Perhaps no other place in the world has produced as much literature on knowledge and wisdom as India. Sanskrit dominated India’s literary legacy for more than 300 years, first in its Vedic form, then in its classical form.
The Rig Veda is the earliest known piece of Indian literature, consisting of 1028 hymns written in Vedic Sanskrit. Although religious writings constitute the majority of the ancient Indian literary works that have survived, it is incorrect to define ancient Indian literature solely in terms of religion.
Epics, ballads, dramatic and didactic poetry, narrative and scientific writing, as well as oral poetry and music, are all examples of Indian literature. The Ramayana and the Mahabharata are two ancient Indian epics. Many secular literary works were written prior to the Gupta period. Poetry and theatre were at their peak during this period.
Political events, allegories, comedies, romances, and philosophical themes were among the main subjects of these works. Ancient Indian texts in Southern India were written in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Malayalam, four Dravidian languages with their own literature and script.
Tamil is the oldest of them, with literature dating back to the early decades of the Christian period. This development was the consequence of three Sangams (meetings of poets and authors) conducted at different times. Politics, love, and conflict are common themes in Sangam literature.
The significance of ancient literary works- There is much more to learn and absorb from ancient Indian literature than only the Vedas and epics. The Dharmashastras, which define a person’s responsibilities and indicate how a character should grow, are also explained in ancient literature. Shastras included both mathematics and science.
Arthashastra, authored in Sanskrit by Kautilya, addresses economic and governmental policies. The popularity of Buddhist literature produced in Pali has also grown. It contains works of Buddhist literature such as poetry, philosophy, and grammar. Ancient Indian literature is both beautiful and difficult to read and comprehend.
The Vedas, Shastras, and Upanishads both aid in the construction of a person’s character and the pursuit of pleasure. Old Sanskrit poets’ principal concerns included love, nature, panegyric, moralising, and storytelling. When it came to love, the ancient poets sang passionately of bodily love; they perceived nature in relation to man rather than for its own purpose. The Sanskrit Kavya reaches an unrivalled degree of brilliance and perfection in Kalidasa’s writings.
Indian literature, in its broadest meaning, includes religious and everyday writing, epic and lyric poetry, theatrical and didactic poetry, narrative and academic prose, as well as oral poetry and music. Perhaps no other region of the globe has generated such a diverse range of knowledge and wisdom books. Indian literature from the past is both beautiful and difficult to read and understand.