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Cultural India: Languages



India has 17 major languages and 844 different dialects.

The Sanskrit of the Aryan settlers has merged with the earlier Dravidian vernaculars to give rise to new languages. Hindi, spoken by about 45 per cent of the population, is the national language.

English has also been retained as a language for official communication. Indian literature dates back several millennia to the hymns of the vedic Aryans.

The oral tradition nurtured lassical literature, and produced great works of philosophy and religious doctrine. It also accounted for compilations of anecdotes like the Panchatantra and the Jataka tales, as well as epics like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

In southern India, the creative energies of the Tamil poets found expression in the great works of Sangam literature.

The epic Tirukkural by Tiruvalluvar is a masterpiece of this age. In the north, dramatists like Kalidasa and Bhasa produced great dramas in Sanskrit.



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