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Folk Literature of India
(Editor, Compiler, Author and Translator Dr. PADMA SUDHI)
By folk-literature is meant the traditional literature of the unlettered mass living in one integrated social group. It is orally transmitted and can be claimed to be of the people, by the people, for the people. It is, therefore, popular literature in the real sense of the term. Before writing was invented, it was the only form of literature that existed in society. It grows and develops with the formation and development of society, and as such it is integrated into it, as it were. It declines when any particular social function with which it is linked cease to operate.
The existence of folk - Literature as such was recognized for the first time in India more than two thousand years ago in the oldest available. Tamil grammar entitled Tolkappiyam composed by Talkappiyar. The author defined and classified some of the elements of folk-literature more or less elaborately, giving examples from oral sources, and it seems that its traditions had already been well established. Literacy has not spread in India among the masses even today as widely a it should have. Therefore, folk-literature is the only vehicle of thought for the vast majority of Indian people even to this day. Life throughout rural India is more or less uniform. It still depends mainly6 o9n agriculture work which has also a uniform character. Therefore, the way of life throughout the subcontinent is more or less identical and the social functions performed are also not very different in various regions in spite of the fact that there are different languages and apparently different culture. When we analyses the elements of folk-literature, we find that they are basically the same throughout India. Because the creative faculty of each individual living at the folk level is fundamentally the same and as the say of life is almost identical everywhere, the themes on which folk-literature is based are also mostly not very different from one another. Therefore, in every language spoken in India we come across oral literature of about the same character. They are in the form of doggerel verses, folk-song, folk-tales, riddles, proverbs, myths, legends, ballads, folk-dramas, etc. Even tribal societies have their own literature but they are seldom developed as folk-literature. They have a somewhat different character. In almost every country, folk-literature, has been the basis of higher literature. But in India, the natural way of development from folk-literature to modern literature was interrupted since the beginning of the nineteenth century owing to the introduction of English education and the adoption of Western ideas and thoughts. During the period of the renaissance in Europe, the fold-literature of almost all the countries, except Russia and a few smaller Stated, met about the same fate owing to the revival of Classica Roman and Greek ideas in art and literature.
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