Portrait of Umashankar Joshi
21 July 1911|
Bamna, Sabarkantha, Gujarat
|Died||19 December 1988
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Umashankar Jethalal Joshi (Gujarati: ઉમાશંકર જોશી) (21 July 1911 – 19 December 1988) was an eminent poet, scholar and writer. He received the Jnanpith Award in 1967 for his contribution to Indian, especially Gujarati literature.
Umashankar Joshi was born in small village named Bamna, taluka Bhiloda in District of Sabarkantha of Gujarat. He was Brahmin from the caste named Trivedi Mewada Brahmin Barishi. His father, Jethalal Kamalji was a Karbhari in small jagirs. His Mother was Navalbai. He had eight siblings: six brothers and two sisters. Umashankar Joshi received inspiration for creative writing from the beautiful surroundings of the hilly region and the social life of the villages and fairs and festivals held there.
He started his education at Primary school, Bamna in 1916. In 1921, he passed standard fourth in Idar school and continued his education till 1927 at Idar's Pratap High school; which was an Anglo-vernacular school. In 1927, he did matriculation from Proprietary High school, Ahmedabad. In 1928, he took Admission in Gujarat College, Ahmedabad and continued his education there till 1930. Then he took admission in Elphinstone College, Mumbai for BA. and there he was graduated with second division in Economics and History. After that, he got MA with first division in Gujarati and Sanskrit from Mumbai University.
Activism and Freedom Struggle
He joined the freedom struggle led by Gandhi and gained an understanding of history. In 1929, he started his struggle by participating in the 34-day strike called by the students of Gujarat College which began in January that year. In 1930, he took active part in the Freedom Struggle and joined Viramgam Camp as a satyagrahi from early April. After that, he was imprisoned for fourteen weeks, starting from November 1930 in Sabarmati jail and tent-jail at Yerwada till 1931. Then in 1931, he attended National Conference of Congress at Karachi and stayed at Gujarat Vidyapith from July for six months. He was Imprisoned for the second time for eight months, at Sabarmati and Visapur jails in 1932.
In 1937, he started his career as Teacher at Goklibai High School in Vile Parle, Mumbai. Then, after his graduation in MA, he became a part-time lecturer at Sydenham College of Commerce, Mumbai – till 1939. After that, he was appointed as professor in post graduate research studies department, at Gujarat Vernacular Society (Gujarat Vidyasabha). He worked there till 1946 when he took voluntary retirement. Then, in 1948, he was appointed by Mumbai Government on the Gujarati Textbook Committee. In 1953, he served as a visiting faculty at Lokbharti Shikshan Sanstha which was an educational institution in Sanosara, Bhavnagar district, Gujarat. In June 1954, he was appointed as professor of Gujarati Literature at Gujarat University. He was also appointed head of School of languages in that university. In 1956, he toured America and England as a member of a committee sent by the Indian Government to study the activities of 'General Education' in American and some British Universities. In 1964, he became a member of a committee appointed by the Government of Gujarat for establishment of South Gujarat and Saurashtra Universities. From 30 November 1966: he was Vice-Chancellor of Gujarat University. On 17 November 1972: he retired from that post.
His Father died in 1934. On 25 May 1937, he married to Jyotsna N. Joshi in Ahmedabad. He had two daughters: Nandini and Svati. In 1957, he shifted to his new residence 'Setu', which was at Sardar Patel Nagar, Ahmedabad. His Mother died in 1966.
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His works include:
- Nishith ( નિશિથ ) – The God of Midnight (collection of poems)
- Gangotri ( ગંગોત્રી )
- Vishwashanti ( વિશ્વશાંતિ ) – World Peace
- Mahaprasthan ( મહાપ્રસ્થાન ) – Great Departure
- Abhigna ( અભિજ્ઞ ) – Recognition.
- Sanskruti' – Editor of the magazine
- Visamo – collection of stories
- Haveli – collection of dramas
- Shravani melo – collection of stories
- Akho ek Adhyayan
- Jnanpith Award – 1968 for "Nishith" – collection of his poems
- Ranjitram Suvarna Chandrak – 1939
- Narmad Suvarna Chandrak – 1947
- Soviet Land Nehru Award – 1973
- Delhi Sahirya Academy Award
- President – Gujarati Sahitya Parishad (1968)
- President – Sahitya Akademi (1978–1982)
- Vice-Chancellor – Gujarat University (1970)
- Member – Rajyasabha, Upper House of the Indian Parliament
- "Jnanpith Laureates Official listings". Jnanpith Website.
- C. D. Narasimhaiah (1 January 1994). East West Poetics at Work: Papers Presented at the Seminar on Indian and Western Poetics at Work, Dhvanyaloka, Mysore, January 1991. Sahitya Akademi. pp. 257–258. ISBN 978-81-7201-385-1.
- "Poet Umashankar Joshi remembered". DNA. 29 November 2010. Retrieved 1 December 2013.
- Official Website of Umashankar Joshi
- Umashankar Joshi Poems
- Biographical blogpost about Umashankar Joshi