Towards a literary history of India

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Occasional Papers Towards a Literary History of India

Occasional Papers

Towards a Literary History of India

Sujit Mykherjee


© Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Simla, 1975

Two of the sections of this/ monograph had appeared already in a modified form in the Jadavpur Journal of Comparative Literature, Jadavpur University, Jadavpur, and the Journal of the School of Languages, Jawaharlal Nehru University. The treatment of the basic problem discussed had been accepted as an article by New Literary History, University of Virginia.

Published by the Registrar, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Rastrapati Nivas, Summer Hill, Simla-171005, and printed at Sanjay Composers and Printers, Uphaar Cinema Bldg., New Delhi-110016.


This monograph may be regarded as a long footnote to the proceedings of a seminar on Indian Literature organiz­ ed by the Indian Institute of Advanced Study at Simla in May 1970. I did not have the hcwiour of attending this seminar but have benefited considerably from its delibera­ tions after these became available in the volume published by the Institute in March 1972. I have used this seminar in general and certain papers in particular as convenient points of reference in the course of the argument I work out in this monograph in favour of a concept of literary history for India which, I feel, will enable us to read, understand and discuss better our literary heritage. The argument presented here is based almost entirel}'^ on sources available in English- This delimitation of dis­ course will, it is hoped, regain in width of application some part of what is lost in depth by not making use of material available in various Indian languages. This dependence on English may not seem unnatural at a time when this language continues to have widest use



as a medium of literary exchange among Indians. From this it follows that the first proper literary history of India will have to be conceived, discussed and composed in the English language. This may not sound so preposterous when we recall that the first history of Indian Literature was written in German and that the early version of a much more recent work by an Indian, Languages and Lit­ eratures of Modern India, was first published in Italian. The term "Indian Literature' has been used, deliberately, throughout this monograph with capitalized initial letters, in order to counteract the prevailing notion of a plurality of literatures in India. Some other departures from nor­ mal usage are the use of 'Asamiya' (more strictly, it prob­ ably should have been 'Ahomiya') rather than Assamese for the language of Assam, 'Bangla' rather than Bengali for the language of Bengal. Indian terms such as 'kavya' or 'natya' have not been italicized. The appearance in the text of an alphabet letter follow­ ed by a number within square brackets signifies the key to the reference-cum-bibliography which has been placed at the end of the book as 'References'. This device was originally planned as a space-saving measure. But the temptation to fill in blank footnote spaces at the bottom of pages with further comment or information gradually proved irresistible- Also, the profusion of quotations may seem unseemly in a book of this modest size, but many of the original sources were reached with some difficulty and these have been flaunted with some pleasure. When lengthy quotation or large footnote did not suffice, three appendices had to be added. What has been argued here is a concept. Its validity will be proved or disproved when the project outlined in the final section is actually put into practice. To those who may reject the concept altogether and can find no interest in the project, I should like to quote Bhavabhuti : Utpasyate mama toh koapi samanadharma Kalohyaya nirabadhir vipula cha prithvi Sujit Mukherjee



The Biography of Kavyapurush : The Idea of an Indian Literature : The Itihasa of our Literary History : . Literary History and Comparative Literature ... ... ... FIVE : Kavyamimamsa for Our Times SIX : The Search for an Indian Literature ... ... ... SEVEN : Sahityavidya in our Universities EIGHT : The Working Plan APPENDICES: The Ramayana and the Mahabharata in Indian Languages Some Modern Anthologies and Annotated Texts in English Translation ... ... ... Some Unpublished Dissertations in Indian Literature ... ... A New Look References

1 5 16 26 37 48 56 67 81

84 86 89 92

1 The Biography of Kavyapurush

Literature in India is as old as its sculpture or painting or music but has not received historical attention in the way that these other arts have. Ancient treatises on music are extant; schools of painting have been identified; eras of sculpture have been demarcated. But the history of Indian Literature continues to be denied entry into sustained scholarly pursuit. In fact, the very term 'Indian Litera­ ture' is sparingly used in Indian literary circles. Most often, it tends to make people think only of ancient liter­ ary works in Sanskrit. No modern and forward-looking concept of Indian Literature has yet been formulated, in spite of the much-used official declaration, "India has one literature that is written in many languages", authored apparently by Radhakrishnan. This declaration has never been fully explored nor has any serious attempt been made to establish its validity.


Towards a Literary History of India

Such exploration will have to contend with some grave and seemingly insuperable difficulties. Firstly, the multi­ plicity of languages in which the literary imagination in India has expressed itself makes it impossible for any one Indian to know all the significant products at first hand. Secondly, no previous model exists anywhere in the world for the literary histoi'y of a country of this size and con­ taining so many languages that have achieved a widely rcattered and highly uneven literary culture. Thirdly, the unequal development of Indian languages prior to Indepen­ dence and the growth of rapid linguistic sentiments after Independence have made it expedient for most Indians to think in terms of many regional literatures rather than of one subcontinental literature. and other difficulties will remain and will continue to prove intractable until we discard the familiar "history of literature' approach—wherein the major works and their authors in a particular language are named, described and arranged in a chronological sequence—and replace it with a more inclusive and flexible strategy. The new stra­ tegy needs to recognize that just as the political or econo­ mic or social history of India accounts for—not merely des­ cribes and arranges sequentially—India's political or eco­ nomic or social past, so should the literary history of India account for our literary past. The literary work alone is not evidence enough of the literary past. A l l other observ­ able factors—and these may be drawn from politics or eco­ nomics or social life—bearing upon the literary work have to be taken into account as part of the existence of the work. These factors are seldom confined to a particular language or region, and an instrument of exploration which transcends the boundaries of a particular language or re­ gion may discover the real sources and continuities of our literary past. The need to do so arises from entirely within the dis­ cipline of our literary studies as it obtains at present. Wa do not yet have a well-integrated and developed system of literary criticism which will apply to the entirety of our literary heritage and current possessions as a vital aspect

The Biography of Kavyapzirush


of our culture. Instead we are content, on the one hand, to confine our public interest to the literature of the Indian language we choose to call our own and remain wholly indifferent to, thus ignorant of, neighbouring languages in the country; on the other hand, our private aspirations tend to see this literature of our preference as kin to some body of world literature which dwells outside the borders of India—mostly to the far west of these borders. That is, at present either we are aggressively regional in our literary outlook or we are blissfully international—indeed, when necessary, we can be both. A version of the law of the ex­ cluded middle operates, much to the detriment of our liter­ ary sensibility as expressed in critical discussion and evalu­ ation. A restoration of this 'middle' is badly needed, in order to lend balance and security to our literary studies, and this restoration is possible by relating the regional to the national before we seek membership of the internation­ al world of letters. What follows in these pages is an attempt to clear the ground before planting on it a concept of literary history capable of embracing our literature, both past and present, in an integrated framework. Such a construct will permit proper recognition and assessment of an Indian literary work, irrespective of the language in which it is composed. Only the concept of a literary history for India has been proposed here, followed by consideration of how it may be brought into operation. No attempt has been made to anti­ cipate the actual writing of such a history. A n y attempt to project a literary history for India must begin with the assumption that there is an I N D I A N L I T E R ­ A T U R E and that it is important for us—that is, Indians—^to recognize this fact and devise the necessary framework for such recognition. This may sound suspiciously like deciding beforehand what will be found and then proceeding, after a judicious interval, to find it. But some such predetermina­ tion underlies all historical writing. The historian must grasp, however provisionally, a scheme of reference before he can sort out and arrange his material in order to verify the hypothesis or assumption with which he had begun.


Towards a Literary History of India

The writing of literary history, no more or no less than the history of any other human activity, needs a regulative concept which will substantiate itself in the process of elaboration. A history of Indian Literature is, in its simplest form, no more than a critical biography of the talented child Kavyapurusha who so impressed his mother Saraswati, god­ dess of learning, by uttering a sloka immediately after birth to introduce himself that she was pleased to bless him in these terms: May you be the progenitor of metrical composition. May sound and sense be your body, Sanskrit be your face, Prakrita be your hands, Apabhramsa your thighs, Paisaca your feet, and a mixture of different Prakritas your breast. May chiselled expressions be your speech, rasa your soul, metres your hair, riddles your sport, and figures your instruments of decoration.* This blessed child is stUl with us, and an account of his life is our subject.

*See the story and the sloka cited by Ramaranjan Mukherjee, E.17, pp. 3-4.

2 The Idea of an Indian Literature

At the outset of a course of lectures to his students at Berlin during the winter semes.ter of 1851-52, Albrecht Weber admitted to a certain degree of perplexity about how he should entitle these lectures: I cannot say they are to treat of the history of 'Indian Literature'; for then I should have to consider the whole body of languages, including those of non-Aryan origin. Nor can I say that their subject is the history of 'Indo-Aryan Literature'; for then I should have to discuss the modern languages of India also, which form a third period in the development of Indo-Aryar. speech. Nor, lastly, can I say that they are to present a history of 'Sanskrit Literature'; for the Indo-Aryan language is not in its first period "Sanskrit", i.e., the language of the educated, but is still a popular dialect:


Towards a Literary History o/ India while in the second period the people spoke not San­ skrit, but Prakritic dialects, which arose simultaneous­ ly with Sanskrit out of the ancient Indo-Aryan vernacular. [B.21, p.l]

Weber concluded this preamble by saying that "For the sake of brevity I retain the name 'Indian Literature", and this passage effectively outlines the initial problem to be faced by anyone seeking to regard the Literature of the Indian peoples in a total historical perspective. As the history of the histories of Indian Literature reveals, sntitling the material 'Indian' has not helped materially to bring the subject matter into proper focus for the purpose of examination. More than a hundred years have passed since Weber stated the difficulty, and the difficulty will continue until we construct a frame of reference which will contain the very concept 'Indian Literature' and validate it by ap­ plication to literary works that are to be described as Indian. Weber delimited his task by declaring "it is only the literature of the first and second periods of the Indo-Aryan language with which we have to do" [ibid], and western scholars have generally followed this tactical lead. To sample a few foreign accounts, Robert Watson Frazer [B.6| does not arrive at medieval literature until 13 chapters (out of 15 altogether) and about 320 pages of his 447-page book have passed.* Also, in his anxiety to introduce India to his readers, he tends to relegate literature to secondary places in relation to religion, philosophy or political conditions. The vast design of Maurice Winternitz, which makes his work [B.22, B.23, B.24] a bottomless reservoir of informa­ tion, should have proved large enough to accommodate the nearer centuries. In the section entitled Indian Langu­ ages in relation to Literature', he seems to promise such *If a justification is sought for this Iacl< of proportion, it may be found on page 301 of the book in these lines: "For the greater part, the Itierary history of the people of India must be an effort to note and mark the culminating waves of thought that rise on the great stream of Aryan literature that flows from the Vedic times down to our own days".

The Idea of an Indian Literature


accommodation : The history of Indian literature in the most compre­ hensive sense of the word is the history of a literature which not only stretches across great periods of time and an enormous area, but is also one which is com­ posed in many languages. Those languages of India which belong to the Indo/European family of langu­ ages, have passed through three great phases of deve­ lopment, partly consecutive in time, but partly also parallel. [B- 22a, p.35] These phases he calls Ancient Indian, Middle Indian, and Modern Indian. Earlier he has stated that the terms 'Indian Literature' and 'Sanskrit Literature' are by no means iden­ tical. Yet as late as in the third volume of his three-volume magnum opus, we find that he is still grappling with 'Clas­ sical Sanskrit Literature'. When he actually visited India in 1929* and delivered the Calcutta University Readership lec­ tures of that year, in none of the six lectures did he deal with anything composed later than about the eighth cen­ tury. Herbert Gowen's book enlarges Frazer's scheme with­ out much modification, beyond his devoting individual chapters to notable texts and distinctive kinds of composi­ tion. The number of chapters have grown to 39, the text runs to about 570 pages, but not until page 477 does medi­ eval literature begin to earn any mention. At one point the author promises, "After some slight further sketch of Muhammadan dominion in India we shall return to the subject of vernacular literature" [ B . l l , p.494] but he does not return and the following chapter is devoted to western influence on Indian writing.t Finally, in Louis Renou's little book [B.18], modern literature enjoys the best pro*At the invitation of Rabindranath Tagore, rati University. f i n the final chapter entitled 'What of the "It may of course be maintained that today is—at least for India—of considerably less

to teach at Visva-BhaFuture?' Gowen states: the study of literature importance than such


Towards a Literary History of India

portion (about one-quarter of the book) as compared with earlier accounts, but in devoting almost half the book to Sanskrit writings, the author has very little room left for medieval literature. The early historians of Indian Literature were foreigners and Sanskritists in the main. With Sanskrit as their major preoccupation, they looked back to Vedic and ahead to the Prakrits only up to a certain point. Beyond that, the emer­ gence of modern Indo-Aryan languages muddied their view. As has been pointed out by R K Dasgupta: The Western Indologist was primarily concerned with ancient literature and, when he turned his attention to the modern languages, his interest in the field was con­ fined to philology, grammar and lexicography and . . . (did not extend) to literature. A n d even the European scholar's historical survey of Sanskrit literature was in its motivation and procedure more an archaeological enterprise than an expression of critical responses. [E.6, p.430] But neither have Indian literary historians excelled in cri­ tical responses. Most of our histories of regional litera­ tures are no more than descriptive accounts of literary works and their authors in these languages, with demonstr­ ably greater emphasis on the historical aspect of the enter­ prise than on the literary. Of course, our traditions of literary criticism themselves are not fully evolved and this continues to be a great handicap in the general area of literary research, whether in theory or in history or in criticism. The Western historian of least three advantages which always been able to match: ground of a continuous and

Indian Literature offers us at his Indian counterpart has not (1) that he writes in the fore­ well-developed critical tradi-

things as the establishment of a univer.sal system of primary edu­ cation, the production of measures for ameliorating the economic condition of the people...". This was 1931, and perhaps our literary historians did heed Gowen's advice.

The Idea of an Indian Literature


tion; (2) that what he writes becomes available (if it is not already in English, then through translation into English) to a relatively large circle of Indian literary scholars; and (3) that as an outsider seeking entry he is compelled to con­ sider the wholeness of Indian Literature before he considers the parts. The third in fact is his most natural advantage; as a foreigner, it is possible for him to maintain a distance from his subject easily and at the same time obtain a wider view made possible by this distance. None of these is a vantage point available exclusively to the Western scholar. A n y competent Indian literary historian can gain the same perspective. Only, he may have to cultivate it more assidu­ ously. Even if they did not amplify it at any length. Western Indologists gave us the idea of 'Indian Literature'. Indian literary historians did not accept it readily and contented themselves throughout the first half of the twentieth cen­ tury with compiling histories of the different Indian langu­ ages and their literatures. But the idea was not lost al­ together. As Sisirkumar Das has pointed out in a recent article [E.5], two Indians as disparate as Sri Aurobindo and Sir Asutosh Mukherjee had, around 1918-20, pledged their allegiance to a multi-language body of writing they both named as 'Indian Literature'. Sri Aurobindo did so in a series of articles* that appeared in the Arya from Decem­ ber 1918 to January 1921 in the following sequence : 'Is India Civilised?' ' A Rationalistic Critic on Indian Culture' and 'A Defence cf Indian Culture'. The last-named series consists of four or five pieces each on 'Religion and Spiritual­ ity', "Indian Art', 'Indian Literature' and 'Indian Polity'. While stressing the great literary wealth of Sanskiit, Sri Aurobindo stated : Nor is it in the Sanskrit tongue alone that the Indian mind has done high and beautiful and perfect things.... It would be necessary for a complete estimate to take into account as well the Buddhist literature in Pali and *TheEe atricles, along with the essay '"Indian Culture and External Influence" which appeared in the Arya of March 1919, comprise the volume The Foundation of Indian Culture [B.2].


Towards a Literary History of India the poetic literatures, here opulent, there more scanty in production, of about a dozen Sanskritic and Dravidian tongues. The whole has almost a continental effect [B. 2, p.256]

His older and more this-wordly contemporary, Sir A s u ­ tosh, spoke in a much lower key on the issue and with a wholly practical purpose in view. He had been largely res­ ponsible for the establishment of a Department of Modern Indian Languages at Calcutta University in 1919. That same year, in his Presidential Address to the Howrah Bangiya Sahitya-sammelan, he pleaded the necessity of Ben­ galis' looldng at the rest of India's literature in the follow­ ing terms: For a while, therefore, let us roll up the map of Bengal and pay attention to the map of India . . . . Whatever commendable others (that is, non-Bengalis) have to give us, we shall accept it; if there is something com­ mendable we have to give, we shall offer it with full palms (anjail puriya). Without such give and take, our literature cannot hope to develop and attain fullness. We shall have to devise some convenient way by means of which "Banga, Bihar, Utkal, Mandraj, Gurjar, R a j putana, Gandhar, Punjab' can all be threaded into the same garland, can all be assembled on the same shore of the ocean of literature.... In short, we shall have to discover a happy vehicle, buUd a boat (bajra), on which whatever is excellent and pleasing in any pro­ vince of India can be imported into another province. Should this become possible, then in due course . . . a unique, undivided and truly sovereign literary empire will be established in India.* Later in the same address Sir Asutosh Mukherjee spoke of the large majority of Indians who had not yet begun learn*Translated from the Bengali original [E.14] for use here. Somewords of the original have been indicated in parentheses, while names of regions placed within snigle quote-s are identical to the names used by the speaker. .

The Idea of an Indian Literature


ing English and hence would have to be reached through their own languages—"if this vast population can be united through the medium of literature, then only will a truly national literature develop in India"—and he also explain­ ed how by making it possible for the Bengali .student to learn one or more other Indian languages at Calcutta U n i ­ versity, the national cause would be served better : "If we have to bring about the literary unity of India, we shall have to do so through oui' universities...". He concluded this address by outlining a programme of Indian language study at all Indian universities, but repeatedly he referred to the notion of Jatiya Sahitya (national literature), per­ haps: the first time in modem India that anybody had ex­ pounded such an idea. Of course, while Sri Aurobindo looked back to an Indian Literature already in existence. Sir Asutosh looked forward to an Indian Literature about to be born. But the idea of an Indian Literature was common and urgent to both in 1920. Thereafter the idea got sub­ sumed in patriotic protestations about the unity and glory of Indian culture, and what is basically a scholarly conten­ tion got drowned under public rhetoric. The rhetoric was resumed within months of our achiev­ ing political independence. In her Presidential Address at the First All-India Writers' Conference organized by the Indian P E N at Jaipur in October 1945, Sarojini Naidu asserted with characteristic eloquence : "Why then, we ask, should Indian writers all meet together in a Conference? Why?—because India is one and indivisible. While her children speak with many tongues, they can only speak with one imdivided heart" [C.12, p.lO].* A n d Jawaharlal Nehru, entrusted with the opening talk of the first conference topic, "The Development of the Indian Literatures as a Uniting Force', chose to forget that he had been invited mainly as a distinguished writer and dwelt instead mainly upon the so-called 'language question' which he candidly defined as the on-going tussle between Hindi and Urdu. The three other topics set for discussion at this conference were *See also [C.9], which contains the papers of this conference.


Towards a Literary History of India

'Popularization of Indian Literatures outside India', 'Anci­ ent Indian Literature and the Evolution of New Literary Forms' and 'The Interplay and Circulation of Thought in the Modern Indian Literatures'—all rather ambitious topics which did not get the kind of serious treatment they merit. The level of discussion at this and at all the P E N confer­ ences that have followed has been broad rather than deep, but practically every session has produced an idea or an insight which is worthy of further and deeper examniation. Also, the topics of discussion set at each conference are all of abiding interest to Indian literary history, especially of the modern period. Greater attention has been paid to the idea since 1945, perhaps out of the self-consciousness attendant upon the. experience of new nationhood, and several attempts have been made to present the separate strands of Indian Liter­ ature within a single framework. A l l India Radio launched such a scheme in a series of national broadcasts during 1954 on the "Literatures in the Modern Indian Languages'. This was the title under which these talks were published in 1957 in a volume edited with an introduction by V K Gokak [C.13]. The plan for the series required that half of the matter to be covered in the literature of each language should relate to the Ancient and Medieval Periods and the remaining half to the Modern Period, with two different speakers handling these two assignments from each langu­ age. Obviously, too much was being attempted. Both the introductory essay written by V K Gokak and the opening talk, 'Indian Literature', by Suniti Kumar Chatterji raise issues and advance claims that are, in the main, neither clarified nor substantiated in the twenty-six broadcasts that followed. The restrictions of a radio-talk possibly did not permit the talkers to tackle their subject with necessary precision and at adequate depth. But the volume certainly makes apparent the limitations of such an approach to the problem of discussing Indian Literature in its totality. A similar but larger—and private, that is, neither spon­ sored by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting nor published by the Publications Division of the Government

The Idea of an Indian Literature of India—effort of this period was the 670-page volume edi­ ted by Nagendra which consists of, as the sub-title indicat­ es, "Short Critical Surveys of 12 Major Indian Languages' [C.5]. These surveys were composed by twelve different contributors over a period of five years. In his editorial introduction Nagendra has argued the case on behalf of a unified view of Indian Literature on the basis of a common heritage of all our languages, comparable themes and para­ llel developments in their literatures. But none of the sur­ veys seems to regard this basis as crucial or even import­ ant. As the editor admits at the end of his piece: "The ori­ ginal outline which we had sent round to the authors had obviously become ineffective and the majority of the anticles were written independently with the result that the uniformity which we had originally aimed at was shatter­ ed . . . " . The volume carries no bibliography, thus offers no sources or suggestions for further reading. Sahitya Akademi capped these efforts with its Contem­ porary Indian Literature [ C . l ] , which confines its consider­ ation to relatively recent writing. But here, too, sixteen subjects are treated by sixteen contributors without pay­ ing'much attention to. any central or common concerns of Indian Literature. Perhaps this is the fault of whatever working plan that was circulated to the contributors—^if, indeed, any was. A curious feature of this volume, devoted to contemporary literature in India, is that Sanskrit occu­ pies the highest number of pages (52) followed by English (24), Hindi (22), Kannada (22), and Marathi (21). One can only deduce that editorial authority was not exercised in the way it should have been. In fact, the absence of a pre­ fatory statement or even the name of an editor or co-ordinator leaves the reader wholly ignorant of the plan and policy of this eminently worthwhile project. On his own, the first secretary of the Akademi, Krishna Kripalani, may be said to have repaired the omission in a compact 120page book published in 1968, which succeeds in its modest aim. [B.14] None of these volumes claims to be a history and the sahridya reader is presumably expected to make his own


Towards a Literary History of India

connections. Their main utility lies in providing ideas and materials for the literary history or histories yet to be written. This purpose is served most magnificently by Suniti Kumar Chatterji's Languages and Literatures of Modern India [B.3] which pre-empted for at least a decade the need for any more such books. If reprinted with a chap­ ter on Maithili, a fuller survey of Sindhi, some more com­ ments on the newly 'recognized' languages like Dogri, some rechecking of facts and figures, and necessary updating of the bibliographical section, it will continue to serve for several more years to come. In spite of the modest dis­ claimer in the introduction—"I have not been a specialist student of literature . . . . M y first approach in many cases was linguistic" [p.xx]—two-thirds of the volume is devoted to the literatures in thirteen Indian languages. It seerns i n ­ credible that one man should have attempted so much, even more so that the bulk of the manuscript was prepared in less than a year.* The nineteen-sixties have been an era of inter-language literary seminars and conferences, organized by official as well as private bodies, and the Sahitya Akademi journal Indian Literature has continued to provide the main plat­ form for publishing views on Indian literary works or trends in any language and of any place and time. Against this background, the transactions of the seminar on Indian Literature organized by the Indian Institute of Advanced Study in March 1974 are somewhat disappointing [C.6]. Nobody seems to have taken up the challenge posed by Niharranjan Ray in his Welcome Address: Let me start by doubting the contention that Indian literature is one though written in different languages, and by stating that the contention cannot be sustained in its fullest sense. Literature is absolutely languagebased, and language being a cultural phenomenon it is all but wholly conditioned by its locale and the sociohistorical forces that are in operation through the ages *As stated by the author in his introduction.

The Idea of an Indian Literature


in that particular locale. If that be so, one may reason­ ably argue that the literature of a given language will have its own specific character of form and style, im­ ages and symbols, nuances and associations, etc [E.21, p.6]. Nobody argued back, even unreasonably, that locale and socio-historical forces have been and are being shared by more than, one Indian language, hence their literatures tend to give expression to the same consequences. A s for images and symbols, surely these do not spring from the language itself but from the life lived by speakers of the language, and such living cannot be exclusive to these speakers. Of course, none of the participants covild have known in ad­ vance that Ray was going to present this point of view. Also, their own papers were ali'eady written beforehand and could not be altered to answer the Welcome Address. Among seven statements issued at the end of this semi­ nar, one recommended that "the acceptance of the reality of this common denominator of Indian Literature can give a wide base and healthy orientation to the study of the various Indian languages and literatures" [C.6, p. 526]. But when the proceedings were published, Arabinda Poddar confessed in his editorial note that the seminar "was not language-oriented, and, as such, all the major languages were not represented. This, contrary to the declared aim, prevented the seminar from seeing Indian Literature in its totality" [C.6, p. xiii]. Out of the forty-odd papers presen­ ted, not more than five address themselves to this 'totality', while not more than six adopt anything resembling a liter­ ary historian'si approach. The 'reality' recommended by the seminar remains assumed or apprehended but not made manifest. In fact, considering that as many as twentyseven papers devoted themselves exclusively to one region­ al literature or another, the over-all impression is that the prevalent tradition of regarding each literature as exclusive to the language in which it is written is a rooted growth of the Indian literary mind.

3 The Itihasa of Our Literary History

In January 1963, the India International Centre at New Delhi convened a seminar to discuss the problems of his­ torical writing in India. B Raj an, the only literature scho­ lar to be invited, presented a paper to the session on 'The Use of Evidence from Other Techniques' which he began by stating: Literary History ought to be something different from the History of Literature but the two terms are often merged, so much so that the first seems a fashionable rewording of the second. It seems desirable to keep the terms separate since at least two concepts or ways of thinking are involved, and these should not be cov­ ered by one ambiguous label. [E. 20, p. 119]

The Itihasa of Our Literary History


The paper was too literary to be of much interest to fellowseminarists, while the paper-reader's strange reluctance to mention any Indian work or author (but he mentions Shakespeare, Milton, Shelley, Arnold, Johnson and Dante, and could as well have been addressing British or European historians) makes the plea irrelevant to the Indian literary historian. But the distinction suggested by Rajan is of acute relevance to literary studies in India. The customary Indian view of the history of Indian Liter­ ature is that it is the sum-total of the histories of the literature in the various languages of the country, compos­ ed separately by scholars drawn from each region and language. Nearly all our modem languages (the New IndoAryan languages) have searched for and found evidence of literary composition dating back to at least A . D . 1000. Among the Dravidian languages, works in Tamil are of even older vintage. From about A . D . 1800 onward in all Indian languages, the trail is distinct and unmistakable. These nine centuries, when attached to compositions in parent languages sorted out by philologists, provide an ample body of works in every language around which to build a history of literature of that language. To the un­ demanding view, the history of Indian Literature is a con­ federation of literary histories—a view that would be as valid as, say, that of the history of African Literature or Soyth American Literature. There are, of course, perfectly good reasons for the emer­ gence and consolidation of this view regarding Indian Liter­ ature. Until the advent of western education in India, knowledge and respect for literary tradition was strong and pervasive, but there wos' no awareness of Literary history among Indians. It came only after the formal study of his­ tory and literature was introduced in our colleges and uni­ versities, which were modelled on British institutions. English Literature was a major subject in our higher edu­ cation, and through it we received our most abiding con­ cept of literary history—^namely, that the history of a language ought to be studied in order to appreciate the literature in that language, from where it seemed to follo^v


Towards a Literary History of India

that the history of a literature is the extension or elabora­ tion of the history of that language. As the study of modern Indian languages entered our universities, courses were de­ signed on the pattern of English literature courses. If the English language could look back to Anglo-Saxon and Teu­ tonic speeches for parentage, so could most Indian langu­ ages to Sanskrit. On the Grimm-given analogy of Old E n g ­ lish/Middle English/Modern English, each regional langu­ age that earned university-level study was fitted into a similar sequence even if the ancestry of each language did net lend itself comfortably to such treatrrent. Uncertainty about dates of composition made it po-ssible for literary works to be assigned to arbitrary chronological periods, while western terms were freely borrowed to describe forms and trends in Indian writing. By planting a 'Roman­ tic Movement' in the virgin soil of our literary historio­ graphy, we hopefully tried to ensure the sprouting of a healthy crop of modern literature in all our languages. That this entire strategy belongs to a uni-language literary cul­ ture like that of England's has never deterred our literary historians from applying it wholesale to our multi-language literary culture. Early models for such undertakings were supplied by the potted histories of regional literatures prepared by wellmeaning Englishmen for the 'Heritage of India' series plan­ ned by J N Farquhar and published by the Association Press (YMCA) of Calcutta in collaboration with the Ox­ ford University Press, London. The literary part of this programme included not only historical accounts in Eng­ lish of regional hteratures but also English translations of ancient and medieval texts in various regional languages. Edward P Rice's A History of Kanarese Literature [D.Kn.4], which earned a second edition six years after its first publication in 1915, was probably the earliest of the literary histories to be published. In the foreword to the work on Tamil literature in this series [D.Tm.2], we find C R Reddy acknowledging that the model of Rice's book on Kannada has been followed. B y 1932, histories of Hindi, Telugu and Urdu had appeared [D.H.4; D.T.2; D.U.21.

The Itihasa of Our Literary



while those of Bangla, Tamil and Malayalam were under preparation. The general editorial preface to this pro­ gramme states the laudable purpose of these handy volumes : No section of the population of India can aiford to neg­ lect her ancient heritage But while the heritage of India has been largely explored by scholars, and the results of their toil are laid out for us in books, they cannot be said to be really available for the ordinary man . . . . Hence this series of cheap books has been planned by a group of Christian men, in order that every educated Indian, whether rich or poor, may be able to iind his way into the treasures of India's past.... Christian charity does not however sustain literary historio­ graphy equally well in all these books. While Edward Rice gives evidence of a fairly confident grasp of his sub­ ject (Kanarese literature), T Graham Bailey's account of Urdu literature degenerates into a catalogue of names and dates and titles. A l l these volumes, however, are import­ ant because they ventured to tackle the fundamental pro­ blems cf literary history—dividing into periods, naming literary trends, selecting major authors—and provided out­ lines which others could extend or modify as they filled in details. The guiding principle in each case was chronology and a chronological sequence was possible because each account concerned itself with a particular language—which, in most cases, mean a particular region. This tradition persists to the present day and has, if any­ thing, entrenched itself more securely during these twentyfive years or so of India's political freedom. Federal policy has given equal if separate status to all our so-called "na­ tional' languages, and this formal equality has transferred itself to the literatures in all these languages.* The latter *Sahitya Akademi, for example, award to every language for the guage. In spite of its best efforts demi has not been able to utilize

has made provision for an annual best book of the year in that lan­ and intentions, however, the A k a ­ this budget fully every year.


Towards a Literary History of India

equality cannot be valid in purely literary terms, but the essential problem is not whether Hindi fiction is as good as Bangla fiction or whether Dogri poets are of the same order as Tamil poets. The essential problem is that of deve­ loping a critical perspective that will allow proper evalua­ tion of Indian literary works regardless of the language in which they are written. This perspective is what has been steadily eroded in our literary historiography. From one extreme of trying to measure our writers and writings only in terms of English (or, at times, European) literature, our literary critics have taught our literary historians to swing to the other extreme of confining literary history only to consideration of the literary evidence available in that par­ ticular language. In their anxiety to prove the authenticity of a particular regional literature, its historians tend to stress its autonomy by overlooking the stimulus this litera­ ture may have received from neighbouring languages and literatures. That is, neither the reader nor the writer in a particular Indian lariguage is ever as monolingual as the literary historians of that language make the reader or the writer out to be. B y underplaying the role of cross-fertiliz­ ation in our literary culture, our historians have misread the history of literature in every language. Even our evaluation of individual works suffers from this malady. Foreshortening of view, made possible by ignoring useful and substantial evidence, pushes works in a particular language into an unnatural eminence when regarded in the curtailed context only of the literature in that language. Some measure of regional patriotism must also be contributing to such championing of one's own language-kin, but this is bound to happen when the field of vision is deliberately narrowed. Instead of obtain­ ing sharper focus, the critical eye is denied the benefit of judging by contrastive proportions. Further, while it is but natural that a history of, say, Bangla literature should be written in Bangla, in practical terms such an account would be open to the scrutiny only of those who read Bangla. On the one hand, the author of such a work has to presume that his readers are fami-

The Itihasa of Our Literary History


liar with all the relevant works in Bangla, but he also seems to presume that his readers do not know or are not interested in the literatures of any other modern Indian language. Surely this latter presumption may have a deleterious effect on this author's critical discourse. The sanctuary provided by a language group within a multi­ lingual situation may occasion the kind of feeling of security allegedly enjoyed by an ostrich when it hides its head in sand when faced by danger. Such security would surely inhibit proper evaluation of literary works in that language by those who belong to that language group. That is, if the Bengali literary historian were to be con­ tent with assessing and placing a Bangla literary work solely in the Bangla literary tradition for the benefit only of Bengali readers, he is likely to evaluate the work wrongly. What is more, if he were to approach the work on such narrow premises, he may fail to understand how the work came into being at all and what its full signifi­ cance as literature is. Bangla has been cited above merely as a convenience and without any intention of casting reflections upon the competence of Bengali critics or literary historians. But those who have to read about Bangla literature in English could test for themselves the reality of the problem touch­ ed upon above by comparing the several histories of Bangla Literature that have been written in English [D.B.6; D.B.14; D.B.16]. Those two frequently used volumes by J C Ghosh and Sukumar Sen have generally been found deficient by Bengali scholars. But whereas Sukumar Sen's own scholarship has never been question­ ed—in view of his other scholarly contributions, in Bangla—^it has been said of J C Ghosh, whose major scholarly work is the standard edition of Thomas Otway's works published by Clarendon Press, that perhaps he did not know enough Bangla. The implication of such a ver­ dict is that J C Ghosh's book is meant for western readers and hence its shortcomings would not be revealed to them, but it would not pass muster with Bengali readers. Yet, as an exercise in literary history, it is possible to defend

Towards a Literary History of India


Ghosh's approach and prefer it over that of others who have written about Bangla literature in English. A n equally useful comparative assessment could be carried out with three fairly recent accounts of Malaya­ lam literature available to English readers [D.M1.2; D.M1.4; D.M1.6]. Of these, P K Parameswaran Nair's work was originally composed and published in Malayalam before being rendered into English. Thus it belongs to yet another category of the multilingual situation. In a gene­ ral way, the predicament is shared by every literary scholar in India — namely, that a bilingual upbringing (and sometimes in more than two languages) places him in the unenviable position of having to choose the langu­ age in which he will express himself, which in turn defines in some measure his audience; consequently, the choice he makes cannot but affect his critical approach. It may not be irrelevant here to mention at least one instance of how a Bengali literary historian has taken full advantage of his bilingual upbringing. In 1896, Dineshchandra Sen published his Banga-hhasa o sahitya* and stated in the preface to the first edition that he had first thought of writing a sequential account only of Old Bangla literature. Six years later he produced what he calls "the first part of the history of the language of Bengal and its literature" upto about 1830, wherein he has also discussed the history of the people and the social practices and conventions of each era. The nine chapters are as follows : I Origin of Bangla and its script (9 pp.) II Sanskrit, Prakrit and Bangla (11 pp.) III Western mode of case-endings and rhyme IV V

(5 pp.) The Hindu Buddhist era (33 pp.) Development of language on account religious dissension (10 pp.)


•Literally, 'the language of Bengal and (its) literature'. Material cited here has been translated from the eighth edition, publishsd in 1956.

The Itihasa of Our Literary History



The Gaudiya era; or Pre-Chaitanya literature (93 pp.) VII Chaitanya literature; or Early Nabadwip period (72 pp.) VIII The era of reform (76 pp.) IX The Krishnachandriya era; or Later Nabadwip period (71 pp.) Copious quotations from rare texts and listing of words and idioms that have gone out of use make this not only a history but also an encyclopaedia. It will be noted that the first three and the fifth chapters are quite brief, as . compared to the chapters which follow. The author admits in the preface that he did not complete the work and then entrust it for publication; the early chapters went to press as they got written and should, in the author's opinion, have appeared as appendices. Then in January-April 1909, Dineshchandra delivered a series of lectures in English at Calcutta University, deal­ ing with Bangla language and literature from the earliest times to 1850. These grew into the 800-page volume which, according to the author, "has very little affinity with my Bengali work on the same subject... There must, of course, be something in common between the two books...but the arrangement adopted in the present work is altogether new..." [D.B.14, preface]. The new arrangement is as follows : I II III IV V VI VII

Early influences"on the Bengali language (16 pp.) Pre-Mohammadan literature (81 pp.) (i) Chandidas; (ii) Vidyapati (29 pp.) The Pauranic renaissance (185 pp.) Literature of the Vaishnavas (133 pp.) The post-Chaitanya literature (141 pp.) The modern age (117 pp.)

Each chapter barring the first and third has an appendix of twenty to thirty pages, adding to the bulk of the volume which is twice as large as the Bangla version. A compari-


Towards a Literary History of India

son of the table of contents will show that in the English re-incarnation of his work, Dineshchandra has tidied up the framework and achieved better symmetry. If he could have avoided devoting separate but rather small chapters to Chandidas and Vidyapati, the divisions would have been uniform. The actual writing, however, is much more laboured than in the Bangla work while the tremen­ dous piling up of detail upon detail makes the English work somewhat forbidding except to the research scholar. J C Ghosh, incidentally, borrowed the Gaudiya E r a and the Nabadwip E r a formulations from the Bangla work although Dineshchandra himself did not use them again in the English work. But having got the opportunity to re­ vise the original, Dineshchandra made good use of the op­ portunity to produce a more comprehensive history in an­ other language. In neither version, however, does he break free of the essentially Bengali context of his consideration. Given the linguistic environment wherein so many regional languages and their literary cultures act and react upon the literature of every language, we obviously need a much wider context of consideration. What is gene­ rally offered in available histories of literature in our languages are really histories of those languages, clothed in a chronological arrangement of works and authors down the years, presented with descriptive rather than analytic intention. The globe of Indian Literature has been circumscribed by parallels of longitude in the form of these separate histories of literature of Asamiya, Bangla,. Gujarati, Hindi, and so on- But these are parallel lines which resist meeting except at infinity. For finite and therefore more exact location of the literary works themselves, we now need parallels of lati­ tude traversing the same globe in a direction at right angles to the above-mentioned longitudinal lines. This will be possible if we can conceive of a method of study­ ing our literary past on many more grounds than that of language alone. Once it is granted that a literary work is a specific product of human effort occurring at a parti­ cular time and place, it necessarily follows that the work

The Itihasa of Our Literary



is subject to all the conditioning factors that any human act is subject to. Our literary historians should feel free, therefore, to relate a work to prevailing ideas and beliefs, to contemporary social and political institutions, to habi­ tats, norms, values and any other item of culture which determined the pattern of life of the people which pro­ duced the author and his work. When this is done, it will be possible to read an Indian literary work in any language in lights emanating from sources other than what is pro­ vided by that particular language.

4 Literary History and Comparative Literature

Literary history is a relatively new discipline anywhere in the world. Francis Bacon may have sensed the need for it when he itemised the functions of criticism in The Advancement of Learning (1605) but not until 1774, the year of publication of Thomas Warton's History of English Poetry, did the first modem history of literature appear. Serious attention came to be paid to the subject only in nineteenth century Europe in the wake of the forma­ tion of new nations of the modern world. The term 'national literature' must have gained currency from this time, adding a new dimension to the definition of litera­ ture — namely, in addition to being the special possession of a language, a literature is also the special property of a nation. The dimension is not difficult to understand in

Literary History and Comparative


the context of nineteenth century European national­ ism, but it obviously places at a great disadvantage those peoples the history of vi'hose language and whose history of nationhood have not coincided. The newer nations of the modern world, especially those that have not fostered one single language as proof of their national identity, must therefore conceive of very different coordinates for the cartography of their literary culture. The problem of nationality in literature has been squarely met and resolved in the United States of America, and the American example' contains many interesting lessons for those who wish to subscribe to the concept of an Indian Literature. More than a century after America had gained political independence, American writing con­ tinued to be regarded as an extension of English (that is, British) literature. The American dilemma lay in claim­ ing the cultural heritage of Europe while disclaiming the literary tradition of England. Since they shared a common language with Englishmen, Americans were denied the possibility of a separate national literature. They possess­ ed no separate American philological tradition and hence were chained to the one-language-literature formulation until, in the nineteen-twenties, American scholars began to consider the cultural history of a people as the primary basis of that people's literary tradition. As stated by Norman Foerster, one of the pioneers of the so-called 'nterary history movement' in America, "The central fact is that American literature has had its own special condi­ tions of development and its own special tendencies aris­ ing from these conditions" [F.9, p.26]. In other words, that a national literature is frequently embodied in a national language does not rule out the possibility of its being embodied in a language shared by people of differ­ ent nationalities (as in the case of English by England, America and other English-speaking populations, or in the case of Spanish by Spain and Argentina and Chile, or Portuguese by Portugal and Brazil). Nor, to bring the argument nearer home, should it invalidate the concept of a national literature being embodied in more than one


Towards a Literary History of India

language, as in the case of India. In America, spurred by a re-definition of the notion of nationality in literature, American literary historians worked hard during the nineteen-thirties to demolish what I have called the one-language-literature formula­ tion. They succeeded by evolving an approach which re­ garded the American literary traditions as the product of "the inter-action of European (not merely English) culture (and not merely literature) and the American environ­ ment..." [ibid.]. Here again is an approach which can be easily modified for application to India. The essential difference, of course, is that whereas American literature sought an identity through a process of separation, Indian Literature will have to recognize itself through a process of aggregation. The seemingly common element between American culture and modem Indian culture is the pre­ sence of Europe. But whereas Europe transplanted itself to America, upon India it has only impinged itself in vari­ ous guises and at various levels. What we may emulate in India, with due caution, is the American example of regarding literature not merely as the efflorescence of a language but also as the product of a literary tradition which has been forged by extra-linguistic factors that are part of the environment. American literary historians were encouraged in their task because their overhauling operations took place at a time when American historians in other fields were also eager to orient their studies away from objective reliance on fact and document towards speculative and inclusive configurations of intellectual history. Help came most readily from the newer social sciences and a variety oL new resources were utilized for the purpose of examining literary works and establishing literary relationships that would enlarge the understanding of literary works. Cor­ respondingly, thinking in terms of Indian Literature can­ not remain confined to literary scholars in the country. A l l social sciences relating to India will have to collabo­ rate in the discovery of a literary tradition which plainly exists but has yet to be properly defined and demarcated.

Literary History and Corn.parative Literature


The economist or the sociologist or the political scientist cannot be commanded to concern themselves with literary matters. It is for the literary scholar to keep in touch with co-workers in other disciplines and seek their assistance as and when necessary. He will need to confabulate most often with the historians, because it is from the manysided revaluation of the Indian past that a more correct picture of the literary past will emerge. A t its widest, revaluation could cast a net as wide as the kind visualised by Arthur O Lovejoy when he called for the collabora­ tion of historical scholarship in philosophy, science, lang­ uage, religion, economics, education, politics, sociology, folklore, literature, comparative literature and other arts [F.14]. Such comprehensive collaboration may run the risk of overlooking the literary work altogether. But there is no doubt that if a new and fruitful Indian literary his­ toriography is to emerge, it will need the impetus of a ge­ neral movement in ideas dealing with the past and present of modern Indian man. For our purpose, we could begin by borrowing a defini­ tion provided by a distinguished practitioner of American literary history, Robert E Spiller: Literary pression time, in [F.17, p.

history is concerned with describing the ex­ in literature of a people during a period of a place, and usually in a specific language. 55]

The italics for 'in literature' are Spiller's own, and he does not stop to define what is literature beyond saying that he is using the word to mean "an art—the art of the word — rather than merely any given body of pre­ served writing". This reservation, as applied to India, immediately whittles down much of Sanskrit and Pali composition to manageable proportions for the literary historian of India. A n even more useful part of the defi­ nition is its concluding phrase, "usually in a specific lang­ uage', which admits that the expression in literature of a people may happen other than in one specific language.


Towards a Literary History of India

Thereby, this definition extends to the Indian situation, although Spiller could not have had any such emergency in mind when he made that definition. Later in his essay Spiller has argued that while literary works are the primary concern of the literary historian, facts which contribute to the existence of literary works are also the legitimate concerns of literary history. Some of these factors are: ideas, viz., reUgious and political ideas; culture, that is, the habits, norms, values, roles, etc., which regulate the life-style of a people; institutions, or forms of organization of group behaviour; tradition and myth, or "the body of beliefs which forms in a people of a given time and place its compensation for reality" [F.17, p.62]. These and other related factors lead inio areas where the literary historian will need the help of historians in the social sciences. A n y fresh finds or new interpretations made by the latter will invariably benefit literary history. Let us not forget, however, that although literary history is not the history of a language, a literary work does exist in a language, hence the literary historian will need the assistance of the historical philologist, the textual analyst and the literary critic in choosing his material. In fact, these specialists must lead before the literary historian can follow — especially and inescapably so in the case of Indian Literature where one individual literary historian cannot hope to master all the languages in which Indians have composed their literary works. For that matter, no one individual Indian ought to aspire to write the kind of literary history that is being advocated in this paper. The nature of the subject demands that it be tackled by a group whose members will bring to the task mutually complementary accomplishments.* Ideally, the literary historian ought to combine in him­ self the skills of the philologist, the textual analyst and the literary critic. In the Indian situation, these three kinds of specialists can help the literary historian at the *See chapter 7 below.


History and Comparative



initial stages of his endeavours by identifying the literary works that constitute the primary data for investigation. When he proceeds to relate these works to each other, the literary historian will have to venture into areas that are cften regarded as peripheral to literature and yet these extra-literary considerations have time and again proved to be of relevance to the being of a literary work. Theo­ rists and critics of literature have often protested that the historical approach violates the autonomy of a work of literary art. It can be argued in accordance with this view that unlike the First Battle of Panipat or the fiscal system of the Gupta Empire or the religious policy of Asoka, all of which belong to our past, Kalidasa's Raghuvamsa is part of our present since it continues to be read today and thus lies outside the historical process. But we cannot obliterate the relation that must have existed between Kalidasa's work and his time and place, and which now makes^ it imperative that the historian asks himself whe­ ther or not this necessary co-relation contributed to the composition of Raghuvamsa and the development of Kalidasa. Coming late as we have in India to the modern disci­ pline of literary scholarship, we should not hesitate to enjoy the fruits of victory from literary battles fought elsewhere. In spite of implacable adversaries like F E Bateson,* the rhetorical question asked by Rene Wellek in or around 1946, "Is it possible to write literary history, that is, to write that which will be both literary and his­ tory?" [F.21, p.252], has been copiously answered in the *"...literature and history are both excellent things in tiiemselves-provided they are considered (and practiced) separately. Literary history is merely a by-product, a disreputable though not entirely useless by-product...though a futile occupation in itself (one of the jokes of modern academic life), has had its own valuable by-pro­ ducts Against these incidental blessings must be set certain in­ cidental scandals. Literary history has provided an umbrella of respectability under which are still crowded teachers, of literature who have outgrown their adolescent enthusiasms without acquir­ ing a mature critical sense...". [F.2, p. 115]


Towards a Literary History of India

affirmative since then.* Recently a critic has gone to the extent of asserting: "To explore the idea of literary history may well be the main theoretical task that confronts the student of literature today" [ F . l l , p. 477], while another critic has placed T S Eliot and F R Leavis,along with Edmimd Wilson and Lionel Trilling as true descendants of D r Johnson in the line of those who have written literary history in English [F.3, p.20]. The theories if not the actual practice of twenti­ eth century literary history writing in the West would serve Indian literary historians well if the theories could be tested out in our circumstances as exercises prior to the development of our own theory and practice in the subject. Before we do so, we must take stock of another modern literary discipline that has originated in the West. The development of Comparative Literature studies in western Europe, America and eastern Europe has added a whole new dimension to literary historiography that is of imme­ diate relevance to the concept of a literary history for India. Initially a reaction against national prejudices and provincialism that had begun to predominate the writing of histories of 'national' literatures in the ninteenth century Europe, the thrust of comparative literature is aimed at literary evaluation against as wide a background as pos­ sible, transcending national (therefore, linguistic and, some­ times, cultural) barriers and boimdaries.t It must be said to *The latest rethinking leading to reaffirmation of the importance of literary history can be seen in a new journal devoted entirely to the subject. New Literary History, published by the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, from 1969. For an earlier reassurance, see the papers and proceedings of the Ninth International Congress of the Federation of Internationale des Langue et Literatures M o dernes in August 1963 at New York, subsequently published in a volume edited by Leon Edel [F.6]. f A convenient summary, derived from a book by A Dima, has) been provided by Dan Grigorescu in a review article [F.IO], where it is stated that comparatist studies ought to embrace three main direc­ tions : (i) direct international relations along literary works (viz., sour­ ces and echoes);

Literary History and Cowyparative Literature


the credit of the European mind that although the notion of nationality in literature was most strongly and aggressively fostered by it at one time, out of Europe also has come the notion of inter-literary relationship among nations and the wider view of a world literature. A s early as January 1816, in the first issue of Biblioteca italica of Milan, there is an article by Madame de Stael in which she "urged Italian writers to familiarize themselves with foreign literatures as a means of liberating themselves from pedantry and form­ alism" [F.22, p. 83]. Less publicly, Goethe wrote to J P Eckermann on 31 January 1827: "National literature means little now, the age of Weltliteartur has begun; and every­ one should further its course" [F.15, p. 6]. A galaxy of European scholars devoted themselves thereafter to the comparative study of western literatures, and were joined in due course by American comparatists. B y January 1958 the subject had undergone sufficient expansion, controversy and tension for a 'crisis' to be sighted by Rene Wellek in the famous paper he gave that year at the Second Con­ gress of the International Association of Comparative Liter­ ature at Chapel Hill.* In this paper he argued for the abolition of artificial barriers between comparative study of literature and general study of literature, and in order to do so he provided a handy review of nearly one hundred years of scholarship on comparative studies in the West. Wellek has surveyed the field in two subsequent papers,t and these three papers taken together offer a wide-ranging review of all the important works and authors in the sub­ ject until 1969. A number of reliable introductory books (ii) parallel literary phenomena (viz., resemblances produced by similar moments in the history of culture); {Hi) characteristic features of the national literatures, studied com­ paratively. If, in this statement, 'international' were replaced by 'pan-mdian' and 'national' by 'regional Indian*, then these three would indicate the directions in which Indian Literature studies ought to move. Reproduced in F.19. •'Comparative Literature Today' (1965) and 'The Name and Nature of Comparative Literature' (1969), reproduced in the volume Dis­

criminations [F.26].


Towards a Literary History of Tndu.

on its tlieory and practice are now available,* and much greater exchange of ideas about comparative studies than ever before has begun in the nineteen-sixties between eastern Europe and the rest of the western world, thus vindicating Wellek's protest against some anti-historicist as well as anti-American reactions to his Chapel H i l l paper: ' ~ . . . I had for years advocated a proper interplay between a study of national literatures, their common tendencies, the totality of the Western tradition—which for me always includes the Slavic world—and the ultimate ideal of a com­ parative study of all literatures, including those of the Farthest East" [F.20, p. 44]. The Farthest East awaits an­ nexation, while western comparatists are being reminded of the need to broaden their outlook—as by Jan Brandt Corstius: ". . . we speak of the modern or living languages and literatures, excluding the non-western ones as a rule. We read histories of 'world' literature that are in fact histories of Western literature. Without comment we accept an author's assertion that his study (on Western litera­ ture) deals v/ith the history of 'the human mind'."t Meanwhile, in an article emphatically entitled "Compar­ ative Literature as a Necessary Method' [F.12], Helmut Hatzfield has claimed that comparative literature is the principal means of exercising critical control over the generalizations created by literary historians. A n d , from a very different camp or school of thought, Istvan Soter has argued that a "'combination of comparisons also con­ tains possibilities for the regeneration of the historical me­ thod" [F.16]. What is significant for our purpose here is that these two relatively young disciplines, literary history and comparative literature, seem to be drawing close to each other day by day in the West. A wedding between the philosophies of one and the strategies of the other, held *F'or example, Comparative Literature: Method and Perspective, (eds.) Newton P Stallknecht and Horst Franz (Carbondale: South­ ern Illinois University Press, 1971; rev. edn.), or Comparative Lite­ rature : Matter and Mesthod, (ed,) Owen Aldridge (Urbana: Uni­ versity of Illinois Press, 1969). tQuoted by Seymour Flaxman in a review [F.7].

Literary History and Comparative Literature


under Indian auspices, would provide the perfect answer to the needs of the Indian literary historian. A choice we have to make immediately is that between the sociological or broadly Marxist approach and the aes­ thetic or formalist approach to literary history. A t this stage—that is, of preliminary reconnaissance—we should opt for the sociological approach, mainly because this is the current temper of our social sciences, and if the liter­ ary historian is to take advantage of the advice of fellowhistorians in other fields of reassessing the past, he cannot for the present work along conceptually different premises. Whatever violence the cause-and-effect analysis does to a literary work, it at least strives to relate the work to a society. The formal analysis of Indian literary works in purely aesthetic terms can wait until our literary historians have related these works much more firmly than hereto­ fore to a time and place and people. Let us have an Indian Taine first, before we begin to reject him. In this connection, it may be worthwhile for our literary historians to study the implications of the programme of 'complex comparative' scholarship outlined by Istvan Soter in his book. A s summarized by Roland C Ball in a review article [ F . l ] , this programme rests upon the following assumptions regarding literary study: (i) Literature relates to the expression of the real world, and criticism to the dialectical and histori­ cal testing of this realism. (ii) Literary study should ideally be (a) comparative, confronting the entire phenomenon of each nation­ al literature with other literatures, and (b) com­ plex, confronting literary with other cultural phenonomena, especially the creative arts. (iii) Influences have to be studied in the light of a liter­ ary work's relation to its society and epoch; here a dialectic operates between conditions in society, the influencing works, and the literature employ­ ing these influences. (iv) A similar dialectic, operating between the literary

Towards a Literary History of India


work and its historical and cultural setting, enables the creation of large international syntheses from the studies of national literatures. Here again, as in the case of the directions of study pointed out by A Dima,* substitution of 'international' and 'national' by 'pan-Indian' and 'regional' in the above propositions will convert them for useful employment in the Indian situation. There is no doubt that these elaborate and sophisticated instruments of analysis will need a great deal of modifica­ tion before they can be used meaningfully in the Indian context. As a starting point, therefore, we could consider simply the efforts of European scholars who have endeav­ oured to establish a construct not of 'European literature' but of, as stated by Rene Wellek, "a coherent Western tradition of literature woven together in a network of i n ­ numerable inter-relations" [F.19, p. 28j. India ought to prove as fertile a field for such cultivation as Europe has proved to be.

•See footnote on page 33.

5 Kavyamimamsa for Our Times

It will seem a truism to insist that literary works are the primary concern of a literary historian. Although he would not perhaps have described himself as one, Albrecht Weber was conscious of the need of "a classification of the Sankrit literature into works of Poetry, works of Science and Art, and works relating to Law, Custom, and Worship" .[B.21, p. 183]. Later scholars have not been so careful. Maurice Winternitz, for example, states in his introduction: "As regards its contents, Indian literature embraces every­ thing which the world 'literature' comprises in its widest sense: religious and secular, epic, lyric, dramatic and didac­ tic poetry, as well as narrative and scientific prose" [B.22, p. 1]. Winternitz rather than Weber has won the day, and no Indian literary historian since then has sought to tame this loose and baggy monster. Practically anything written (and, in later eras, anything printed) in any language has


Towards a Literary

History of India

been included, without necessary reservations, in the his­ tory of literature of that language. Such tyranny of the text may well be a legacy of Indo_ logical studies, especially as developed by western scholars. For Indologists, • any ancient writing, whether a two-line inscription or a two-thousand-line composition, was a thril­ ling source of information. The very existence of a text was obviously of far greater importance, when discovered, than its identity as literature. Somewhere along the line the two terms 'text' and 'literature' became interchangeable by careless usage, and subsequent sorting out does not seem to have taken place when the material was arranged for historical treatment. Our own historians have not been very much more discriminating. Some standard works on Indian history ignore the existence of literatures altogether, while others tend to lump together treatises on grammar and as­ tronomy and medicine with works of poetry and drama as the 'literature' of a period.* Our literary scholars have on occasion been no less careless. A volume entitled Studies in Indian Literary History carries at least one paper relat­ ing to a manuscript on cosmetics, another to a text enumer­ ating names and colours of horses [E.8]. Such information will have to be spurned by literary historians, in spite of the plea made earlier in this essay for the widest possible basis for literary historiography. If on the one hand we have at our disposal vast collec­ tions of minutiae that are of little use to the literary his•Compare, for example, the fifth volume of A Comprehensive His­ tory of India (1970), spcmsored by the Indian History Congress, and the sixth volume of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan project, The His­ tory and Culture of the Indian People (1960), both devoted to the Delhi Sultanate period. While the former has a full chapter 'Lan­ guage and Literature' of the period, the latter pays no attention to such matters. The second volume of A Comprehensive History, de­ voted to the Mauryas and the Satvahanas, has a section on langu­ age and lierature but includes 'Religion and Philosophy' in it. A n ­ other kind of aberration may be seen in Chapter VIII of An Ad­ vanced History of India by Majumdar, Raychaudhuri and Datta where literature is mentioned along with education of the period under discussion.

Kavyamimamsa for Our Times


torian, on the other hand we have to contend with facile generalizations that, like war-time communiques, survey the general situation without revealing any critical detail. Thus, the preponderance of poetical composition m our ancient literature has given rise to the impression that all is 'poetry'. Such an impression overlooks the great variety of composition among our ancient texts and leaves little room for considering the inter-relationship between these compositions. Some blame for this may be attached to our ancient poeticians who freely used the term 'kavya' for all composition, and were generally more interested in dis­ tinguishing good kavya from bad kavya than between kavya and non-kavya. Again, there is a popular impression that the bulk of our medieval literature consists of religious or devotional verse. Here is a descriptive norm which gives little value to the art involved in the making of a poem. As any student of literature knows, a particular piece may be good religion but bad poetry. Also, religion in India has often meant a moral, stand or a code of conduct, rather than the acceptance and dissemination of a given dogma. When Namdeva or Kabir or Nanak spoke of equality among men, they were propagating a social philosophy rather than a religion. Yet all three are labelled as devotional poets in our histories of literature. A l l such generalizations will have to be questioned and corrected according to valid and workable principles of literary discrimination, before we may proceed to the writing of literary history. Winternitz stated in his introduction : "The history of Indian literature is the history of mental activity of at least 3000 years, as expressed in speech or in writing" [B.22, p. l ] . Such a statement would fit a history-of-ideas approach (of the kind recommended by Arthur Lovejoy) better than a concept of literary history. Winternitz, with his eye mainly on the stages of language development he has called 'Ancient Indian' and 'Middle Indian', was probably anxious to provide for both the orally composed Vedas and other smriti or sruti texts as well as the later written composi­ tions in his definition. He may also have worried about •the necessity of having to erect a historical scheme span-


Towards a Literary History of India

ning thirty centuries on the foundation of relatively few texts, hence decided to make the scheme as inclusive as possible. But his is a definition which is patently inadequate for the kind of literary history that is being proposed here. Our own scholars of antiquity cannot help out here, because the need to define what is literature does not seem^ to have been felt by them. The very word "sahitya' which is used in most modern Indian languages for literature had a somewhat different meaning in Sanskrit poetics, as is suggested by the following legend recounted by Ramaran­ jan Mukherji: Once upon a time, while Saraswati was going to the celestial assembly as a judge, this child, named Kavya­ purusha persisted in following her; as he was desisted by the mother, because, as she pointed out, the gates of Brahmaloka are open only to one who holds a permit to that effect from the supreme creator, he became angry and left the place in a hurry. This con­ duct of Kavyapurusha agitated his friend Kumara, who reported the whole thing to his mother Gauri and she also in order to prevent Kavyapurusha, created Sahityavidyavadhu as his bride and asked her to follow him. The bride had to adopt various kinds of dress and dramatic devices to captivate the mind of her lover, who was completely won over by her at the end of the journey. The pair was then married in Vatsagulma by the Gandharva form of marriage [E.17, p.4]. Thus was poetry (Kavyapurusha) wedded to the principle of literary criticism (Sahityavidyavadhu). Ramaranjan Mukherji explains it thus: '"The word Sahitya seems to be derived from Sahita; when Poetry is defined as a combina­ tion of sound and sense, it is quite in the fitness of things that the science of criticism that propounds this definition is called Sahitya. Rajasekhara himself says that this branch deals with the different types of relation existing between sabda and artha" [E.17]. It may be noted in this


for Our Times


connection that in English usage the word literature origi­ nally meant "knowledge or study of literature', but later came to mean "literary production in general' or 'body of writings in a period, country or region', before it was narrowed down to the modern meaning of imaginative literature, that is, 'poetry and imaginative. Active, prose'.* Undistracted by any doubts about what is and what is not literature, our ancestors indulged almost exclusively in consideration of the components and values of litera­ ture. Numerous and voluminous texts in poetics from Bharata's Natyasastra (finalised probably around A.D.300) to Jagannatha's Rasagangadhara (composed between 1641 and 1650) concerned themselves with definition, classifica­ tion and illustration of literary concepts and terms. Per­ haps even prior to Bharata, the Agnipurana had dealt with the principal features of kavya, natya, rasa, bhava, riti, vritti, abhuiaya, alankara, kavya-dosa and kavya-guna — in fact, the whole gamut of topics in poetics and drama­ turgy that was to keep Sanskrit scholars busy all over India for the next ten centuries or more. But posterity has tended to reserve the use of these terms for application only to our classical texts and has failed to use them to serve our need for discrimination even among these texts— not to speak of the failure to apply these terms with profit to more recent literature. It is true that certain eras in the history of Sanskrit literature have produced more poetics than poetry, and that the dead weight of traditional poetics managed to suffocate poetic creativity in Sanskrit practically to extinction. But while Aristotle and Longinus continue to serve western literary criticism even today, we in India are unable to put our own hei-itage of poetics to any use. Without wishing to be revivalistic in spirit, we shall have to recognise that the tools and measures of literary assessment as evolved in the western world (specifically, in the Graeco-Judaic-Christian tradition) are sometimes i n *See Rene Wellek, [F.20, pp. 3-10], for an account of the varying connotations of the term "literature' in English, French and German.


Towards a Literary History of India

adequate and sometimes wholly irrelevant to the needs of a literary historian when he is dealing with the totality of Indian Literature. The western tools and measures begin becoming adequate and relevant in the modern phase, when western thought and literature have begun to influ­ ence and re-mould Indian thought and literature. But up to this point (say, the year 1800), India's literary culture was fostered under very different premises. A n under­ standing of these premises is indispensable to our under­ standing of the literary products of the ante-British period. While it is true that the past must invariably be grasped in terms of the present, we cannot expect to read medieval India in the same light as western historians read medieval Europe. In spite of our training and faith in westernways, the sources of illumination available to us are quite different. By locating these sources and by uncovering their illumination, the modern literary historian in India may succeed in healing the dissociation of sensibility that has taken place in modern India, most acutely in our criti­ cal approach to literature, as the result of western-style education. To revert to the problem with which this section began, the question "what is literature?' should probably be asked in a Pontius Pilate spirit. We need not wait for an answer because, as anybody who has any understanding of litera­ ture knows, no final answer is possible. Ronald S Crane does offer an aside in the course of discussing principles of construction in writing — "'the possibilities of variation inherent generally in human discourse viewed as the joint product of reason and speech" [F.4, p.2] — but he also recognizes the inevitability of having to fall back upon the three most commonly used names for literary kinds even if these cannot be defined precisely: namely, Poetry, Drama and Fiction. Literary works to which these names can be attached may safely be regarded as literature, and most western literary historians have no difficulty in pre­ suming that these names of literary kinds are widely known and generally understood. Our peculiar problem as Indians

approaching the



for Our Times


quarter of the twentieth century is that the kind of hterary presumptions the western scholar can make today or has been making for the last two or three centuries was possi­ ble for us in the fifth or in the tenth or even in the fifteenth century, but not since then. Krishna Kripalani summariz­ ed the problem aptly when he stated: "There were thus three major sources of literary criteria operating in the field, on the eve of the contemporary phase of Indian literature, which may be said to begin in the twenties of this century — the classical Sanskrit, the indigenous regional, and the imported western" [E.12, p.l82]. Unless we take the stand that as readers, writers and critics we have wholly and successfully imbibed western literary concepts and traditions, we cannot borrow their critical terms as easily as we borrow their technology. Edward Dimock once made this point in reverse while reviewing a collection of Bengali poems and stories in English tran­ slation: "I think one must meet these writers on their own grounds, which are not Aristotelian. If one does this, I think he will find a rare lyric quality in their writing" [E.7, p.103]. It is possible to misread in Dimock's cautioning the implication that Indian Literature will be found wanting if it is judged by western standards — wherein lies the further implication that western standards are supreme and universal. In a world dominated by the West, it is difficult to ignore western standards altogether. A n d in most areas of human achievement we in India continue to be regulated by western approval or disapproval. But if literature is the product of a specific culture, its merits must ultimately be assessed by meaures arising from that culture.* Our own history demonstrates over and over again the benefits of cross-fertilization of cultures that ha.s embellished our past, but in literature we have somehow

*A conspiuous. case is that of the standards of beauty of the female form in India. Our sculptors as well as om- poets of the past laid down standards that continue to be upheld in spite of changing standards of this measurement in the West,


Towards a Literary History of India

hesitated to attempt the grafting of imported modes of literary criticism upon available indigenous concepts of literature. The stress on 'available' is essential so that the grafter does not waste his energy in trying to resuscitate dead wood. At a Mysore University seminar in 1964 devoted to the discussion of European and Indian traditions of literary criticism, C D Narasimhaiah had appealed: "We in India... have for the past few centuries been trying with pathetic earnestness to catch up with other people's yesterdays. If we are not forging ahead and can only catch up with yes­ terdays, it is time we caught up with our own yesterdays, as! even that makes for continuity" [C.14, p.2]. Such an attempt is being made — alas, not at any of the univer­ sities represented at the above seminar* — by A K Warder of the University of Toronto in his projected three-volume work Indian Kavya Literature, which is aimed at stimulat­ ing a new and long overdue evaluation of Indian Litera­ ture. "It has been an important part of the critical purpose, here proposed, to study the positions of kavya composers in the social and cultural history of India, a form of literary criticism which has not been seriously attempted before in the case of India", Warder states in his preface and goes on to explain that he is using the term kavya as the equivalent of 'literature as art': "It ex­ cludes scriptures or religious writing (is therefore essen­ tially secular), histories (except when history is made the subject of art, aiming at aesthetic rather than historical suitable for kavya treatment, e.g., in dramas, but as not in 'truth'), and all technical writings on philosophy, science, the arts and so on" [B-20, x ] . Thus he leaves out the Vedas and also the Mahabharata "since it is regarded as history' or 'tradition', itihasa — as a rich source of stories suitable for kavya treatment, e.g., in dramas, but as not in itself kavya," and announces that he will confine himself to five main forms of kavya literature. These are: natya (drama), mahakavya (epic), khanda-kavya (lyric), akhya*At least such material is not available in English.


for Our Times


yika (biography), and katha (the novel).* The first volume of this project deals with the theory and principles of literaure as discussed in classical treatises, and we must await the two following volumes to benefit from the project.t Warder's scheme may appear too rigid and dogmatic, especially if it has to leave the Mahabharata out of con­ sideration as a literary text. Also, he could have moved into his second volume straightaway since a number of modern analyses of ancient Indian poetics are already available.:}: But Warder's approach is one solution to our problem of having to decide what will be regarded as literature — until that is solved, we cannot proceed to literary history. How far such an approach will lead us down the centuries is another matter. But it will certainly help us to get round the problems set, for example, by a text like Banabhatta's Harsacharita. Historians have com­ plained that the work stops short of a point beyond which it would have turned out to be a complete and valid docu*It may be recaled that Herbert Gowen had suggested in his chap­ ter 'The Great Epics' that all poetical writings which are in the main narrative should be regarded as belonging to the same class of composition, and be distinguished from one another as follows: 1. The Itihasa or 'epic poem proper", a term which is frequently apphed only to the Mahabharata, but may serve also for the Ramayana and some later poems... 2. The Puranas (literally, 'old thing') or mythological poem, deal­ ing with the origin of the world and the generation of the gods... 3. The Tantra ('ritual'), applied to a numerous class of religious and magical works... 4. The Kavya, or 'poetical piece'. The Kavyas are, in general, the work of individual poets and are only of moderate length." [ B . l l , pp.197-98] Gowen's understanding of the true nature of these texts was defi­ cient, but he had felt the need %o employ existing terms. fOnly the first volume was available at the time of writing this monograph. According to the blurb, the second volume will deal with the older texts and traditions, and the third with literature of the early medieval period. tFor example, see [D.Sa. 5, D.Sa. 12, E.17]


Towards a Literary History oj India-

ment relating to Harsa's reign. But, as V S Pathak has argued, "when we study the Harsacharita as a complete whole, organically designed and artistically composed with some specific purpose, these questions become irrelevant and conclusions appear incorrect" [E.19, p. 15]. According to Pathak, Bana, in composing this work, was exercising the licence of a literary artist rather than obeying the discipline of a social science. This, is the kind of judgment that literary history is called upon to make, and such judgments cannot be made unless the literary historian is fully aware of the tradition to which a literary work belongs. Even if the tradition is not in operation today, its prevalence at the time the work came into being cannot be ignored. This search for the useable past in our literary traditions may lead us into a hitherto relatively un­ explored domain—the possibility that the aesthetics that governed our literary composition in the past were shared in some measure by other arts such as our sculpture, paint­ ing and music (not to speak of dance, which by tradition is a part of drama, hence is already related to literature).* It is customary to relate the aesthetics of Indian art to Indian philosophy and religion. The literary historian may be able to innovate new and alternative approaches to these arts because by necessity he will have to devise large syntheses and inclusive formulations in his attempt to interpret and record the expression in literature of a people who have expressed themselves in other aesthetic forms as well. That is, the universe of aesthetic discourse which has literature as its centre may present a more comprehensive picture of the creative imagination of India than what would be presented if any other art-form were to be placed there. Thereby, Rajasekhara's claim would be vindicated that Sahityavidya is the fifth and foremost branch of learning; Pancami sahityavidya iti Yayavariyah. Sa hi catasmamapi vidyanam nisyandah . . . * See Radhakamal Mukerjee [E.16] for a chart which tabulates dynasties, ideas, periods of art, architectural works, authors and thinkers in a chronological order.


for Our Times

saddarthayor yathavat sahabhavena vidya sahityavidya.

6 The Search for Indian Literature

In his most recent reflection on the subject, K R Srinivasa Iyengar has answered his own rhetorical question thus: "Is 'Indian Literature' no more than the sum of these twenty literatures or is it rather a single literature with diverse manifestations? Umashankar Joshi has declared that he is an Indian writer using the Gujarati language. It is a question of perspective, which is most important" [C.7, p.lO]. It is this question of perspective which will determine the birth and development of literary history writing in India. Our historians of literature have generally preferr­ ed to trace the course of our literary development along linguistic lines, although they have occasionally been re­ minded about*the supra-linguistic features of this develop­ ment. In her Presidential Address at the P E N Confer­ ence of 1945 (already cited), Sarojini Naidu confessed that

The Search for Indian



she was speaking extempore, yet she was able to offer off-hand at least three subjects worthy of a literary histo­ rian's further attention when she said, "[However] differ­ ent the languages are, and however differently derived and differently sustained and expanded and enriched, the basic thought underlying every language, the common unifying thought ideal and focus have been the mythology of India, the ancient lore of India, the ancient songs of India..." [C.12, p.lO]. Under cover of that rhetoric, she has gone vinerringly to two of the deepest common sources of Indian Literature, mythology and folklore. It is by no means an original view but whereas historians of other forms of Indian life and art have investigated these sources for their purposes, our literary historians have not to the same measure. It is heartening to note that the Simla seminar of May 1970 devoted one of its six sectional ses­ sions to the discussion of folk literature. Kshitish Roy's short paper in this section called for the study of folk literature as the highest common denominator of Indian Literature [E.22]. V K Gokak's contribution to the volume Literatures in the Modern Indian Languages [C.18] published in 1957 suggests another kind of approach. He does not insist upon some self-evident unity in Indian literary composition through the ages, as many scholars have without bothering to show the evidence. Instead, he proposes various ways of establishing "a distinct and common line of develop­ ment". Unlike other advocates of the Indian Literature idea who have depended heavily on the ancient period or the modem period to support their thesis. Gokak dwells at length upon medieval literary works wherein he observes three distinctive features: (1) revivalistic move­ ments, (2) depiction of the fight for political survival and consolidation, and (3) efforts at synthesis of Hinduism and Islam, especially in northern India. He also points out that though the middle ages of India have been regarded as a stage of arrested development and cultural stagnation, it was also the period when a large number of new literary forms and modes emerged and were widely prac-


Towards a Literary History of India

tised. Further, he notes contrary tendencies towards the close of the period—^^satirical tendencies which denounced the contemporary situation; a neo-classical mood in which writers indulged in revival of classical forms and their needless elaboration; endeavour to interpret the new social scene in realistic terms. A l l these factors need re-examina­ tion in the context of life and literature of the times, and it is a pity that Gokak has not subsequently pursued this line of enquiry further. Nagendra's essay "The Basic Unity of Indian Litera­ tures' which prefaces the volume edited by him [C.5] states the case more elaborately than any previous state­ ment on the subject. Here he suggests the following com­ mon features or trends in the early and middle stages of the history of literature in most of our languages: (1) poetry inspired by the Nath movement and Shaivite beliefs, (2) heroic poetry, (3) mystic poetry, (4) poetic ro­ mances, (5) devotional writings, (6) drama emanating from folk-drama, and (7) works based on our two epics. In making these points, Nagendra has named numerous lite­ rary works and writers drawn from all over the country to support his observations. But it is possible to regard the first, third and fifth as aspects of the same feature and not as different feaures at all. In fact, regarding them as parts of a continuity and not as discrete phenomena could pro­ vide a possible plank for literary history. Later in the essay, the author states: "So far we have investigated the common elements in the theme and the content of Indian literature, but the similarity of forms and style is no less striking". He does not amplify this point in any detail (as he does, for the earlier points) and a prefatory statement cannot, after all, be expected to state too much. But even if we were to accept unquestioningly the commonality of themes and content, forma and style, as suggested by Nagendra, we get no direction from him about how these features are to be studied and arranged so as to form a historical sequence. No course of development or pattern of inter-relationships emerges from such a listing of common features. A literary histo-

The Search for Indian Literature


rian will derive comfort but no guidance from this essay except when, in dealing with modern literature, the writer states that development has taken place in five successive stages from 1857 to 1957: (1) renaissance, (2) nationalcultural awakening, (3) romantic revival, (4) socialist con­ sciousness, and (5) the dawn of freedom. We may not agree with the naming or the sequence of these stages, but at least here we have the outline of an historical approach. Of course, the modern period is relatively easy to place within a definite framework since the literature in all the languages received the same influence from abroad at the same time (or within the same period of time). Nagendra's approach would seem to represent the general line of thought on the subject—speculative and fragmentary in dealing with pre-modern literature, but cohesive and sys­ tematic in regard to more recent writing. The 'general survey' chapter in the second part of Sunitikumar Chatterji's Languages and Literatures of Moder^i India promises to approach the subject from a wholly new angle. On the model of an observation regarding the tradi­ tion of French romance made by Jean Bodel (a late twelfth century French poet), Chatterji states: About Early Modern Indian Literature, we may say that on the side of storytelling—romance and narra­ tive poetry—there were, to start with, two distinct matters or cycles in almost every province, viz. —• (i) the Matter or Cycle of Ancient Indie, as preserved primarily in Sanskrit, and (ii) the Matter or Cycle of the Province or Linguistic Area concerned—the Matter of Mediaeval India, which sometimes was found treat­ ed not in one language but in many, and which was thus in some" cases inter-provincial or pan-Indian [B.3, p96]. The somewhat unorthodox italicization and punctuation which appears in these lines need some unravelling before we can get through to the meaning. After these two con­ figurations, Chatterji finds that some of the North Indian


Towards a Literary

History of India

languages developed a new matter or cycle under "Muhammadan" inspiration "from the 16th Century on­ wards, particularly from the 17th Century" [B.3]. This he designates as the Matter (or Cycle) of the Islamic World of Persia and Arabia, and notes that this phenomenon is evident, though less strongly, also in southern and western regions wherever there are Muslims. Some confusion is created in these propositions by treat­ ing 'matter' and 'cycle' as interchangeable. "Cycle' has a fairly specific connotation, especially when the original re­ ference is to the cycle of Charlemagne romances or of the Arthurian tales, and their specificity cannot be transferred to the context Chatterji is seeking to create. However, Jean Bodel made a rather static classification in terms of sources when he "divided the subject matter of French Romance into three groups:— (i) the Matter of France, (ii) the Matter of Britain, and (iii) the Matter of Rome" [B.3], and Chatterji has converted this into a dynamic instrument of literary history for the purpose of investigating and re­ cording the development of Indian Literature from early times to the present day. What the scheme cannot do is to take us any further. Chatterji tells us, "Contact vnth the European spirit through Enghsh literature brought in a real Indian Rena­ issance and give a new course to the literature in Modern Indian Languages" [ibid., p- 105]. But he does not make the mistake of trying to force his scheme into embracing this aspect as well by positing a 'Matter of Europe'. Instead, he introduces what may be regarded as a different kind of "cycle' notion when he says that India's contact with the European mind began first in Bengal, as a result of which "the influence of modem Bengali literature... has been, after English literature, one of the most potent forces in Modern Indian literature as a whole in all the various lan­ guages", [ibid.,, p. 106]. If this were true, then the history of modem literature in India would require a very different order of investigation from what Chatterji has proposed earlier. The volume under review is the most ambitious attempt

The Search for Indian Literature


made by one man to lay the foundation of a comprehen­ sive study of Indian Literature. It opens up several possi­ bilities and provides a great deal of information—and does so far more systematically than, say, the volume edited by Nagendra. But it does not ultimately validate the pros­ pect offered in the Introduction: "There is a fundamental unity in the literary types, genres and expressions among all the mediaeval and modem languages of India, as there has b e e n . . . a gradual convergence of Indian languages belonging to the different linguistic families, Aryan, D r a vldian, Sino-Tibetan and Austric, towards a Common Indian Type after their intimate contact with each other for 3000 years" [ibid., p. xiii]. The 'common litersiry Indian type' is easiest to postulate with reference to modern Indian literature, because the same overpowering influence of western thought and lite­ rature has acted, in varying degrees, upon the literature in every Indian language. The modern period is thus relatively simpler to study from the point of view of lite­ rary history. The period has received due attention from modern historians. Unlike as in the older histories written by foreigners, in most of the recent historical accounts of our regional literatures, at least one third of each book is devoted to the modern period. Following the success of their Contemporary Indian Literature [C.4], Sahitya A k a demi have now published a sequel, Indian Literature sikce Independence [C.7], which, as a publication of this nature, is an improvement upon the earlier book. These two volum­ es should be read along with the many anthologies of modem Indian literature (translated into English) as well as the many individual works in English translation that are now available* in order to sample the evolving presence of the 'common Indian literary type'. Also, there are seve­ ral English-language journals devoted to the discussion of

* See A . l for a complete list of anthologies and translations of individual works upto 1971. Some others are mentioned in Appen­ dix II at the end of this book.


Towards a Literary History of India

Indian Literature,* and these provide ample evidence of the way in which contemporary Indian writing has matur­ ed towards an identifiable and discussable identity. The best general guide for the literary culture of this period is Krishna Kripalani's Modern Indian Literature [B. 14]. The basic aproach here makes a gesture of depar­ ture from the prevailing tradition, but the book arouses one's appetite without quite satisfying it. It is, of course, as easy to offer a "panoramic glimpse' of modern Indian literature as it is easy to berate such an offering. But here is an author capable of offering something far more sub­ stantial than a glimpse and much more detailed than a panorama, who has contented himself merely with doing a small job well. Very occasionally—as in the sections on 'Major Impacts' and on "Sanskrit and English'—he touches upon the real problems of writing a literary history of India, but he moves on quickly without dwelling upon these problems. A review of the existing accounts of Indian Literature would suggest that while the Ancient Period (that is, up to about A . D . 900, dominated by Sanskrit literature) and the Modern Period (that is, from about A . D . 1800, increas­ ingly permeated with the influence of European literature), have proved relatively amenable to historical arrangement it is the Middle Period in the literary development of most of our languages that has proved difficult to grasp and bind into a definite scheme. Consequently, our historians have chosen the easy way out by recording separate and mutu­ ally exclusive histories of the literature in each language, and generally avoided a composite literary history of the Middle Period. This period covers at least nine centuries—too many, in fact, to be regarded as a literary period. During these cen­ turies, with the modern languages in the process of emer­ ging from the body of parent speeches, linguistic history can no longer act as a guiding principle when we view any *For example: Indian Literature, Indian Writing Today, Contem­ porary Indian Writing, Vagartha, etc.

The Search for Indian Literature


cross-section of Indian Literature. Literary composition had begun to draw exponents from a wider variey of peo­ ple, while the literary freedom some of the new langu­ ages began to aspire for obtained expression in new literary forms and styles. A wholly new political and reli­ gious power penetrated the subcontinent, and the repercus­ sions began to be felt in every sentient part of the countiy, provoking a wholly new range of cultural reactions, which in due course found their way into literary writing. However new and strange these forces that were in ope­ ration from the tenth century onwards, modern India in the twentieth century has inherited many of the consequ­ ences. It would be a mistake to regard the advent of British j,ower as something which sealed India off from all prior culture stimuli. While some strains of our earlier culture were forgotten and others abandoned, some were retained and others revitalized. It is among the latter that the connuity of Indian culture has been assured and preserved. A similar transformation had taken place when pre-Aryan India gave way to Vedic India. A t that time, too, a vigorous alien culture had impinged upon India and gradually got absorbed after due trial and error, selection and rejection, into indigenous Indian culture. The task of the literary his­ torian will therefore reqmre him to look for those conti-iuing strands of literary culture that have survived the roagh passage from ancient to medieval, then from medie­ val to modem. These strands, when woven together, will form the fabric of our literary history. A t present, this fabric is weakest throughout the length of the Middle Period. That is, when the literature between the tenth and eighteenth centuries is adequately studied, analyzed and incorporated into a larger pattern, the first complete pic­ ture of Indian Literature in its totality will emerge and become available for presentation in the shape of literary history.

7 Sahityavidya in Our Universities

A t the conclusion of the Simla seminar on Indian Litera ture, seven 'statements' were issued.* Certain extracts from these statements, if strung together in a particular sequence, would read as follows: The S e m i n a r . . . considered the present state of langu­ age and literature studies i n the Indian universities and the desirability of instituting a background course in Indian Literature as ancillary to the study of the various individual literatures.... The S e m i n a r . . . feels that a junior course in at least one other literature., . and a background course in Indian Literature as a *Most of these 'statements' seem to flow from the opening address by Dr V K R V Rao, then Union Minister for Education [See C. 6, pp. 11-16].

Sahityavidya in Our Universities


whole should form an integral part of an Honours or Post-graduate course in any Indian Literature The Seminar . . . feels that an earnest attempt should be made by the Departments of Language and Literature India.. . setting the study of any particular literature in the total context of Indian literature and culture . . . that a National Survey of the teaching of Indian languages and literatures should be made so that ap­ propriate steps could be taken soon not only to i n ­ augurate a new era in the teaching of the Indian lite­ ratures' but also to promote unobtrusively yet effectively the cause of national integration. [C. 6, pp. 526-27] The readines to hand over the task to our universities may be attributed to the fact that nearly two-thirds of the par­ ticipants at this seminar were university teachers. Presum­ ably, universities were more confident of their abilities in May 1970 than they are now. Yet the whole notion of deploying our xmiversities to promote the idea of an Indian Literature is curiously reminiscent of what Sir Asutosh Mukherjee had visualized nearly half a century earlier in the address on 'National Literature' already cited* : If we are to bring about the literary unification oi India, we shall have to do so, as far as possible, with the help of our universities . . . . Our universities should provide instruction in such a manner that those stu­ dents who have performed creditably in English and in the local languages will have the opportunity oi studying some other Indian languages. Bengali students who have obtained their B.A. or M.A. degree will, im­ bued with national sentiment, study one or two other Indian languages along with Bangla—Hindi or Mara­ thi, Urdu or "Tailangi'. Afterwards, they will be in a position to enhance the richness of those languages, that is, of Hindi or Marathi It is not enough for only one university to institute thi.i system. In due course, all the universities in India must


Towards a Literary

History of India

arrange for the study of Indian languages . . . . When all the Indian universities have instituted M.A. courses in Indian languages, then every year we shall have • a few educated persons who are scholars not only in their own languages but also in several other Indian langu­ ages . . . . The cultivation of our languages is essential if we are to maintain the feeling of national unity. [E. 14, pp. 14, 15, 19] Even the final declaration above has been echoed in the concluding phrase of the final recommendation of the semi­ nar quoted earlier, although the context in which Sir A s u tosh Mukherjee spoke had altered so much by the time the seminar met at Simla. During the fifty years that separate these two episodes, a large part of Sir Asutosh's dream has materialized in the enormous expansion of the study of Indian languages, not only at universities but also through the efforts of state academies, each devoted to a particular language. What we do not have yet—except sporadically in inter-language lite­ rary seminars and conferences, generally sponsored by governmental agencies and almost never by university bodies—is any organized approach to the comparative study of lilerature in the Indian languages, or what may be called for convenience 'Comparative Indian Literature' studies. The only university department of Comparative Literature in the country, started in the early nineteen-sixties at Jadavpur University, has followed more or less an American model. Its interest seems to be in "world litera­ ture'.* A t some universities, the language faculties have been brought under one roof but the intervening walls re*In fact, the comparatist bias here seems confined to European L i ­ terature and Bangia Literature (and, sometimes, Sanslcrit literature!, and no other literature of India gains admittance. Not surprisingly, the products of this department find it difficult to obtain teaching jobs in India outside the building that houses the department; hence its impact upon literature studies elsewhere in India, perhaps even in CaJcutta itself, is practically negligible.

Sahityavidya in Our Universities


main unbreached.* Individual research scholars in Indian languages have, of course, pursued comparative topics in their doctoral dissertations—very often in the area of influ­ ence studies—but no academic discipline in comparative literature within the framework of Indian Literature has so far developed in India. What was true in the nineteenth century of basic work in history and philology and archaeo­ logy and other disciplines relating to India—^namely, that it was being done by foreign scholars—seems applicable today to that as yet unrecognized subject in India, "Indian Literature'. One can take or teach a course in this subject in America or Canada or Australia, but not in India.t If only to prevent these foreign models from becoming stan­ dard courses in the subject—and one day being imported into India as proto-types—our universities should give t-erious thought to initiating the preliminary processes that one day may lead to the founding of a new and necessary discipline. The groundwork for the development of comparative studies in Indian Literature—the subject may be called "Comparative Indian Literature' or, simply, "Indian Litera­ ture'*—must obviously be laid in our universities, but the *The department of Modern Indian Languages at Delhi University, for example, shows little evidence of having fostered any interfaculty exchange within the department in terms of course-offer­ ings or research topics. fThe B.A. English Honours course at Delhi, incidentally, used to provide for an optional paper in the particular literature in an Indian language of the student's choice, but few students ever opted for this paper. A relatively more successful experiment is the one at Poona Uni­ versity, where the M.A. student seeking a degree in one literature can opt for six papers in that literature (say, English or Marathi) and two in another literature (say, Hindi or French). But since the course content for these optional papers is not decided by the con­ cerned faculties in consultation with one another, the student ob­ tains no comparative view. •The term 'Comparative Literature' is in general use all over the world, but its inadequacy is also widely recognized. Jan Brandt Corstius avoids the term altogether in his book (F. 7), while A Dima has recommended the term 'Comparative History of Literature' [F.IO]. Illustrating a much earlier dissatisfaction with the term. Rene Wellek has recounted:


Towards a Literary History of India.

prbolems fo doing so by fiat have been foreseen by K R Srinivasa Iyengar and V K Gokak in their papers at the Simla seminar. The former admits: "While a course in "In­ dian Literature' may be neither possible nor desirable as an independent and full-fledged 'academic discpiline', such a course can still serve as a useful adjunct to the detailed study of any of the Indian regional literatures" [E.30, p. 448]. The latter cautiously recommends only an optional subsidiary or minor course at post-graduate level [ E . l l ] Nothing would be simpler for a university body than to ins­ titute pioneering courses leading to unique degrees in a hitherto unheard of subject like "Comparative Indian Lite­ rature'. The by far more difficult and infinitely more de­ sirable objective is that all formal s'tudy of literature in any Indian language will have a comparative bias. That is, the very name "Indian Literature' should mean a subject bom of and nourished by comparative study and analysis. A l l branches of knowledge that have become subjects of formal instruction grow by teaching and further study. But at the beginning, before the subject can be taught, its exis­ ting resources have to be explored and its teachability as­ sured. The exploratory search has to be done by scholars and potential teachers of the subject, but not necessarily with the primary objective of instituting university courses. In fact, such an objective should be as remote as possible from the exploration, lest the blinkers of a syllabus-to-be inhibit or even subvert genuine search. The main aim of the ex­ ploration will be to establish that an adequate body of material has now come into existence and is fit for study cn formal lines. In purely physical terms, this means that an optimum amount of material, most preferably in print, in the subject must be present before it can lend itself to

Professor Lane Cooper of Cornell University refused to call the department he headed in the twenties 'Comparative Litera­ ture' and insisted on 'The Comparative Study of Literature'. He considered it a 'bogus term' that 'makes neither sense nor syn­ tax'. "You might as well permit yourself to say 'comparative potatoes' or 'comparative husks'. (F. 20, pp. 3-4).

Sahityavidya in Our Universities


scrutiny with the view of academic instruction. Fortunate­ ly, unlike as with wholly 'new' subjects, we can presume in the case of Indian Literature that abundant material is available, because all that one needs for literary study are primary texts and commentary on these texts. Only, the available material has to be made accessible in a form and substance that will make study and instruction possible and also lend itself to the usual academic sequence of discus­ sion, research and further study all over the country'. That is, it is not so much fundamental research that is required here at the beginning, but judicious and comprehensive ordering of material that is already available. In fact, the process will really be one of re-ordering than of order­ ing, because several generations of literature study and teaching of a particular nature have already gone before. In the present Indian context, among the issues of teach­ ability is that of the language in which this subject, Indian Literature, will be taught. The natural medium would be the language of the region where the subject is being taught—^that is, Bangla in Jadavpur, Hindi in Banaras, Marathi in Poona, Kannada in Bangalore, and so on. But 0uch instruction will not be able to reach out of its own region towards other regions and achieve the inter-regional basis on which the subject has been conceived. The simplest expedient would be to teach it in English—as one would teach German or French or Russian literature in India—but to do so would be to clothe the .subject in a garb as alien as if it had originated in Germany or France, or Russia. Hence the obvious compromise is bi-hngual i n ­ struction, in the regional language as well as in English, so that the local resources are fully utilized and at the same time access to and from other regions is kept fully open. A l l the literature teachers at a university, irrespective of their professional allegiance to a specific literature, could contribute to the formulation of an Indian Literature course, but the responsibility of administering the course will have to be assumed by the department of the regional language of the area, since it is the Indian language depart-


Towards a Literary History of India

ment which has the best resources at that university. But supporting roles will have to be played by the departments of English, Sanskrit and Hindi, since these are present at practically every university. More often than not, the English and Sanskrit and Hindi teachers at any university are native speakers of the language of the region and thus are already qualified by domicile, as it were, if not by the virtue of an academic degree, to participate in the teaching of Indian Literature based on the language of that region. If they belong to other language regions, they are all the more welcome since they can help to build the kind of bridges to other language regions that this subject will badly need. English will provide the linking medium of instruction in such a situation. In short, the existing faculty resources in the language and literature departments at any Indian university of, say, twenty years' standing* are al­ ready, as of now, equal to the needs of teaching an Indian Literature course at whatever level it decides to introduce the course. The usua,l way a new subject of study gets admitted to our universities is' that it is introduced at the highest level —most often as an optional paper in the course of studies for the master's degree, then lowered further and associ­ ated with related subjects asi an alternative group of sub­ jects available for general undergraduate study. If the subject is particularly fortunate, it wiU percolate into high school courses and become a general feature of our educa­ tion system. Generally, however, an unorthodox subject does not descend lower than honours-course status and continues as a specialized course, often re-treading its path upwards for research study towards doctoral degrees. The process isi slow and uncertain, and the direction it is likely to take cannot be predicted. For rapid adoption on a wide scale, universities some­ times resort—^and not always for acaemic reasons alone— to introducing the new subject as a compulsory require*Twenty years is an arbitrary figure, chosen to indicate a university which has started all the departments! it intended to when it was founded.

Sahityavidya in Our Universities


ment in the undergraduate course. Theoretically, this method imposes the subject on the largest number of stu­ dents in the shortest possible time. But the university, to offset the harshness of imposition, often relents in the same breath by making it a qualifying subject and not a core subject which will be studied more thoroughly at sub­ sequent stages of the system. A compulsory subject in which the sttident has to obtain only qualifying marks i n ­ variably becomes reduced to secondary importance. The study and teaching of the subject become devalued corres­ pondingly, and the original intention of providing a com­ mon shared body of knowledge to all undergraduates is utterly defeated.* The recent example of the induction of Indo-Anglian literature to university study—the latest entry to univer­ sity courses in India in our literature faculties—is relevant here. Indians have been composing literary works in E n g ­ lish for more than one hxmdred years, but it is only in the last ten years or so that such writing has swum into the ken of our universities, first as topics of doctoral disserta­ tions, then as optional papers at postgraduate level. A t present, about fifteen Indian universities offer an M . A . paper in the subject, doctoral dissertations are steadUy mounting in number, and, what is most remarkable, there is a regular spate of published criticism and commentary relating to Indo-Anglian authors and works. No less remarkable is the fact that this near revolution has taken place in such seats of orthodoxy as English facul­ ties in India, some of whom are quite content to continue to worship Macaulay, along with Shakespeare and Milton and Shelley, among their gods. It has happened partly because of the gradual realization that the English writing of Indians can no longer be dismissed as a futile and elitist activity nor can these writers be accused any more of sec­ ret ambition of being admitted to the hall of fame of E n g *There used to be a kind of compulsory paper at the intermediate level on Indian Culture at some universities which underwent this decay before it was abandoned. Humanities courses in our insti­ tutes of technology are sometimes! in this condition.


Towards a Literary History of India

lish literature. As Meenakshi Mukherjee has argued in her study of Indo-Anglian novelists [D.I. 1], these authors have to be regarded primarily as Indian novelists so that they may be properly assessed as part of the literary land­ scape of modern India. Another reason for the academic acceptance of Indian writing in English must be that even during British days, such writing (original or in translation) used to appear in high school and college anthologies; Rabindranath Tagore became a household (at least, educated household) name all over India soon after his winning of the Nobel Prize in 1914, not so much because the honour was shared by impli­ cation by all fellow-Indians but because, as a result of this international recognition to the English Gitanjali, ex­ tracts from it began to iind their way into school and college textbooks of English. This phenomenon has naturally grown in post-Independence India, though for a long time the privilege was granted only to such writers as Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru and S Radhakrishnan. It may not be unreasonable to expect that anthologies com­ prising only Indo-Anghan writing will soon become requir­ ed reading in high school and first year college. From both directions then, upwards from school and downwards from doctoral research, Indo-AngUan writing has gained secure ground. One hopes that something similar will happen in the case of Indian Literature when it makes a bid for entry into our education system as a separate subject of study. Since it does not, unlike Indo-Anglian literature, need the spring­ board of English studies to be launched into orbit, Indian Literature should start at lower levels of the system and climb confidently up the ladder. It is a familiar practice of school education authorities to introduce the student to eminent Indians of the past through brief biographies pre­ sented in textbooks for language courses. When the school student is ready to absorb literary history, he could also be introduced to eminent Indian writers so that from the beginning the student is made aware of the fact that the literature in his own language is only one component of his


in Our



much larger literary heritage. When the subject gets inducted into college level study, it will be the direct responsibility of the main language faculty of the region to ensure that the regional literature Is invariably taught in the wider context of Indian Litera­ ture. The English faculty there should also be able to make important and continuing contribution to the growth of this new discipline by using the student's response to the literature in his own language to secure proper res­ ponses to English literature. The situation of the English (literature) teacher at an Indian university grows more and more anomalous as the days go by. Our current needs, even at university level, is of more intensified and better English language teaching. The study of English literature has already receded from the central position is used to have in pre-Independence days- While it will always have (as far as can be foreseen now) a valued place on our acade­ mic scene, it cannot look forward to the kind of advance­ ment* that the study of literature in all Indian languages has made since 1947, partly with state support and partly by virtue of self-confidence resulting from achievement of political independence. Rather than remain content with habitation on islands that are bound to shrink in size and importance as the days pass, our English literati,ire teachers should try and find their way back into the mainstream of Indian literary culture. A number of our most eminent writers in various languages have been or are teachers of English. Those English teachers who cannot write creative literature could still find many ways—^as critic or trans­ lator or annotator or bibliographer—of serving the cause of Indian Literature without violating his professional loyalties.t He shares with every teacher of English litera*lf any advancement has taken place, it has mostly been in the career and other benefits of some individual teachers. No 'school' of English studies ever developed in spite of the dogged devotion with which we have studied English literature for so long, and none is likely to develop in the future. tone way, still within the English Department, was suggested long ago by V K Gokak when he proposed that "the creative translation of an Indian classic, edited with a critical introduction bringing out


Towards a Literary History of India

ture teacher, in India and abroad, a commonwealth of learning which he should put to much better use in his own country than he has until now. There is no doubt that the study of Indian Literature as a subject ought to be conducted by our universities — not, however, for the purpose of national integration or some such non-literary, non-academic purpose, but for develop­ ing the framework and the instruments for improved study of our own literature. To adapt a French definition of litterature comparee, we need to develop a methodical art which, through its search for links in analogy, relationship and influence, seeks either to bring literature close to other domains of expression or knowledge, or to bring facts and literary texts together (irrespective of whether such texts are remote in time and space or not, provided they belong to various languages and cultures, even though they form pa.rt of a single tradition), so that they can be described, understood and enjoyed better.* This modest yet laudable objective ought to be well within the competence of every xmiversity in India.

its milieu and its literary significance" should be considered suitable for a Ph.D. degree in English [See E.9, p.l55]. •Adapted from Claude Pichois and Andre-M. Rousseau [See F. 8, p. 174].

8 The Working Plan

To justify all that has gone before in this monograph, we shall now have to think in practical terms of a feasible project which will produce a publication to be entitled 'A Literary History of India'.* The task of preparing the ground and gathering the material for writing this history must obviously be undertaken by a group of persons who among them will cover all the languages, past and present, of the country. But each member of the group will have to be fully and continually conscioiis of the fact that he cannot have direct access to all the material that is to be investigated and that he will frequently have to rely on the judgement of others in regard to a bulk of this material. *A literary history rather than the literary history better expresses the spirit of this venture.


Towards a Literary History of India

The necessity of mutual help has to be stressed at the outset, and it cannot be stressed enough. Group work is the only solution to the problem arising out of the multi­ lingual nature of the material, yet it is a solution that is very hard to achieve. As it is, literary response and eva­ luation are areas where the widest differences of opinion are possible. Having to depend upon opinions at second hand in such areas is bound to cause tremendous difficulties. But there is no other way of getting around the basic problem, and one can only hope that in the process of working together the working group will develop the kind of inter-dependence that is vital to the success of the project.* The problem would have been simpler, or at least of lesser magnitude, if the working group of this project were to be a reasonably small and homogeneous group. But the nature of this project requires that the group should be large and heterogenous, comprising sub-groups which will be scattered all over the country and be in minimal contact with one another. Further, the project w i l l be in operation over a number of years, hence the personnel of each group unit is unlikely to remain the same throughout the project. These important variables require not only careful selection of personnel but also the closest possible coordination. The constants of the situation must be stead­ fast,! so that they can regulae the variables effectively. The project will require the following units of operation, each consisting of a group of persons: 1 Plarming 2 Research 3 Compilation 4 Coordination 5 Editorial These group-units will come into operation in the order in which they have been listed, the first two at the initial *It would be useful to know the other problems of collaborative writing projects — for example, like the one which produced the Cambridge History of English Literature.

The Working Plan


stage, the third and fourth at an intermediate stage, the fifth at the final stage. The planning unit is the only per­ manent unit and it will operate from beginning to end. The unit of coordination will begin functioning only after the project has got to the stage where coordination is called for, then continue till the end. Since its work will be periodical, it need not be at one place nor be staffed throughout by the same persons. The research and compi­ lation units will be disbanded when their work is over, which may be weU before the completion of the project. The editorial unit, like the coordination unit, comes into operation only after a certain stage; but this unit should be at one place, preferably at the same place where the planning unit is located. Common membership to some extent of the vaxious units would obviously have some advantages, but this is not essential. The sequence of operations will be as follows. The plan­ ning unit will prepare the research requirements and allocate assignments to the research unit. The research unit will report their findings to the compilation unit, which will check and arrange the information received. This informa­ tion will then be used by persons entrusted with the actual writing. Such persons will be assigned their work by the editorial unit. What they write will then be scrutinised by the editorial unit, then the final publishable form of a book or a series of volumes will be given to the contributions. The coordination unit will act in a general supervisory capacity in relation to all the other group-units. The research unit will be the largest and most diverse in character and location. Its composition must be such that the entire range of Indian languages that have pro­ duced any literature gets covered vertically as well as horizontally — that is, the historical phases of Indian Literature as well as its geographical dispersal are taken account of so as to ensure that no work of any note is left out of the reckoning nor any factor that has a bearing upon literature is overlooked. On the one hand, therefore, this group-unit will review the Ancient, Middle and Modern periods; on the other, it will assess the major authors,


Towards a Literary History of India

works and literary developments in all our fourteen or sixteen developed languages (that is, with literary works to their credit). The following sub-ga-oups or sub-units will have to be assembled on regional or zonal lines to- under­ take the basic search and research: 1 North India : Sanskrit and Prakritic languages 2 South India : Tamil and Prakritic languages 3 Northern region : Kashmiri, Panjabi, Rajasthani, Sindhi 4 Western region : Gujarati, Marathi 5 Southern region : Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu 6 Eastern region : Asamiya, Bangla, Maithili, Oriya 7 Central region : Hindi, Urdu These sub-units are being suggested on broad geographic lines and with provisional literary links in mind, without considering the more precise language-family relation­ ships.* Each member of the first two sub-units will be proficient in a Modern Indian Language in addition to the Ancient or Middle Indian language of his specialization. Each member of the five other sub-units wi^l be proficient in at least one Modern Indian Language other than the one of his specialization (which, of course, he must know from its Middle Indian stage). Proficiency in this context will naturally mean ability to imdertake literary research in that language. English will be the medium of exchange inside each sub-unit and among the sub-units, and also the language in which research submissions will be made to the compilation unit. None of the other group-units needs to have the kind of comprehensve language representation that is being sug­ gested for the research unit. But the minimum qualifica­ tion for any person associated with the project in any of the group-units ought to be that he is actively involved, as teacher or as writer or critic or translator or bibliogra­ pher in the literature of at least one of the Modern Indian *As for example by Sunitikumar Chatterji in [B.3, pp. 30-32].

The Working Plan


languages. The location of the various group-units wUl perhaps ultimately be guided by the personnel of each unit. But certain g^iidelines could be laid down at the outset. The research sub-units must be dispersed as widely as possible but have direct relation to the available resources in each of the regions implied in their formation. A university dieparment or a state academy or the two in collaboration ought to be able to provide the right kind of facilities for such research. A t the same time, they could benefit from such activity in the direction of further and more intensive research on selected subjects to be undertaken by them in future on their own. B y the same logic, the unit of com­ pilation should be located at an all-India institution where it can be housed permanently and developed for all future reference. The coordination unit, which will supervise the whole operation, will have a fairly flexible composition and func­ tion. It need not even always function as a unit, but its members will be free to inquire periodically into any aspect of the project's operation that a particular member is interested in and is qualified to inquire into. Instead of setting up a whoUy new group-unit just for this project, a body like the central Sahitya Akademi could be invited to assist in the matter by lending their services from time to time, both' from headquarters at New Delhi and from their regional centres elsewhere in India. A s the only organiza­ tion in the country with some experience of grappling with the idea of Indian Literature, the Sahitya Akademi's con­ tribution to this project could prove invaluable. Since the planning of the project will benefit from ideas emanating from continuous discussion, the unit for plann­ ing had better be located at a teaching institution rather than at one devoted only to research. This would best be a central university, since such institutions are better endowed with men and money than the state universities. But it ought to be a central university which is still open to new academic ideas and ventures, which is potentially capable of developing a new humanistic discipline based


Towards a Literary History of India

on interdisciplinaxy study, and which is not yet wholly pre­ occupied with the task of turning out degree-holders of all levels in every subject. According to the logic that the planners ought to know the product of their planning, the editorial unit should come into being where the planning unit already is. The editorial unit will process the final stages of the product, and any penultimate adjustments necessary can be effected in consultation with the planning unit if both units are at the same place. The operation most difficult to foresee at this stage is the actual writing. It has not been conceived of as a groupunit activity because a number of authors working on their own are required. The right number will depend upon the way the project develops and the publication plan it finally chooses. I may be simplest to follow the procedure in the earlier stages of the project where the various research sub-units submit their findings to a centralized compila­ tion unit; similarly, the various writers (who may be re­ garded as so many sub-units, each with a specific assign­ ment) will submit their contributions to a centralized editorial unit. Since seven research sub-units have been suggested, let us presume there will be at least seven writers or writing sub-units. The actual writing will be done individually, but necessary facilities will have to be arranged so that it is possible for each writer to consult the compilation unit. After the separate writings reach the editorial unit, the editors will have to fit the contributions into the general scheme. In order to do so, they may have to do a certain amount of re-writing apart from whatever original writing they will do to supply the transitions from one contribution to another.* Irrespective of how intelligent, conscientious and hard­ working the project has been prior to the actual writing, the outcome of the project, as represented in the written *Apart from the crucially different consideration posed by our multi-language material, our planning and writing could in large measure adopt what was done for the'Literary History oi the United States (first edition, 1948), a multi-author project with a board of editors.

The Working Plan


account that emerges from it, will ultimately be judged by how the final writing is received. In the process of organizing and interpreting the given data, Spiller tells us, "the historical critic finally becomes the literary artist himself, and his literary history is a form of literary art and subject to the tests of truth, honesty and justice to which all art must defer'' [F. 17, p. 68]. But of the two primary activities of the literary historian — historical re­ search and historical criticism — the first will be conducted in the present instance at second hand: that is, by the research unit of the working group. Hence the success of the project will depend as much on the research as on the criticism. This means that the members of the research unit must be of comparable academic training and experi­ ence, as the writers of the project. Otherwise, the mutual trust in literary judgement cannot be generated, nor can valid answers be found to the basic questions of literary history: "How ? When ? Where ? Why ? a work of litera­ ture exists or has existed and what its relationships are or were to other works of literature, and to the whole history of man as a sentient and social being" [F. 17, p. 55]. It will be enough for our purpose if, for the time being, these questions are sought to be answered in the context of the whole history of Indian man. The research support to the writing will mainly be of these seven kinds: (1) Surveying the published history and criticism of the literature in every language to locate the information gaps (in English) that have to be filled for the benefit of the project writers (who, for the operational purposes of the research unit, will be deemed to know only English). (2) Preparing digests of relevant literary works (other than those about which adequate information is already available) in order to provide, apart from a summary of contents, critical evaluation of the form and style of each important work. (3) Presenting brief biographies of relevant writers (other than those about whom adequate information is already available), highlighting all aspects of their lives which


Towards a Literary History of India

would be of relevance to literary history. (4) Checking and establishing basic information such as names, dates and places relating to all major literary works and their authors. This information, suitably supplemented (from 2 and 3 above) as in the 'Oxford Com­ panion' volumes, could grow into a comprehensive and authoritative reference work for Indian Literature studies.* (5) Describing all literary forms and styles that are seem­ ingly exclusive only to a particular language or region. (6) Abstracting, from all existing scholarship and critic­ ism in all our languages, whatever would be relevant to the purpose of the project writers. "This is the largest gap in any one Indian literary historian's knowledge of avail­ able commentary on Indian Literature. He has to go by whatever is accessible to him in the language (or langu­ ages) he commands, and he remains ignorant of all else that is available.t (7) Speculating about possible connections between a literary work and the non-literary factors surrounding it. Crucial hypotheses of literary history can emerge from such speculation, and the speculator here has the great advantage that the project situation will act as a sounding board for all hypotheses. These seven are what may be regarded as the essential and general assignments allotted to each research sub-unit. In addition, there will be specific assignments, some in which all can participate and others confined to the region where they are applicable. Such assignments — they are really exercises in literary historiography — could be of the following kind: (1) A t the outset of his discussion of the organizing prin­ ciples in the writing of literary history, R S Crane states: "The minimum principles of organization of any literary history are obviously succession in time, distribution in space... and likeness and difference in character" [F. 4, *No such reference work exists today. fAs already indicated in the preface, this monograph is that much poorer because it is based almost entirely on what is available in English.

The Working Plan


p. 23]. Our literary historians are seriously handicapped in the first two factors, hence must bring the third prin­ ciple into fullest play. This means close reading of texts of a high order and developing a Icind of neo-New Criticism for our needs which will operate, if not entirely in the void, at least in the discontinuous time and unfinished spaces of our history. (2) Each adaptation of the Ramayana and the Maha­ bharata into one of the modern languages caused some modification of detail while some interpolations occurred. A t one time or another in the growth of each language, it seems to have flexed its muscles and tested its new-found powers by translating or adapting the two epics wholly or in parts. The nature of the adaptations ought to yield clues to aspects of culture of the people concerned at that place and time as revealed in literature. As Sri Aurobindo has said, "The work of these epics was to popularise high philo­ sophic and ethical idea and cultural practice... rewritten in the regional tongues, brought to the masses by the Kathakas ... became and remained one of the chief instru­ ments of popular education and culture" [B.2, p. 286]. (3) A version of the sociological concept of Sanskritization formulated by M N Srinivas has operated in the lite­ rary history of India during the Middle Period. Given the choice between composing in Sanskrit and in his own re­ gional language, writers persisted with Sanskrit composi­ tion long after Sanskrit had lost its hegemony (in modern reckoning) as the supreme language of culture. How did this affect the literary culture of each region where it happened, and can the effects be mapped on an all-India scale? Some connection will be found between this pheno­ menon and the emasculation from early vigour of some of our modern languages. (4) Between them, Banabhatta (two major worlcs) and King Harsha (three extent plays) have provided a vital rallying point to political or economic or social historians of ancient India. A similar opportunity could be seized by the literary historian if he could devise a 'life and times' approach to Banabhatta and draw a picture of the literary


Towards a Literary History of India

culture in which the authors of Kadambari and Ratnavali had flourished. A series of such studies of major authors from Kalidasa down to Mirza Ghalib should be attempted to set up a hypothetical line of succession. It would not be a real lineage in any sense, but the deliberate effort of placing an author in the focus of a study of the life around him may yield useful results.* (5) In the second of his six Calcutta University Reader­ ship lectures of 1923, Winternitz stated: When we examine more closely the literature of the legends and poetical maxims, included in the Mahabharata and in the Puranas, we shall clearly distin­ guish not only two different ethical systems, two different views of life, but also two distinctively differ­ ent streams of literature. We shall find on the one hand Brahmanical literature, and on the other hand, ascetic morality, the ascetic view of life and ascetic literature... [B.25, p. 22]. If not in the same terms, a similar dialectic must have operated in all the more vital phases of literary activity in most of our languages. A current and a counter-current is a fairly familiar situation in literary history. We have so far been content with discovering only the currents. The counter-currents in every regional literature should now' be investigated, so that the picture becomes rnore complete than bef'->re. (6) The bhakti literature of medieval India, which was supported by perhaps the most wide-spread and long-last­ ing, social and intellectual stir in the country, is an obvious subject for detailed investigation in all languages. Starting from its southern home in Tamil Nadu, the Bhakti move­ ment travelled northwards until it produced "the first fruit *Neeta Sharma's study of Banabhatta [E. 27] devotes twenty-one pages to the life and times of her subject, and the rest of the book dwells at length upon his works. See also works on Kalidasa and Bhavabhuti [E. 24, E. 3]. What we need is a radical change in angle of approach which will place the author at the centre of his times.

The Working Plan


of the marriage between the ancient Bhagavatism of the North and the mystical ecstasy of the Alvars of the South" [E. 16, p. 315]. Then it spread eastwards and westwards, returning in great curves through the Deccan back into the heartland of India. From the Rural of Tiruvalluvar to Tulsidasa's Ramacharitamanas, there appears to have been a continuous stir in literary composition, the details of which need to be examined in every language region through which the movement passed. From these separate details,, it should be possible to put together a spinal column as it were of medieval Indian Literature. (7) Periodization is one of the principal problems not only of Indian literary history but of Indian history in general. Even with the Modern Period, about which we do not lack information, there can be difficulty in forming satisfactory period divisions — as Odolen Smekal discover­ ed when trying to devise criteria for a scientific periodiza­ tion of what he calls 'New Hindi Literature' [E. 29]. Neither a purely historical criterian nor the so-called gene­ ration criterion (viz., 'the age of Bharatendu') seems suit­ able to him. Instead he proposes that the dividing line between periods should be drawn only after the following steps of enquiry have been carried out: (i) finding out what changes have come about in the literary development, as regards subject matter, form, artistic methods, literary structure, as well as language and styles; (ii) searching for their causes, seeking to trace the stimuli to the shifts by confronting literary phenomenon with extra-literary fac­ tors) exercising a palpable influence on the trend of literary development; (iii) setting the end-limit of the period by marking the point where the changes have reached their maximum and given rise to apparent homogeneity which means that the duration of a stable literary complex has begun; and (iv) noting the point when the stability as well as the correlation complex are interrupted, because this marks the start of a stage of transition leading to the next period. Obviously, such a detailed analysis can only he done for a period about which adequate information is readily available. But, as any literary historian of India will realize,


Towards a Literary History of India

excess of information, can present as much of a problem as its insufficiency when he has to worlc with a construct of the size that is being recommended in this monograph. (8) Jayakant Mishra's paper "Forms of Genres in Indian Literature' at the Simla seminar [E.13] offers a readymade project to the eastern region research sub-unit. In this paper, he has drawn attention to how a poetic from like the pada, a dramatic form like the ankiya nat, and a narrative prose form like the varnana originated in one of the langu­ ages in the region and then got adapted by the other langu­ ages. Modifications occurred in the process of adaptation, and a study of these changes would undoubtedly provide a link of literary history which may be applicable to other re­ gions. (9) Approaching our own times, an enquiry into the an­ cestry of literary forms current at present in India is essen­ tial. The novel form, for example, is generally regarded as having been imported from the west.* This is certainly true of the kind of novel which flourished in nineteenth century England and came across to us most rapidly. But the proliferation of the novel in modern India and its varie­ ty of forms cannot but make one wonder whether or not the imported seeds of narrative fiction fell upon land ready to receive it. Sustained narratives of considerable length were known through the ages to the educated Indian as texts in the itUiasa or akhyayika tradition, while the un­ educated Indian was served by the katha tradition. Prose was practically unknown to these traditions and the pre­ valence of the prose narrative is the real innovation asi a re­ sult of contact with the West. Otherwise, there seems to be ground for a thesis that only those imported literary forms got established in India where a comparable indigenous tradition existed, even if it was dormant. (10) P L a i once recommended a policy to all, writers in the Indian languages: "No writer shall commit pen to paper until he has spent ten years studying the Indian classics, learning the Indian tradition, and absorbing the Indian *See [C.16; C. 17]

The Working Plan


myth" [B.15, p. 40]. Writers in the Indian languages are un­ likely to have listened to Lai, but his grievance—specifi­ cally, in the essay cited, against contemporary Hindi fiction —is justified. The lesson he enforced is that unless a lite­ rature is informed by myth, it is doomed to highly transi­ tory effectiveness as art. This issue could be explored in our modern literature, perhaps even into our medieval lite­ rature. The reclamation of myths has always been a stra­ tegy of art, and the strategy is particularly relevant to Indian society which, one presumes, has always been res­ ponsive to myths. The presence or absence of myth in the literature of a given period is worth examination, because it will reveal something of the literary artist's mind and of the society in which he lived. These and other such specific tasks of the research subunits will call for imaginative and pleasurable activity which ought to offset the tedium of the jobs suggested as general assignments. It should not be impossible in an aca­ demic situation to motivate the research workers positively by turning these specific assignments into research topics for post-graduate dissertations. The project work will then become part of the normal functioning of the institution concerned. We should not however misread the academic emphasis in the working plan to mean that only academic institutions are suitable for or capable of undertaking this work. A libe­ ral blending of non-academic persons among the personnel of the project is absolutely necessary, in order to guard against the project's slow but sure petrifaction into an aca­ demic monument. The working plan as outlined above is intended mainly to give an idea of the magnitude of the proposed undertaking. A more detailed plan, which will explain as well as justify every part of the operation, must wait until the prospect of floating such an enterprise seems somewhat certain. The overall design of the plan is that the first half of its ope­ ration, through sustained search and research, will produce a mass of material which the second half of the operation, consisting of writing and editorial refinement, will process


Towards a Literary

History of India

towards the making of a book or a series Of related books. To conclude, the minimum aim of this monograph has eeen to explore and demonstrate the possibility of writing a Literary history of India. The highest objective, implied therein, is the endeavour to obtain a knownledge of our sig­ nificant tradition, itihasa*, in literature.

•Itihasa, according to our ancient critics, "was an ancient histo­ rical or legendary tradition turned to creative use as a signiflcant mythus or tale expressive of some spiritual or religious or ethical or ideal meaning and thus formative of the mind of the people"— Sri Auroblndo,[B.2, p. 285].

Appendix I The Ramayana and the Mahabharata in Indian Languages

These national epics have been rendered into nearly all Indian languages through the centuries. The information collected here and presented in approximate chronological sequence is in support of the second exercise suggested in chapter 8. THE RAMAYANA Kamba-Ramayana (11th century): Tamil adaptation of six parts bj Kamban, in viruttam metre. Uttarakhandam: Tamil rendering of the seventh part, by Ottakkutthar, a contemporary of Kamban's who completed Kamban's work. Pampa-Ramayana or Ramachandra-charita-purana (12th century): Kannada work by Nagachandra, better known as Abhinaba Pampa or Pampa the Second. Ramacharitram (12th century): Malayalam version of the 'Yuddhakanda', by a poet who called himself Kanda; written in a mix­ ture of Malayalam and Tamil. Ranganatha Ramayana (C. 1290): Telugu adaptation by Gona Buddhi Reddi; composed between 1240 and 1295, in dvipada metre. Bhaskara Ramayana (14th century): Telugu version, followed soon after the Ranganatha Ramayana and is more of- an elite render­ ing; work of several authors, probably a family group. Asamiya version (14th Century) by Kaviraj Madhav Kandali.



Vilanka-Ratnayana (14th century) Oriya version by Sarala-dasa. Kannassa Ramayanam: Malayalam poem, the major work in a col­ lection known as Kannassan Patukkal, composed by a family of Niranam, a place in Travancore; this poem is ascribed to one Rama Panikkar, who wrote it some time between 1375 and 1475. Bengali version (C. 1418) by Krittibas Ojha. Vasi.itha-Ramayana (C. 1420): Telugu work, by Madikisingana. Giti-Ramayana (15th century): Asamiya re-telling of the story in songs; the work of Durgavara. Oriya tendering (C. 1500) by Balarama Das. Kannada version (16th century) by a poet who called himself Kumara-Valmiki, composed in satpadi metre. Ramayana-champii (16th century): in Malayalam, Ramanattam (16th century): in Malayalam, by Kottakara Tamburan; composed as accompaniment for Kathakali performance. Adhyatma Ramayanam (16th century): Malayalam version by Ezutt.acan. Rama-vijaya (16th century): Marathi version by Sridhara. Rama-charit-manas (begun in 1574): by Tulsidas, in Hindi (Avadhi). Bhavartha-Ramayana (later 16th century): in Marathi by Ekanath. Ramavatara-charitra (C. 1760): Kashmiri version by Prakasa-rama. THE MAHABHARATA Pampa-Bharata, or Vikramarjunavijayam: Kannada version by Pampa the First. Tamil adaptation (10th or 11th century) of certain episodes by Pukazhenti; in venpa metre, hence the Nala-Damayanti; episode is known as Nala-venpa. Telugu version: earliest (C. 1020) are the first two parvan and part of the third parvan by Nannaya: remaining fifteen parvan ren­ dered by Tikkana in late 13th century; rendering of the third parvan completed by Errapragada in mid-14th century. Asamiya version (14th century) of episodes rendered by Harihara Vipra and Kaviratna Saraswati. Oriya version (14th century) by Sarala-dasa. Bharatham (15th century): Tamil adaptation by Villuputhurar; sub­ sequently, Nallappillai added about 10,000 stanzas. Bharata-Gatha (15th Century): Malayalam long poem of unknown authorship. Kannada version (15th century) of first ten parvan rendered in sat­ padi metre by Naranappa, also known as Kumara-Vyasa; re­ maining eight parvan completed by Tammanna. Bharatha-champu (16th century): in Malayalam. Bharatam (16th century): Malayalam version by Ezuttachan. Asamiya version (16th century) of first four books rendered by Rama Saraswati.

Towards a Literary History of India Marathi version (early 17th century) by Mukteswara. Bengali version (C. 1650) by Kashiram Das. Pandava-pratapa (C. 1700): Marathi version by Sridhara. Marathi version (C. 1790) by Moropant.

Appendix 11 Some Modern Anthologies and Annotated Texts in English Translation

While a great deal of Indian Literature has been translated into English by Indians themselves, the better translations continue to be done in England and in America. Critical introduction prefacing these anthologies and individual texts are sometimes exemplary exercises in literary history. An Anthology oj Indian Literature, (ed.) Joseph Alphonso-Karkala, Penguin Books, 1971. An Anthology of Indian Literatures, (ed.) K Santhanam, Gandhi Peace Foundation, New Delhi and Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay, 1969. An Anthology of Marathi Poetry, 1945-65, (ed.) Dilip Chitre, N i r mala Sadanand Publishers, Bombay, 1967. An Anthology of Sanskrit Court Poetry (Vidyakara's 'Subhasitaratnakosa), (ed. and trans.) Daniel H H Ingalls, Harvard University Press, 1965. A n abridged version, entitled Sanskrit Poetry, also available. Bhartrihari: Poems, (trans.) Barbara Stoler Miller, Columbia Uni­ versity Press, New York, 1967. (Chandidas) Love Songs of Chandidas, (trans.) Deben Biiattacharya, George Allen & Unwin, London, 1967. Ghalib, Vol. I: Life and Letters, (ed. and trans.) Ralph Russell and Khurshidul Alam, George Allen & Unwin, London, 1969.

Towards a Literary History of India


The Golden Pomegranate, A selection from the poetry of the Mug­ hal Empire in India, 1526-1858, Baker, London, 1966. The Interior Landscape: Love poems from a Classical Tamil Antho­ logy, (trans.) A K Ramanujan, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1967. (Jayadeva) The Gita Govinda of Jayadeva, (trans.) Monika Varma, Writers Workshop, Calcutta, 1968. Modern Hindi Poetry, (ed.) V N Mishra, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1967. Modern Indian Poetry: An Anthology, (ed.) A V Rajeswara Rao, Kavita, New Delhi, 1958. [Nanak] Hymns of Guru Nanak, (trans.) Khushwant Singh, Orient Longmans, New Delhi, 1969. New Writing in India, (ed.) Adil. Jussawala, Penguin Books, 1973. Poems from the Sanskrit, (ed. and trans.) John Brough, Penguin Books, 1968. [Premchand] The Gift of a Cow, A translation of the Hindi novel, Godan, (trans.) Gordon C. Roadermal, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1968. The World of Premchand: Selected Stories, (trans.) David Rubin, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1969. The Rough and the Smooth: Short Stories from Marathi, (ed.) Ian Raeside, Asia Publishing House, Bombay, 1967. A Tagore Reader, (ed.) Amiya Chakravarty, Macmillan, New York, 1961. [Tulsidas] Kavitavali, (ed. and trans.) F R Allchin, George AUen & Unwiri, London, 1964^ [Vidyapati] Love Songs of Vidyapati, (trans.) Deben Bhattacharya, George Allen & Unwin, London, 1963. [Yashpal] Short Stories of Yashpal: Author and Patriot, (Introd. and trans.) Corinne Friend, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1969.

Appendix III Some Unpublished Dissertations in Indian Literature

In the early nineteen-thirties, Indian scholars doing doctoral work abroad sometimes undertook research on Indian literary themes and wrote their dissertations in English—as, for example, P. Guha T h a kurata's on Bengali drama [D. B. 9] or R. K . Yajnik on Indian theatre [B. 26]. After a gap, such dissertations are again being writ­ ten, now by Indian as well as foreign research scholars. The unpub^ lished , dissertations listed below are a sample of tiiis kind of research. Mohammad Abdul Awwal, The prose works of Mir Masarraf Hosen (1869-1899), London, 1967. (Bangia). Alauddin A l Azad; The lije and short poems of Isvarachandra Gup­ ta, London, 1970 (Bangia poet who lived 1812-1869). Suresh Ranjan Bald: Indian novelists, 1919-1947: A study in political consciousness, Harvard, 1968. (Focuses on Premchand and Mulk Raj Anand). John Victor Boulton; Phakiramchan Senapati: His life and proseflction, (Oriya writer who lived during 1847-1918), London, 1967. Jenny Lenora de Bruyne; Rudrakavi's great poem of the dynasty of Rashtraudha, Utrecht, 1968. (Discussion and translation of Rastraudhavamsamahakavya) Corinne Vernon Friend; Yashpal's life as a revolutionary and its impact on his writing, Leeds, 1967/68. (Hindi novelist), Yashpal's lite as a revolutionary and its impact on his writings

Towards a Literary History of India


as seen through his autobiography and early novels. Pennsyl­ vania, 1970. (Based on Simhalokan and the first two novels) Janet Goldberg; Premchand as a short story writer, Colombia, 1968. Esther Handler; The feminine paradigms of the Gadyakavyas: A study in literary convention, Pennsylvania, 1966. (Based on Vasavadatta, Harsacarita, Kadambari, & Dasakumaracarita) George Luserne Hart; Related cultural and literary elements in ancient Tamil and Indo-Aryan, Harvard, 1970. (Makes use nf early Tamil and Indo-Aryan poetry) Barron Gregory Holland; The Satsai of Bihari: Hindi poetry of the early Riti period — Introduction, translation and notes, Cali­ fornia (Berkeley), 1969. (Work of Bihari Lai, 1595-1664) Abu Hena Mustafa Kamal; The Bengali press and literary writing, 1818-1831, London, 1969. Mary McClelland Lago; English literature and modern Bengali short fiction: A study in influences, Missom-i, 1969. (Focuses on Rabindranath Tagore) Jeffrey Lloyd Masson; Suggestion in Sanskrit poetics: The Dhyanyaloka and the Dhyanyalokalochana, Harvard, 1971. Barbara Stoler Miller; The Caurapancasika attributed to Bilhana, Tico recensions of the Sanskrit poem; critically edited, transla­ ted, and presented in sixteenth century illustrations, Pennsyl­ vania, 1968. Keith Edward Neilsen; Two uses of the theatre as a commwiiication mode for the study of selected cultural concepts of India, Michi­ gan State, 1970. John Ansumaii Ramsai-an; A study of some aspects of English reli­ gious verse with analogies from Hindi bhakti poetry up to the seventeenth century, co7isidered in relation to their intellectual and religious environments, London, 1967. Gordon Charles Roadermal; The theme of alienation in the modern Hindi short story, California (Berkeley), 1969. Tatiana Rutkowska; Osnovniye cherti srednevekovoy literaturi Hindi (Polish: Substa^itial features oi medieval Hindi literature), Warsaw, 1968. Krishnaswami Subrahmanian; The theory of 'suggestion' in Sanskrit poetics, English romanticism, and French symbolism, Indiana, 1969. Robert Oscar Swan; Premchand: A critical evaluation of three stages in the evolution of one of the foremost Hi7idi short story writers, Pennsylvania, 1966. Gaya Charan Tripathi; Der ursprung und die entwickliing der vamanalegende in der indischen literatur (German: The origin and development of the Vamana legends in Indian literature), Freiburg i.B., 1966. Alice GabrieUe Tyrner-Stastny; Indo-Anglian literature and the colonial Indian elite, Cornell, 1966.



Vivian Marguerite Walker; Sanskrit literature elements in modern Hindi literature, California (Barkeley), 1966. (Analyzes some representative works by Yashpal and Hazariprasad Dwivedi). Irene Witting; The evolution of the aesthetical ideals and philoso­ phical views of the Hindi lyric poet Sumitranandan Pant between 1918 and 1934, (in German) Leipzeig, 1967.

Appendix IV


Western approaches to Indian Literature have generally been found unsatisfactory in this monograph. But I must make note of the latest pronouncement from the mid-west of the United States of America, which came to hand nearly one year after I finished writing my piece. Proper assessment of this new publication* will no doubt follow in India. Here I wish merely to record that several scholars in wintry Chicago have been thinking thoughts that have also occurred, though perhaps not as lucidly, to a summer visitor at Simla. The volume in question is a collection of essays — or, more truly, an agglutination of shorter pieces whcih reflects their authors' primary preoccupations. The title-page mentions as many as six authors, two of whom (C M Nairn and A K Ramanujam) are Indians who continue to live in Amei-ica. Only three of these six have signed the preface — Edward Dimock, Edwin Gerow and J A B van Bultenen —and they hold themselves specially respon­ sible Jor putting the publication into final shape. The sixth author — Gordon Roadermal — is, alas, also the person to whom t))is book is dedicated. He died before it went to press. * The Literatures of India: An Introduction. Chicago Press, 1974.

The University of



The main parts or chapters of the boolc each has several titled sections written by different people without any uniformity in the number of sections or much carry-over from section to section. The main headings are: 1. The Indian Epic (four sections); 2. The Classical Drama (three); 3. Indian Poetics (Ave); 4. The Lyric Poem: Various Contexts and Approaches (five); 5. The Story Literature (three); 6. The Persistence of Classical Esthetic Categories i n Con­ temporary Indian Literature: Three Bengali Novels (three); 7. The Modern Hindi Short Story and Modern Hindi criticism. There is an epilogue entitled 'The modern film'. These sections, when added to the ten in the Introduction to the volume, make thirty-four pieces altogether. This piecemeal compo­ sition is both a strength as well as a weakness — strength because it has accommodated some discussion of a number of vital features of Indian Literature; weakness because very few of these features are analysed at satsifactory length, while the reader passes too frequently from one writer to another. Multiplicity of authorship has, however, succeeded in offering a multiplicity of view-jpoints from which the subject can be studied further. Considering the nature of the subject, no other approach is valid. The presence of A K Ramanujum ensures that southern theory and practice of literature (in Tamil and Kannada) is represented. Dimock (for Bengali) and Nairn (for Urdu) provide some links between the medieval and the modern. Roadermal (Hindi) and Gerow (in. a somewhat contrived manner using three Bengali novels) touch upon modern writing. Inescapably, however, the volume leans towards ancient literature — so much so that van Buitenen has been given room to retell the stories of Ramayana, Sakuntala, Mrichha Katikam and Mudraraksasa. Although the sub­ title of the volvune does admit that it is 'An Introduction', its target readersi are surely persons already acquainted with such texts. The hard core of the volume was formed at a seminar in 1964 which produced working papers that provided the basis of the chapters. Even thougii six more years passed before the material was put together for publication, the original flavour of many voices speaking one after another has remained. A valiant attempt has been made in the 46-page Introduction (contributed in varying measures by Dimock and van Buitenen) to justify the making of this volume as; well as to offer general guidance towards the study of Indian literature. A newcomer to such study should move from the Introduction to reading the relevant texts and then only return to the various chapters which deal with specific texts, forms and ideas. Nearly all tlie contributors have in their individual capacities published elsewhere the finest modern translations of Indian writ­ ing, from the Mahabharata (van Buitenen's rendering of Adiparva is now available, through classical Tamil and medieval Kannada

Towards a Literary History of India


poetry (both done by Ramanujam), to Hindi short fiction (Roadermal's last work). What gave me particular pleasure in this book are statements like these which are to be found in the Preface and the Introduc­ tion: would be simplistic to ai'gue that... the new literary forms and values have their roots in the new India, (p. xii) ...literature written by Indians is Indian, no matter what the language or what the audience... (p. 4) ... it is a proposition at least worth considering that a culture accepts only those influences toward which it is predisposed; (p. 6) Prose had existed in India before the coming of the British, for purposes of disquisition, folk narrative, story, and record... (p.27) The Indian writer assumed a knowledge both of the aU-India tradition and of the regional tradition on the part of his audi­ ence, (p. 36) To understand Indian literature then one must understand its con­ text; and one must define Indian literature not only in terms of its quality, but also in terms of its sometimes unique aims. (p. 42} These are signs of a welcome departure from the traditional Western view of Indian Literature, and may lead to more fruitful redeai'ch both in India and abroad than what was generated by Weber and Winternitz, Fraser and Gowen.


The list below combines the sources actually cited in the mono­ graph, along with other sources consulted and some mentioned here for further reading.




Aspects of Indian Culture: III. Select Bibliographies: Indian Literature, (eds.) H S Patil and S Masihul Hassan. Indian Council for Cultural Relations, New Delhi, 1972. A.2 A Bibliography of Indian English. Central Institute of English & Foreign Languages, Hyderabad, Mimeo, 1972. A. 3 The Imperial Gazetteer of India: Vol. 2, Chaps. VI and IX. G A Grierson. Oxford University Press, London, 1908. Also see bibliographies in B.3, B.6, B . l l below.


B.3 B.4


E Arnold. Literature of India, Colonial Press, New York, 1902. Sri Aurobindo. "Indian Literature" series of five essays un­ der general heading 'A Defence of Indian Culture', in The Foundations of Indian Culture, Sri Aurobindo Library, New York, 1953. First Indian Edition, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, 1950. Reproduced in Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library, Vol. 14, 1971. Sunitikumar Chatterji, Languages and Literatures of Modern India, Bengal Publishers, Calcutta, 1963.. Hemendranath Dasgupta. The Indian Stage, 4 Vols, Metropo-

Towards a Literary History of India


litan Printing & Publishing House, Calcutta, 1934. J H Garoin du Tassy. Histoire de la Hindouie et hindoustanie, 3 vols. Paris, 1870-71. New revised edition, B Franklin, New York, 1968. B.6 Robert Watson Frazer. A Literary History of India, T. F^her Unwin, London; 1920, 4th edition. (First published 1897; editions in 1907 and 1915; new edition, Haskell House, New York; 1970.) B.7 Balwant Gargi. Theatre in India, Theatre Art Books, New York, 1962. B.8 M M Ghosh. A History of Hindu Drama. Firma K L Mukhopadhyay, Calcutta, 1957. B.9 Nagendranath Ghose. Indo-Aryan Literature and Culture (Origins), Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office, Varanasi, 1965. B.IO Helmuth von Glasenapp. Die Literaturen indiens von ihren Anfangen bis zur Gegenwart. Neue Auflage. Stuttgart, 1961. B . l l Herbert H Gowen. History of Indian Literatxire, D Appleton & Co., New York and London, 1931 (Reprinted, Greenwood Press, New York, 1968.) B.5


George A Grierson. Modern Vernacular Literature of Hindu­ stan, Asiatic Society, Calcutta, 1889. B.13 Ernst P Horwitz. A Short History of Indian Literature. T. Fisher Unwin, London, 1907 (Reprinted, Rare Boofe, Delhi; 1973.) B.14 Krishna Kripalani. Modern Indian Literature: A Panoramic Glimpse, Nirmala Sadanand Publishers, Bombay, 1968. .15 Purushottam Lai. The Concept of an Indian Literature & Other Essays, Writers Workshop, Calcutta; 1968. B.16 A A Macdonnell. India's Past: A Survey of Her Literature, Re­ ligions, Languages and Antiquities, Oxford University Perss, London, 1927. (Reprinted, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1956.) B.17


B.19 B.20 B.21

L S S O'Malley (ed). Modern India and the West: A Study of the Interaction of their Civilizations, Oxford University Press, London; 1941, (Reprinted 1968.) Louis Renou. Indian Literature [Trans, from the French ori­ ginal, Les Litteratures de I'lnde, Paris, 1951 by Patrick Spens]. Walker & Co., New York, 1964.) Joseph Shipley (ed.). T7ie Literatures of the World, Vol. 1. Phi­ losophical Library, New York; 1946. A K Warder. Indian Kavya Literature: Vol. 1, Literary Criti-i ciSm, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1972. Albrecht Weber. The History of Indian Literature [Original Akademische Vorlesungen uber indische Literaturgescichte published Berlin, 1852. Translated into English from second German edition of 1875 by John Mann and Theodore Zachariah; published by Kegan Paul, Trench, Truebner & Co.. Lon­ don 1978]; Reprinted, Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office,



Varanasi, 1961. B.22a Maurice Winternitz. History of Indian Literature (Geschichte der indischen Litteratur, Vol. 1: Part 1: Introduction and the Veda, [Original German published Berlin, 1907], translated into Enghsh by Mrs S Ketkar. Calcutta University, 1926; third edi­ tion, 1962. B.22b Vol. 1 and Part 2: National Epics, Puranas and Tantras. (Reprinted, Oriental Books Reprint Corpoartion, Delhi, 1972). B.23 Same. Vol. 2: Buddhist Literature and Jaina Literature. (Original German published Berlin. 1913-1920), translated into English by Mrs S Ketkar and Miss Helen Kohn. Reprinted: Oriental Books Reprint Corporation, Delhi, 1972. B.24 . Same. Vol. 3, Part 1: Classical Sanskrit Literature (Original German edition published Berlin, 1922), English translation with additions by Subhadra Jha. Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1966. 825 . Some Problems of Indian Literature, Cal­ cutta University, 1925. B. 26 R K Yajnik. Indian Theatre: Its Origin and Later Development under European Influence, George Allen & Unwin, London, 1933.



C.4 C.5

C.6 C.7 C.8 C.9




Contemporarj/ Indian Literature: A Symposium, Sahitya A k a ­ demi, New Delhi, 1957 (Revised second edition, 1959). Contributions to the Study of the Rise and Development of Modern Literatures in Asia. Vol. 4, Dissertations orientales. Oriental Institute, Publishing House of the Czechoslovak Aca­ demy of Sciences, Prague, 1965. Drama in Modern India and The Writers' Responsibility in a Rapidly Changing World, (ed.) K R Srinivasa Iyengar, Indian P.E.N., Bombay, 1961. Fiction and the Reading Public in India, (ed.) C D Narasim­ haiah, Mysore University, Mysore, 1967. Indian Literature: Short Criticial Surveys of 12 Major Indian Languages and Literatures, (ed.) Nagendra, Lakshmi Narain Agarwal, Agra, 1959. Indian Literature: Proceedings of a Seminar, (ed.) A . Poddar, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Simla, 1972. Indian Literature Since Independence, (ed.) K R Srinivasia Iy­ engar, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 1973. Indian Literature of the Past Fifty Years, 1917-1967, (ed.) C. D Narasimhaiah, Mysore University, Mysore, 1970. The Indian Literatures of Today: A Symposium, (ed.) Bharatan Kumarappa, International Book House, Bombay, 1947.

Towards a Literary History of India


C.IO Indian Writers at Chidambaram, (details not available). C . l l Indian Writers in Conference, (ed.) Nissim Ezekiel, Indian P.E.N., Bombay, 1964. C.12 Indian Writers in Council, (ed.) K R Srinivasa Iyengar, Inter­ national Book House, Bombay, 1947. C.13 Literatures in the Modern Indian Languages, (ed.) V K Gokak, Govt, of India, Publications Division, New Delhi, 1957. C.14 Literary Criticism: European and Indian Traditions, (ed.) C D Narasimhaiah, Mysore University, Mysore, n.d. [1966?] C.15 Modernity and Contemporary Indian Literature: Proceedings of a Seminar, (ed.) Punyasloka Roy, Indian Institute of A d ­ vanced Study, Simla, 1968. C.16 The Novel in India: Its Birth and Development, (ed.) T W Clarke, George Allen & Unwin, London, 1970. C.17 The Novel in Modern India, (ed.) Iqbal Baktiyar, Indian P E N , Bombay, 1964. C.18 Problems of Historical Writing in India, India International Centre, New Delhi, n.d. C.19 The Theatre of the Hindus: Essays' by H H Wilson, V Raghavan, K R Pisharoti and Amulyacharan Vidyabhushan. C. 20 Writers in Free India, Indian P E N , Bombay, 1950.




[D.A. Asamiya] D.A.I D.A.2 D.A.3 D.A.4 D.A.5 [D.B. D.B.I D.B.2 D.B.3 D.B.4


Birinichi Kumar Barua. History of Assamese Literature, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 1964. Hem Barua. Assamese Literature, National Book Trust, New Delhi, 1965. Surya Kumar Bhuyyan. Studies in the Literature of Assam, Lawyers' Book Stall, Gauhati, 1956. B Kakati (ed.) Aspects of Assamese Literature, Gauhati Uni­ versity, Gauhati, 1953. Dimbeswar Neog. New Light on the History of Asamiya Literature, Xuwani Prakas, Dispur, Gauhati, 1962. Bangia] Buddhadeva Bose. An Acre of Green Grass, Orient Loi.gmans, Calcutta, 1948. Sisirkumar Das. Early Bengali Prose: Carey to Vidyasagar, Bookland Private, Calcutta, 1965. Rameshchandra Datta. The Literature of Bengal, Calcutta, 1877. Sushil Kumar De. Bengali Literaiure in the Nineteenth Cen­ tury, Calcutta University, Calcutta 1917. Revised second edi­ tion, Firma K L Mukhopadhyay, Calcutta ,1962. . Bengal's Contribution to Sanskrit Lite­ rature and Studies in Bengal Vaishnavism, Reprinted from


D.B.6 D.B.7

D.B.8 D.B.9 D.B.IO D.B.I 1 D.B.12 D.B.13 D.B.14 D.B.15 D.B.16

References Indian Studies: Past and Present, Calcutta, 1960. Jyotishchandra Ghosh. Bengali Literature, Oxford Univer­ sity Press, London, 1948. Satyendranath Ghoshal. Beginning of the Secular Romance in Bengali Literature, Visva-Bharati Annals No. 9, Santiniketan, 1959. Nirmal Ghose (ed.). Studies in Modern Bengali Poetry, Novela, Calcutta, 1968. P Guha Thakurta. The Bengali Drama—Its Origin and Dev­ elopment, Kegan Paul, Trench & Truebner, London, 1930. Humayun Kabir. The Bengali Novel, Firma K L Mukhopadhyay Calcutta, 1968. Kalipada Mukharji. Studies in Bengali Literature, Arthur H Stockwell, London, 1938. Annadashankar Ray. Bengali Literature, International Book House, Bombay, 1942. Haraprasad Sastri. Vernacular Literature in Bengal before the Introduction oi English Education, Calcutta, 1902. Dineshchandra Sen. History of Bengali Language and Lite­ rature, Calcutta University, 1911, Second edition, 1954. Priyaranjan Sen. Western Influence in Bengali Literature, Third edition. Academic Press, Calcutta, 1965. Sukumar Sen. History of Bengali Literature, Sahitya A k a dem.i. New Delhi, 1960.

[D.G. Gujarati] n.G.l D.G.2 D.G.3

K IVI Jhaveri (ed.). Further Milestones in Gujarati Literature, Bombay, 1920. (ed)). Milestones in Gujarati Literature, Bombay, 1914. K M Kunshi. Gujarat and Its Literature from Early Times to 1852. Second revised and enlarged edition. Bombay, Bha­ ratiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay, 1954.

[D.H, Hindi] D.H.I D.H.2 D,H.3 D.H.4 D.H.5

P D Barthwal. The Nirguna School of Hiiidi Poetry. Indian Book Shop, Banaras, n.d. Ramawadh Dwivedi. A Critical Survey of Hindi Literature, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1966. K B Jindal. A History of Hindi Literature, Kitab Mahal, Allahabad, 1955. F E Keay. A History of Hindi Literature, Y.M.C.A. Press, Calcutta, 1930. Indernath Madan. Modern Hindi Literature: A Critical Ana­ lysis, Minerva Book Shop, Lahore, 1939.

Towards a Literary History of India D.H.6 D.H.7 D.H.8


M A Siddiqui. Origins of Modern Hindustani Literature, Naya Kitab Ghar, Aligarh, 1963. Ajodhya Singh Upadhyay. Origin and Growth of Hindi Lan­ guage and Literature, Patna University Patna, 1934. Shardadevi Vedalankar. The Development of Hindi Prose Literature in the Early Nineteenth Century, 1800-1865 A.D.,

[D.I. rndo-Anglian] D.I.I


Meenakshi Mukherjee. The Twice-Born Fiction: Themes and Techniques of the Indo-Anglian Novel, 1930-1964, ArnoldHeinemann, New Delhi, 1974, Second edition. C D Narasimhaiah. The Swan and the Eagle, Simla: Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Simla, 1969. lishing House, Bombay, 1973, Revised second edition,

[D.Kn. Kannada] D.Kn.l

D.Kn.2 D.Kn.3

D.Kn.4 D.Kn.5

R S. Hukkerikar (editor and publisher). Articles in Karnataka Darshan, volume presented to Shri R R Diwakar, 1955. R S Mugall. History of Kannada Literature, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, (in press). H M Nayak. Kannada Literature : A Decade, Translated from Kannada by M Rama Rao, Rao & Raghavan, Mysore 1967. Edward P Rice. A History of Kanarese Literature, Y.M.C.A. Press, Calcutta, 1921. T N Srlkanthayya. Kannada Literature, Indian P.E.N., Bombay, 1946.

[D.Ks. Kashmiri] D.Ks.l

J L Kaul. History of Kashmiri Literature, Sahitya A k a ­ demi, New Delhi (in press)

[D.Ma. Maithili] D.Ma.l

Jayakant Mishra. A History of Maithili Literaiure, 2 vols, Tirabhukti Publications, Allahabad, 1949-50.

[D.Ml. Malayalam] D.Ml.l D.M1.2

C Achyuta Menon. Ezuttachan and His Age, Madras Uni­ versity, Madras, 1940. Krishna Chaitanya. A History of Malayalam Literature, Orient Longman, New Delhi, 1971.


98 D.M1.3 D.M1.4 D.Ml.5 D.M1.6

T K. Krishna Menon. Landmarks in Malayalam Litera­ ture, Ernakulam, 1937. K M George. A Survey of Malayalam Literature, Asia Publishing House, Bombay, 1968. . Ramacharitram and the Study of Early Malayalam, Kottayam, 1956. P K Parameswaran Nair. History of Malayalam Litera­ ture, Translated from Malayalam by E M J Venniyoor, Sa­ hitya Akademi, New Delhi, 1967.

[D.Mr. Marathi] D.Mr.l D.Mr.2 D.Mr.3

G C Ghate. History of Modern Marathi Literature, puh. by author, Poona, 1939. Kusumavati Deshpande. Marathi Sahitya, Maharashtra Information Centre, New Delhi, 1966. M K Nadkami. A Short History of Marathi Literature, Baroda, 1921.

[D.O. Oriya] D.O.I

D.0.2 D.0.3

Chittaranjan Das. Studies in the Medieval Religion and Literature of Orissa, Visva-Bharati Studies No. 14, Santiniketan, 1951. Mayadhar Mansinha. History of Oriya Literature, Sahi­ tya Akademi, New Delhi, 1962. Priyaranjan Sen. Modern Oriya Literature, Calcutta University, Calcutta, 1947.

[D.PI. Pali] D.Pl.l D.PI.2

D.P1.3 D.P1.4

S C Banerjee. Introduction to Pali Literature, Punthi Pustak, Calcutta, 1964. Wilhelm Geiger. Pali Literature and Language, Translated from German by Batakrishna Ghosh, Oriental Books Re­ print Corporation, Delhi, 1968. B C Law. A History of Pali Literature, Kegan Paul, London, 1933. A K Warder. Pali Metre: A Contribution to the History of Indian Literature, Luzac & Co., London, 1967.

[D.Pn. Panjabi] D.Pn.l D.Pn.2

Harbans Singh. Aspects of Punjabi Literature, Bawa Publishing House, Ferozpur Cantt., 1961. Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia. Tradition and Experiment in Modern Punjabi Poetry, Bawa Publishing House, Ferozpur Cantt., 1960.

Towards a Literary History of India D.Pn.3


Mohan Singh, A History of Punjabi Literature, Lahore, 1934.

[D.Sa. Sanskrit] D.Sa.l D.Sa.2 D.Sa.3 D.Sa.4 D.Sa.5 D.Sa.6 D.Sa.7 D.Sa.8 D.Sa.9 D.Sa.10

D.Sa.ll D.Sa.l2 D.Sa.l3 D.Sa.14 D.Sa.l5 D.Sa.l6 D.Sa.17

H R Aggarwal. Short History of Sanskrit Literature, Munshiram Manoharlal, Delhi, 1963. K Chandrasekharan. Sanskrit Literature, International Book House, Bombay, 1951. S Dasgupta. History of Sanskrit Literature, Calcutta University, Calcutta, 1939. Revised second edition, 1963. Sushilkumar De. Aspects of Sanskrit Literature, Firma K L Mukhopadhyay, Calcutta, 1959. R C Dwivedi (ed.). Principles of Literary Criticism in Sanskrit, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1969. J Ghosh. Epic Sources of Sanskrit Literature, Sanskrit College, Calcutta, 1963. V G Iyengar. Concise History of Sanskrit Literature, Oriental Book House, Poona, 1960. P V Kane. History of Sanskrit Poetics, Motilal Banarsidas, Delhi, 1961, Third revised edition. A Berriedale Keith. A History of Sanskrit Literature, Oxford University Press, London, Fifth edition, 1961. Sanskrit Drama: Its Origin, Development, Theory and Practice, Oxford University Press, London, 1924. Krishna Chaitanya. New History of Sanskrit Literature, Asia Publishing, Bombay, 1962. K Krishnamoorthy. Essays in Sanskrit Criticism, Karnatak University, Dharwar, 1964. C Kunhun Raja. Survey of Sanskrit Literature, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay, 1962. S Rangachar. Outlines of the History of Classical Sanskrit Literature, Sanskrit Sahitya Sadan, Mysore, 1964. Adya Rangacharya. Drama in Sanskrit Literature, Popular Prakasan, Bombay, 1961. G B Sastri. Concise History of Classical Sanskrit Litera­ ture, Oxford University Press, London, 1960. I Shekar. Sanskrit Drama: Its Origin and Decline, F. I. Brill, Leiden, 1960.

tD.Si. Sindhi] demi. New Delhi, (in press). D.Si.l

L J Ajwani. History of Sindhi Literature, Snh^t^'a A k a -


100 [D.Tm. Tamil] D.Tm.l D.Tm.2 D.Tm.3 D.Tm.4 D.Tm.5 D.Tm.6 D.Tm.7 D.Tm.8

V S Chengalvaraya Pillai. History oj' Tamil Prose Litera­ ture, Memorial Press, Madras, 1904. C Jesudasan and H Jesudasan. A History of Tamil Literature, Y.M.C.A, Press, Calcutta, 1961. K Kailasapathy. Tamil Heroic Poetry, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1968. T P Meenakshi Sundaram. History of Tamil Literature, Annamalai University, Annamalinagar, 1965. P M S Purnalingam. Tamil Literature, Bibliotheca, T i n neveli, 1929. V R Ramachandra Dikshitar. Studies in Tamil Language and Literature, Luzac & Co., London, 1930. S Vaipuri PUlai. History of TamU Languagi and Litera­ ture, New Century Book House, Madras, 1956. M Varadarajan. The Treatment of Nature in Sangam LiteratiLre.

(D.Tl Telugu) D.Tl.l V N Bhushan. The Novel in Telugu Literature, (details not available). D.T1.2 F Chenchiah and Raja M Bhujanga Rao Bahadur. A History of Telugu Literature, Y.M.C.A. Press, Calcutta, 1928. D.T1.3 T Rajagopala Rao. A Historical Sketch of Telugu Literatiire, (details not available). D.Tl.4 P T Raju. Telugu Literature, Indian P.E.N., Bombay, 1944. • D.T1.5 S R Sastry. Complete History of Telugu Literature, Vol 1 (Beginning to 1375), Madras University, Madras, 1957. D.T1.6 G V Seetapathy. History of Telugu Literature, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, (in press). [D.U. Urdu] D.U.I D.U.2 D.U.3 D.U.4 D.U.5 D.U.6

Fazal Mahmud Asiri. Studies in Urdu Literature, VisvaBharati Studies, Santiniketan, 1954. T Grahame Bailey. A History of Urdu Literature, Y.M.C.A. Press, Calcutta, 1932. S N Faridi. Hindu History of Urdu Literature, Ram Prasad, Agra, 1966. Muhammad Sadiq. A History of Urdu Literature, Oxford University Press, London, 1964. Twentieth Century Urdu Literature: A Review, Padmaja Publications, Baroda, 1947. Rambabu Saksena. A History of Urdu Literature, Probsthain & Co., London, 1927.

Towards a Literary History of India D. U.7

S A B Suhrawardy. Critical Survey of the Urd-i Novel and Short Story, Longmans, London, 1945.

E. OTHER E.l E.2 E.3 E.4 E.5 E.6 E.7


E.9 E.IO E.ll E.12 E.13 E.14

E.15 E.16 E.17 E.18

E.19 E.20





F R Allchin, [Tulsidas]. Introduction. Kavitavali. London, 1964. W G Archar, [Vidyapati]. Introduction. Looe Songs of Vidyapati. London, 1963. Ananduram Borooah. Bhavabliuti and His Place in Sans­ krit Literature. Publication Board, Assam, Gauhati, 1971. T N Clarke. Introduction. The Novel in Modern India. See C.16. Sisirkumar Das. "The Idea of an Indian Literature", Vagartha, Vol. 1, (April-May 1973). R K Dasgupta, "Literary Historiography" in C.6, 425-433. Edward C Dimock. Review [Greejj and Gold: Stories and Poems from Bengal, Bombay, 1957] in Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. XIX:1 (November 1959), 103. P K Gode. Studies in Indian Literature Hiatory, Vol. 3. P. K . Gode Collected Works Publication Committee, Poona, 1956. V K Gokak. English in India: Its Present and Future, Asia Publishing House, Bombay, 1964. , "Indian Literature", in C.12, 8-28. , "A Post-Graduate Course in Indian Literature", in C.6, 454-461. Krishna Kripalani, "Contemporary Criteria of Literary Criticism in India", in F.7 below. Jayakant Mishra, "Forms of Genres in Indian Litera­ ture", in C.6, 170-176. Asutosh Mukherjee, "Bharatiya Sahityer Bhavisyat", [Bengali: The Future of Indian Literature] in his Jatiya Sahitya [Bengali: National Literature] Calcutta, n.d. Meenakshi Mukherjee. "Problems of Translated Novels", Indian Litearture, Vol. X V I (January-March 1973). Radhakamal Mukerjee. The Culture and Art of India, George Allen & Unwin, London, 1959. Ramaranjan Mukherji. Literary Criticism in Ancient India, Sanskrit Pustak Bhandar, Calcutta, 1966. C D Narasimhaiah and S Nagarajan (eds.). Studies in Australian and Indian Literature, Indian Council for Cultural Relations, New Delhi, 1971. See especially papers by P Lai, Naresh Guha, V Y Kantak. V S Pathak, "Ancient Historical Biographies", in C.17, 3-16. Balchandra Rajan. "The Need for Literary History", in



E.21 E.22 E.23

E.24 E.25 E.26 E.27 E.28 £.29 E.30 E.31 E.32

C.17, 119-29. Niharranjan Ray. "Welcome Address", in C.6, 3-10. Kshitish Roy, "Folk Literature: Highest Common Deno­ minator of Indian Literature", in C.6, 151-15. Ralph Russell and Khurshidul Alam, "The Eighteenth • Century", Chapter One of their Three Mughal Poets, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1968. S A Sabnis. Kalidasa: His Style and His Times, Tripathi Private Ltd., Bombay, 1961. H Sastri. Magadhan Literature, Patna University, Patna 1923. Sukumar Sen. History oj Brajabuli Literature, Calcutta University, Calcutta, 1935. Neeta Sharma. Banabhatta: A Literary Study, Munshiram Manoharlal, Delhi, 1968. S N Sharma. A History of Vedic Literature, Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office, Varanasi, 1973. Odolen Smekel, "On the Question of Periodisation of New Hindi Literature", in C.2, 68-112. K R Srinivasa Iyengar. "Indian Literature as an Academic Discipline", in C.6.441-50. "/Titroduction" in Indian Literature Since Independence, See C.7. A K Warder. An Introduction to Indian Historiography, Popular Prakashan, Bombay, 1972.


F.2 F.3 F.4


r.6 F.7



Roland C Ball. Review article [Istvan Soter. Aspects et paraUeliismes de la litterature hongroise. Budapest: A k a demiai kiado, 1966], Comparative Literaiure (Winter 1972) F E Bateson, "Literary History: A Non-Subject Par Excel­ lence," New Literary History, Vol. II (Autumn 1970). J N Cameron. "Problems of Literary History", New Lite­ rary History, Vol. I (October 1969). Ronald S Crane. Critical and Historical Principles of Literary History, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1971. Peter Demetz, Thomas Greene, and Lowry Nelson (eds). The Disciplines of Criticism: Essays in Literary Theory, Interpretation and History, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1963. Leon Edel (ed.). Literary History and Literary Criticism, New York Umiversity Press, New York, 1964. Seymour Flaxman. Review article [Jan Brandt Curstius. Introduction to the Comparative Study of Literature. New

Towards a Literary History of India York: Random (Spring 1971). F.8



F.ll F.12 F.l3




E. 17

F. l8

F.19 F.20




1968J, Comparative

103 Literature,

Review article [Claude Pichois and Andre-M. Rousseau. La Literature comparee. Paris: Armand Colin, 1967], Comparative Literature, (Spring 1971). Norman Foerster. Quoted by Robert E . Jpiller in The. ObUque Light, New York, The Macmillan Company, 1968, pp. 260-61. Dan Grigorescu. Review article [A. Dima. Princippi de literatura comparata. Bucharest: Editura pentru Literatura, 1969], Comparative Literature, (Siunmer 1972). Claudio Guillen, "Second Thoughts on Currents and Periods", in F.5, 477-510. Helmut Hatzfield, "Comparative Literature as a Necessary Discipline", in F.5, 79-92. Hans Robert .lause, "Literary History as a Challenge to Literary Theory" [translated from the German], Neiu Literary History, Vol. II (Autumn 1970). Arthur O Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being: Essays in the History of Ideas, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1938. Hans-Joachim Schulz and Phillip H. Rhein (eds.) Compa­ rative Literature: The Early Years, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel HOI, 1973. Istvan Soter, "The Dilemma of Literary History" [tran­ slated from the Hungarian], New Literary History. Vol. I (October 1969). Robert E Spiller, "Literary History", in James Thorpe (ed.). The Aim.^ and Methods of Scholarship in Modern Languages and Literatures. American Studies Re.-search Centre, Hyderabad, 1970. Revised second edition. George Watson. The Study of Literature, Allen Lane Pen­ guin Press, London, 1969. Indian edition by Orient Long­ man, New Delhi. Rene Wellek. Concepts of Criticism, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1963. DiscriminatioTi.- Further Concepts of Criticism. Yale University Press, New Haven, 1970. Indian edition by Vikas Publications, New Delhi. and Austin Warren. The Theory of Literature, Harcourt, Brace and World, New York, 1949. Penguin University Books Edition, 1973. Ernst H . Wilkins. Review article in Comparative Literature, Vol. V (Winter 1953).