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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Indian Literature
Critical Introduction by Edward Washburn Hopkins (1857–1932)
THE LITERATURE of India resembles all other literature of remote antiquity, in that its beginnings, both in respect of age and authorship, are hidden. But though the individual authors of the Vedic Hymns, the earliest form of Indian literature, will never be known, yet the date to which may be referred this first poetic work of the Indo-Europeans can be established approximately, by means of internal evidence, as from 1500 to 1000 B.C. Some scholars incline to think that the Hymns were composed a few centuries before this; some have even imagined that 3000 B.C. is not too early a date to give to this venerable ‘Collection,’ which, however, as its name and nature imply, can be assigned to no one specific time, but is the gleaning of centuries. Neither the philological data nor the changes in style render probable so great an antiquity as 3000 B.C. The consensus of opinion of competent scholars fails to uphold this extreme view, and inclines rather to believe that the Vedic Hymns were composed between 1500 and 1000 B.C.  1
  We may think, then, of the first Indian literature as originating about this time in the northwest of India; the poets of the Hymns living for the most part on either side of the river Indus, whence they and their descendants immigrated slowly into the Punjâb. Later still, following the course of the Ganges, they planted one settlement after another along the banks of the Holy River, as they extended themselves to the southeast by means of successive victories over the wild tribes of hostile natives. It is important to bear in mind from the outset this southern trend of immigration, for it is reflected in the literature of the Aryan invaders, whose first songs sing the glory of Aryan gods and of the Aryan “white” race, as opposed to the “black” race of natives and their conquered deities. The poets that give us the first Indian literature represent a people akin to Greek, Roman, and Teuton; and like their cousins in the West, they are intensely conscious of their Aryan (that is, “noble”) blood, and profoundly contemptuous of every other race. This factor must also be remembered; for it explains some very interesting features in the later literature, when Aryan blood began to be mixed with native blood and the consciousness of racial superiority became vaguer.  2
  The extension of the warlike Aryans from the extreme northwest to about the vicinity of the modern Benares in the southeast is conterminous with the First Period of Indian literature. This period of literature—in contradistinction to the Sectarian (Buddhistic, etc.) literature on the one hand, and to Sanskrit literature in the strict sense of the term on the other—comprises the so-called ‘Veda’ or Vedic literature, which consists in turn of four fairly well-demarcated sub-periods: first, the creative period of the Vedic Hymns; second, the ritual period of the prose Brāhmanas, which elucidate the Hymns; third, that of the Upanishads or philosophical writings, in both prose and poetry; and fourth, that of the Sūtras or manuals, which explain religious rites, and lead up to some branches of Sanskrit literature through the extension of the Sūtras’ subject-matter to legal themes and to religious meditative poetry.  3
  As might be expected from a view of the contents, the literary products of these sub-periods are of very unequal value. While the Hymns are of extraordinary interest, the Brāhmanas, composed by later generations, when the intellectual activity of the people was concerned not with productive but with explanatory work, are dull, inane, and childishly superstitious. But at the very end of this sub-period comes a revolt, and then are composed the Upanishads; compositions of great ability, and of lasting value for every student of religion and of literature. The Sūtra period, again, is an intermediate one and of only passing interest. As said above, these four sub-periods constitute the Vedic period. All that and only that which is composed in this whole period is Vedic. Every other form of Indian literature is either (1) Sanskrit; or (2) dialectic, as for instance Pāli literature,—Pāli being the dialect, neither Vedic nor Sanskrit, in which the most important Buddhistic works are composed.  4
  It is essential to understand exactly what “Vedic” and “Sanskrit” really mean, for in the Occident the latter is often used as if it were synonymous with Indian, whereas it actually connotes only the later Indian literature; and in the West, ‘Vedic’ is frequently used to indicate the Vedic Hymns alone, whereas ‘Veda’ properly denotes Hymns, Brāhmanas, Upanishads, and Sūtras,—in short, all that literature which orthodox Hindus esteem peculiarly holy. In distinction from the sacred Vedic works, Sanskrit works—that is, works composed in the refined Sanskrit language—are compositions of men who are indeed regarded as sages, but whose works are not thought to be inspired. The general distinction, then, between Vedic and Sanskrit works is that of holy writ and profane literature; though it may be said at once that no literary compositions in India were committed to writing until long after Buddha’s time, the fifth century B.C.  5
  It is true, as has recently been shown, that the Hindus were acquainted with the art of making letters as early as the seventh century, when the Vedic period was closing. But letters at first were used only for cut inscriptions; they were not employed for written compositions. The chiseled rock was known in India ages before the palm leaf was scratched and lettered. It is almost inconceivable, yet it is a fact, that all of the immense literature prior to the time of Buddha, and even for some time after his age, was committed to memory by specialists, as different priests devoted their lives to learning and to handing on different branches of the traditional literature. How immense this literature was, and how great was the task to learn by heart even a single Collection of Hymns or a single Brāhmana, will become obvious as the literature is reviewed in detail. At present it is sufficient to call particular attention to the fact that memorizing the sacred works of antiquity was an important factor not only in determining the kind of literature that arose at different periods, but also in conditioning the genius of the people itself. For long after writing was known, it was still considered wrong to vulgarize the sacred works by committing them to visible form; and memorizing them is still the way in which they are taught to young scholars. The result has always been and still is that memory is the best cultivated part of the Hindu scholar’s mind, and is most esteemed by him. The effect of this memorizing upon the literature is apparent in many ways. Logical acumen yields to traditional wisdom; discussion of historical matters is prevented; the one who best reflects the opinion of the ancients is esteemed as a greater sage than he who thinks for himself.  6
  From these general considerations we may now turn to the detailed study of the great periods of Indian literature: the Vedic, the Sectarian, and the Sanskrit proper. To these should be added a period which can be described briefly as Modern; that is to say, the period covered by the time since the sixteenth century, during which time Indian thought has been to a marked degree under foreign influence. The literature of this last period is still Sanskrit to some extent, but many of the more important works are composed in dialect. For greater clearness of survey, a table of the periods with their subdivisions is here given. That these periods and sub-periods are not absolutely exclusive of those that precede and follow, is a matter of course. Works imitative of those of the older periods sometimes continued to be composed long after the time when arose the works on which they were modeled. But in general the successive stages of the literature are fairly well represented by the following scheme, which will serve as a guiding thread in tracing the development of the whole literature:—  7
          First Period: Vedic Literature—(a) The Hymns; (b) Brāhmanas and Upanishads; (c) Sūtras. Second Period: Sectarian literature of Buddhism and other sects. Third Period: Sanskrit literature—(a) Epics and Purānas; (b) fables and the drama; (c) lyric poetry. Fourth Period: Modern Sanskrit and dialectic literature.

  FIRST PERIOD: Vedic Literature—(a) The Hymns. Vedic—or as it is sometimes and more correctly spelled, Vaidic—is an adjective originally applied to the language and literature of the Veda; that is, the “knowledge” or “wisdom” of the ancients, as it is handed down first in the sacred Hymns, then in the works (Brāhmanas) which elucidate the Hymns, and in the writings (Upanishads) which draw philosophical theories from them, and finally in the manuals (Sūtras) which condense into aphoristic form the accumulated teaching of older generations. The Sūkta (literally bons mots) or Hymns, then, are the historical and logical starting-point of the whole Indian literature. They have been preserved in four different Collections or Sanhitās, known respectively as the ‘Collection of Verses,’ Rig-Veda Sanhitā; the ‘Song-Collection,’ Sāma-Veda Sanhitā; the ‘Collection of Formulæ,’ Yajur-Veda Sanhitā; and finally the ‘Collection of (the sage) Atharvan,’ Atharva-Veda Sanhitā. The first of these is the oldest and most esteemed; the last is a late Collection,—so late in fact that it was not recognized as an authoritative Collection till long after the other three, which three together are often referred to in Indian literature as the Triple Veda, with tacit exclusion of the claim of the adherents of the Atharva-Veda to recognition. Each of these Collections of Hymns has its own supplements,—viz., its own elucidatory Brāhmanas, its own philosophical Upanishads, and its own manuals, Sūtras. To the Hindu, the Collection of Hymns and these supplements together constitute any one ‘Veda’; though in the Occident, as said above, we are accustomed to use the word Veda, as for instance Rig-Veda, to designate not the whole complex but the hymns alone of any one Veda, employing for the remaining parts of the complex the specific terms Brāhmana and Sūtra. The Vedic Collections demand the first place in a review of Vedic literature. The supplementary parts, Brāhmanas and Sūtras, belong, both in the case of the Rig-Veda and in the case of the other Vedas, to a later period. Of these Collections, that of the Rig-Veda, as “the oldest and the best,” as the Hindus say, is by far the most important. Not only so, but the other Collections are in great measure only recastings of the earlier Rig-Veda Hymns. We shall review them severally in the order given above.
  The Rig-Veda Collection consists of somewhat more than a thousand hymns, composed in various metres and by various poets and families of poets; for the hymns themselves show by the utterance of their authors that several generations have wrought them,—or “seen” them, as is the Hindu expression to designate a revealed or inspired composition. As to the inspiration and the history of belief in it, there are many indications that the poets often laid no claim to special Divine guidance in the manufacture of their songs. They speak of “fashioning” them “as a carpenter fashions a car,” of “toiling” over them; or say simply, “This song I have made like a workman working artistically.” Other poets, however, do claim that they are inspired by the god they worship; and on this occasional claim, together with the naturally increasing venerableness of ancient works, rests the later hypothesis of the revealed religion contained in the old hymns.  9
  The Rig-Veda Hymns are collected from older and more primitive family Collections into one great whole, which however, in its formal divisions, still reflects the composite family origin. Of the ten books or ‘Circles’—Mandalas, as they are called—of the Rig-Veda Collection, seven are referred to distinct priestly families; and the first book of the general Collection bears no one family name simply because it is composed of little groups of hymns, groups too small to stand alone as special books. But with few exceptions, each of the groups, as in the case of the large books, is referred by tradition to a special priestly poet and his descendants. Occasionally one family Collection will contain hymns attributed to a member of an entirely different family, which has its own Circle of hymns; but in general the family lines are quite closely drawn. Again, some of the family Circles bear internal evidence of being much later than others, and in each Circle some hymns may easily be picked out as much later than others. It is therefore important to observe that with the exception of the eighth Circle (family Collection), all the family Circles are arranged in the order of their length. For instance, the Circle or Collection of the Viçvāmitra family, which stands third in the whole Collection, is just a little longer than the Circle of the Gautama family, which stands second; and so on. From the second to the eighth book, inclusive, the hymns are thus arranged by families. The arrangement according to the length of the books continues further, for the tenth or last book is the longest, and the ninth is longer than the preceding in its first form (many obviously late hymns have increased disproportionately the size of the eighth book); but in these last two books the family character ceases. The tenth book is a medley from different families, and is plainly the latest in time as well as the last in order. The ninth book is quite peculiar in that it is neither referred to any one family, nor are its hymns addressed, as is the case in all other books, to various divinities; but it is a Collection of hymns from various sources addressed to Soma alone, the deified yellow plant from which was made the sacrosanct intoxicating liquor used by the priests in sacrifice. This general principle of placing in order the family Circles according to their respective lengths shows that the Rig-Veda Collection as a whole is a work mechanically arranged. A study of the inner construction of each family Circle confirms this. In each of these minor Collections, with the exception of the Circle of the Kanva family, to whom is attributed the eighth book of the Rig-Veda Collection, the hymns are carefully disposed, first according to the divinity extolled in each hymn, and then according to the length of the hymn in decreasing order. So thoroughly is this principle carried out that it is easy to detect interpolated hymns—of which there are quite a number—by an irregularity in length, or again by observing that the divinity extolled in any hymn stands out of place in the proper order of gods.  10
  This last factor carries us from the outer form to the inner substance of the Hymns. If the former shows that the original editors of the Rig-Veda Collection followed a mechanical rule in shaping that Collection, the latter shows no less plainly that the Vedic Hymns are not, as was supposed until lately, childlike outpourings of spirit on the part of simple neatherds, or the expression of primitive religious thought on the part of unsophisticated believers in deified natural phenomena. It is indeed true that there are unaffectedly simple hymns to Heaven, to Dawn, to the Sun, and even one to Earth. But the number of these hymns is out of all proportion to those in which are extolled the three great priestly divinities, Fire, Indra, Soma. Furthermore, their place in each family Circle of hymns, as well as the fact that these divinities have so large a majority of all the hymns, shows that with some marked exceptions, which probably reflect in part an older circle of ideas, the purely priestly divinities were those held in highest esteem. It is not necessary, however, to assume that these gods were priestly creations. Soma was worshiped before the Hindus entered India; Fire was probably one of the earliest divinities; and though Indra has not so great an antiquity, he was yet originally a popular god of storm and tempest. But it is in the mystical interpretation of these gods in the Hymns that one may see how far removed from popular and primitive thought is the theology of the Rig-Veda. Agni (Latin ignis) is by no means simply the god of fire. The songs addressed to him reveal the fact that to the poets, Agni was above all the fire on the sacrificial altar. Sometimes a more philosophical point of view is taken, and then Agni is the triune god, the three in one; the god who manifests himself first in the earthly fire as it burns upon the altar, then as lightning in the sky, and then again as the sun in heaven. So too Indra, the god of tempest, whose lightning pierces the clouds and lets out the longed-for rain when the monsoon breaks at the beginning of summer, is regarded and lauded not as a simple natural phenomenon, but as the spiritual power behind this phenomenon, mystically identical with Agni, whose form as lightning is indissolubly linked with the outward appearance of Indra. But above all, Soma the intoxicating plant—to which, as was said above, are addressed all the hymns of the ninth book, besides occasional hymns in other books—is so mystically interpreted that eventually the yellow plant is esoterically treated as an earthly form of the moon (whence Soma is sometimes called the moon-plant); and every stage in the preparation of this drink is regarded as part of a sacred ceremony, while even the press stones are deified, and the plant as liquor is spoken of in the most extravagant terms imaginable.  11
  In sharp contrast to these, which constitute the great bulk of the Rig-Veda Collection, stand the isolated hymns in which are praised the Dawn and Heaven. Here the style changes. In the Dawn hymns is found very lovely imagery: most delicate and exquisite portrayal of the wonderful daily rise of Aurora, as she appears in red and golden light, bringing blessings to man. The hymns to Heaven, while for the most part devoid of mysticism, reflect a lofty contemplative spirit; and from a literary point of view these hymns are the finest in the whole Collection, as the Dawn hymns are the most beautiful. The number of these hymns to Dawn and Heaven is small, and, especially in the case of the hymns to Heaven, they are confined chiefly to one or two early family Circles, with some later imitations in other family Collections. These latter, however, show an increasing mysticism in their treatment of the great Heaven god. In the early hymns Heaven is not simply the sky: he is the heavenly power throned in the watery sky, whose eyes are the stars, who watches over the hosts of men and sees their actions, good and bad. In the further development of Vedic theology this god is reduced to a mere god of punishment, who sits enthroned not on the waters of the sky, but in the depths of the sea. Other hymns in the Rig-Veda Collection are addressed to inferior divinities, of which there are a multitude; while still others are purely philosophical and mystical, discussing the origin of life and of the world, and reflecting the later spirit of philosophical investigation. Most of these can be referred undoubtedly to the end of the work, as can also the few poems of the Collection on worldly subjects. They are found in the last (tenth) book, and in recent additions to the first book. The tenth book contains also some very interesting and apparently antique burial and wedding hymns; as well as other hymns addressed directly to Yama, the lord of the dead.  12
  The metre of all the hymns is more or less alike. With occasional variations most of them are composed in octosyllabic, hendecasyllabic, or dodecasyllabic verses, grouped in stanzas of three or four verses, often with a clearly defined strophic arrangement of stanzas. Except for the avowedly mystic hymns the language is simple and clear. Each god is extolled by mentioning his great works, and his help is besought by the poet as reward for the song. The authors are chiefly priests; a few hymns, however, are composed by women, and in the case of some of the earlier hymns it may be that the poets were not priests but laymen. At this time the caste system was not thoroughly worked out, but the people were roughly divided into three classes,—the husbandmen, the fighters or king’s men, and the priests.  13
  The other Vedic Collections may be dismissed very briefly. The Sāma-Veda Collection duplicates parts of the Rig-Veda Collection; for it is simply a rearranged part of the latter, chiefly of the Soma hymns, used as a song-book for the priests. It contains altogether only a few verses not already found in the Rig-Veda Collection, and it has no interest except as a storehouse of varied readings, which in the absence of different recensions of the Rig-Veda Collection are of value, but only to the specialist. The text of the Rig-Veda Collection is handed down both in the literary form, and in a syllabic form where each syllable, without regard to metrical synthesis, is given separately, so that there is little opportunity for change in the text. The varied readings in the Sāma Collection are clearly late in most instances, and offer only such alteration of text as would make a recitative chant more adaptable to the voice in singing, or such wanton changes as replace an older unintelligible word by a newer form.  14
  On the other hand, the Yajur-Veda Collection is of no small historical interest, although its dislocated verses are the verses of the Rig-Veda Collection arranged to be spoken by the priest who carries on the sacrifice; and this historical interest is due to the way in which these verses are interwoven with the first prose form of the literature. For here, in one of the Yajur-Veda Collections, the verses are arranged without reference to their logical sequence, and merely as they are recited as mystic formulæ, Yajus, at the sacrifice; while between the verses thus cited stand prose directions to the priest in regard to the order of the sacrifice, the way it should be performed, and the significance of the various acts, and a general etymological and philosophical elucidation of the text, together with explanatory legends in regard to the gods and rites treated of or referred to in the text itself. Unhappily all this prose is absolutely devoid of literary art, and the subject-matter itself is uninteresting: but the Yajur-Veda Collection is still valuable as revealing the purpose and form of the earliest Indo-European prose; for although this Collection is probably several centuries later than the Rig-Veda Collection,—as is shown by the new and complete ritualism, by the style, language, geographical allusions, and even by the theology,—yet it is still old enough to antedate all other Indo-European prose. It may be referred to about the eighth century, and perhaps even to an earlier date. The Yajur-Veda Collection is both a Collection, and in its prose portions a Brāhmana, for it has all the characteristics of that later form of literature. There are several recensions of the text, but they differ mainly in arrangement. The chief recensions are known as the White and the Black Yajur-Veda, respectively.  15
  The fourth Vedic Collection is referred to an ancient sage, Atharvan, and hence bears the name of the Atharva-Veda Collection. It is a late work, though some of its elements—demon-worship, etc.—are old; and it consists in general of Rig-Veda verses interspersed with new verses of benedictive or more generally of maledictive character, as well as charms, formulæ for relief from illness and avoidance of expected harm, incantations, and all the hocus-pocus of a wizard’s repertoire. And this in general is its character, though it contains a few hymns of loftier tone and of some philosophical value: they are hymns which might belong to the end of the Rig-Veda, but their philosophy and theology show that they were composed even later than the latest hymns of that older Collection. This Vedic Collection is even now not recognized by some orthodox priests; and as has been said, it was long in obtaining any formal recognition from any one. It appears to have been a sort of manual for sorcerers, into whose collection of balderdash have slipped some really good hymns composed too late to be included in the Rig-Veda Collection. The style of these philosophical hymns is like that of the latest hymns of the Rig-Veda; but that of the sorcerers’ incantations does not rise above the usual doggerel of degraded superstition as it is exhibited in religious formulæ.  16
  The second sub-period (b) of Vedic literature embraces the elucidatory Brāhmanas and the philosophical Upanishads. The latter in their earliest form are nothing more than appendices, usually inserted at the end of the Brāhmanas, and are always regarded as subsidiary to them. The Brāhmanas are the completed form of that kind of prose literature described above as appearing first in the Yajur-Veda; viz., they are prose works explanatory of the sacrifice in every detail. This is the real object for which they were composed; and for this reason all else, even the philosophy of the Upanishads, is regarded as of secondary importance, and if admitted into a Brāhmana at all the Upanishad is relegated to a place at the end of the whole work (included in the Āranyakas, supplements to the Brāhmanas), so as not to interfere with the explanation of the established rite, which is followed step by step by the Brāhmana. As in the prose of the Yajur-Veda, so here, the elucidation of the text includes not only textual commentary but also very valuable illustrative legends, theological discussions, the refutation of false views in regard to some detail in the arrangement of the sacrifice or with reference to the building of the altar, etc.; and in short, whatever may be useful or interesting to a priest in the execution of his daily task. The style here is insufferably bad, the content is puerile, the works are without any literary value whatever save in the Upanishads. The latter, as befits their grander theme, are often elevated and are always dignified. They are of prime historical importance, for they preserve for us the first record of the true philosophizing spirit. Their aim is always the same, the search for true being and the explanation of the early problems—what is being, what is death, what is soul, and what is heaven, or does heaven exist? The answer forms the kernel of pantheistic philosophy. The very questions raised show how far apart from each other the Upanishads and the earliest Hymns stand; but on the other hand, the Upanishads stand very near to those speculative Hymns which close the various Collections. It is possible that a few of the oldest extant Upanishads are really older than the bulk of the Brāhmanas to which they are attached; but as with other Hindu works of a popular character, the date to which any one Upanishad may be referred is extremely doubtful. The oldest composition of this sort cannot claim an antiquity much greater than the sixth century B.C. On the other hand, works bearing the same title, though only nominally connected, or not connected at all, with any Brāhmana, were composed at a much later period than this; and some of them are no better than the Sectarian tracts of the post-Renaissance period (800–1000 A.D.). The number of Brāhmanas is comparatively small. Each Veda has one or more; the two that are most important belong to the Rig-Veda and the White Yajur-Veda, and are called respectively the Aitareya and the Çatapatha Brāhmanas (see below). The Upanishads run up to some two hundred in number, of which the Aitareya and the Chāndogya are perhaps the most famous and appear to be among the oldest. Some of the Upanishads are attributed to sages of the past; but like the Brāhmanas, they are in general the continued product of Vedic schools. They represent the traditional wisdom that gradually accumulated in the Carana or group of students, who collected about a teacher and who themselves in time became teachers of new pupils, each carrying on and adding to the exegesis of the holy texts.  17
  The Sūtra sub-period (c) offers little of interest from a literary point of view, save in the spectacle of the gradual growth of this peculiar phenomenon in letters. The (prose) Sūtras are literally “threads” to assist the memory; strings of rules, which in compactest form inculcate ancient rites and regulations. They usually form independent works connected with some Vedic school. The ritual Sūtras devoted to the interpretation of the sacrifice are devoid of general interest; but those that touch upon domestic rites, practices, and rules, dharma, are the forerunners of all legal literature in India. They are composed in prose with occasional verses; and although their epitomized form excludes them from a history of literature, as much as a school textbook would be excluded to-day, they nevertheless form an interesting historical background to the great law-books, Dharma-çāstra, of later times, which were developed in metrical form out of these older prose aphorisms. An instance of such a metrical Dharma-çāstra is the law code of Manu. The Sūtras are the last form of Vedic literature, and may be referred to about the sixth century B.C.; though some continued to be composed, notably in the case of domestic and legal Sūtras, till nearly the time of our era. The language is only partly Vedic, and in great measure approaches the later norm of Sanskrit.  18
  The following list contains the most important Brāhmanas and Sūtras, according to their place within the various Vedas to which they respectively belong. Their mass is great, but their literary value is small:—  19
  I.  The Rig-Veda: This comprises—(1) The Collection of Hymns; (2) The Aitareya and Çānkāhyana (also called Kaushītaki) Brāhmanas, each of which has a Supplement or Āranyaka of the same name, together with its Upanishad; (3) The two Sūtras of Āçvalāyana, ritual and domestic respectively; and also the two similar Sūtras of Çānkāhyana. These Sūtras belong each to the Brāhmana of the same name. The Brāhmanas of the Rig-Veda are generally simple in style, and have the appearance of being among the oldest works of this sort. The Sūtras are not particularly old, and are as devoid of literary merit as are other works of this class, but they contain much interesting historical matter.  20
  II.  The Sāma-Veda: This comprises—(1) The Collection representing the ninth book of the Rig-Veda Collection; (2) The Tāndya (also called Pancavinça) Brāhmana and the Shadvinça Brāhmana. The latter, meaning “twenty-sixth book,” is only an appendix to the Pancavinça Brāhmana, “of five-and-twenty books.” This Brāhmana is marked by its mystic and inflated style, and is probably much later than the Brāhmanas of the Rig-Veda. The so-called Chāndogya Brāhmana is really only an Upanishad, perhaps a remnant of a Brāhmana now lost except for this philosophical supplement. Another Upanishad belonging to this Veda is the Kena, not apparently a very old one. The Jaiminīya or Talavakāra Brāhmana, belonging here, is as yet unpublished; it is one of the least valuable of Brāhmanas. This Veda comprises also—(3) The ritual Sūtras of Maçaka and of Lātyāyana, belonging to the Pancavinça Brāhmana, and a number of domestic Sūtras, the most important being that of Gobbhila, also belonging to the Pancavinça Brāhmana. There are others of less importance attributed to no (extant) Brāhmana, but they all seem to be of late date.  21
  III.  The Yajur-Veda: This Veda is handed down in two chief recensions of Collections and Brāhmanas. The older is the Black Yajur-Veda; and here the prose explanation is intermingled with the verses to be explained. The later is the White Yajur-Veda, Vājasaneyi Sanhitā, where verses and explanation stand apart; the first being in the Sanhitā, or Collection, the second in the Brāhmana, just as in the case of the Rig-Veda and Sāma-Veda. Each of these has come down in several schools or sub-recensions, those of the Black Yajur being the Maitrāyanīya, the Ātreya, the Kāthaka, etc., those of the White Yajur being the Kānva and Mādhyamdina recensions. As is implied by the name, the Brāhmana called the Taittirīya Brāhmana belongs to the Taittirīya or Black Yajur-Veda, and is one of the oldest Brāhmanas, though not especially interesting. On the other hand, perhaps the most important of all the Brāhmanas is the Çatapatha Brāhmana of the White Yajur-Veda. This great work, apart from its professed purpose of explaining the verses of the Sanhitā as they are employed in the ritual of sacrifice, abounds in legends and in historical allusions; while its supplementary portion, Āranyaka, furnishes one of the most important Upanishads. The different strata of growth can still be traced in it, some parts being much older than others. In this regard it gives a good example of the overlapping of literary periods; since, while the original Brāhmana may be referred to the seventh or eighth centuries B.C., the later additions run over into the Sūtra period and do not appear to antedate the third century. Ritual Sūtras of this Veda are found in both recensions. Those of the Black Yajur-Veda are the Katha and Mānava Sūtras. The chief ritual Sūtra of the White Yajur-Veda is attributed to Kātyāyana. The chief domestic Sūtra is that of Pāraskara. These were probably the original teachers. From the Mānava domestic Sūtra has come the germ of the Mānava law-book, or ‘Code of Manu,’ the principal metrical law-book of later times (see above). Late but important is the Sūtra of Baudhāyana, belonging to the Black Yajur-Veda (Taittirīya) school.  22
  IV.  The Atharva-Veda Collection, as already stated, is largely composed of Rig-Veda verses, and in its last (twentieth) book simply duplicates Rig-Veda verses; but besides its Collection, the Atharva-Veda includes also one Brāhmana, called the Gopatha, a number of late Upanishads, and the Vaitāna Sūtra.  23
  SECOND PERIOD: Sectarian Literature of Buddhism and other religious sects.  24
  Buddha lived in the sixth century B.C., before the rise of Sanskrit literature in its proper sense, and at a time when Vedic literature was dragging to a lame conclusion in the weary composition of rituals and manuals. Apart from the poetic-philosophic oasis of the Upanishads, literature was become a dry desert. Everything refreshing had been brought from a home distant both in time and space. For with the close of the Brahmanic period, the Aryan tribes are found to have advanced far beyond the limits of the early Vedic period. A steady geographical descent accompanies the decline of Vedic literature, as this decline is shown in lack of vigor and originality. To the Aryan of the Rig-Veda the country south and east of the Punjâb was scarcely known. The Brahmanic period, on the other hand, shows that the seat of culture was gradually shifting down the Ganges; and an interesting legend of the time still reveals the fact that somewhere between the commencement and end of this period the district about the present Benares was becoming Brahmanized. At the end of the period it had indeed become a second home of culture, and a strong rival of the ancient “Brahman-land” in the northwest; but with this important difference,—that whereas the older habitat of Brahmanism retained its reverence for the wisdom of antiquity, the eastern district, newly Brahmanized and governed by kings often inimical to the Brahman priests, showed no such respect for Vedic learning. The Brahman priests and their learning were here not of paramount importance; thought was freer, and tradition was not per se authoritative.  25
  So much is necessary on the one hand to explain the appearance of Buddhism in the east rather than in the west, and on the other hand to explain the relative orthodox character of such sectarian literature as was the result of a partial revolt in the west. In the east, in an unsympathetic environment, arose the literature of Buddhism, totally opposed in its effect to the teaching of Brahmanism. In the west however arose Jainism and its literature, which was sectarian to a certain degree, but was never so antagonistic to Brahmanism as was by necessity the literature that marks the Buddhistic revolt. These two sects dominate the literature of the period that follows the Brāhmanas, but they are contemporary with the development of the Sūtras. It is therefore just at the time when the gross ritualism of the Brahmans reaches its highest development that the more spiritual literature of the religious sects finds a fit soil; and it is while the Brahman priests continue to content themselves with making aphoristic textbooks, and utterly give up all attempt to add to the wisdom of their fathers, that the sectaries find and embrace the opportunity to grow.  26
  Of the personal history of Buddha, and of Mahāvīra his great Jain rival, this is not the place to speak in detail. The literature alone that groups itself about these two men can here be reviewed, and of the historical questions naturally prominent, only one can here be answered: viz., Do the Discourses or Sermons of Buddha really represent Buddha’s own words; in reading them are we reading the literature of Buddha’s time, or of a time much later: in a word, how much in Buddhistic literature is apocryphal? Probably a great many of the Discourses traditionally handed down as Buddha’s are merely late compositions. But on the contrary, many of these works can be with certainty brought back so near to Buddha’s own lifetime that we must unquestionably consider them as genuine, not only in spirit but often in expression, though perhaps not often in the very order of words of a whole Discourse. The works of Buddhism which have for us the greatest value are these Discourses of Buddha. There are other works of less interest which are clearly later compositions, as they describe and prescribe the life of Buddhistic monks in their great monasteries. Still other works are historical, and relate the conflicts of opinion between the monks at the different great councils of the Buddhistic church in the centuries following Buddha’s death.  27
  These Sermons, Discourses, Precepts, and Histories are handed down to us not in Sanskrit but in Pāli, the dialect native to Buddha, and which is closely related to Sanskrit or the cultivated language which had developed out of the Vedic. There is however another and later account of Buddha’s life and doctrine, which is found in Sanskrit; and until recently works of this sort were the only known authority for the history of Buddhistic literature. Fortunately, the Pāli texts now publishing give us an earlier and simpler account of Buddha’s life; and with great advantage to his personality, they reduce him from a superhuman creature to a noble man. These Pāli books were first found in Ceylon, and they are sometimes called the southern in distinction from the later (Sanskrit) northern records. The first of these works to be published was the ‘Great History,’ Mahāvansa, which was completely edited in 1837. These southern texts are in three Pitakas or Traditional Collections (literally “baskets”), which constitute together the gospel of Buddhism. The first Pitaka is called the Vinaya or “ruler” (of the Buddhistic Order). It gives the history of the order and the rules to be observed by monks and nuns. The second Pitaka contains the Suttas (Discourses or Sermons), and the elucidation of the philosophy of Buddha. The third Pitaka, called the Abhidhamma, is supplementary, and discusses more in detail certain psychological and ethical questions connected with the philosophical system.  28
  Each of these Pitakas is subdivided: the first, the Vinaya, into three parts, Suttavibhanga, Khandhakas, and Parivāra. The first of these divisions gives a sort of catechism (the Pātimaukha); so as to present a full exposition, vibhanga, of all the 227 rules, suttas, of the Order. This work probably dates from 400 B.C. The Khandhakas or Treatises, the second part of the Vinaya, deal with special rules and ceremonies. There are twenty of these Treatises; but their content is not particularly interesting, as they contain for the most part only regulations in regard to fasts, food, clothes, etc. The last book of the Vinaya, the Parivāra, is, as the name implies, a Supplement, a mere manual of rules. The second Pitaka (Suttapitaka) contains four great Nikāyas or Collections of Discourses. The first two of these four constitute one whole book, containing 183 Discourses of Buddha. It is curious to notice that these, like the early books of the Rig-Veda, are arranged mechanically according to length. This is by far the oldest of the Pitakas, and from a literary point of view it is the most valuable. Instead of the dry enumeration of rules, such as is found in the first Pitaka, the language, really Buddha’s or imitative of his artless and forcible words, glows with fervor, but is as lofty in tone as it is simple in style. The remaining Nikāyas of this Pitaka attempt to correct the lack of logical clearness resulting from an arrangement of the Discourses according to length, and to classify the teaching of Buddha; in so doing they also give the teacher’s philosophical system, as far as it may be said to be systematized. The last Pitaka, the Abhidhamma, has been published only in part (as is still the case with several of the Discourses), but enough is now known to correct the error till lately prevalent, that this Pitaka was a metaphysical work. On the contrary, it is merely a book on rules and truths of religion, and treats of ethical problems and psychological situations rather than of metaphysical subtleties.  29
  These works comprise the whole Buddhistic Canon, with the exception of a few Collections of poems and aphorisms, which the early Buddhists themselves regarded as not canonical but as worthy of preservation; and other Collections ostensibly historical, giving the lives of good men, the previous births of Buddha himself, etc. The most famous of these is the ‘Dhammapada,’ 423 aphoristic ethical verses of great force and beauty. Others are called the ‘Iti Vullakam’ (i.e., literally, the Ipse Dixit), sayings attributed to Buddha; ‘Udāna,’ or ecstatic exclamations of Buddha; etc. Of these additions to the Canon, none, from one point of view, is more important than the ‘Birth Stories,’ Jātakas, which convey a mass of popular folk-lore under the guise of describing the conditions of Buddha’s earlier lives on earth, when as a man or a beast he discoursed with other men and beasts. Undoubtedly the germ of this Collection is very old, and the work as a whole contains some of the most primitive folk-lore extant. On the other hand, many of these Jātaka stories are modern inventions, imitations of the antique. Besides the Canon and its supplementary works, the Buddhistic commentary of Buddhaghosha, in the fifth century A.D., holds the next place in the literature. The Buddhistic literature of Nepal, China, Japan, etc., lies outside the limits of a sketch of Indian literature. Of the late Sanskrit poems which represent one phase of Buddhism, the chief are the ‘Lalita Vistara,’ which pretends to give a history of Buddha, and the ‘Lotus of the Law.’ These were the first Buddhistic works known to Western scholars, and early histories depended on them; but they are poetic fictions of exaggerated style, bearing the impress in content and diction of their late authorship.  30
  Jain Literature: At the time Buddha lived there were half a dozen well-known heterodox sects, the leaders of which, like himself, preached and taught through northern India. But only in the Jain sect of the teacher Mahāvīra did there result such crystallization of the Master’s words as to produce, or at any rate to leave behind, works in literary form. Furthermore, even in the case of Mahāvīra’s own sect there is no evidence to show that the literature, though large, is really very old. As has been said above, Jainism flourished in the west rather than in the east. Contiguous with the seat of old Brahmanic culture, it kept a closer correspondence with Brahmanism in many features than did Buddhism. The sterility of thought inseparable from Jain doctrine results in a sterile style. In all this literature of pseudo-history and canonical rules, Stutis, Stotras, “lauds,” etc., there is nothing elevating or inspiring. In fact, the rules of the order alone and their explanation are the whole literature, except for some late metaphysical treatises and so-called historical books. The contrast of this literature with that of Buddhism will be seen in the typical extracts given below from the literature of both sects. The later literature of Jainism is to a great extent a copy of Brahmanic literary works, adapted to the sectarian faith of Mahāvīra. Thus there is a Jain Epic, and there are Jain stories, partly original but chiefly imitative of orthodox Sanskrit works. These present a curious amalgam, but are void of worth save as historical studies. This literature is written partly in a Prakrit dialect (patois), and partly in Sanskrit. Like the Buddhistic works, it is to a certain extent metrical.  31
  THIRD PERIOD: Sanskrit Literature Proper.—The literature which we have been discussing as the Second Period of Indian literature was neither Vedic nor Sanskrit in language; nor does it form, strictly speaking, an epoch in the development of Brahmanic literature. It is a thing apart from the latter, in that Buddhism and Jainism break with tradition, and are unorthodox; whereas Brahmanic Sanskrit literature is the direct offspring of the older Vedic literature, both in language and in the respect which Sanskrit authors have for Vedic traditions. But in point of time, Buddhism and Jainism intervene between the moribund Vedic literature and the first appearance of Sanskrit literature. From the broader point of view of the whole Indian literature, they therefore actually form a distinct period by themselves; although, as has been shown, the last outcome of Vedic literature in the form of didactic manuals overlaps the period of Buddhism. Yet these manuals are not literature, but are rather the aids and helps of literature; and by the time that Buddhism reaches its height, under the patronage of King Açoka in the third century B.C., Vedic literature is virtually complete: while it is about this time that Sanskrit literature, in the form of the Epic (see below), actually begins.  32
  Before this Sanskrit literature is taken up, however, it is necessary for us to cast a glance at some other didactic works, generally couched in aphoristic form and utterly devoid of all attempt at style, which were composed from the end of the Vedic period to the end of the Sanskrit period. It is not on account of their own literary value, for they have none, but because of their effect upon literature, that the nature of these works, also ancillary to literature, must be examined. Especially is their influence paramount in the development of Sanskrit literature; and a rapid review of these educational, philosophical, and scientific tracts—for they are nothing more—will do much to help in advance the correct understanding of the influences which were at work from the beginning upon Sanskrit. To omit any mention of these works would be like giving a history of late Greek literature without any allusion to the work of the scholars of Alexandria. Chief in importance are here the grammatical studies and philosophical essays that begin with the decline of Vedic literature. From the end of the Vedic period there were composed manuals of phonology, grammar, and etymology, together with lists of words of archaic form or peculiar meaning. In the fourth century B.C. the renowned Pānini wrote his exhaustive grammar, wherein Vedic and Sanskrit forms are carefully distinguished, and rules are given for the making of grammatical tenses and cases. In the second century B.C., Kātyāyana in his ‘Vārttikas’ and Patanjali in his ‘Mahābhāshya’ furnished commentaries to this work. These grammatical and lexicographical works led directly to formal Rhetoric, the first extant book on this subject being the Nātyaçāstra of Bhārata, who lived (the date is rather uncertain) at some time between the first and sixth centuries A.D. To the latter century belongs the poet and grammarian Dandin, whose ‘Kāvyādarça’ or ‘Rhetoric’ is historically as important as is his literary work (see below). Vāmana’s ‘Principles of Poetry’ probably belongs to the eighth century A.D., just when Sanskrit, as we shall see, becomes most artificial. Other works of this sort follow in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. From the precision of their formal rules we may see how it happened that the literary style, influenced by such teachers, gradually changed from simplicity to intricacy.  33
  Of the many works, dating from the close of the Vedic period, on music, mathematics, astronomy, and medicine, mention can here be made only of the mathematical ‘Çulva-Sūtras.’ These apparently antedate Pythagoras; yet they contain the “Pythagorean” number and problem, and together with other Hindu works, they are probably the model of Pythagoras’s own numerical system of philosophy.  34
  The legal literature of India is enormous in extent; but its origin has been explained above, and the many modern codes and digests cannot be reviewed here. Sufficient to say that legal literature and Epic didactic (legal) passages present many instances of similarity, which afford some interesting historical-literary problems not yet solved.  35
  Most important of all this subsidiary literature are the many works on philosophy. They were originally composed in aphorisms; and the original set of aphorisms with the extensive elucidations of commentators constitute a philosophical system. Of the formal systems there are six; but the explanation of philosophical questions in the loose and rambling style of the Vedic Upanishads is the earlier form of this sort of literature. How the various doctrines based on the ideas of the Upanishads are developed in Sūtras and expounded in Commentaries, is matter rather of the history of philosophy than of a history of literature. There is no Plato in India, no poet of philosophy, no scientific stylist. The only style aimed at by philosophical writers is one that shall express most in fewest words. In the ninth century A.D. lived Çankara, and his name deserves to be mentioned as the greatest of Hindu philosophical writers. But all that it is here necessary to know of this constant philosophizing—the philosophical era extends from about 500 B.C. to the end of the period of Sanskrit literature—is that its effect on literature was very great; and as all philosophy included a religious system as well, it may be said to have been doubly influential. Especially is this true in the case of the influence exerted upon the Epic, the first form of pure literature in Sanskrit, and upon the Epic’s religious continuation in the later Purānas. To these, as the first works of the Third Period of Indian literature, we may now turn.  36
  Sanskrit Literature: (a) Epics and Purānas. The oldest compositions in Sanskrit are—first, the Epic called the ‘Bhārata,’ or grandiloquently the ‘Mahābhārata,’ that is, the Great (Mahā) Bhārata (War); and second, such of the Vedic Sūtras as are written almost in Sanskrit, though still retaining much of the Vedic style. Epic literature in its beginnings, however, undoubtedly goes much farther back than the oldest portion of the extant Epic. Early in the Vedic period there is mention of Tales of old, and of singers who sang the deeds of great men. Even in the Rig-Veda Collection a few hymns describing battles of the Aryans, and one describing a conversation between the nymph Urvaçī and her lover Purūravas, approach the Epic style. It is probable that the Bhārata thus reverts in its original shape to the later Vedic period; but in its present condition it has been so worked over at the hands of the priests of Vishnu and Çiva that it is matter of pure conjecture in what shape it was originally planned. Probably the oldest parts are a few scenes giving stirring events in the history of its heroes, and some of the episodes. These latter—ancient tales incorporated into the narrative—have often only a very loose connection with the main story. Further, the Epic, as it now lies before us, includes whole books of philosophical, moral, ethical, and didactic discourses, put into the mouths of the sages who appear in the course of the tale.  37
  A curious theory, founded on this fact, has lately been put forth to the effect that the ‘Mahābhārata’ story is not its own excuse for being, and that the moral and legal maxims are hung upon the characters as upon lay figures, merely to make them attractive to the common people. This theory has for support the important fact that at the close of the Vedic period the old Vedic language was become well-nigh unintelligible even to the priests, and that to inculcate moral saws it was necessary to speak in a “tongue understanded of the people.” And this is true of the Epic. It is written in the Sanskrit of the time, not in antiquated Vedic; and it is expressly meant to be repeated at great festivals when the “common people and women” (who were rigorously excluded from hearing even the unintelligible words of the holy Vedic texts) could hear and were commanded to hear the recital. At the same time, this theory is far too one-sided, and takes no account of the Epic character of the poem in its older portions, or of the patent improbability of the genesis thus imagined in the case of a poem so dramatic in its action. Still less does this theory agree with historical facts; for we know that the early Greek adventurers who followed Alexander distinctly state that the Hindus had poems like Homer’s, narrating the great actions of their national heroes. Had these poems been chiefly moral discourses, as with regard to its bulk the ‘Bhārata’ is to-day, the observant Greeks would not have failed to notice the fact. On the contrary, the most probable theory in regard to the origin of the Epic is that certain national lays and tales of old, gradually collected, formed the basis of the story; and that it was eventually enlarged and systematized by the priests in the interest of their various sects and of general morality, until it became what it is to-day, “the fifth Veda” in importance, a huge storehouse of legend and didactic composition, through which, like a scarlet thread, runs the bloody story of the Conflict between the Clans of Kurus and Pandus, which formed the original Epic story.  38
  In its present shape the ‘Mahābhārata’ is about seven times as long as the Iliad and Odyssey put together, and contains some two hundred thousand verses. Apart from what we may safely regard as late didactic material, the character of this earlier Epic is heroic in distinction from the Epic next to be considered. The style is forcible, often terse and nervous, the action is well sustained, and the whole effect produced is that of a poem written to commemorate an actual conflict between members of rival clans, who lived somewhat southeast of the Punjâb, but still near the old “Brahman-land”; for the geographical central point of the events, the Troy of this Iliad, is the town on the site of which is built the modern Delhi. In the portrayal of character the Hindu poem has in fact many analogies with its Grecian counterpart. The noble devotion and chivalric character of Arjuna, the chief hero, reminds us of Hector; the wily and sinful Duryodhana is a second Ulysses; the leader of one of the great hosts marshaled for the eighteen days’ war, Yudhi-sthira (literally “steady in battle”), reminds us again, not only in name but in moral weakness and in heroic bravery, of the Withstander, Agamemnon; and Krishnā, the devoted wife of Arjuna, may be compared with Andromache. But these two Epics in their events and actions have nothing more in common than all tales of war; and the old theory that because of the resemblance in character, the Hindu Epic may have been borrowed from the Greek, is now quite given up.  39
  The ‘Bhārata’ war is a war between rival cousins, of the house of Bhārata, a race of heroes mentioned even in the Rig-Veda Collection. Duryodhana deprives his cousin Yudhisthira of his throne by inducing him to gamble away his fortune, kingdom, family, and self; and then banishes Yudhisthira and the latter’s four brothers for twelve years, not daring to kill them because they were “beloved by the folk.” The gambling was conducted in an unfair manner, and the cousins feel that their banishment was really only the result of unchivalric treachery, although pretended to be mercy in lieu of death. When the twelve years are over, they collect armies of sympathizers; and on the “Sacred Plain of the Kurus” (Kurukshetra, near Delhi, still the Holy Land of India) the great war is fought out. The good prevails, Duryodhana is slain, Yudhisthira recovers his kingdom. All this is told so graphically and forcibly that, although incumbered as it now is with extraneous matter, the ‘Mahābhārata’ still has power to charm and enthrall. This Epic was probably begun in the third or fourth century B.C., and was completed with all extraneous additions soon after the Christian era.  40
  The second great Epic of India arose not in the west like the ‘Mahābhārata,’ but in the east, in the neighborhood of the seat of Buddhism. It describes the Wandering of Rāma, the national hero of the East, who is ostensibly in the tale the heir-apparent of Oude; and from Rama’s wanderings (ayana) the poem is called the ‘Rāmāyana.’ In contrast with the heroic character of the ‘Bhārata’ tale, the ‘Rāmāyana’ is distinctly romantic in style, and may be compared with the Odyssey. In this much shorter story Rāma’s conflict with the southern barbarians is depicted; and the chief motif is the recapture of Sītā, Rāma’s wife, who during Rāma’s unjust banishment by his father was carried off by the king of the southern demons, and kept in the latter’s castle in Ceylon. Rāma’s victorious conflict, and the bridge which his monkey battalions built for him from the mainland to the island, are still preserved in local name and legends in southern India. As the geography of this tale shows, the date to which it must be referred is much later than that of the ‘Bhārata.’ There are, moreover, two main points of difference between the two poems: first that of character and style already referred to; and second the fact that the ‘Rāmāyana,’ while undoubtedly built around old legends, is still in its complete form the work of one single man, the famous poet Vālmīki, who writes what the Hindus themselves term an “Art-poem,” as distinguished from a Legend-poem, or Epic. The ‘Mahābhārata,’ indeed, like most Hindu works, is also referred to a sage, who in this instance bears the suspicious name of Vyāsa, “the narrator”; but the poem itself is its own evidence of the fact that no one author ever composed it in its entirety. On the other hand, Vālmīki unquestionably wrote the whole of the ‘Rāmāyana’ himself, and probably wrote it as an allegory; for Sītā, the heroine, means “furrow,” and Rāma, the hero, stands for “plow.” The poem thus depicts the advance of Aryan civilization into the wild regions of the south. Further, the style, metre, and language are both far less simple than in the case of the ‘Mahābhārata.’ The poem in its present shape is probably a few centuries later than the Mahābhārata, but the date cannot be determined with any exactness.  41
  Of theories in regard to the ‘Rāmāyana,’ only two of the many which are current demand attention. Some scholars hold that the conflict allegorically depicted is one between Buddhists and Brahmans, and that the Odyssey is the model of the (late) ‘Rāmāyana.’ Neither of these theories will stand criticism. There are no striking indications of a religious allegory, nor are there any very remarkable points of similarity between the recovery of Helen and that of Sītā. On account of its sentimental style, the ‘Rāmāyana’ has always been a great favorite with the Hindus, especially with those disciples of Vishnu who believe that Rāma was a human incarnation of their god. To such believers the ‘Wandering of Rāma’ is a veritable Bible. The ‘Rāmāyana’ has been imitated, abridged, copied, and altered, by other sects as well. To a certain extent this is true also of the ‘Bhārata’ poem, one of the characters here representing in popular belief Krishna, another incarnation of Vishnu. But the ‘Rāmāyana’ lends itself more easily to religious imitation, especially on the religious-erotic side, which in India constitutes a large part of modern religious literature; and for this reason, in its rôle of a biblical as well as a literary product, it has become even more popular than the ‘Mahābhārata.’ Its date is quite uncertain, but it may be referred perhaps to the first century B.C.  42
  The ‘Purānas’: There are eighteen of these works, all ostensibly religious literature, written in the usual Epic verse (of two octosyllabic hemistichs), and modeled on the religious portion of the ‘Mahābhārata.’ The name Purāna means “old” (tales), and the works handed down under that name recount the deeds of deified heroes, explain religious and moral doctrine, give an account of the glories of past cycles and of what will happen in time to come; and besides narration and speculation, they incidentally inculcate moral and religious truths. Not a small portion of the ‘Purānas’ is dedicated, however, to purely sectarian (half orthodox) teaching; and in the case of later works of this sort it is evident that they were composed chiefly as sectarian tracts. The style is loose and rambling, the language of most of them is a slovenly Sanskrit, and the date of all of them is doubtful. They probably began in the period of the beginning of modern sectarian Brahmanism, in the first centuries after our era, about the time that the last (religious) additions to the ‘Mahābhārata’ were making; but the period of their composition extends up to quite modern times. The ‘Agnī,’ ‘Mārkandeya,’ and ‘Vishnu’ Purānas seem to be the oldest works of this class, and are the most important. Others, like the ‘Linga Purāna,’ extol this Çivaite phallic worship; and many of them are scarcely superior to the so-called Tantras,—tracts on obscure religious rites, which hardly deserve to be classed as literature. In the oldest use of the word, Purāna connoted cosmogonic speculation rather than tales; but this meaning applies to only a small part of the modern Purāna.  43
  As the ‘Purāna’ may be regarded as a continuation of the religious side of the ‘Mahābhārata,’ so the ‘Rāmāyana’ is the model of a number of later kāvya,—i.e., “art-poems” of religious-erotic character. The best known and most important of these are attributed to Kālidāsa, India’s greatest dramatic author, who probably lived about 600 A.D. These are the ‘Setubandha,’ the ‘Raghuvança,’ and the ‘Kumārasambhava.’ The first is in patois, and gives the history of Rāma. The last two are in artificial Sanskrit, the second giving the genealogy of Raghu and the third describing the birth of the love-god. Besides these must be mentioned four more late “art-poems”: the ‘Bhatti-kāvya’ (describing the race of Rāma), ascribed to the lyric poet Bhartri-hari, who lived in the seventh century A.D.; the ‘Kirātārjunīya’ of Bhāravi, possibly of the sixth century; Māgha’s poem on Çiçapāla’s death (date unknown); and the ‘Naishadhīya,’ of the twelfth century. All of these are bombastic in style and too studied in language. From the latest period comes further the ‘Nalodaya.’ The episode of Nala and Damayantī is one of the artless episodes of the ‘Mahābhārata’; and nothing shows more plainly the later deterioration of taste than this ‘Nalodaya,’ the same story told in erotic style and in language intensely artificial. The titles of these works do not always reveal their character; for instance, the ‘Bhatti-kāvya’ (above) is really intended to show the grammatical irregular forms in the form of a poem.  44
  Sanskrit Literature: (b) Fables and Drama. Between Epic and Drama lies the class of writings represented in Europe by the works of Æsop and Babrius. In India these Beast-Fables appear very early in the Buddhist Jātakas (above). They have for us a peculiar interest, in that many scholars hold these Indian fables to be the model of the fables of Æsop, while others hold that the Hindu is the copyist. In India, the fable, though not as an independent literary product, may be traced back to the oldest Upanishads. The doctrine of reincarnation (as shown in the Jātakas) lent itself admirably to the growth of such compositions. But it is not necessary to suppose that a phenomenon so native to peasant talent should be borrowed from the Greek, or that the Greek should have borrowed the idea from the Hindu. Greek fable is at least as old as Archilochus, and Hindu fable can claim no older date. All that can be said with certainty is that the great collection of Indian fables in Five Books (whence the name, Panca-tantra) is one that has been widely read and translated in the Occident. This collection was made in the first centuries of our era. In the fifth century it was translated into Persian (Pahlavi), thence into Arabic, and in the eleventh century from Arabic into Greek. From Greek it was translated into Hebrew in the thirteenth century, thence into Latin, and finally into German in the fifteenth century, being one of the first works to be printed in Europe. The ‘Hitopadeça,’ or ‘Friendly Instruction,’ is another such collection; but it is based for the most part on the Pancatantra. As the name of the later work implies, the sententious side is here more important: the ‘moral’ is put foremost, and a tale is told to illustrate it. Verse and prose alternate, as they do in our fairy stories. Another famous collection is the ‘Vetāla-pancavinçati,’ or ‘Twenty-five Tales of a Ghost.’ Still another quite modern one is called the ‘Çuka-saptati,’ or ‘Seventy Tales of a Parrot.’ These are rather inane in content; and tale is often wrapped within tale, like a puzzle, the moral being sententiously or aphoristically appended. The longest collection of this sort is the ‘Kathāsaritsāgara,’ or ‘Ocean of Tales,’ composed by Somadeva, a native of Kashmir, in the eleventh century. The erotic character of many of these fables leads at a comparatively early date to the development of genuine romances, three of which, from the sixth and seventh centuries, are still extant: the ‘Daçakumāracarita’ of Dandin, the ‘Vāsavadattā’ of Subhandhu, and the ‘Kādambarī’ of Bāna. The titles merely give the characters’ names. These romances are rather simple love stories, not too refined in language. They may be compared with the products of late Greek literature, which in this regard also anticipates the modern novel.  45
  The romantic development of the fable, which is often in the form of a love story, leads directly to the drama. The extant drama is no older than the extant lyric, but its origin can be traced further back. It appears to have come from a curious mixture of fable and religious rite. In the second and third centuries before Christ the common people were entertained with Yātras,—i.e., a kind of mystery-play, in which the love affairs of Krishna-Vishnu (the god Vishnu in anthropomorphic form as Krishna, the Divine hero of the Mahābhārata) were represented on a stage; the action and dialogue being naturally accompanied with song and dance, for Krishna is fabled to have lived for a time as a neatherd on earth, where he sported with the music-and-dance-loving maidens who also guarded flocks near by. These idyls were exhibited as a religious performance. From this union of dance, song, and religious mystery it happens that the Hindu drama is really melodramatic opera. The piece must end well, and it is never without song and dance. There is no real tragedy. Some scholars hold that Greek comedy has influenced the Hindu stage, or even that the latter is a result of the conquest of the “barbarians.” Alexander is indeed said to have brought with him all the paraphernalia of the drama; and this fact seems to be effected in the name of the stage curtain, the technical name of which in Sanskrit is ‘Greek’ (Yavanikā, i.e., Ionian). But the mystery-plays seem to have had a popular origin, and dance plays and actors are mentioned in the earliest Buddhist works; so that it seems more likely that while the Greek invader perhaps taught the Hindu to better his stage effects, the latter had already developed by himself the essentials of the drama. An analogy might be sought in the development of the English drama, the direct course of which was radically altered and improved by the introduction of classical models with the Revival of Learning. Possibly the jester, who plays quite a rôle in the extant Hindu drama, may have been borrowed from the Middle Comedy of the Greek. The various kinds of dramas are carefully distinguished by native rhetoricians; but among them all the ‘Nātaka’ is the only real play in a modern sense. Others are elf and genie fables, the scene of which is in the air or only half on earth, etc. The Çakuntalā of Kālidāsa, the greatest Hindu dramatist, is an instance of a Nātaka; but the same author has left another play the scene of which (see below) is chiefly in the region of cloud nymphs, and is quite removed from any appearance of reality. The Hindu drama may have any number of acts, from one to ten; there is no limit to the number of actors, and the unities of time and space are freely violated. The language of the dramas is Sanskrit (which in the earlier plays is comparatively simple in structure) and Prakrit patois, which is reserved for women and men of low caste. In the later drama the Sanskrit becomes very artificial, and the long complicated sentences seem to be contrived with special reference to the delight of sophisticated auditors in unraveling the meaning concealed in the puzzle of words.  46
  The most renowned of the early dramatists are Kālidāsa, mentioned above, Çūdraka (see below), and Bhavabhūti. The first of these lived at the time when the great emperor Vikramāditya had succeeded in routing the barbarian hosts that followed in the wake of Alexander’s conquest, and for centuries overwhelmed northern India with rapine and ruin. It was the time also when Buddhism, which had done much to retard the genius of Brahmanism, was slowly fading out. Then, with the revival of Brahmanic faith and literature, and above all under the patronage of the great emperor who for the first time gave assured safety and peace to the distracted land, arose all at once a rejuvenated literature, Brahmanic but not priestly, rather cosmopolitan, so to speak,—a veritable Renaissance, as it has aptly been termed by Max Müller. Literature, which at the hands of priests, its only remaining guardians, had been content with adding moral and religious chapters to the Epic, took a new departure. The old style was not imitated by the new authors, who represent the sacerdotal caste no more. In a word, this Renaissance betokens the new life which came from literature passing from priestly hands into the hands of cultivated laymen assured of protection, patronage, and praise. Hence it happens that not only drama and lyric, but also philosophy and science, all flourish at this epoch, and the greatest poets and scientists adorn the court of Vikramāditya, the Hindu Augustus, who in the first half of the sixth century A.D. created an empire, and “bejeweled his throne” (as the Hindus say) with littérateurs. “Vikramāditya’s gems” to this day designates the little group of authors and scientists who lived at that time, the best period of classical Sanskrit. Most famous among these was the dramatic and lyric poet Kālidāsa; the astronomer Varāhamihira, whose ‘Brihat-samhitā’ is still a mine of curious facts and contains all the astronomical “science” of the time; the redoubtable Amarasinha, one of the greatest lexicographers of the world; the learned Vararuci, the model grammarian; and many others whose purely learned books must be excluded from ‘best literature,’ but whose works, in their variety and comprehensiveness, show how wonderful a change had come over the literature.  47
  To Kālidāsa three (extant) dramas are attributed; and since his name stands at the head of this literature, it seems best to analyze one or two of his plays as examples of Hindu dramatic art. It must however be observed that Çūdraka, though admitted to be contemporary with Kālidāsa, is thought by some to be an older poet because of his style in the composition of the Mricchakatikā or ‘Toy Cart’ (literally ‘Clay Cart’), which seems to be one of the earliest dramas. In distinction from the delicacy of Kālidāsa, Çūdraka is especially famous for dramatic force and humor, so that he has been called the most Shakesperean of Hindu dramatists. The author is a king, unless, as some scholars opine, King Çūdraka covered with his own name the authorship of a piece that was really written by one of his subjects,—not an uncommon procedure in India. The poet Dandin (see above) seems most likely to have been the author of the ‘Toy Cart,’ as Çūdraka is otherwise a name unknown in literature, and Dandin’s style closely resembles that of the unknown ‘Hindu Shakespeare.’ The chief persons of this play, which has ten acts, are a poor merchant and a rich woman of the bayadère class; there are a number of relations of the merchant, a jester, and a mass of subsidiary characters. The plot is the love of the rich courtesan for the poor merchant, whose noble character elevates her until she attains her dearest wishes and is made his wife. The courtesan’s attempts to aid her destitute but worthy lover, her gradual growth in appreciation of his character, her resolve to become morally worthy of him, the tricks and misfortunes which thwart her, and finally the means whereby the knot of difficulty is untied, are all described with dramatic wit and power. The name of the drama is taken from a slight incident in it. The merchant’s little boy, weeping because his toy cart, owing to his father’s poverty, is made only of clay, is overheard by the bayadère, who fills the cart with jewels and bids him buy one of gold, like that of his rich neighbor’s son.  48
  Kālidāsa has less drastic wit than the author of the ‘Toy Cart,’ but he is a finer poet. His three dramas, ‘Çakuntalā,’ ‘Vikramorvaçī,’ and ‘Mālaviklāgnimitra,’ show throughout the same beauties and the same defects: delicacy of imagination, great power of description, cleverness in character-study, and yet a certain lack of strength, of the redundant force which with so sure a hand sweeps the ‘Toy Cart’ to its end through the maze of difficulties invented to impede it, and at the same time overflows with apparently careless jest, with something of the rollicking fun that marks the genius of Aristophanes. Of Kālidāsa’s three dramas, the first two represent the fable in dramatic form. ‘Çakuntalā’ is the best known in Europe, as it is the most famous in India, and was fitly one of the first works to be translated by early European scholars. Goethe has praised it as the perfection of poetry; and it may be added that Kālidāsa’s genius is somewhat akin to Goethe’s own, as has frequently been observed by German scholars. Both the ‘Çakuntalā’ and the ‘Vikramorvaçī,’ it is interesting to see, are dramatic developments of old Vedic and Epic legends. The style, like the language, is simple; the movement rapid; and the lyric songs, which are an important factor in the drama, are composed with the ‘sweetness’ for which the author is famous.  49
  In the ‘Çakuntalā’ the plot is extremely simple. In the first act the king secretly falls in love with Çakuntalā, the daughter of a hermit, and she with him. This sentimental scene is followed by one of burlesque humor, wherein the king’s jester complains of the passion for hunting which leads the king to frequent places where there is nothing fit to eat. Çakuntalā’s lovesick plaint, overheard by the king, who thereupon declares himself and becomes her accepted lover, forms the substance of the next act. The fourth tells that a priest, whose dignity was offended by Çakuntalā’s indifference to him, curses her so that all lovers shall forget her; a curse subsequently modified to mean that they shall forget her till they see a ring he gives to her. The fifth act relates how Çakuntalā travels to court and appears before the king, who cannot remember their intimate relation, but is much moved by the sight of her. She seeks for the ring, but it is lost! Pathos reigns in this scene. The sixth act again introduces the antithetic element of burlesque to modify the sentimental effect produced in the last. Policemen hustle a fisherman upon the stage, declaring that he has a ring of priceless value, which he must have stolen. The seventh and eighth acts show how the fisherman’s ring (cut out of a fish which had swallowed it as Çakuntalā dropped it in the water) gives the king recollection, and how he finds Çakuntalā, who disappeared before the mystery of the ring was cleared up and went grieving back to her father’s hut. This whole story is taken from the ‘Mahābhārata,’ embellished with dramatic incidents.  50
  The tale of the second drama goes even further back, and relates the loves of Urvaçī and Purūravas, who (see above) are known as lovers in the Rig-Veda collection. Urvaçī is the Psyche and Purūravas is the Eros of India. This drama has only five acts, or rather scenes, and may be called in part an elf drama. Urvaçī is a cloud nymph, and she disappears from heaven, having been captured by a monster. The first scene shows her attendant nymphs bewailing her loss, and relates how the earthly king Purūravas rescues her and falls in love with her. The king’s jealous queen makes the next scene. The third scene is very curious. Urvaçī, having been rescued, and being the fairest of all nymphs, is chosen (in heaven) as the proper person to represent a goddess in a mystery-play given to entertain the gods. At a certain point in the play she should say “I love Purushottama” (the god); but instead of this, owing to the love which has grown up in her for Purūravas, she makes a mistake and says “I love Purūravas.” A Divine seer, who has coached her for the part, is doubly furious, both because she has made such a mess of her part, and that a nymph of heaven should love a mortal. He curses her to lose her place in heaven. God Indra modifies the curse to be this,—that she shall be with her lover on earth till he sees her child, when she may (or must) return to heaven. The fourth act is almost wholly lyric. Urvaçī is on earth with Purūravas, but she steps into a holy grove into which no woman may enter, and thereupon is changed into a vine. The king seeks her, asking in lyric strain of bird, bee, and flower, whither his love is gone. She is finally found by means of a wonder-stone which has power to unite people. The fifth act gives a pretty psychological situation. Urvaçī expected child has been born, but she has carefully concealed it lest the fact that Purūravas sees it should banish her. He however sees the boy by accident. Then comes the conflict of sentiment: the joy of the father in the son, the grief of the husband in the loss of his wife. But the Hindu drama must leave no sadness. The gods change the curse again. Urvaçī may remain on earth till her husband’s death.  51
  The outline of these two plays gives a notion of the substance if not the beauty of Hindu dramatic art. Kālidāsa’s third drama is the love story of Mālavikā and Agnimitra, and is more complex than the other legendary dramas. The third great dramatist belongs to the eighth century. This is the Southerner, Bhavabhūti, who excels in the grandeur rather than in the delicacy of his descriptions. He also has left three great dramas: ‘Mālatīmādhava,’ or the tale of (the heroine) Mālatī’s and (the hero) Mādhava’s love; ‘Mahāvīracarita,’ and ‘Uttararāmacarita.’ The first is deservedly the most famous, and has been called the ‘Romeo and Juliet’ of India. It is a love drama in ten acts. The two young people love each other, and their parents have agreed on the match. But political influence makes them change their intentions. The lovers are separated and are formally promised to other suitors by their parents, who dare not disobey the king’s express wish in this regard. Then a savage priest appears, who steals away Mālati and is about to sacrifice her on the altar of the terrible goddess Durga, Çiva’s wife.’ Mādhava saves her and slays the priest. All is about to end happily when a comical Shakespearean sub-motif is introduced. Mādhava’s friends in sport substitute at the wedding a young man dressed as a girl, for Mālatī. Mālatī, stolen again, is however finally found, and the drama ends well, as usual. Conspicuous is the agency of Buddhist nuns in helping the young people, and equally conspicuous is the diabolical character of the Brahmanic priest.  52
  Between Bhavabhūti and Kālidāsa comes the author of a little drama called the ‘Ratnāvalī,’ ascribed to the King Çrīharsha, but probably written by one of his subjects—either Bāna, author of the ‘Kādambariī’ (see above), or Dhāvaka. It was written in the seventh century, as nearly as can be determined, and to its author are also attributed the ‘Nāgananda’ and ‘Priyadarçikā.’ But though these fill satisfactorily the blank between the sixth and eighth centuries, the product of this time is distinctly inferior to that which immediately precedes and follows, and Bhavabhūti is the next literary follower of his older rival. In the following centuries, drama succeeded drama with greater rapidity, and a large number of late inferior dramatic compositions are extant. Among these one of the best is ‘Mudrārākshasa’ or ‘King’s Guardian of the Seal’; a play that reminds us of ‘Richelieu,’ and is notable as being wholly a political drama. It is forcibly and dramatically written, and some of the scenes are of great power and intense interest. It is doubtful when its author, Viçākhadatta, lived—in the eighth or in the eleventh century. An admirable drama by Kshemīçvara (uncertain date), entitled ‘Canda-Kauçika’ or the ‘Wrath of Kauçika,’ should also be mentioned as well worthy of study. Among lesser lights of later times the best-known dramatists are Bhatta, of the tenth century, whose play called ‘Venīsanhāra’ or ‘Binding of the Braid’ is based on an Epic incident; and Rājaçekhara, of the ninth century, who has left four rather indifferent dramas.  53
  Sanskrit Literature: (c) Lyric. It may be said that even in the Rig-Veda Collection there is a lyric strain, perceptible not only in the praises of the gods but also in one or two of the triumphant battle hymns. At a later period the language of religious ecstasy in the Upanishads, though framed in the simple octosyllabic verse, also rises not infrequently to lyric heights; and this is especially true of some of the short religious effusions to be found in Buddhistic literature. But formal lyric, with its varied metre, its wild and pathetic strains, appears first at the period of the Renaissance (see above). Here too Kālidāsa’s name heads the list, not only in virtue of the lyric parts of his dramas, but because of his lyric poetry per se. His two lyric poems are models for after time. One of these describes in order the seasons, and hence is called ‘Ritu-sanhāra’ or ‘Union of Seasons.’ 1 In varied note the poet gives us pictures of each of the seasons: the summer heat, the joyful rains, the fresh autumn, the winter, the “cool” season, and last the spring. Each is delineated with true touches, which show that nothing escapes the fine observation of the great poet. The effect of each season upon the mood of man and beast is beautifully described. No land ever offered more superb contrasts to the artist; and each feature is represented not only with accuracy, but with such facile ease in the varied metres employed, that to translate without the rhythmic flow is to lose more here than in the case of any foreign lyric, not excepting that of Pindar. All lyric depends for its beauty largely upon the rhythm, but in the case of Kālidāsa no English version can satisfy at all; for the complex metre cannot be imitated, and even if it could, the dexterous fitting of plant names to the metrical flow of words, which gives exquisite effect in the original, would be completely lost. Kālidāsa’s other lyric, the ‘Meghadūta’ or ‘Cloud Messenger,’ is quite well known in Europe through the medium of many English and German translations. This pictures a lover sending a message by a cloud to his beloved. Pathos, longing, despair, hope, all the passions of the lover, are here rendered into verse in metre which, like that of the ‘Ritusanhāra,’ defies imitation. The poem is of course erotic, but it is filled with passages illustrating the fineness and delicacy of the lyric master. The later poets were apt to imitate and exceed the model in the erotic features, while they were left far behind in point of style and execution.  54
  Only a few of these later bards deserve special attention. As in the case of the drama, much was subsequently written but little was written well. Of these inferior works, however, the twenty-two strophes called ‘Ghatakarpana’ deserve to be spoken of because the author lived at so early a date, being probably almost a contemporary of Kālidāsa himself; while the ‘Pancāçikā’ of the eleventh century may be cited as an example of the later erotic poems. The author of the latter, probably Bilhana, describes in passionate language the delight of a fortunate lover in the embrace of his mistress. No detail of love’s enjoyment is omitted, and the fifty strophes are quite untranslatable in their indecency.  55
  But long lyric effusions do not show the peculiar genius of the Hindu lyric in its later development. In artificial language, where every syllable is pregnant with meaning, the Hindu delights in giving a complete idyl in as few verses as possible. Thus we have an enormous mass of little poems, each without introduction or end, describing a situation. This is often a lover’s complaint, but as often it is a meditative expression of some moral or even physical truth. In short, in this lyric, which closes the development of native literature, we have a reversion to the aphoristic sententious style which marked the close of the Vedic period; only in the latter the didactic matter was the one thing considered, while in the sentimental aphoristic lyric, style and language were even more considered than was the truth or fancy to be expressed. Even in the Epic, some of the aphoristic verses are almost lyrical in this sense; and in the fables, there is much that aspires to beauty in expression as well as to truth in what is said.  56
  Chief master of this sort of lyric, so well beloved and so often imitated by Heine, is Bhartrihari. He was philosopher and poet, and lived in the seventh century. According to tradition he was a Buddhist monk, who, as was permitted to the monks, joined the order seven times and seven times left it, being influenced beyond his own control by desire for religion and in turn by love of the world. It is said that he was so well aware of his weakness that when he was a monk he always kept a horse ready harnessed, in order that if he should feel overpowered by sinful desires, he might have the means to escape and gratify them without delay. He wrote three ‘Çataka,’ literally Centuries, of little lyrics (the ‘Çringāraçataka’). They are marked by esprit, humor, and delicate sentiment. Another such collection, the ‘Çringāratilaka,’ is ascribed to Kālidāsa, but the authorship is not beyond doubt. A ‘Century’ of lyrics was also composed by Amaru (‘Amaruçataka’), who is regarded as the greatest master in depicting love scenes and in understanding women. Love is here, as it usually is in this literature, rather coarse passion like that of Sappho; but we have no right to demand modern refinement from the ancients, and we are only surprised to find it in Kālidāsa. Still another book of Centuries is written in a Prakrit patois. It is that of Hāla, called simply his ‘Seven Centuries’ (‘Saptaçataka’). The erotic nature of the poems interchanges with what, in view of the patois, is called by German critics volkspoesie; but there is probably as little of the real folk here as in Theocritus. There are however in Hāla, descriptions of nature which show a fine touch. The erotic lyric of India closes with a wonderful production of almost modern times, the ‘Gītagovinda’ of Jayadeva, a Bengal poet of the twelfth century. This is a lyric-dramatic effusion describing the love of the god Krishna-Vishnu for his mistress Rādhā. It is an ode, and was intended to be sung to music. The name comes from govinda (neatherd, i.e., Krishna, see above) and gīta, song. As a literary product this work may be defined as a sort of mystery-play, in point of language refined to excess, but in the unbridled excess of its description quite equal to Bilhana’s Pancāçikā (see above). The intent of the poem withal is quite religious. It is the model of modern devotional-erotic poetry, which, in its strange mixture of worship and obscenity, reminds one of Dionysiac rites.  57
  FOURTH PERIOD: Modern Sanskrit and Dialectic Literature.—For fully a hundred years before and for five hundred years after the Christian era, India was overrun by northern barbarians. For the next five hundred years the land enjoyed comparative security from the Mohammedans. The Muslim indeed invaded India as early as the eighth century, but Hindu rule was not overthrown till the latter half of the tenth century. The next five hundred years, from the crowning of Mahmud the devastator of India in 997, to the middle of the sixteenth century, was a period of rapine and ruin. Under Akbar, the Great Mogul, who reigned from 1556 to 1605, the land had peace; but literary originality was totally destroyed by this very security of the time. Persian, Christian, Jew, and Mohammedan lived amicably together, discussing religion, philosophy, and literature at Akbar’s court. Moreover, the Portuguese landed in India in the fifteenth century and the English in 1600. From this time on, therefore, Indian literature loses its old character. The first extant works of this period, chiefly religious, are a reflex of the confluence of Hindu and Mohammedan thought. Nor are they untouched by Christian doctrine. As early as the seventh century Christians were welcomed by a northern king, and the late Purānas have many traits taken directly from the New Testament. But the terrible oppression of the Mohammedan from about the years 1000 to 1500 leaves even the centuries preceding Akbar’s reign almost bare of original productions. To the eleventh and twelfth centuries belong fable, drama, and lyric, in steadily decreasing amount and value (see above); but the crushed genius of the Hindus after this seems to be content with the manufacture of commentaries and of religious works (the animus of the latter being a fierce sectarianism), till the catholicity of Akbar’s reign produces the refined and philosophic religious works of modern times. The narrow and devoutly furious sectarian tracts are known as Tantras (i.e., books or Bibles). They describe minutely the obscure rites of the lower religious orders. Other works of this class are called Āgamas, or “Traditional works,” which scarcely differ from the late sectarian Purānas. Most of these late Purānas claim for themselves a great antiquity; but none is probably older than the ninth century, and many of them are as late as the fifteenth or sixteenth centuries. Beside these devotional works stands a mass of late Smriti or “Tradition”; generally in the form of a miscellaneous assortment of rules, called a law-book, but partaking largely of the character of a Purāna. The formal ‘History of Sects’ forms one of the literary features of this time. In the ninth century appears the first of these, by Ānanda Giri, a pupil of Çankara. In the fourteenth century another was composed by Mādhava Acārya. This may be designated also as the greatest period of commentators. In the seventh century, during the period following on the Renaissance (see above), the ancient Brahmanism was re-established ritually by Kumārila. Later scholars contented themselves with writing commentaries on the Vedic texts. Best known of these is Sāyana, who in the fourteenth century re-edited with his exhaustive commentary the Rig-Veda Collection and other early texts.  58
  The sectaries did, however, produce some original matter. Notably is this the case with the Rāma-Vishnu sects; that is, the sects that believe in Rāma (rather than in Krishna) as an incarnation of Vishnu. These sects, or at least their leaders, are in general more philosophical than are the Krishna sects. Thus in the twelfth century Rāmānuja, the next able philosopher after Çankara (above), founded a new sect; and this sect possesses the most important Sanskrit poem of modern times, the ‘Ramcaritmanas’ of Tulasīdāsa, who is generally acknowledged to be the strongest modern Hindu poet. He lived in the sixteenth century, and his ‘Ramcaritmanas’ is a sort of modern ‘Rāmāyana,’ a New Testament to that older Bible of the Rāma sect. The Krishna sect has on the other hand, as its older Bible, a religious chapter of the ‘Mahābhārata’ (called the ‘Bhagavat Gīta’ or Divine Song); but for a New Testament it has only the trashy ‘Bhāgavata Purāna.’  59
  Commentaries not only on Vedic texts but on modern sects also characterize this period. Thus in the sixteenth century a ‘Life of Krishna,’ virtually a commentary on the doctrines of his sect, was written by Vallabha, one of the few Krishnaite scholars. But modern religious literature is usually a plain combination of Mohammedanism, Hinduism, and Christianity; notably so in the compositions of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but not less surely so in every work since the sixteenth. Thus the famous ‘ādi-granth’ or ‘Original Bible’ of the Sikhs is a sixteenth-century composite of Mohammedan and Hindu thought; although Kabīr and Nānak, the first leaders of this sect, who lived in the fifteenth century, actually broke with both these State religions, and formed what they claimed was a “new” faith. The same again is true in regard to the Bible of the Dādū Pānthīs of the seventeenth century: while Rāmmohun Roy (born in 1772) and the numerous leaders of Samājas “Congregations,” who followed him, have done nothing more than make latter-day Upanishads based on eclectic Christian doctrine superadded to more native teaching—a curious amalgam, which represents very well the parasitic character of modern religious literature in India. Some of this is in Sanskrit, some in Tamīl (the language of the Southern Dravidians), and some in local Hindu patois. Of these, the sacred Kural of Tiruvalluvar, and the Prem Sāgar or ‘Ocean of Love,’ are typical examples. In general, besides such religious works, Tamīl literature is composed either of reproduced Sanskrit works or of folk tales, and may therefore be omitted from the “best literature” of India, inasmuch as it lacks either originality or the qualities that constitute the right to be called fine literature. A good deal of folk poetry and folk stories, both in Tamīl and in Hindu patois, has been published, but the value of this literature is not great. Even bucolic “Epics” have been discovered, and one missionary has actually found an Epic among the wild tribes! But the ballads are too rude and the stories are too stupid to be classed as literature. They are the oral, long-winded, tiresome productions common to all peasants from Greenland to India, interesting only to the student of folk-lore, and valuable merely as showing how small is the literary merit that lies in the unaided (more particularly in the not touched up) genius of the common people.  60
  In the domain of the late literature which is impregnated with foreign ideas, one passes beyond the true province of Indian literature. No less does one exceed the limit of Sanskrit literature in speaking of modern works written in Sanskrit. Sanskrit is still written and spoken, but so is Latin; and Sanskrit literature stops with the aftergrowth of the Renaissance just as truly as Latin literature ceases with the silver age. The Sanskrit writings of the last few centuries are to Sanskrit literature what the Latin of the Middle Ages is to Latin literature. The age when Sanskrit was a people’s language is long since past; and even in the later drama it is probable that the artificial Sanskrit employed is a true index of its decline as a spoken tongue, and that in ordinary conversation even the Brahmans used the colloquial patois of their respective homes. In one of these dramas it is said that there is nothing more ridiculous than a man singing pianissimo and a woman speaking Sanskrit; while, as we have seen, even the early drama made all low-caste men and women converse in patois. In the Epic there is no indication that the characters used any other language than Sanskrit. It is there considered a mark of cultivation to be able to “speak in patois,” as if this were an accomplishment. Pānini’s explicit rules for “dialects,” and the fact that the earlier Buddhistic works are preserved not in Sanskrit but in Pāli, show that Sanskrit was a local language to a great extent, and that, as the exponent of the Brahmanic faith, it was probably more or less a revived language even at the period of the Renaissance. In the northwest, Sanskrit was probably spoken at the same time that it was unused in other districts; and as the various patois gradually encroached upon it, it became, as its name denotes, the “cultivated” or “refined” language, in contradistinction to Prakrit, the “natural” language or local patois.  61
  In closing this outline of Indian literature, it will not be amiss to point out, if only for convenience in remembering its long course of three thousand years, the semi-millennium groups into which it naturally falls in respect of time. In the sense of original Hindu compositions, Indian literature extends from about 1500 B.C. to 1500 A.D. The first five hundred years go to the completion of the Rig-Veda Collection. Then follow about five hundred years of Vedic decline, additions, elucidations, the Ritual period. A religious and sectarian literary awakening succeeds this epoch. It is typified by the first Upanishads and by the growth of Buddhism; while Vedic literature expires in Sūtras, a period of five hundred years, from about B.C. 500 to our era. Another era of five hundred years covers a time of political ruin at the hands of barbarians and decadent Buddhism, from our era to 500 A.D. Then in the sixth century comes the literary awakening, the Renaissance, the effect of which in the growth of art endures till, about 1000 A.D., the Mohammedan again brings ruin to India. The decline of this art follows during five hundred years more in the works of inferior poets and the rise of commentators. After 1500 A.D. the literature is no longer “Indian.”  62
  NOTE.—For other selections of Indian literature see individual authors and works. A bibliography will include Colebrooke, ‘Essays,’ re-edited by Cowell and Whitney; Max Müller, ‘Ancient Sanskrit Literature’; Whitney, ‘Oriental and Linguistic Studies’; Weber, ‘Vorlesungen ueber Indische Literaturgeschichte’ (English translation, as ‘Indian Literature,’ published by Houghton, Mifflin & Co., Boston); von Schroeder, ‘Indiens Literatur und Cultur’; Muir, ‘Original Sanskrit Texts’; Grassmann, ‘Der Rig-Veda’ (German translation); Kaegi, ‘Der Rig-Veda’ (translated into English by Arrowsmith); the ‘Sacred Books of the East’ (contain translations from the ‘Çatapatha Brāhmana,’ Upanishads, law-books, etc.); Gough, ‘Philosophy of the Upanishads’; Jacobi, ‘Kalpa-Sūtra’; Oldenberg, ‘Buddha’; T. W. Rhys Davids, ‘Manual of Buddhism,’ ‘Hibbert Lectures,’ and ‘Buddhism,’ also ‘Buddhist Suttas’ translated by Oldenberg and Davids in the ‘Sacred Books of the East’; Williams, ‘Indian Wisdom’; Protap C. Roy, ‘Translation of Mahābhārata’ (publishing in India); Jacobi, ‘Rāmāyana’; Wilson, ‘Analysis of Purānas’ (Selected Essays); Wilson, ‘Hindu Drama’; Williams, ‘Sakuntalā’; Wilson, ‘Meghadūta’; Brunnhofer, ‘Geist der Indischen Lyrik.’ There is no special work on modern Indian literature; but the essays of Wilson and Williams may be consulted, and much in regard to dialectic and folk-lore literature will be found in the Indian Antiquary, a journal published in India. All the most important works on Indian literature till the time of the Renaissance, and all the works on the religious literature after this date, will be found in the Bibliography at the end of the ‘Religions of India’ (‘Handbooks on the History of Religions’).  63
Note 1. See the translation of ‘Grishma’ from this poem under Sir Edwin Arnold in the LIBRARY. [back]

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