Please Wait...

A History of Sanskrit Literature

A History of Sanskrit Literature
Item Code: NAC167
Author: A.Berriedale Keith
Publisher: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Edition: 2014
ISBN: 9788120809796
Pages: 575
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
weight of the book: 730 gms

TAKEN in conjunction with my Sanskrit Drama, published in 1924, this work covers the field of Classical Sanskrit Literature, as opposed to the Vedic Literature, the epics, and the Puranas. To bring the subject—matter within the limits of a single volume has rendered it necessary to treat the scientific literature briefly, and to avoid discussions of its subject-matter which appertain rather to the historian of grammar, phi1osophy, law, medicine, astronomy, or mathematics, than to the literary historian. This mode of treatment has rendered it possible, for the first time in any treatise in English on Sanskrit Literature, to pay due attention to the literary qualities of the Kavya. Though it was to Englishmen, such as Sir William Jones and H. T. Cole-brooke, that our earliest knowledge of Sanskrit poetry was due, no English poet shared Goethe’s marvellous appreciation of the merits of works known to him only through the distorting medium of translations, and attention in England has usually been limited to the Vedic literature, as a source for comparative philology, the history of religion, or Indo—European , antiquities ; to the mysticism and monism of , Sanskrit philosophy ; and to the fables and fairy-tales in their relations to western parallels.

The neglect of Sanskrit Kavya is doubtless natural. The great poets of India wrote for audiences of experts; they were masters of the learning of their day, long trained in the use of language, and they aim to please by subtlety, not simplicity of effect. They had at their disposal a singularly beautiful speech, and they- commanded elaborate and most effective metres. ‘Under these circumstances it was inevitable that their works should be difficult, but of those who on that score pass them by it may fairly be said ardua dum metuunt amittunt vera viai. It is in the great writers of Kavya alone, headed by Kalidasa, that we find depth of feeling for life and nature matched with perfection of expression and rhythm. The Kavya literature includes some of the great poetry of the world, but it can never expect to attain wide popularity in the West, for it is essentially untranslatable;

German poets like Ruckert can, indeed, base excellent work on Sanskrit originals, but the effects produced are achieved by wholly different means, while English efforts at verse translations fall invariably below a tolerable mediocrity, their diffuse tepidity contrasting painfully with the brilliant condensation of style, the elegance of metre, and the close adaptation of sound to sense of the originals. I have, therefore, as in my Sanskrit Drama, illustrated the merits of the poets by Sanskrit extracts, adding merely a literal English version, in which no note is taken of variations of text or renderings. To save space l have in the main dealt only with works earlier than A.D. 1200, though especially in the case of the scientific literature important books of later date are briefly noticed.

This book was sent in, completed for the press, in January 1926, but pleasure of work at the University Press precluded printing until the summer of 1927, when it was deemed best, in order not to delay progress, to assign to this preface the notice of such new discoveries and theories of 1926 and 1927 as might have permanent interest.

On the early development of the Kavya welcome light has been thrown by Professor H. Luders’s edition of the fragments found in Central Asia of the Kalpanamanditika of Kumaralata, which is the true description of the work hitherto known to us through a Chinese translation as the Sutralamkara of Acvaghosa. That work, it is suggested, was very different in character from Kumaralata’s. It may have been an exposition in verse, possibly with prose additions, of the Canon of the Sarvastivadins, and it may be represented by fragments still extant; this suggestion can be supported by Asa1aga’s choice of title, Mahayanasutra-lamkara, for his exposition of Mahayana tenets. But that is still merely a conjecture, and even less proved is the view that Subandhu’s famous allusion Bauddhasamgatim ivalamkarabhusitam is to such a text as that ascribed to Acvaghosa. Kumaralata may well have been a younger contemporary of Acvaghosa, who lived after the death of Kaniska, a fact which explains an old crux, the difficulty of ascribing to Acvaghosa the references in the Sutralamkara which seemed inconsistent with the traditional relation of the patriarch and that king. How the Chinese version of the Kalpanamanditika, ‘that which is adorned by poetic invention’, came to bear the style Sutralamkara, remains an unexplained problem.

The fragments shed a very interesting light on the development of the style of prose mingled with verses which appears in a more elaborate form in the Jatakamala. The narratives, eighty in number, which, with ten parables, make up the work, begin with the enunciation of some doctrine, which is then established by means of an appropriate narrative; unlike the Jatakamala, the text does not follow a stereotyped plan of drawing out at the close of each tale the moral which it inculcates. The stanzas used are normally portions of the speeches of the dramatis personae; there is a complete breach with the tradition of the canonical texts which introduce such verses by the term bhasam bhasate; but of course this does not mean that Kumaralata, or Arya Cura who follows this plan in the Jatakamala, is the author of all the verses used; doubtless he often adopts or adapts current maxims. Narrative or descriptive stanzas are rare, and they are marked out for the benefit of the reciter by the words vaksyate hi. Arya Cura, on the other hand, shows a distinct advance; he uses descriptive or narrative stanzas to the extent of over a fifth of his total number of verses, and omits any introduction, inserting them freely to beautify his prose narration. The parables take a different form: in them a prose parable (drstanta) is simply followed by a prose exposition (artha). The language shows the same adherence to correct Sanskrit, with occasional lapses, as in Acvaghosa, and there is a rich variety of metres, including the earliest Aryas in Kavya so far datable with reasonable certainty; the Cloka, Upajati, Vasantatilaka, and Cardulavikridita are affected. Very important is the fact that Prakrit lyric written in the Prakrit of the grammarians (Middle Prakrit) is preluded in two Prakrit Aryas, written in Old Cauraseni, which already manifest that affection for long compounds which is carried to excess in the Gaudavaha.


Preface vii
Kumaralata and the early Kavya, Sanskrit, and Prakrit viii
Kalidasa’s Date and Place of Birth x
Greek and Indian Fables. x
The Dramas of Bhasa xii
Dandin and the Avantisundarikata xvi
The Authenticity of the Arthacastra xvii
The Dates of the Philosophical Systems xx
Medical Fragments from Turkestan xxiii
The Indian Origin of the Numerals xxiii
Sanskrit as a vernacular xxiv
I. Sanskrit, Prakrit, and Apabhranca. 3
1. The Origin of Sanskrit 3
2. The Character and Extent of the Use of Sanskrit 8
3. The Characteristics and Development of Sanskrit in Literature 17
4. The Prakrits 26
5. Apabhranca 32
II. The Origin and Development of Kavya Literature 39
1. The Sources of the Kavya 39
2. The Testimony of the Ramayana 42
3. The Evidence of Patanjali and Pingala 45
4. Kavya in Inscriptions 48
5. The Kamasutra and the Poet’s Milieu 51
III Acvaghosa and Early Buddhist Kavya 55
1. Acvaghosa’s Works 55
2. Acvaghosa’s Style and Language 59
3. The Avadanas 64
4. Arya Cura and later Poetry 67
IV. Kalidasa and the Guptas 74
1. The Guptas and the Brahmin Revival 74
2. Harisena and Vatsabhatti 77
3. Kalidasa’s Life 79
4. The Rtusamhara 82
5. The Meghaduta 84
6. The Kumarasambhava 87
7. The Raghuvanca 92
8. Kalidasa’s Thought 98
9. Kalidasa’s Style and Metre 101
V. Bharavi, Bhatti, Kumaradasa, and Magha 199
1. Bharavi 109
2. Bhatti 109
3. Kumaradasa 119
4. Magha 124
VI. The Lesser Epic Poets132
VII. Historical Kavya 144
1. Indian Historical Writing 144
2. The Beginnings of History147
3. Bilhana 153
4. Kalhana’s Life and Times 158
5. The Rajatarangini and its Sources 161
6. Kalhana as a Historian 164
7. Kalhana’s Style 169
8. Minor Historical Kavya 172
VIII. Bhartrhari, Amaru, Bilhana, and Jayadeva 175
1. Bhartrhari 175
2. Amaru 183
3. Bilhana 188
4. Jayadeva 190
IX. Lyric Poetry and the Anthologies 199
1. Secular Poetry 199
2. Religious Poetry 210
3. The Anthologies 222
4 Prakrit Lyrics 223
X. Gnomic and Didactic Poetry227
1. Gnomic Poetry 227
2. Didactic Poetry 236
XI. The didactic Fable 242
1. The Origin of the Fable 242
2. The Reconstruction of the Pancatantra and its Origin 246
3. The Subject-matter of the Pancatantra 248
4. The Style and Language of the Pancatantra 255
5. The Derivative Forms of the Pancatantra 259
6. The Hitopadeca 263
XII. The Brhatkatha and its Descendants 266
1. Gunadhya and the Brhatkatha 266
2. The Brhatkathaclokasamgraha of Budhasvamin 272
3. The Kashmirian Brhatkatha 275
4. Ksemendra’s Brhatkathamanjari 276
5. Somadeva’s Kathasaritsagara 281
XIII. The Romantic and the Didactic Tale 288
1. The Romantic Tale 288
2. The Didactic Tale 293
XIV. The Great Romances 296
1. The Age and Works of Dandin 296
2. The Dacakumaracarita 297
3. The Content and Style of the Dacakumaracarita 299
4. Subandhu 307
5. The Vasavadatta 308
6. Bana’s Life and Works 314
7. The Harsacarita 316
8. The Kadambari 319
9. Bana’s Style 326
XV. The Aims and Achievement of Sanskrit Poetry 338
1. The Romances 331
2. The Achievement 344
XVII. The West and Indian Literature 352
1. The Fables and Marchen of Greece and India 352
2. The Translations of the Pancatantra 357
3. The Cukasaptati 359
4. Other Cases of Contact between East and West 359
5. The Romance in Greece and India 365 359
6. The Hexameter and Indian Metre 370
XVIII. Theories of Poetry 372
1. The Beginnings of Theory on Poetry 372
2. The Early Schools of Poetics 375
3. The Doctrine of Dhvani 375
4. The Critics and Supporters of the Doctrine of Dhvani 391
XIX The Origin and Characteristics of the Scientific Literature 403
1. The Origin of the Castras 403
2. The Characteristics of the Scientific Literature 406
XX. Lexicography and Metrics 412
1. The Origin and Characteristics of Sanskrit Lexicography 412
2. The Extant Lexica 413
3. Treatises on Metre 415
4. The Metres of Classical Poetry 417
XXI. Grammar 422
1. The Beginnings of Grammatical Study 422
2. Panini and his Followers 423
3. The Later Schools 431
4. Grammars of Prakrit 433
XXII. Civil and Religious Law (Dharmacastra) 437
1. The Origin of the Dharmacastras 437
2. The Smrti of Manu 439
3. The Later Smrtis 445
4. The Digests of Law 448
XXIII. The Science of Politics and Practical Life (Arthacastra, Niticastra) 450
1. The Origin of the Arthacastra 450
2. The Content and Form of the Kautiliya Arthacastra. 452
3. The Authenticity of the Arthacastra 458
4. Later Treatises 462
5. Ancillary Sciences 464
XXIV. The Science of Love (Kamacastra) 467
XXV. Philosophy and Religion 471
1. The Beginnings of Indian Philosophy 471
2. The Purvamimansa 472
3. The Vedanta 474
(a) The Doctrine of Non-duality and Illusion 475
(b) The Purvamimansa 472
(c) Other Commentators 479
4. Theology and Mysticism 479
5. Logic and Atomism 482
6. The Samkhya and Yoga Schools 487
7. Buddhism 491
8. Jainism 497
9. Carvakas or Lokayatas 498
10. Historians of Philosophy 499
11. Greece and Indian Philosophy 500
XXVI Medicine 505
1. The Development of Indian Medicine 505
2. The Older Samhitas 506
3. The Medical Tracts in the Bower MS. 509
4. Later Medical Works 510
5. Greece and Indian Medicine 513
XXVII. Astronomy, Astrology, and Mathematics 516
1. The pre-scientific Period 516
2. The Period of the Siddhantas 517
3. Aryabhata and later Astronomers 521
4. Aryabhata and later Mathematicians 523
5. Greece and Indian Mathematics 525
6. Varahamihira and early Astrologers 528
7. Greece and Indian Astrology 530
8. Varahamihira’s Poetry 532
9. Carvakas or Lokayatas 498
10. Historians of Philosophy 499
11. Greece and Indian Philosophy 500
XXVI. Medicine 505
1. The Development of Indian Medicine 505
2. The Older Samhitas 506
3. The Medical Tracts in the Bower MS. 509
4. Later Medical Works 510
5. Greece and Indian Medicine 513
XXVII. Astronomy, Astrology, and Mathematics 516
1. The pre-scientific Period 516
2. The Period of the Siddhantas 517
3. Aryabhata and later Astronomers 521
4. Aryabhata and later Mathematicians 523
5. Greece and Indian Mathematics 525
6. Varahamihira and early Astrologers 528
7. Greece and Indian Astrology 530
8. Varahamihira’s Poetry 532
9. Later Works on Astrology 534

Add a review

Your email address will not be published *

For privacy concerns, please view our Privacy Policy

Post a Query

For privacy concerns, please view our Privacy Policy

Related Items