Literature - The Failure of Ancient India

by Thangam Ponalagu

`Why did ancient Indian literature fail so miserably ?' they ask. Yet, when they are told the facts, the Brahmins refuse to listen. The fact is, that the Brahmins at first forbade any entertainment as being against the Vedic Laws of Manu. When despite the harshest Kautilyan repression, culture finally did arise, the Brahmins transformed it into another weapon to enforce their tyranny. They thus abused culture to propagate Vaishnavism, encourage superstition and spread astrology. Artificial Sanskritisation finally killed whatever vitality was left in the vernaculars of India. Thus, the greatest destroyers of ancient Indian culture have been the Brahmins, who have killed off all Indian literatures by the disease of Sanskritisation. Besides this, countless pre-Aryan religions were obliterated as their gods were sucked up into the Hindu-Vaishnava soup, thousands of their temples destroyed to make way for Vishnu-shrines and millions of indigenous Indian exterminated by the Aryan invaders.

The great Indological scholar Mr. Basham writes,

" much of Sanskrit literature is dry and monotonous, or can only be appreciated after a considerable effort of the imagination. "
-- [ Bash.401 ]
Eggeling, the learned translator of the Satapatha Brahmana part of the Shukla Yajur Veda into English, writes,
" For wearisome prolixity of exposition, characterised by dogmatic assertion and a flowing symbolism rather than by serious reasoning, these works are perhaps not equalled anywhere, unless, indeed, it be the speculative vapourings of the Gnostics, than which, in the opinion of the learned translator of Irenaeus, `nothing more absurd has probably ever been imagined by rational beings' "
-- [ Prose.254 ] [ Egg.Pt.I,Introdn,p.ix ]
That great advocate of Sanskrit studies. Max Muller declared:
" I do not claim for the ancient Indian literature any more that I should willingly concede to the fables and traditions and songs of savage nations. I simply say that in the Veda we have a nearer approach to a beginning, and an intelligent beginning, than in the wild invocations of the Hottentotes and Bushmen "
-- [ Walk ]
Macaulay was another famous Englishman who frankly stated that the Vedas and Puranas were a load of tall tales, inculculating a false belief in a flat Earth and a thousand mile-high Meru.

These then, are the opinsions of the most learned Sanskfitists on Sanskrit literature. The reader may now form an opinion as to the quality of literature in this graveyard language himself.


[ Bash ] = `The Wonder That Was India', A.L.Basham, Grove Press, New York, NY 1954.

[ Egg ] = `Satapatha Brahmana' by Eggeling,in Sacred Books of the East', Vol.XII.

[ Prose ] = `Sanskrit Prose', B.Bhattacharya, in `Cultural History of India', vol. V, 253-272, Ramakrishan Mission Institute of Culture, Calcutta 1978.

[ Walk ] = `Encyclopedia of Hinduism', Benjamin Walker.

by Thangam Ponalagu
Dalitstan Journal,
Volume 2, Issue 6 (Dec. 2000)

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