Indian literature is something I have always adored from the culture of India. Today, I am going to give you a brief insight into Indian literature, which is not exclusively known all over the world. But it is always appreciated and loved by every person who knows about it.
The beauty of Indian tradition is that it is one of the oldest kinds of literature in the world. It is primarily written and essentially oral format literature.
Usually, the language was used to compose songs, recite poems and later was slowly converted as a written form.
One among such kinds of literature is Sanskrit literature which is very close to India’s heart. It later has been used to create many languages.
Using Sanskrit as a base, India has officially recognised 22 languages. Many pieces of literature have been produced in these languages over many years.
In Indian culture, Hindu literary traditions have been dominant due to its large part of occupance in the literary work. The Vedas, which are considered a sacred form of knowledge, is the most privileged part of Indian literature.
There are many other works like the Hindu epics – Ramayana and Mahabharata, treatises like Vaastu Shastra for architecture and town planning, and Arthashastra for political sciences. Works like the Vedas, Upanishads, and Manusmriti which are a part of Hindu holy texts are still used by many people in various parts of the world.
Some other literary works like the Tamil literature has a rich literary tradition going back to 2000 years. It is highly known for its poetries in epics, the philosophy and the secular forms.
A few other literary works that made the golden era of Indian literature are ‘Mricchakatika’ by Shudraka, ‘Abhijanam Shakuntalam’ and ‘Meghdoot’ by Kalidasa, ‘Ratnavali’ by Sri Harsha and ‘Svapna Vasavadattam’ by Bhaasa.
Chanakya’s ‘Arthashastra’ and Vatsyayana’s ‘Kamasutra’ have also been mentioned in academics. Arthashastra has been taken as a base for the economic framework of India.
Indian literature has its traces in the vernacular languages of the northern Indian stories of Krishna and Rama like religious love poems written in Maithili (eastern Hindi of Bihar) and 12th-century poems by Jaydev, called the ‘Gitagovinda’.
A huge part of literature was produced in the form of personal devotion to a god especially addressed to Rama (who is considered as an avatar of Vishnu, the God). The Avadhi (eastern Hindi) works of a writer named Tulsi Das, and his ‘Ramcharitmanas’ includes this type of work.
In the early stages, many people like gurus (founders of the Sikh religion) like Guru Nanak Dev and Guru Arjun Dev, composed bhakti hymns in the devotion of their deities.
My personal favourite is the Rajasthani princess and poet Mira Bai who in the 16th century, expressed her love and devotion in lyric verses to the lord Krishna in an exceptional manner. A Gujarati poet named Narsimh Mehta also did similar work.
It started as religious and philosophical poetry in medieval periods in the form of dialects like Avadhi and Brij. Writers like Kabir and Tulsidas are the most famous figures from this period. In modern times, the Khadi dialect was used more which lead to the creation of a variety of literature in Sanskrit.
The first prose written in Hindi was Chandrakanta, a prose written by Devaki Nandan Khatri. Munshi Premchand, a Hindi novelist, Maithili Sharan Gupt, Jaishankar Prasad, Sumitranandan Pant, Mahadevi Varma, and Ramdhari Singh ‘Dinkar’ are the most famous figures from this period.
In the recent 150 years, many writers have contributed to the development of modern Indian literature. Rabindranath Tagore, a writer from Bengal, was the first Indian to win the Nobel Prize for literature (Gitanjali) in the year 1913.
With the influence of Western ideologies and the introduction of the printing press in the British era, a literary revolution occurred. The writers wrote mostly for supporting the cause of freedom struggle and for removing the existing social evils.
The great examples of the English literature in India are Ram Mohan Roy and Swami Vivekananda. Ram Mohan Roy’s campaign to introduce scientific education in India and Swami Vivekananda’s works contributed to a great part of English literature.
Several other writers like R.K. Narayan, who wrote novels and tales of the village in southern India like ‘Swami and Friends’ and Mulk Raj Anand, who wrote novels like ‘Untouchable’ (1935) and ‘Coolie’ (1936), became famous in the modern period of India.
Among the younger authors, Anita Desai, who wrote famous novels like ‘Clear Light of Day’ (1980) and ‘In Custody’ became famous.
Novelists/ writers like Arun Kolatkar and R. Parthasarathy, Toru Dutt, Sarojini Naidu, Aurobindo, Dom Moraes, P. Lal, A.K. Ramanujan, Kamala Das, Raja Rao, Khushwant Singh, Salman Rushdie, K.R. Sreenivasan Iyengar, G.V. Desani, M. Ananthanarayanan, Nlissim E Zekiel, Bhadani Bhattacharya, Manohar Malgonkar, Arun Joshi, Kamala Markandaya, C.D. Narasimhaiah, Nayantara Sahgal, O.V. Vijayan, and M.K. Naik are also well-known for their works.
Among the latest writers are Sashi Tharoor (‘Show Business’), Allan Sealy (‘The Trotter-Nama’), Amitav Ghosh (‘Circle of Reason’, ‘Shadow Lines’), Vikram Seth (‘A Suitable Boy’), Upamanyu Chatterjee (‘English August’), Vikram Chandra (‘Red Earth and Pouring Rain’) and Upamanyu Chatterjee (‘English August’).
Women authors like Arundhati Roy, Booker Prize Winner for ‘God of Small Things’, Jhumpa Lahiri, 2000 Pulitzer Prize winner in Fiction, Shobha De, etc. have taken a boom in recent times of the literature.
You can find more about Indian literature here- http://factsanddetails.com/india/Arts_Culture_Media_Sports/sub7_5a/entry-4236.html