India has had an oral tradition. Vedic hymns, which are poetry of a very
high order, used to be chanted and passed down from teacher to student,
generation after generation, without their ever being written down. Epics
like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata,
even after they were recorded, continued to be sung and enacted out by
bards and play-actors. Classical Sanskrit literature
blossomed around 500 AD. Abhigyanashakuntalam, Meghadutam by Kalidasa,
are the best examples.
Urdu literature and Urdu
poetry flourished under the patronage of Muslim rulers. Mirza
Ghalib's couplets, written around mid-19th century, are popular
India is a vast storehouse of tales from the Puranas,
the Jatakas and the Panchatantra,
of folk tales, fairy tales and ghost stories too. But much of it, for
long was not available in printed form.
Non-Literary work on a variety of themes
like law, health, astronomy, grammar, administration also form a part
of the Indian literary heritage.
The British introduced the printing press in Bengal in the early 19th
this, Bengali (and then other regional languages) literature began to
emerge in a definitive form. Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyaya, Rabindranath
Tagore (a Nobel laureate), Premchand,
rank among the world's best literary figures. In every branch of literature,
poetry, drama, novels, short stories, literary criticism, Indian literature
has a tremendous variety to offer. Books, magazines, journals and newspapers
are available in departmental stores, book-shops, kiosks as well
as pavement stalls. The World Book Fair is held every alternate year.
Indians write in English as well. Mulk Raj Anand, Khushwant Singh, Vikram
Seth, Upamanyu Chatterji, Arundhati Roy, have made their mark in the English reading