Classical Indian Literature Gupta Era 320 ce — 550 ce Gupta dynasty was founded by Chandra Gupta I Development of Mahayana Buddhism Classical Age in north India Cave paintings at Ajanta Sakuntala, Jataka, Panchatantra and Kamasutra were written Aryabhatta’s Astronomy. Kumardevi and Chandragupta I (Minted by their son Samudragupta) 335-370 ce Gold Dinar Weight: 7.8 gm Obverse: King and queen Mahayana Buddhism Buddhism split into two sects, Mahayana and Hinayana (Theravada). Mahayana laid stress on the concept of the Bodhisattva or `one destined to be the Buddha' and also conceived of Eternal Buddhas who resemble gods or deities. Hinayana regarded the Buddha as a man and had a doctrine, Theravada, stressing the salvation of the individual. The interaction of Mahayana philosophy and Hinduism gave rise to Tantric Buddhism or Vajrayana. AJANTA CAVES . During the 4th century c.e. in a remote valley, work began on the Ajanta Caves to create a complex of Buddhist monasteries and prayer halls. As centuries passed, numerous Buddhist monks and artisans dug out a set of twenty-nine caves, converting some to cells, and others to monasteries and Buddhist temples. These caves are adorned with elaborate sculptures and paintings which have withstood the ravages of time Ajanta Caves The Ajanta caves depict the stories of Buddhism spanning from the period from 200 bce to 650 ce. The 29 caves were built by Buddhist monks using simple tools like hammer & chisel. The elaborate and exquisite sculptures and paintings depict stories from Jataka tales . The caves also house images of nymphs and princesses. Scene From The Jataka Samskrta The Language of Classical Literature Samskrta: Sanskrit “perfected, classified refined” “Correct speech” Codified and frozen in the Astadhyahi : the rules of grammar Considered ideal language for classics Prakrta: Prakrit “original or natural” Dialects that changed and developed with spoken language Kavya Kavya – the “poetry” of the classical canon Permeated with the culture of the Gupta courts Kavi, learned poets, wrote under the patronage of kings for audiences of connoisseurs sahrdaya – “with heart, responsive” rasika – “enjoyer of aesthetic mood” Highly formulated norms and conventions Many works on poetic theory Kavya Genres Mahakavya: great poem or court epic – contains lyric stanzas with elaborate figures of speech and emphasizes description Natya: drama employs both prose and verse includes Sanskrit and Prakrit wider range of characters lyrical description more than dramatic action Muktaka: short lyric poems Bhartrhari: pointed epigrams Kalidasa: idyllic verses on nature Amaru: erotic vignettes Katha or Akhyika: narrative tales Pancatantra: collection of animal fables Somadeva’s Kathasaritsagara (Ocean to the Rivers of Story): picaresque, marvelous tales, romances Niti Aims for Human Conduct, Worldly Wisdom The Nagaraka – gentleman, citizen, courtier – cultivated life as art with the 4 aims for human conduct: Dharma: religious duty Artha: wealth, politics, public life Kama: erotic pleasure and the emotions Vitsyayana’s Kamasutra Moksa: liberation from the chain of birth and death in which souls are trapped because of Karma Karma implies fluid relationships between divine, human and animal worlds gods become human, humans may achieve bodhisattva status or may be reincarnated as animals Women in Classical Literature Courtly ideal wives like Sita – chaste, loyal, submissive, long-suffering Wives in merchant-class stories – chaste, independent, powerful Courtesans – erotic, beautiful, intelligent, ruthless, rapacious, independent Religious contemplatives – figures of authority and free agents Visnusarman’s Pancatantra ca. 2nd – 3rd ce Pancatantra: The Five Strategies Collection of folk tales and fables within frame tales Brought by Arabs into Europe – model and source for 1001 Nights, Boccaccio’s The Decameron, Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, Grimms’ Fairy Tales, La Fontaine’s Fables, etc. Central concern is niti – conduct – political expediency and social values Visnusarman allegedly used the fables to teach 3 dim-witted princes the science of politics The Pancatantra’s 5 Strategies Book I : “The Loss of Friends” “Leap and Creep” “ The Blue Jackal” “Forethought, Readywit and Fatalist” Book II : “The Winning of Friends” Book III: “Crows and Owls” strategies of alliance and war “Mouse-Maid Made Mouse” Book IV: “Loss of Gains” Book V: “Ill-Considered Action” “The Loyal Mungoose” Drsyakavya: poetry to be seen as opposed to sravyakavya: poetry to be heard Bharata’s Natyasastra – authoritative text on dramatic aesthetics and theory Abhinaya: “a symphony of languages” – verbal text, stylized gesture, facial expression, eye movement, music, dance 8 fundamental emotions, bhava, expressed in 8 major rasas, stylized representations of the emotions – universal rather than particular No tragedy in Indian drama – impossible in the Hindu and Buddhist conception of the universe of karma linking humans with nature and the cosmos through networks of volition, Video on Indian Natya action and response – open-ended cycles of time Natya: Drama Dramatic Conventions Performed at seasonal festivals and celebrations such as weddings, the dramas were regarded as rites of renewal and order Characters are types, not individuals Contrasts and complements among diverse elements: lyric verse and prose dialogue erotic and heroic moods heroic king and gluttonous buffoon Sanskrit spoken by noblemen, Prakrit spoken by women, children and men of lower caste domestic and public worlds; worlds of the court and of nature; worlds of the human and divine emotional universes of men and women The dramatist and poet is regarded as the greatest figure in classical Sanskrit literature. His three surviving plays are Abhijnanasakuntala (Sakunatala and the Ring of Recognition), Vikramorvasi, and Malavikagnimitra. These court dramas in verse, nataka, relate fanciful or mythological tales of profound romantic love intensified and matured by adversity. In Kalidasa's two epics, Raghuvansa and Kumarasambhava, delicate descriptions of nature are mingled with battle scenes. The other poems of Kalidasa are shorter and almost purely lyrical. Kalidasa fl. 4th –5th c. ce Sakuntala Nataka: heroic romance – play about love between a noble hero and a beautiful woman Dominant mood: the erotic rasa: tension between duty, dharma, and desire, kama King Dusyanta falls in love with Sakuntala, daughter of the nymph Menaka and foster daughter of the ascetic hermit-sage, Kanva.