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Classical Indian Literature. Gupta Era 320 ce — 550 ce  Gupta dynasty was founded by Chandra Gupta I  Development of Mahayana Buddhism  Classical Age.

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Presentation on theme: "Classical Indian Literature. Gupta Era 320 ce — 550 ce  Gupta dynasty was founded by Chandra Gupta I  Development of Mahayana Buddhism  Classical Age."— Presentation transcript:

1 Classical Indian Literature

2 Gupta Era 320 ce — 550 ce  Gupta dynasty was founded by Chandra Gupta I  Development of Mahayana Buddhism  Classical Age in north India  Cave paintings at Ajanta  Sakuntala, Jataka, Panchatantra and Kamasutra were written  Aryabhatta’s Astronomy. Kumardevi and Chandragupta I (Minted by their son Samudragupta) 335-370 ce Gold Dinar Weight: 7.8 gm Obverse: King and queen


4 Mahayana Buddhism  Buddhism split into two sects, Mahayana and Hinayana (Theravada).  Mahayana laid stress on the concept of the Bodhisattva or `one destined to be the Buddha' and also conceived of Eternal Buddhas who resemble gods or deities.  Hinayana regarded the Buddha as a man and had a doctrine, Theravada, stressing the salvation of the individual.  The interaction of Mahayana philosophy and Hinduism gave rise to Tantric Buddhism or Vajrayana.

5 . AJANTA CAVES  During the 4 th century c.e. in a remote valley, work began on the Ajanta Caves to create a complex of Buddhist monasteries and prayer halls.  As centuries passed, numerous Buddhist monks and artisans dug out a set of twenty-nine caves, converting some to cells, and others to monasteries and Buddhist temples.  These caves are adorned with elaborate sculptures and paintings which have withstood the ravages of time


7 Ajanta Caves  The Ajanta caves depict the stories of Buddhism spanning from the period from 200 bce to 650 ce.  The 29 caves were built by Buddhist monks using simple tools like hammer & chisel.  The elaborate and exquisite sculptures and paintings depict stories from Jataka tales.  The caves also house images of nymphs and princesses.

8 Scene From The Jataka

9 Samskrta The Language of Classical Literature  Samskrta: Sanskrit  “perfected, classified refined”  “Correct speech”  Codified and frozen in the Astadhyahi : the rules of grammar  Considered ideal language for classics  Prakrta: Prakrit  “original or natural”  Dialects that changed and developed with spoken language

10 Kavya  Kavya – the “poetry” of the classical canon  Permeated with the culture of the Gupta courts  Kavi, learned poets, wrote under the patronage of kings for audiences of connoisseurs  sahrdaya – “with heart, responsive”  rasika – “enjoyer of aesthetic mood”  Highly formulated norms and conventions  Many works on poetic theory

11 Kavya Genres  Mahakavya: great poem or court epic – contains lyric stanzas with elaborate figures of speech and emphasizes description  Natya: drama  employs both prose and verse  includes Sanskrit and Prakrit  wider range of characters  lyrical description more than dramatic action  Muktaka: short lyric poems  Bhartrhari: pointed epigrams  Kalidasa: idyllic verses on nature  Amaru: erotic vignettes  Katha or Akhyika: narrative tales  Pancatantra: collection of animal fables  Somadeva’s Kathasaritsagara (Ocean to the Rivers of Story): picaresque, marvelous tales, romances

12 Niti Aims for Human Conduct, Worldly Wisdom  The Nagaraka – gentleman, citizen, courtier – cultivated life as art with the 4 aims for human conduct:  Dharma: religious duty  Artha: wealth, politics, public life  Kama: erotic pleasure and the emotions  Vitsyayana’s Kamasutra  Moksa: liberation from the chain of birth and death in which souls are trapped because of Karma  Karma implies fluid relationships between divine, human and animal worlds  gods become human, humans may achieve bodhisattva status or may be reincarnated as animals

13 Women in Classical Literature  Courtly ideal wives like Sita – chaste, loyal, submissive, long-suffering  Wives in merchant-class stories – chaste, independent, powerful  Courtesans – erotic, beautiful, intelligent, ruthless, rapacious, independent  Religious contemplatives – figures of authority and free agents

14 Visnusarman’s Pancatantra ca. 2 nd – 3 rd ce  Pancatantra: The Five Strategies  Collection of folk tales and fables within frame tales  Brought by Arabs into Europe – model and source for 1001 Nights, Boccaccio’s The Decameron, Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, Grimms’ Fairy Tales, La Fontaine’s Fables, etc.  Central concern is niti – conduct – political expediency and social values  Visnusarman allegedly used the fables to teach 3 dim-witted princes the science of politics

15 The Pancatantra’s 5 Strategies  Book I : “The Loss of Friends”  “Leap and Creep”  “ The Blue Jackal”  “Forethought, Readywit and Fatalist”  Book II : “The Winning of Friends”  Book III: “Crows and Owls”  strategies of alliance and war  “Mouse-Maid Made Mouse”  Book IV: “Loss of Gains”  Book V: “Ill-Considered Action”  “The Loyal Mungoose”

16 Natya: Drama  Drsyakavya: poetry to be seen as opposed to sravyakavya: poetry to be heard  Bharata’s Natyasastra – authoritative text on dramatic aesthetics and theory  Abhinaya: “a symphony of languages” – verbal text, stylized gesture, facial expression, eye movement, music, dance  8 fundamental emotions, bhava, expressed in 8 major rasas, stylized representations of the emotions – universal rather than particular  No tragedy in Indian drama – impossible in the Hindu and Buddhist conception of the universe of karma linking humans with nature and the cosmos through networks of volition, action and response – open-ended cycles of time Video on Indian Natya

17 Dramatic Conventions  Performed at seasonal festivals and celebrations such as weddings, the dramas were regarded as rites of renewal and order  Characters are types, not individuals  Contrasts and complements among diverse elements:  lyric verse and prose dialogue  erotic and heroic moods  heroic king and gluttonous buffoon  Sanskrit spoken by noblemen, Prakrit spoken by women, children and men of lower caste  domestic and public worlds; worlds of the court and of nature; worlds of the human and divine  emotional universes of men and women

18 Kalidasa fl. 4 th –5 th c. ce  The dramatist and poet is regarded as the greatest figure in classical Sanskrit literature.  His three surviving plays are Abhijnanasakuntala (Sakunatala and the Ring of Recognition), Vikramorvasi, and Malavikagnimitra.  These court dramas in verse, nataka, relate fanciful or mythological tales of profound romantic love intensified and matured by adversity.  In Kalidasa's two epics, Raghuvansa and Kumarasambhava, delicate descriptions of nature are mingled with battle scenes.  The other poems of Kalidasa are shorter and almost purely lyrical.

19 Sakuntala  Nataka: heroic romance – play about love between a noble hero and a beautiful woman  Dominant mood: the erotic rasa: tension between duty, dharma, and desire, kama  King Dusyanta falls in love with Sakuntala, daughter of the nymph Menaka and foster daughter of the ascetic hermit-sage, Kanva.

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