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SANSKRIT

  • It is considered as the mother of all languages. It belongs to the Indic group of language family of Indo-European and its descendents which are Indo-Iranian & Indo Aryan.
  • This is the only language that is used in holy functions and ceremonies of Hindus, as it has always been regarded as the sacred language of the religion.
  • Sanskrit mantras, when recited in combination with the sound vibration, have a specific effect on the mind and the psyche of the individual.
  • The oldest known texts in Sanskrit are the Rigveda, Sama-veda, Yajur-veda and the Atharva-veda. Upanishads, Puranas and Dharmasutras are all written in Sanskrit.
  • Famous books in Sanskrit : Dharmasutras, the Manusmriti, Arthashastra and Gita Govinda.
  • Famous writers in Sanskrit : Panini, Kautilya, Kalhan, Chanakya, Jayadeva, Manu.
  • It was the period after which Panini composed his grammar of Sanskrit.
  • The two great epics Ramayana and Mahabharata were written in ancient Sanskrit.

PALI

  • It is a Prakrit language native to the Indian subcontinent.
  • The word Pali refers to “line” or “canonical text”.
  • It is widely studied because it is the language of many of the earliest extant literature of Buddhism as collected in the Pāli Canon or Tipiṭaka and is the sacred language of Buddhism.
  • Its literature is mainly concerned with Theravada Buddhism.

TELUGU

  • It is a South-Central Dravidian language.
  • It was heavily influenced by Sanskrit and Prakrit.
  • It is the primary language in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
  • It is one of six languages designated a classical language of India by the Government of India.
  • The Telugu Grammar is called Vyakaranam.
  • The first treatise on Telugu grammar, the Andhra Sabda Chintamani, was written in Sanskrit by Nannayya, considered the first Telugu poet and translator, in the 11th century AD.
  • Tikkana (13th century) and Yerrapragada (14th century) continued the translation of the Mahabharata started by Nannaya.
  • Ashtadiggajas is the collective title given to the eight Telugu poets in the court of the emperor Sri Krishna Deva Raya who ruled the Vijayanagara Empire from 1509 until his death in 1529.
  • Tenali Ramakrishna, who was known as Vikatakavi (jester poet), was a Telugu poet who hailed from the present-day Andhra Pradesh region, generally known for his wit and humour. He was one of the Ashtadiggajas or the eight poets at the court of Krishnadevaraya, the Vijayanagara emperor. He was the author of Panduranga Mahatyam, as one among the Pancha Kavyas, the five great books of Telugu Literature.

KANNADA

  • It is also known as Canarese or Kanarese.
  • It is a South-Indian Dravidian language.
  • It is also a classical language of India.
  • It is one of the scheduled languages of India and the official and administrative language of the state of Karnataka.
  • Kannda’s history can be divided into three periods; Old Kannada (halegannada) from 450–1200 A.D., Middle Kannada (Nadugannada) from 1200–1700 A.D., and Modern Kannada from 1700 to the present.
  • The oldest existing record of Kannada poetry in Tripadi metre is the Kappe Arabhatta record of AD 700.
  • Three gems of Kannada literature :  Adikavi Pampa (Father of Kannada), Sri Ponna and Ranna.
  • Pampa wrote Adipurana.

MALAYALAM

  • It sometimes referred as Kairali.
  • It is a language spoken in India, predominantly in the state of Kerala. It is also a classical language of India.
  • The word Malayalam originated from the Tamil resp. Malayalam words malai or mala, meaning hill, and elam, meaning region. Malayalam thus translates as “hill region” and used to refer to the land itself (Chera Kingdom), and only later became the name of the language.
  • The language Malayalam is alternatively called Alealum, Malayalani, Malayali, Malean, Maliyad, and Mallealle.
  • The earliest known extant literary work in Malayalam is Ramacharitam, an epic poem written in the late 13th or early 13th century.
  • In the subsequent centuries, besides a popular pattu (“song”) literature, the manipravalam poetry also flourished.
  • Manipravalam (translates “ruby coral”) style mainly consisted of poetry in an admixture of Malayalam and Sanskrit.
  • Cherusseri introduced poems on devotional themes.
  • Thunchath Ezhuthachan, a strong proponent of Bhakti movement, is known as the father of Malayalam. His poems are classified under the genre of kilippattu.
  • The earliest written record of Malayalam is the vazhappalli inscription (830 AD).
  • The earliest extant prose work in the language is a commentary in simple Malayalam, Bhashakautaliyam (12th century) on Chanakya’s Arthasastra.

TAMIL

  • It belongs to the southern branch of the Dravidian languages. It is also a classical language of India.
  • It is the official and administrative language of the State of Tamilnadu and the Union territory of Puduchery.
  • The earliest known Tamil inscriptions date back to at least 500 BC and the oldest literary text in Tamil, Tolkappiyam, was composed around 200 BC.
  • The earliest Tamil literature goes back to the Sangam period perhaps from 600 BC-200 AD.
  • Tolkappiyam is a work on the grammar of the Tamil language and the earliest extant work of Tamil literature. It is written in the form of noorpaa (short formulaic compositions).
  • A collection of lyrics, known as Ettu-thokai or Eight Anthologies, and another one of longer poems, known as Pattu Pattu or Ten Idylls are the main literatures of the third Sangam.
  • The Tamil Lexicon of University of Madras defines the word ‘Tamil’ as ‘sweetness’. S.V Subramanian suggests the meaning ‘sweet sound’ from ‘tam’- sweet and ‘il’- ‘sound’.
  • Subramanya Bharati (1882-1921 AD), one of the greatest of Tamil litterateurs of the modern times. Panchali Sabadam, an epic poem based on the Mahabharata, Kalippattu, Kannanpattu and Kuyilpattu are his great works.

URDU

  • Urdu is historically associated with the Muslims of the region of Hindustan.
  • It evolved from the medieval (6th to 13th century) Apabhramsa.
  • Urdu has a few recognised dialects, including Dakhni, Rekhta, and Modern Vernacular Urdu (based on the Khariboli dialect of the Delhi region). Dakhni (also known as Dakani, Deccani, Desia, Mirgan) is spoken in Deccan region of southern India.
  • Urdu is written right-to left in an extension of the Persian alphabet, which is itself an extension of the Arabic alphabet.
  • Urdu holds the largest collection of works on Islamic literature and Sharia. These include translations and interpretation of the Qur’an.
  • The afsāna or short story is probably the best-known genre of Urdu fiction. The best-known afsāna writers, or afsāna nigār, in Urdu are Munshi Premchand, Saadat Hasan Manto, Rajinder Singh Bedi, Krishan Chander, Qurratulain Hyder (Qurat-ul-Ain Haider), Ismat Chughtai, Ghulam Abbas, and Ahmad Nadeem Qasimi.
  • Amir Khosrow (1253–1325) was the major poet of Urdu, who composed dohas (couplets), folksongs, and riddles in the newly formed speech, then called Hindvi.
  • Faiz Ahmad Faiz is the poet of modern era.

HINDI

  • It is an Indo-Aryan language and has been strongly influenced by Sanskrit.
  • It is the fourth-most natively spoken language in the world, after Mandarin, Spanish and English.
  • It was originally written with the Brahmi script, but since the 11th century AD, it has been written with the Devanagari alphabet, which is common to several other Indian languages as well.
  • The first printed book in Hindi was John Gilchrist’s Grammar of the Hindoostanee Language.
  • Prominent Figures of Hindi literature : Chand Bardai, Sheikh Farid, Amir Khusro, Vidyapati, Kabir, Surdas, Nanak, Malik Muhammad Jayasi, Mirabai, Goswami Tulasidas, Keshavdas, Bihari, Guru Gobind Singh, Bharatendu Harishchandra, Ganga Das, Munshi Premchand, Yashpal, Jainendra Kumar, Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, etc.

Hindi literature is divided into four stages. These are

  1. Adi kal  or Vir-Gathas (poems extolling brave warriors) – 11th–14th century
  2. Bhakti kal or Bhakti era poems (devotional poems) – 14th–18th century
  3. Riti-kavya kal or Srngar poems (poems of romance) – 18th–20th century
  4. Adhunik kal  or Adhunik literature (modern literature) – 20th century onwards

Modern Hindi literature has been divided into four phases

  1. The age of Bharatendu or the Renaissance (1868-1893)
  2. Dwivedi Yug (1893-1918)
  3. Chhayavada Yug (1918-1937)
  4. Contemporary Period (1937 onwards)

Bharatendu Harishchandra (1849-1882) is the ‘Father of Modern Hindi Literature’.

ODIA

  • It is an Indo-Aryan language that is mostly spoken in eastern India. It is also a classical language of India.
  • The oldest evidence for Odia dates back to the 3rd century BCE.
  • Odia, Bengali and Assamese are considered to be sister languages.
  • Mughalbandi Odia is considered proper or Standard Odia due to literary traditions.
  • In the 14th century, the poet Sarala Dasa’s wrote the Sarala Mahabharata, Chandi Purana, and Vilanka Ramayana, in praise of the goddess Durga. Sarala Dasa is known as Vyasa of Odisha.
  • The Pancha Sakha – five poets, Balarama, Jagannatha, Anant, Yosowant and Achyutanand – of the fifteenth century rendered the Sanskrit classics into simple Odia.
  • Rama-bibaha, written by Arjuna Dasa, was the first long poem written in the Odia language.
  • The earliest literature in Oriya language can be traced to the Charyapadas composed in the 7th to 9th centuries.
  • Eminent Odia poets include Kabi Samrat Upendra Bhanja and Kabisurya Baladev Ratha.
  • Three great poets and prose writers are Kabibar Radhanath Ray (father of modern Odia poetry) (1849–1908), Fakir Mohan Senapati (1843–1918) and Madhusudan Rao (1853–1912).
  • Haldhar Nag is known as Lok kabi Ratna, was awarded Padma Shri in 2016.

BENGALI

  • Bengali Language or Bangla is an Indo-Aryan language spoken mostly in the East Indian subcontinent.
  • It has evolved from the Magadhi Prakrit and Sanskrit languages and is the second most spoken language in India.
  • The first works in Bengali known as the Charyapada, appeared between 10th and 12th centuries. Haraprasad Shastri (Bengali linguist) discovered the palm leaf Charyapada manuscript in the Nepal Royal Court Library in 1907.
  • The evolution of Bengali Literature started in the later half of the 19th century. The first truly romantic Bengali novel is Bankim Chandra’s Durgeshnandini (1865), while the first Bengali novel of social realism is Peary Chand Mitra’s Alaler Gharer Dulal (1858).
  • Bankim Chandra Chatterjee wrote “Vande Mataram”, the national song of India, which appears in his novel Anandamath (1882).
  • Rabindra Nath Tagore won Nobel Prize for Geetanjali in 1913.
  • The post Tagore age had very few writers of his calibre, some of whom were Sarat Chandra Chatterjee (1876-1938), Prabhatkumar Mukherjee (1873-1932) and Abanindranath Tagore (1871-1951).

ASSAMESE

  • It is an Eastern Indo-Aryan language used mainly in the state of Assam.
  • The earliest text found in Prahlada Charitra of the late 13th-century poet Hema Saraswati.
  • Madhava Kandali who belonged to the 14th century and he wrote the famous epic Ramayana in the native language and wrote Devajit, a narrative on Krishna.
  • The following generations saw a number of excellent novelists, writers and poets like Rajanikanta Bardaloi (1867- 1939), Chandra Kumar Agarwala (1867-1938), Padmanath Gohain Baruwa (1871-1946), Hiteshwar Bezbarua (1871- 1931), Benudhar Raj Khowa (1872-1935) and many more.
  • The most famous Assamese poet of bhakti movement period was Shankaradeva (1449–1568),
  • The first plays in the Assamese language : Hemchandra Barua’s Kaniyar Kirtan (1861; “The Revels of an Opium Eater”)

PUNJABI

  • It is an Indo-Aryan language. It is the native language of Punjab and is the 10th most spoken language in the world.
  • It is a successor of the chief language of medieval northern India called Sauraseni Prakrit.
  • It is written in two different scripts, called Gurmukhi and Shahmukhi. Punjabi speaking Muslims use Shahmukhi (Perso-Arabic script written from right to left). Punjabi speaking Sikhs write Punjabi in the Gurmukhi script, which was developed by Guru Andgad dev.
  • Adi Grantha or Guru Granth Sahib composed by Guru Arjun Dev is one of the earliest texts in Punjabi written in the Gurumukhi script.
  • The Janamsakhis, stories on the life and legend of Guru Nanak (1469–1539), are early examples of Punjabi prose literature.
  • Baba Bulleh Shah was the most famous Punjabi Sufi poet who put Saraiki language culture into the Punjabi Language.
  • The Qissa of Heer Ranjha by Waris Shah (1706–1798) is the most popular of Punjabi qissa.
  • Modern Punjabi literature commences with the works of Bhai Vir Singh and Padmabhushana (1872─1957).

MARATHI

  • It is an Indo-Aryan language spoken predominantly by Marathi people of Maharashtra.
  • Written Marathi first appeared during the 11th century in the form of inscriptions on stones and copper plates. The Marathi version of the Devanagari alphabet, called Balbodh, is similar to the Hindi Devanagari alphabet.
  • The first modern book exclusively concerning Marathi Grammar was printed in 1805 by William Carey.
  • The early Marathi literature written during the Yadava (850-1312 CE).
  • The earliest known Marathi inscription found at the foot of the statue at Shravanabelgola in Karnataka is dated c.a. 983.
  • Marathi literature started with the religious writings by the saint-poets belonging to Mahanubhava and Warkari sects during the Yadadva reign.
  • Bhaskarbhatta Borikar of the Mahanubhava sect is the first known poet to have composed hymns in Marathi.
  • The oldest book in prose form in Marathi, Vivekasindhu, was written by Mukundaraj.
  • Sant Dnyaneshwar (1275–1296) wrote Bhavarthadeepika, popularly known as Dnyaneshwari (1290), and Amritanubhava.
  • In the 18th century, some well-known works such as Yatharthadeepika by Vaman Pandit, Naladamayanti Swayamvara by Raghunath Pandit, Pandava Pratap, Harivijay, Ramvijay by Shridhar Pandit and Mahabharata by Moropanta were produced.
  • Krishnadayarnava and Sridhar were poets during the Peshwa period.
  • Baburao Bagul (1930–2008) was a pioneer of Dalit writings in Marathi.

GUJARATI

  • It is an Indo-Aryan language native to the Indian state of Gujarat.
  • The oldest examples of Gujarati literature date from the writings of the 12th-century Jain scholar and saint Hemachandra.
  • Two Gujarati bhakti (devotional) poets, both belonging to the 15th century, are Narasimha Mahata (or Mehta) and Bhalana (or Purushottama Maharaja). The latter cast the 10th book of the Bhagavata-purana into short lyrics.
  • The most famous of the bhakti poets is a woman, the saint Mira Bai, who lived during the first half of the 16th century.
  • One of the best known of the non-bhakti Gujarati poets is Premananda Bhatta (16th century), who wrote Akhyan.
  • He also was Mannbhaat, a poet who sang to the accompaniment of music created by Copper pot struck with ringed fingers.
  • In 19th Century, it was Narmad, the Poet (1833-86) who pioneered prose and poetry through his work on social revolution.

INDIAN LITERATURE IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE

  • First English Newspaper published in India : Hickey’s Bengal Gazette (in 1779)
  • First book written by an Indian in English : Travels of Dean Mahomet; Mahomet’s travel narrative by Sake Dean Mahomet (in 1793 in England)
  • First Indian novel written in English : Rajmohan’s Wife by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay in1864
  • First Indian author to win a literary award in the United States : Dhan Gopal Mukerji
  • Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941) wrote in Bengali and English and was responsible for the translations of his own work into English.
  • K. Narayan (1906 –2001), was an Indian writer, best known for his works set in the fictional South Indian town of Malgudi.
  • Early notable poets in English : Derozio, Michael Madhusudan Dutt, Toru Dutt, Romesh Chunder Dutt, Sri Aurobindo, Sarojini Naidu, and Harindranath Chattopadhyay.
  • Notable 20th Century authors of English poetry in India  : Dilip Chitre, Kamala Das, Eunice De Souza, Nissim Ezekiel, Kersy Katrak, Arun Kolatkar, P. Lal, Jayanta Mahapatra, Dom Moraes, Gieve Patel, and A. K. Ramanujan

The younger generation of poets writing in English include Smita Agarwal, Makarand Paranjape, Arundhathi Subramaniam, Eunice de Souza,Anuradha Bhattacharyya, Ranjit Hoskote, Sudeep Sen, Jeet Thayil, Abhay K, Mani Rao, Arnab Jan Deka, Jerry Pinto, Meena Kandasamy, Gopi Kottoor, Dr Tapan Kumar Pradhan, Rukmini Bhaya Nair, Robin Ngangom, Anju Makhija,Bhaskaranand Jha Bhaskar Vivekanand Jha, Bibhu Padhi, Vihang A. Naik, Jaydeep Sarangi K Srilata, Ananya S Guha,Nabina Das, Uddipana Goswami,Nitoo Das among others.

Notable Indian writers in english language: Khushwant Singh, Kiran Desai, Jhumpa Lahiri, Agha Shahid Ali, Rohinton Mistry, Salman Rushdie, Vikram Seth etc.