This volume aspires to be a handy reference work for users whose interest is not limited to one or two Indian language literatures but spreads over Sanskrit, Tamil, Pali and the Prakrits as well as to Asamiya, Bangla, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Rajasthani, Sindhi, Telugu and Urdu. A wide-ranging selection of notable literary works, major authors, popular literary forms and significant literary terms in these languages have been listed here and introduced briefly. Starting with the coverage spans several centuries upto the year 1850
Should the study and teaching of Indian Literature ever become a reality in India, this 'dictionary will be of much value to students and teachers of the subject. In due course, it is they who will revise enlarge and improve upon this effort.
In the meanwhile, work has started on a second volume, covering 1851 to 2000
Sujit Mukherjee (b. 1930) has been talking and writing about 'Indian Literature' for the last twenty-five years or more. As a Guest Fellow of the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla, he wrote Towards a Literary History of India (1975); as a Senior Fellow of the Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore, he wrote Some Positions on a Literary History of India (1980) and also compiled a book of readings, The Idea of an Indian Literature (1981). He has published articles on the subject in scholarly journals at home and abroad. During the spring term of 1975. He was Visiting Professor in Indian Literature at the University of Wisconsin, Madison; for a couple of months in 1981 he lectured on the subject at the University of Poona, Pune.
He now leads a retired life in Haidarabad but hopes to complete a companion volume to the present one before taking final leave from reading and research.
This is a dictionary only in the sense of its being "a work of informative character arranged alphabetically". It began as a by-product of some work I did as a Senior Fellow of the Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore, During 1975-79. My area of interest was Indian Literature in general, not confined to any particular language. Quite often I found that when I needed any preliminary information on an Indian author or literary work of an earlier century - and even of more recent times-I would have to work my way through several books before I could get what I was seeking. There was no single reference work I could consult. So I used to prepare an index card noting the information I had gathered and put it aside for future reference.
From the example of Bangla, Hindi and Marathi (languages which I can read with varying degrees of comprehension), I know there is in print some comprehensive reference work in Bangla for Bengali Literature, in Hindi for Hindi literature, in Marathi for Marathi literature, and I presume this would be true of all the major literary languages of India, modern as well as ancient. What we did not have then is a reference work covering the literature of all Indian languages but these cover much else besides literature, hence their literary information is necessarily limited.
As the above-mentioned index cards grew in number and my fellowship tenure neared its end, I began to nurse the idea of producing a handy reference volume for Indian Literature in the English language. During the twenty-odd years that have passed since I wrote my first few index card, the Kerala Sahitya Akademi produced their two-volume opus somewhat misleadingly entitled comparative Indian Literature (1984; 1985) published in English by Mcmillan Co. of India; the comparisons have to be effected by the reader because the entries relate closely to single languages. The central Sahitya Akademi at New Delhi has enlarged upon this by preparing and publishing a six-volume Encylopaedia of Indian Literature (1987-94), also in English. For all its commissions and omissions, it is our only truly national pan-Indian literature reference work. But the whole set costs (or used to in 1995) Rs 3000, whereas my hope and prayer was to produce something that the Indian scholar, teacher and student-or simply reader-could afford without too much strain. That will explain the brevity of the entries to be found here, perhaps also the paucity of their number.
The present volume covers a ambitious span 'from the beginnings' to 1850. the upper limit cannot be specified but a selection of works and authors in Vedic, Sanskriti, Pali and the Prakrits have been included because so much of later literature derives from them. The lower limit was fixed at 1850 mainly in order to reduce the work-loan for this volume. A subsequent volume covering 1851 to 2000 is being planned. The cut-off point of 1850 stands for works composed not later than that this year and authors born before it.
For literature in the so-called Modern Indian Languages, information was derived initially from the various histories of literature in particular languages commissioned and published by Sahitya Akademi. These sources were supplemented by Sureshchandra Banerji, A companion to Sanskrit Literature (Motilal Banarsidass, 1971) and A Companion to Middle Indo-Aryan Literature (Firma K. L. Mukhopadhyay, 1977), have been drawn upon for information on older literary works and authors in Vedic, Sanskrit, Pali and the Prakrits have been included because so much of later literature derives from them. The lower limit was fixed at 1850 mainly in order to reduce the work-load for this volume. A subsequent volume covering 1851 to 2000 is being planned. The cut-off point of 1850 stands for works composed not later than that this year and authors born before it.
For literature in the so-called Modern Indian Languages, information was derived initially from the various histories of literature in particular languages commissioned and published by Sahitya Akademi. These sources were supplemented by other histories of literature of these languages written (in English) by Indian scholars and published in India. Thirdly, two compilations by Sureshchandra Banerji, a Companion to Sanskrit Literature (Motilal Banarsidass, 1971) and a Companion to Middle Indo-Aryan Literature (Firma K. L. Mukhopadhyay, 1977), have been drawn upon for information on older literary works and authors.
In the context of this project, 'literature' has been taken to mean, generally, works of the imagination. But other works necessary for the study of literature (viz. grammars, dictionaries, commentaries etc.) have also been included. The more obviously literary items chosen related to literary works, authors, forms, terms and movements.
When this work was in progress, sample checking of entries and notes was done at CIIL, Mysore, y Shri Balaram Prasad (for Maithili), Smt. Rajashri Subbiah (for Marathi). Smt. Shyamala Kumari (For Malayalam) And Shri Ranjit Singh (For Punjabi). The first round of material collected collected for Assamiya, Bangla, Gujarati, Hindi and Kannada appeared in successive issues of Vagartha, a Delhi-based literary quarterly devoted to the study of Indian Literature.
Since this compilation is meant for the general user rather then for the specialist, a popular mode of transcription (in roman) has been followed for names, terms and title, instead of the orthodox practice using diacritical marks. As guide to further reading, English translations of literary works have been mentioned below relevant entries.
But for the generosity and encouragement of Orient Longman Ltd, this work would have remained unpublished. That was the melancholy prospect when it was offered, successively, to National Book Trust, M/s Motilal Banarsidass, and the Central Institute of Indian Languages.
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