History of Assamese Literature

History of Assamese Literature

Product ID: 13148

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Author: Birinchi Kumar Barua
Publisher: Sahitya Akademi
Year: 2003
Language: English
Pages: 203
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8126017589


The part of India now called Assam was known in the epic age as Pragjyotisa. In classical Sanskrit literature, e.g., in the works of Kalidasa, Pragjyotisa is also called Kamarupa. The first available epigraphic record mentioning the name Kamarupa is the Allahabad inscription of Samudra Gupta, belonging to the fifth century of the Christian era.

A graphic account of the geography of Pragjyotisa or Kamarupa is to be found in the Kalika Purana (10th century A D) and the Yogini Tantra (16th century AD), both of which dwell upon the religio-geographical history of mediaeval Assam. The Yogini Tantra traces the frontiers of Kamarupa thus:

The vocabulary of Assamese is largely derived from that of Sanskrit, and its morphological structure is also based on Sanskrit grammar. In speech, however, the original Sanskrit words are sparingly used, and they are mostly replaced by tadbhava or ardhatatsama words. Further, Assamese, being a living and growing language, has borrowed a great number of words from other new Indo-Aryan languages. It has also received some Persian and Arabic words, chiefly administrative and legal terms. In recent years English words and expressions are percolating into Assamese. All these factors have contributed towards the full-fledged development of the Assamese language, and made it a subtle and powerful medium of expression.

Though the contribution of Assamese to the literature of India is not inconsiderable, very little is known of it outside the Assamese reading public. It is hoped that this volume will help to introduce the wealth of Assamese literature to the Indian reader in general and will prove of as much interest to the general reader as to the scholar.


Assam and the Assamese Language

The Early Period

The Vaisnavite Period

The Ahoms and Assamese Literature

Assamese Literature under the Ahom Patronage

Beginning of the Modern Period



The Novel and the Short Story

Prose: General