(Last Updated on : 31-08-2013)
Literature in Princely States of India
is closely entangled with the sacred and the secular. In the southern region of the former British India, the native rulers or Maharajas of the princely state of Travancore and Mysore
collected extensive compilations of Sanskrit
texts and manuscripts, whereas in north India, the native rulers of Baroda
and their respective subjects, particularly Jains and other merchant communities, accumulated noteworthy libraries. By the year 1874, the library in Bikaner consisted of 1400 texts and manuscripts which included many rare literary works, Dharmashastra, Vedas
, Mantra and Samgita. In the year 1910, Maharaja Sayaji Rao of the princely state of Baroda
started to gather texts and manuscripts in Sanskrit which became the central part of the Oriental Institute of Baroda. Benoytosh Bhattacharya later edited, interpreted and published some of the literary works in Sanskrit from the Oriental Series of Gaekwad, in order to increase access.
Some of the Indian princes
, such as those of Patiala
state and the princely state of Baroda, patronized and supported the scholars who composed literary works about the history of their native state, religions and dynasties. Apart from literature, the rulers of the princely state of India also focused on developing and establishing libraries, archaeological sites and museums that helped them shape the historical identity of the region. The native princes exhibited various manuscripts, sculptures and paintings, European visual arts and even industrial gadgets in the libraries and museums that were erected in their states. Some of the native rulers also sponsored the publication of affluent volumes on key historical and archaeological sites that were located in their princely states. The rulers of the princely state of Bhopal subsidized several volumes on Sanchi that was one of the foremost Buddhist pilgrimage site and stupa in its region. The Nizam of Hyderabad state provided financial support for the composition of few volumes on Ajanta and Ellora. As all of the 3 sites were either Hindu, Buddhist or Jain, the benefaction of these rulers had a pluralist implication, which is an Indian cultural heritage.
The native rulers of the Indian princely states supported the development of museums and generously printed literary works and books based on various cultural sites as current ways of justifying their authority and power; and demonstrated dharma in the fast transforming political context of the nation.