Harivansh Rai Bachchan | An Indian Poet of Hindi Literature

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His Life: An inspiration to the world

  • Year 1907 – Born in Babupatti, Allahabad, U.P.
  • Year 1926 – Married to Shyama, his first wife
  • Year 1935 – Published ‘Madhushala’
  • Year 1953 – Went to Cambridge to pursue his Doctoral thesis
  • Year 1955 – Joined Hindi cell of the External Affairs Ministry
  • Year 1984 – Published his last poem
  • Year 1969 – Received Sahitya Academy Award
  • Year 2003 – Harivansh Rai Bachchan left this mortal world

A body of clay, a mind full of play, a moment’s life- that is me!

This is how one of the pioneer of Hindi Literature, ‘Harivansh Rai Bachchan’ described himself. He was the true torch bearer of the ‘Romantic upsurge literary movement’. He was a rebellious poet who has penned some great poems. Madhushala is one of his classics that evokes a kind of enchantment that’s rare to feel.

Personal Life

Born in the year 1907 in the village Babupatti near Allahabad in a Kayastha family, he was son of Pratap Narayan Shrivastav and Saraswati Devi.He was their eldest born baby, and called as ‘Bachchan’ due to his childish activities. Later on, he started using it as his surname.

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Harivansh Rai Bachchan started his education from a municipal school, later he pursued his higher education from Allahabad university and Banaras Hindu University. In 1941, he taught English in Allahabad University till 1952. He then went o Cambridge to do his doctorate in English Literature. During the time, he married to his first wife Shyama who passed away succumbing to TB. Five years later, ‘Bachchan’ married to ‘Teji Suri’ with whom he had two children- Amitabh Bachchan and Ajitabh Bachchan.

Career Journey

Right after coming back from Cambridge in 1955, he joined the Hindi cell of the external affairs ministry where he worked for 10 years. During his tenure, he promoted Hindi as an Official language. He is best remembered for his 142 verse lyrical poem “Madhushala” which was published in 1935. After release of this poem, He emerged as the foremost Hindi poet, And this poem was later on translated into English and in many other Indian languages. The poem was loved by people so much that people started performing on stages everywhere.

In 1966, Harivansh Rai Bachchan was nominated to the Rajya Sabha and in 1969 he received the Sahitya Akademi Award. For ‘Bachchan’, “Madhushala” was a part of his poetic trilogy, the other two being Madhubaala and Madhukalash. In 1969, he published the first of his four part autobiography ‘Kya bhooloon kya yaad karoon’. The second part ‘Need ka nirmaan fir’ was published in 1970, the third ‘Basere se door’ in 1977 and the last part ‘Dashdwaar se sopaan tak’ in 1985. The series went very famous and its English version, ‘In the Afternoon of Time’ was published in 1998 by Rupert Snell. It is now considered to be a landmark in Hindi literature.

Throughout his teaching career and while working in the External Affairs ministry and later, Bachchan published about 30 poetry collections as well as other works in Hindi like essays, drama, stories and a few songs for the Hindi film industry. He also read his poems to large audiences. His last poem ‘Ek November 1984′ which was based on Indira Gandhi’s assassination, was written in November 1984.  Seven years later the Government of India bestowed on him the Padma Bhushan in recognition for his contribution to Hindi literature. In addition he was also awarded with the Lotus Award of the Afro-Asian writers’ conference, the SaraswatiSamman, and the Sovietland Nehru Award.

Awards & Recognitions

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A postage stamp was released on Nov 27, 2003 to commemorate the life and spirit of Harivansh Rai Bachchan.  The President of India conferred the “Padma Bhushan” on him in 1976.

Later Life

He was suffering from respiratory ailments. At the age of 95, Harivansh Rai Bachchan breathed his last breath and left the mortal world on 18th January, 2003.

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