Indian Literature

Exact Match
  Indo Aryan

  Early Dravidian

  Medieval Period
  Bhakti Period
  Bhakti in Hindi
  Bhakti in Bengali
  Bhakti in Punjabi
  Bhakti in

  European Impact
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Tagore-noble prize recipient The story of Indian literature extends back over more than 5,000 years. It includes the religious classics of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism; literature from the courts of Indian monarchs; oral poetry and song; and modern verse and prose expressing contemporary ideas.

Although each successive generation has added its own contribution to Indian literature, the ancient texts are still influential. Until modern times, literature usually reached its audience through performance and recitation. Religious texts and stories, often of enormous length, were memorized and handed down orally from one generation to the next. So although about half the population of southern Asia are unable to read or write, the culture of the region is highly developed.

The literature of the Indian subcontinent falls into three periods: the ancient period, dominated by Sanskrit (lasting up to about A.D. 1000);the medieval period, from about A.D. 1000 to the early 1800's (during which time the regional languages developed); and the modern period, which has been influenced by European culture. In the first two periods, most literature was in verse or in the form of an epigram (a short, clever poem), though prose was also used. In the modern period, the use of prose has become fully developed.

Indian literature has been written in many languages. Each language has made its own contribution and expressed its uniqueness. But throughout the history of Indian literature, there have been inter-language translations and a sharing of themes, forms, concerns, directions, and movements.

The literature of a particular language has its own special form, symbols and nuances. Therefore it is more logical to say that there are as many literatures in India as languages which have flowered into literature. The like-minded response of India's creative writers in many languages to common problems and similar experiences is unmistakably clear.

Spoken Sanskrit is the fountain from which the languages of Aryan India had originally sprung ; the principal part of their vocabulary and their inflexional system being derived from this source. Even the Dravidian languages which have a considerably different morphological structure are indebted to Sanskrit in the realms of vocabulary and phonology with the partial exception of Tamil.

Next to Sanskrit comes Tamil with reference to the antiquity of literature. Urdu has only a heritage of about five centuries. Hindi has a pre-eminent place in the national set-up as the official language of the Union of India and that of six states.

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