Maitreyi Devi

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Maitreyi Devi
Born(1914-09-01)1 September 1914
Died4 February 1990(1990-02-04) (aged 75)
OccupationPoet, Novelist
Spouse(s)Dr. M.M. Sen
Parent(s)Surendranath Dasgupta (Father)
Himani Madhuri Rai (Mother)

Maitreyi Devi (or Maitreyī Devī) (1 September 1914 – 4 February 1990) was a Bengali-born Indian poet and novelist.


Devi was born in 1914, She was the daughter of philosopher Surendranath Dasgupta and protegée of poet Rabindranath Tagore. She got married to Quinologist Dr. M.M. Sen[1] when she was 20 and he was 34. They had 2 children together. She was the founder of the Council for the Promotion of Communal Harmony in 1964, and vice-president of the All-India Women’s Coordinating Council. Her first book of verse appeared when she was sixteen, with a preface by Rabindranath Tagore. She wrote Rabindranath—the man behind his poetry.[2] Apart from being a writer, she had also set up an Orphanage for needy children later in her life.

She was also the basis for the main character in Romanian writer Mircea Eliade's 1933 novel Bengal Nights. Bengal Nights is a semi-autobiographical piece of literature based around the time Eliade spent in Calcutta at Surendranath Dasgupta, Maitreyi Devi's father's house.The book explores in detail, Eliad's affair with Maitreyi Devi and their 'sexual relations' and then eventually being kicked out of Das' house after discovering the affair between him and Maitreyi Devi. Devi was not aware of the book and the name of main character being Maitreyi while Eliad's name was changed to Allan. Her 1974 novel, Na Hanyate (English title, It Does Not Die: A Romance) , was written as a response to Bengal Nights, and Maitreyi Devi described the romance and the cultural tensions resulted from it. Given the cultural constraints, she denies claims of a sexual affair between her and Eliade during the latter's sojourn in British India.[3][4] The book has been translated into various European languages including Eliade's mother tongue Romanian.

In 1938 and 1939 she invited Rabindranath Tagore to stay in her and her husband's house in Mungpoo near Kalimpong, which later became the Rabindra Museum.[5]


She studied in St. John's Diocesan Girls' Higher Secondary School, Calcutta (now Kolkata) and graduated from the Jogamaya Devi College, an affiliated undergraduate women's college of the historic University of Calcutta, in Kolkata.[6]


She received Sahitya Akademi Award in the year 1976 for her novel Na Hanyate.


  • Tagore by Fireside 1943 [7]
  • Rabindranath—The Man behind His Poetry 1973
  • It Does Not Die: A Romance 1974[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Better India. This Little Known Himalayan Village Was the Much-Loved Summer Retreat of Rabindranath Tagore (19 July 2016).
  2. ^ Devi, Maitreyi (1973). Rabindranath--the man behind his poetry. Sudhir Das at Nabajatak Printers.
  3. ^ Firdaus Azim, The Journal of Asian Studies, Association for Asian Studies, Vol. 55, 1996, pp. 1035-103
  4. ^ [1] A Terrible Hurt: The Untold Story behind the Publishing of Maitreyi Devi, by Ginu Kamani, accessed 30 January 2010
  5. ^ Mungpoo and Kabi Guru Rabindranath Tagore, Museum.
  6. ^ History of the College
  7. ^ Devi, Maitreyi. Tagore by Fireside. ISBN 8171677258.
  8. ^ Devi, Maitreyi. It Does Not Die: A Romance.