The medieval period witnessed the growth of Sanskrit literature.
This period is marked with the composition of poetical works called the Kavya (poetical narrative) and the texts that codified laws called the Dhramashastras.
In western India Hemachandra Suri was an important Jain scholar who composed works in Sanskrit.
There were also many dramas written during this period.
A new style of writing called the champu also emerged during this period. It was a form that mixed both prose and poetry.
Among the Sanskrit works that were written with the patronage of the Rajput kings were their family histories like the Prithvirajavijaya and the Hammirmahakavya.
Rajavinoda– It was a biography of Sultan Mahmud Begarha of Gujarat written by his court poet, Udayaraja.
Rajtarangini– It was a history of the kings of Kashmir written by Kalhan. It was written in the 12th century A.D.
The second Rajtaranginni was written by Jonaraja who wrote the history of the kings of Kashmir from Jayasimha to Sultan Zainul Abidin.
prabandhas– It was semi-historical texts written during the period.
After the 15th century, the patronage of the Sanskrit language was maintained in the southern courts of the rulers of Vijayanagar, Nayakas of Tanjor and the chiefs of Travancore and Cochin.
Amir Khusrau was a poet born in a family of Turkish immigrants and began as a poet in the reign of Sultan Balban.
He was influenced by Nizamuddin Auliya and was patronized in the courts of Jalaluddin Khalji, Alauddin Khalji, and Ghiyasuddin Tughluq.
Among the important works composed by him are, Mutla-ul-Anwar, Shirin Khusrau, Laila Majnun and Ayina-I-Sikandari, these works were dedicated to Alauddin Khalji.
The court chronicles were an important feature of the literature during the period of the Delhi Sultanate.
Some important of these were, the Tabaqat-I-Nasiri by Minaj-us Siraj, Futuh-us Salatin by Isami and the Futuhat-I Firozshahi by Feroz Shah Tughluq.
Ziauddin Barani made the most important contribution to Persian literature during this period. The Tarikh-I Firozshahi and the Fatwa-I Jahandari are his important works.
The Sufi literature of the period developed a new form called the malfuzat that was in the form of a dialogue of the Sufi saints.
The most famous of these was the Fawaid-ul Fu’ad written by Amir Hassan Sijzi containing the anecdotes of the Shaikh Nizamuddin Auliya and Khair-ul-Majalis containing the anecdotes of Sheik Nasiruddin Mahmud.
The Tuti Nama (book of the parrot) by Zia Nakshabi was the first Persian translation of Sanskrit stories.
The Mahabharatha and the Rajtarangini were also translated into Persian during this period.
The number of translations of Sanskrit works into Persian grew during the reigns of Feroz Tughluq and Sikandar Lodi.
Like that of the sultanate, Persian also continued as the official language of the Mughal court.
The first Mughal emperor Babur, wrote his memoirs in Turkish which was subsequently translated into Persian by Abdur Rahim Khan Khanan.
Humayun composed a Persian diwan.
Prince Dara Shukoh wrote a biographical account of the Sufi saint Miya Mir and his disciples in the Sakinatul Auliya.
He also wrote the Majm’aul Bahrain (Mingling of two Oceans).
There was a new genre of Persian literature known as the Sabaq-i-Hindi (the Indian style) created during this period.
Abdur Rahim Khan Khana a talented scholar and poet lived during the reign of Akbar and Jahangir.
Akbar patronized great scholar historian Abul Fazl.
The poets Ali Quli Salem and Abu Talib Kalim were important poets during the reign of Shah Jahan.
Persian literature in the south received patronage from the Adil Shahi rulers of Bijapur, here Malik Qummi and Mulla Zuhuri were regarded as important Persian poets.
The Qutab Shahis of Golconda patronized poets like Muhammad Hussain Tabrezi.
Languages like Punjabi, Pushtu, Sindhi, and Kashmiri were strongly influenced by Persian.
Hindi and Urdu Literature
Regional dialects like Braj bhasa, Haryanvi and other dialects spoken in regions around Delhi and Punjab influenced the development of Urdu during its formative stage.
The word Urdu is of Turkish origin referring to an army or camp.
Hindivi is said to be the language out of which Urdu and Hindi eventually developed. The works of Amir Khusrau are regarded to have laid the foundations of this language.
The use of this language in the Deccan from the 14th century onwards led to a literary speech called the Dakhni.
The major centers of this language were Gujarat, Bijapur, Golconda, Bidar and Aurangabad.
Hindi evolved during the Apabhransha stage between the 7th – 8th centuries and the 14th century.
It was characterized as Veergatha Kala (age of heroic poetry) or the Adi Kala (early Period).
The various Rajput rulers patronized these poems written in the rajasthani dialect of Hindi and that glorified chivalry and bravery.
Among the famous works are the Prithviraja Raso of Chand Bardai, and other poems like the Visaldeva Raso and Hammir Raso.
The development of the Hindi language underwent another transformation during the 14th and the 15th centuries with the increasing use of the language in expressing Bhakti traditions and ideas.
Kabir adopted a style called the ultabasi, which consisted of paradoxes and enigmas.
While bhakti saints like Tulsidas used the Awadhi dialect of Hindi others like Mira Bai used the Marwari dialect of Rajasthan and Surdas used Braj bhasha.
The Chishti saints used Hindi while composing and singing their devotional music.
The folk songs called Charyapads composed between the 10th and 12th centuries are the earliest specimen of the Bengali language.
The works of Kavindra and Srikaranandi are important works in Bengali.
The growth of the Bhakti movement provided a stimulus to the development of this language.
Brindabandas’s Chaitanya Bhagavata or Chaitanya Mangal was one such contribution to Bengali literature.
Lochandas is associated with the introduction of a new style of folk songs called Dhamali.
Narrative poems called the Mangal Kavyas also grew popular during this period.
The narrative form of the Mangal Kavyas was derived from the Puranas.
Assamese and Oriya literature
The 13th century works of Hema Sarasvati Prahladacharita and Hara Gauri Samyada are regarded as the first works in the Assamese.
The literature in Assam developed in response to the bhakti movement.
Shankaradeva who introduced Vaisnavism in Assam also helped stimulate the growth of Assamese poetry.
His disciple, Madhavadas wrote the Bhakti-ratnvali dealing with aspects of bhakti and the Baragitas that depicted the life of Krishna in Vrindavan.
There were also translations of the Puranas into Assamese.
In Orissa the works of Saraladasa are regarded as the first works of Oriya literature.
There were numerous kavyas composed on Puranic themes by Madhusudana, Bhima and Sasasiva.
The Rasa Kallol written during this period also deals on the theme of the love between Radha and Krishna.
The works of Upendra Bhanja (1670–1720) were important as they ushered a new era of Oriya literature in the succeeding period.