How would you categorize and define INDIAN LITERATURE?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This is going to be very broad is scope.  I think that anytime someone tries to categorize and classify an entire genre of literature, it runs the risk of being too reductive and not being an accurate depiction of the varied substance and content of the genre.  Whatever "Indian Literature" is might follow this.  For example, the experience of being Indian is so heavily influenced by regionalism and regional identity.  This is confirmed by the multiplicity of languages in India.  One cannot travel to another state or part of a state without finding much in way of different experiences and understanding.  For example, the literature that comes out of Bengal is uniquely different than what comes out of Kerala, and what comes out of Tamil Nadu is different than both.  I think that this has to be a part of the definition of Indian Literature.  In categorizing it, I think one has to ask about the role of Partitiion in such a distinction.  Does one capitulate to the Western understanding that there is some type of distinct understanding between Pakistan, Bangladesh, or India?  If this is so, how does one classify the disputed territory of Jammu- Kashmir?  What do we do with such borders and demarcations?  We can even extend this to the identity of the Indian author.  What is that?  Is someone like Salman Rushdie, who was born in what is British Bombay, holds roots in what is now Pakistan, and raised and educated in England, someone who can fit the understanding of "Indian Literature?"  If one affirms that Rushdie does belong in the canon of Indian Literature, then it really expands the conception of it.  If one rejects it, then one loses one of the premier voices of Indian history and sociology.   It seems as if to define and categorize Indian Literature is almost as divergent a task as to define and categorize India, itself.

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