Durga Bhagwat

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Durga Narayan Bhagwat
Durga Bhagwat.JPG
Born 1910
Died 2002
Nationality Indian
Notable works Pais, Vyas Parva, Bhavmudra, Rutuchakra
Notable awards Sahitya Academy ( Pais)
Relatives Kamala Sohonie, sister

Durga Narayan Bhagwat (10 February 1910 - 07 May 2002), popularly known as Durga Bhagwat, was an Indian scholar, socialist and writer. She studied Sanskrit and Buddhist literature, roamed jungles of Madhya Pradesh to study tribal life, later returned to Mumbai as a researcher and wrote books in Marathi. Being a rebel by nature, she highly opposed Government during The Emergency (India) and was subsequently imprisoned. She also had refused to accept literary honors like Padma Shree and Jnanapeeth.

Early years[edit]

Durga Bhagwat was born in 1910 in a Karhade Brahmin family settled in the then princely state of Baroda. The veteran Sanskrit scholar and social activist Rajaram Shastri Bhagwat was the brother of her grandmother. Her sister Kamala Sohonie went on to become the first woman scientist of India.

Her father was a scientist who discovered the procedure of making ghee from oil. Many American companies offered him the job with a handsome salary which he declined. He offered that technique to Tata only without a single penny considering that a national duty.

Durgabai got also attracted to Gandhism and took part in Indian freedom movement for a very short time. When she realised that she cannot do it for a longer time she left that and completed her studies from St. Zavier College. But she continued to wear Khadi in that period. Her paternal aunt Smt Seetabai Bhagwat who remained unmarried to look after family had a great influence on Durgabai. Durgabai went to Madhya Pradesh for studying tribal culture where she had idiosyncratic reaction to Yam (Elephant foot) for which she was bed-ridden for six years. She could not complete her doctarate course. But she was Durgabai on whose literature many people had doctorate research.

Later years[edit]

Durga Bhagwat was elected President of the 51st Marathi Sahitya Sammelan, held in Karad, in 1975.[1] She was second woman President of Sammelan, after Kusumavati Deshpande since its inception in 1878.Yashwantrao Chavan,a great congress leader was the host of that ceremony.Durgabai opposed emergency and arrest of Jaiprakash Narayan openly. The Indian Government later on jailed her for the speech delivered by her during the Meet and open protest of the Government of India. She campaigned against the ruling Congress Party in 1977 general election, and remained opposed to it for the rest of her life.After emergency, she was offered an influential government seat by then ruling Janata Party which she declined.She even decided not to accept any state-sponsored honours and declined an offer of Dnyan Peeth, the most prestigious award for Indian writers.

Before chairing Marathi Sahitya Sammelan, she was elected chairperson of Tamasgir Meet (tamaasgeers who perform dance programms but are treated as prostitutes by people), and she was very proud of it, considering it a greater honour between the two. She contented that if she wasn't born in a well-off Brahmin family, and were born to a prostitute, her destiny would be very different.And so respected them as a part of one great art. She did social work among downtrodden sections of the society, and wandered jungles to study the nomads.

Her contribution[edit]

Durga Bhagwat's notable works include biography of Rajaram Shastri Bhagwat, Pais, a collection of articles based around religions, their literature and practises and Vyas Parva, a book about her study of Mahabharat. She studied religious literature, particularly Buddhist, works of Marathi saints from Dnyaneshwar to Tukaram, major Sanskrit works of Vyas and Adi Shankaracharya. Her book RRitu-chakra, detailing the nature (particularly trees and flowers) in each Indian month, is perhaps her most famous work. In early 1940s during her stay in forest, she tried to cook a vegetable which turned out to be poisonous and she was bed-ridden for years. The recovery was slow, but it helped her observe the changes in the nature over the 12-month cycle and spurred her to write articles on each season.

She was a good cook having inspiration from Smt Seetabai Bhagwat, her paternal aunt. Though she has not written any specific book on this topic, she wrote many articles about it. She was much interested in crafts, on which she wrote many articles. She was a lady who was interested in learning any new thing and was ever curious to have knowledge. That is why perhaps Va Pu Kale calls her as 'Marathi Saraswatachi Sarswati'.

Even though good-looking in her young age, Durga Bhagwat never married. The reason according to her as told in a personal interview was that she spent several years of her youth in research, during which she was the victim of food poisoning. By the time she recovered from it, it was too late.

Her idols throughout her life had been Vyasa, Gautama Buddha, Adi Shankaracharya, Henry David Thoreau, and Shridhar Venkatesh Ketkar.


Short stories[edit]

  • Poorva


  • Mahanadichya tiravar

Children's literature[edit]

  • Tulshiche lagna
  • Vanwasi rajputra
  • Chandralekha ani aath chor

Other works[edit]

  • Loksahityachi ruprekha
  • Dharma ani loksahitya
  • Vyas parva
  • Rupranga
  • Pais
  • Prasangika
  • Doob
  • Bhavmudra
  • Khamanga
  • Satyam Shivam Sundaram
  • Ketkaki kadambari
  • Rajaram Shastri Bhagwat yanche charitra
  • Rutuchakra
  • Godhadi
  • Dupani
  • Nisargotsav
  • Yugant
  • Shodh Ramayanacha


Preceded by
Purushottam Laxman Deshpande
Marathi Sahitya Sammelan - President
1975 at Karad
Succeeded by
Purushottam Bhaskar Bhave