(Last Updated on : 28-11-2012)
History of Indian Literature caters the wide bifurcation between the ancient scriptures to the adapted colonial tongue, and the attempt of the empire writing back. Indian literature, through its umpteen legends and folklores in prehistoric times, is today unanimously recognised and acknowledged as one of the oldest in the world. India possesses twenty-two officially accredited languages and a colossal variety of literature has been produced and reproduced in these languages over the graduating years. It, thus, becomes evident that the history of Indian literature assimilates within itself an endless variety of untold stories and facts from ancient, medieval and comparatively modern times, which can be personified as a living entity.
Encompassing within the historical aspect, Indian literature lays considerable stress upon oral and written forms, both of which were the primary patterns of successive transmittance. As is known from ancient Indian history, Hinduism
was the most predominating religious faction that ever ruled in pre-Christian era, thus inducing lasting impressions upon the literary scenario. As such, Hindu literary traditions dominated a sizeable part of Indian culture. Apart from the Vedas (comprising of Upanishads
, Samhitas, Brahmanas and Aranyakas) which are considered to be the cardinal sacred form of knowledge, there also exists other scholarly works to fulfil this Hindu written and oral custom.
History of Indian literature comes about in a wholesome domain through the Hindu epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata, treatises such as Vaastu Shastra
in architecture and town planning and Arthashastra
(also admired as Chanakya), making political science and involvement in politics household in ancient India. Prehistoric devotional Hindu play, poetry and songs sweep the subcontinent, with almost distinct imagery noticed in the gradual evolvement of literature in India. Indeed, if looked into rather deeply, it can be noticed that history of literature in India can be smoothly divided into three periods, comprising of the ancient, the medieval and modern or contemporary. The period of the ancient Indian literature
can be delineated by those very first orally transmitted (shruti) valuable treatises in the guru-shishya mode, which gradually were replaced and revived in the Vedic Period, denoting just the commencement of Golden Age in India, through Sanskrit literature. Second in line was to arrive the era of Medieval Indian literature
, which witnessed a shift towards much more religious zealousness in regional divisions, although Sanskrit still was retained as the essential penmanship language. The Bhakti Movement
was largely responsible for such a breakaway from the ancient 'Golden Moments'. After considerable historical movements, inventions, discoveries, treatise-framing and near-wars concerning Indian literature, the time had come for indigene literature to witness its travel towards contemporary Indian literature. This phase was a significant time during the post-Christian era, which was to define the ideal metamorphosis of Indian rebellious writers and their fuming socialism in the umpteen Indian Independence movements and thereafter.
Among the best known works re-delineating history of Indian literature and its inherent involvement with present Indian scenario, Kalidasa
(legendary for his epic Hindi poem based on the Ramayana, named the Ramcharitmanas) top the ancient and medieval times. Tamil poetry of the 'Sangam poetry', which dates back to 1st century B.C.E., is also considerably celebrated it own right. Keeping Hindu literary customs aside from history of literature in India, Islamic influence perhaps comes second in the illustrious lineage of literary development. Indeed, the advent of Islam in India, through the Persian Silk Route, had brought in significant change of style in writing, speaking or preserving. During the medieval period, during which epoch India was mostly under Muslim rule, Indian Muslim literature flourished, most notably in Persian and Urdu poetry and prose. Descending a bit down towards modern times, amongst the contemporary Indian litterateurs, Rabindranath Tagore
, an institution by himself, had become India's first Nobel laureate for his poetic works in Gitanjali. A thing to feel extremely proud of, so far India's premier literary honour, the 'Jnanpith' awards, has been bestowed seven times upon Bengali writers, which is the highest for any language in India.
The history of Indian literature is the historical development of writings in prose or poetry, which aim at providing education, entertainment and enlightenment to its readers, as well the development of the literary techniques employed in the communication of these pieces.