One of the main reasons why Indian thought and Indian civilization make so fascinating a field of study and research lies in their unique history and remarkable structure. Indian civilization has its roots in an ancient heritage, in that pattern of culture which is sometimes called archaic or semi-primitive, sometimes also pre- or non-modern. This culture, or rather structure of the human mind, is, in the main, characterized by presenting, in some essential features, striking contrasts to our modern ‘mentalité’. . .
The plan of this work reflects, not only the increase in factual knowledge and the widening of our horizon, but also the changed attitudes of the last sixty years. While much space is allotted to Sanskrit literature, the literary works written in the Middle Indian languages receive extensive treatment and much more importance than was possible in Winternitz’ days had to be given to the modern literatures. A considerable part of the incorporated material has never been described. Those sections which already found a place in the works of our predecessors are generally much enlarged; old matter had to be brought up to date and a wealth of fresh information to be included.