Literature between 2nd century B.C. to 2nd century A.D.

Exact Match
  Indus Valley
  Mauryan Era
  Post Mauryan
  Kushana Era
  Golden Age
  Post Gupta

  Arab Invasion
  South India
  Prithviraj Era
  Delhi Sultunate
  Mughal Period
  Maratha Era
  British Period

  Subhash & INA

Sungas & Kanvas | Indo-Greeks | Kharavela | South India | Indian Influence on the World | Literature

In ancient India literary outputs were not restricted to just Law Books and Grammars only, poetry and drama, also, being extremely popular. Contemporary poetry got newer depths in Tamil Nadu. One of the outstanding poem of that era being Shilappadigaram (The jewelled Anklet). It is set in the city of Kaverippattinam. Kovalan, a young, wealthy merchant falls in love with a royal courtesan and neglects his wife, who is devoted to him. The poem ends tragically with the death of all three, but husband and wife are reunited in heaven.

A second poem, Manimegalai, was written as a continuation of the first, the heroine being the daughter of Kovalan and the courtesan, and an ardent Buddhist. Drama (nataka) was mastered through the Sanskrit plays of Ashvaghosha and Bhasa. No two playwrights could have been more vivid. Manuscripts of Ashvaghosha's plays originally written in the first century A.D. were found in a monastery in Turfan (central Asia). Both plays deal with Buddhist themes, one of them being a dramatized version of the life of the Buddha.

Ashvaghosha faithfully followed the rules laid down by Bharata in his 'Study of Dramatic Arts', Natyashastra - the Natyashastra having a position in Sanskrit literature similar to Aristotle's Poetics). But Bhasa writing a couple of centuries later made little use for these rules. Bhasa's plays are either based on incidents from the epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, or are historical romances most of which depict the amorous exploits of king Udayin of Avanti. Bhasa wrote for the limited audience of the court circle, whereas Ashvaghosha's plays could well have been performed at religious assemblies, before a wider audience.

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