Rajasthani literature and its history during the 14th century had witnessed flourishing and prospering through the tremendous efforts of the Jain scholars. From amongst the kings and emperors, who also had contributed to literature in Rajasthani language quite whole-heartedly, Maharana Kumbha stands in an unrivalled and unchallenged position. His majestic reputation rests on his work Sangeet Raj and Sangeet Mimansha, reminiscent of Jaidev's much celebrated and distinguished Geet Govind. Maharana Kumbha's reign had witnessed the fantastic growth of not only Sanskrit and Prakrit, but also of Rajasthani literature and language. With this debonair Rana from Rajasthan, the customary royal patronage of the fine arts and literature had turned into an almost daily work of duty, thus bearing the successful and triumphant fruit in the succeeding reigns of Amar Singh and Raj Singh. During the reign of the former emperor, Sanskrit texts were being penned in a voracious manner, such as Amarsar and Amar Bhushan. During the reign of the latter, Ranchod Bhatt had authored Amar Kavya, a comprehensive work dealing with the achievement of the ruler as well as about the culture of the times, depicted in dressings, jewelleries, festivals, etc. Sadashiv's Raj Ratnakar, penned in the 17th century is also deemed as a work demanding much respect and reverence for historical evolvement of Rajasthani literature.
History of Rajasthani literature perhaps had been the luckiest and blessed, when incredible patronage from the ruling kings and emperors are being spoken about. For instance, the rulers of Mewar had outstandingly encouraged the Rajasthani literati, Maharaja Gaj Singh having feted fourteen poets, bestowing upon them the award Lakh Pasaav. In fact, it was under Maharaja Gaj Singh's patronage that Hemkavi had authored Gunbhasha, Kesavadas and Gunrupak. Maharaja Jaswant Singh was not only a royal benefactor of the artists, but also a scholar par excellence himself. The poets Suratmishra and Narharidas and the historian Nainsi were counted as the Maharaja's contemporaries in the historical maturation of literature in Rajasthani. The reign of Abhay Singh had given rise to three noted literary figures - Jagjeevan (author of Abhay Uday), Karnidan (author of Surajprakash) and Virbhaan (aurhor of Raj Roopak). The times of the much talked-about Raja Man Singh is considered as the Golden Age in Rajasthani literature. The court poet of Man Singh, Bankidas during that time had penned Manaj Somandar and Nankidas Batan that have exerted profound influence in the history of literature of both Sanskrit and Rajasthani languages. Amongst the poets who had written in Dingal, names like Issar Das and Dursa Arha come to light time and again. Issar Das had penned both devotional poetry as well as blood-boiling war poems, celebrating the exploits of the gallants in warfare.
The literature of Rajasthan is defined as broadly varied and vivid and its unbroken traditions have been continuing for the past one thousand years. Rajasthan is also defined as the centre of art, architecture and culture. The history of Rajasthani literature is generally divided into several periods. And these are -
Moreover, history of Rajasthani literature also states that the literature of this land of heroes is also classified in various categories:
Ancient Rajasthani Literature
Each and every single category denotes a particular style of its own. This factor is evident from its language and content. Though literary current is described as an incessant flow and the division has been made in recognition of the salient characteristics of the literary conventions of a specific age. From 1050 AD, only miscellaneous verses were written in two languages that are Maru-Gurjar. These are mainly Jain works. Apart from the linguistic separation of Maru (Rajasthani) from Gurjar (Gujarati), a line of differentiation between Medieval and Early period was drawn from a literary point of view. In the early period, secular works and works of Jain and Caran styles are also found. But from the beginning of the medieval period, two new currents mainly Akhyan Kavya and devotional poetry appeared and flourished. In this period, dominant note of Jain literature could be found. Moreover, during this period, the Jain religion tended to fall into schisms and because of different interpretations of the canonical texts, different sects came into existence. Jain literature both in terms of prose and poetry also flourished in this period. Another important form of literature also developed and that was 'secular love poetry'. They are allegorical and religious too. Some of them, which developed in Rajasthani form, are still popular amongst the common folk. Caran poetries also developed in the early period.
Medieval Rajasthani Literature
The history of Rajasthani literature also denotes that the medieval period abounds in copious works in Caran style. And the works in this style that is Caran style continued to gain popularity tremendously after that. Of that period that is the medieval period, 'Vacanika Acaldas Khiciri' was the first important Caran work. The emergence of Goddess Karanji and five Pirs, as popular objects of worship and reverence gave a new momentum to the society and literature of the age, especially to folk literature of Rajasthan. The literature produced from 1450 to 1650 attained new heights of excellence in every sphere. In this period, there have been several brilliant contemporary Carans and other poets, who immortalized the heroes as well as their heroic deeds. Such literary creations come under the historical and heroic of the Caran style. Poets have praised the virtues and heroic efforts of this era. Moreover, in the medieval times, king, tradition and religion were the three important factors that shaped the values of the people of the state of Rajasthan to a huge extent. Sant poetry is considered as the product of some adherence to particular sects of the society and they have been produced by those who were unattached and self willed. Some of the sects believed in incarnation of God but not in idol worship whereas some other sects believed in neither but only in one Almighty. Moreover, some believed in both incarnation and idolatry. Quite naturally, the contents were different and broad. Interestingly, Akhyan Kavyas continued to appear in this period too.
Modern Rajasthani Literature
The modern period started with the British rule and its impact in the country. Due to its impact and to the wider contact with the outside world through the spread of the Western education, traditional values, science and technology, outlook, ideology as well as traditional values also started rapidly changing. All these changes along with the notes of animosity and acrimony towards the British rule are reflected in the Rajasthani poems of the period near around 1850 AD. They also mark the beginning of the Modern period of the Rajasthani literature. Modern period is also regarded as the transitional phase. In this modern period, Rajasthani poetry found expression in the traditional and new norms. The poems at this period paid homage to the popular historical characters. In the old Rajasthani literature, nature has been described more as a stimulus to emotions than merely as an object of portrayal in her own right. The literary works of this time sung praises of Rajasthan with love and reverence. Patriotic and heroic are the terms that symbolize the literature of Rajasthan at this time. Some essays have also been prepared at this period. Biographies, magazines, literary criticism, recollections, poetic prose, etc. are the other genres that developed in the modern era.
When stated as a bottom line, history of Rajasthani literature was truly never in short of patronage and benefaction, beginning from the early centuries and still progressing towards governmental assistance. The Rajput clan, their unprecedented exhilaration or bravery, were not only wasted in laying down lives in battle. The kings and their ruling dynasties were indeed much charmed and captivated by literary wonders and other works of art, making this very historical journey of Rajasthani literature a memorable one.