Sanskrit Literature
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Sanskrit Literature
The 11th-century Sanskrit manuscript of the Devi M?h?tmya on palm-leaf, Bihar or Nepal.

Sanskrit literature refers to texts composed in Sanskrit language since the 2nd-millennium BCE. Many of the prominent texts are associated with Indian religions, i.e., Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, and were composed in ancient India. However, others were composed central, East or Southeast Asia and the canon includes works covering secular sciences and the arts. Early works of Sanskrit literature were transmitted through an oral tradition for centuries before they were written down in manuscript form.

Sanskrit Literature

Dramas, poems and stories were written in Sanskrit language in ancient India. Some of the popular ones are: Panchatantra, Hitopadesha, Rajatarangini, Dashakumaracharita, Mrichakatika, Mudrarakshasa, Ratnavali, Nagananda, Priyadarsika, Mattavilasa Prahasana, Baital Pachisi, Singhasan Battisi (Si?h?sana Dv?triik?).

Bhasa's Svapna Vasavadattam (Swapnav?sadatta) ("Vasavadatta's dream"), Panchar?tra, and Pratijna Yaugandharayaanam ("The vows of Yaugandharayana"), Pratiman?taka, Abhishekan?taka, B?lacharita, D?tav?kya, Karnabh?ra, D?taghatotkacha, Ch?rudatta, Madhyamavyayoga and Urubhanga.

Kalidasa's Vikram?rvayam ("Vikrama and Urvashi"), M?lavik?gnimitram ("Malavika and Agnimitra"), Abhijñ?nakuntalam ("The Recognition of Shakuntala"), Raghuvaa ("The Genealogy of Raghu") and Kumarasambhava ("Birth of Kumara"), ?tusa?h?ra ("Medley of Seasons") and Meghaduta (The Cloud Messenger).

Kadambari is a romantic novel in Sanskrit. It was substantially composed by Babhaa in the first half of the 7th century CE.

Hindu texts

Hindu Sanskrit texts are manuscripts and historical literature related to any of the diverse traditions of Shruti, namely the Vedas and the early Upanishads. Many scholars include the Bhagavad Gita and Agamas as Hindu scriptures,[1][2][3] while Dominic Goodall includes Bhagavata Purana and Yajnavalkya Smriti.

The Smriti Sanskrit texts are a specific body of Hindu texts attributed to an author,[4] as a derivative work they are considered less authoritative than Sruti in Hinduism.[5] The Smrti literature is a vast corpus of diverse texts, and includes but is not limited to Ved?ngas, the Hindu epics, the Sutras and Shastras, the texts of Hindu philosophies, the Puranas, the K?vya or poetical literature, the Bhasyas, and numerous Nibandhas (digests) covering politics, ethics, culture, arts and society.[6][7]

Many ancient and medieval Hindu texts were composed in Sanskrit, many others in regional Indian languages. In modern times, most ancient texts have been translated into other Indian languages and some in Western languages.[1] Prior to the start of the common era, the Hindu texts were composed orally, then memorized and transmitted orally, from one generation to next, for more than a millennium before they were written down into manuscripts.[8][9] This verbal tradition of preserving and transmitting Hindu texts, from one generation to next, continued into the modern era.[8][9]

Mattavilasa Prahasana (Devanagari:), (English: A Farce of Drunken Sport) is a short one-act Sanskrit play. It is one of the two great one act plays written by Pallava King Mahendravarman I (571- 630CE) in the beginning of the seventh century in Tamil Nadu.[10]

Madura Vijayam (Sanskrit? ), (English: The Conquest of Madurai), is a 14th-century C.E Sanskrit poem written by the poet Gangadevi. It is also named Vira Kamparaya Charitham by the poet. It chronicles the life of Kumara Kampanna Udayar or Kumara Kampanna II, a prince of the Vijayanagara Empire and the second son of Bukka Raya I. The poem describes in detail, the invasion and conquest of the Madurai Sultanate by the Vijayanagara empire.[11][12][13]

Buddhist texts

Jaina texts

Tattvartha Sutra is a Jain text written in the Sanskrit language.[14][15] It is regarded as one of the earliest, most authoritative books on Jainism, and the only text authoritative in both the Digambara and ?v?t?mbara sects.Shant Sudharas Bhavana is a famous book in Jainism written by Jain monk Vinay Vijay also called as Yashovijay.[16][17]

Texts of extinct Indic traditions

Modern Sanskrit literature

Literature in Sanskrit continues to be produced. These works, however, have a very small readership. In the introduction to ?o?a: An Anthology of Contemporary Sanskrit Poets (1992), Radhavallabh Tripathi writes:[18]

Sanskrit is known for its classical literature, even though the creative activity in this language has continued without pause from the medieval age till today. [...] Consequently, contemporary Sanskrit writing suffers from a prevailing negligence.

Most current Sanskrit poets are employed as teachers, either pandits in phalas or university professors.[18] However, Tripathi also points out the abundance of contemporary Sanskrit literature:

On the other hand, the number of authors who appear to be very enthusiastic about writing in Sanskrit during these days is not negligible. [...] Dr. Ramji Upadhyaya in his treatise on modern Sanskrit drama has discussed more than 400 Sanskrit plays written and published during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In a thesis dealing with Sanskrit mah?k?vyas written in a single decade, 1961-1970, the researcher has noted 52 Sanskrit mah?k?vyas (epic poems) produced in that very decade.

Similarly, Prajapati (2005), in Post-Independence Sanskrit Literature: A Critical Survey, estimates that more than 3000 Sanskrit works were composed in the period after Indian Independence (i.e., since 1947) alone. Further, much of this work is judged as being of high quality, both in comparison to classical Sanskrit literature, and to modern literature in other Indian languages.[19][20]

Since 1967, the Sahitya Akademi, India's national academy of letters, has had an award for the best creative work written that year in Sanskrit. In 2009, Satyavrat Shastri became the first Sanskrit author to win the Jnanpith Award, India's highest literary award.[21]Vidyadhar Shastri wrote two epic poems (Mahakavya), seven shorter poems, three plays and three songs of praise (stavana kavya), he received the Vidyavachaspati award in 1962. Some other modern Sanskrit composers include Abhiraj Rajendra Mishra (known as Trive Kavi, composer of short stories and several other genres of Sanskrit literature), Jagadguru Rambhadracharya (known as Kavikularatna, composer of two epics, several minor works and commentaries on Prasth?natray?).

Another great Sanskrit epic that remained largely unrecognised till lately is "Dhruv Charitra" written by Pandit Surya Dev Mishra in 1946. He won laurels of appreciation by renowned Hindi and Sanskrit critics like Hazari Prasad Dwiedi, Ayodhya Singh Upadhyay "Hariaudh", Suryakant tripathi "Nirala", Laldhar Tripathi "Pravasi".[22]

See also


  1. ^ a b Dominic Goodall (1996), Hindu Scriptures, University of California Press, ISBN 978-0-520-20778-3, page ix-xliii
  2. ^ Klaus Klostermaier (2007), A Survey of Hinduism: Third Edition, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0-7914-7082-4, pages 46-52, 76-77
  3. ^ RC Zaehner (1992), Hindu Scriptures, Penguin Random House, ISBN 978-0-679-41078-2, pages 1-11 and Preface
  4. ^ Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty (1988), Textual Sources for the Study of Hinduism, Manchester University Press, ISBN 0-7190-1867-6, pages 2-3
  5. ^ James Lochtefeld (2002), "Smrti", The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Vol. 2: N-Z, Rosen Publishing, ISBN 978-0-8239-3179-8, page 656-657
  6. ^ Purushottama Bilimoria (2011), The idea of Hindu law, Journal of Oriental Society of Australia, Vol. 43, pages 103-130
  7. ^ Roy Perrett (1998), Hindu Ethics: A Philosophical Study, University of Hawaii Press, ISBN 978-0-8248-2085-5, pages 16-18
  8. ^ a b Michael Witzel, "Vedas and Upani?ads", in: Flood, Gavin, ed. (2003), The Blackwell Companion to Hinduism, Blackwell Publishing Ltd., ISBN 1-4051-3251-5, pages 68-71
  9. ^ a b William Graham (1993), Beyond the Written Word: Oral Aspects of Scripture in the History of Religion, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-44820-8, pages 67-77
  10. ^ Mahendravikramavarma Pallava (600AD). Lockwood, Michael; Bhat, Vishnu (eds.). Mattavilasa Prahasana The Farce of Drunken Sport. Christian Literature Society. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  11. ^ Ernst, Carl W. (1992). Eternal garden: mysticism, history, and politics at a South Asian Sufi center (Illustrated ed.). SUNY Press. p. 297. ISBN 978-0-7914-0884-1.
  12. ^ Jackson, William Joseph (2005). Vijayanagara voices: exploring South Indian history and Hindu literature (Illustrated ed.). Ashgate Publishing. pp. 61-70. ISBN 978-0-7546-3950-3.
  13. ^ Chattopadhyaya, Brajadulal (2006). Studying Early India: Archaeology, Texts and Historical Issues. Anthem Press. pp. 141-143. ISBN 978-1-84331-132-4.
  14. ^ Vijay K. Jain 2011, p. vi.
  15. ^ Paul Dundas (2006). Patrick Olivelle (ed.). Between the Empires : Society in India 300 BCE to 400 CE. Oxford University Press. pp. 395-396. ISBN 978-0-19-977507-1.
  16. ^ Jaini 1998, p. 82.
  17. ^ K. V. Mardia (1990). The Scientific Foundations of Jainism. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 103. ISBN 978-81-208-0658-0. Quote: Thus, there is a vast literature available but it seems that Tattvartha Sutra of Umasvati can be regarded as the main philosophical text of the religion and is recognized as authoritative by all Jains."
  18. ^ a b Radhavallabh Tripathi, ed. (1992), ?o?a: An Anthology of Contemporary Sanskrit Poets, Sahitya Akademi, ISBN 81-7201-200-4
  19. ^ S. Ranganath (2009), Modern Sanskrit Writings in Karnataka, ISBN 978-81-86111-21-5, p. 7:

    Contrary to popular belief, there is an astonishing Sanskrit writing is qualitatively of such high order that it can easily be treated on par with the best of Classical Sanskrit literature, It can also easily compete with the writings in other Indian languages.

  20. ^ Adhunika Sanskrit Sahitya Pustakalaya, Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan:

    The latter half of the nineteenth century marks the beginning of a new era in Sanskrit literature. Many of the modern Sanskrit writings are qualitatively of such high order that they can easily be treated at par with the best of classical Sanskrit works, and they can also be judged in contrast to the contemporary literature in other languages.

  21. ^ "Sanskrit's first Jnanpith winner is a 'poet by instinct'". The Indian Express. Jan 14, 2009.
  22. ^ Mishra, Mayank. Karma ka Pujari. Chandigarh : Unistar Publications, 2010. Print

5. ^ Bhattacharji Sukumari, History of Classical Sanskrit Literature, Sangam Books, London, 1993, ISBN 0-86311-242-0, p. 148.

Further reading

External links

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