The top fifteen branches of Indian Literature are:
1. Assamese Literature 2. Oriya Literature 3. Marathi Literature 4. Gujarati Literature 5. Hindi Literature 6. Sanskrit Literature 7. Arabic Literature 8. Persian Literature 9. Urdu Literature 10. Punjabi Literature and Others.
Branch # 1. Assamese Literature:
During the period under discussion Sankaradeva about whom reference has already been made, ushered in a new -era in Assamese literature. His disciple Madhavadasa was an able follower of the trend set by his guru. His chief works include Bhakti-ratnavali, Nama-ghosa, Bara-gitas and Anikiya Nats (nine in number). One important feature of the Assamese literature of this period was that the works produced only dealt with the childhood and early life of Krishna but excluded the episode of the love of Radha and Krishna which formed the theme of the Vaishnava movement and Vaishnava literature in Bengal, Mithila, Braj, Gujarat, Rajasthan etc.
One of the important writers of the Vaishnava movement was Rama Saraswati who translated four cantos of the Mahabharata under the patronage of Naranarayan, king of Cooch Behar. He also translated some stories from the Puranas into Assamese in which the stories ended with the death of a hero or of a demon.
These are known as Vadha- Kavyas. Another author Gopal Chandra Dvija wrote in Assamese verses Lord Krishna’s life story from Vishnu Purana, Bhagavat Purana; and Bhagavat Gita were rendered into Assamese prose by Bhattadeva.
One important feature of the Assamese literature of the Mughal period was that the Assamese prose was influenced by the Sino-Tibetan speech of the Ahoms who wrote their history in Sino-Tibetan language. These historical writings are known as Buranjis. The Assamese Buranjis throw valuable light on the socio-political and economic condition of north-eastern India from the 17th to the 19th century.
Branch # 2. Oriya Literature:
During the Mughal period many writers in Oriya flourished who distinguished themselves by producing literary works based on Sanskrit literature. Oriya literature of the period echoed the spirit of the Sanskrit literature and mainly consisted of translation, adaptation from and imitation of the Puranas, the Ramayana etc. Sanskrit religious works as well as technical literature were thus made available in Oriya language.
Works of outstanding merits based on the Puranas were produced by poets Madhusudana, Sadasiva, Bhima, Dhivara, Sisu Isvaradasa. On non-Puranic themes, such as love romances were the bases of the writings of the prolific Oriya writer Dhananjay Bhanja. Dina-Kushna Dasa was one of the greatest Oriya poets who was responsible for many works the most important of which is Rasa-Kallola dealing with the love of Radha and Krishna.
Every line in this work begins with the letter ‘K’. Brindavana Dasa’s Gitagovinda adaptation in Oriya has retained the music in its original form. A few other distinguished works are Ushavilasha of Sisu Sankara Dasa, Rahasyamanjari of Devadurlava Dasa, Rukminibibha of Karttika Dasa. Among the distinguished poets, the names of Bhupati Pandita and Lokanatha Vidyadhara may be mentioned. Ramchandra Pattanayaka took the life of a common house holder and an ordinary peasant as the theme of his novel named Haravali in which the hero was an ordinary householder and heroine, daughter of a peasant.
Branch # 3. Marathi Literature:
The Marathi literature during the period under review was greatly indebted to three famous saints Santa Eknath, Santa Tukaram and Swami Ramdas. They “revolutionised the tone of religious writing, provided forms of artistic writing and set high standards of aesthetic expressions.” Their contributions were as voluminous as varied. Their works inspired many Marathi writers and enriched the Marathi literature to an extent that the period is generally regarded as the most glorious in the literary history of Maharashtra.
The writers of the period were followers of Bhakti cult initiated by Jnanesvara and Namadeva but the literature of the period reveals an awareness of the socio-political as well as religious environment of the time. Janardan Swami, the guru of Ekanath illustrated in his personal life that worldly life and spiritual life were not antithetical but complementary.
He served as the governor of a fort under the Muslim ruler and acquired fame as a statesman, but dedicated himself to religious pursuits as well. “Thus he demonstrated in that difficult age how the worldly life and the spiritual life can be reconciled to the advantage of the both, the individual and the Society.” Works of Ekanath reveal his mastery of Bhagavata in the Ekanathi-Bhagavata which is a commentary of the eleventh canto of the Bhagavata.
Next in importance is his Bhavartha Ramayana and Rukmini Svayamvara. He also composed hundreds of abhangas, gavlanas bharudas. Ekanathi-Bhagavata is a spiritual treatise while abhangas are narration of his spiritual experience. In Rukmini Svayamvara he dwelt on the philosophical theme of equating Jiva with Siva. He made the ideas of Vedanta popular through his works.
The struggle between Rama and Ravana has been seen by him as the perennial conflict between the soul and the ego. He propagated the path of Bhakti which leads, as he believed, man to the service of the society. In this way he combined religion with social service. Ekanath’s profound love for Marathi is revealed in his assertion: “My language Marathi, is worthy of expressing the highest sentiments, and is rich, laden with the fruits of divine knowledge.”
To him Marathi is as good as Sanskrit as a language to express oneself to God. Ekanath was a great saint as well as a great poet. Ekanath was the initiator of a literary movement in Maharashtra and according to tradition there was a group of five writers known as Eknath-Panchaka—Eknath, Rama Janardana, Jnani Janardana, Vitha Renukanandana, and Dasopanta.
Dasopanta has left a rich legacy of 45 works comprising two hundred thousand verses in all. He also composed songs and verses in Kanada and Telegu languages as well. His dynamic thinking and profound scholarship in many philosophical and religious problems and his profound faith in religious and cultural tradition of Maharashtra are revealed in many of his works.
Vishnudasanama a senior contemporary of Ekanath produced the first Marathi version of the Mahabharata. Budhbavani and Sukakhyana are his two other important works. He is supposed to have hailed from Goa. Sivakalyana, Mrityunjaya, Ranganatha Mogarekar, Tryambakaraj, Ramavallabhadasa, Mahalingadasa, Lolimbaraja were some of the many other poets that flourished during this period. Santalingappa was a Lingayat poet and made an exposition of the Lingayat sect in his poetical work Karanahastaki.
Shaikh Muhammad, Mutoji Vazir-ul-mulk, Hussain Ambar were Muslim Marathi authors. Mutoji Vazir-ul-mulk was also author of a Sanskrit treatise. The literary movement of the period brought people of all castes and creeds of Maharashtra under its influence. The Christian missionary father Thomas Stephen found the Puranic form of the Marathi literature very helpful for the propagation of Christianity and his work Khrista Purna of 11,000 verses in chaste Marathi is still considered as a fascinating work in Marathi language. Likewise another priest father Croix composed Peter- Purana in which the author went out of his way to ridicule Hindu gods and goddesses.
Tukaram gave a more vigorous momentum to the Marathi literary movement. A Kunabi (Sudra?) by caste, Tukaram began his life as a small merchant and married two wives—Rakhuma Bai and Jija Bai. He lost his first wife and his eldest son as also his business in the famine of 1619 when he was only twenty-one years old.
What he lost in the wordly life, he sought to gain the spiritual world. He studied the works of Ekanath Jnanesvar, Namdev, Kabir etc. and is said to have received initiation from Guru Babaji in a dream and the mantra received by him was ‘Rama, Krishna, Hari’. His spitirual attainments and literary genius found expression in the abhangas composed by him. Scholars have computed his abhangas to be 4,500 in number.
His accepted mission was to propagate religion, “to advance religion and to destroy atheism is my business”— he would say. Tukaram was forced into the spiritual world by his adversities; as such there is a touch of pessimism and melancholy in his teachings.
His emphasis on a detached life was taken as total renunciation of worldly life and social obligation. But the political and social conditions of the period needed an activist philosophy rather than a negation of social responsibility. Swami Ramdasa for whom Tukaram had great reverence, propagated the need for a positive, activist role by the people.
Samartha Ramdas Swami (1608-1682)-renounced the world at the age of 12 and practiced austere penance for 12 years when he had the vision of Rama. He wandered for 12 years all over India visiting all holy places and during the course of his wandering, like Swami Vivekananda later, he was moved by the miserable conditions of the people and he decided to dedicate himself to the service of the people. He began to preach the cult of Dhanurdhari Rama and Balabhima, established maths in different places which became centres of religion, education and culture.
He also popularized physical culture and training of the youth for military purposes. The most important work of Ramdas is Dasabobha. It is the outcome of the experience of the world by a person who attained the highest spiritual experience. It is a guide to all people for all time who desire happiness as also spiritual joy simultaneously.
In his Anandavana Bhuvana he gives as inspiring vision of the state which is the protector of the pius and destroyer of the wicked. His works deal with the conditions of the people, the evil nature of the Pseudo-saints etc. His works deal with the conditions of the people, the evil nature of the Pseudo-saints etc. His Karunashtake and Manache Sloka along with the Ramayana and Ramavaradayini are still regarded as the best in Marathi literature for properly moulding the minds of the young.
Tukaram and Swami Ramadasa were more concerned with the religious and ethical” teaching. But there were other writers who paid greater attention to aesthetic value of literature in the tradition of Eknath. Muktesvara, a grandson of Eknath, Vamana Pandit, Raghunath Pandit, Anandatanaya, Nagesa and Vithal Bidkar were poets who enriched the poetical literature of Maharashtra in the seventeenth century. Raghunath Pandit and Nagesa were contemporaries of Shivaji. These writers of long narrative poems adopted themes from the epics and the Puranas and followed the traditional techniques of classical Sanskrit. Gradually a new style and new themes were introduced by Sridhara and Krishnadayarnava. The scholar-poets of this period popularised narrative form of poetry.
Under the direction of Shivaji Raja-Vyavahara-Kosha which contained the useful political administrative terms, is even now considered to be a mine of useful information and source of coining new administrative and political terms. This period is also noted for the composition of Pavadas i.e. ballads in very exciting style on historical events. A few of the Pavadas have survived. One of such ballads by Agindas narrates Shivaji’s encounter with Afzal Khan. The capture of Simhagarh by Tanaji is the theme of another ballad by Tulsidas.
Branch # 4. Gujarati Literature:
Bhakti cult founded by Chaitanya in Vrindavana had a deep influence on the Gujarati literature of the Mughal period. Miranbai (Mira Bai) and Narasimha Mehta were the two greatest Gujarati poets who were influenced by the Virndavan School of Bhakti Cult.
“A pattern of poetic rapsody developed, imbibing its inspiration from the legacy of Sri Krishna’s pastoral romance in the woodlands of Vrindavan and combining lyrical verse, musical symphony and a responsive dance, movement (rasa). The sweet strains of Sri Krishna’s magic flute were heard time and again and the glimpses of his eternal rasalila repeated in the poetic composition of these two great bhaktas of Sri Krishna.”
Mira Bai dedicated herself to Lord Krishna whom she fancied her bridegroom. Her earlier songs all addressed to Girdhar Gopal were composed in Rajasthani which is the parent of modern Gujarati, Mevadi and Marwadi. Her later songs were, however, in Braj- bhasha, the sweet language of love and devotion. Her songs breathed a rare “intensity of feeling and sensitiveness of emotion.” In poetic-fervour, divine love and saintliness Mira’s contribution is matchless in Vaishnav literature.
Narasimha Mehta who also lived in the 16th century ushered in a philosophical poetry and gave a fresh impetus to Bhakti cult. Vaishnava jana to tene Kahiye is the most well-known Bhajan composed by Narasimha and Mahatma Gandhi said, “That one song is enough to sustain me even if I were to forget the Bhagavad Gita.”
Narasimha composed about 740 padas which are collected in Sringaramala. His large volume of poems is an elaborate exposition of rasa as depicted in the Bhagavata and collected in Rasasahasrapadi. Charm of language and rich diction are special features of his poems. He was the finest representative, besides Mira Bai, of Bhakti cult in Gujarat.
Along with religious literature secular literature such as popular fiction, stories in imitation of those Gunadya, the author of Brihat Katha in Prakrit, love, affairs of men and women, etc. attracted the attention of many authors. Bhakti cult which from its very nature was the privilege of the few and lost appeal and a reaction was noticed in the essentially Vedantic philosophy in the simple language of poet Akho or Akha Bhagats’ works. He was popularly known as Vedantakaviseromani and was a seeker after ancient wisdom.
Premanand was a born poet and his work would alone make any language or age brilliant. He was the greatest medieval poet and was responsible for as many as 57 works. His works were mainly Akhyanas from Epics and the Puranas. He also wrote poems on the life of Narasimha Mehta. Samalbhatt, next to Premchand was the most notable poet of the period. He was gifted with a matchless style and wonderful power of storytelling. His works are a welcome escape from the morbid influences of his times and often dealt with stories on worldly wisdom.
The Jaina Sadhus of the period composed Charitas of their Tirthankaras, Chakravartins and Saints. Most notable Jaina writer of the 16th Century was Lavanya Samay who had 29 works to his credit. Nayasundara, a successor of Lavanya Samay was a versatile writer who acquired knowledge of Sanskrit, Prakrit, Hindi and Urdu literature, Rishavadas was another Jaina writer.
Branch # 5. Hindi Literature:
Hindi literature received a fresh vigour from the writings of Malik Muhammad Jayasi who flourished in the mid-sixteenth century. His Padmavat which was a fine philosophical epic and refers to the story of queen Padmini of Mewar “in an allegorical setting.” The patronage extended by Akbar to Hindi poetry encouraged Hindi literature. Raja Birbar (Birbal) was a Hindu poet of repute and Akbar conferred on him the title of Kavi Priya. Raja Man Singh was a Hindi versifier, while Khan-i-Khanan Abdur Rahim, Narahari, Harinath, Ganj etc. were other Hindi writers.
The greatest Hindi writer of the period under review was Goswami Tulasidasa who was born in Gonda district of U.P (1523). His Ramacharitamanasa (1574) is a Hindi masterpiece and considered to be “the Bible of the Hindu masses of North India.” It relates the life story of Rama and propounds the philosophy of Bhakti cult.
Its exquisite language, devotional spirit, poetic charm and popular and purely native Hindi with borrowings from Sanskrit words have made the work an immortal piece of Hindi literature. Tulasidasa was supporter of orthodox Brahmanical Hinduism and “his advent with this and other books did the greatest service in strengthening the Hindus of Northern India in their religion, their old ways, and their culture, which seemed to be overwhelmed in the floodtide of an aggressive Islam.”
Among many other works of Tulasidasa Vinaya-Patrika is the most well-known and the best. Besides devotional spirit that permeates his writings, his belief in a personal God—Rama, his purely humanistic approach based on the knowledge of men and things gave his works a universality to mankind. He wrote in highly Sanskritised Awadhi.
Devotional poems dwelling on Krishna-lila was earlier produced by poets in Braja- bhasa that is a Hindi dialect prevalent in the Braja i.e. to the Jumna valley. Bhakti- cult dwelling on the legends of Rama or Krishna was already highly developed due to the contributions of the writers in Brajabhasa who drew inspiration from Bhagavat Purana. Surdas, the blind poet of Agra, the follower of Vallabhacharya was the most famous of such devotional poets.
His Surasagar dwelling on the life-story of Krishna in Braja-bhasa is a famous work. Nanddas, Vithal Nath, Kumbhan Das, Parmanand Das, Mira Bai who belonged to the same school were predecessors of Tulasidas. But as it has already been stated that the greatest exponent of the Ram cult was Tulasidas.
The Awadhi dialect of Hindi was greatly enriched by a number of Sufi writers who composed romantic tales of the folk lore type into beautiful allegorical poems by way of elucidating Sufi doctrines. Maulana Daud and Kutban, Manjhan, Malik Jayasi etc, belonged to this school. This tradition was continued in the 17th and the 18th centuries by a number of other Muslim poets like Usman, Shaikh Nabi, Kasim and Nur Muhammad. The latest writer in the line was Nazir Ahmad of Pratapgarh.
Kabir’s tradition was continued by the mystic poet Dadu Dayal who was considered to be a later counter-part of Kabir and his works show a mixture of Brajabhasa and Khari-boli as we find in the writings of Kabir. This period also saw the emergence of a rhetorical and artistic type of literature in lyrical verses. This type of literature was introduced by Kesavadasa. The poets of this school described the beauty of women, different types of women in love, married or unmarried, moods of lovers and sweethearts, various Ragas and Raginis, as well as the seasons.
Their poems also dealt with biraha (separation) and milan (union) and various other sentiments of the lovers. Hindu, Muslim, Brahmans, low-castes, Rajput, Orissan, Dakhni, men and women composed on the above themes. Paintings depicting the above moods and sentiments were produced by artists of different schools of painting of Medieval India.
The Hindi literature of the 17th century was not characterised by any originality. It merely followed the old tradition of showing an undercurrent of Rambhakti or Krishna- bhakti or Sufism. The lack of originality and decline in the standard of Hindi literature in the 17th century was to an extent due to the absence of the patronage of the imperial court under Aurangzeb. Mention may, however, be made of Biharilal, the court poet of Jay Singh, Raja of Amber who produced the famous Satasai—collection 700 verses.
Bhusana was another author who distinguished himself by writing verses in praise of Shivaji in Brajabhasa. Works of Biharilal and Bhusana are noted for their melody, poetic imagery patriotic spirit. The last great Hindi poet during the period under discussion was Lai Kavi or Gorelal Purohit who composed Chhatra-prakasa, an epic biography of Chhatrasal the Raja of Bundelkhand. Guru Govind Singh, the 10th and last Sikh Guru is included among the writers of Hindi for his auto-biographical poem Bichitra-Natak in old apabhramsa style of Hindi.
Hindi literature before the 18th century was wholly in verse and although Hindi prose such as Brajabhasa and Khari-boli (Delhi-Hindi) goes back to the 16th century modern Hindi prose did not appear earlier than the 18th century. In the 16th century Hindi prose style is to be seen in some sufi works and biographies by the Krishna-bhakti school.
Branch # 6. Sanskrit Literature:
Growth of Sanskrit literature was retarded due to the Muslim occupation of large areas of North India. Emperor Akbar tried to create an atmosphere of tolerance and Shah Jahan and Dara extended some patronage to Sanskrit scholars. But that atmosphere of peace and security that was needed for the progress of Sanskrit literature was generally speaking lacking during the Mughal period.
Even Kashmir which was a reputed centre of Sanskrit learning and culture hardly produced any Sanskrit work worth naming after the end of the Hindu rule. In Bengal also Jaydev was the last name in Sanskrit literary history. Gujarat, Bihar etc. which were important centres of Sanskrit culture did not produce any scholar of repute. It was only in Hindu states that Sanskrit literature continued to prosper.
In South India Sanskrit literature and learning prospered and the renaissance movement initiated by Madhavacharya and Savana continued for centuries to inspire both rulers and scholars to help in enriching the Sanskrit culture of the south. Vijayanagar empire continued to nourish Sanskrit language and literature even after the disaster of Talikota. The Nayakas of Tanjore, chiefs of Cochin and Travancore, Zamorin of Calicut not only patronised Sanskrit scholars, but many of them were themselves poets of repute.
Mahakavya, Kavya, Drama, Slesha-kavya (sarcastic poetry), Historical Kavya, Champu Kavya, lyrics and smaller poems in Sanskrit were produced in the south. In Mahakavya Literature Raghunath Nayaka of Tanjore and his court poets made important contributions. Raghunath was not only a zealous patron of letters but a well-known poet himself. Among his works Achyutarayabhyudaya a biography of his father Achyutaraya, Rukmini-Krishna-vivaha deserves special mention. Madhuravani a poetess in Raghunath’s court was a talented lady and produced a Kavya of 14 cantos on the Ramayana.
Srinivasa Dikshita, a minister of the Nayakas of Gingee was a prolific writer. He wrote eighteen dramas and sixty Kavyas. Nil Kantha Dikshita, son of Srinivasa Dikshit was a great Saiva scholar. His Sivalilarnava is a mahakavya of 22 cantos. His Gangavatarana is a story of Bhagirath and descent of Ganga on earth. Chakravarti was another contemporary poet of rupute.
Narayana was one of the greatest scholar-poets produced by Kerala. He was a friend of Mahadeva Zamorin, king of Kozhikode, and his works covered the fields of Kavya and Mimansa.
Slesha-Kavya with a device having double meaning or treble meanings of the same text was the works of Venkatadhvarin, Rajachuramoni Dikshit, Chidambash etc.
Achyuta Rayabhyudaya of Dindima, Rajanatha III is an important historical Kavya. Tirumalamba, was an accomplished lady who produced historical Kavya. Somanatha throws much light on the scholastic and cultural achievements of Vyasaraja the rajaguru of Krishnadevaraya.
Jayarama Pande in his Radhamadhavo-Vilasa Champu gives an account of the poets who graced the court of Shahji, father of Shivaji. Shambhurajacharita of Bhanubhatta, Rajaram-charita of Kesava Pandit are historical Kavyas. Likewise Gangadhara wrote a Kavya dealing with the Bhonsle family. Bhuminatha wrote a Champukavya called Dharmavijaya-champu on the life of his patron Shahji son of Ekoji.
Sridhara also wrote a work on Shahji’s life. Rajatarangini of Kalhana, the famous history of Kashmir was continued by different authors in different periods, and the history of the Mughal period in Prajyabhatta’s Rajavalipataka. Similarly history of Khandesh, of the ruler of Bikaner, praise of Dara Shukoh, Asaf Khan, achievements of Jahangir were preserved in Sanskrit historical Kavyas.
Reference to Champu-Kavya has already been made and Dindima, Chidambara, Tirumalaba etc. were authors of Champu-Kavya.
Geetagovinda of Jaydeva was the model on which many lyrics and small poems were composed during the period. Jagannatha Panditaraja was one of the greatest lyricists of the period. He was the court poet of the Rajputs, Mughals and the rulers of Kamrupa. Mention may be made of Duta-Kavya on the model of Kalidasa’s Meghaduta, was produced during this period Subhagasandesa, Bhramarasandesa were such Duta-kavyas.
Mythological plays by Jagajyotimalla of Nepal, Madhava, Ramabhadra, Bhuminatha dealt with subject like the marriage of Hara-Gauri, Sita in Lanka, marriage of Subhadra and Arjuna were some of the many mythological plays produced during the period. Historical plays, allegorical plays as also erotic plays were also produced during the period. Alankara, musical works, works on philosophy and epigraphical literature in Sanskrit were also written during the period under study.
Branch # 7. Arabic Literature:
Arabic literature during the Mughal period as in the pre-Mughal days, was mainly based on religious subjects such as the Quran, Hadith, Fiqh (jurisprudence), Grammar and Sufism. Purely literary writings in Arabic were very few. Almost the entire Arabic literature of the time comprised commentaries, super commentaries, glossaries, and annotations of the Quran.
Study of Islamic theology received impetus due to visits of Indian Ulemas to centres of religious instructions in Hejaz. This was facilitated by the safe journey ensured by the Portuguese voyages between India and Arabia in the 16th century. This was further added to by the Knowledge the scholars acquired by occasionally visiting Mecca and Madina.
Akbar was not a follower of orthodox religious views, but there was no dearth of Ulemas and theological writings during his reign. Abdullah Sultanpuri and Shaikh Abdal Nabi were among the leading Ulemas of the time and Shaikh Sadullah Bani Israil of Lahore was a scholar of repute who translated Bahr-i-Mawwaj of Qadi Shahab al Din Daulatabadi into Arabic.
Shah Fathullah Shirzi, Mir Sadr-al-Din, Mir Ghyath-al-Din Mansur and Mirza Jan Mir dealt with Islamic learning, logic and philosophy. The most outstanding author was, however, Abdul Haqq Dihlawi who was a prolific writer both in Persian and Arabic. His Arabic works of repute were commentary on Hadith, on science of biography, and a treatise on Hanafite Jurisprudence.
Akbar’s court poet Faizi who was the greatest Persian poet was also an Arabic writer of amazing ability. His commentary Sawati-al-Ilham in two volumes shows his wonderful mastery over Arabic language. In rhetorical device, this book has been regarded by many scholars as a most outstanding work. Faizi’s other works in Arabic also show a great intellectual and literary skill.
Akbar’s another court-poet Hakim Jilani wrote an Arabic commentary on Avicenna’s al-Qanun as also many treatises on theology in Arabic language. Akbar’s unorthodox religious policy produced Islamic reaction through the writings of the theological-scholars like Khwaja Baqibillah, Ahmad Sirhindi, and Shaikh Farid. Shaik Taj-al-Din Sambhali wrote several Arabic works in the reign of Jahangir.
Mughal literary patronage and pursuits in Arabic reached it culminating point under Shah Jahan. Numerous scholars and theologians flourished under him but Mulla Abdul Hakim Sialkuti received special regard and patronage from the Emperor. Mulla Mahmud Jaunpuri was another outstanding scholar who wrote many glossaries on classical works as also books on Philosophy in Arabic.
Shaikh Nur al-Haqq was a jurist, historian, worked all his life for the course of Hadith literature. Abdul Baqi and Abdur Rashid were two contemporary philosophical writers. A popular work on dialectics was written by Sayyid al-Shariff Ali bin Muhammad Jurjani. Muhbibullah Illahabadi was a Sufi of renown and wrote a commentary on the Quran from the Sufistic point of view.
The most enthusiastic of Mughal Emperor who patronised Islamic studies was Aurangzeb. Fatwat-i-Alamgiri a compendious six-volume on the Hanafi Law. Mulla Jiwan was another commentator of the Quranic verses. Mir Muhammad Zahid and Muhibbullah Bihari were two writers of philosophical treatises. Sayyid Ibn Masum was a writer on secular subjects.
He was the author of several poetic compositions. He compiled a biographical dictionary of Arabic poets. During the Mughal period Gujarat was an important centre of Arabic studies. Through the ports of Surat and Cambay many scholars in Arabic travelled by sea to Hejaz for higher studies. Haji Dabir of Gujarat wrote a valuable history of Gujarat in Arabic. Likewise Al Din Abdul Qadir wrote a chronology of sixteenth century and also contemporary accounts in a lucid, simple style. Al Din Alwi wrote on various subjects of Islamic learning.
Muhammad Tahir of Pattan in Gujarat immortalised himself by his invaluable works on the Quran and Hadith, Jalal bin Muhammad al-Bukhari better known as Badr-i-Alam was leading traditionalist and divine during Jahangir’s reign who wrote a commentary on the Hadith.
In Golconda, the Qutb Shahi Sultans were enthusiastic patrons of Arabic learning and literature. Muhammad Ali Karbalai, Muhazzim al-Din Damamini, Hakim Nizam al- Din Gilani etc. were the writers of renown in Arabic in Golconda during the period.
Branch # 8. Persian Literature:
The Mughals ushered in a glorious period of Persian literature and Persian is said to have enjoyed the status of Latin in central Asia. Babur had written his Tuzak i.e. memoir in Turki but he was an accomplished poet in Persian. He wrote a Mathnavi i.e. a didactic poem in Persian and there were quite a few Persian scholars, poets and writers among his followers, most notable among them were Farighi, Nadir Samarqandi, Atishi Qandhari and Tahir Khawandi.
Coming of the Persian intellectuals into India from Iran in the 16th and the 17th centuries was the most important contributory factor in the development of Indo-Persian literature. While Persian literature, particularly poetry declined in Persia the same thrived in India. Under Humayun a host of Persian poets migrated to India where the Mughal court offered them a congenial atmosphere for the expression of their talents.
“The literary efforts of these immigrants coupled with similar efforts of indigenous litterateurs created in India an intellectual tradition which sometimes seemed to outshine that of Iran itself both in output and quality.” India continued to remain the El-Dorado of Persian emigrants during the 16th and 17th centuries.
The summer days of the Persian literature in India were brought about by efforts of Akbar. Jahangir and Shah Jahan. A long and distinguished chain of poets both Indian and Iranian brought about a cultural synthesis which gave rise to the body of poetry called Sabk-i-Hindi which was a distinct Indian style of the Persian poetry. This poetry was characterised by the Use of puns, chronograms, similies, satires and concepts. Humayun was fond of poetry as well as poets and himself composed verses of quality and wrote a Persian diwan. Shaikh Amanullah Panipati, Maulana Jalali, Mir Waisi, Damiri Bilgrami, Qasim Khan Mauji were poetic geniuses of the time of Humayun.
Khwandamir wrote a general history Habib al Siyar and composed a versified history of Humayun. Qasim Kahi of Kabul who was the court poet of Humayun and Akbar was a poetic genius. Yusuf bin Muhammad wrote several Persian works when he was attached to Humayun’s court. Jauhar Aftabchi Humayun’s ewer-bearer wrote a memoir of Humayun. Gulbadan Begum, Humayun’s sister wrote an intimate account of the reigns of Babur and Humayun. Bayazid Bayat wrote a useful history of the reign of Humayun and the early years of Akbar.
With the accession of Akbar to the throne in 1556, the era of an unprecedented blossoming of the Persian prose and poetry began. Akbar’s liberal patronage to poets, writers, philosophers, historians, thinkers, theologians etc. led to a literary efflorescence unrivalled in the history of medieval India. Akbar’s nobles also bestowed liberal patronage to writers and poets, scholars and historians of the time.
According to Abul Fazl thousands of poets thronged the court of Emperor Akbar of whom at least fifty produced diwans. Ghizali Mahshhadi was the first poet-laureate of Akbar among whose many works were one diwan and an anthology of poems dedicated to Akbar. Faizi succeeded Ghizali as Akbar’s poet-laureate, who according to Badaoni and others was the author of hundred Persian works many of which have, however, not reached us.
Abul Fazl mentions some of the principal works of Faizi, such as diwan entitled Tabashir-al-Suba. Diwan comprises qasidas, ghazals, tarkib-bands, targi-bands, elegies, qitas and rubias. Faizi also wrote in Arabic. Abdur Rahim Khan-i-Khanan son of Bairam Khan besides having been a talented poet was a great patron of learning and men of letters. Jamal-ud-din Urfi Shiraji was the most famous of the writers that had enjoyed his patronage. Faizi’s Nal Damal (Nal Damayanti) was written in imitation of Laila Majnu of Nizami. “Faizi was a true representative of a great age” and as Dr. Rida Zada Shafaq asserts, his reputation travelled beyond the confines of India and his reputation was very high in Ottoman Turkey and the popularity of the Persian literature in that country was due to his influence.
Abdur Rahim Khani-i-Khanan was a veritable embodiment of erudition and culture during the reign of Akbar and Jahangir and was a large-hearted patron of a host of talented scholars, the brightest luminary among whom was Urfi Shiraji.
Mughal period was particularly noted for Persian prose literature which flourished in the historical works of the period. It was under Akbar that the practice of commissioning chroniclers for writing systemic dynastic history was introduced. Abul Fazl, the celebrated author of official history Akbar-nama and an encyclopedic directory of the contemporary administration Ain-i-Akbari, was the Emperor’s confidant and minister, His Insha was a collection of official despatches sent to foreign rulers and his Ruqaat, a collection of his own private letters.
Abul Fazl’s works are not only important from historical point of view but are of much importance from the point of literary interest. Selections from Abul Fazl’s letters have always formed part of Persian syllabi at colleges and universities in India. Tarikh-i-Alfi a work by Mulla Ahmad Thattawi was compiled at the royal command and dealt with Akbar’s religious views.
Mulla Abdul Qadir Badauni’s unofficial historical work Muntakhab-al-Tawarikh was an authentic, thorough, sincere and competent writing. Tabakat-i-Akbari by Nizam-ud-din Ahmad Bakshi is a work which serves as an important source book for the history of the period of Akbar. Faizi Shirhindi’s Tarik-i-Humavun- Shahi, Shaikh Abdul Haq. Abdul Baq’s Ma’ asir-i-Rahimi, Dihlawi’s Tarikh-i-Haqqi, are other minor historical works of the period.
Shaikh Baqi was responsible for writing on theology and has to his credit the famous work Akhbarul Akhyar, containing, short biographies of all Sufi saints in India. Amir Fathulluh Shirazi, was another most distinguished scholar of Akbar’s time whom Badauni called “the most learned man of his times.”
Many Sanskrit works were translated into Persian under orders of Akbar. Mahabharata was translated in parts by different scholars and included in a work entitled Razam- nama. Translation of the Ramayana by Badaoni, Atharva Veda by Haji Ibrahim Shirhindi, Hindu Mathematics Lilavati by Faizi, on Hindu Astronomy Tazak by Muhammad Khan Gujarati, Bhagavat-Purana by Todar Mai are some of the important translation literature of the time. Translation of Greek and Arabic works into Persian was also done during this period.
While in Northern India Persian literature flourished due to the liberal patronage of Akbar and his nobles, in the south the Persian literatures developed due to the encouragement of Adil Shahi rulers of Bijapur. The Adil Shahi period is particularly noted for the celebrated Tarik-i-Firishta written by Abul Qasim Firishta (Ferishta) during the reign of Ibrahim Adil Shah in 1611. Likewise Qutb Shahi rulers of Golconda were also liberal patrons of Persian literature. Tawarikh-i-Qutb-Shahi, Hada-iq-Al-Salatin, Burhan- i-Qati are a few of the numerous Persian works of the period.
Jahangir maintained his forefathers’ tradition of munificent patronage of Persian literature. He himself wrote his autobiography Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri a work of great historical and literary merit. Mutamad Khan’s Iqbal Nama-i-Jahangiri is an important source of history for the reign of Jahangir, Ma-athir-Jahangiri of Kamgar Khan, Mawaiza-i- Jahangir of Baqir Khan.
Akhlaq-i-Jahangiri of Qazi Nuruddin Beg are other important historical writings of the time. Jahangir’s court was adorned by a galaxy of learned men and poets such as Shikabi, Ghyas Beg, Hayati, Rasmi, Thanai, Naui, Nagib Khan, Niamatullah, the most noted among whom was Talib Amuli.
Shah Jahan was munificent towards the verisifiers “in the true manner of an Eastern monarch.” Abu Talib Kalim, Shah Jahan’s court poet composed his epic poem Padshah- nama. Kalim described India as a second paradise and “whoever quits the garden departs with regret.” The greatest Persian poet of the time was Ali Saib of Tabriz who was the creator of a new style in Persian poetry.
Ali Saib was attached to the court of Shah Jahan’s noble Zafar Khan, Governor of Kashmir, and he left for his home at Ispahan but he recorded his indebtedness to India in a number of verses and compared his love for India as a lover’s love for his lady-love. Some of the many other versifiers and lyricists of Shah Jahan’s time were Qasim Khan Juwaini, Muhammad Hussain Sharqi, Shaida Ak- barabadi, Hadhiq Fathepuri etc. Sufi writer Sarmad was noted for his mystic themes.
Historical works in Persian prose were Padshanama of Abdul Hamid Lahori, Amina- i-Qazwani and Muhammad Warith. All the three works of these three historians bore the same title. Md. Sadiq Isfahani an official of Bengal in Shah Jahan’s time was a noted historian. His Subh Sadiq and Shahid-Sadiq, the former a detailed historical-cum- geographical work and the latter an encyclopaedic work were dedicated to Shah Jahan’s son Prince Dara Shukoh.
The Prince Dara Shukoh himself was an erudite scholar and an orthodox mystic of Qadiriyah order. Yoga-Vasishtha, Bhagavat Gita and Upanishads were got translated into Persian by him. His Majmaul Bahrain is a collection of correspondence between the Sufi and Hindu cosmologies. A biographical work on Kfrvaja Muin-ud-din Chisti entitled Munis-al-Arwah by Jahan Ara Begum was remarkable for its dignity and chaste scholarship. Lexciographical works like Farhang-i-Jhangiri and a revised version of preceding lexicon The Farhang-i-Rashidi was produced during the period.
The Persian poetry lost its place of honour in the imperial court due to the withdrawal of patronage by Aurangzeb. The Emperor’s daughter Zibun Nisa was herself a gifted poetess and under the assumed name Makfi wrote poems, the Diwan-i-Makfi being the great monument of her poetic genius. Several historical works were produced during Aurangzeb’s time, the best being Khafi Khan’s Muntakhab al-Lubab. Muhammad Kazim’s Alamgir-nama, Saqi Mustad Khan’s Mathnavi-i-Alamgiri are two other important historical works. Miratul Alam of Bakhtawar Khan is a biographical account of the intelligentsia of the time.
Hindu scholar’s contribution to the development of the Indo-Persian literature needs more than a passing comment. In the reign of Akbar, Hindu scholars participated in the literary efforts of the time in full measure. Scholars like Kishujoshi, Gangadhar, Mahesa, Mahananda, Devi Misra, Madhusudan Misra, Bhavan and Chaturbhuja were engaged by Akbar to collaborate with Faizi, Abul Fazl, Badauni and Ibrahim Sarhindi and others in the programme of translation of Sanskrit works into Persian.
Jahangir continued this patronage of translation of Sanskrit works into Persian. Some Hindu scholars also achieved literary greatness in Persian was Chandra Bhan whose poetic name was Brahman who enjoyed the patronage of Prince Dara Shukoh. Jaswant Rai Munshi, Bhupat Rai also known as Bhigam Vairagi were other Hindu scholars in Persian.
In epistolography the Hindu scholars surpassed the Muslim writers. Historiography which began with Abul Fazl’s Ain-i-Akbari was further enriched by the works of Hindu chroniclers like Bhagwan Das, Rai Vrindaban, Munshi Sujan Rai. Hindu historiography began with Chandra Bhan’s Chahar-Chaman was excelled by Bhagawan Das, Shah Jahan-nama, Vrindavan’s Lubb-ut-Tawarikh, and Sujan Rai’s Kulasat-ut-Tawarikh.
Hiraman Lai, Narayan Kaul, Lakshmi Narayan Shafiq were minor Hindu chroniclers. According to Dr. S.M. Abdullah, “at the end of the 18th century the contribution of Hindus to Persian literature was equal to that of their Muslim compatriots.” Punjabi, Pushtu, Sindhi, Baluchi and Kashmiri languages were modelled on Persian tradition and these used Persian script. Influence of Persian language is felt largely on Urdu but in varying degrees on Rajasthani, Gujarati, Marathi, Bengali and Hindi as well.
Branch # 9. Urdu Literature:
The world Urdu is derived from the Turki Ordu which meant a military camp. This language, to speak the truth, did not come into existence during the period under review, but it was essentially a dialect current among the Muslim in the Deccan and South India from the fourteenth century and came to be known as Dakhni or the South Indian speech which was the literary language which emerged in the 15th century.
It was employed in literature in the south by the Muslims who were not much influenced by local Hindu dialects, or languages of northern India. The script used was Perso-Arabian and the literature became more and more Muslim and Persian in spirit although “a good deal of its Indian vocabulary and Indian literary catchets and cliches” were retained till the end of the 17th century.
Gujarat, Bijapur, Aurangabad, Golconda and Bidar were the main centres of Dakhni literature. Sayyid Banda Nawaz Gesu-Dara was the most famous Sufi saint who was the oldest writer in this Muslim-Hindi tradition. He is said to have produced more than a hundred works. Shah Ali Muhammad and Shaikh Khub Muhammad were two great poets in Dakhni language in Gujarat.
Qutb Shahi Sultans of Golconda were liberal patrons of Dakhni literature. Qutb Shah was himself a gifted poet. His court poet Mulla Wajhi wrote a romantic poem Qutub Mustari on the theme of the Sultan’s love while still a Prince, for a Telugu Hindu girl named Bhagmati. This girl was later married by the Sultan and built a city in her honour first called Bhag-nagar, then renamed Haider-Begum the Muslim name given to Bhagmati. This Haider-Begum later became the famous city of Hyderabad.
Sultan Adil Shah of Bijapur was a munificent patron of letters who wrote a book on music in Dakhni. Hasan Shawqi, Rustumi, Malik Khusnud were other poets. A Hindu Dakhni (Urdu) poet who was one of the greatest of the time wrote under a Muslim pen- name Nusrati.
Dakhni literature nourished upto the end of the 17th century but it decayed with the conquest of the south by Aurangzeb. In the 18th century Dakhni gave place to Urdu speech of Delhi, and Urdu became well-established by mid-eighteenth century.
Branch # 10. Punjabi Literature:
Although on written record of Punjabi literary works is found prior to the time of Guru Nanak (1469-1539), the founder of Sikhism, Punjabi language is however, much older and derived from Sauraseni apabhramsa and followed the same grammatical lines of Brajabhasa, Pahari and Rajasthani.
The earliest authentic record of Punjabi language and literature is the Sikh scripture— an anthology known as Adi Granth compiled by Guru Arjan Dev the fifth Sikh Guru in 1604. As scholar point out, the Adi Granth “is an unparalleled treasure house of northern-Indian medieval literature.”
Adi Granth is the greatest work in Punjabi, the sacred book of the Sikhs. The language of this work only in part is in pure or nearly pure Punjabi. The rest is in some variety of Hindi or combined Hindi-Marathi.
The hymns in the Adi Granth are arranged in accordance with the musical measures i.e. ragas in which the hymns are sung. The traditional medieval devotional lyrical poetry had been adopted by the Gurus.
Guru Arjan compiled the hymns of the first five Gurus in the Adi Granth (1604) as also the devotional compositions of many non-Sikh bhagats.
Besides the composition of the Sikh Gurus, highly poetical work on the principles of the Sikh faith was made by Bhai .Gurdas. The thought, tradition and philosophy contained in the various forms of Hindi and Bengali in Northern India had been transferred to his won language by Bhai Gurdas.
A good deal of devotional poetry relating to Sikh faith grew in this period. Prose literature in Punjabi mainly are of two broad categories—biographies called Janam-Sakhis i.e. testament of birth of Guru Nanak, and exposition of the principles and texts of the Sikh faith.
Among other writers of Punjabi prose was the great martyr Bhai Mani Singh a direct disciple and school-mate of Guru Govind. His Gian Ratnavali contains Guru Nanak’s life-story and other issues relating to his faith and spiritual life. The language used is Punjabi with an admixture of Hindi.
Many Muslim writers were responsible for a good deal of literary productions in Punjabi during the Mughal rule. Their works in Punjabi are known as Qissas i.e. tales. Damoda Ghulati was a Hindu who was one of the earliest writers of Punjabi Qissa. His tale was the most popular story of the Punjab—the love episode of Hir and Ranjha. Waris
Shah was also a gifted poet whose Hir Ranjiha version is most popular. Another Punjab country-side romance is the story of the Muslim lovers Murza and Shahiban. Another version of the same story by Peelu is most popular, A Hindu poet Aggra composed the saga of Haqiqat Rai Sikh-Hindu martyr during the reign of Shah Jahan.
There were some folk Sufi poets in Punjab. Sufi poetry was very popular in Punjab for its appeal to the heart. Among the Sufis of this period Hafiz, Bankhudar Vajid, Ali Haidar, Shah Hussain and Bulhe Shah were particularly noted.
Branch # 11. Kashmiri Literature:
Except some doubtful specimens of stray verses, the composition of a fourteenth century poet Lalla Didi, nothing is practically known of the Kashmiri literature before the 15th century. Lalla Didi was a Sanyasini who wandered about singing her little mystic poems on Siva. Sir George Abraham Grierson edited and translated more than a hundred of her poems.
Next came the Muslim saint Shah Nur-ud-din, another mystic poet. It was under Zain-ul-Abidin the enlightened Sultan of Kashmir that a number of writers in Persian and Sanskrit flourished in Kashmir in the fifteenth century. But these works which were mostly biographical and panegyrical in nature are lost.
In the 16th century excellent lyrical poems of Human love and life were composed by Habba Khatun. She is one of the most popular poetesses and occupies a place of honour in Kashmiri literary world. Khwaja Habibullah Naushari, Hindu poet Sahib Kaul, and poetess Rupa-bhavani were other writers of the period.
Branch # 12. Tamil Literature:
The period under review was one that marked the decadence of the Tamil literature. The inroads of the Mughals in the south and the restrictive rule of the petty local chiefs gave rise to a stifling situation which was just not conducive to the production of creative literature. Scores of poets sedulously aped Sanskrit and classical Tamil models and courts of Tamil kings and Saiva Maths were the centres of such literary activities. But although the flame of literary activities burnt dim yet it was kept lit and was not allowed to go out altogether.
Varathungan Pandayan and Athivirarama Pandyan were two royal cousins who were Tamil poets of great renown of the Pandya Kingdom. Varathungan was a devout Saiva and his principal work reveals his great devotion of Lord Siva. Athivirarama’s most successful poetical work is on the love story of Nala and Damayanti. The Saiva maths were the beehives of Tamil literary activity.
Most of these works were religious, ethical or theological but several of them are of great value as poetry. Kumara Guruparar born of Saiva parents grew into an austere ascetic and produced a large number of Tamil works, the most important and popular two are Needi Neri Vilakkam and Madurakkalambakam. Sivaprakasar and Paranjoti, Viraraghava Mudaliar were other Saiva poets of repute.
There was also a Vaishnava poet named Pillaipherumal Iyengar, also called Divya Kavi Pillaipherumal who was not only a staunch Saiva but also a fanatical devotee of Ranganatha of Srirangam. Padikka Suppuluvar was another Tamil poet who was the court poet of a local king at Ramnad. Sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries were a period of decadence of Tamil literature in which verbose style and fluency kept in hiding the real poverty of literary thought and imagination. There was too much of superficial gloss but little trace of genius.
Branch # 13. Telugu Literature:
Early years of the sixteenth century constitutes a new era in the Telugu literature under the reign of Krishnadevaraya, Emperor of Vijayanagar. The hitherto prevalent features of the Telgu literatures which were mainly translation, adaptation and imitation of classical Sanskrit models, particularly Sanskrit epics, yielded place to new elements neo-classicism and romanticism under Krishnadevaraya. Prabandh essentially of Kavya type now occupied eminence in Telugu literature.
The courts of Krishnadevaraya and of the kings of Rajahmundry were adorned by poets who were held in high honour Vijayanagar imperial court was adorned by astadiggajahs-the eight great court poets’ Peddana was the best of the lot and was the author of Manu Charita. There were many other poets who nourished at that time among whom Dhurjati, Madayagari Mallana deserve special mention. Tenali Ramalinga and Pingali Surana were very popular Telugu poets of those times.
After the fall of the Vijayanagar empire in 1565 a decadence had set in the Telugu literature But a few poets of renown flourished during the period. Early in the seventeenth century four of the Nellore Friends’ Circle flourished whose works were of high quality and classical dignity, and acquired great popularity.
Kankanti Paparaju author of Uttara Ramayanamu, Tikkana author of Vishnumaya Vilasamu, Tekaumalla Ranga Sayi composed Vanavilasa Vanamalika and Pushpagiri Timmakavi author of Samira Kuniara Vyayamu and Ramamantri composer of Dasavatara Charita were poets worth the name
Never before or after Telugu literature could claim so many royal poets as during this period. Malli Ananta, Kumarananta, Damera Ankabhupala, Bijjala Timmabhupala were poets and play-wrights of the period. Kavi Chaudappa a poet of the Sidhout court became very popular for his amatory and didactic fun and frolic. Elakuchi Venkata Krishanayya reputed by the title Balasaraswati was the court poet of Jataprolu and became a Mahamahopadhyaya i.e. a great scholar and a teacher.
He was the author of many works out of which mention may be made of his great book a triple entendre named Raghava Yadava Pandaviyamu in which the stories of three epics the Ramayana, the Bhagavata and the Mahabharata and the translation of three Satakas of Subhashita of Bhartrihari have been put together in Telugu.
Two historical narratives were also produced for the first time during this period A work on grammar was also produced by the great grammarian Appakavi. Another phase of the Telugu literature in the 17th century was that Telugu literature was produced also in places outs.de Telugu country. Royal courts of Tanjore and Madura extended patronage to Telugu literature and poets and scholars coming from Telugu countries were welcome in these courts.
This Telugu colonial literature unlike its decadent counterpart in Telugu countries was noted for its vigour and freshness. Tanjore court patronised a number of Telugu poets and poetesses as also dramatic literature in Telugu. Tanjore court was also famous for musical composition of lyrical nature in Telugu.
Madura rivalled Tanjore as a centre of Telugu literature and Madura royal court encouraged the development of Telugu prose literature and a new type of Prabandha called Sringarh-Prabandha. A few works in Telugu were also produced in places like Mysore and Gingee during the 16th and the 17th centuries. The 17th century Telugu literature had its individuality no doubt was “on the whole a huge foliage with few flowers when compared with its counterpart in the 16th century.”
Branch # 14. Kannada Literature:
From sixteenth to early eighteenth century Kannada literature was passing through a transitional period and literary works were mainly produced by the Virasaivas and Haridasas. Their works were of didactic and polemic nature Poets of great eminence were, however, few the most prominent of them being Lakshmisa Shadakshara, Ratnakara Varni and Sarvajna.
The Virasaivas were primarily concerned with Puranic themes. The Brahmana authors of the time were mostly concerned with the epics and the Puranas. Nityamasuka Yogi rendered the Mahabharata and Bhagavata into Kannada but the latter appears to be the work of several writers. Chikkadeva Raya of the Wodeyar family of Mysore is said to have composed Binappa, Gita Gopala, Bhagavata in Kannada prose. The Gita Gopala is an imitation Jaydev’s Gita Govinda. Mallikarjuna wrote Sriranga Mahatmya
Under the patronage of Chikkadeva Ray two women authors Sringaramma and Sanchi Honnamma flourished. Jaina author Chidananda was also patronised by Chikkadeva Raya. Story of Kumara Rama by Nanjunda and Ganga was a semi-historical work. There were several such semi-historical works written during this period.
The Haridasas composed a large number of devotional songs. The Haridasas belonged mostly to Vaishnava and Madhva sects. The great poet Lakshmisa flourished during the last quarter of the 16th century. His Jaimini Bharata is considered to be a work of great worth and is highly popular. Markandeya Purana, the Ramayana, Brahmottarakhanda etc. were rendered into Kannada prose during this period.
There were many poets who composed Satakas or centuries of verses which contained didactic matters. Technical works either on arts or sciences were comparatively few. There were works on rhetoric and prosody, on grammar, on lexicography, astrology, prognostics etc. Mathematics also was the subject-matter of the works of Bhaskara, Timmarasa and Bala Vaidya. Bhaskara’s Behara Ganita, Timmarasa’s Kshetra Ganita and Bala Vaidya’s Kannada Lilavati were good works on Mathematics.
Branch # 15. Malayalam Literature:
The period under review saw the emergence of a new type of devotional literature and the traditional Malayalam language and literature underwent a sort of metamorphosis. Thunchathu Ezhuthachan initiated this change and is regarded as the father of modern Malayalam. Two trends of development are noticeable in the Malayalam literature during this period one keeping close dependence on Sanskrit and another on Tamil. The earliest literary work in Malayalam prose was a commentary on Kautilya’s Arthasastra during the 13th century.
A poetical work and a Champu Kavya were also produced during that century. But it was Thunchathu Ezhuthachan who flourished in the sixteenth century, breathed modernism in Malayalam language and literature and the literature of this period is primarily devotional literature for which the period itself is called Bhakti-Yuga. The first work of Ezhuthachan was a translation of Adhyatma Ramayanam from Sanskrit. What Tulsidas did for the North Indian language of the people, Ezhuthachan did for the Keralities.
Devotional element blended with the Vedantic thoughts most artistically linked the story of Rama, opened a new chapter in the literary history of Malayalam. The next work of the author was the Mahabharatam. It is regarded as a classic written in modern Malayalam language.
Many other works of devotional nature were written by several authors during and after the 16th century but these were inferior to the works of Ezhuthachan. Puranas written in Malayalam during this period closely imitated his style. Melapattur Narayana Bhattatiri was a contemporary of Ezhuthachan and was the author of the immortal Sanskrit works Bhakti-Kavya, Narayaniyam.
He stood as a living monument of Sanskrit erudition, and Sanskrit attained such a place of honour that its knowledge was counted as a symbol of scholarship not only during the contemporary period but for four centuries that followed. But the ascendancy of Sanskirt as the language of the scholars was challenged by Poontharam Nambudiri, author of Jnanappana, a philosophical work in simple Malayalam without using a single Sanskrit technical term.
In the 16th and the 17th centuries Champukavyas were composed. Punam Nambudiri, Mahishamangalam Nambudiri were the most noted Champu writers of the period. The Champu-Kavya’s speciality was that it contained both Sanskrit and indigenous elements of poetry.
Attakkatha literature following the Champu style in using both Sanskrit and Malayalam. Atta in Malayalam means ‘dance or drama’ and Katha means ‘story’— Attakkathas therefore are written for a type of dance-drama indigenous to Kerala, known as Kathakali which enjoys international reputation today. It is a dance-drama that represents a fusion of Aryan and Dravidian cultural elements.
Bharata’s Natya sastra had become by the time a hand-book of the traditional actors of Sanskrit dramas in Kerala temples. Interesting variations of dramas staged in temples developed. Dance-drama based on Jaydeva’s Gitagovinda, and those based on the story of Lord Krishna and on a Sanskrit work called Krishnagiti were composed and staged within the temple precincts. Dance- drama based on’ Krishnagiti was known as Krishnanattam.
Raja of Kottarakkara was himself, a poet and wrote the story of Ramayana in Malayalam in imitation of Krishnagiti, and it came to be called Ramanattam. Ramanattam also paved the path for the development of the art of Kathakali. Another Prince Raja of Kottayam composed the story of Mahabharata, for same purpose. Unnayi Varyar is most popular even today as the writer of Attakkatha and he was not only the most prominent of the Kathakali writers but also among the classical poets of Kerala of the 18th century.