Indian Literature

As early as 300 BC, India has already produced considerable body of literature written in several Indian tongues derived from one single language – Sanskrit.

Valmiki writing

The Indian literary tradition is primarily one of verse and is also essentially oral. The earliest works were composed to be sung or recited and were so transmitted for many generations before being written down. As a result, the earliest records of a text may be later by several centuries than the conjectured date of its composition. Furthermore, perhaps because so much Indian literature is either religious or a reworking of familiar stories from the Sanskrit epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, and the mythological writings known as Puranas, the authors often remain anonymous. Biographical details of the lives of most of the earlier Indian writers exist only in much later stories and legends.

The literature of India is often called as the Sanskrit literature. The word ‘Sanskrit’ means cultivated or perfected. Hindu literature reveals the inner and outer life of a remarkable people ; it extends from a remote past to the present.

The earliest literature is known as the Vedas, a collection of traditions handed orally. It contains hymns addressed to Indian gods, who are very numerous, and stories about them.

Indian literature already fully developed over 3000 years ago, is rich in spiritual and imaginative values.

Rabrindranath Tagore

Sanskrit literature begins with the Rig Veda a collection of sacred hymns dating to the period 1500–1200 BCE. The Sanskrit epics Ramayana and Mahabharata appeared towards the end of the first millennium BCE. Classical Sanskrit literature flourished in the first few centuries of the first millennium CE, as did the Tamil Sangam literature, and the Pāli Canon.

In the medieval period, literature in Kannada and Telugu appeared in the 9th and 11th centuries respectively. Later, literature in Marathi, Bengali, various dialects of Hindi, Persian and Urdu began to appear as well. Early in the 20th century, Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore became India’s first Nobel laureate.

In contemporary Indian literature, there are two major literary awards; these are the Sahitya Akademi Fellowship and the Jnanpith Award.

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