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Genres of Indian Literature

Compiled by Vikas Kamat
Page Last Updated: October 31, 2016

The Epics

The Epics or Mahakavyas, namely Mahabharat and Ramayana, are originally in Sanskrit. Many great works have been created  by many great saints and poets on these two great epics of Hinduism. Some scholars classify the Bhagwad-Gita, and the Bhagavata also as epics in their own merit.

It was customary in the ancient and medieval courts of India to have distinguished poets or scholars who tried to create their own epics in their own languages.

Ancient Indian Literature

We see that most ancient literature of India is in poetic form, in Pali and Sanskrit.

Some notable works of ancient Indian literature are:

  • Kadambari of Saint Tulasidas
  • Swapnavasavadatta of Bhasa
  • Panini

Medieval Indian Literature

  • Islamic Literature (see: Amir Khusru)
  • Ragale Literature (especially of poet Harihara)
  • Promise Literature or Vachana Literature of Veerashaiva saints
  • The Guru Granth Sahib, the sacred text of  Sikhism is a very important literary compilation of hymns describing God, distills almost all prior spiritual literature of India.

Modern Indian Literature (Indian Renaissance)

  • Sonets
  • Theater Screenplay Literature or Plays
  • Radio Literature
  • Travelogues
  • Personal Diaries and Letter Literature
  • Sharatkadamari or Novellas of Sharat Chandra Chattopadhaya -- these became so popular as to become a distinct genre of Indian literature.
  • Short Stories
  • Harate or Gossip Literature
  • Rabindranath Tagore inspired Bengali Literature (Rabindra Sahitya)
  • Translated Literature -- some scholars have ably translated great works of literature from other countries.

Contemporary Indian Literature

  • Dalit Literature -- As education became available to the downtrodden classes of India, their expression found verbiage and great many works have come out in the recent years of Dalit life and Dalit struggles as told by Dalit writers.
  • Indian Writers of English Language
  • The Jnanapeeth Award

See Also:

Kamat Reference Database

Kamat's Potpourri India Reference Database Genres of Indian Literature

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