History of Classical Sanskrit Literature

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Item Code: IDE510
Author: M. Krishnamachariar
Language: English
Edition: 2016
ISBN: 9788120802841
Pages: 1257
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.8" X 6.0"
Weight 1.42 kg
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Book Description
From the Jacket:

The present work is an analytical account of classical Sanskrit literature in its historical perspective. It is divided in six books, of several chapters, each dealing with a particular branch of Sanskrit learning. Book I deals with the great epics of India - the Ramayana and the Mahabharata as well as the Puranas and the Tantras; Book II with the Kavya and its varieties; Books III and IV with the narrative, prose and Campu respectively; Book V with the dramatic literature and Book VI with the Alankara, Sangita, Kama and Chandas literature.

The work is full of references; the footnotes refer to a variety of sources, legendary, inscriptional numismatic, architectural and literary. The writer has exploited all the relevant material of the journals, catalogues, annals, reports and other documents in discussing the vexed problems of the date, place, genealogy of the authors and the literary tendencies of their compositions. His methodology of literary criticism is rationalistic and bears the stamp of the modern scientific age. The elaborate index, the critical introduction, the exhaustive bibliography, the list of abbreviation the table of transliteration and a supplement are the most useful additions to this interesting and instructive work of literary history.


Look at this dedication to lord Sri Venkatesvara! That will remind you of the Glory and Purpose of Ills Manifestation in this of sin and exalt you to the region 0f the blessed and the immortal With a salutation to the great Sages Valimiki and Vyãsa, the begins and gives an elaborate account of Rãmäyana, Mahábhirata Puranas, with all their recessions, editions and commentaries. The vast expanse of Classical Sanskrit literature has been arranged on the model of standard works on foreign literature. The main classes are three sravayakavya Drsyakavya and Sahitya. First come the poems proper of two classes major and minor which is all verse or all prose or mixed prose and verse with all their minor varieties topical and ingenious. Secondly comes the drama in all its technical ramifications and with all motifs temporal spiritual and allegorical. Next is science of poetry in its widest sense embracing rhetoric dancing music and erotics. To this is introduced by an exposition of the rhetorical definitions and theorizations and treated from their traceable beginnings which to some extent are traditional and theological but I would not call them mythical implying a stigma of falsity and fiction. As far as it was in my reach all that has been said about any author or work anywhere in books journals or papers has been entered in the references and this will help special studies. Dynasties of kings that ruled in India in different parts and at different time have been fully honored by a collation of relevant notes epigraphically and archeological not merely because the king were the fountains of literature but many of them were themselves poets of celebrity. Works known and unknown lost and extant printed and unprinted catalogued and uncatalogued have all been mentioned and in many cases the stray places where they are still available in manuscript. Above all there is the quotation of gems of poetry of varying interest from amount and nature to devotion and renunciation and these in themselves are an anthology of meritorious specimens of poetic thought and expression.

The introduction deals with several topics of general Interest allied to the study of Classical Sanskrit Literature; such for instance Is the spiritual origin and aspect of language as envisaged in the Vedas and as elaborated by schools of Grammarians, the progress of structural and linguistic changes In the expression of the Sanskrit language, from Chandas to Bhãsa, and the like; this will assist the study of Comparative Philology, of which “ The Discovery of Sanskrit” is acknowledged to be the origin. Of foremost importance, there is to subject of Indian Chronology. India has its well written history’ and the Puranas exhibit that history and chronology. To the devout Hindu and to, the Hindu who will strive to be honest in the literary and historical way, Purãnas are not ‘pious frauds.’ In the hands of many Orlentalists, India has lost (or has been cheated out of) a period of 10—12 centuries in its political and literary life, by the assumption of a faulty Synchronism of Candragupta Maurya- and Sandracottus of the Greek works and all that can be said against that “Anchor-Sheet of’ Indian Chronology” has been said in this Introduction. In the case of those early European Orientals, very eminent and respectable in themselves, this thought of resemblance and historical synchronism was at least sincere, font was very scanty material that they could work upon. But for their successors in that hearty who are mostly our “Professors of Indian History,” that have given a longevity and a garb of truth to it by repetition, there is to my mind no excuse or expiation, if at all it he a confession of neglect and a recognition of India’s glorious past iii its entire truth.

The India of authors and works (in Sanskrit) is followed by a small supplement (in English) on miscellaneous matters. The Index Is not merely a means of reference and indication, but embodies corrections and additions, so as to act as what is usually expressed as “Errata et Corrigenda et Addenda.” Many authors and works that could not he mentioned In the body of the work, because they came to be known too late, are entered there. The reader will therefore take the Index as part of the main work and not merely as an easy appendix to it. In all, the number of works and authors would be some thousands, arranged alphabetically on the plan of Stein’s Index to Kashmir Catalogue and Aufrechl’s Catalogas Catalogorum. Recent and living authors have been, so far as I could get at, noticed, and this work, it is submitted with all humility, deals with the history of Classical Sanskrit Literature from the earliest times to the present day.

In the year 1906 I published a small book history of classical Sanskrit literature. Being the first and only work of its comprehension it was well received everywhere in our universities and was quoted profusely in the publications of the universities of the United States of America. I was often asked to reprint the book but conscious of its inadequacy I did not it but in its stead I thought of a comprehensive work that would present at a glance the full vista of Sanskrit literary domain and that in the light of past historical researches. Even the ardent Pandit knows not the vast literature that has been lost of lies hidden in the libraries of India.

But what are your chances of using these libraries? Manuscripts and catalogues now out of print are all stored in these receptacles. They may be there for years unthought and untouched save for changes of physical location. The pages may turn red, brown, blue and brittle but they still lie uncut by the hand of any reader. The guardian will well watch these receptacles on their pedestals. The guardian will applaud your attempt at research and will promise to help it by a loan of books on your application but he is helpless and must soon express his regret in reply as rules are against loan. If you apply to a higher authority for relief the paper runs through the regular channels to the same guardian and on his report after a lingering expectation you get an order with a difference only in the preamble and the subscription.

I wrote for information to libraries, I rarely had a reply, for some of these guardians have “no staff, no provision for paper or postage.” III asked for an extract from any manuscript—say the first and last few lines—some institutions demanded copying charges. I applied for a copy, the charges were exorbitant, For instance, for an indifferent copy in two quarter sheets of thirty-two anustubh verses (of 32 letters each) I was asked to pay about a rupee and postage. I paid and consoled myself by the thought that this fee went for the maintenance of a poor Pandit, and that it was in no way more rapacious than the fee charged recently by a Banker for giving an extract of a single line from a ledger, viz., Rs. 5 for search, Rs. 5 for copying the tine, and Rs 5 for adding a certificate that it was a these charges are only made “according to have to get on ‘ under the rules ‘ no one cares to look into these inhales. Equally so was it with many Professors of Colleges. They would have no time to reply and the few that deigned to oblige after reminders had very little to say. To trace an author and his affairs, 1 had in many cases to correspond with serve at persons, and only perseverance did win it. Lithe post office could exempt my letters from postage, it would give a different aspect, lint alas, not, it is under these auspices I began and progressed. But 1 cannot refrain from expressing that the acquisition of the material gathered in this hook has been too costly for an equanimity retrospect and I shall not be far wrong to say that each author, save those few that are too well known, cost inc on an average four annas. I have often felt that it is not an enterprise that a prudent householder should have embarked upon, but it was too late to think of the fully.

Amidst official work in judicial service, in places distant from metropolis, there was little testier for a continuous study. A few days snatched at intervals during the recesses, of summer and other holidays were rarely visits of references to over India year, it was carried Assignee. Press was years ago. It went to print, Alt current of an estate that vested and a claim got it there was, hut the printing was resumed. This work and its contents, astonishing the doctor what ii was alt about, though I thought I was lecturing sensibly on Sanskrit Literature. There was again a change in the management and there was another Full.


The sacred literature of India inferior to none in variety or extent is superior to many in nobility of thought in sanctity of spirit and in generality of comprehension. In beauty of prolixity it can vie with any other literature ancient and modern. Despite the various impediments to the steady development of the language despite the successive disturbances, internal and external which India had to encounter ever since the dawn of history she has successfully held up to the world her archaic literary map which meager outline itself favorably compares with the literature of any other nation of the globe. The beginnings of her civilization are yet is obscurity of Sanskrit has an unquestioned priority. Yet such is the marvelous continuity says Max Muller between the past and the present of Indian that in spite of repeated social convulsions religious reforms and foreign invasions Sanskrit may be said to be still the only language that is spoken over the whole extent of the vast country so say M. Winternitz Sanskrit is not a dead language Sanskrit is not a dead language even to day. There are still at the present day a number of Sanskrit periodicals in India and topics of the day are discussed in Sanskrit pamphlets. Also the Mahabharata is still today read aloud publicity. To this very day poetry is still composed and works written in Sanskrit and it is the language in which Indian scholars converse upon scientific questions. Sanskrit at the least plays the same part in India still as latin in the middle ages in Europe or as Hebrew with the Jews.

No country except India and no language except the Sanskrit can boast of a possession unapproachable in grandeur and infinitely above all in glory. The Vedas stand alone in their solitary splendor, serving as a beacon of divine light for the onward march of humanity.”

The sciences of Comparative Pathology and Mythology owe their origin to what has been termed the “Discovery of Sanskrit,” “To the Sanskrit, the antiquity and extent of its literary documents, the transparency of its grammatical structure, the comparatively primitive state of ancient system and thorough grammatical treatment it has- early received at the hands of native scholars, must ever secure the foremost place in the comparative study of Indo-Aryan researches.”

A Weher in his Indian Literature thus summed up his reasons for asserting the antiquity of the Vedic Literature:

In the more ancient parts of the Rigveda-Samhita, we find the Indian race settled on the north-western borders of India, in the Punjab, and even beyond the Panjab, on the Kubha, or Kupna, In Kabul. The gradual spread of the race from these seats towards the east1 beyond the Sarasvati and over Hindustan as far as the Ganges1 can he traced iii the later portions f the Vedic writings almost step by step, The writings of the following period, that of the epic1 consist of accounts of the internal conflicts among the conquerors of Hindustan themselves, as, for instance, the Mahabharata; or of the further spread of Brahmanism towards the south, as, for instance, the Ramayana. If we connect with this the first fairly accurate information about India which we have from a Greek source, viz, from Megasthenes, it becomes clear that at the time of this writer the Brabmaning of Hindustan was already completed, while at the time of the Periplus (see Lassen, I. AK., ii. 150. n.; 1. St. ii. 192) the very southern most point of the Dekhan had already become a seat of the worship if the wife of Siva. What a series of years, of centuries, must necessarily have elapsed before this boundless tract of country, inhabited by wild and vigorous tribes, could have been brought over to Brabmanism. And while the claims of the whitefly records of Indian literature to a high antiquity—its beginnings may perhaps be traced back even to the time when the Indo-Aryans still dwelt together with the Persa-Aryans are thus indisputably proved by external, geographical testimony, the internal evidence in the same direction, which may be gathered from their contents, is Co less conclusive, In the songs of the roust of the people gives expression to the feeling ( its relation to nature. with a sIlonteous freshness and simplicity ; the powers of nature are worshipped as superior beings and their kindly aid thought within their several spheres. Beginning with this nature worship which everywhere recognizes only the individual phenomena of nature and these in the first instance superhuman we trace in Indian literature the progress of the Hindu people through almost al the phases of religious development through which the human mind generally has passed. The individual phenomena of nature which at first impress the imagination as being superhuman are which first impress the imagination as being superhuman are gradually classified within their different spheres and a certain unity is discovered among them. Thus we arrive at a number of divine beings each exercising supreme sway within its particular province whose influence is in course of time further extended to the corresponding events of human life while at the same time they are endowed with human attributesnad organs. The number already considerable of these natural deities these regents of the powers of nature is further increased by the addition of abstractions taken from ethical relations and to these are to the other deities divine powers personal existence and activity are ascribed. Ingot this multitude orders by classifying and co-coordinating them according to their principal bearings. The principle followed in this distribution is like the conception of nature. We have the gods who cat in the heavens in the air upon the earth and of these the sun the wind and fire are recognized as the main representatives and rulers respectively. These three gradually obtain precedence over all the other gods who are only looked upon as their creatures and servants. Strengthened by these by these position of these three deities and to arrive at unity for the supreme being. This is accomplished either speculatively by actually assuming such a supreme and purely absolute. Being viz Brahman to whom these three in there turn stand in the relation of creatures of creatures of servants only or arbitrarily according as one or other of the three is worshipped as the supreme God.




Chapter ISection 1Vedic Forms of Epics1
Section 2Ramayana3
Section 3Mahabharata27
Section 4Epics Compared64
Section 5Puranas72
Section 6Tantras


Chapter IIKavyaKavya79
Chapter III-XMahakavya82
Chapter XISection 1Laghukavya311
Section 2Niti313
Section 3Stotra320
Chapter XIILaghukavya (contd.)334
Chapter XIIISandesa358
Chapter XIVCitrakavya369
Chapter XVSubhasita385
Chapter XVISection 1Poetesses391
Section 2Royal Poets397
Section 3Unnamed Poets404
Chapter XVIIDesavrtta


Chapter XVIIISection 1Kathanaka411
Section 2Brhatkatha412
Section 3Pancatantra423
Section 4Other Tales428

Chapter XIX-XXGadyakavya436
Chapter XXICampu496
Chapter XXIIDrsyakavya525
Chapter XXIIISahityasastra707
Chapter XXIVAlankara726
Chapter XXVBharata810
Chapter XXVISangita832
Chapter XXVIIKamasastra877
Chapter XXVIIIChandoviciti897
AppendixExtracts from Kadambari and Avantisundarikatha913
Index to Introduction925
Index (Miscellaneous)927
Addenda & Corrigenda1121

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