The Literature  of  India
All About

Indian literature includes some of the oldest pieces of writing in the world. There are 22 official languages in India, so a great variety of literature has been written in these languages over the past several thousand years.

Rama the hero of the Ramayana (on the right) is sitting on the shoulders of Hanuman, the monkey-god, while he battles the demon-king Ravana. The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic tale that is still very important in the Hindu religion.

Most of India’s great ancient works of literature were written in the Sanskrit language. Many of these works were written as religious poems or epic stories and go back to between 2200 and 3500 years to the Vedic period.  About 2000 years ago, this Sanskrit literature went through a great change.  Drama became more important, especially in the writing of historical epic tales. 


In South India, literature was not connected with religion at all and was written in the Tamil language, not Sanskrit, with the important topics being war and love.  Around 1500 years ago, there was a change to bhakti or devotional literature that spread into northern parts of India.

Outside influences, in particular from Great Britain, have brought changes to Indian literature, especially in the 19th century.  Today, English is the language that is used by many of India's authors. 

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