Chapter 7 – Indian Languages & Literature-II: Gujarati, Sindhi, Marathi and Kashmiri Literature, Role of Christian Missionaries (For CBSE, ICSE, IAS, NET, NRA 2022)

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The development of the Bhakti movement led to the rise of the different regional languages like Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi, Kannada, Tamil and Telugu.

Gujarati Literature

  • Early Gujarati literature is available in the form of Bhakti songs of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. It still follows the old tradition which is popular in Gujarati.
  • Narsi Mehta՚s name is the foremost in this respect. The people of Gujarat wove these devotional songs in their folk dances and their religious forms often find expressions in their celebrations.
  • Narmad՚s poetry gave a fillip to the Gujarati literature. Sarasvati Chandra, a novel by Govardhan Ram, has become a classic and has given great impetus to other writers.
  • A special mention must be made of Narsi Mehta whose songs in praise of Krishna not only made him a very popular figure but also made Gujarati language popular.

Sindhi Literature

  • Sindh was one of the important centres of Sufis, who established Khanqahs at various places.
  • The Sufi singers with their devotional music made the language popular.
  • The credit for creating literature in Sindhi goes to Mirza Beg and Dewan Kauramal.

Marathi Literature

  • Maharashtra is situated on a plateau where a large number of local dialects were in use. Marathi grew out of these local dialects. The Portuguese missionaries using Marathi for preaching their gospel.
  • The earliest Marathi poetry and prose is by Saint Janeshwar who lived in the thirteenth century. He wrote a long commentary on the Bhagavad Gita.
  • Almost two centuries on the Ramayana and the Bhagawat Purana. His songs are very popular all over Maharashtra.
  • Then came Tukarama. He is supposed to be the greatest Bhakti poet of them all Ramdas, who was the guru of Shivaji, is the last these hymn writers.
  • All these prose writers made great contribution for writing inspirational poetry.
  • Besides, the names of M. G. Ranade, K. T. Telang, and G. T. Madholkar are no less important.

Kashmiri Literature

  • Kashmir shot into literary prominence, when Kalhana wrote Rajatarangini in Sanskrit But this was in the language of the elite.
  • For locals, Kashmiri was the popular dialect. Here also the Bhakti movement played its role.
  • One LalDed, who lived in the in the fourteenth century, was probably the first to sing in the Kashmiri language. She was a Shaivite mystic.
  • After Islam spread in this area, the Sufi influence also came to be visible. Haba Khatoon, Mahjoor, Zinda Kaul, and Noor Din also known as Nund Rishi, Akhtar Mohiuddin, Sufi Ghulam Mohammad and Dina Nath Nadim wrote devotional poetry in Kashmiri. These people contributed to the growth of Kashmiri literature.

Role of Christian Missionaries

  • With the coming of the Europeans to India various foreign languages like English, French, Dutch and Portuguese were introduced here which greatly enriched Indian languages as they added many new words to their vocabulary.
  • The contribution of the Christian missionaries in the development of Indian literature was no less significant.
  • First of all, they published and dictionaries and grammar in several local languages.
  • The books written by them were meant for the newly arrived clergymen from Europe. These books helped these missionaries as much as they helped the writers in the local languages.
  • The second fact is the role of lithographic printing press, which was introduced in India in the beginning of the nineteenth century.
  • Perhaps their aim was to spread Christianity but they also produced a newly educated class, who had a desire to read their literature.
  • Thus, the role of missionaries cannot be ignored while writing the history of Indian languages and literature.
Main Writers of English Literature in India

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