Chapter 6 – Indian Languages & Literature-I: Buddhist & Jain Literature in Pali, Prakrit and Sanskrit (For CBSE, ICSE, IAS, NET, NRA 2022)

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In Indian Literature the Puranas occupy a unique position in the sacred literature of the Hindus. They are regarded next in importance only to the Vedas and the Epics.

  • There are said to be eighteen Puranas and about the same number of Upapuranas.
  • Puranas are mythological works which propagate religious and spiritual messages though parables and fables. They have a potent influence in the development of the religious lives of the people.
  • The puranas follow the lines of the epics, and the earliest Puranas were complied in the Gupta Period.
Well Known Puranas

Buddhist & Jain Literature in Pali, Prakrit and Sanskrit

  • The religious books of the Jains and the Buddhist refer to historical persons or incidents. The earliest Buddhist works were in Pali, which was spoken in Magadha and South Bihar. It can be divided into the canonical and the non-canonical.
  • The canonical literature is best represented by the “Tripitakas” , that is, three baskets,
    • Vinaya Pitaka
    • Sutta Pitaka
    • Abhidhamma Pitaka
  • The non-canonical literature is best represented by the Jatakas. They are the most interesting stories on the previous births of the Buddha.
  • It was believed that before he was finally born as Gautama, the Buddha practising Dharma passed through more than 550 births, in many cases even in the form of animals.
  • The Jain texts were written in Prakrit and were finally complied in the sixth century AD in Valabhi in Gujarat.
  • The important works are known as Angas, Upanags, Prakirans, Chhedab, Sutras and Malasutras.

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