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Hindi Literature: A Reality Check

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Currently, the status of Hindi language in literature is as unpromising as it can ever be. Blame it on our modernity or the importance that we give to English language, Hindi literature is in its worst phase.

Here’s a little proof if you want…

How many of you have heard these names?

Sumitranandan Pant, Harivansh Rai Bachchan, Maithili Sharan Gupt, Munshi Premchand, Suryakant Tripathi ‘Nirala’ or  Mahadevi Verma.

Not sure about the other five, but I’m pretty sure everybody knows Harivansh Rai Bachchan, courtesy the Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan. Well, these are the names that we’ve already come across in our school days. But, do you remember the name of any other author? Ok. If you do remember, can you name any of their literary works? Clueless, huh!

‘Pallav’: a collection of thirty two poems by Sumitranandan Pant, ‘Madhushala’ by Harivansh Rai Bachchan, ‘Chandrahaas’ by Maithili Sharan Gupt, ‘Godan: A Novel Of Peasant India’ by Munshi Premchand, ‘Nirupama’ by Suryakant Tripathi ‘Nirala’ and ‘Deepshikha’ by Mahadevi Verma — these are some of the great literary works of these giants of Hindi literature.

Twentieth century was indeed the golden era of Hindi literature. It did give us some of the best literatures that we appreciate till now. But the sad part is, the ‘Adhunik kal’ of Hindi literature that begins in the twentieth century also ends in the same century. If we look from here, the only safe name that we can count in this ‘kal’ of Hindi literature is of Munshi Premchand. Isn’t it?

Yes we can of course name the likes of Javed Akhtar and Asghar Wajaha, but the credit here goes to their Bollywood linkage. And the reason for such negligence and downfall of Hindi literature is the lack of a “sense of urgency” and widespread social activism. Also, one of the reasons can be our increasing interest in English literature. If we’re into books, that only means we’re into English books. It doesn’t straddle between both the languages; it only means English literature. Our negligence and lack of interest is surely responsible for the downfall of Hindi literature.

This paradigm shift gives many a reality check regarding the status of our mother tongue. And to recover this, all we can do is cultivate our interest in Hindi literature. If not, then it’s just the start of the end.