FROM CHANDRAKANTA TO MADHUSHALA – THESE 10 CLASSICS ARE ABSOLUTE MUST READS

Apart from architecture, the literature also plays a vital role in knowing the richness of a civilization, culture as well as the demography of a particular period and place.

In the era of English literature and the influx of globalization, we often forget that our country has a diverse and incredible literary tradition in various Indian languages.

Hindi literature has a long evolution and before the arrival of modern literature, mythological literature along with veer-Gathas, shringar ras, or romantic poems as well as bhakti Gathas were prevalent. Apart from Hindi, other Indo-Aryan dialects such as Braja, Maithili, Awadhi, Bundeli, and many more also included in Hindi literature that deals with myriad themes, starting from mythology to social aspects to indomitable human spirit.

1. Chandrakanta  Santati – Babu Devaki Nandan Khatri

This book is the mystical and mythical book of Indian literature, is considered as the first significant prose work in modern Hindi literature. If you are a potter head and love it for its magical world and fantasies then definitely this book is for you. The romantic magical story of two lovers of two royal dynasties, princess Chandrakanta and prince Virendra Singh and villain Krur Singh and the whole fantastical world will leave the reader gobsmacked.

2. Apsara – Suryakant Tripathi ‘NIRALA’   

Nirala, one of the four stambhs ( pillars ) of chhayavad ( Romanticism ), is a languid writer. He was against social injustice and manipulation, apart from nature poetry he wrote with fervor. Apsara, translated as a ‘nymph’ in English expresses the two most uttermost sides of feminine, resolution, and tenderness. The pre-eminent part of the novel is its plot, which is immersed in art and love that leaves an imprint in the reader’s hearts.     

3. Rashmirathi – Ramdhari Singh Dinkar

Dinkar is the second national poet in the era of Hindi. His work is very emboldening and comprises of veer rasa to a huge extent. Rashmirathi means “ the sun’s charioteer “, is one of the most popular epic poems, is about Karna. The most famous snippet from this poem is Krishna ki chetavani ( Krishna’s warning ).

Extract from Rashmirathi :

“ मैं उनका आदर्श, कहीं जो व्यथा न खोल सकेंगे,

पूछेगा जग, किन्तु, पिता का नाम न बोल सकेंगे,

जिनका निखिल विश्व में कोई कहीं न अपना होगा,

मन में लिये उमंग जिन्हें चिर-काल कल्पना होगा|”

4. Kamayani – Jayshankar Prasad

Kamayani is a Hindi epic poem and considered as one of the greatest literary works written in modern times in Hindi literature. He is another pillar of chhayavad in India. Avoiding Persian words, Jaya Shankar prasad relied on the tatsam vocabulary of Hindi. This poem deals with creationism and the first man on earth, ‘manu’. The sheer beauty of prasad words make it worth all the time.

Extract:

आनंद सर्ग

“चलता था धीरे-धीरे, वह एक यात्रियों का दल,

सरिता के रम्य पुलिन में, गिरिपथ से, ले निज संबल|”

5. Nirmala- Premchand

The man who needs no introduction. Born as dhanpat rai but used the pen name of Premchand to write stories. His books are consists of sheer irony with which he portrays the reality of life. His work is full of satire and he alone could take over the entire list with his vivid contributions. Nirmala is a touching tale of a 16 years old girl whose life is bartered by the hands of fate when she is made to marry an aged widower- a matchless match. Premchand presents a parody of the patriarchal society with a high degree of reformist outline an dialogues ( प्राणी का कोई मूल्य नहीं, केवल दहेज का मूल्य है ).

6. Yama- Mahadevi Verma

This spectacular book is written by a major poetess of chhayavad. She is the third pillar of chhayavad, whose work includes vivid nature. YAMA, arguably was the best collection, as she won Sahitya Akademi Award and the Jnanpeeth Award for it. For these spectacular collections, she often known as “MODERN MEERA”.

7. Madhushala – Harivansh Rai Bachchan

Undoubtedly, Dr. Harivansh Rai Bachchan was a great poet. Madhushala is the part of a trilogy with  Madhubala and Madhukalash, in which the poet describes the critical issues of life with the relevant metaphors as ‘Madhu’ or wine, ‘pyala’ or cup and ‘madiralay’ or pub. Academics consider it as one of the best metaphorical and philosophical works of chhayavad.

Extract:

                  “ धर्म-ग्रंथ सब जला चुकी है

                   जिसके अंतर की ज्वाला,

                    मंदिर,मस्जिद, गिरजे-सबको

                 तोङ चुका जो मतवाला,

                                                                          पण्डित, मोमिन, पादरियों के   

                                                                           फंदों को जो काट चुका,

                                                                           कर सकती है आज उसी का                                                                             स्वागत मेरी मधुशाला|”

Prithvirajraso – Chand Bardai

This the oldest work of the list, approximately composed in the 12th century AD. It is a great epic that dramatizes the life of Rajput King Prithviraj Chauhan and his bravery.

Tamas – Bhishma Sahni

Bhishma Sahni is a well-known writer. He wrote this book on the backdrop of the partition of India. The literal meaning of tamas is darkness, the plot of the story revolves around the communal riots. Sahni was conferred Sahitya Akademi Award for this book in 1975.

Gunahon Ka Devta – Dharmveer Bharti

In the diverse and popular culture of literature, this book gains immense significance because of its astonishing theme. From this novel, Bharti ha symbolized as the second most popular writer after Kabir in Hindi literature. This book is a tragic love story of Chandar and Sudha,  which is prominent with their explorations.

The list could continue as Hindi literature has incredible collection of thousand number of jewels. Jhansi ki rani by Subhadra Kumari Chauhan, Raag Darbari by Shrilal Shukla, Tyagpatra by Jainendra Kumar are some of the jewels that mustn’t be missed.

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