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History of Indian Literature (Volume III): Classical Sanskrit Literature and Scientific Literature

History of Indian Literature (Volume III): Classical Sanskrit Literature and Scientific Literature
Item Code: NAC703
Author: Maurice Winternitz
Publisher: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Edition: 2008
ISBN: 9788120800564
Pages: 776
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 9.0 Inch X 5.7 Inch
weight of the book: 870 gms
Back of the Book

Indian Kavya Literature is planned in eight volumes as a comprehensive study of literature (Kavya) in the Indian tradition from the standpoint of the literary criticism of that same tradition, the aim being the enjoyment of literature as it was meant to be enjoyed. Vol. I : Literary Criticism present Indian literary criticism including the aesthetic theories about the nature of enjoyment of literature, the techniques of dramaturgy and poeties, the nature of the literary genres and a sketch of the milieu of the writers and critics. Vol. II: Origins and Formation of the Classical Kavya deals with the formation of the tradition known as Kavya, and the early classical model created by Valmiki, Gunadhya, Aávaghoa, Satavahana and others. Vol. III Early Medieval Period presents the celebrated writers like Sudraka, Visnuarman, Kalidasa, Pravarasena, Amaruka, Bhãravi, Subandhu and Viakhadatta, with a new analysis and appreciationof their poetry. Recently discovered MSS. are utilised to resurrect writers like Sarvasena, Matrgupta, Mentha etc. touching briefly the history of the period. Vol. IV: The Ways of Originality describes in more detail the extensive literature preserved from the 7th and 8th centuries. It analyses the extant novels of famous writers such as Bana, Dandin, Kutuhala Haribhadra and Uddyotana. The plays of Haqa, Narayana, and Bhavabhuti are also assessed critically. Vol. V displays some of the riches and diversity of Indian culture in the ninth and tenth centuries. Vol. VI: The Art of Storytelling continues the exploration of Indian Literature (Kavya) into the eleventh century, from Padmagupta and Atula to Bilhaua and Manovinoda. Vol. VII : The Wheel of Time (2Pts.) presents the Indian literature of 12th & 13th centuries History is the most substanual source of matter for literature in the volume.

From the Jacket

The present work is an English translation of the two parts of Volume III of M. Winternitz’s well-known ‘History of Indian Literature’ from the original German.

Part I covers the history of Classical Sanskrit Literature comprising ornate poetry, dramatic poetry, narrative literature and Champus. Part II covers the characteristics of the Scientific Literature, Grammar, Lexicography, Philosophy, Dharmasastra, Arthasastra (Nitisastra), Architecture, Sangitasastra, Kamasatra (Erotics), Ayurveda, Astronomy, Astrology and Mathematics.

This part also contains a useful Appendix surveying briefly the modern Indian literature in Tamil, Panjabi, Hindi Marathi and Bengali.

The work is meant alike for the beginners and the advanced students of Sanskrit literature. It helps the reader to make himself aware of what is and what is not of lasting importance and what standard should be applied to distinguish between more valuable and less valuable work. The author has tried to provide the reader with a clear and lucid representation of every type of Sanskrit literature and to introduce him to the pulsating heart of the spiritual creations of India. He gives solid grounds on which further researches may be carried on.

The present English Translation is based on the original German work written by Professor Winternitz and has been revised in the light of further researches on the subject by different scholars in India and elsewhere. Volume I is divided into two sections. Section I relates to Veda the Four Samhitas), Brahmanas, Araoyakas, Upanisads, Vedangas and the literature of the Ritual. Section II relates to the study of two great Epics of India—the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. It carries out a general survey of the Puranic literature, and provides ample information about the Trantras too.

Volume II contains two section viz. Buddhism and Jainism. It is the revised version of Mrs. Ketkar’s English translation of the original German version of “GESCHICHTE DER INDISCFIEN LITERATUR” (A History of Indian Literature).

Volume III covers the history of classical Sanskrit literature and scientific Indian literature with its characteristics, Grammar, Lexicography, Philosophy, Dharmasastra, Architecture, Sangitasastra, Kamasastra, Ayurveda, Astrology, Astrology and mathematics and also has an appendix.

Translator’s Note

The first two volumes of the famous Geschichte tier indischen Litteratur of the Late Dr. M. Winternitz were translated into English during the life-time of the author, and these two volumes, both in German and English, had been well received by orientalists throughout the world.

Even after a lapse of decades, when nothing of vol. III appeared in English from the ten of brilliant scholars, I took upon myself the task of studying in German itself the said volume, and undertook to translate it into English for my own use. But Shri Sundarlal, the enterprising proprietor of the firm Messrs Motilal Banarsidass, insisted that this translation should be got printed and published. I could not help but accede to his demand. I have for some years been collecting materials for writing an exhaustive and up-to-date history of Sanskrit Literature and here I have utilized some of the materials so collected by putting them within parentheses. I have provided original Sanskrit text in most of the cases to facilitate better appreciation.

I am grateful to several recent writers on this subject whose essays and books I have unsparingly used and have acknowledged in the body of the work. Since the book is a work of reference, my friend Shri D. Satyanrayana has taken great pains in preparing an index that is more detailed than that in the original German to help the readers in its easy utilization.

I am fully aware of my poor knowledge of German and no claim is made that the present volume is so good as the two preceding ones, that were translated by an eminent German scholar Mrs. S. Ketkar. So my effort, in the terms of Kalidasa, is like that of a dwarf raising up his arms in the fond hope of getting something that is beyond his reach and I, therefore, crave indulgence of the readers.


When 23 years ago I undertook to write a “history of the Indian literature” and had begun to work on its preliminaries, I hoped to be able to complete the work in one volume in about three to four years. But the more I dived deep into the subject; the mass of available materials heaped up the more and this increased the difficulties of shifting them. And thus the work, that was planned to cover a single volume, has now become one of three volumes, and parts of this book appeared at considerable intervals 1904, 1908, 1913, 1920 and here is the last volume at the end. Now after the work is concluded, nobody can be aware of its shortcomings and imperfections more than its author himself. But in case I had wished to let it go into the world, these faults were mended, I would have to wait still for not less than 20 years.

In particular I feel and have always felt the obvious deficiency that I have prepared a history of the Indian literature in a very limited measure. But the hard fact remains that we do not possess any trustworthy information about the oldest and most important works of Indian literature, and whatever we can say with regard to the antiquity and origin of the earliest religious and secular poetry as well as about the beginning of the scientific literature is nothing but hypothetical, and naturally many readers will be disappointed to find in my history of literature so few definite statements on chronological topics. In fact, I have been accused by a critic of having used expressions like “probably”, “perhaps”, “apparently”, etc. at too many places. In case everything in the history of Indian literature had been fully clear it would have been easy to create an impression with discussions supported by more or less definite figures with regard to dates. But I believe that even a layman derives more benefit when he comes to know about the meagerness of chronological data in Indian literature than when one leads him into the hamlet of Potemkin. And for the beginners, who may choose to undertake research in Indology— they will need consulting this book the most, since it is of great importance [at this stage of study] to be able to distinguish accurately between definite and indefinite statements in order to arrive at the points at which further researches have to be carried. For this very reason, I have stated in the footnotes the views that I do not participate in.

Since in respect of the history of literature I was obliged to keep myself within the limits of possibility, I have most vigorously exerted my efforts to provide the reader with most unambiguous representations of every type of literature and literary works and to introduce him assuredly of an insight into the spiritual creations of India. In order to check the work from becoming still more voluminous I had to keep myself within the limits of literature, though at times it is equally difficult to separate the history of religious literature from religion and to associate the history of culture with the history of literature. Likewise the history of scientific literature, treated in the last section, can hardly become a history of the sciences.

It is natural that during the period of several years that have gone by after the publication of the first part of this work our knowledge has advanced further. So I have tried to make the work up-to-date with the addenda and corrigenda given at the end of this book. Since a greater part of the third volume was already printed by the end of 1920 it has become necessary to add even to this part the addenda and corrigenda, especially when for the first time quite a large number of works, so particularly the last volumes of the “Harvard Oriental Series”, and the “Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics” and the “Indian Antiquary” for the years 1914-1922 became available to me at the last moment of completion of my work.

One of my most pleasant duty is to thank all those with whose assistance it has been possible for the work to reach the stage of at least some form of completion. His Highness the Raja of Travancore and Pandit T.Ganapati Sastri Trivendrum, the fortunate discoverer and the talented editor of the dramas of Bhasa, to whom we owe the first edition of a series of hitherto unknown and new editions of important known texts, have laid me under special obligations by presenting all the volumes of the Trivendrum Sanskrit Series that appeared till 1919. Professor Charles Rockwell Lanmann , the highly gifted editor of the splendid “Harvard Oriental Series” had the favour of sending me its volumes that have appeared during the period of the war, deserves my most cordial thanks. To Professors Johannes Hertel, Eugen Hultzsch, Hermanu Jacohi, Julius Jolly and Theodor Zachariae I am grateful for several suggestions, supplements and improvements. Mr. Privatdozent, Dr. Otto Stein, has helped me in the work of proof-correction and in preparation of the index for the present volume, and I thank him for this.

Lastly, I thank also Mr. Johannes Zieg1er, the Publisher and Bookseller (Messrs C. F. Amelangs Verlag), who in spite of the times being so hard for book trade, has taken scientific rather than business-like interest and has consented to extend the work into three volumes.

In the foreword to the second-half of the second volume I have mentioned the names of the researchers who have passed away in recent years: H. Kern (+1917), E. Windisch (+1918), P. Deussen (+ 1919), II. Oldenberg (+ 1920) and L. Von Schroeder Ct 1920), whose works have been mentioned so often in this book. This list was unfortunately even then incomplete and has since then become larger. Through the departure of Auguste Barth (+ 1916), Mabel K. Ii. Bode (+ 1922), Julius Eggeling (+ 1918), John Faithful Fleet (t 1917), A. F. Rudolf Hoernle (+ 1918), Colonel G. A. Jacob (+ 1918), Joh. Kirste (+ 1920), Ernst Kuhn (+ 1920), Karl Eugen Neumann (+ 1915), Vincent A. Smith (+ 1920), George Thibaut (+ 1914) and Satis Chandra Vidyabhusana (+ 1920) the band of Indologists has become thinner. A glance at the Index will demonstrate the extent to which the present work owes to them.

With melancholy I thank the always helpful friend Sastravisarada Jainacarya Vijayadharmasuri, who did me the favour of procuring for my work many rare and hardly available Indian publications. In his last letter of July 21 from Sivapuri, Gwalior state, where he was spending the rainy season, he had written that he was ailing but was feeling better and hoped to be well soon. He was happy on my arrival in India to call at his place and I thank him for his kindness. Now when I am writing this foreword, I get the sad news that the venerable Jaina priest expired on September 9 of this year. The promotion of European learned work had always been dear to his heart. May the collaboration of the Indian and European scholars continue in the manner and extent he had wanted! This has certainly already reached the cross-word of knowledge of India.


Translator’s Note v
Foreword vii-x
List of Abbreviations xi-xv
Part I – Classical Sanskrit Literature
Section IV Ornate Poetry 1-415
Characteristics of Ornate Poetry 1-5
Poetics, Dramatury and Prosody 5-35
Beginnings of Ornate Poetry 35-41
Golden Age of Ornate Court Poetry 41-53
Most Important Poets of the Later Centuries 53-57
Ornate Court Epics 57-88
Historical Literature 88-106
Lyric Poetry 106-148
Gnomic and Didactic Poetry 148-173
Anthologies 173-178
Dramatic Poetry 178-301
Early history of Dharma 178-197
Buddhist Dramas 197-200
Dramas of Bhasa, Sudraka and Visakhadatta 201-237
Classical Dramas of Kalidasa 237-250
Harsadeva 251-258
Bhavabhuti 258-266
and Bhattanarayana 266-267
Later Dramatic Literature 267-292
Bhanas and Prahasanas 292-301
Narrative Literature301-413
Pancatantra in its Oldest Form 307-321
Later Redactions of Pancatantra 321-329
Pancatantra in World-Literature 329-346
Gunadhya’s Brhatkatha and Works derived from it 446-388
Ornate Fictions 388-410
Indian and Greek Novels 410-413
Campus 413-415
Index of Names 417-452
Part II
Section V. The Scientific Literature 455-732
Characteristics of the scientific literature 455-458
Grammar 458-491
Lexicography 491-504
Philosophy 504-575
Dharmasastra 575-607
Arthasastra (Nitisastra) 608-651
Architecture 652-653
Sangitasastra 653-657
Kamasastra (Erotics) 657-663
Ayurveda (Medicine) 664-679
Astronomy, Astrology and Mathematics 679-703
Appendix: (A view on the Modern Indian Literature) 703-731
Index 733-758

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