Sanskrit literature

Sanskrit literature[lower-alpha 1] broadly comprises texts composed in the earliest attested descendant of the Proto-Indo-Aryan language known as Vedic Sanskrit and later on in the language formally defined by Pāṇini usually called Classical Sanskrit.[2]

The 11th-century Sanskrit manuscript of the Devi Māhātmya on palm-leaf, from Bihar or Nepal.

Literature in the older language begins with the composition of the Ṛg·veda[lower-alpha 2] between about 1500 and 1000 BCE, followed by other works right up to the time of Pāṇini around 5th or 4th century BCE.[4]

Vedic Sanskrit is the language of the extensive liturgical works of the Vedic religion,[lower-alpha 3] while Classical Sanskrit is the language of many of the prominent texts associated with the major Indian religions, especially Hinduism, but also Buddhism, and Jainism. While the bulk of these were composed in ancient India, others were composed in central, East or Southeast Asia.

Sanskrit literature also includes substantial works covering secular sciences and the arts. Early works of Sanskrit literature were transmitted through an oral tradition[lower-alpha 4] for centuries before they were written down in manuscript form.[7][8][9]