Hindi Literature

  HINDI LITERATURE

WRITERS



Kabir

Goswami Tulsidas
Bihari Munshi
Premchand
Maithili Sharan Gupt
Jaishankar Prasad
Suryakant Tripathi 'Nirala'
Sumitranandan Pant
Yashpal
Hazariprasad Dwivedi
Mahadevi Verma
Ramdhari Singh 'Dinkar'
Nagarjun
S. H. Vatsyayan 'Ajneya'

Vishnu Prabhakar
Phanishwar Nath 'Renu'
Shrilal Shukla
Mohan Rakesh
Dharmavir Bharati
Raghuvir Sahay
Nirmal Verma




Kabir (1398-1468 or 1440-1518)

was born to Julaha (Muslim weavers) parents. Kabir is known for his voluminous Kabir Granthavali which contains various verse forms with love as the dominant motif. He employed the bhakti (devotional) sensibility to resist the world-view which imposed the degradation on him and his fellow low-born. His devotional couplets dohas have played a vital role in moulding the Indian ethos.

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Goswami Tulasidas (1532-1623) is the finest poet that Hindi literature has produced to date. His works, of which Ramcharitamanas (The Lake that is the Story of Rama) is unarguably the greatest, are relevant at three levels-aesthetic, moral and social. His lofty idealism continues to inspire his readers, even today.

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Bihari (1595-1664) achieved immortal fame by writing just one book Satasai (Seven Hundred Verses). His name finds mention in the Imperial Gazeteer alongwith Tulsidas and Surdas. He wrote in Brijbhasha ( a dialect spoken in the Brij region of Uttar Pradesh) about love. To him God was love, love God. His couplets have been compared to barbs, for they strike deep.

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Munshi Premchand (1880-1936) was the foremost novelist in Hindi and Urdu. His last completed novel in Hindi, also acclaimed as his finest, was Godan (The Gift of a Cow, 1936). The greatness of Godan lies in its unparalleled and indepth depiction of the Indian rural milieu. It has been translated into almost all the major Indian languages as well as many foreign languages. Premchand's other epic novels include Rangabhumi (The Theatre or Arena, 1925) and Karmabhumi (Arena of Action,1932) where the focus is on the nationalist struggle of the country.

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Maithili Sharan Gupt (1886-1964) is considered as one of the pioneers of 'Khari Boli' (plain dialect) poetry and the author of the first ever epic in modern Hindi literature. In his literary career spanning 57 years, Gupt has written over sixty works, comprising forty nine collections and seventeen translations of poetry and drama. He was perhaps, the only poet in Independent India to be honoured with the title 'National Poet'. In Saket (Ayodhya, 1932), the poet draws on the mythological tale of Rama, falling back heavily on Tulasidas's epic Ramcharitamanas. Also evident are influences of Valmiki's Ramayana, Bhavabhuti's play Uttara Rama Charita, Kalidasa's Raghuvamsa and the Mahabharata of Vyasa.

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Jaishankar Prasad (1889-1937) is one of the pioneers of the Hindi literary movement called Chayavada. Lehar (Wave), his last collection of poems was published before his great poem, Kamayani (1936), and clearly demonstrates his lyrical and narrative mastery. Alongwith Ansu (Tears), an earlier long poem and Kamana, an allegorical play, Lehar forms a prelude to Kamayani, an allegorical epic poem. His unique sense of history and remarkable insight into the spiritual malady that plagues modern civilisation, set Jaishankar Prasad apart from his poetic peers.
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Suryakant Tripathi (1899-1961) achieved fame through his pen-name 'Nirala' (the unique), deriving inspiration from the best minds of the Indian Renaissance, then flourishing in Bengal. Nirala was a born genius and sans formal education, studied Indian classics, philosophy and culture. Deeply rooted in Indian culture, he stood against the Establishment, gaining recognition as a poet of revolt. Besides twelve collections of poetry, which included Apara (The Earthly Knowledge, 1947) Nirala also penned six novels, many short stories, essays and criticism, and also translated from Sanskrit and Bengali. Renowned for his prose, Nirala is also associated with bringing in free verse in the modern era.

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Sumitranandan Pant (1900-77), author of twenty eight published works including poetry, verse plays and essays, was honoured with the prestigious Padma Bhushan (1961), Jnanpith (1968), Sahitya Akademi and Soviet Land-Nehru Awards for his immense contribution to the Hindi literary scene. His poetry epitomised the Indian thought of Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram (the true, the good, the beautiful). A prominent of the Chayavada movement, Pant's greatest poems were penned during this period. When the movement was on the decline, Pant was the poet who effortlessly made the transition from aesthetic mysticism to the temporal, doing so in terms of the Marxist ideology. This phase later gave way to the larger humanism of Aurobindo. Thus in his later writings, Pant the aesthete emerged as a thinker, philosopher and humanist. His finest work, by far, is Pallav, a collection of thirty two poems written between 1918 and 1925.

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Yashpal (1903-76) is renowned for Jhutha Sach (The False Truth, 1958-60), regarded as the finest Hindi novel written on the chaotic Indian scenario which followed closely on the heels of the Partition. A Marxist till the very end, Yashpal's ideology immensely influenced his writings. He has forty two books to his credit, excluding translated works.

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Hazariprasad Dwivedi (1907-79), a famous novelist, literary historian, essayist, critic and scholar, penned numerous novels, collections of essays and a historical outline of Hindi literature. His principal works include Kabir, and Banabhatta Ki Atmakatha (The Autobiography of Banabhatta, 1946), a literary depiction of the life and times of the classical poet. The latter is in the mode of a fiction within fiction. The author pretends to have accidentally found the entire work, his own role in creating it being 'minimal'.

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Mahadevi Verma (1907-87) was educated in Allahabad, where she founded the 'Prayag Mahila Vidyapitha', promoting the education of girls. An active freedom fighter, Mahadevi Verma is regarded as one of the four pillars of the great Romantic movement in modern Hindi poetry, Chayavada, the remaining three being Suryakant Tripathi 'Nirala', Jaishankar Prasad and Sumitranandan Pant. She is renowned for her book of memoirs, Atita Ke Chalcitra (The Moving Frames of the Past) and Smriti Ki Rekhayen (The Lines of Memory). Her poetic canvas boasts Dipshikha (The Flame of an Earthen Lamp, 1942), a book comprising fifty one lyrics, all of which carry the maturity of expression and intense mystical quality peculiar to this great artiste. Her mysticism led to the birth of a movement called Rahasyavada. Mahadevi Verma has often been compared with Mira Bai, the great 16th century devotional poetess, in her lyrical mysticism and deep devotional offerings to the Almighty.

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Ramdhari Singh 'Dinkar' (1908-74) emerged as rebellious poet with his nationalist poetry in pre-Independence days. After the country's Independence , he was often referred to as the national poet of India, though officially the title belonged to Maithili Sharan Gupt. He belongs to the generation immediately following the Chayavadi (romantic) poets. Dinkar is renowned for his personal lyrics, apart from a few historical and nationalist compositions. His verse play, Urvashi, (1961)is a dramatic departure from his earlier poetry of social concern, as it deals with love and passion, the earthy and the sublime, and man-woman relationship transcending the physical. A Jnanpith Award winner (1972), the book is the culmination of a poet's spiritual journey. It is a landmark document involving introspection and philosophical delving into the Kamadhyatma, The Metaphysic of Desire.

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Nagarjun (b. 1911), is amjor Hindi poet who has also penned a number of novels, short stories, literary biographies and travelogues. His Pratinidhi Kavitayen (A Collection of Representative Poems, 1984)was written over four decades. It contains almost eighty Hindi poems as well as a small section of poetry in Maithili, his mother-tongue, where he is better known as Baidyanath Mishra 'Yatri'. Nagarjun creates poetry out of the most mundane things in life, employing the language of everyday speech and thus bringing poetry as an art form closer to the common man. The most popular practising Hindi poet in the last decades of the twentieth century, Nagarjun is considered as the only poet, after Tulsidas, to have an audience ranging from the rural sections of society to the elitist gatherings.

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S. H. Vatsyayan (1911-87), (Sachchidananda Hirananda Vatsyayana), popularly known by his pen-name 'Ajneya' or Agyeya, was a pioneer of modern trends not only in the realm of poetry, but also fiction, criticism and journalism in Hindi. An eminent freedm fighter, Ajneya has to his credit sixteen volumes of poetry, three novels, travelogues and several volumes of short stories and essays. He edited the Saptak series which triggered new trends in Hindi poetry, known a 'Nai Kavita'. He edited many literary journals and also launched his own Hindi weekly, Dinaman, thus establishing new standards in the field of Hindi journalism.Ajneya was honoured with the Sahitya Akademi Award, Jnanpith Award, Bharatbharati Award and the internationally reputed Golden Wreath Award for poetry.His famous works include Amgan Ke Par Dvara (The Door Beyond the Courtyard) and a cycle of poems, Chakranta Shila.

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Vishnu Prabhakar (b. 1912), with several short stories, novels, plays and travelogues to his credit, won the Sahitya Akademi Award for his novel, Ardhanarishwara (The Androgynous God or Shiva). His biography of the eminent Bengali novelist, Saratchandra Chatterjee, Awara Masiha (Vagabond Prophet, 1974) is however considered not only, to be his magnum opus, but also one of the three best Hindi biographies written so far. Awara Masiha, a subtle combination of fact and fiction, took Prabhakar around fouteen years to finish.

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Phanishwar Nath 'Renu' (1921-77), popularly known as Renu, is one of the great Hindi novelists of the post-Premchand era. An active political activist, one of Renu's masterpieces is Maila Anchal (The Soiled Border, 1954), a social novel that depicts the life of a region and its people, the backward and the deprived. A trailblazer in the post-Premchand period, the novel radically changed the structure and narrative style in Hindi novels. The distinct feature in the novel is that it does not possess a structured plot or story in the conventional sense. After Premchand's Godan, Maila Anchal is regarded as the most significant Hindi novel.

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Shrilal Shukla (b.1925), an IAS officer, is renowned for his objective and purposive satire in contemporary Hindi fiction. In 1957, he published his first novel, Sooni Ghat ka Sooraj (The Sun of a Desolate Valley) followed by a series of satires Amgada Ka Pamva (Angada's Foot) in 1958. His Raag Darbari (Melody of the Court, one of the ragas, 1968) is the first satirical novel of its kind in Hindi spanning a wide spectrum of post-Independence rural India, specifically Avadh. It was Shrilal Shukla who took wit, irony and sarcasm to great heights in Hindi literature. Raag Darbari is generously peppered with folk witticisms of Avadhi, the powerful dialect in which Tulasidas, Malik Mohammad Jayasi and many Sufi poets made their mark.

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Mohan Rakesh (1925-72) was one of the pioneers of the Nai Kahani movement in Hindi in the 1950s. Rakesh made significant contribution to various genres, like nove, short story, travelogue, criticism, memoirs and drama. His Ashadha Ka Ek Din (One Day in The Rainy Month of Ashadha, 1958) is a historical play suggestive of the personal dilemmas of a present day writer. Ashadha Ka Ek Din is one of the first major original plays that revived the Hindi stage in the 1960s. Among his other plays is, Adhe Adhure (The Incomplete Ones) is extremely popular with the modern middle-class audiences, and Lehron Ke Rajhamsa (The Swans of the Waves), a close study of the renunciation of the Buddha, and its effect on his own people.

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Dharmavir Bharati (b. 1926) is a renowned poet, fictionist and editor. Essentially a romantic humanist, Bharati is famous for his poignant treatment of first love, his lyricism and humanistic vision. One of his famous works is Andha Yuga (The Blind Age or The Age of Darkness), one of the most celebrated modern Hindi plays. Bharati has been honoured with some of the highest literary and State awards, including the Padma Shri.

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Raghuvir Sahay (1929-90) was a versatile Hindi poet, translator, short-story writer and journalist. The editor of the weekly Dinaman, Sahay's five books of poems includes Log Bhool Gaye Hain (They Have Forgotten, 1982) which won him the Sahitya Akademi Award. The poet of the common man, Sahay dealt with topics hitherto unexplored by other Hindi male poets. His treatment of women in his works is extraordinarily sensitive. His Atmahatya Ke Viruddha (Against Suicide, 1967) comprises 36 poems. A powerful democratic sensibility and great concern for the dispossessed, especially women, is the hallmark of his works. The marginalisation of the average person, hypocrisy of the powers that be, and the brutish violence that has crept into the system are some of his principal themes. But perseverance and going on with life clearly emerge as his mottos.

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Nirmal Verma (b.1929) together with Mohan Rakesh, Bhisham Sahni, Kamleshwar, Amarkant and others, is credited with introducing and establishing the Nai Kahani (the modernist new short story) in Hindi literature. His technical wizardry and cosmopolitan sensibility render Nirmal Verma a one-of-a-kind artiste. Although he has published four novels, six collections of essays and cultural criticism, it is his short stories that beautifully bring out his ethereal sensitivity, lyricism and profound compassion. Kavve aur Kala Paani (Crows and the Black Waters, 1983) translated as The Crows of Deliverance, comprises seven of Verma's latest stories, which deal with the spiritual ills that afflict his characters, mostly from the urban middle class.

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