Harivansh Rai Bachchan

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Harivansh Rai Bachchan
Bachchan on a 2003 stamp of India
Native name
हरिवंश राय
BornHarivansh Bhai In Kachhann
(1907-11-27)27 November 1907
Allahabad, United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, British India (present-day Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India)
Died(2003-01-18)January 18, 2003
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Pen nameBachchan
OccupationPoet, writer
LanguageHindustani dialects (Awadhi, Hindi, Urdu)
CitizenshipBritish (b. 1907–1948)
Indian (1948-d. 2003)
Alma materAllahabad University
Cambridge University
Notable awardsPadma Bhushan in 1976
SpouseShyama Bachchan (1926–d. 1936; her death)
Teji Bachchan (1941–d. 2003; his death)
Children2 (Amitabh Bachchan and Ajitabh Bachchan)[1]
RelativesSee Bachchan family

Harivansh Rai Bachchan, was an Indian poet of the Nayi Kavita literary movement (romantic upsurge) of early 20th century Hindi literature. Born in a Hindu Awadhi Indian Srivastava Kayastha family, in Allahabad in the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, in British India, he was also a poet of the Hindi Kavi Sammelan. He is best known for his early work Madhushala (मधुशाला).[2] He is also the husband of social activist, Teji Bachchan, father of Amitabh Bachchan and grandfather of Abhishek Bachchan. In 1986, he received the Padma Bhushan in 1976 for his service to Hindi literature.[3] He incorporated vocabulary from several Hindustani dialects, including Awadhi, Hindi, and Urdu, while writing in Hindi script.

Early life[edit]

Bachchan was the eldest son of Pratap Narayan Srivastava and Saraswati Devi.[citation needed] His ancestral village was Babupatti in the Pratapgarh district, in the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, in British India (present-day Uttar Pradesh, India).[citation needed]

He received his formal schooling in a municipal school and followed the family tradition of attending Kayastha Paathshaalas (कायस्थ पाठशाला) to learn Urdu as the first step to a career in law.[citation needed] He later attended college at Allahabad University and Banaras Hindu University.[citation needed] During this period, he came under the influence of the independence movement, then under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi.[citation needed]

From 1941 to 1952 he taught in the English Department at the Allahabad University and after that he spent the next two years at St Catharine's College, Cambridge, Cambridge University completing a PhD on W.B. Yeats.[2] He began using the pen name "Bachchan" (meaning child)instead of Srivastava when he wrote Hindi poetry. After returning to India he again took to teaching English literature at Allahabad university. He also worked at All India Radio, Allahabad simultaneously.[2]

In 1926, at the age of 19, Bachchan married his first wife, Shyama, who was then 14 years old.[citation needed] However she died ten years later in 1936 after contracting tuberculosis. Bachchan thereafter married Teji Bachchan in 1941. They had two sons, Amitabh Bachchan and Ajitabh Bachchan.[citation needed]

Writing career[edit]

Bachchan came from a Hindu caste that was fluent in several Hindustani dialects (Awadhi, Hindi, Urdu) as well as Persian.[4] He incorporated a broadly Hindi-Urdu vocabulary,[5] written in Hindi script.[4] While he could not read Persian script,[4] he was influenced by Persian and Urdu poetry, particularly Omar Khayyam.[6]

Works used in movies[edit]

Bachchan's work has been used in movies and music. Examples include couplets of his work "Agneepath" are used throughout in the movie Agneepath (1990 film) again starring Amitabh Bachchan and later in the remake Agneepath (2012 film)[7]

List of works[edit]


  1. ^ Harivansh Rai Bachchan, R (2001). In the Afternoon of Time: An Autobiography. Penguin books. p. 327. When we entered Amit for school, we adopted 'Bachchan' as our family name, registering him as 'Amitabh Bachchan'; and when our second son was born, he was called 'Ajitabh Bachchan'
  2. ^ a b c d Harivanshrai Bachchan, 1907–2003 Obituary, Frontline, (The Hindu), 1–14 February 2003.
  3. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 November 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  4. ^ a b c West-Pavlov, Russell (2018). The Global South and Literature. Cambridge University Press. p. 167. ISBN 9781108246316.
  5. ^ Williams, Mukesh; Wanchoo, Rohit (2008). Representing India: Literatures, Politics, and Identities. Oxford University Press. p. 73. ISBN 9780195692266. Harivansh Rai Bachchan recalled how some of the Urdu vocabulary used by audiences in appreciating poetic recitals in Hindi kavi sammelans was consciously changed to Sanskritized Hindi creating an artificial Hindi idiom.
  6. ^ Gopal, Madan (1996). Origin and development of Hindi/Urdu literature. Deep & Deep Publications. p. 204. He was influenced by Persian and Urdu poetry, especially by Omar Khayyam and started versifying in the Bachchalian style.
  7. ^ Harivansh Rai Bachchan (1907–2003). IMDb
  8. ^ In the Afternoon of Time: An Autobiography: Harivansh Rai Bachchan, Rupert Snell, Baccana, Harivansh Rai BacHChhan: 9780670881581: Amazon.com: Books. Amazon.com. 1 April 1998. ASIN 0670881589.CS1 maint: ASIN uses ISBN (link)

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  1. Kaveendra, Anil Pushker. Harivanshrai Bachchan Ki Anuvad Drishti (Hindi) (Hardcover) (2013). Ruby Press & Co., New Delhi. ISBN 978-93-82395-20-1