The most powerful trend of medieval Indian literature between 1000 and 1800 A.D. is devotional (bhakti) poetry which dominates almost all the major languages of the country. Unlike the dark middle ages of Europe, India’s middle ages brought about a very rich tradition of devotional literature of remarkable merit which dispels the superstitious assumption of a dark period of India’s history. Bhakti literature is the most important development of the medieval period. It is love poetry. Love for one’s Lord, Krishna or Rama, the two main incarnations of the great God Vishnu. This love is depicted as love between husband and wife, or between lovers, or between servant and master, or between parents and child. This is personalisation of the godhood, which means a truthful perception of God residing in you, and also harmony in life which only love can bring. Worldly love is Kama (Eros) and divine love is Prema (mystic Eros). The dominating note in bhakti is ecstasy and total identity with God. It is a poetic approach to religion and an ascetic approach to poetry. It is poetry of connections – connecting the worldly with the divine, and as a result, the old form of secular love poetry began to have a new meaning in all languages. The rise of bhakti poetry gave rise to regional languages (Bhasa). The conception of bhakti did away with the elite tradition of Sanskrit and accepted the more acceptable language of the common man. Kabir (Hindi) says that Sanskrit is like water of a well stagnant, Bhasa like flowing water. A seventh century Shaiva Tamil writer Manikkarvachakar has something similar to say about in his book of poetry Thiruvachakam. Bhakti also attacked the age-old caste system and devoted itself to the worship of humanity, because the catch-word of bhakti is that God is there in every human being. The movement was in essence subaltern, as most of its poets belonged to the so-called ‘lower’ castes. Bhakti is antitheology and against any kind of conceptual erudition.
Dravidian literature mainly consists of the four languages, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam. Out of these, Tamil is the oldest language which preserved its Dravidian character the most. Kannada, as a cultured language, is almost as old as Tamil. All these languages have borrowed many words from Sanskrit and vice versa. Tamil is the only modern Indian language which is recognizably continuous with a classical past. Early classical Tamil literature is known as Sangam literature meaning ‘fraternity’, indicating mainly two schools of poets, aham (subjective love poems), and puram (objective, public poetry and heroic). Aham deals purely with the subjective emotions of the lover, and puram with all kinds of emotions, mainly the valour and glory of kings, and about good and evil. The Sangam classics, consisting of 18 works (eight anthologies of lyrics and ten long poems), are well known for their directness of expression. These were written by 473 poets, among whom 30 were women, the famous poetess Avvaiyar being one of them. In the case of 102 poems, the authors are unknown. Most of these anthologies are of the 3rd century B.C. During this time, a Tamil grammar Tolkappiyam, was written, to understand early Tamil poetry. Tolkappiyam indicates five landscapes or types of love, and outlines their symbolic conventions. Critics say that Sangam literature is not just the earliest evidence of the Tamil genius. The Tamils, in all their 2000 years of literary effort, wrote nothing better. The famous Thirukkural by Thiruvalluvar, in the 6th century A.D., serves as a manual of precepts to guide one to noble living. It expounds a secular, moral and practical attitude towards life. The twin epics, Silappadhikaram (the story of the anklet), written by Ilango-Adigal, and Manimekalai (the story of Manimekalai) by Chattanar, were written sometimes in A.D. 200-300 and give vivid accounts of Tamil society during that period. These are valuable storehouses and epics of dignity and sublimity, laying stress on the cardinal virtues of life. In Manimekalai there is an elaborate exposition of the doctrines of Buddhism. If Tamil reveals a triumph of Brahmanic and Buddhist knowledge, Kannada shows Jain ascendency in its ancient phase. Malayalam absorbed a rich treasure contained in the Sanskrit language. Nannaya (A.D.1100) was the first Telugu poet. In ancient times, Tamil and Telugu spread to distant places.
Mahatma Gandhi Biography In Sanskrit Free Essays
The Sanskrit language is divided into the Vedic and the classical. The great epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata and the Puranas are part of the classical period, but are discussed separately because of their enormity and importance, and are undoubtedly the precursors of Sanskrit Kavya (epic poetry), nataka (drama) and other literature. Classical Sanskrit literature includes the Kavyas (epic poetry), the Nataka (drama), lyric poetry, romance, popular tales, didactic fables, gnomic poetry, scientific literature on grammar, medicine, law, astronomy, mathematics, etc. Classical Sanskrit literature is on the whole secular in character. During the classical period, language was regulated by the rigid rules of Panini, one of the greatest Sanskrit grammarians.
The tallest figure in the sphere of epic poetry is Kalidasa (between A.D. 380-A.D. 415). He wrote two great epics, Kumarasambhava (the birth of Kumar), and Raghuvamsa (the dynasty of the Raghus). In the Kavya tradition, more care is bestowed on the form, such as the style, figure of speech, conceits, descriptions, etc., and the story-theme is pushed to the background. The overall purpose of such a poem is to bring out the efficacy of a religious and cultured way of life, without flouting any ethical norms. Other distinguished poets, like Bharavi (550 A.D.), wrote Kiratarjuniyam (Kirat and Arjun) and Magha (65-700 A.D.) wrote Sishupalavadha (the killing of Shishupal). There are several other poets like Sriharsha and Bhatti who are of great merit.