Literary sources in ancient Indian history – 1

Literary sources in ancient Indian history
The different types of literary sources in Indian history are
• Religious literary sources of ancient India
• Historical literary sources
• Written accounts of foreign writers and travelers.
Religious literary sources: The Vedic, Buddhist, Jain and other contemporary literature are the religious literary sources of Ancient Indian History.
• The Vedic Literature: The Vedic literature – such as Chaturvedas, Vedanga, the Sutrasahitya, etc. gives us a clear picture of the political, social and economic life of the Aryans, and of the nonstop conflicts between the Aryans and the non-Aryans. The four vedas are Rig, Sama, Yajur and Atharva. The Historic Facts about religious ceremonies and rituals of the Aryans can be traced from Vedic literature.
• The Buddhist Literature: The principal Buddhist literature such as – Tripitaka, Nikaya, Jataka, Dvipavamsa or Dipavamsha etc. gives us an impression of the socio-economic-religious condition of existing Indian society. Dvipavamsa (or Dipavamsa) together with Mahavamsa narrates the history of Ceylon. The life of the Buddha and the principles of Buddhism can be understood from the ‘Lalitavistara’ and ‘Vaipulya Sutra’.
• The work called ‘Jataka’ contains records relating to the life of Buddha in his previous birth. According to the Buddhist belief, the Buddha had experienced many births before being born in the Sakya family at Kapilavastu and thereafter got enlightened and came to be known as Buddha. There are about 550 Jataka that gives us an idea of the contemporary social, political, economic and religious life of the Indians. They were possibly compiled in the second and third centuries (A.D.).
• The Puranas:The ‘Puranas’ serves as a source of historical facts of ancient India. There are eighteen Puranas. The puranas provides historical information of various dynasties. The fact relating to various dynasties and kingdom specially those about Magadhan Kingdom are collected.
• The Ramayana and The Mahabharata: The Ramayana and the Mahabharata, the two old epics of India, provide us with numerous historical materials. There is controversy about the historicity of the Ramayana, and many scholars are of opinion that story of the Ramayana is fictitious. But scholars of all categories are unanimous in their recognition of the historical value of the events narrated in the Mahabharata. The Kurukshetra war described in the Mahabharata is regarded generally as a historical event. According to Dr. R.C.Majumdar, the war occurred in 1000 B.C.
—- Continued Literary sources in ancient Indian 2