Jaishankar Prasad

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Jaishankar Prasad
Jaishankar Prasad,1889-1937.jpg
Born (1890-01-30)30 January 1890
Varanasi, India
Died 15 November 1937(1937-11-15) (aged 47)
Varanasi, India
Occupation Novelist, playwright, poet

Jaishankar Prasad (30 January 1890 – 15 November 1937), one of the most famous figures in modern Hindi literature as well as Hindi theatre In her glowing tribute to Jai Shankar Prasad, the poet- critic Mahadevi Verma says: “Whenever I remember our great poet, Prasad a particular image comes to my mind. A fir tree stands on the slope of the Himalaya, straight and tall as the proud mountain peaks themselves. Its lofty head braves the assaults of the snow, the rain, and the blazing heat of the sun. Violent storms shake its spreading branches, while a thin stream of water plays hide-and-seek amongst its root. Even under the most heavy snowfall, the most fierce heat, and the torrential rain, the fir tree holds its head high. Even in the midst of the worst thunderstorm and blizzards, it remains steady and unflinching.” This compliment from a younger contemporary of Prasad summarizes in a condensed from the literary genius of one of the leading lights of chhayavad movement in Hindi literature. It recognizes Prasad’s place among his peers as well as his relevance to modernity. As author of a classic epic of the human psyche, his magnum opus Kamayani, Prasad had acquired early eminence. But later his multifaceted personality burgeoned in his contribution to diverse fields of literature in spite of countless storms of personal tragedies, and national social and political upheavals. Since brought up in the affluent family of a tobacco merchant, Prasad was a man of personal charm and of romantic disposition. By temperament a reformer and humanitarian, through his devotion to literature he became a lyric poet, a dramatist, a story writer, and essayist. Thus Prasad emerged as a literary genius. It would be no exaggeration if we rank him with such literary stalwarts as Kalidas, Tulsidas, Shakespeare, Dante, and Goethe in view of his vision and aesthetic consciousness. .[1]

Biography.(Aatmkatha)आत्मकथा[edit]

Jaishankar Prasad was born on 30 January 1890, in the well-to-do vaishya family in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India. His grandfather, "Shivratna Sahu, had begun the flourishing tobacco business which raised the family status to the middle class stratum of society. His father, Babu Devi Prasad, also known as Sunghani Sahu (सुंघनी साहू), the second oldest son of six brothers, was generous man who gave a great deal of his income to charitable institutions. He was also devoted to the studies of language and literature and welcomed artists, literary writers and poets at his home. Occasionally he would organize literary symposiums and poetry recitals at his own expense. Naturally the twin parental influences of literature and religion cast its lasting imprint upon the young boy, who had begun composing amateurish poetry during his childhood.

Prasad ji received his early education at the private elementary school of Mohini Lal 'Rasmayasidh', himself an amateur poet. At the age of 10, Prasad ji was admitted to Queens College, Varanasi for formal education. The following year, he accompanied his parents on pilgrimage to visit such known religion places as Ganga Sagar, Bhuvaneshvar, Jagannath Puri and Onkareshvar. Prasad ji spent his adolescence in the cultivation of his physical as well as mental faculties - wrestling, exercising, and eating wholesome food on the one hand, and studying Sanskrit, Pali, English and Persian the other. The youthful period of his life, however, was marred by severe personal tragedies and family disputes. His father died in 1901, when he was only 11; hence he was forced to shoulder the heavy burden of the family's finances and debts. Prasad's elder brother Shambhuratna, tried to resolve the crisis but all in vain, for the tobacco business was on the decline. Another tragedy gripped him when his mother died two years after the father's death. Unfortunately, three years later, Shambhuratna also died (1906). These calamities virtually ended Prasad's formal education. Despite the family afflictions, he continued the private study of Indian languages and literature along with the major scriptures of Hinduism and Buddhism. When Prasad ji’s literary glory was at its apex, he was caught in deadly disease of tuberculosis which had no remedy then. The athletic body of Prasad started withering and 15th November at 04:00am 1937, repeating the name of Lord Shiva, he breathed his last at 04:00am, in Brahama Mahurta and entered into ‘Samadhi’ of Infinite Transcendental Bliss. The luminous sun of Hindi literature set on its zenith leaving for posterity a rich cultural values.


                                      छोटे से जीवन की कैसे बड़ी कथाएँ आज कहूँ?
                                      क्‍या यह अच्‍छा नहीं कि औरों की सुनता मैं मौन रहूँ?
                                      सुनकर क्‍या तुम भला करोगे मेरी भोली आत्‍मकथा?
                                      अभी समय भी नहीं, थकी सोई है मेरी मौन व्‍यथा।[citation needed]

Language and influence[edit]

Prasad ji started writing poetry with the pen name of ‘Kaladhar’ at the famous shop of Sunghani Sahu. The first collection of poem that Jai Shankar Prasad penned, named, Chitradhar, was written in Braj dialect of Hindi but his later works are in Khadi dialect or Sanskritized Hindi. Later on Prasad ji prolugated ‘Chhayavad’ a literary trend in Hindi literature. It is romanticism with a spiritual base and universalism which touches every core of humanism. Jai Shankar Prasad was a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva and had no trace of bigotry of fanaticism. Shaiva philosophy of prativijana darshan was deeply imbedded in the religious consciousness in him.

He was influenced by Sanskrit literature and ancient history that influence is evident on his works. Prasad's most famous dramas include Skandagupta, Chandragupta and Dhruvaswamini .

Poetic style[edit]

He is considered one of the Four Pillars (Char Stambh) of Romanticism in Hindi Literature (Chhayavad), along with Sumitranandan Pant, Mahadevi Verma, and Suryakant Tripathi 'Nirala'. His style of poetry can at best be described as "touching". Art and philosophy have been exquisitely amalgamated in his writings. His vocabulary avoids the Persian element of Hindi and mainly consists of Sanskrit (Tatsama) words and words derived from Sanskrit (Tadbhava words) – some of them made really exquisitely by himself. By this means, he arrives at a sophisticated diction that was typical for Hindi Romanticism of the 1920s and 30s.

The subject of his poetry spans the entire horizon of subjects of his era, from romantic to nationalistic. He in a way signifies the epitome of classical Hindi poetry. One of his patriotic poems, 'Himadri Tung Shring Se', won him many accolades in the era of Indian independence movement. However, Kamayani undoubtedly remains his best creation.

Dramas and other writings[edit]

His dramas are considered to be most pioneering ones in Hindi. The majority of them revolve around historical stories of Ancient India. Some of them were also based on mythological plots. In 1960s, Shanta Gandhi Professor of Ancient Indian Drama at while at National School of Drama, revived interest in Jaishankar Prasad's plays for modern Indian theatre, by successfully staging his most important play Skanda Gupta written in 1928, with little changes to the original script, thus quashing doubts over its "stagability".[2][3]

He wrote short stories as well. The subjects were mixed – ranging from historical and mythological to contemporary and social. Mamta (motherly love) is a famous short-story based on an incident where a Mughal Badshah gets refuge in a Hindu widow's home whose father was killed by Badshah's army. Another one of his well-known short-stories called chhota jadugar (little magician) portrays the life of a child who learns to earn his own living by performing small skits with his dolls on streets.

He also wrote a small number of novels.

Major works[edit]

Poetry[edit]

  • Kānan kusum (The Forest Flower)
  • Mahārānā kā mahatv (The Maharana's greatness)
  • Jharnā (The Waterfall)

*Ānsū (The tear)

  • Lahar (The wave)
  • Kāmāyanī (an epic about Manu and the flood)
  • Prem pathik (The Love Wanderer)


Drama[edit]

  • Ek ghunt (A sip)
  • Skandagupta (On Emperor Skandagupta)
  • Chandragupta (On Emperor Chandragupta Maurya I)
  • Dhruvasvāminī
  • Janmejay kā nāg yajña
  • Rajyashrī (Royal Bliss)
  • Kāmnā


Story collections[edit]

  • Chāyā (The Shadow)
  • Pratidhvani (The Echo)
  • Ākāshdīp (Ethereal Lamp)
  • Āndhī (The Storm)
  • Indrajāl (Hypnosis)


Novels[edit]

  • Kankāl (The Skeleton)
  • Titlī (The Butterfly)
  • Irāvatī ( not completed)

Neo-romanticism in Hindi Literature[edit]

Jaishankar Prasad's Kamayani (Hindi:कामायनी) (1936) is considered an important magnum opus of this school.

Works online[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dimitrova 2004, p. 15
  2. ^ "Re-discovering Dhruvaswamini". The Hindu. 29 October 2009. 
  3. ^ Lal, Mohan (2006). The Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature – Volume 5. Sahitya Akademi. p. 4119. ISBN 81-260-1221-8. 

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]

1st Edition 2006, Published by Film Institute, Lucknow (U.P.) – INDIA http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=205657