Bahinabai Nathuji Chaudhari
Bahinabai Chaudhari (Devanagari: बहिणाबाई चौधरी) (11 August 1880 [नागपंचमी] – 3 December 1951) was an illiterate cotton farmer from the Jalgaon district in Maharashtra, India who became a noted Marathi poet posthumously.
Bahinabai was born in a Mahajan family at Asode in Khandesh region of the present-day Jalgaon district in the year 1880. She had 3 brothers and 3 sisters. At the age of 13, she was married to Nathuji Khanderao Chaudhari. Following her husband's death, she led a very difficult life because of the economic, social, cultural, and emotional circumstances arising out of widowhood. She had a daughter named Kashi and two sons, Madhusudan and Sopandev (1907-1982).
Bahinabai composed her songs verbally in ovi (ओवी) metre in a mixture of two dialects: Khandesi and Varhadi. Her son Sopandev, who became a well-known poet, transcribed them. According to one account, Sopandev read the story of Savitri and Satyavan to his mother from his textbook, and by the next morning, she had composed a song of the tale. Impressed by her talent, he began writing down of her songs in a notebook. Her poetry is characterized as reflective and abstract with iconic and realist imagery. It captures the essence of her life, reflects the culture of village and farming life, and presents her wisdom.
After his mother's death on 03 December 1951, Sopandev found the notebook and shared one of her poems with Prahlād Keshav (Acharya) Atre's attention. Atre recounts calling the first of Bahinabai's poems he heard "pure gold" in his introduction to the collection published under the title Bahinabainchi gani [Bahinabai's Songs] in 1952 by Suchitra Prakashan. Although the many of Bahinabai's poems were lost, 732 of them were preserved.
Yeshwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University has recommended Bahinabainchi gani as a part of their curriculum since June 2012.
Sopandev's son Madhusudhan Chaudhari served in the police forces and retired as an Assistant Commissioner of Police in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. The late Madhusudhan Chaudhari's son Rajeev Chaudhari—the great-grandson of Bahinabai Chaudhari—and his mother Suchitra Chaudhari continue to be the sole publishers of Bahinabainchi gani in whose name the publication house Suchitra Prakashan operates.
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