(Ancient India gave us the largest story book in the world! That too in poetry, not prose.22,000 verses, that means 44,000 lines. Even if we do a rough calculation at the rate of five words per line it would add up to 220,000 words in Sanskrit! And it is not about religion!!)
Harry Potter is a series of seven fantasy novels written by the British author J. K. Rowling. The books chronicle the adventures of a wizard, Harry Potter, and his friends Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Since the release of the first novel Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone on 30 June 1997, the books have gained immense popularity, critical acclaim and commercial success worldwide. Eight films have been made out of seven books. They were all box office hits.
As of June 2011, the book series has sold about 450 million copies, making it the best-selling books series in history and has been translated into 67 languages, and the last four books consecutively set records as the fastest-selling books in history.
Rowling has led a "rags to riches" life story, in which she progressed from living on social security to multi-millionaire status within five years. As of March 2011, when its latest world billionaires list was published, Forbes estimated Rowling's net worth to be US$1 billion.
(Above matter about Harry Potter is lifted from Wikipedia)
Indians are very familiar with these types of story plots and themes from their younger days. They would have read them in Chandamama monthly magazines (Ambulimama in Tamil). But Ms Rowling’s luck and the way she wrote it in English brought her billions of pounds.
India is the country which supplied the story themes to the world from the earliest days. Even foreign authors acknowledge that Aesop got the ideas from the Panchatantra stories and the 1001 Arabian Nights got the ideas from Brhat Katha/ Katha Sarit Sagara, Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron got the idea from the Dasakumara Charitha. La Fontaine’s Fables and The Canterbury Stories got the ideas from the Panchatantra. Upanishads simple parables served as models for Jesus’ parables in the Bible.
(Please read S.Swaminathan’s other article How Jonathan Swift got the idea for his Gulliver’s Travels in “Valakhilyas-60,000 thumb sized ascetics protecting humanity”)
Whether it is ghost or animals, Gods or Angels, mountains or rivers all the themes went from India. Take any modern short story. You will find something similar in the old Sanskrit literature.
I will give you some facts instead of making sweeping statements:
One thousand years ago India produced the largest story book in the world. The Katha Sarit Sagara (Ocean of Stories) written by Soma deva contained over 400 stories. It was written in Sanskrit in 11[SUP]th[/SUP] century CE (AD)
Somadeva was the court poet of king Ananta of Kashmir. He wrote it to amuse queen Suryavaty. It was translated from Brhatkatha. The earliest and largest collection of stories, perhaps in the world contains 18 books divided into 124 tarangas/ waves with a total of 22000 verses.
Tales of wondrous maidens, fearless lovers, kings and cities, statecraft and intrigues, magic and spells, treachery, trickery, war, vampires, devils, ascetics, gamblers and beggars.
Though Jataka Tales (Second Century BC) has 550 stories in Pali language they were all adapted into Buddhist literature from various sources to say that Buddha had 550 previous incarnations as animals and human beings. It is not secular literature. A lot of secular matter was copied from Sanskrit sources and converted into religious literature. Even Ramayana and Mahabharata characters were turned into Buddha’s incarnations.
The Panchatantra Stories written by Vishnusarman, were the earliest Sanskrit stories that travelled to different parts of the world. By fifth century it reached four corners of the earth. Divided into five chapters it has woven stories within story. It has more than 81 stories.
Hitopadesa followed Panchatantra in style and contents.
Vedala Pancha Vimsati --25 stories (Twenty Five Tales of the Ghost/Vetala)
Dasa Kumara Charitham --10 stories (Ten Stories of Dasakumara)
Simhasana Dwattrimsika--32 stories (Thirty Two Stories of the Lion Throne)
Suka Sapatati--70 stories (Seventy Stories of a parrot)
The number of stories given indicate only main stories. We see lot of stories within stories. The actual number will be many more hundreds.
Jataka Tales (in Pali language) --550 stories (Incarnations of Buddha)
Hundreds of stories and anecdotes are in Mahabharata
Hundreds of Stories are in The Vedas and Parables in Upanishads.
In fact the world’s oldest short stories are from India. Stories such as Gilgamesh in Sumerian literature are of religious type.
The earliest of Sanskrit stories has moral themes. But later writings such as Katha saritsagara haven’t got such moral teachings. They were written just for pleasure. Katha saritsagara is unique and it was written in verse.