatest of all
among the fiction writers.

Present phase (1938 onwards). The important fiction writers of the contemporary period
include S H Agyeya, Dharamvir Bharati, Rahi Masoom Raza etc.


Though foreign in its origin, English has been adopted in India as a language of education and
literary expression besides being an important medium of communication amongst the people
of various regions. The beginning of Indian literature in English is traced to the end of the 18th
century and the beginning of the 19th, by which time English education was more or less firmly
established in the three major centers of British power in India - Calcutta, Madras and Bombay.


Ram Mohan Roy (1774-1833), a social reformist from Bengal who fought for widow remarriage
and voting rights for women, was the pioneer of Indian writing in English. Roy insisted that for
India to be included among the world's nations, education in English was essential. He,
therefore, campaigned for introduction of scientific education in India through the English


Raja Ram Mohan Roy was followed in the early 19th century in Bengal by the poets Henry
Derozio and Michael Madhusudan Dutt. Dutt started out writing epic verse in English, but
returned to his native Bengali later in life. The poems of Toru Dutt (1855-1876), who died at a
tender age of 21, and the novel Rajmohan's Wife by Bankimchandra Chatterjee have received
Set 5: Block 4 Indian Literature Through Ages

academic acceptance as the earliest examples of Indian literature written in English. Toru Dutt
not composed poetry in English, but more interestingly, translated French poetry as well. Her
best works include Ancient Ballads and Legends of Hindustan. However, the most famous
literary figure of this era was Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) (We have already discussed
about his works)

Sarojini Naidu (1879-1949) was a great poetess whose romanticism charmed readers in India
and Europe. Her Golden Threshold (1905) and The Broken Wing (1917) are works of great
literary merit.

Aurobindo Gosh (1872-1950) was a poet philosopher and sage, for whom poetry was akin to a
form of mediation. His epic, Savitri and Life Divine (2 vols.) are outstanding works in English

It may be mentioned that most Indian writers in English from the early period hailed from
Calcutta, the first stronghold of the British, then other places in the country. The freedom
struggle resulted in a revolutionary brand of writing that voiced sentiments against the British
Empire. Several political leaders from different parts of the country emerged as literary figures
such as Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Lala Lajpath Rai, Kasturi Ranga Iyengar and T. Prakasham.

The English language became a sharp and strong instrument in the hands of Gandhiji, who
edited and wrote for papers like 'Young India'and 'Harijan'. He also wrote his autobiography,
'My Experiments with Truth', which is known for its literary flair.

Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964) stands out as another prominent leader who excelled in writing
prose. He is particularly remembered for his Glimpses of World History, Discovery of India and
an Autobiography


Mulk Raj Anand (b.1905), best known for his short story 'The Lost Child', has written numerous
works of prose, poetry and drama. His novels Coolie (1933), Untouchable (1935) and The
Woman and the Cow (1960) reveal his concern for the downtrodden and underprivileged in
Set 5: Block 4 Indian Literature Through Ages

R.K. Narayan is another prolific figure in Indian English writing. Most of his work, starting from
his first novel Swami and Friends (1935) is set in the fictional town of Malgudi, which captures
the Indian ethos in its entirety while having a unique identity of its own. Malgudi is perhaps the
single most endearing character R.K.Narayan has ever created. Bachelor of Arts (1937), The
Financial Expert (1952), The Guide (1959) and Waiting for the Mahatma (1955) are his other
popular novels.

Raja Rao (b.1909), whose novel Kanthapura (1938), set in rural India, established him as a major
figure onthe Indian literary scene. Raja Rao's other three novels are The Serpent and the Rope
(1960) and The Cat and Shakespeare (1965).

Nirad Choudhuri (1897-1999) was another internationally renowned Indian writer whose
autobiography an Unknown Indian (1951) catapulted him into a celebrated international

Later novelists like Kamala Markandaya Nectar in a Sieve, Some Inner Fury, A Silence of Desire,
Two Virgins, Manohar Malgaonkar’s Distant Drum, Combat of Shadows, The Princes, A Bend in
the Ganges, The Devil's Wind, Anita Desai’s Clear Light of Day, The Accompanist, Fire on the
Mountain, Games at Twilight, and Nayantara Sehgal captured the spirit of an independent
India, struggling to break away from the British and traditional Indian cultures and establish a
distinct identity.

Why I am an Atheist is an essay written by Indian revolutionary Bhagat Singh in 1930 in Lahore
Central Jail. The essay was a reply to a religious man who thought Bhagat Singh became an
atheist because of his vanity.