The Indian literary tradition is the oldest in the world. It is primarily one of verse, and for a long period of time remained essentially oral. The earliest works were composed to be sung or recited and so were transmitted from generation to generation by word of mouth, before being written down.
India has 22 officially recognized languages and a huge variety of literature has been written in these languages over hundreds of years. The Vedas – composed in Vedic Sanskrit constitute the oldest layers of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism. Hindu epics such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata are of prime importance as shown by the fact that many television shows and widely read journals are based on them. There is also the Vaastu Shastra in architecture and town planning; the Arthashastra which is an ancient Indian treatise on state craft, economic policy and military strategy; Ashvaghosha’s plays in the Prakrit literature and the Pali literature having Buddhist philosophical works.
During the last 150 years, many writers have contributed to the development of modern Indian literature and have written in a number of regional languages as well as in English. India is a colorful, vibrant land -as diverse as its people. There is a mosaic of faiths, cultures, customs, traditions and languages that blend harmoniously to form a composite whole.
Today in the 21st century also, we can find great literary works being produced but unlike before now-a-days people are least interested in reading them. One doesn’t receive the appreciation one deserves for the work they do. Especially, the youth of today are not interested in reading and understanding the intricacies of the ancient literature.
A very less percentage of the youth knows about our great epics. Merely knowing the names is not sufficient to promote and develop our culture and heritage. If we being Indians are least bothered to know about our own country, our own culture and heritage why should and why would others care to develop and preserve it?
Coming back to the status of Indian literature and heritage we don’t have to go down for a research, it is crystal clear in front of us. How many of us actually have interest in literature? For example there was this quiz contest in a school. In various set of questions literature was a part. Students were all blank and they could answer only three questions out of twenty.
It is indeed a shame for us that we are not well versed with the traditions and customs that have form the very core of the nation. We ignore our own heritage and move forward to appreciate foreign customs. Where have the moral values gone that we had learned in our lessons? The constitution has clearly defined it as one of the duties of an Indian citizen to protect the rich heritage and literature of our country. What we actually need is to raise a voice to protect our own heritage and know the value of our literature.
The writer is a Delhi based correspondent at Youth Ki Awaaz
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