Gajanan Madhav Muktibodh

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Gajanan Madhav Muktibodh
Gajanan Madhav Muktibodh (1917-1964).jpg
Born(1917-11-13)13 November 1917
Sheopur, Central Provinces
(present-day Chambal, Madhya Pradesh)[1]
Died11 September 1964(1964-09-11) (aged 46)
Habibganj, India
OccupationWriter, poet, essayist, literary critic, political critic

Gajanan Madhav Muktibodh (गजानन माधव मुक्तिबोध) (13 November 1917 – 11 September 1964)[1] was one of the most prominent Hindi poets, essayist, literary and political critic, and fiction writers of the 20th century.[2] He also remained assistant-editor of journals like, Naya Khun and Vasudha.[2]

He is widely considered one of the pioneers of modern poetry in India,[3] and doyen of Hindi poetry after, Surya Kant Tripathi 'Nirala',[4] and known as being a pioneer, the mainstay of Prayogvaad Experimentalism movement of Hindi literature and it was also his work, which also marked the culmination of this literary movement and its evolution into the Nayi Kahani and Nayi Kavita Modernism in 1950s,[5] his presence is equally important in the rise of 'New Criticism' in Indian literature.

Muktibodh was born in Sheopur, Madhya Pradesh. He started out as an important poet, and was one of the seven poets included in the first volume of Tar Saptak, series of anthologies (1943), which marked a transition in Hindi literature, from the prevalent Chhayavaad movement; this led to the initiation of Prayogvaad Experimentalism in Hindi poetry, and developing along with Pragativaad Progressivism, eventually led to the creation of the 'Nayi Kahani' (New Story) movement, Modernism .

Brahmarakshas (ब्रह्मराक्षस) is considered his most influential work in experimental poems, noted for the use of archetypal imagery, and the stark depiction of the contemporary intellectual, who gets so lost in his own sense of perfectionism, unending calculations, and subjective interpretation of the external reality that soon he loses touch with the reality itself, and eventually dies and fades away like dead bird.[6]

His work was deeply influenced by his viewpoints of Marxism, Socialism and Existentialism, and carried an innate expression of his deep discontent, heightened by his virulent imagery.[7] He continued to show his progressive streak even after the disintegration of the Progressive Writers' Movement after 1953; and, through the rest of his career, he along with writers like, Yashpal, continued his ideological fight against modernist and formalist trends in Hindi literature.[8]

He is best known for his long poems:Brahma-rakshasa (ब्रह्मराक्षस), Chand ka Muh Teda hai (The Moon Wears a Crooked Smile) (चाँद का मुहँ टेढ़ा है),[9] Andhere Mein (In the Dark) (अंधेरे में) and Bhuri Bhuri Khak Dhul (The Brown Dry Dust) (भूरी भूरी ख़ाक धूल); his complete works extending to 6 volumes, were published in 1980, as Muktibodh Rachnavali.

Sharadchandra Madhav Muktibodh (1921–1985), a Marathi poet, novelist, and Marxist critic, winner of Sahitya Akademi Award (1979) in Marathi, was the younger brother of Muktibodh[10]


Muktibodh with his wife

His first individual book was published in 1964, when he was on his death-bed: [Chand Ka Muh Teda Hai [1] (चाँद का मुहँ टेढ़ा है).[5] Although Muktibodh could not manage to get his works published, as a book in his lifetime, he was one of the contributing poets to the first three volumes of Tar Saptak, a series of path-breaking poetry anthologies, edited by Ajneya."Bhoori Bhoori Khak Dhool"is the collection of his remaining poems.His complete work is available as 'Muktibodh Rachnavali"edited by Nemichand Jain.

He is today considered a bridge between the Progressive movement in Hindi poetry and the Nayi Kavita (Modern poetry) movement.[2]

Muktibodh made a name for himself in the field of criticism as well, with his strong views on the upper caste influence on the disintegration of Bhakti movement in India, which he viewed a lower caste uprising against the hegemony upper caste.[11] In literary criticism, he wrote a critical work on Kamayani of literary doyen, Jaishankar Prasad titled: Kamayani, Ek Punarvichar.[2]

Ek Sahityik ki Diary, first written for his column in the weekly Naya Khun, and later continued in the journal Vasudha, published from Jabalpur (1957–60), offers a glimpse of his literary and socio-political criticism, and insights into his way of thinking, and was first published in 1964. It is most noted for the article, Teesra Kshana (Third Moment), where he shows his preference for the hypothesis of three successive stages in the creative process, of inspiration, impersonalisation and expression, rather than a single moment of inspiration[12][13]


(चाँद का मुहँ टेढ़ा है)

नगर के बीचों-बीच
आधी रात--
अंधेरे की काली स्याह
शिलाओं से बनी हुई
भीतों और अहातों के,
काँच-टुकड़े जमे हुए
ऊँचे-ऊँचे कन्धों पर
चांदनी की फैली हुई
सँवलायी झालरें।
अहाते के उस पार
धूम्र मुख चिमनियों के ऊँचे-ऊँचे
मीनारों के बीचों-बीच
चांद का है टेढ़ा मुँह!![14]

The wind's sari border quivers

bullets pierce empty
nests on the fig-tree
Bald detective of pale moonlight
wander the city streets
penetrating its many secret woes
in multiangular corners...
and further on:
Her lips turn dark
Suspended on
a sculpted torso in a harijan temple
greying thatch-roofs
gnarled banyan roots
misty ghosts of lime-smeared rags
arrested in
blouses, petticoats
tattered bedsheets
The lustful eye of the bald crooked moon...


A Hindi feature film, Satah Se Uthata Aadmi (Arising from the Surface), with script and dialogues by him, was directed by veteran film director, Mani Kaul, and shown at Cannes Film Festival in 1981.[15] In 2004, "Brahmarakshas ka Shishya", a dramatization of Muktibodh's story, was presented in New Delhi by Soumyabrata Choudhury.[16][17]

His novel, Vipatra has also been made into an audio book for the blind.[18]


His brilliance was recognised by the literary world after the posthumous publication of Chand Ka Munh Tedha Hai, the first collection of his poems, in the early 1960s. Ever since, the book has run into several editions, and is recognised as a modern classic. In his memory, Madhya Pradesh Sahitya Parishad, has instituted the annual MuktiBodh Puraskar.

In 2004, 'Muktibodh Smarak', a memorial was set up at the 'Triveni Sangrahalaya' in Rajnandgaon in Chhattisgarh, along with fellow poets of Chhattisgarh, Padumlal Punnalal Bakshi and Baldeo Prasad Mishra.[19][20]


  • Chand ka Muh Teda Hai – (Anthology of Poems), 1964, Bharatiya Jnanpith.
  • Kath Ka Sapna (Anthology of Short stories), 1967, Bharatiya Jnanpith.
  • Satah Se Uthta Admi (Anthology of Short stories), 1971, Bharatiya Jnanpith
  • Nayi Kavita ka Atmasangharsh tatha anya Nibandha (Essays), 1964, Visvabharati Prakashan.
  • Ek Sahityik ki Dairy (Essays), 1964, Bharatiya Jnanpith.
  • Vipatra (Novel), 1970, Bharatiya Jnanpith.[5]
  • Naye sahitya ka saundarya-shastra, 1971, Radhakrishna Prakashan.
  • Kamayani: Ek punarvichar, 1973, Sahitya Bharti.
  • Bhuri Bhuri Khak Dhul – (Anthology of Poems), 1980, New Delhi, Rajkamal Publications.
  • Muktibodh Rachnavali, Edited by Nemichandra Jain, (Complete Works) 6 Vols., 1980, New Delhi, Rajkamal Publications.
  • Samiksha ki samasyain, 1982, New Delhi, Rajkamal Publications.
  • Pratinidhi kavitayein, edited by Ashoka Vajapeyi. 1984, Rajkamal Prakashan.
  • In the Dark: Andhere Mein, translated by Krishna Baldev Vaid. 2001, Rainbow Publishers. ISBN 81-86962-42-5. (ISBN 81-86962-42-5.).
  • Dabre Par Sooraj ka Bimb, 2002, National Book Trust. ISBN 81-237-3880-3.[21]
  • Muktibodh Ki Kavitayen (Anthology of Poems), 2004, Sahitya Akademi. ISBN 81-260-0674-9.

Further reading[edit]

  • Soviet Literature, by Soi͡uz pisateleĭ, USSR. 1947, Foreign Languages Publishing House, p 144-147.
  • Muktibodh ka sahitya: Ek anusilana, by Shashi Sharma, 1977, Indraprastha Prakashan.
  • Muktibodh: Vicharak, kavi aura Kathakar, by Surendra Pratap, 1978, National Publishing House. [2]
  • Muktibodh: Sankalpatmaka kavita, by Jagdish Kumar 1981, Nachiketa Prakashan.
  • Muktibodh ka Sahitya-vivek aur unki Kavita, by Lallan Ray, 1982, Manthan Pub.
  • Muktibodh ki atmakatha, by Vishnuchandra Sharma, 1984, Radhakrishna Prakashan. (Biography)
  • Paya Patra Tumhara: Gajanan Madhava Muktibodh aur Nemichandra Jain ke bich Patra-vyavahar, (1942–1964), Edited by Nemichandra Jain. 1984, Rajkamal Prashan[22]
  • Muktibodh: Yuga chetana aur Abhivyakti, by Alok Gupta, 1985, Giranar Prakashan.
  • Jatil samvedana ke kavi Muktibodh, by Alok Gupta, 1993, Parsva Prakashan.
  • Pratibaddhata aur Muktibodh ka Kavya, by Prabhat Tripathi. 1990, Vagdevi Prakashan. ISBN 81-85127-27-1.
  • Muktibodh ka shilpa-saushthava, by Madhu Srvastav, 1992, Janardan Prakashan.
  • Muktibodh kavi aura kavya, by Madan Gulati. 1994, C.D. Publication.
  • Muktibodh: Muktikami chetana ke kavi, by Ajay Shukla, 1994, Sanjay Book Centre.
  • Muktibodha ki kavya Bhasha, by Kshama Shankar Pandey, 1995, Shilpi Prakashan.
  • Muktibodh ki kavita mem yathartha-bodha, by Sashibala Sharma, Sabda aura Sabda Pub.
  • Gajanan Madhav Muktibodh: Srjana aur Shilpa, by Ranjit Sinha, 1995, Jay Bharati Prakashan.
  • Muktibodh ki kavitaon se guzarate hue, by Anup Sharma, 1996, Sahitya Bhavan Pvt. Ltd.
  • Muktibodha vichar aur Kavita, by Devendra Kumar Jain, 1998, Takshasila Prakashan.
  • Gajanan Madhav Muktibodh Ke Kavya Mein Samajik Chintan, by Yuvraj Sontakke, New Delhi, New Bhartiya Book Corporation. 2000.
  • Muktibodha-kavya: Janavadi chetana ke sandarbha main, by Premalata Casavala. (Socialism in the poetic works of Gajanan Madhav Muktibodh), 2001, Adhara Prakashan, ISBN 81-7675-038-7.
  • Muktibodh ki Kavya Bhasha, by Sanat Kumar 2001, Chintan Prakashan, Kanpur. (Study of the poetic works of Muktibodh).
  • Naash Devta and Kal Aur Aaj, poems by Muktibodh (Hindi)
  • A Single Shooting Star, a poem by Muktibodh (Translated to English) at the Wayback Machine (archived 28 October 2009)
  • Brahma Rakshas Ka Shishya, a story by Muktibodh
  • Muktibodh ki Kavyaprakriya, by Ashok Chakradhar.
  • Muktibodh ki Kavitai, by Ashok Chakradhar, 1975.
  • Muktibodh ki Samishai, by Ashok Chakradhar.
  • Lives and Works of Great Hindi Poets, by Manohar Bandopadhyay, 1994, B.R. Pub. House, ISBN 81-7018-786-9. Page 149.
  • Muktibodh ki Nivadak kavita, by Sharadchandra Madhav Muktibodh, 1993, Sahitya Akademi. ISBN 81-7201-496-1. (Younger brother)
  • Muktibodha: Sahitya Mein Nayi Pravittian, 2013, Doodhnath Singh[23]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b Biography and Works of Muktibodh
  2. ^ a b c d Muktibodh Profile
  3. ^ Muktibodh Archived 14 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine Sahitya Akademi Official website.
  4. ^ Resurrection of Kumar Vikal The Tribune, 10 September 2000.
  5. ^ a b c "Indian Poets – Hindi". Archived from the original on 26 October 2009. Retrieved 26 October 2009. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  6. ^ Experimentalism Modern Indian Literature, an Anthology: An Anthology, by K. M. George, 1992, Sahitya Akademi, ISBN 81-7201-324-8. Page 161-162.
  7. ^ Muktibodh -Brahmarakshas Modern Indian Literature: An Anthology, by K. M. George, 1992, Sahitya Akademi, ISBN 81-7201-324-8. Page 621.
  8. ^ Issues in Literature Archived 18 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine Janwadi Lekhak Sangh.
  9. ^ a b Literary Resurrections Archived 30 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine, October 2001.
  10. ^ NOTES 12
  11. ^ Dalit "According to Gajanan Madhav Muktibodh: the Bhakti movement began as a revolt of the lower castes/lower classes against the upper castes/upper classes; it drew people from all castes/classes but the egalitarian agenda was generally raised by the lower caste saints; and, when the movement was taken over by the upper castes, the entire movement disintegrated."
  12. ^ Dairies Encyclopaedia of Indian literature vol. 2, 1988, Sahitya Akademi, ISBN 81-260-1194-7. Page 1017 .
  13. ^ Ek Sahityik ki Diary Encyclopaedia of Indian literature vol. 2, 1988, Sahitya Akademi, ISBN 81-260-1194-7. Page 1138.
  14. ^ चाँद का मुहँ टेढ़ा है
  15. ^ Films presented in Cannes 1981 Cannes Film Festival Official website.
  16. ^ Calendar of Events – October 2004 Archived 27 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine India Habitat Centre website.
  17. ^ Brahmarakshas ka Shishya Text
  18. ^ #194 Muktibodh – Viptara Archived 30 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine Blind Relief Association.
  19. ^ History Rajnandgaon Official website.
  20. ^ The Muktibodh Smarak at Triveni Sangrahalaya is at coordinates 21°05′32″N 81°01′40″E / 21.092136°N 81.027751°E / 21.092136; 81.027751 (Muktibodh Smarak)
  21. ^ "Muktibodh Books". Archived from the original on 17 June 2009. Retrieved 25 April 2008.
  22. ^ Books by Muktibodh
  23. ^ "Muktibodh Sahitya Mein Nayi Pravrittiyan". Rajkamal Prakashan. Retrieved 14 January 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External links[edit]