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Indian literature

In Indian literature, oral and written forms prevail. Hindu literary traditions dominate a large part of Indian culture. Apart from the Vedas which are a sacred form of knowledge, there are other works such as the Hindu epics of Ramayana and Mahabharatha, treatises such as Vaastu Shastra in architecture and town planning and Artha Shastra in political science.

Devotional Hindu drama, poetry and songs span the subcontinent. Among the best known are the works of Kalidas (writer of the famed Sanskrit play Shakuntala) and Tulsidas (who wrote an epic Hindi poem based on the Ramayana). Tamil poetry of the Sangam poetry is well renowned.

Among other traditions Urdu poetry is a fine example of linguistic and cultural synthesis. Arab and Persian vocabulary based on the Hindi language resulted in a vast and extremely beloved class of ghazal literature, usually written by Muslims in contexts ranging from romance and society to philosophy and devotion to Allah. Urdu soon became the court language of the Mughals and in its higher forms was once called the 'Kohinoor' of Indian languages.

Tamil literature has been in existence for more that 2500 years. Tolkaappiyam has been credited as its oldest work, whereas the exact origins of Thirukkural is unknown. The golden age of Tamil literature was during the Sangam period, roughly 1800 years ago. The classic works of this period are Silapadhigaaram, Manimekalai and Sivakasinthamani . Tamil literature is know for its secular traditions, although its authors had strong religious beliefs. Thirukkural is considered to be the greatest of Tamil works.

In the last century, several Indian writers have distinguished themselves not only in traditional Indian languages but also in English. India's only Noble Laureate in Literature was the great Bengali writer Rabindranath Tagore. Other major writers who are either Indian or of Indian origin and derive much inspiration from Indian themes are R. K. Narayan, Vikram Seth, Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy, Jhumpa Lahiri and Bharati Mukherjee.

Last updated: 10-24-2004 05:10:45