Though several works have been written on the history and bibliography of ancient Sanskrit literature, it seems to me that its cultural background, which is the essence of the literature, has been more or less neglected. Attempts have been made no doubt from time to time to deal with some particular aspects of the background, but a comprehensive survey of the entire field reviewing its different phases in different ages does not seem to have yet been made. And I believe the time is not yet ripe for compilation of such an exhaustive account. It is, therefore, a great pleasure to find that Prof. Ramji Upadhyaya of the Saugar University has made a brilliant attempt in this direction. The following page, entitled “प्राचीन भारतीय साहित्य की सांस्कृतिक भूमिका” embodies the result of his long continued labours in the field and it is a valuable contribution to the subject.
The work gives a bird's eye view of the ancient Indian civilisation in its multiple aspects as one may gleam from Sanskrit literature. In so far Sanskrit was used as a medium of literary expression among the Hindus, Buddhists and Jains of early India, it is no wonder that the literature generally reflected Indian culture as a whole.
The Introductory chapter furnishes the author's views on the intimate relation which a particular literature bears to the culture, of which it is a faithful reflection. The subsequent chapters deal with special subjects which include social structure, purificatory Samskaras, education, mode of teaching, family life of a householder and life of a recluse. A special chapter is devoted to Samnyasa and Karmayoga. The philosophical and religious activities have been discussed in one chapter each. A chapter has been added dealing with the rules of conduct, discipline and character-building. Politics including activities on public welfare, military organisation and art of warfare, trade, commerce and 'similar other subjects have also found their proper place in the general account.
The work as a whole bears upon it the impress of wide reading, unstinted labour, power of critical examination and fair presentation. I am confident that as a pioneer work it will inspire young scholars of India to step into the field and take up the cultural study of Sanskrit literature in different branches with great zeal and interest.
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