India is a land of literature. One hallmark of Indian literature over the past 3000 years or so is diversity. The key to this diversity is the linguistic density of the Indian sub-continent and the willingness to absorb all wonderful things from any language or culture that people came across.
The second just referred to above can be easily gleaned from the Persian literary texts produced in the sub-continent. In fact, during the medieval period, the amount of Persian literature produced in the sub-continent would easily far exceed that which was produced in Persia itself.
In the initial days, there were no hard and fast rules and hence no separation between singing, poetry, dance, philosophy etc. What one will discover is that the Kavis (in the early days, the term was used to denote seers and later it was restricted to poets) outpouring most astonishing poetry and music (as in Sama Veda), highest philosophy (as in Rig Veda) etc.
It is not with one language alone. If all these were happening on the northern plain, exotic poetry and grammar were being developed in Southern regions as well, in Tamil. Thus, we see early Sangam poetry that not only reflects the poet’s thoughts and emotions but also provide a large number of clues to the highly civilised society that was in existence at that time.
Given the vast number of languages and dialects of the land and strong root of oral traditions, this is not surprising. The emergence of a variety of literature in a large number of languages during die medieval period and almost on all the subjects of human endeavour marks the medieval period as Golden One for India.
Today, oral and tribal traditions of the country is looked down upon but one should well remember that it was a slow process from oral to writing tradition that literature evolved here.
In the late 19th and early 20th century many writers across the languages tried to emulate their Western counterparts, especially when it came to stories and novels. That is no surprise given the amount of success these two genres had in the West.
In the contemporary scenario, many new genres and sub-genres have come into existence- Fantasy, Science Fiction, Flash Fiction, Mythology in a new avatar, Instagram poetry etc.
Rapidly advancing technology and the digital world have reduced the gap between the author and the reader. In fact, it has encouraged many youngsters lo take up literature in a serious way. Self-publication and digital platforms have also helped in this cause.
However, what is bound to gladden one and all is the emergence of children’s literature in various ways. While poetry publishing is going down, more and more publishers are taking up children’s literature. That India is a very young country in the sense that most of the population is young and is helping.
Even in this genre, translation from one language to other languages is also heart-warming. No doubt, roaring success of Harry Potter and other literature oriented towards young readers in the West and the subsequent success of translations have also aided this admirably.
Indian literature always had its own, unique style from the beginning. Contrary to the popular perception twenty years ago, Indian literature did not go the Western way and taking up of Mythology in a significant way in many languages and presenting the same to suit the sensibilities of the 21 century is one example.