Sumitranandan Pant | The Doyen of Hindi Literature

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His Life: A Pillar of Chhayavaadi Era

  • Year 1900 – Born in Uttarakhand.
  • Year 1918 – Enrolled at Queens College in Banaras.
  • Year 1927 – Published Veena.
  • Year 1960 – Got the Sahitya Akademi Award.
  • Year 1961 – Was honored with the Padma Bhushan.
  • Year 1968 – Got the first Jnanpith award.

“हिंदी हमारे राष्ट्र की अभिव्यक्ति का सरलतम स्रोत है।”

Sumitranandan Pant was one of the most famous Hindi poets of the twentieth century India known for his progressive left wing poems. He is considered as one of the four pillars of the Chhayavaadi school of Hindi literature.

He was born into an educated middle class family:

Sumitranandan Pant (born Gosain Dutt) was born in Kausani village of Bageshwar district, Uttarakhand on May 20, 1900. His father was Ganga Dutt Pant and his mother was Saraswati Devi. He was the youngest of the seven siblings. His mother died a few hours after his birth. His father served as the manager in a local tea garden and was also a landholder. He grew up in the same village and always cherished a love for beauty and flavor of rural India, which is visible in all his major works.

Let’s look into the personal life of the Bard of Almora:

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He did his early schooling from Almora and then got enrolled at Queens College in Benares in 1918. There he began to read the works of Sarojini Naidu and Rabindranath Tagore, as well as other English Romantic poets. Then he joined Allahabad University for a degree course, but later discontinued it to participate in the freedom struggle.

Sumitranandan Pant was originally named Gosain Dutt by his family. He disliked the name so much that he changed it to Sumitranandan Pant.

Let’s look into the career journey of this Chhayavaadi poet:

Sumitranandan Pant took poetry when he was just seven years old, and happened to be studying in the 4th grade at school. He spent his childhood surrounded by the natural beauty of the mountains and got his motivation from there. His earlier works reflect an inspiring touch of the picturesque serenity. The period from 1907-1918 has been admitted as the first phase of his notable writing career by Sumitranandan himself. The poems that he wrote in this phase were collected together and published in Veena in 1927.

Although he dropped out of graduation to support Mahatma Gandhi’s Satyagraha, he did not compromise on his education and continued to study English, Sanskrit and Bengali literature at home. This pushed his passion for writing even further. It was shortly after the Satyagraha that he went to Sri Aurobindo’s Ashram in Pondicherry and from there onwards he expanded his horizon and started writing in broader backgrounds. There was an indisputable influence after his visit to Sri Aurobindo’s Ashram and the result is very much evident in the poems that he wrote after visiting it. The inspiration he got from Aurobindo’s philosophy nevertheless, was weird. Pant had taken a shift from spirituality to Marxism and started to include a more caring theme in his writings.

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Gradually, he included progressive, philosophical, socialist, and also humanistic poems in his collection. In the year 1960, Pant received the Sahitya Akademi Award for his work Kala and Burha Chand which was a gathering of all the poems written by him in 1958.

He was the first Hindi poet to receive the Jnanpith Award:

In 1968, he became the first Hindi poet to receive the Jnanpith Award. This was awarded to him for the collection of his most famous poems titled Chidambara. The Indian Government honored him with the Padma Bhushan in 1961.

He breathed his last in Allahabad (Prayagraj), Uttar Pradesh:

Sumitranandan Pant passed away on 28 December 1977. The house in which he grew up in Kausani has been turned into a museum and its displays original documents, poems, photos, letters, and his awards.

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