The art of writing, however, had to face another crisis in India during the ensuing centuries. This crisis was that of exclusivity. The Brahman priests monopolized for themselves the religious hymns of the Vedas and the ballads. These hymns and ballads were in fact what the Aryans sang in praise of the deified natural forces. Thus in this way they usurped as much power as possible. And hence it was that with the advent of the Buddha that the art of writing was given renewed impetus. From then, it began to rise in leaps and bounds from the gloomy limbo where it had been concealed for so long by the Brahman priests.
There was an assumption that the ancient Hindus could not read or write. This assumption probably sprang up from the fact that no writing material was excavated on Indian soil. That pictographs await excavation in India in no way undermines the importance of literary evidence to the existence of writing skills of the Vedic folks.
Additionally, it was also suggested that no script was developed in Rig Vedic India. This was so since the verb "likha-to write" was not mentioned in the Vedas. Rig Veda is acclaimed as the oldest extant literature available to humans.
It is true that the Veda has been handed down from generation to generation through oral tradition. From this, however, it should not be inferred that the art of writing was unknown in the early Vedic age.
Any such proposition is purely erroneous. The practice of oral transmission of Veda was adopted. This was not because written copies of these texts were not available, but because presumably it was believed that oral transmission alone was more conducive to the preservation of the magic-religious potency and the formal protection of those arts.
Along with this, writing materials have played a very prominent role in the development of cultures. They have helped in preserving the history and culture of mankind. Additionally, they have also deeply influenced the scripts, languages as well as man's mode of thinking. In order to understand ancient writing materials, it is imperative to understand ancient cultures in a better light.
The Hindi word Kagaja (paper) is of Persian origin. Paper is has been used in India only for about a thousand years. Before that the main writing materials in our country were birch-bark, palm-leaves and copper-plates. Apart from this, agaru-bark, bricks, earthenware, shell, ivory, cloth, wood, etc. had also their uses as materials for writing.
Till today, all the inscribed materials from the past are in the custody of Indian as well as various foreign museums. It has to be remembered that these ancient writing materials have served Indian literature and science for over two millennia.
Prehistoric rock paintings have been discovered at Bhimbetka, Pachmarhi, Adamgarh, Mirzapur and many other Indian sites. Here the paintings, in vivid and panoramic detail, depict the day-to-day life of the cave-dwellers. These paintings can be called the early pictorial writing. These are done mostly in red and white and occasionally in green and yellow.
The colors were taken from local minerals and were mixed with water and a fixative resin of some local tree or animal tallow. The brushes used were made of twigs or, for fine work, quills. Along with the rock paintings short Brahmi inscriptions have also been found at Bhimbetka and some other such sites. It was, thus, evident that in ancient India stone and natural colours were used as writing materials for thousands of years.