| Share

Prakrit literature

Prakrit literature. By the 6th cent. B.C. the people of India were speaking and writing languages that were much simpler than classical Sanskrit. These vernacular forms, of which there were several, are called the Prakrits [Skt., = natural]. One very important and early Prakrit was Pali (see Pali canon), which became the language of the Buddhists. However, most of the literature generally called Prakrit is devoted to Jainism. The sacred texts ( Siddhanta or Agama ) of the two main sects of the Jains employed three types of Prakrit. The oldest sutras of the Svetambara sect are written in Ardha-Magadhi, while later books are in Maharastri. The Svetambara canon, written in verse and prose, received its final form in A.D. 454. The sacred books of the Digambara sect are written in Savraseni. An important source of knowledge of Prakrit is the Sanskrit drama. Kalidasa is included among many dramatists, who, in order to obtain a realistic effect, had the common people in their plays speak in Prakrit. See Sanskrit literature.

See M. Winternitz, A History of Indian Literature (2 vol., tr. 1927–33, repr. 1971).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

More on Prakrit literature from Infoplease:

  • Indian literature - Indian literature. Indian literature. Oral literature in the vernacular languages of India is of ...
  • India: People and Culture - People and Culture India is the world's second most populous nation (after China). Its ethnic ...
  • Encyclopedia: Asian Literature - Encyclopeadia articles concerning Asian Literature.
  • Pali canon - Pali canon Pali canon , sacred literature of Buddhism. The texts in the Pali canon are the earliest ...
  • Jainism - Jainism Jainism [i.e., the religion of Jina], religious system of India practiced by about ...

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Asian Literature

24 X 7

Private Tutor

Click Here for Details
24 x 7 Tutor Availability
Unlimited Online Tutoring
1-on-1 Tutoring