A Concise History of Classical Sanskrit Literature

A Concise History of Classical Sanskrit Literature

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Author: Gaurinath Sastri
Publisher: Motilal Banarsidass
Year: 2013
Language: English
Pages: 220
ISBN/UPC (if available): 9788120801752


It was in the seventeenth century that the European people, particularly missionaries and travelers, came to know of the Indian languages. In A.D. 1651 Abraham Roger published a Portuguese translation of Bhartrhari's poems. In A.D. 1699 the Jesuit Father Johann Ernst Hanxleden came to India and after getting himself acquainted with the Sanskrit language wrote the first Sanskrit grammar in a European language. The book, however, was not printed but was consulted by Fra Paolino de St Bartholomes who wrote two Sanskrit grammars besides a number of important works.

It was during the administration of Warren Hastings that the work called Vivadarnavasetu was compiled. Under the title A Code of Gentoo Law it was published in English in A.D. 1776. nine years later, the Bhagavadgita was translated into English by Charles Wilkins who also rendered into English the Hitopadesa and the sakuntala episode of the Mahabharata.

It was, however, Sir William Jones who did most to arouse the interest of Europeans in Indian literature. In A.D. 1789 he published his English translation of Kalidasa's Sakuntal.

The history of Sanskrit Literature is by itself a fascinating subject in which not only students of language but also the intelligentsia in general finds an abiding interest. This prompted me to undertake the first edition of the book under the title, An Introduction to Classical Sanskrit, in a short compass in 1943. The present edition, however, is not just a reprint of the former; much new matter has been put into it and the whole book has been thoroughly revised and brough up-to-date. The scope of the book has also been suitably widened which will be evident from its rechristening a Concise History of Sanskrit Literature. .

This book contains an elaborate account of all branches of Classical Sanskrit Literature on the basis of literary, epigraphical and numismatical sources. In 23 chapters, each chapter dealing with a particular topic arranged chronologically. Chapter I-V are on the Epics, Puranas, Tantras, Post-Epic and Inscriptional poetry. Chr. VI deals with Early Buddhist works in Sanskrit. Chrs. VII-XII are related to the Court Epics, Drama, Poetry, Historical Writings, Prose and Campu literature. Chrs. XIII-XXI are related to the Court Epics, Drama, Poetry, Historical Writings, Prose and Campu literature. Chrs. XIII-XXI discuss Grammar, Poetics, Dramaturgy, Metrics, Lexicography, Civil and Religious Laws, Politics, Erotics, Medicine, Astronomy, Mathematics and Astrology. Chrs. XXII-XXIII treat miscellaneous sciences as well as Hindu Philosophical thought.

The book is documented with a critical apparatus. Beside notes and references it has an illuminating Introduction and index of authors and works.



The Great Epics
The Puranas
The Tantras
Post-Epic Kavya
Kavya in inscriptions
Early Buddhist works in Sanskrit
Lyric Poetry
Historical writings
Prose Literature
Campu literature
Poetics and Dramaturgy
Civil and Religious Law
Astronomy, Mathematics and Astrology
Miscellaneous Sciences