from the Vedas and Vedic litarature, which have been dealt with separately,
the ancient literature encompasses many texts. Around
the period of Aranyaka etc. two Epics Ramayan and Mahabharata were composed
by Valmiki and Vyas respectively. These two epics set standards for poetry
in Sanskrit (as is done in Greek by Eliad of Homer).
Many works in poetry and plays are based on the stories or parts of the
stories from the two epics. Subsequently many more additions in these
epics are found and many more editions of them were to be written in Sanskrit
and other languages.
the same time, Pali and Ardhamagadhi canons describing religious
literature in Budhist and Jain religion were formed. Poetics
(Alankar shastra) has been cultivated in India from a very
early date as a science. However, earlier works are not
available.Typically whenever more recent theory or interpretation
Go to Top of the Page
the old theory came into existence and became famous and proved to be
more practical, the earlier work were referred to with respect.But the
original text was not propagated further. Hence we know of the existence
of earlier work from quotations in the work of later period. The oldest
form available to us is Bharatiya Natyashastra by Bharat Muni.
Though it was meant for dramatists to give guidance in dramatic performance,
it covers vast field such as mimicry, dance, music and song,hence it represents
dramatic poetry. The older school of poetics are represented by three
rhetoricians, Bhamah, Dandi and Vamana.
is as old as poetics. The most important work on prosody
is Chandasutra of Pingala (about 150 BC). Gupta dynasty
is considered to be the golden era of court poetry. The
great poet Kalidasa lived during 350-413 AD. Epics Kumarasambhava
and Raghuvansa, dramas Shakuntala and Vikramorvashiya and
the lyric Meghdoot were the important works of this era