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Literature and Orature

The history of Indian literature dates back over 3,000 years to ancient times and is derived from oral traditions. Among the earliest works of Indian literature is the Rig Veda, hymns composed in Sanskrit. The two great epic poems are the Ramayana and the Mahabharata that scholars date from about 550 and 400 BCE respectively. From the Ancient though the Classical, Medieval, and Modern periods, India has contributed jewels to the treasury of world literature and orature.

60 Essential English-Language Works of Modern Indian Literature
Published by World Literature Today, this list highlights works of fiction, poetry and drama.

Ancient Indian Literature
Ancient Indian Scriptures focuses on the Vedas and Vedanta written in Sanskrit from a spiritual perspective; author anonymous.

Indian Epics, with Dr. Pamela Lothspeich

An organization and publishing house that has pioneered the translation of Indian literature for children and adults from twenty one regional languages into English, and focused on community and child welfare.

Lessons of the Indian Epics
Lesson plans for grades 9-12 from Edsitement, the NEH’s educational resource site.

Literary Arts
From the Centre for Cultural Resources and Training (CCRT), an autonomous organization affiliated with the Ministry of Culture, Government of India that focuses on linking education with culture.

Literature & Folklore
From the Indian Ministry of Culture’s site.

Maraimalai Ilakkuvanar
Dr. Ilakkuvanar, who was a guest lecturer at WSSU, is a specialist of all periods of Tamil literature; his site features primarily his publications, some in English, some in Tamil, but several are useful surveys of the Tamil tradition.

Norton Anthology of World Literature, 3rd ed., Student Studyspace
This Norton Anthology of World Literature companion site includes review material on the Indian works in the anthology: multiple-choice reading comprehension quizzes, interactive maps, bulleted summaries of the anthology introductions, timelines, literary terms, and audio glossary; Norton Anthology of World Literature is currently the textbook used in WSSU World Literature courses.

Sahitya Akademi, the National Academy of Letters
An autonomous organization dedicated to literature in all languages of India and supported by the Government of India; it supports and provides resources for and information about Indian literature, and it gives the most prestigious literary awards in India.

South Asian Literature
Primary sources compiled by Frances M. Pritchard, professor emerita, Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Literature, Columbia University.

Urdu/Hindi Language and Literature
Sources on Hindi and Urdu language and literature compiled by Frances M. Pritchard, professor emerita, Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Literature, Columbia University.