Ability of Human beings to communicate with the help of spoken and written language has given birth to an unknown quantity of literature. It ranges from very crude to highly refined works. Apart from some cave inscriptions, we do not have very early works of human beings as the canvas of time is of thousands of years. The earliest such known available creative work is the composition of Rigvedic hymns. Seers do not take credit for its creation, and only claim to be receivers. They are addressed as drashtas and this
literature is considered as apaurusheya. If this is taken as the beginning, during last thousands of years, civilizations have been giving birth to variety of literary forms.
Hindus seems to have excelled in this art of creating literature, and also have given birth to endless varieties to suit their experiences. This year, we are trying to explore gnomic, subhashita-s, epigram, wisdom literature, etc. composed by Indian civilization. As human beings are exposed to varied experiences while interacting with other human beings and nature, they differ in their intensities
and perceptions. Transforming these self experiences into precise verbal form is a journey which needs creativity and innovativeness. We see this in abundance, in subhashita and wisdom literatures.
In this respect, Sternbach’s observations are masterly. He says “Probably no other literature in the world can be compared with Sanskrit literature as far as the variety of subjects, dealt with in short epigrams, is concerned. Sanskrit writers cultivated poetry to such an extent that every work, whether on love or hate, life or death, and even on law, philosophy, logic, medicine, horses, or
manure, was written in verse. The condensation of thought in short verse was masterfully performed and epigrams on
different subjects of life are countless. They were composed in verse, because their brevity and condensed nature made it easier for a common reader to commit them to memory.”
Scholars of the later period have tried to summarise this literature either in the form of subhashita sangraha or gnomic and didactic poetry. Even many of the stone and copper plate inscriptions seem to have used this form on various occasions. Prakrit literature from North to South India has abundance of this type of composition. We would also like scholars to dwell deep in the panchatantra and similar wisdom writings. As a matter of fact, panchatantra seems to have travelled to East and West at a very early period, and most of the western nursery rhymes and wisdom literature have their origins in panchatantra and jatak kathas. They have inspired temple sculptures in India as well. This literature has also reached Tibet, China and Central Asian countries in the North as well as almost all South East Asian countries of today.
I am sure, scholars would examine every facet of available resource to add new information and insight to this creative literature of India. They should also include relevance of this literature to the positive sciences.