Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Literature in Hindi, the language spoken by the majority of people in India. Hindi has its roots in the classical Sanskrit language. Hindi literature may be traced back to medieval times when poets composed in dialects such as Brajbhasha and Avadhi. Prose came much later, and the first work of prose in Hindi is generally agreed upon as being the fantasy novel Chandrakanta written by Devaki Nandan Khatri .
The development of Hindi literature can be divided into following periods:
Adi kaal (before 1400 AD)
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 Harsha (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 Siddha and Nathpanthi poets' works belonging to this period are also found, but their genuineness is 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 practised 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.
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 litearture was developed. The main works in Avadhi are Malik Muhammad Jayasi 's Padmavat and Tulsidas'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 formeless God or an abstract 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 Saguna school.
In Ritikavya or Ritismagra Kavya period, the erotic element became pre-dominant in the Hindi literature.
Modern Period of Hindi liteature (after 1800 AD)
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 (dated 1824).
In 1857, East India Company established Fort William College at Calcutta. The College President John Gill Christ 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 the general public's language. To distingush 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. Khadiboli with heavily Sanskritized vocabulary or Sahityik Hindi (Literary Hindi) was popularized by the writings of Swami Dayanand Saraswati , Bhartendu Harishchandra and others. Bhartendu 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 or 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 novels 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.
Hindi literature today
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.
- The accuracy of this section of the article is suspect. See relevant discussion on the talk page.
Prominent Figures of Hindi literature
- Kabir (15th century) is known for his Granthavali which contains verses with love as the dominant motif. He was a major figure of the bhakti (devotional) movement.
- Goswami Tulasidas (1532–1623) is the greatest Hindi poet of the medieval period. His Ramcharitamanas which is a retelling of the Ramayana continues to be popular in India and the Caribbean.
- Raskhan was another prodigous poet.
- Munshi Premchand (1880–1936) was a great novelist. Of his novels, Godan (The Gift of a Cow, 1936) is considered the best. In this book he sketches rural life in an unparalleled manner. Doctors, Lawyers, Land-owners, farmers, and every part of the pre-independence India find voice in his writings.
- Maithili Sharan Gupt (1886–1964) was a pioneer of Khadiboli poetry and the author of the epic Saket in modern Hindi literature.
- Suryakant Tripathi 'Nirala' (1899–1961) wrote twelve collections of poetry, six novels, many short stories, essays and criticism, and also translated from Sanskrit and Bengali.
- Sumitranandan Pant authored twenty eight published works including poetry, verse plays and essays.
- Yashpal (1903–1976) is renowned for Jhutha Sach (The False Truth, 1958–1960), which is regarded as one of the best Hindi novels ever written.
- Hazariprasad Dwivedi (1907–1979), novelist, literary historian, essayist, critic and scholar, penned numerous novels, collections of essays and a historical outline of Hindi literature.
- Mahadevi Varma was one of the four pillars of the great Romantic movement in modern Hindi poetry, Chhayavada, the remaining three being Suryakant Tripathi 'Nirala', Jaishankar Prasad and Sumitranandan Pant. Her mysticism led to the birth of a movement called Rahasyavada. She has been compared with Mira Bai , the great 16th century devotional poetess, in her lyrical mysticism.
- Ramdhari Singh 'Dinkar' (1908–1974) emerged as a rebellious poet with his nationalist poetry in pre-Independence days.
- Nagarjun (b. 1911), is a major Hindi poet who has also penned a number of novels, short stories, literary biographies and travelogues. The most popular practising Hindi poet in the last decades of the twentieth century, Nagarjun is considered as the only poet, after Tulasidas, to have an audience ranging from the rural sections of society to the elite. His poems are usually centred around regional topics.
- S. H. Vatsyayan (1911–1987), (Sachchidananda Hirananda Vatsyayana), was 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. He was one of the most prominent exponents of the 'Nayi kavita' (New Poetry) in Hindi, and edited the 'Tar Saptaks'. Amongst the most well-known of his poetry anthologies are 'Aangan ke paar dvaar', 'Chakranta-Shila', 'Kitni naavon mein kitni baar', 'Hari ghaas par kshan-bhar', 'Indradhanu raunde hue ye' etc. 'His major prose works include 'Shekhar: Ek Jeevani'. Agyeya was an extensive traveller, and in course of his travels held visiting positions at various institutions around the world, e.g. UC Berkeley. He received numerous honours such as the Sahitya Akademi Award, Jnanpith Award, Bharatbharati Award and the international Golden Wreath Award for poetry.
- Vishnu Prabhakar (b. 1912), with several short stories, novels, plays and travelogues to his credit, won the Sahitya Akademi Award for his novel, Ardhanarishvara (The Androgynous God or Shiva).
- Phanishwar Nath 'Renu' (1921–1977) is one of the great Hindi novelists of the post-Premchand era. His masterpiece 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. His short story 'Maare Gaye Gulfam'has been made into a film. Another of his short story 'Panchlight'(Petromax)is beautiful in its depiction of human behaviour. One can find many parallels between his and Premchand's writings only that if Premchand is a sea than he is a pond, talking in context of depth and expanse.
- Mohan Rakesh (1925–1972) was one of the pioneers of the Nai Kahani movement of the 1950s. He made significant contribution to novel, short story, travelogue, criticism, memoirs and drama.
- Dharmavir Bharati (1926–1997) was a renowned Hindi writer and known to many as the editor of the magazine Saaptahik Hindustan. Amongst his famous works are 'Suraj ka saatva ghoda' (The Seventh Steed of the Sun), and the lyrical play 'Andha-Yug'. The former is a short novella with seven relatively independent plots, but each woven together in an integrated whole. It has at places scathing wit, and may be read as meta-fiction or as an allegory. The latter is a moral allegory that draws its rubric from the Mahabharata but conveys a timeless message about degeneration of values in human society. He also wrote some very insightful essays, and some prominent essay anthologies are Thele par Himalaya and Pashyanti.
- Raghuvir Sahay (1929–1990) was a versatile Hindi poet, translator, short-story writer and journalist.
- Nirmal Verma (b. 1929) together with Mohan Rakesh, Bhisham Sahni, Kamleshwar, Amarkant and others, is the founder of the Nai Kahani (new short story) in Hindi literature. He is best known for his short stories.
- Narendra Kohli (b. 1940) known for his plays, satires, short stories and novels, he is best known for his works on Ram katha (Abhyudaya), Mahabharat (Mahasamar) and Vivekanad (Toro Kara Toro). More details at http://www.narendrakohli.org .
- Harishankar Parsai : Known for his works of satire that attacked the hypocrisy and corruption rampant in various walks of life.
- Jainendra : An extremely influential figure in 20th century Hindi literature. His works are known for powerful depiction of female characters. Major works include 'Sunita', 'Dashartha' etc. Also wrote numerous short stories.
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