Bharatendu Harishchandra

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Bharatendu Harishchandra
Bharatendu Harishchandra (1850-1885).jpg
Born (1850-09-09)9 September 1850
Varanasi, India
Died 6 January 1885(1885-01-06) (aged 34)
Varanasi, India
Pen name Rasa
Occupation Novelist, poet, playwright

Bharatendu Harishchandra (9 September 1850 – 6 January 1885) is known as the father of modern Hindi Literature as well as Hindi theatre.[1][2] He is considered one of the greatest Hindi writers of modern India. A recognised poet, he was also a trend setter in Hindi prose-writing. He was an an author of several dramas, life sketches and travel accounts; he also used new media like reports, publications, letters to the editor, translations and literary works to shape public opinion.[3][4]

Writing under the pen name "Rasa", Harishchandra represented the agonies of the people, country's poverty, dependency, inhuman exploitation, the unrest of the middle class and the urge for the progress of the country. He was also an influential Hindu "traditionalist", using Vaishnava devotionalism to define a coherent Hindu religion.[4]

Biography[edit]

Born in Banaras, Bharatendu Harishchandra's father Gopal Chandra was a poet. He wrote poems under the pseudonym Girdhar Das. Bharatendu's parents died when he was still young but they seem to have had an influence on him. Acharya Ramchandra Shukla has described how Bharatendu went to the Jagannath temple in Puri, Orissa with his family in 1865, when he was merely fifteen years of age.[5] It was during this trip that he was influenced by the Bengal Renaissance and decided to bring the genres of social, historical, and Puranic plays and novels into Hindi. This influence reflected in his Hindi translation of the Bengali drama Vidyasundar, just three years later, in 1868.

Bharatendu devoted his life to the development of Hindi literature. In recognition of his services as a writer, patron and moderniser, the title of "Bharatendu" was conferred on him at a public meeting by scholars of Kashi in 1880. Reputed literary critic Ram Vilas Sharma refers to the "great literary awakening ushered in under Bharatendu's leadership" as the "second storey of the edifice of renascent Hindi," the first being the Indian Rebellion of 1857.[6]

Bharatendu Harishchandra made major contributions in the field of journalism, drama, and poetry. He edited the magazines Kavi Vachan Sudha in 1868,In 1873 Harishchandra Magazine , Harishchandra Patrika and Bal Vodhini.[7] He was a member of the Chowdhury family of Varanasi belonging to the Agrawal community and his home there is still in use. His ancestors were landlords in Bengal.[6] He had one daughter. He wrote the widely mentioned history of the Agrawal community.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting of India gives Bharatendu Harishchandra Awards since 1983 to promote original writings in Hindi mass communication.[8]

Hindu traditionalism[edit]

According to Barbara and Thomas R. Metcalf, Bharatendu Harishchandra is considered an influential example of Hindu "traditionalist" in north India, typifying continuity with received tradition and self-conscious participation with the modern world. He was typical of those Indians who engaged with Western institutions and learning: they refused to leave authority over religion to Brahmans who were traditionally educated. He used new media, especially publications to shape public opinion. He used Vaishnava devotionalism to define a coherent Hindu religion, with a base in the Kashi Dharma Sabha, started in the 1860s by the Maharaja of Benares as a response to more radical Hindu reformist movements. Harishchandra insisted on the value of image worship and interpreted Bhakti as devotion to a single god; this was in response to Orientalist and Christian critiques of Hinduism.[4]

Major works in[edit]

Drama[edit]

Bharatendu Harishchandra entered in theatre activity as an actor and soon become director, manager, and playwright. He used theatre as a tool to shape public opinion. His major plays are-

  • Vaidiki himsa hitnsa na bhavati, 1873 ( वैदिक हिंसा हिसा न भवति )
  • Bharat durdasha, 1875 (भारत दुर्दशा)
  • The mythological classic Satya Harishchandra i.e. "Truthful Harishchandra" in 1876
  • Neel devi, 1881 (नीलदेवी)
  • The political Andher nagari i.e. City of Darkness in 1881 (अंधेर नगरी ): A popular play of modern Hindi drama and a political satire. Translated and performed in many Indian languages by prominent Indian directors like B. V. Karanth, Prasanna, Arvind Gaur and Sanjay Upadyaye.'

Poetry[edit]

  • Bhagat sarvagya
  • Prem malika (1872)
  • Prem Maduri (1875)
  • Prem Tarang (1877), Prem Pralap, Prem fuhalwari (1883) and Prem Srowar
  • Holi(होली)(1874)
  • Madu Mukul ( मधुमुकुल) (1881)
  • Raag Sangraah ( राग-संग्रह, 1880)
  • Varsha Vinod ( वर्षा-1950 5455विनोद, 1880)
  • Vinya Prem Pachassa (विनय प्रेम पचासा,1881)
  • Pholo ka Guchha (फूलों का गुच्छा, 1882)
  • Chandravali in 1876, and Krishan Charitra(कृष्णचरित्र, 1883)
  • Utrarat Bhagat Mal ( उत्तरार्द्ध भक्तमाल, 1876-77)

Translations[edit]

  • Harsha's Ratnavali
  • Visakhadattas Mudra-Rakshasa (मुद्राराक्षस)
  • Vidya-Sundar (विद्यासुन्दर), from Bengali
  • Karpoor manjari (कपूरमंजरी)from Prakrit
  • Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice as Durlabh bandhu (Invaluable Friend)

Essay collection[edit]

Bharatendu Grnthaaolly (साहित्य हरिश्चंद्र ), 1885

Couplets[edit]

The following two rhyming couplets are taken from his famous poem, मातृ-भाषा के प्रति (For the Sake of Mother-Tongue or Towards Mother-Tongue). The poem has ten couplets in total. The poet asserts the importance of using mother tongue as a medium of instruction – conversational and educational.

निज भाषा उन्नति अहै, सब उन्नति को मूल ।
बिन निज भाषा-ज्ञान के, मिटत न हिय को सूल ।।

विविध कला शिक्षा अमित, ज्ञान अनेक प्रकार।
सब देसन से लै करहू, भाषा माहि प्रचार ।।

Translation:
Progress is made in one's own language (the mother tongue), as it the foundation of all progress.
Without the knowledge of the mother tongue, there is no cure for the pain of heart.

Many arts and education infinite, knowledge of various kinds.
Should be taken from all countries, but propagated in one mother tongue.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Diana Dimitrova (2004). Western tradition and naturalistic Hindi theatre. Peter Lang. p. 14. ISBN 0-8204-6822-3. 
  2. ^ Sandria B. Freitag (1989). "Chapter 2: The Birth of Hindi Drama in Banaras: 1868–1885, by Kathryn Hansen". Culture and power in Banaras: community, performance, and environment, 1800–1980. University of California Press. p. 78. ISBN 0-520-06367-8. 
  3. ^ Vasudha Dalmia, Poetics, Plays and Performances: The Politics of Modern Indian Theatre, New Delhi, Oxford University Press (2006) ISBN 0-19-567473-1
  4. ^ a b c Barbara D. Metcalf; Thomas R. Metcalf (2002). A Concise History of India. Cambridge University Press. p. 143. ISBN 978-0-521-63974-3. 
  5. ^ Ramchandra Shukla, Hindi Sahitya ka Itihaas (History of Hindi Literature)', 1928.
  6. ^ a b Awadesh Pradhan, The Spiritual and Cultural Ethos of Modern Hindi Literature, Prabuddha Bharata, July 2009.
  7. ^ Dalmia, Vasudha (1997). The nationalization of Hindu traditions : Bharatendu Harischandra and nineteenth-century Banaras. Delhi; New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-563961-8. 
  8. ^ "Bharatendu Harishchandra Awards Presented" (Press release). Indian Ministry of Information & Broadcasting. 8 January 2003. 

External links[edit]