AFRO-ASIAN LIT.docx - Kamala Markandaya Nectar in a Sieve R...

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INDIA 1. Literary Periods . The Indus Valley civilization flourished in northern India between 2500 and 1500 B.C. The Aryans, a group of nomadic warriors and herders, were the earliest known migrants into India. They brought with them a well-developed language and literature and a set of religious beliefs. a) Vedic Period (1500 B.C. –500 B.C.). This period is named for the Vedas , a set of hymns that formed the cornerstone of Aryan culture. Hindus consider the Vedas, which were transmitted orally by priests, to be the most sacred of all literature for they believe these to have been revealed to humans directly by the gods. The Rigveda which has come to mean “hymns of supreme sacred knowledge,” is the foremost collection or Samhita made up of 1,028 hymns. The oldest of the Vedas, it contains strong, energetic, non-speculative hymns, often comparable to the psalms in the Old Testament. The Hindus regard these hymns as divinely inspired or ‘heard’ directly from the gods. Afro-Asian Literature|1 MAJORSHIP Area: ENGLISH Focus: Afro-Asian Literature Competencies: 1. be familiar with the literary history, philosophy, religious beliefs, and culture of the Afro-Asian nations 2. point out the universal themes, issues, and subject matter that dominate Afro-Asian literature 3. interpret the significance and meaning of selected literary pieces 4. identify outstanding writers and their major works
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The Song of Creation Then was not non-existent nor existent: there was no realm of air, no sky beyond it. What covered it and where? And what gave shelter? Was water there, unfathomedmdepth of water? Death was not then nor was there aught immortal: no sign was there, the day’s and night’s divider. That one thing, breathless, breathed by its own nature: apart from it was nothing whatsoever. Darkness there was: at first concealed in darkness, this All was indiscriminated chaos. All that existed then was void and formless: by the great power of warmth was born that unit. b) Epic and Buddhist Age (500 B.C. – A.D.). The period of composition of the two great epics, Mahabharata and the Ramayana . This time was also the growth of later Vedic literature, new Sanskrit literature, and Buddhist literature in Pali. The Dhammapada was also probably composed during this period. The Maurya Empire (322-230 B.C.) ruled by Ashoka promoted Buddhism and preached goodness, nonviolence, and ‘righteousness’ although this period was known for warfare and iron-fisted rule. The Gupta Dynasty (320-467 B.C.) was the next great political power. During this time, Hinduism reached a full flowering and was evident in culture and the arts. The Mahabharata , traditionally ascribed to the sage Vyasa , consists of a mass of legendary and didactic material that tells of the struggle for supremacy between two groups of cousins, the Kauravas and the Pandavas set sometime 3102 BC. The poem is made up of almost 100,000 couplets divided into 18 parvans or sections. It is an exposition on dharma (codes of conduct), including the proper conduct of a king, of a warrior, of a man living in times of calamity, and of a person seeking to attain emancipation from rebirth.
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