History of Ancient Indian Literature | Art and Culture

The Earliest known works of Indian literature was Rig Veda, which is a collection of 1028 hymns written in Vedic Sanskrit.

While most of the literary works that survived from ancient Indian literature are religious text, identifying ancient Indian literature based solely on religion is not right. Indian literature contains everything that can be found in generally religious and commonplace “literature,” epic and lyrics, dramatic and didactic verse, narrative and scientific writing, as well as oral poetry and music.

Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, and Atharva Veda followed up on the Rig Veda. There are other works that adopt Vedas such as Brahmanas and Aryankas preceded by Upanishad philosophical doctrines. These form the literature portion of Shruti.

  • Yajur Veda – deals with the Yajnas’ performance directions.
  • Sama Veda- is concerned with prescribed tunes to recite the hymns.
  • Atharva Veda- deals with rituals and medicines.
  • Brahmanas- includes detailed descriptions and guidance on the Vedic literature.
  • Aryankas- is a forest treatise that describes the rituals while dwelling in the Brahmanas’ philosophical discussions. We document the transitions between Brahmana’s ritualistic symbolism and Upanishad philosophical aspects.
  • Upanishads- deals with concepts that are written in poetry and prose about the origin of the universe, death, and birth, material and spiritual world, as expressions of philosophical concepts. Earliest Upanishads are Chanddogya and Brihad-Aryanaka. They clarify the highest thoughts mentioned which a man can realize in simple and beautiful imagery according to ancient sages.

Great Epics :

Ancient Indian Literature contains two epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata. These have evolved through the centuries to their present form, and thus reflect the Indian people ‘s ethnic memory. Over time, they were transmitted orally by singers and storytellers and were probably put into their writings from around the 2nd century BC.

Ramayana is composed of 24,000 verses spread over seven books known as Khandas. It’s written in poetry form that entertains while instructing. It is Rama ‘s story and tells how to attain human life’s fourfold goals (Purushartha), namely, Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha.

  • Dharma- righteous behavior or religion.
  • Artha- the achievement of worldly wealth and prosperity.
  • Kama- fulfillment of desires.
  • Moksha- ultimate liberation.

Mahabharata is made up of one lakh verse spread over ten books, making it the world ‘s longest poem. It is considered to be Ithihasa Purana, meaning mythical history (because this story is not merely a depiction of events that have occurred, but these are the vents that will always occur and repeat). The tale about the war of succession to the throne between Pandavas and Kauravs is written by Vyasa, with several stories interwoven together to form an epic. A subsequent introduction of Bhagavad Gita, along with the central tale of war, enshrines an integrated concept of Dharma (performing righteous duty in Nishkama Karma ‘s selfless way).


They helped toward Hinduism in the development of early Vedic religion. To renew the old, the literal meaning of the word “Purana” means.” They were written to show the people the truth about Vedas. Through famous legends and mythological tales Puranas discusses the metaphysical and religious truths. Puranas, in combination with the Ithihas(Ramayana and Mahabharata), consists of many stories and anecdotes of India ‘s religious, social , and cultural history.

Shastras and Smriti literature:

Shastras comprise metaphysical and scientific work. We cover such topics as poetry, mathematics and other sciences. Arthashastra is a Governance science research.

Smritis deals with the execution of duties, customs, and laws prescribed in accordance with Dharma. The most important example is the Manusmriti, known as Manu laws.

Buddhist Literature:

A number of literary works which had secular character were written just before the beginning of the Gupta period. The time saw poetry and drama develop. Mainly political events, allegories, comedies, romances, and philosophical questions were the subject of these works.

  • Kalidasa ‘s works include the Kumarsambhava, the Raghuvamsha, the Meghaduta, and the
  • Abhijnanshakuntalam, which are considered poetry and style classics.
  • Bana had written Harshacharita, a biography of King Harsha and Kadambari.
  • Bhavabhuti wrote Ramayana-Uttar.
  • Bharavi wrote Kirtarjuniya.
  • Shudraka has written Mricchakatika which deals with social drama.
  • Dandin wrote Daskumarcharita (10-prince tale).

There was also a considerable amount of philosophical literature. Most significant are those of Sankaracharya. Panchatantra and Kathasarit-Sagar are collections of stories.

Also, See A Complete Guide on Hindu Temple Encyclopedia

South-Indian Literature:

The ancient Indian writings were written in four Dravidian languages in Southern India which developed their own script and literature, these are, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam. Among these, Tamil is the oldest, with literature from the early Christian era. This developed during various times during the three Sangams (assemblies of poets and writers) held. The Sangam literature is extensively covering topics of war, love, and politics.

Tolkappiyam, Pattuppattu, and Ettutogai are important works of these times. Thiruvalluvar is this time’s most famous author who wrote Kural, which deals with many aspects of life and religion.

south Indian Literature

Art in Ancient India

Each age is unique in its uniqueness. Likewise, Indian styles of art have evolved continuously over thousands of years. Various styles of art such as paintings, architecture, and sculpture originated in ancient India. In ancient India art history starts with prehistoric rock paintings. The Bhimbetaka paintings, which belong to the prehistoric period, display these rock paintings. Thereafter, advanced urban planning is seen in Harappa and Mohenjodaro, with highly developed architecture indicated by their centrally planned cities. Another notable example of Harappan civilization sculpture comes in the form of Mohenjodaro’s dancing child.

In India, the use of symbolic forms is as old as the seals at Harappan. The fire altars of the Vedic period also play an important role in the evolution of the later temples, with their astronomical and mathematical significance. A time in Indian art history which is significant for rock-cut caves and temple architecture followed. At Badami, Aihole, Ellora, Salsette, Elephanta, Aurangabad, and Mahabalipuram the Buddhists initiated the rock-cut caves, and Hindus and Jains began to imitate them. Since the first rock-cut caves, rock-cut art has continuously evolved to suit various purposes, social and religious contexts, and regional differences.

Throughout India, there have been developing, shifting, transforming, folk and tribal art practices alongside the art forms such as architecture, sculptures, and sculpture. Such types of art are an expression of people who belong to various Indian cultural and social classes. It is the expression of people whose lives are attuned to nature’s rhythms and its cyclical change laws, and whose lives are knotted with natural energy. In India it’s been a tradition to turn gods and legends into contemporary forms and recognizable images. Fairs, festivals, and local deities play a key role in cultivating these types of arts.

It is an art that is inseparable from life and imagination. The tribal arts have a particular sensitivity, as the tribal people have a very different extreme knowledge from the settled and urbanized population. Their minds are soft and intense, with myths, legends, epic snippets, multitudinous gods born from dreams and fantasies. Their art is their life expression and holds their passion and mystery.

Ancient Indian Culture

A culture is a primary tool for discovering, incorporating, and claiming India’s genuinely and definitely pluralistic national identity. Culture pervades, defines, and regulates the life and pattern of Indian society in every sphere of human activity. The word ‘Community’ comes from the Latin term ‘cult or cultus’ which means tilling, or planting, or refining and worshiping. Overall, it means cultivating and refining something to such an extent that it evokes our admiration and respect for its end product. That is almost the same as the Sanskrit language ‘Sanskriti.’ Culture basically denotes a human-made environment that includes all of the material and non-material products of group life that are communicated from one generation to the next.

India ‘s culture is about how humans maintain their lifestyle. The languages, religions, dance, music, architecture, food, and customs of India were evidently changed from place to place within the country. The Indian culture, often labeled as the incorporation of multiple cultures, spans the Indian subcontinent and has been influenced by ancient history in which many rulers dominated and altered their art and architecture. Many characteristics of the diverse cultures of India, such as Indian religions, Indian philosophy, and Indian cuisine, have had a huge influence worldwide. The caste system is a major feature of Indian society. India’s caste system is an integral part of ancient Hindu tradition, which dates back to 1200 BCE. Portuguese travelers who reached India in the 16th century used the term caste for the very first time. There are four castes organized in a Hierarchy in Hinduism. Of the Brahman, the highest Varna is. Members of that class are priests and the society’s educated men. In hierarchy the Varna after them is Kshatriya. The members of that class are society’s rulers and aristocrats. The Vaisya are after them. Members of that class are society’s landlords and businessmen. One of the toughest aspects of the caste system is the untouchability element of the caste system. It is seen by many as one of the world’s most strong racist phenomena. People who worked in ignominious, polluting and unclean occupations in Indian society were seen as polluting peoples and were therefore regarded as untouchable. In culture, the untouchables had virtually no rights. They were treated in different ways, in different parts of India. The attitude towards the Intouchables was harsh and rigid in some regions. It had been less strict in other areas.

south Indian Literature


The Indian civilization’s greatest accomplishments are undoubtedly its architecture which was the product of socio-economic and geographic situation. Indian architecture is the vast drapery of Indian subcontinent production which includes a multitude of expressions about space and time, refurbished by the forces of history considered exclusive to the subcontinent, sometimes abolished but most of the time absorbed. The Indus Valley Civilization’s earliest production was characterized by well-planned towns and houses where religion did not appear to play an active role.

In early period, Hindu temple architecture have been traced to the remains at Aihole and Pattadakal in present day Karnataka, and have Vedic altars and late Vedic temples as mentioned by Panini as models. Later, as more distinction occurred, the Dravidian / Southern style and temple architecture form of Indo-Aryan / Northern / Nagara emerged as dominant styles, epitomized in productions such as the magnificent Brihadeeswara Temple, Thanjavur, and the Sun Temple, Konark. Owing to their linguistic and unclear origins, the older terminologies of Dravidian and Indo-Aryan are not used in recent usage. Buddhist elements and themes had a strong influence on temple architecture.

Temples were originally rock-cut, and later the concrete temples developed. At Ellora, the Kailasanatha temple is the best example of the former, excavated from top to bottom from a massive rock face. In any temple design, the pyramid formed an important architectural feature-stepped in the Dravidian style, stepped forward, and slightly curved in the Northern style. The structural structure was effectively traveled and construction could be achieved with minimal to no mortar, with the stone being the basic raw material for Indian craftsmanship. The decoration was necessary for Indian architecture and can be seen both in the countless details of figurative sculpture and in the architectural elements. The notion of fractals was used to analyze the Hindu temple type, both in terms of its preparation and outward appearance. The garba-griha or womb chamber forms the central focus which houses the temple deity and is provided with a passage of circumambulation. In temple complexes, however, there are also many subsidiary shrines, particularly in the temple of South Indian (the Dravidian style). Since the Hindu temple is not meant for congregational worship, when compared with the entire temple complex, the garba-griha is limited in size. However, the vimana or the sikhara express this externally. Garba-griha is followed by pillared halls or mandapas.

A South Indian temple’s three-dimensional experience has many dimensions and is considered especially rich and meaningful. Among them, such as the Ranganathaswamy temple at Srirangam, the concentric enclosures, or prakaras along with the sequence of gopurams or entrance gateways decreasing in scale as they pass towards the garbha-griha set a rhythm of solids and voids as well as providing a ritual and visual axis. Temple architecture concepts were arranged in such treatises and canons as Manasara, Mayamatam, and Vaastu Shastra. These provided an ordering structure for conceptual articulation and permitted a certain autonomy. Currently, much of the ancient Hindu architecture is thriving in temples of South India and South-East Asia as subsequent Islamic movements have more dominantly revived India’s cultural landscape in the north.

A rich literature has shown that the temples of Jaina can be seen in the Temples of Dilwara in Mt. Abu. In the present-day Karnataka, early beginnings of Hindu temple architecture were traced to the remains at Aihole and Pattadakal and have Vedic altars and late Vedic temples as mentioned as models by Panini. Later, as more distinction took place, the Dravidian / Southern style and temple architecture form of Indo-Aryan / Northern / Nagara emerged as dominant styles, epitomized in productions such as the majestic Temple of Brihadeeswara, Thanjavur, and the Temple of the Sun, Konark.

Following independence and the initiation of Modern Architecture into India, the quest as a paradigm fuelled by Nehruvian visions was more towards progress. Chandigarh ‘s preparation is a good example. Later, as modernism was exhausted in the West, and new directions were pursued, there was also a quest in India for a more articulate architecture rooted in the Indian situation. In addition, the globalization and economic growth phase in the 1990s created an impressive array of new information technology campuses and skyscrapers, and as economic change accelerates, metropolitan areas expand creative horizons.

Final Thoughts

India is often known by many as a country of spirituality. Eastern and Western scholars. India is also rich with a fair though The volume of secular literature that includes scientific works Science. The existence of the great number of Vedic, metaphysical, and Simple details of the religious treatises available from the early times For the diversity and richness of India’s cultural heritage. The Vedic, and the Epic And Purā Sanskrit plays show other socio-cultural tendencies. The man and those works prove that our ancestors were aware of this Of war and of weapons. There are many examples of battle, and Arms in various ancient Sanskrit texts. The epics that emphasize the Dharma definition has unique long chapters which describe wars. Even in Amarakos, an ancient India ‘s remarkable lexicon, the term There are more than thirteen synonyms of ‘sibara’ and ‘bābala.’ These are all factors Reveal the importance of guns and firearms from the distant past in Ancient India.

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