Hindi Sahitya ka Itihaas
In the process of outlining the history if Hindi Literature, all the three words, namely, “history”, “Hindi” and “Literature” necessitate individual attention. The present operative precipitate of numerous languages spoken in northern part of India is known as Hindi. These different languages and dialects have at distinct intervals acquired significance owing to different factors, and have also moulded their historical ethnic and linguistic specificities to suit a field of practice. Their last stage of alteration of the apabansh prakritand the beginnings of the contemporary modified assemblage of Indo-Aryan languages characterise those stages of Hindi Literature during its historical transitions.
Questions of the structure and form of literature, and its inclusion and exclusion are inseparable from the origins of literary historiography. The differentiation between provincial and purist literatures and the trends of discourses on their intermingling are at the very root of the modern history of literature.
The predicament of “literature” is the newest and greatest predicament of the times we live in. The age of Acharya Ramchandra Shukla was one which lacked the predominance of investigatory discursive of the present. Therefore he could outline a clear and unprejudiced definition of literary historiography, on which there has been no equivocation for a long time. “While every society’s literature is the reflection of the collective memory and mind-set of its inhabitants it is logical that as the latter evolved in the standards of their lives, the structures of the given literature did so too. To draw a critical correlation between the changing traditions in societies and their literatures is what is known as a History of Literature.
The origins of Hindi Literature date back to the 8th century A. D. From the point of view of linguistic authenticity our present age corresponds to a progression in the modification process of in the ultimate stage (apabransh) of the erstwhile Prakrit language. Linguists believe that in the Hindi speaking regions of India, historically there existed five forms of prakrit – apabhransh, shaurseni, ardhamaagdhi, maagdhi and khus. From the point of view of provincial linguistic structures apabhransh has fostered the development of Rajasthani Hindi. However, grammatically apabhrasha influences the other prakrits and thereby the languages branching out of them. These compensations, complications, the development of words and sentences (parsarg) and the evolving usage of Sanskritic (tatsak) are those movements which apabhransh has intensified and fertilized in the realm of Hindi.
The well-known scholar, Acharya Ramchandra Shukla, in his periodic table on Hindi Literature, has assigned its originary stage first as Aadikaal and later as apabhransh-kavya (apabhransh-poetry) or deshbhasha-kavya (veergaatha-kavya -- national language poetry or nationalist/patriotic poetry). Doha or duha, and chowpai are the principally known poetic forms of that division of apabhransh-kavya in which compositions had been heavily contributed by the spiritual patriarchs of the siddhas, the nathas and the Jains. The Siddhas, Nathas and the yogis have critiqued idol-worship, distinctions of class and caste, and religious pilgrimages, and have emphasized on a religion worshipping the inner soul. Several historiographers of Hindi Literature have precluded this category of writing from pure literature since these compositions do not have a direct passage from the various stages, experiences and conditions of life. Nevertheless, this periodization is considered significant inasmuch as the related movements when connected with the natural life conditions gave rise to the discursive framework of the Bhakti movement. Among the compositions that provide examples of rustic or provincial literature during the time of apabhransh-kavya, the chief ones are by – Hemchandra, Somprabh Suri, Jainacharya Merutung, Vidyadhar, Shardagdhar, etc.
Two other names are prevalent in the reference to the language of those times – Dingal and Pingal. These two are literary or poetic forms in essence. Pingal was the name of the literary system in Braj-bhasha practised in Madhya Pradesh, wherein, in comparison to Dingal, the observance of classical postulates was greater. However, both these poetic forms equally present in this period.
The period beginning around 1050, which unshackled Prakrit or apabhransh from its obsolete fundamentals and fostered the growth of the common language, has come to be known as Desh-bhasha. Deliberating on the heroic and patriotic nature of the corresponding movement in literature, Acharya Ramchandra Shukla has bestowed the epithet of Veergathakaal (The age of patriotic/heroic sagas) on this age. These patriotic/heroic tales, while on one hand are of a celebratory note in third person narrative musicals, on the other hand are also found in the form of autobiographical essays. The major compositions of this age are Khumag Raso, Beesaldev Raso, Prithviraj Raso, Parmal Raso, Jaschandrika by Jaychandra Prakash Jaymayank, Dohas of Dhola Maru, Aalahkhand. Vasant Vilas, and Amir Khusro’s paheliyas (riddles), and so on. Yet, due to the traces of Siddha and Jaina literary influences still extant, the rarefied domain of a mainstream veergatha poetics until Khusro and Vidyapati and the historical uncertainty in the recorded dates of the Katipara-Raso volumes, some historiographers including Acharya Hazari Prasad Dwivedi have justified the age as belonging to Aadikaal, over Veergaathakaal. In the period welcoming Veergaatha poetics the growing popularity of Deshbhasha styles can be seen in the compositions of Vidyapati and Khusro. In their usage of Deshbhasha along the lines of its widely prevalent speech forms in northern-central India, and of the simplicity and melody available in the Maithili dialects, by Amir Khusro and Vidyapati, respectively, these two are of extreme importance during the Veergaatha period. While in the language of Amir Khusro we find in a modern poetic language that evidently points out to the establishment of a new movement in Hindi, in the compositions of Vidyapati we witness a new and ubiquitous growth of the collective folk languages, hitherto dispersed in practice.
More aspects than one regarding the onset of the Bhaktikaal and the inspiration behind the compositions of this age have been talked about. One of the popular notions is that the Bhakti Literature was primarily fostered, inspired, indulged and encouraged by the Vaisnavites and in general patronized by worshippers of the other branches of the Vaishnava sect. On one hand we can find the root philosophies of this age in the ancient Vedic and Upanishadic traditions and on the other the movement may also be said to have originated from the growing sentiments of providing refuge and love to fellow beings, that flourished in South India at this time. From the grammatological treatise Shankaacharya had prepared as a criticism and commentary on Badrayan’s Brahmasutras gave rise to the vishishtadvait, dvaitadvait, shuddhadvait kevaladvait schools of thought. In the light of supplementing the philosophical and discursive framework of the Bhaktikaal, all these schools can be seen as individual movements by themselves. Acharya Ramchandra Shukla has seen the Bhaktikaal movement in its whole as a unique response by the defeated and unhappy masses in response to the Islamic invasions of India. The other major historian of Hindi Literature has claimed the Bhakti movement to be merely the precipitate of a natural progression in the Indian thought. The sermons of the Nathas and Siddhas, belief in incarnations, in the leela (play) of God and religious fundamentalism came to be simplified in the spiritual tide that swept India from its southern parts.
Nirguna Kaya-parampara ( Nirguna Poetic tradition) or the Gyanashrayi Dhara ( Movement of Spiritual Wisdom): Nirgunakaal is also known as the Gyanashrayi Dhara since the emphasis by the saints of this age has been on the gyan of karma and devotion. There is deeper influence of the Upanishads and Shankar’s Advaita Vedanta on the Nirguna Kavya tradition, than anything else. Reflections of the Advaita Vedanta can be seen in ideas such as the non dual/divisible essence of the soul, the compound nature of the universe, and the ways devotion was practised by the Nirguna saints. From Shunyavaad (neant), gurumahima (affection for and of the guru), etc., to their methods of practising yoga there is a direct impact of the Nathas and the Siddhas on the Nirguna Kavya tradition. The saints have in their compositions preached the sermons of Ekeshvarvaad (monotheism), and protested the idol worship, and the fundamentalist rigidities in society and religion. Kabir is the most important poet of the Gyanashrayi order. Professionally Kabir’s family belonged to the weavers’ caste. He is believed to be born in 1397 A. D. He received his spiritual initiation from the famous Muslim Sufi saint Fakeer Sheikh Taki and went on to be accepted as a disciple by the Hindu saint Ramananda. Kabir embosomed the code of service as guided by brahma not on the path of spiritual wisdom alone, but also in extending it to universal pathetic and emotional love. Therefore the yogamarga (path of yoga) which he chose towards his salvation seemed to free him of the complications and the spiritual aridity of the earlier generations as he moved into posterity. The volume of his collected vanis (sayings) is popularly known as “Bijak” which is divided into three parts named – Saakhi, Sabad and Ramaini. In all these three we fibd the essence of the Vedantas, attacks on the societal and religious rigidities of those days, addresses on the purification of the inner spirit and the cultivation of universal love, and numerous chapters on the temptation that maya may bring and the transience of this world. Kabir’s language is a kind of sadhukkdi, meaning the blending of Rajasthani and Punjabi khari boli (chaste speech), and sometimes interspersed with the usage of brajbhasha or puravi boli (speech dialect of the past).
Among the other important poets of the Gyanashrayi tradition mention may be made of Raidas, Dharamdas, Dadupal, Surdas, Malukdas, Guru Nanak, Akshar, and so on.
The second phase of the Nirguna Kavya tradition is also referred to as Premashrayi Shakha or the Sufi Kavya Movement. Even among the Sufis the Bhakti movement had its own significance, essentially both the movements borrowing aspects of each other. According to the belief of Sufism the human nature is endowed with both mortality and immortality. Further, this nature is both human as well as divine. It is only through universal love that this dichotomy between the eternal and the ephemeral can be resolved. Love alone can bring the human being closer to its essential inner soul and approximate it to godliness. The Sufis believe that to acquire the supreme divine light the place and means which one should concentrate on is the heart itself. For the furtherance of their ideas the Sufi saints made subjects out of the several commonplace tales of love from Hindu life. Going far away from the religious bigotry of Islam, the Sufi saints prescribed Ishq-e-haqiqi (true love taught by nature) over Ishq-e-majazi (worldly love). While the Gyanshrayi tradition laid stress on meditating towards knowledge of Brahma the Sufi saints stressed the same on the level of pathetic and emotional universal love. Separate from argumentation, partisan mentality and refutation of spiritual belief they preferred to record the ordinary tales of human behaviour and touch the sensitive chords in the masses through their essays and poems. The Sufi poets wrote their compositions in the Awadhi language. They kept up the tradition of the chowpayi dohas.The most important poet of this order was poet Malik Mohammed Jayasi in whose poetry we can see the fabulous aspects of this age reflected. Mulla Dawud, Ishwardas, Qutuban, Usman, Sheikh Nabi, Qasim Shah, and Noor Mohammad were the other important poets of this era.
Saguna Tradition – Rambhakti Shakha
Acharya Shukla has nominated the contemporary political atmosphere for the rise and spread of the Bhakti movement in general, and the Saguna poetic tradition in particular. In the History of Hindi Literature he says, “For a class of people dejected at their dwindling powers/rights/virility what could have been a better path of seeking the powers of the divine than following the course of love for their fellow beings?...the pathetic and emotional love contained in true religion that has been handed down since the Mahabharata, and preached on a large scale during Puranakaal, was repressed somewhere and again rekindled elsewhere. Such has been its undying force…”
It was not so that the seeds of Saguna Bhakti tradition suddenly came to be sown during the Bhaktikaal. It had survived since long ago, from the times of the Vedas and the Upanishads. The worship of Lord Vishnu had become the essence of the Bhagwat, Saravat and the Vaishnava sects. The Mahabharata and the Gitas provided a solid philosophical foundation for the establishment of this. When Ramanujacharya founded the Vishishtadvait school of thought it was not without the discursive structures of the earlier Vaishnava Bhakti ideals. According to Vishishtadvaita philosophy all the beings of this world are a part of Brahma, they evolve out of it and ultimately perish into it. The only path to salvation of a being is to try to acquire spiritual gains through one’s devotion. After Ramajucharaya the one to follow in his tradition is Swami Ramananada who intensified and disseminated the Bhakti movement. Out of the many avatars of Vishnu, Ramananda chose Rama and made him popular among the devotees and ordinary masses. Moreover, he tried to elicit evidences out of ancient texts to free the signification of this avatar from the erstwhile nationalist, class and caste oriented discriminations, making Rama available to one and all. In the matter of Bhagvadbhakti (devotion to God) Ramananda did not pay attention to any distinctions. His disciples branched in two different directions, one toward the Gyanashrayi order and the other the Rambhakti tradition.
The most important poet of the Rambhakti order is Tulsidas. He is the poet of both the matters of faith, devotion and of life. With the composition of Ramcharitmanas he located Rama at the very centre of daily existence. If on one side in his poetry there is note of gains out of proximal benevolence and the representation of the devotees to this creed, on the other side we see a dispassionate survey of the faiths and activities of ordinary folks. The phenomena emanating out of Ramcharitmanas such as uniform wholeness of being, moderation and balance, folk religion and folk gatherings, etc. brought the then Hindi discourses to new milestones. The gracefulness, civility in even in popular verse in accordance with srngara, contextuality and the free styled essays and condensed form of sayings (dohas) have the collection of texts from this age an outstanding volume in Hindi Literature. Tulsidas has, with equal success and liberty, made use of both the prevalent languages of poetry of his age, i.e., Brajbhasha and Awadhi, as well five compositional forms. Swami Agradas, Nabhadasji, Pranchand Chauhan, Hridayram, etc., are the other significant poets of this age.
Krishna Bhakti Shakha:
The philosophical ideal of the Krishnabhakti tradition was of Shuddhadvait philosophy, whose patriarch saint was Shri Vallabhacharya. In Shuddhadvait philosophy, lord Shri Krishna is considered to be Param Brahma (Supreme Creator), who owing to superlative talents of divya (farsighted vision, perception) is known as Purushottam (the perfect man) and Anandaswarup (Bliss incarnate or the essence of bliss). The reason behind positing Brahma as both anubhavyogya (manifest) and anubhav nishedh (intangible) entities is to incline the devotee towards such a particular situation in which s/he feels directly impelled into the worship of Brahma. In the nurturing leadership of Vallabhacharya the meaning of devotion came to signify an offering of oneself entirely to the supreme deity through unworldly love. Poet Surdas was the driving force to lead the Krishna Bhakti tradition to its peak. When Gusayin Vitthalanath, the son of Surdas, made a compilation of eight foremost poets called Ashtachhap, Surdas was honoured with the topmost position among them. In order to emphasize on the essential bliss in the worship of Brahma, the poets of the Krishna Bhakti Movement have taken the mellow aspects of Lord Krishna which abounds in tides of idyllic delight, laughter and an ocean of beauty in itself. The entertaining verses penned by Surdas on themes of childhood and adolescent love are mostly inspired by tales of Krishna’s leela and yet anywhere in these the spiritual philosophy has not been tainted. Acharya Ramchandra Shukla has briefly presented the powers and reach of Surdas saying: “ Although the literary circle of reach of Surdas is not as far reaching as Tulsidas that the small details of the conditions and stages of everyday life may crystallize into the verse of the former, there is not one corner of the society in which Surdas wrote that was untouched by his thoughts and writings. In the fields of Shringara (love, eros) and Vatsalya (childhood innocence) the vision of Surdas could hardly be matched by that of any other.” (In the History of Hindi Literature).
Among the other important poets of the Krishna Bhakti tradition are Nanda Das, Krishna Das, Paramananda Das, Kumbhan Das, Chaturbhuj Das, Govindaswami, Hitharivansh, and so on. Apart from the mainstream Krishna Bhakti poets there were other orders within the tradition that helped in the progress of its movement. Of these, the Nimbark order, Radhavallabha order, Haridasi order, Chaitanya (Gauriya) order are of primary importance. Along with these during the Bhaktikaal Krishna Bhakti Movement a special rank should be reserved for Meera Bai and Ras Khan who although keeping themselves apart from any specific tradition, with the sheer force of their extreme devotional perseverance and free expressionism carved memorable seats in the domain of the Krishna Bhakti order.
Reetikaal (1700 A. D. to 1900 A. D.)
The period of Reetikaal in Hindi Literature has been accepted to be from 1700 A. D. to 1900 A. D. during Reetikaal qualitative treatises were written in imitation of classical Sanskrit texts on poetics. This movement was formally begun by Acharya Keshav. He established it on lines of the Bhamah and Udbhat Alankaar (alliteration/metaphor/poetic diction) criticisms. However, with the changing times this transformed into a systemic scholarship on rasa and dhvani aspects of poetry. The importance of qualitative treatises is that the earlier poets had first encountered rasa and dhvani in dohas and later elaborated on them through written poetics or commentaries. In the beginning of the Reetikaal the poets had to play the dual role of the scholar as well as the literary practitioner and their successes and failures both in this respect are many. The authors of the Reetikaal do not directly come in both the categories of the scholar and the poet however the bulk of qualitative scholarship they have left on rasa, dhvani brings to us several examples of critical resources for future work in this field. Due to the inclination towards a traditional classification of actresses there was automatically the predominance of sringara in a large quantity. While on one hand there was a plenitude of the changeability of nature and diversity of beauty in life on the other hand there was a true and calculative representation of poetic beauty. Language and expression complemented each other during this age.
Imaginative innovations, the complementary usage of language and expression, the upholding of classical poetic principles and new techniques of Alankaar (metaphor, alliteration, poetics) enhanced the poetic value of the Reetikaal. The primary language of the Reetikaal was Braj bhasha and this was blended by Hindi and Farsi (Persion) diction in places. The Dohas and couplets are the most popular rhymes of the Reetikaal.
The most important poet of the Reetikaal is Bihari in whose work all the expressionistic specificities of this age are prominently found. The other important poets of this age were Chintamani Tripathi, Beni, Maharaja Jaswant Singh, Mandan, Matiram, Bhushan, Kulpati Mishra, Kalidas Trivedi, Nevaj Dev, Shripati, Beni Praveen and Padmakar Bhatt.
Not all poets historically linked to the Reetikaal did make use of the conventions and stylistic devices of the age. Such poets are known as Reetimukt (or free from Reetikaal conventions) poets. The interesting aspect of Reetimukt poetry is due to their difference from regular poetic representations, there was an independent strand of thought in their depictions of caste based questions. Sringara is still the chief motif in Reetimukt poetry but there is no premeditated degree to which the poet may deploy this. The poignancy of Reetimukt poetry lies in its correlation between its affected fallacy and the real poetic inspiration. There is frankness in poetic representation. The inner complexes of beauty and love are carefully studied in the poetry of Ghananand, who is the most important poet among the Reetimukts. Others are Alam, Vrind, Banwari, Maharaja Vishwanath Singh, Giridhar Kavirai, Sudan, Bodha, Pajnes and Dwijrev.
Adhunik Kaal (The Modern Age)
The Adhunik Kaal whose roots lie around 1900 begins with mostly instances of prose compositions written in Braj Bhasha. The Vaishnava texts left aside, which in fact contain many operative examples of the contemporary Braj usages, most of the Braj bhasha prose is written from the point of view of brevity in expression ad grammatical correctness. There have been a few texts written by Vitthalnath, Nama Das, Vainkumani Shukla and Surati but they do not have any decisive impact on the evolution of prose writing that was yet to come.
Before the establishment of the Fort William College among the examples of Khari Boli (Chaste dialect) prose that are found, Ram Prasad Siranjani’s “Bhashayog Vashisht” of 1798 is most important. Later Pandit Daulat Ram wrote a 700 page translation of Jain Padya Puran and Insha-allah Khan composed “Rani Ketaki ki Kahani”. The context of these texts in the precipitation of a standard chaste language among the masses is very significant.
Public awareness is considered to be the most important factor in the rise of prose writings in the modern age. The inevitability of prosaic expressions was heightened by the clash of cultures and the societal and industrial developments. The rise of the press is another important development that patronized the parallel growth of prose writings. In order to standardize a common language to cater to the rising official demands John Gilchrist, a teacher of Hindi and Urdu, in Fort William College began publishing books in Hindi and Urdu since 1860. Other prose works of this time were Lallulal’s Premsagar and Sadal Mishra’s Nasiketopadyan. Prose also had an impetus under the hands of Christian Missionaries whose texts and pamphlets had to be translated into Hindi and therefore the spread of even Western thoughts in the Hindi language took place. Further, during this time many independent publications took place in the realm of translations of scientific and mathematical texts from English to Hindi. The entry of western sciences gave a new impetus to the Hindi language which henceforth became a powerful weapon of democratization of colonial education in an indigenous way. Khari Boli prose was being attempted to be moulded into new situations. Raja Rammohun Roy, Shivprakash Sitare Hind, and Lakshman Singh began taking out journals in Hindi. The texts of Swami Dayanand Saraswati and and Shradhharam Phullowri helped to establish the permanence of a chaste dialect in Hindi. These isolated movements in the Hindi language were integrated with the arrival of Bhartendu Harishchandra into the scene, who officially made this new form of Hindi an operative reality. He was quick to sense the handicaps into which Hindi language jad strayed or could have strayed and cleansed it of those risks, enlivening it with his works. Not only did he bridge the gap between literary usage of Hindi and ordinary spoken Hindi but through linguistic and philosophical innovations made the language extremely malleable with changing subjects of its use. To free Hindi from the fundamentalism of Urdu, Sanskrit and Farsi was the imminent duty of a historian at that stage which he ably performed and in order to perpetuate this form of language he published several journals and periodicals.
The prose of the modern era begins with the dramas of the age and Bharatendu Harishchandra had a major role to play in this. He wrote numerous morality plays in Hindi and also translated plays from Bengali and Sanskrit into Hindi. He borrowed themes for his plays from contemporary life and composed ironical and satirical works on the rigidities of religions, social inequalities, political instability and unrest and the impoverished state of the nation. Among his directed plays are Vidya Sundar, Karpur Manjari, Mudra Rakshas, Satyavadi Harishchandra, Bharat Durdasha, Andher Nagri, Nel Devi and Vaidik Hinsa Hinsa Na Bhavati are the most important ones. Sri NIvas Das, Pratap Narayan Mishra, Premdhan, Rdhacharan Goswami are the other prominent playwrights of this age.
The essay is connected in form, content, and issues with journalism. The liveliness and free flowing language of the writers of the Bhartendu era provided a new freedom of speech to the corresponding essays. While Pratap Narayan Mishra wrote on matters related to the mind and its vagaries, Balkrishna Bhadra wrote small articles on ear, nose and eyes. The range of Bharatendu’s articles is large. He has written on politics, society, festivals, rituals, historical events and even on football. Balkrishna Bhadra, Premdhan, Lala Shrinivas Das, Ambikadant Vyas, etc. are the noteworthy essay writers of this age.
Novels of the modern age began in Hindi as translations of Bengali ad English novels. There were Hindi translations of Bengali novelists such as Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, Romesh Chunder Dutt, Taraknath Ganguly and Damodar Mukherji. Shraddha Ram Phullowri had written and intense novel on social issues named “Bhagyavati” in 1877. However, Lala Shrinivas Das’s “Pariksha Guru” of 1882, written in conventions of the modern English novel, is considered to be the first didactic novel in Hindi. Kishorilal Goswami is another important novelist of this age. He wrote “Saubhagyashree” and “Lavaga Lata”.
The novels of Balkrishna Bhadra were directed by a social purposiveness. He wrote “Sau Ajaan Ek Sujaan” and “Nutan Brahmachari”. One interesting aspect of that age could be seen in the chivalric/magical and the Ayyari novels of the time. Commericially these novels became extremely viable.
Other Prose Writings:
The modern story could not properly develop during the Bharatendu era. Ambikadant Vyas, Shivprasad Sitare Hind and Munshi Navalkisor, among others, wrote novels of criticism of conventions, those which follow with shallow laughter. In the middle of this age there was a strong prevalence of love stories. The beginning of prose criticism is also of primary importance to this age. Bharatendu’s magnum opus “Natak” and Premdhan’s “Sanyogita” written on Swayamvar are significant writings. Shiv Singh Senjar’s “Shiv Singh Saroj” and George Grearson’s “Modern Vernacular Literature of India” are treatises on the history of literature written in this era.
Biographies in this age were compiled on historical characters, Mughal Kings and British rulers. Almost al well known writers of the Bharatendu age send their travelogues to be published in newspapers.Bharatendu Harishchandra’s Saryupur ki Yatra, Lucknow ki Yatra, and Haridwar ki Yatra are worth mentioning.
The poets of the modern age mostly wrote in Brajbhasha. Some later poets, although, have written in the chaste dialect of prose, the bulk of the important poetical works produced are in the Braj language. Despite this poetry was widely read. On one hand these poems are related to the conventions of the Reetikaal and on the other they exhibit awareness about the social transition. Nationalism, social consciousness, spiritualism, Sringaar (eros), natural imagery, irony and satire are the major styles of this age. Categories that maintained classical poetic conventions were the dohas, kavint, rolas, kundaliyas, chowpayis, mandakranta, savaiya, ad vasanta tilaka. Bharatendu, Premdhan Mishra, Pratap Narayan Mishra, Jagmohan Singh, Ambikadant Vyas, Radhakrishna Das and others were the noteworthy poets of this age.
Dwivedi Age (190-1920):
If the role of popularising chaste Khari Boli in Hindi was played by Bharatendu Harishchandra, the one of maintain and giving it a commonplace operative structure was that of Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi. He took up the responsibility of taking both language and literature to a practical level. In 1903 he began editing a journal called “Saraswati”. He made it an important centre for cleansing language and ideas. The criticism, prose and idea-centric articles are most significant facets of this age.
In the Dwiwedi era we see the earliest seeds of Khari Boli usage in poetry. Along with language the sensitivity of the poets too changed direction towards other issues. Sringara and spiritual devotion are excluded from the realm of poetry and so is the onus to resolve problems. There was severe experimentation in new metres such as the Matrik and the Varnik. Acharya Prasad turned his attention from Nayika Bhed, i.e., classification of actors/actresses to issues of social relevance. Nationalism, cultural reawakening, ethics and principles, natural imagery, ordinary life, irony and humourous satire are the recurrent refrains of this age. Nathuram Sharma Shankar, Sridhar Pathak, Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi, Ayodhya Singh Upadhyay, Maithilisharan Gupta, Ramnaresh Tripathi, Lochan Prasad Pandeya, Mukutdhar Pandeya, etc. were the major poets of this age.
In comparison to the subjective essays written during the Bharatendu age, the essayists of this age wrote objective and discursive essays. These essays talk about foreign subjugation, social reform, festivals, culture and heritage, and travelogues. Balmukund Gupta, Sardar Purna Singh, Shya Sundar Das, Padma Singh Sharma, Krishna Bihari Mishra ad Sharma Guleri were the prominent essay writers of this period. On the one hand they encouraged debates and discussions and on the other they advocated free speech and individual freedom. Acharya Ramchandra Shukla’s preliminary essays belong to this very age.
Issues of environmental and social relevance were greater represented in essays and poems of the Dwivedi era than in novels and other prose disciplines. The magical, heroic, chivalrous novels of the Ayyari genre that was introduced by Devaki Nandan Khatri during the Nharatendu era, gained a higher ground during this time. The six volumes of Bhootnath are published in this very period. Among the writers of detective novels Gopalram Gamhari stands out. He even translated from the English novels of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and under the influence of the same genre he wrote didactic novels as well. Kishorilal Goswami, Lajja Ram Sharma and Hari Audh too were significant contributors to the novels of this age. Munshi Premchand’s career began durig the Dwivedi era.
There was a considerable decline of dramatic works during the Dwivedi era. The few plays that were written in this period were based on historical and Puranic contexts. The trend of composing plays on social complexities and the family had not yet arrived. Kishorilal Goswami, Hari Audh and Devi Prasad Sharma are the major playwrights of this age.
The initiation of the trend of short stories was awaited by the release of the Saraswati periodical. The first stories show a definite impact of translated literature. The society comes to be represented in the stories of this age. Not only complexity in the plot could sustain the storylines any longer. The characters were equally well examined, psychologically, alongside their financial conditions in the society they inhabited. A very important short story of this period is Guleri’s “Usne Kaha Tha”. Historical short stories began being resumed by Vrindavan Lal Verma during this time. Kishori Lal Goswami, Acharya Ramchandra Shukla, Jayshankar Prasad, Bangmahila ad Vishwambharnath Sharma are the most important short story writers of this age.
There was no essential trend in criticism as such during this time; however, the first generation of evolution in literary criticism could be seen now. Comparative literary criticism was a major characteristic of this age. The literary discussions of Dev and Bihari come under the rubric of Comparative Literary discourses. Descriptive criticism too is seeded during this time. Premdhan in his criticism of Lala Nivas das’s play “sanyogita Swayamvar” and Balkrishna Bhatt’s analysis of “Hindi Pradip me Neel Devi” and “Parikshaguru” have helped to strenghthen this convention. Until now the chief trend in criticism was classical qualitative criticism. The Dwivedi era critics made a huge difference to it. Acharya Ramchandra Shukla and Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi began translating Western works of criticism during this time.
Other Prose Disciplines:
Numerous autobiographies were also written during this time but they abound in propaganda and campaignism owing to the revolutionary nature of these autobiographies. Acharya Ramchandra Shukla too wrote several realist autobiographies which are included in his texts like “Prachin Pandit”, “Kavi, Sukavi Sankeertan”, and “Charit Charcha”. National heores, historical figures, well known women and major spiritual patriarchs of the Arya Samaj were also celebrated in biographical literature of this time. Travelogues too acquired a purposive character beginning to realistically represent society and geography instead of exotic features. This was essentially the first generation of useful travelogue literature patronized by Saraswati periodical. This journal laid the pathway for journalistic literature. In 1904 the articles published on Swami Dayanand Saraswati in this journal by Mahatma Munshiram are of a historic importance. The collected volume of these articles is in fact the first specimen in this genre of literature.
Chhayavaad Era (1918-1936):
In 1918 A. D. some works by Pant and Nirala were published which helped which drew the attention of critics owing to their new sensitivity and linguistic experimentation. Acharya Ramchandra Shukla associated the chhayavaad trends in poetry with the phantasmata of the Christian prophets while Acharya Nandulour Vapayi linked them to the new generational awareness. After the tameness of the Dwivedi era poets the suddenness with which the poets of the Chhayavadi age came into the scene with their fast paced poetry, metaphysical conceits, individualism and rough verses both surprised the audiences and motivated them with the urge to explore newer meanings into their poetry. Its topical nature, desire for national integration, subjectivism, inquisitiveness, and social relevance are the chief aspects of Chaayavaadi poetry. The name “Chhaayavaad” was nominated by Mukutdhar Pandey which later came into common reference. Kamayani, Nitala ka Parimal and Pant ka Pallav written by Jaishankar Prasad, and Yama by Mahadevi Verma, are the most notable poetry works of this era. Even within the Chhayavadi movement, a parallel movement of poetry called the Rashtriya Sanskritik Kavyadhara (National Cultural Poetry Movement). Those to be involved in this were Makhanlal Chaturvedi, Balkrishna Sharma Naveen, Subhadra Kumari Chauhan, Dinkar, Ramnaresh Tripathi, Siyaram Saran Gupta, among other poets. The primary goals of this poetic movement were to illumine the magnificence of Indian national culture and to oppose the imperialism in British rule. Yet another trend to appear during this era was the poetry of love and frolic also known as Halavaad. These poems owing to their unfettered metres and subjects are also lyrical. There is definitely a lack of any given philosophy in these poems but, at the same time, while working within their margins of free representations of romance, they oppose conventional practices and ethical impositions implicitly. Harivansh Rai Bacchhan, Narendra Sharma, Bhagavati Charan Verma, Rameshwar Shukla “Anchal”, Goyal Singh Nepali, Balkrishna Sharma “Naveen”, and so on, are the chief poets of this era.
The greatest essayist of this literary movement was Acharya Ramchandra Shukla. In his essays we find a subject maturity in thought, accuracy and detail in analysis which reach a pinnacle in his debate friendly judgements. Owing to his device of deductive reasoning Acharya Ramchandra Shukla’s essays are coherent and syllogistic in nature. His essays are a curious blend of objectivism and emotionalism wherein the latter even strengthens the former. He wrote essays on issues of psychology. Discussions of psychological issues, psychoanalysis, literary criticism, social sciences, behavioural sciences, and similar subjects come together in his essays to lend them a unique flavour. Three volumes of “Chintamani”, 1, 2 and three are the collections of his essays. Gulab Rai, Bechan Sharma Ugra, Padumalal Pannalal Bakshi and Makhanlal Chaturvedi, among others are the important essayists of this age.
A very significant contribution was made by this age to literary criticism. Out of the leading scholars Acharya Ramchandra Shukla was the most important. His major works are Kavya me “Rahasyavaad” (Mysticism in Poetry) and “Rasamimamsa” in which we find a true reflection of his wide reading in classical Indian poetics. He had been trained adequately in Western literary criticism as well. The translation of Hekatna’s text, adaptation from Krorche’s textand various other subjects of his writings evinces his versatile range of theses. Writing the first text in Hindi Literature on practical and scientific criticism he not only displays an impartial objectivism but also provides valid examples to substantiate his ideas. Acharya Ramchandra Shukla’s works on behavioural criticism are also significant where he branches out to several new subjects of discussion. Nanda Dulare Vajpayee is the next most important literary scholar of this age, who on one hand reaffirms conventions of classical Indian poetics in his criticism, and on the other, encourages the reader to locate the contemporary poetic movements in the light of social and historical transitions. Apart from Shantipriya Dwivedi and Nagendra, even the Chhayavadi poets Prasad, Nirala and Pant have contributed in prominent numbers to literary criticism in this age.
In the context of the novel this era is also known as the Premchand era. Discerning a need for rejuvenating Hindi literature he introduced the form of the European novel into Hindi, partly translating, partly adapting it to suit domestic Indian conditions. Departing from the magical, the chivalric, the Aiyyari and the genres of entertainment, Premchand infused a didacticism into the novel form. Instead of pure delight he brought an episodic or picaresque movement into the Hindi novel. In the beginning there was a deep influence of idealism on his novels which, however, later transformed itself into a credible form of realism. Further, there is also an impact of Gandhism on his writings. Prem Ashram, Rangbhumi, Gaban, Karma Bhumi, Go Daan, etc. are his well known works.
In the same age, another novelist named Bechan Sharma Ugra was to portray an unmediated representation of the foibles of his society in his novels. There is a certain lack of any artistic singularity in his works. This, however, is compensated by the purposive activism towards a reformed society as imagined in his novels. Chand Haseeno ke Khutoot, Dilli ka Dalaal and Budhuaa ki Beti are written in a model of social realism. It of these, Chand Haseeno ke Khutoot is the first epistolary novel to be written in Hindi.
Jaishankar Prasad was another famous social realist novelist of this era. His notable works are “Titli” and “Kankaal”. Despite the social realism in his writings the problem with Prasad was the ornate diction and, therefore, the frequent incomprehensibility of his novels.
A major shift in the usual course of the Hindi novel takes place after the arrival of Jainendra Jain into the scene. The psychological novel is introduced to Hindi by Jain himself. Instead of the theme of social realism, his novels differed in coming to depict psychological realism for the first time. Parakh, Suneeta, Tyag Patra, Kalyani, Sukhada, Vivarta, etc. are his most important novels. With true dedication, Jainendra was to cleanse the contemporary state of Hindi Language, as well. In his writings we see a departure from the folk and idiomatic usages so characteristic of Premchand. Like the human mind he was illustrating, his language too came to be shaping in a fragmentary style.
The free flowing romantic novels of this age belong to Nirala. Apsara, Alaka, Prabhavati, Nirupama, etc. are the most significant novels under his name.
The historical novel, too, began during this very period with the writings of Vrindavan Lal Verma. Bhagavati Charan Verma, Siyaram Sharan Gupt, Rahul Sankrityayan, etc. were the other important novelists of this era.
Like the novel, the short story too developed steadily in many respects during this age. Beginning with purposiveness and idealism, Premchand gradually adopted a more realis tone in fuure works. From Balidaan (1918) to Kafan (1936) we find a great metamorphosis in both style and subject matter that Premchand dealt with. Descriptions of rural life, its beliefs and customs, rituals and superstitions, the zamindari system, interest and revenue collectors, panchayti juridical systems, patriarchy and many other aspects of his day were represented in true colours in his short stories. The portrayal of Dalit life under an oppressive Brahmannical regime, too, is a part of his repertoire.
In order to revive cultural nationalism Jaishankar Prasad chose historical settings of India’s glorious past for many of his short stories. Deep philosophical sensibility, imagination and lyricism are the chief aspects of his stories. In the later stories Prasad seems to incline towards psychological realism. In the representation of women characters Prasad’s brilliance is unparalleled. Akashdeep, Devdasi, Madhuva and Indrajeet are his important short stories.
Jainendra Jain, Agyeya and Ila Joshi separate themselves from the social realist aspects of the short story. Owing to their emphasis on the vagaries of the human mind there is a strong impulse of psychological realism in their stories. Transcending the event to concentrate on the inner working of the characters is the speciality of these stories. While Agyeya fabricated foreign environments for his stories, Ila Joshi deployed Freudian psychoanalysis in hers. Jainendra’s Phansi and Ila Joshi’s Dhoop Rekha and Aahuti are exemplary writings in this category.
Nirala, Pant and Rahul Sankrityayan wrote impressive stories in this age where often there is lyricism and philosophical sensibility, while on other occasions portrayals of economic and political crises of the society. Further, Ugra wrote short stories in the European naturalist style, and Subhadra Kumari Chauhan on themes of the family and society.
From the point of view of Hindi Dramatic Literature this age is also known as the “Prasad era”. The storylines of most of Prasad’s plays have been taken from historical events. The history of Chhayavaad literature in general and Hindi dramatic literature in particular, comes within the scope of that cultural revivalism which was aimed at revisioning the national imagination then reeling under British imperial capitalism. Skanda Gupta, Chandragupta and Dhruvswamini are his most notable plays. Prasad reinforced his plays through numerous generic inputs from English drama, Bengali drama, classical Sanskrit plays and European crises plays.
The plays written by Harikrishna Premi are also historical like those of Prasad. He made communal harmony between Hindus and Muslims the primary theme of his plays. Laxmi Narayan Mishra departed from the trend of historical plays towards choosing contemporary social issues to address in his writings. The problem of women in patriarchy, love, revolution, education and the independence movement, all became subjects of his plays. Sanyasi and Sindoor ki Holi are his most important works. There is a marked impact of Western realism on his writings.
Ekanki (One Act Plays):
The Chhayavaad era marks the beginnings of the One act play in Hindi literature. Taking cue from any one singular aspect or condition of everyday life the one act plays took off on an influential scale. There was the trend of one act plays in old Sanskrit tradition under the names of Ank, Vyayog, Bhatha, etc. however, in the present case the one act plays were entirely a result of Western stimulus. Ramkumar Verma (Badal ki Mrityu), Bhuvaneshwar Prasad (Caravan), Seth Govinda Das, Jagadish Chandra Mathur and Upendranath Ashq were the most important Ekanki writers of the period.
Other prose disciplines:
A bulk of biographies were written during this time on the heroes of the Indian nationalist movement. These featured Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Lala Lajpat Rai, Chandrashekhar Azad, Bhagat Singh and others. Biographies were also compiled in large numbers on the inspirational lives of historical greats from India.
Banarasi Das Jain’s poematic composition Ardhaktharak sowed the seeds of the autobiography in Hindi Literature. Autobiographies of Mahatma Gandhi and Subhash Chandra Bose, and the translation of “Tarun ke Swapna” were also during this time.
The travelogues written during this period enlighten the readers about Western education and lifestyle and geographical imagination. Ramnarayan Mishra, Swami Satyadev Parivrajak, Shiva Prasad Gupta, Jawaharlal Nehru, Rahul Sankrityayan, etc. reinvigorated the genre of travel literature.
Sansmaran (Commemorative accounts) and Rekhachitra (historical documentaries) too get an impetus during this age. There is definitely the element of inspiration to be drawn from historical greats, but also do we find the development of a fine prose in these new writings. Banarasi Das Chaturvedi, Sri Ram Sharma, Mahadevi Verma, Ila Chandra Joshi and Vrindavan Lal Verma are the most important writers in this category.
Chhayavaadottar or Swatantrayottar Kaal:
During the Chhayavaad Kaal, apart from Chhayavaad poetry, the other streams of poetry that were on going in the earlier ages still remained in traces for some time. The Rashtriya Sanskritic Kava ( National Cultural Poetry), Uttar Chhayavaad (Northern Chhaayavaad Poetry), and Vaiyaktik Geeti Kavya (Personal Musical Poetry) were parallelly on for a long time. Makhanlal Chaturvedi, Naveen, Kaviramcharan Gupt, Dinkar, etc. kept up the tradition of the national cultural poetry even after the Chhayavaadi movement. The compositions after Sumitranandan Pant, Nirala, and Mahadevi Verma are different from the Chhayavadi tone. Egalitarianism, individualism, and devotional songs were the major themes of compositions by the poets of this age. Harivansh Rai Bachhan, Narendra Sharma, Dinkar, Girija Kumar Mathur and Bharatbhushan Agrawal maintained the Romani poetic tradition which refers to the period of poetry on individual character development.
After the collapse of the Chhayavaadi poetic movement, a new order known as the Pragatik (Progression/progressive/developmental) poetic movement had sprung up. The idiomatic stronghold of the Chhayavadi poetic movement, the raging criticism of bourgeois traditions, the rise and spread of egalitarianism in world politics and ever rising progressivism helped to situate the Pragativaad movement as an important poetic and philosophical discourse. In the year 1936, with the efforts of Sajjad Zaheer and Mulk Raj Anand the first branch of the Progressive Writers Association was introduced to India and under the president ship of Munshi Premchand, its first conference was held in Lucknow.
The progressive writers’ movement considered literature to be invested with a social purpose and the write to be committed towards it. The moot philosophy of the progressive writers was to represent those aspects of the society that concerned the repression and exploitation of marginalised classes and infuse and inspire them with the solidarity for struggle. The Progressive Movement advocated for the use or ordinary language to represent the angst of the ordinary masses. Therefore, on the level of poetic language, one finds more of hackneyed diction in progressive writings. Kedarnath Agrawal (in Phool Nahin Rang Bolten Hain), Ramvilas Sharma, Nagarjun (Badal ko Ghirte Dekha Hai), Muktibodh (Chand ka Munh Tedha Hai), Gangeya Raghav and Shivmangal Singh Suman, etc. are the major poets of this era.
In 1943, with the beginning of Tarasaptak, under the editor ship of Agyeya, is believed to have originated the Prayogvaad era. Prayogvaad laid stress on the representation of those conditions of life which people had empirically experienced and suffered. Therefore we may see the Prayogvaad order as a reactionary movement to revision the hitherto structures that located human existence in any specific system of philosophy, believing it to be following a formulaic pattern. Agyeya never considered Prayog (empiricism, empirical experience) to be a movement but purely a means to know the mysterious truths behind existence. He was of the opinion that truth could not be pre meditatedly defined. However, with the historical transitions, Prayogvaad too was transformed or caught in a “vaad” or movement. Many Western philosophers have had their influence on the poetry of the Prayogvaad era. The essentialists like Lawrence, Bergson and Kafka, the naturalists and finally the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud had a deep impact on the Prayogvaadi poets. The chief themes of Payogvaadi poetry are the individual and individualism, the moment and momentariness, pessimism, the ego, existentialism, doubt, loss of faith, melancholia, defeatism, dilettantism, and so on.
In opposition of Prayogvaad, Nakenvaad or Pryadyavaad was begun in Bihar by chiefly three poets of Bihar namely Nalin Vilochan Sharma, Keshori Kumar and Naresh. However, in their own respective spheres, while following a few stylistic tropes of the Prayogvaad poets, they happened to be appropriated into the latter movement after all.
Nayi Kavita (or New Poetry) too is considered to be another version of the Prayogvaad itself. This nomination too was given by Agyeya. On the advent of “New Poetry”, poet Jagdish Gupta and others along with the Patmil theatre group from Allahabad began editing the journal called “Nayi Kavita” or “New poetry”. In order to invigorate this movement the following literary journals played a prominent role: Nayi Kavita, Ka Kha Ga, Naye Panne (New Pages), Nikash, Pratiman, Kalpana, and so on. The guiding motifs of New Poetry are faith in the life one is bestowed with, the importance of the moment, prohibition of unscientific age long traditions, the truth of an empirically felt experience, true representation and imagery, the arousal of revolutionary sentiments, the desire to simplify and purify oneself toward attaining perfection, doubts, indecision, pessimism and deliquescence, insurgency, bitternes, etc.
Among the most important poets of New Poetry are Nagarjun, Shamsher, Tilochan, Kedarnath Agrawal, Kedarnath Singh, Raguvir Sahay, Sarveshwar Damal Saxena, Girija Kumar Mathur, Dharamvir Bharati, Muktibodh and others. The New Poetry Movement also saw some journalistic or prose ventures in the following exaples such as Dharamvir BHarati’s Andha Yug, Kunwar Trpathi’s Atmajayi, and the writings of Naresh Mehta.
On the themes of the existential doubts of contemporary quotidian existence, the fragmenting households and their dying traditional values, and the irreconcilable dichotomies between the public and the private many beautiful poems have been written by Vijay Kumar Agrawal, Ashok Vajpayi, Shrikant Verma, Vijaydev Nrayan Sahi Ragunath Singh and Dushyant Kumar. The Ghazal tradition in Hindi found a champion in the form of Dushyant Kumar, a genre wherein criticism of life, autobiography and romanticism are present in equal proportions.
After New Poetry, the contemporary wave of poetry known as Janvaadi Poetry comes into being. Janvaadi poetry is founded on the motivations behind Pragativaad poetry however one which tries to gauge the limitations of its progressive literary predecessors and move ahead of the same. The significant context of this era is the Naxalbari revolution of 1967. After 1980 Dhumil brings forth a major disillusionmet by pronouncing a “true poem to be first a justified thesis”. Fertilizing poetry with the potential of political rhetoric Dhumil transfers the seat of power from the Sansad ( Parliament House) to the street, through this form of poetry.
Janvaad poetry outlines that the themes of repression, exploitation, and inequality cannot sustain the literary resources of it like they had in the case of Progressive Poetry. It instead requires an active participation from the masses towards a joint struggle and resistance. Janvaad is a practical movement that demands the active involvement of the poet in the resistance movements one is writing for. The major themes of the Janvaad movement are the necessity of proletarian associations to resist political bureaucracy and bourgeois stronghold of capital, Democracy, freedom and constitutional justice to all, the availability of means of livelihood to the commonest of all and the message of love and benevolence.
Mutibodh, Dhumil, Gorakh Pandey, Rajkamatva Chaudhuri, Gyanendra pati, Arun Kamal, Leeladhar Jaguri, Raghuvir Sahay, Uday Prakash, etc. are the important poets of this age.
After 1980s we find some significant tropes arriving in contemporary poetry. The frequency of poetic themes on proximal contexts increased. The home and the world, and the environmental concerns began to be perceived in a new way. In this period we can find the development of regional strands in poetry. This although not an opposition of the universality of poetry, is instead a new way of looking at poetic themes in conjunction with their intimate geographic, political and societal contexts. Far from the aggression and romance of the Janvaad era, the contemporary flavors in poetry displayed a sense of affection and simplicity. Ekant Shrivastava, Jyanendra Pati, Arun Kamal, Leeladhar Jaguri, Kumar Vikal, Mangalesh Dabral, Venugopal, Sultan Ahmet, Rajesh Joshi, etc. were the primary poets of this age.
After the 1990s many other new aspects are introduced into Hindi Literature. While on one side in the situation of literary groupism and on the other the concern for the market demand whose contexts and values find adequate address in the poetry of these times. Another problem Hindi Literature has had to face recently is that of provincialism or regionalism in modern postcolonial Indian context. There have been writings about regional stratifications even in the earlier Swatantrayottar era but the main thrust in this discipline has been after the 90s. Poetry has had to grapple with the huge divide between its regional surroundings and the readers caught in the web of globalisation. There has also been the decisive role to reconcile the past with the present especially where the past has been rigid on certain marginal sections like the women and the Dalits, who in present times seek clarification for the wrongs they have undergone. Feminist and Subaltern poetry form yet another part of this age. A new set of motifs are now becoming of contemporary poetry which are exemplified in the poems of Ashtbhuja Shukla.
Leeladhar Jagudi, Udayan Vajpayi, Deviprasad Mishra, Arun Kamal, Mangalesh Dabral, Sultan Ahmed, Swapnil Shrivastava, Ashtbhuja Shukla, Ekant Shrivastava, Rajesh Joshi, Anamika, Kavyayani, Dhruva Shukla, Pankaj Chaturvedi, Kedarnath Singh, etc. are the important poets of this age.
Kahani (Short Stories)
In the Swatantrayottar period the traditions of Premchand and Jainendra come along side by side. The representative story writer of the Progressive Writers’ Era is Yashpal and his speciality was his art of representation of protagonists and imagery, and therefore many a time his plots seemed to be predictable. His chief characteristics were psychological stories and irony.
Agyeya chose a different path for sory writing in which there was always a tussle between the protagonist in revolution and the changing society, depicting both the predicament of the former and the latter. The problem of political bureaucracy and opportunism, and individual crisis are the scaffolds of his tales. Free flowing language, romance and the linguistic imagination of landscapes are the makers in his prose.
Many writers chose their themes as the human mind and its psychological aspects. Sometimes there is a true effort to psychoanalytically present the inner sanctum of the protagonists’ mind and on others there are straight formulaic plots in the guise of psychoanalysis. Ilachandra Joshi and Upendranath Ashq are two of the writers of such stories.
Around 1955 the transformations that are felt in Hindi stories engender the category of the Nayi Kahani (New Story). These new stories are beg mention not alone for their true prosaic depictions of changing contemporary society but also due to their symbolic value which tried to represent the ethos of the masses, their pathos and streams of consciousness. Nirmal Verma, Mohan Rakesh, Kamleshwar, Gyanranjan, Kashinath Singh, Rajendra Yadav, etc were the major writers of this age.
Alongside this there grew the tradition of the Aanchalik Kahani (Regional Prose Story) where we encounter social realism in a new manner. This movement was not as representative or integrative as the earlier ones but celebratory instead of the specificities in culture of regional provinces and was popularised by the likes of Markandeya and Shivaprasad Singh.
Urban and cosmopolitan disillusionment and alienation from the society gets represented in the tales of Krishna Baldev Vaid. Further, revolution, unrest and anarchism find inclusion in the stories by Ramesh Bashri, Ravindra Valiya, etc. The tensions of the middle class family find representation in the stories of Gyanranjan, Kashinath Singh, Giriraj Kishore, and others. In the middle of differences and unrest, Rameshchandra Shah penned stories replete with philosophical thought and faith in the goodness of life, which were endowed with the traditional human values and these will never lose their refreshing inspirational element.
Uday Prakash introduced magic realism into contemporary Hindi prose. In his stories there is is constant tension between the dream world and reality, and the political darkness and the individual who is caught in it, through his hybridised characters. There is a deferral of meaning and word play. The allegorical magical realist worlds can be read as representing the hellish nature of the post modern world. His stories are a reflection of the absurdity of the materialist and capitalist market the world has been turned into.
Srinjaya has written stories from the point of view of classical Marxism, towards the goal of a liberal democracy and human freedom. Far from the utopian claims of contemporary activists, he has tried to present us with alternate modes of practical means of resistance and reform.
Numerous stories have been documented on the Dalit conditions in the past two decades. This genre has a decidedly autobiographical inclination. Discrimination based on caste and class, impecuniary conditions of existence, exploitation at the hands of the bourgeois and discursive regrouping of the oppressed classes, the humiliation of the untouchables have been the source material for these stories. On many occasions does one find the usage of swear words and vulgar phraseology otherwise sanitised in other forms of prose. There is a definite lack of imagination in them after Srijan however the defining element of these stories is the powerful use of language to recreate an empirically lived situation. Omprakash Valmiki, Anil Achwal, Surajpal Chauhan, Mohandas Naimisharay, Ramnath Chauhan, Satyaprakash and Madan Deekshit, among others are the important authors in this field.
Women’s writings are a very new feature of the Hindi story. Like Dalit Literature this category of writings too questions the nature of freedom for the common individual in independent India. Feminist writings do not consider stories written with women protagonists as independent and representative inasmuch as even though written about women they are filtered through a patriarchal ideology and therefore what facticity is presented after all about women kind is entirely mythical. The specificities of feminist writings can be seen in the novel and the autobiographical form in which many unknown aspects of feminine individuality come to the fore for the first time in Hindi Literature. Those to write about women’s experiences at a later period are Mridula Garg, Chitra Mudgal, Raji Seth, Gitanjali Shri, Maitreyee Pushpa, Alaka Saraogi, Manjul Bhagat, Jaya Jadhwani and Nasira Sharma.
By the end of Premchand era the art of the Hindi novel had witnessed many new features. The social realism of Premchand was later furthered by Yashpal. Two of his major novels left aside the rest all advocated social realism and liberal democratic ideals. Jainnendra tried to represent the psychological crises of the human mind, especially through his women protagonists. Agyeya, through his expressionist style represented themes of independence, individualism, love and romance and true essence of being. Ilachandra Joshi was deeply influenced by psychoanalytical and Chhaayavadi streams of thought. Since Joshi cannot bring her conclusions to an empirical plane the impact reduces over time. The crises in fragmentary families and middle class existentialism are portrayed in the stories of Upendranath Ashq and Bhagawaticharan Verma.
Historical novels of those times were written by Vrindavanlal Verma, Hazai Prasad Dwivedi, Yashpal, Rahul Sankrityayayan, Rangeya Raghav and Chatursen Shastri. In all their novels there is a felt a constant pressure of modern thought on historical validity. On the level of imagination, historical environments are found in many of these novels.
Renu and Nagarjuna stand apat in their efforts to provide provincialism with a new vigour. In these novels not the characters alone but the entire locale speaks. They present the predicament of modernity which eventually seeks to resolve all problems through the solution of representation. Provincial writings are suspicious of this promise of representation and thus oppose it. Apart from Renu and Nagarjuna, Rahi Masum Raza, Shivprasad Singh, Radarash Mishra, Himanshu Shrivastava, Rajendra Awasthi and Viveki Rai are the mention worthy writers in this category.
Essentialism and existentialist crises are represented in the tales of Mohan Rakesh and Rajkamal Chowdhury. In his story “Machhli Mai Huyi” (Dead Fish Lying), Rajkamal Chowdhury has very subtly presented the question of women’s condition.
Shrilal Shukla’s novel Raag Darbari is one of the finest in terms of criticism on political mismanagement. In several places the satire turns into cynicism without any promise of betterment or sympathy.
Bhishm Sahni’s novel Tamas is of extreme historical importance in the context of provincial literature. The provincial prejudices are aptly portrayed in this novel along with accurate psychological examination of the characters. Provincialism has found little novelistic usage as such in entirety. Later the novel by Kamleshwar, namely “Kitne Pakistan” (How Many Pakistans?) comes to the mind.
Experiments in postmodern artistic innovations can be seen in the novels of Manohar Shyam Joshi and Surendra Verma. Parofy, pastiche and soliloquy are techniques that came to be used by them. Although abounding in postmodern artistic experimentation these novels are not divorced from social relevance. With the growing dissatisfaction with modernism the literary devices in the novel have also undergone alteration. So has the subject matter. The plots in modernist prose rallied around a recreational or an idiomatic tone. This was incapable of representing the major transitions that had come about in the thinking of the masses and their growing problems. Kuru Kuru Swaha, Kasap, Hariya Hercules ki Hairani, Hamjaad, Ta Ta Professor by Manohar Shyam Joshi and Mujhe Chand Chahiye, by Surendra Verma are the exemplars of postmodern Hindi novel.
Krishna Baldev’s novels are referred to as A-Upanyaas, which corresponds to the anti novelists of the West. Sexual revolution, self realisation, women’s rebellion, so on are themes that were not unknown to Hindi Literature, but the presentation was unique in the novels of Baldev, the prime example of them being Kala Kolaaj.
The dissatisfaction of the youth, middle class existentialism, and so on are the major themes of the novelists Shivprasad Sinha, author of Gali Age Mudti Hai, Rajendra Yadav, of Sara Akaash, Kamleshwar of Kaali Andhi, Kamatnaath of Ek Aur Hindustan and Kaal Kaksha, Girirak Kishor and Ramchandra Shah.
Vinod Kumar Shukla deviated from the traditional novelistic conditions and found his subject plots in the sheer pedestrian aspects of everyday life from middle class situations and growing atheism of the age. His novels are specimens of prose poetry in fact. Naukar Ki Kameez, Khilega to Dekhenge, Deewar me ek Khidki are among his impotant novels.
On the themes of 1857 revolt and political awareness among the farmers Kamalakant Tripathi’s Pahidhar and Bedakhal, and on agro-rural relations in Bihar Mithileshwar’s Yah Ant Nahin ad Mati Kahe Kumhaar Se, stand out.
Chhaayavaad and Chhaayavaadottar eras onward there has been a steady rise in the novels written by women but there has been a prominent increase in the number of novels addressing and written by women of the upper classes only in the last two or three decades. Alongside Krishna Sobti others like SHivani, Shashi Prabha Shastri and Mannu Bhandari laid the platform for the earliest women novelists in Hindi. However, the active literary feminist movement could prosper full fledgedly only after two decades. Feminist literature enunciates that despite belonging to any class whatsoever the condition of women is like that of Dalits. Feminist literature challenges all the stereotypes that have been patriarchally created about women and emphasizes on the necessity to see women through their own eyes. This is such a demand that inverts all structures of beauty and emotional vulnerability that the patriarchal constructs have imagined women to be shaped in. Sexual independence, and independent decision making, literacy on matters related to sexuality, independent rights and gender equality are the major concerns of feminist literature. The major feminists in Hindi Literature are Mridula Garg, Kishna Sobti, Alka Saraogi, Prbha Khaitan, Raji Seth, Manjul Bhagat, Chandra Kanta, Mamta aliya, CHitra Mudgal, Mrinal Pandey, Nasira Sharma and Maitreyee Pushpa. Among the Dalit writers Bhawan Das Morwal’s Kala Pahad is noteworthy.
I the Chhaayavadottar era the essay developed in many directions. There specific characteristics in brief are as follows:
1. The reconciliation of the inherited knowledge of ancient texts and the contemporary transitions in social values.
2. The essentialism of nationalist issues and changing patterns of Indian thought. Beauty of its culture and heritage.
3. Dialogues with western philosophical innovations, firmness in one’s own belief and acceptance towards the beliefs of others.
4. Ironical or satirical commentaries on contemporary social issues.
5. Critique of modernity and modernism. Rural romanticism.
6. The independent growth of the human mind and the inculcation of essential values.
7. The autobiographical essay where the ego does not gain prominence over the surroundings that then seemed to have intermingled with the ego. The essay as the highest form of autobiography and self appraisal.
Pandit Hazari Prasad Dwivedi, Doctor Nagendra, Ramdarash Mishra, Vidya Niwas Mishra, Dharamveer Bharati, Shivprasad Sinha, Viveki Tay, Nirmal Verma, Vishnu Kant Shastri, Kubernath Rai, Ramesh Chandra Shah, Ravindra Nath Tyagi, Sharad Joshi and Ashtbhuja Shukla were the prominent essayists of this age.