The Hindi Language has its roots in the classical Sanskrit language. The language acquired its current from over many centuries, and numerous dialectical variations still exist. Hindi literature may be traced back to medieval times when poets composed in dialects such as Braj Bhasha and Avadhi. Prose was a late-comer to the Hindi literary scene and the first work of prose in Hindi is generally agreed upon as being the fantasy novel ‘Chandrakanta’ written by Devaki Nandan Khatri.
As far as Hindi poetry goes, four prominent stages may be identified in Hindi poetry. These are Bhakti (Devotional e.g., Kabir, Raskhan), Shringar (Eulogizing Beauty e.g., Keshav, Bihari), Veer-Gatha (Extolling Brave warriors) and Adhunik (Modern).
The development of Hindi literature can be divided into following periods.
In ancient period of Hindi or Adi Kaal (before 1400 AD), Hindi literature was developed in the states of Kannauj, Delhi and Ajmer. Delhi was ruled by Prithviraj Chauhan and his court poet was Chand. Kannauj’s last Rathore ruler was Jayachand, who gave more patronage to Sanskrit (which was no longer the common man’s language). His court poet was Harsh (Whose major poetic work was Naishdhiya charitra). Mahoba’s royal poet Jagnayak (or Jagnik) and Ajmer’s Nalha were other literary figures in this period. However, after Prithviraj Chauhan’s defeat, most literary works belonging to this period were destroyed in Muhammad Gori’s campaign. Very few scriptures, manuscripts from this period are available and their genuineness is also doubted.
Some Sittha and Nathpanthi poets’ works belonging to the period are also found, but their genuineness in again, doubted. Siddhas belonged to Vajrayana, a later Buddhist cult. Many argue that the language of Siddha poetry is not earlier Hindi, but Magadhi Prakrit. Nathpanthis were yogis who practiced Hatha yoga. Some Jain and Rasau (heroic poets) poetry works are also available from this period.
In Deccan region in South India, Dakkhini or Hindavi was used. It flourished under the Delhi Sultanate and later under the Nizams of Hyderabad. It was written in the Persian script. Nevertheless, the HIndavi literature can be considered as proto-Hindi literature. Many Deccani experts like Sheikh Ashraf, Mulla Vajahi used the word Hindavi to describe this dialect. Others like Roustami, Nishati etc preferred to call it Deccani. Shah Buharnuddin Janam Bijapuri used to call it Hindi. The first Deccani author was Khwaja Bandanawaz Gesudaraz Muhammad Hasan. He wrote three prose works – Mirazul Aashkini, Hidayatnama and Risala Sehwara. His grandson Abdulla Hussaini wrote Nishatul Ishq. The first Deccani poet was Nizami.
In later part of this period and early Bhakti Kala, many saint-poets like Ramanand and Gorakhnath became famous. Earliest form of Hindi can also be seeni n some of Vidyapati’s Maithili works.
The medieval Hindi literature is marked by the influence of Bhakti movement and composition of long, epic poems. Avadhi and Braj were the dialects in which literature was developed. The main works in Avadhi are Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s Padmavat and Tulasidas’s Ramcharitmanas. The major works in Braj dialect are Tulsidas’s Vinay Patrika and Surdas’s ‘Sur Sagar’.
Bhakti poetry had two schools – the Nirguna school (the believers of a formless God or an abastract name) and the Saguna school (the believers of a God with attributes and worshippers of Vishnu’s incarnations). Kabir and Guru Nanak belong to the Nirguna school, while Vaishnava poets like Surdas, Tulsidas and others belonged to the Suguna school.
In Ritikavya or Ritismagra Kavya period, the erotic element became pre-dominant in the Hindi literature.
Due to Maratha, british and Afghan influences, the Hindi of Central India was affected. Avadhi and Braj had lost their prestige as the language of the learned. Khari dialect became the chief literary language. Some mediocre literature was produced during early 18th century. Some examples are ‘Chand Chhand Varnan Ki Mahima’ by Gangabhatt, ‘Yogavashishtha’ by Ramprasad Niranjani, ‘Gora-Badal ki Katha’ by Jatmal, ‘Mandovar ka Varnan’ by Anonymous, a translation of Ravishenacharya’s Jain Padmapuran by Daulatram.
The college president John Gill Chirst hired professors to write books in Hindi and Urdu. Some of these books were Premsagarby Lalloolal, ‘Naasiketopaakhyan’ by Sadal MIshra, ‘Sukhsagar’ by sadasukhlal of delhi and ‘Rani Ketaki ki Kahani’ by Munshi Inshallah Khan.
By this time, Hindustani had become public’s language. To distinguish themselves from the general masses, the learned Muslims used to write in Urdu (infested with Persian and Arabic vocabulary), while Khadiboli became prominent among educated Hindus. (Literary Hindi) was popularized by the writings of Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Bharatendu Harishchandra preferred Braj dialect for poetry, but for prose, he deliberately used Khadiboli. Other important writers of this period are Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi, Maithili Sharan Gupt, R.N. Tripathi and Gopala Sharan Sinha. The rising numbers of newspapers and magazines made Khadiboli popular among the educated people.
The person who brought realism in the Hindi literature was Munshi Premchand, who is considered as the most revered figure in the world of Hindi fiction and progressive movement. Before Premchand, the Hindi literature revolved around fairy of magical tales, entertaining stories and religious themes. Premchand’s novels have been translated into many other languages.
Jainendra Kumar, Phaneshwar Nath Renu and Ajenya (Satchidananda Vatsyayan) are the other popular figures of this time. Jainendra Kumar explored the human psyche in novel like Sunita and Tyagapatra. Renu’s Maila Aanchal is one of the major works of this period. Ajneya bought experimentalism (prayogvaad) in the Hindi literature. His most famous novel is Shekhar Ek Jivani (1941).
In 20th century, Hindi literature saw a romantic upsurge. This is known as Chhayavaad and the literary figures belonging to this school are known as Chhayavaadi. Jaishankar Prasad, Sumitranandan Pant, Suryakant Tripathi ‘Nirala’ and Mahadevi Varma are the major Chhayavaadi poets.
Most of the Hindi literature being produced today is largely mediocre. English is fast replacing Hindi as the choice of new Indian writers, as it allows them to reach a wider audience.
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 Shukla Mohan Rakesh Dharmavir Bharati Raghuvir Sahay Nirmal Verma
Kabir 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.
Tulasidas is the finest powet of Hindi literature has produced to date. His works, of which Ramcharitamanas (The Lake that is the Story of Rama) is unarguably the greatest, the relevant at three levels-aesthetic, moral and social. His lofty idealism continues to inspire his readers, even today.
Bihari 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 Uttarpradesh) about love. To him God was love, love God. His couplets have been compared to barbs, for they srike deep.
Premchand was the foremost novelist in Hindi and Urdu. His last completed novel in Hindi, was Godan (The Gift of a Cow, 1936). The greatness of Godan lies in its unparalleled and indepth depiction of the Indian nanguages as well as many foreign languages. Premchand’s other epic novels include Rangabhumi (The Theare or Arena, 1925) and Karmabhumi (Arena of Action, 1932) where the focus is on the nationalist struggle of the country.
Maithili Sharan Gupt 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 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.
Jaishankar Prasad 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. Along with 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 spitirual malady that plagues modern civilization set Jaishankar Prasad apart from his poetic peers.
He acheved fame through his pen-name ‘Nirala’ (the unique), deriving inspiration from the best minds of theIndian 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 agains 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.
He is an 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 epitomized the Indian thought of Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram (the true, the good and the beautiful). A preminent of the chayavada 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, I Pallava, acollection of thirty two poems written between 1918 and 1925.
Yashpal 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.
He is 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’.
Mahadevi Verma 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 artist. Her mysticism led to the birth of a movement called Rahasyavada. Mahadevi Verma has often been compared with Mira Bai, the great 16th century A.D. devotional poetess, in her lyrical mysticism and deep devotional offerings to the Almighty.
Ramdhari Singh ‘Dinkar’ emerged as rebellious poet with his nationalist poetry in Pre-Independence days. After the country’s Independence, has 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.
Nagarjun is major 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 practicing 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.
He is 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 freedom fighter, Ajneya has to his credit sixteen volumes of poetry, three novels, travelogues and several 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 firld 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.
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, Saratchangra 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 Prabhakr around fourteen years to finish.
He is popularly known as Renu, is one of the great Hindi novelists of the post-Premchand era. An active political activist, oneo f 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 structure plot or story in the conventional sense. After Premchand’s Godan, Maila Anchal is regarded as the most significant Hindi novel.
Shula, 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-Independene rural India, specifically Avadh. It was Shrilal Shukla who took wit, irony and sarcasm to great heights in Hindi literature. Raag Darbari is generousy peppered with folk witticisms of Avadhi, the powerful dialect in which Tulasidas, Malik Mohammad Jaysi and many Sufi poets made their mark.
He 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 dilemma 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 renuniciation of the Buddha, and its effect on his own people.
He 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 Darkenss), 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.
He 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 in extraordinatily 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 marginalization 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.
Verma together with Mohan Rakesh, bhisham Sahni, Kamleshwar, Amarkant and others, is credited with introducing an destablishing 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.
<Insert Picture> The Renaissance (1893-1918) (1918-1937) (1937 onwards) (1868-1893).
Types (e.g.) Ballads, Lyrics, Hymns, Travelogues, Rituals song, Mavagi song, Festival song, Folk Song, Nautanlei, Natak, Dashawatar, Yakshagana, Marsiya, Mourning Song, Lullabies, Kirtan/Bhajan
A ballad is a story in song, usually a narrative song or poem. It is a thythmic saga of a past affair, which may be heroic, romantic or satirical, almost inevitably catastrophic, which is related in the third person, usually with foreshortened alternating four-and three-stress lines (‘ballad meter’) and simple repeating rhymes, and often with a refrain.
A lyric (from the Greek) is a song sung with a lyre. Now, it is commonly used to mean a song of no defined length or structure. A lyric poem is one that expresses a subjective, personal point of view.
A hymn is a song specifically written as a song of praise, adoration of prayer, typically addressed to God.
Folk music, in the original sense of the term, is music by and of the people. Folk music arose, and best survives, in societies not yet affected by mass communication and the commercialization of culture. It normally was shared and performed by the entire community (not by a special class of expert performers), and was transmitted by word of mouth. During the 20th century, the term folk music took on a second meaning: it describes a particular kind of popular music which is culturally descended from or otherwise influenced by traditional folk music. Like other popular music this kind of folk music is most often performed by experts and is transmitted in organized performances and commercially distributed recordings. However, popular music has filled some of the roles and purposes of the folk music it has replaced.
A lullaby is a song sung to children before they go to sleep. The idea is that the song will lull the child to sleep.
The various dialects of Hindi have evolved from the different forms of Apabhraṁśa. Apabhraṁśa in turn has evolved from Prakrit and Prakrit from Sanskrit. Apabhraṁśa poetry is comprised of the heroic ballads as well as the religious literature of the Siddha and Jain poets. These trends were further developed by the early Hindi poetry. However, some critics are of the opinion that it is difficult to draw a line between Apabhraṁśa and Hindi. Critics and scholars like Sivasingh Sengar, Mishra bandhus, Rahul Sankrityayan, Ramchandra Shukla and Ramkumar Verma have expressed the view that the beginning of Hindi literature can be traced to the 7th or 8th century. Now, however, it has been accepted that the Apabhraṁśa literature is actually the old Hindi literature.
The Hindi poetry begins with Ādikāl, the first of the four stages of Hindi literature. The poetry of Ādikāl (the initial period) is a continuation of the Apabhraṁśa poetry.
Scholars have assigned various nomenclatures to this period. According to Ramchandra shukla, this period may be called ‘Vīragāthākāl (period of heroic ballads). According to Mishrabandhu, this period may be called ‘Ārambhikakāla’ (the initial period). Rahul Sankrityayana has called this period ‘Siddha-Sāmanthakāl’ (period of the Siddhas and feudal lords). According to Ramkumar Verma, the period may be called ‘cāran̙akāl’. The name ‘Ādikāla’ (the initial period) given by Hazariprasad Dwivedi is the most appropriate and popular.
Who was the first poet of Hindi? There are different opinion in this regard. According to the first view, Pushya or Pun̙d̙a, who lived in the 7th century, was the first Hindi poet. According to Rahul Sanskrityayana, the first Hindi poet was Sarhapa, who was one of the eighty four Siddhas and who lived in the 7th or 8th century. He has also included Kanhapa, Hemchandra, Gorakhnath, Swayambhu and Abdurrahman along with Sarhapa in the fold of early Hindi poetry. According to a third opinion Salibhadra Suri, a Jain poet was the first Hindi poet.
This age is marked by several trends (i) The secular poetry including the famous heroic ballads (ii) the religious poetry including the literature of the Siddhās, Nāthpanthīs and the Jain poets.
The bulk of the secular poetry consists of the ‘Rāso’ poems which are representative of this age. ‘Rāso’ poems are heroic ballads which narrate the epical stories of heroes. The word ‘Rāso’ is probably derived from Krishna’s ‘Rāsalilā’. The major ‘Rāso’ poems of this period are Chand Bardai’s ‘Prithvīrāj Rāso’, Dalapati Vijays ‘Khumān̙a Rāso’, Jagnik’s ‘Paramāla Rāso’, Narpati Nalhas ‘Bīsaldeva Rāso’ and Jajjal’s ‘Hammir Rāso’.
Out of these, the most well known is ‘Prithvīrāj Rāso’, the biography of king Prithvīrāj Chauhān the last Hindu king of Delhi, who fought the onslaughts of the invader Muhammad Ghauri. The historical authenticity of the incidents described in this work as well as in the other ‘Rāso’ poems, however is doubtful.
The major religious literature of the Siddhas reflects their beliefs. The Siddhas belonged to a Buddhist sect Vajrayāna, Practising tantrika rites. They criticized dogmatic religion and elaborate ritualism prevalent at that time. The major works of the Siddhas include Sarhapā’s ‘Dohākośā’ and Sabarapā’s ‘Caryāpada’. The other Siddhas who produced literature during this period were Dombipā and Kanhapā.
The Nāthpanthīs practiced ‘hat̘hyoga’. Gorakhnath is said to be the first preacher of this cult.
The works of the Jain poets reflected the Jain way of life. Their major works are : Salibhadra Sūri’s ‘Bharateshvara Bahubalī Rāsa’, Devasena’s ‘Srāvakācāra’, Vijayasena Suri’s ‘Revantagira Rāsa’. Some of the other poets are Asagu, Jina dhamma Suri and Sumati Gomi.
A special mention has to be made of Amir Khusro whose poetry is said to be among the first examples of the early Khariboli.
Bhaktikāla is said to be the golden age of Hindi literature. In this period, devotion was the main underlying emotion of all poetry. The influence of successive Islamic dynasties, firstly of the sultanate period, then of the mughal period on the Bhakti movement has been widely debated. The mughal period was comparatively peaceful and the overall feeling of peace and communal harmony was a major contributing factor in the rise of the Bhakti cult, But the origin of the Bhakti movement goes bote to the “Srimadbhagavatgita”. The wave of Bhakti got a thrust with the teaching of Nayanar and Alwar Saints. Later the Philosophies of Sankara Ramanuja, Nimbaka, Madhva and Vallabhacharya gave a strong base to the philocophical aspect of Bhakti.
The Bhakti movement was against ritualism, superstitions, casteism, untouchability etc. The two main streams of the Bhakti poetry of this period are Nirguna and Saguna. Nirguna form of Bhakti believed in a god who is formless and without attributes. Saguna god had attributed and had incarnations (avatāras) such as Rama and Krishna. But both the sects advocated devotion to a supreme god and a simple way of life.
The Nirguna poetry advocated Bhakti to an Absolute God in the form of mystical devotion, universal brotherhood and universal religion. The nirguna sect evolved into two sects – one was Jnanamarg, the other Premamarg. The Jnanamarg poets opposed the ritualistic orthodoxy and dogmatic form of religion, transcending the bonds of communities, place and time. The great saint-poet Kabir belonged to this cult. The other poets include Guru Nanak, Dadu, Raidas, Malukdas, Sundardas etc.
Kabir (1398 – 1518 AD) was the most significant poet of the Nirguna school who preached a religion that is universal in its appeal and above Hindu and Muslim dogmatic faiths. The mystic quality of his poetry, the spontaneity and simplicity of style and the synthesis of Hinduism and Islam made him the most famous mystic saint of India. Kabir was not only one of the most prominent personalities of the Bhakti cult, he had a profound impact on Indian philosophy. This contribution makes his poetry and personality eternally relevant.
The other poets of this school included Guru Nanakdeva, the founder of the Sikh faith, whose liberal humanism is reflected in his ‘padas’, compiled in Guru Granth Sāhib, the sacred book of the Sikhs. Dadu, Raidas, Malukdas, Sundardas etc. are the other poets of this school.
Premmarg or Premakhyanak school of poetry was influenced by the mystical cult of Sufism. The Premmargi poetry is a synthesis of Islam and Hindu thoughts. The long narrative style of poems. Masnavi, which originated in Persia, has an allegoric meaning which transported the devotees to spiritual heights. The devotion of ātma for the parmātmā (divine) is metaphorically portrayed in these narrative poems. The most well known poet of this school is Malik Mohammad Jayasi, whose epical poem ‘Padmavat’ is a blend of fiction and history, narrating the story of Ratnasena, the king of Chitor, his queen Nagmati, Padmāvati, the princess of Sinhala and Alauddin Khilji, the invader. The other works of this style is Hamāsvalī by Asait, Mr̙gāvatī by kutuban, Madhumālatī by Manjhan.
Sagun̙a Bhakti: The Sagun̙a school of bhakti developed into two streams Ramabhaktidhara and Krishnabhaktidhara. The Sagun̙a school is related to the Vaishnava thought and devotion. The Vaishnava philosophy had its mooring in the Srimadbhagavatgita and its background in the teachings of Ramanuja, Nimbarka Madhva and Vallabha.
Krishnabhaktidhashākhā: The attractive cult of Krishna was the source of inspiration of many Hindi poets. The most significant of the bhakta poets was Sūrdāsa who was the disciple of Vallabhāchārya. Sūrdāsa described the incidents in the life of Lord Krishna, his infancy, boyhood, adolescence and youth with rare intensity, divine joy and sublimity. His depiction of Vātsalya rasa – parental affection is unmatched in Hindi literary history. His main works are Sūrsagar, Sūr Sārāvali and Sāhitya Laharī. Sūrdāsa was one of the as̙t̘achāp poets, a group of eight poets who were in the same tradition as Sūrdāsa.
One of the most prominent poets of the Krishnabhakti school was Mīrābāi, whose mystical lyrics reflect an intense longing and yearning as well as a divine ecstasy of being one with the divine. Raskhān was another notable poet of this school.
Rāmbhaktishākhā: This school of poetry gave a human dimension to the character of Rama, idealizing his persons to inspire a dormant public. The most prominent poet of this school was Tulsidāsa, who wrote the epic ‘Rāmacharitamānas’, whose timeless popularity continues even to this day. His other works include ‘Vinaypatrikā’, ‘Dohāvali’ and ‘Kavitāvali’. Agradās and Nābhādās are the other poets of ‘Rāmabhakti Shākhā’.
Rītikāla: After the Bhakti age, the next literary trend in the history of Hindi literature is known as the Rītikāla. Poetry in this age (1650 – 1850 A.D) was written with the base of Indian Poetics. The various poetic qualities (gun̙as) styles (rītis) figures of speech (alankāras), poetic emotions and sentiments (rasas) description of heroes and heroines (nāyaka - nāyikā bhedas) were described by the poets. Most of these poets were patronized by the kings and as a consequence, the poetry written by these poets was either to praise the king or to entertain him. Therefore the tone of the poetry of this age is monotonously erotic. This is symbolic of the decadent feudal values of the times. The poetry of the ‘rīti’ era has been classified into three streams – ‘rītibaddha’ or poetry written to describe some poetic concept, ‘rītisiddha’ or poetry that does not overtly describe such a concept and ‘rītimukta’ or poetry that is free of the ‘rīti’. The major poets of this era are Keshavadāsa, Bihārī, Deva, Ghamānanda, Bhūshan̙a, Padmākara, Bodhā, Ālam, Thākur etc. Biharī’s ‘Satsai’, Matirām’s ‘Lohit Lalām, Bhushan̙’s ‘Shivarāj Bhūshan̙’, ‘Shiva Bāvanī’, Keshav’s ‘Rāmachandrika’ are the major works of this age.
Modern Age: After the ‘Ritikal’, Hindi literature entered the modern age. The development of Hindi literature in this age was manifold because the Hindi prose writing, which was negligible in the previous ages, developed into several significant genres in this age.
The development of literature in the modern age can be categorised in the following way – 1. Bhāratendu age - (1850 – 1900 A.D) 2. Dwivedī age - (1900 – 1918 A.D) 3. Chāyāvād - (1918 – 1936 A.D) 4. Pragativād - (1936 – 1943 A.D) 5. Prayogvād - (1943 – 1950 A.D) 6. Nai Kavitā - (1950 – 1960 A.D) 7. Sathottari Kavitā - (1960 – 1980 A.D) 8. Samkālīn Kavitā - (1980 onwards)
Bhāratendu age: Bharatendu Harishchandra was a towering figure who ushered in the modern age in Hindi literature. With the establishment of the British Empire and the resulting colonial exploitation, nationalism and cultural resurrection became the main trend of literature of this age. But the literature of this age is not totally free from the values of the earlier period. The notable works of poetry of this age are Bharatendu Harishchandras ‘Prem Mālikā’, ‘Prem Sarovar’, ‘Venu - giti’, Badarīnārāyan Chaudhari Premghan’s ‘Jirna Janpad’, ‘Anand Arunodaya’ ‘Mayanka Mahima’, Pratāpnārāyan Mishra’s ‘Prem Pushpāvalī’, ‘Man ki lahar’, ‘Shringār vilās’, Jaganmohan Singh’s ‘Premsam Pattilatā’, ‘Shyamlatā’, Ambikadatta Vyāsa’s ‘Pāvas pachāsā’, ‘Sukavi satsai’ etc. This was the beginning of poetry writing in the Khariboli dialect.
Prose writing in Hindi began with the modern age. In the Bharatendu era, novels were written as a medium of social and national awakening. The significant novelists of this age were Kishorilal goswami, Shraddharam Phullauri, Lala Srinivas Das, ‘Radhakrishna Das’, Balakrishna Bhatta, Lajjaram Sharma etc. The first novel in Hindi is said to be Shraddharam Phullauri’s ‘Bhagyavati’ written in 1877. According to Ramchandra Shukla, the first original Hindi novel was Srinivas Das’s ‘Parikshāguru’, published in 1882. The notable novels written during the Bhartendu age were, Shraddharam Phullauri’s ‘Bhagyavatī Srinivas Das’s ‘Parīkshāguru’, Radhakrishna Das’s ‘Nisshāya Hindū’, Balakrishna Bhatta’s ‘Nutan Brahmachārī’ and ‘Sau ajān ek sujān’ and Lajjārām Sharmā’s ‘Dhūrta Rasiklāl’. The novels of Devakinandan Khatri, such as ‘Chandrakāntā Santati’ also became very popular.
The modern short story began to be written before the Bhāratendu age. The early short stories include Inshaalla Khan’s ‘Rānī Kettī kī Kahānī’ or Udaybhān charit’, Lallulāl’s, ‘Sinhāsana Battīsī’, ‘Betāl pacchīsī’, Rājā Shivprasād Sitārehind’s ‘Rājā Bhoj kā Sapnā.
In this initial phase, stories were either based on Sanskrit stories or popular folklore or the tradition of short story in Urdu and Persian. But with the advent of Western culture and the increase in individual freedom, national awakening, cultural movement and growth of press, there was a revolution in prose writing. Kishorilal Goswami’s short story ‘Indumati’ was published in 1900 in ‘Saraswati’ which was different in content and style from the traditional short stories. Kishorilal goswami’s ‘Gulbahar’, Master Bhagvāndīn’s ‘Plague kī Churail’, Ramchandra Shukla’s ‘Gyārah varsha kā samay are the well known short stories of this era. Banga Mahila’s ‘Dulaiwali’, was also an important short story of this period.
The Hindi essay also evolved during this period. The essays of Bharatendu Harishchandra, Balakrishna Bhatta, Pratap Narayan Mishra, Badri Narayan Mishra, Badri Narayan Chaudhari, Bal Mukund Gupta, Jagmohan Singh, ‘Ambika Dutta Vyas, Shrinivas Das, Radhacharan Goswami etc. were published in Journals like Kavi Vachan Sudhā (Edited by Bharatendu Harishchandra), Hindī Pradīp (Edited by Balakrishna Bhatta), Brāhmana (Edited by Pratap Narayan Mishra) and Ānand Kādambinī.
The Hindi drama also began in the Bhāratendu age. Bhāratendu, Harishchandra’s ‘Chandrāvalī Nātikā’, ‘Vishasya Vishamaushadham’, ‘Bhārat durdasha’, ‘Andher Nagarī’, Srinivas Das’s ‘Randhīr’ and ‘Premmohinī’, Kishorīlāl Goswāmī’s ‘Dukkinī Bālā’ and ‘Padmāvatī’ were some of the major plays written in this period.
Dwivedi age: This was the formative stage in the development of Hindi language and literature. Kharībolī in this period gained acceptance and supremacy the language of prose and poetry. Mahāvīr Prasād Dwivedī, through his famous journal ‘Saraswatī’, inspired a whole generation of illustrations poets and prose – writers. Dwivedi contributed in purifying and refining the Kharībolī dialect. The poetry of this age is didactic and a vehicle of social reform and cultural upliftment. The galaxy of poets of this age was led by ‘Rashtra Kavi’ Maithili Sharan Gupta whose works like ‘Saket’ ‘Yashodharā’, Bhārat Bhārati’, ‘Pancavatī’, ‘Dwāpara’ etc. went a long way in giving standard and refinement to Hindi poetry. His inspired poetry reflected Indian values and culture and revived the tradition of classical epics. The other major works of this era are Ayodhyā Singh Upādhyāya Hariaudh’s ‘Priyapravās’ ‘Chokhe chaupade’, Ramnaresh Tripathī’s ‘Pathik’, ‘Milan’, etc.
The novelists of the Bharatendu age continued writing well into the Dwivedi age. In fact the Dwivedi age in a way is an extension of the previous age. The notable novels of this age were Lajjārām Sharma’s ‘Adarsha Dampati, Kishorilal Gowwami’s Līlāwatī wa ‘Ādarsha satī’, Ayothyāsingh Upadhyaya Hariaudh’s, ‘Adhkhilā phool’, Brajnandan Sahāy’s ‘Saundaryopāsak’, ‘Gangaprasad Gupta’s ‘Nurjahan’, ‘Patnī’, Jairamdas Gupta’s ‘Kashmir Patan’ etc. Prechand, who carried Hindi novel to great height, also began to write in this period.
During the Dwivedi age, Premchand emerged as the initiator of realism in Hindi literature and became a pioneering figure in modern Hindi short story writing. His important short stories include ‘Pancha Parmeshwar’, ‘Eidgāh’, ‘sadgati’, ‘Thakur kā kuān’, ‘Shatranj ke khilādī’, ‘Poos kī rāt’, ‘Kajan’ etc. Jayashankar Prasad was another major short story writer of this period. The other writers include Sudarshana, Vishwambharnath Sharma Kaushik, Juraladutta Sharma etc.
The second phase of Hindi essay began in the Dwivedi age with the journal ‘Saraswatī’ published by ‘Nagarī Pracharinī Sabhā’. The essayists of this age were Mahavīr Prasād Dwivedī Mādhav Prasād Mishrā, Govind Narāyan Mishrā, Chandradhar Sharmā gulerī Purna singh, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthī, Soyārām Sharan Gupta, Ganga Prasād Agnihotrī, Ramchandra Shukla etc. The essays written by these essayist reflect cultural revival, social awakening and nationalism.
During the Dwivedi age, the Hindi drama continued to grow. Plays with social, cultural and historical themes continued to be written.
Chāyāvād age: Hindi literature touched the heights of literary beauty and grace with Chāyāvād, which is often referred to as the golden age of modern Hindi literature. The four pillars of Chāyāvād were poets of exceptional talent who gave a new direction to Hindi poetry and thoroughly transformed it in content and style. This poetry, romantic in tone in symbolized by intensity of feelings, aesthetic subtlety and poetic excellence. The background behind its emergence and development was the freedom movement the cultural renaissance spirit of human freedom and the noble ideal of humanism.
The stalwarts of Chāyāvād were four poets – Jaishankar Prasād, Sūryakānt Tripātī Nirālā, Sumitrānandan Pant and Mahadevī Verma. Jaishankar Prasad, a poet of subjective love, romance and spirituality, came to the limelight with his lyrical ‘Aansoo’, followed by ‘Jharnā’, ‘Kānan-Kusum’, ‘Lahar’ etc. His most significant work was the epical ‘Kāmāyanī’ which was the culmination and the climax of his poetic merit. In ‘Kāmayanī’, the journey of man is portrayed through ‘Manu’, the eternal man.
Sūrkānt Tripāthī Nirālā’s poetry was Nersatile, rebellons and romantic in nature. His first poem ‘Juhi ki Kalī’, marked for its sensuousness and boldness, was a major breakthrough. His ‘Ram kī Shakti Pūjā’ is a classic for its powerful style and grand narrative. His collections ‘Anāmikā’, ‘Parimal’, ‘Gītikā’, ‘Tulsīdās’, ‘Naye Patte’ etc. are significant because of the lyrical quality and social commitment Nirālā’s major contribution is in terms of form and technique. His poetry is is a break from the conventional style of poetry as he was the initiator of the free verse.
The poet of nature, Sumitra Nandan Pant, is best know for his deep insight into nature. His major contribution is in the realm of language and style. His language is known for elegance, artistic excellence and craftmanship. His collections include ‘Pallav’, ‘Gunjan’, ‘Yugānta’, ‘Yugnānī’ etc.
Mahadevī Vermā’s poetry is an exploration of the mystic, this mystic quality and intensity is ever present in her collections ‘Neehār’, ‘Rashmi’, ‘Neerjā’, ‘Yāmā’, ‘Sāndhyageet’, etc.
The other currents of poetry running along with the Chāyāvād movement were ‘Rāshtrīya dhāra’ and the ‘Swacchandatāvādī’ school. The ‘Rashtrīya’ or nationalistic school was marked by social commitment and sentimental idealism. The major poets of this stream were Makhanlal Chaturvedi and Ramdhanī Singh Dinkar. The ‘Swacchandatāvādī’ poetry also called ‘Halāvād’, was marked by sensuousness and individualism. The poet of this school who achieved the highest popularity was Harivansharai Bacchan. Whose ‘Madhushāla’ is the climax of this school. The other poets of this school were Rameshwar Shulka Anchal and Bālakrishna Sharmā Navīn.
The Hindi novel attained maturity and depth in the novels of Premchand whose writing became the medium of social change and awakening. His novels include ‘Sevāsadan’, ‘Premāshram’, ‘Nirmala’, ‘Rangabhūmi’, ‘Kāyākalpa’, ‘Gaban’, ‘Karmabhūmi’ and ‘Godān’. The other novelists of this age, influenced by Premchand were Vishwambharnath Kaushik, Srīnath Singh, Shivpūjan Sahay, Bhagvati Prasad Vajpayee, Chandī Prasād Hridayesh and Raja Rādhikā Raman Singh.
The Hindi short story also flourished during this period. Many of Premchand’s major short stories were written during this era.
Among the essayists of this period are Jaishankar Prasād, Mahadevī Verma, Makhanlal Chaturvedī, Hajarī Prasād Dwivedī, Shyam Sunder Das etc.
The Hindi drama gained maturity with the plays of Jaishankar Prasād who wrote plays based on historical background highlighting India’s glorious past. Among his plays are ‘Rajshri’, ‘Ajātshatru’, ‘Skandagupra’, ‘Chandragupta’, ‘Dhruvaswāmini’. The other playwrights of this period were Harikrishna Premī, Lakshmī Nārāyan Mishra etc.
Pragativād: (The Progressive movement) - Hindi literature witnessed major changes between 1936-42. On one hand, poetry was influenced by Marxism and this culminated in the rise of Pragativād. On the other hand, war, conflicts and the advent of modernity resulted in ‘Prayogvād’ or experimentalism. ‘Pragatvād’ was committed to Marxist ideology, humanism and socialism. The literature produced by the ‘Pragativādī’ authors depicted the condition of the downtrodden and the underprivileged, poor villagers, urban labourers and farmers. Their pathetic condition and exploitation was powerfully portrayed by the Pragativādī poets. The major poets of this school and their works are Nāgārjuna (Yugdhārā), Trilochan (Dhartī) Shivmangal Singh Suman (Pralaygān) Rangeya Rāngeya Rāghav (Ajeya Khandahar) and Bhārat Bhūshan Agrawāl (Muktimārg).
Prayogvād: (Experimentalism) – The Prayogvādī movement in Hindi began with the publication of ‘Tār Saptaka’, edited by S.H. Vātsyāyana ‘Agyeya’, Prayogvād was influenced by existentialism and Freudian Psychoanalysis. The Prayogvādī poet explored the despair, cynicism and disillusionment in the wake of the second world was as well as the tension and conflict inherent in the modern world. The Prayogvādī poet had a major breakthrough by way of experiments in technique, form and style.
During this period, the major works were Agyeya’s ‘Bāvrā Aherī’, ‘Harī ghās par ks̙an̙ bhar’, ‘Ityalam’, ‘Indradhanu Raunde hue ye’, Gajānan Mādhav Muktibodh’s ‘Chand Kā muh Terhā hai, Girijā Kumār Māthur’s ‘Dhoop ke Dhān and ‘Shilāpanth Chamkīle’. The other poets of this school are Naresh Mehta, Nemichandra Jain, Shamsher Bahādur Singh, Dharmavīr Bharti etc.
The novelists of the Pragativād and Prayodvād period are Ilachandra Joshi, Agyeya, Jainendra Kumar, Bhagvati Charan Verma, Yashpal, Vrindavanlal Verma, Amritlal Nagar. These writers contributed to the genre of short story also.
In this period, the Hindi essay bramched out into different genres like letter - writing, articles and editorials in journals and newspapers, preface of books, memoirs etc.
In this period, the development of drama was inclined towards realism and the major play writes were Bhuvaneshwar, Mohan Rakash, Jagdishchandra Mathur, Lakshminarayan Lal etc.
After Prayogvād, the Hindi poetry was given various nomenclatures. ‘Nai Kavitā’, as it was popularly called, is in fact an extension of Prayogvād. The poetry of this era reflected the breakdown of the established value system, the uncertainty and doubt prevalent in the mindset of people, the restlessness, the emptiness and the disillusionment of the timer. The significant poets of this period are Shamsher Bahadur Singh, Sarveshvar Dayal Saxena, Kunwar Narayan, Raghuvir Sahay. A significant work of this era is Dharmavir Bharti’s ‘Andhā yug’, in which he interpreted mythology from a modern viewpoint and the futility of war.
The significant novelists of the post independence period are Bhishma Sahani, Nirmal Varma, Krishna Chander, Phanishwarnath Renu, Mohan Rakesh etc. Krishna Baldev Vaid, Shiv Prasad Singh, Amarkant, Rajendra Yadav, Giriraj Kishar, Krishna Sobti, Mridula Garg, Mannu Bhandari etc.
These novelists also contributed to short story writing. Kamaleshwar, Shivprasad Singh, Ganga Prasad Vimal, Ravindra Kaliya, Shailesh Matiyani, Shami, Ramdarash Mishra, Gyanranjan, Govind Mishra, Hridayesh, Uday Prakash, Abdul Bismillah, Usha Priyamvada, Chitra Mudgal etc.
The Hindi essay in this period, became a powerful medium of expression. Among the post-independence essayists are Yashpal, Vasudev Sharan Agrawal, Ram Vriksha Benipuri, Ramdhani Singh Dinkar, Nand Dulare Vajpayee, Namvar Singh, Harishankar Parsai, Thakur Prasad Singh, Vidyaniwar Mishra, Kubernath Rai etc.
Hindi drama, however was overshadowed by the popularity of novels and short stories. But playwrights like Jagdishchandra Mathur, Lakshmikant Verma, Ramkumar verma, Udayshankar Bhatt, Upendranath Ashq, Vishnu Prabhakar wrote important plays and short-plays.
Sat̘hottarī Kavitā: Sat̘hottarī Kavitā was the poetry after the sixties. The euphoria of independence was followed by bitter disillusionment of the harsh realities of life, the chaotic socio-political situation, the corrupt system and the confused middle-clan, all were reflected in Sat̘hottarī Kavitā. The degradation of human life in a materialistic system and the dehumanization and desensitizing of the human psyche is sensitively portrayed by the author. The major poets of this age are Gudāmā Pandey Dhūmil, Lilādhar Jagwī, Vijendra, Riturāj etc.
Samkālīn Kavitā: The Samkālīn Kavitā or contemporary poetry is characterized by multiplicity and variety. The contemporary life in all its manifestations is depicted by the contemporary poet. The human situation in the modern and post-modern world, the urbanization the decay of moral fabric, the industrialization has been effectively expressed in contemporary poetry. The major poets of today are Liladhar Jaguri, Rajesh Joshi, Vishnu Khare, Arun Kamal, Bhagvat Rawat, ALok Dhanva, Liladhar Manddoi, Naresh Saksena, Kedarnath Singh etc.
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