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AUTHOR OF THE WEEK : HARIVANSH RAI BACHCHAN

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK

APRIL IV WEEK, 2011

Harivansh Rai Bachchan


Harivansh Bachchan

Born November 27, 1907
Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh
Died January 18, 2003(2003-01-18) (aged 95)
Mumbai, India
Occupation Poet
Spouse(s) Shyama (1926 – 1936), Teji Bachchan (1941 – 2003 his death)

Harivansh Rai “Bachchan” Shrivastav (November 27, 1907– January 18, 2003) was a distinguished Hindi poet of Chhayavaad literary movement (romantic upsurge) of early 20th century Hindi literature. He was also a famous poet of Hindi Kavi Sammelan. He is best known for his early work Madhushala (मधुशाला).[1] He is also the father of Bollywood megastar, Amitabh Bachchan.

Personal life and education

Born in a Srivastava Kayastha family, in the village of Babupatti (Raniganj) in the district of Pratapgarh, U.P. near Allahabad in the United Provinces (modern Uttar Pradesh). He was the eldest son of Pratap Narayan Shrivastav and Saraswati Devi. He was called bachchan (meaning ‘child-like’) at home. He received his formal schooling in a municipal school and followed the family tradition of attending Kayastha Paathshaalas (कायस्थ पाठशाला) to learn Urdu as the first step to a career in law. He later studied at the Allahabad University and Banaras Hindu University. In this period, he came under the influence of the independence movement, then under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi.

Realizing that this was not the path he wanted to follow, he went back to the university. However from 1941 to 1952 he taught in the English Department at the Allahabad University and after that he spent the next two years at Cambridge University doing his doctoral thesis on W.B. Yeats. It was then, that he used ‘Bachchan’ as his last name instead of Srivastava. Harivanshrai’s thesis got him his PhD at Cambridge. He is the second Indian to get his doctorate in English literature from Cambridge. After returning to India he again took to teaching and also served at All India Radio, Allahabad.

In 1926, at the age of 19, Bachchan married his first wife, Shyama, who was then 14 years old. However she died ten years later in 1936 after a long spell of TB at just 24 years of age. Bachchan again married, Teji Bachchan, in 1941. They had two sons, Amitabh and Ajitabh.

In 1955, Harivanshrai shifted to Delhi to join the External Affairs Ministry as an officer on Special duty and during the period of 10 years that he served he was also associated with the evolution of Hindi as the official language. He also enriched Hindi through his translations of major writings. As a poet is famous for his poem Madhushala (a bar selling alcoholic drinks). Besides Omar Khayyam’s Rubaiyat, he will also be remembered for his Hindi translations of Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Othello and also the Bhagvad Gita. However in Nov 1984 he wrote his last poem ‘Ek November1984’ on Indira Gandhi’s assassination.

Harivanshrai was nominated to the Indian Rajya Sabha in 1966 and received the Sahitya Akademi award three years later. In 1976 he was honoured with the Padma Bhushan for his immense contribution to Hindi literature. He was also honoured with the Saraswati Samman, the Sovietland Nehru Award and the Lotus Award of the Afro-Asian writers’ conference, for his unique contribution to the world of letters. But if ever asked to introduce himself, he had a simple introduction: Mitti ka tan, masti ka man, kshan-bhar jivan — mera parichay. (A body of clay, a mind full of play, a moment’s life – that is me.).

Bachchan died on January 18, 2003, at the age of 95, as a result of various respiratory ailments.[2] His wife Teji Bachchan died four years later in 2007, at the age of 93.

Career

Teaching career

From 1941 to 1952 he taught English Literature at Allahabad University and then spent two years at Cambridge University, at St Catharine’s College. There he studied with the famous English literature don, Thomas Rice Henn, and received a doctorate in English Literature for his work on the Irish poet W.B. Yeats and Occultism. It was there that he used Bachchan as his last name instead of ‘srivastava. He was the second Indian to get his doctorate in English literature from Cambridge University.

After returning to India, he taught briefly and then worked as a producer for All India Radio,mumbai In 1955, he moved to Delhi to join the Ministry of External Affairs of the Government of India and there he was closely involved with the evolution of Hindi as the official language of India.

Popular culture

One of his inspirational poems, Agneepath (“Path of fire”), was used as the theme (and its title as the title) for the 1991 blockbuster movie featuring his actor son Amitabh Bachchan, as a ruthless mafia don. This movie was a failure commercially but earned Amitabh Bachchan a National Award for his performance. You can see Amitabh narrating the poem through out the movie.

The poem describes the entire gamut of sufferings that the human race had gone through and is going through.

Awards and honors

Bachchan was nominated to the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of the Indian Parliament in 1966, and received the Sahitya Academy Award in 1969. In 1976, he was honoured with the Padma Bhushan and the Saraswati Samman for his contribution to Hindi literature. In 1994, he was conferred with the “Yash Bharati” Samman by the Government of Uttar Pradesh. [1] He is a recipient of the Soviet Land Nehru Award and the Lotus Award of the Afro-Asian writers conference.

In 2003, an Indian postage stamp was released in his memory.

List of works

Poems

  • Madhushala (1935)
  • Madhubala (मधुबाला) (1936)
  • Madhukalash (मधुकलश) (1937)
  • Nisha Nimantran (निशा निमंत्रण) (1938)
  • Ekaant Sangeet (एकांत संगीत) (1939)
  • Aakul Antar (आकुल अंतर) (1943)
  • Satarangini (सतरंगिनी) (1945)
  • Halaahal (हलाहल) (1946)
  • Bengal ka Kaavya (बंगाल का काव्य) (1946)
  • Kaadi ke Phool (खादी के फूल) (1948)
  • Soot ki Maala (सूत की माला) (1948)
  • Milan Yamini (मिलन यामिनी) (1950)
  • Pranay Patrika (प्रणय पत्रिका) (1955)
  • Dhaar ke idhar udhar (धार के इधर उधर) (1957)
  • Aarti aur Angaare (आरती और अंगारे) (1958)
  • Buddha aur Naachghar (बुद्ध और नाचघर) (1958)
  • Tribhangima (त्रिभंगिमा) (1961)
  • Chaar kheme Chaunsath khoonte (चार खेमे चौंसठ खूंटे) (1962)
  • Do Chattane (दो चट्टानें) (1965)
  • Bahut din beete (बहुत दिन बीते) (1967)
  • Kat-ti pratimaaon ki awaaz (कटती प्रतिमाओं की आवाज़) (1968)
  • Ubharte pratimaano ke roop (उभरते प्रतिमानों के रूप) (1969)
  • Jaal sameta (जाल समेटा) (1973)
  • Nirman
MiscellaneousBachpan ke saath kshan bhar (बचपन के साथ क्षण भर) (1934)

  • Khaiyyam ki madhushala (खय्याम की मधुशाला) (1938)
  • Sopaan (सोपान) (1953)
  • Mcbeth (1957)
  • Jangeet (जनगीता) (1958)
  • Othello (1959)
  • Omar Khaiyyam ki rubaaiyan (उमर खय्याम की रुबाइयाँ) (1959)
  • Kaviyon ke saumya sant: Pant (कवियों के सौम्य संत: पंत) (1960)
  • Aaj ke lokpriya Hindi kavi: Sumitranandan Pant (आज के लोकप्रिय हिन्दी कवि: सुमित्रानंदन पंत) (1960)
  • Aadhunik kavi: 7 (आधुनिक कवि: ७) (1961)
  • Nehru: Raajnaitik jeevanchitra (नेहरू: राजनैतिक जीवनचित्र) (1961)
  • Naye puraane jharokhe (नये पुराने झरोखे) (1962)
  • Abhinav sopaan (अभिनव सोपान) (1964)
  • Chausath roosi kavitaayein (चौसठ रूसी कवितायें) (1964)
  • W.B. Yeats and Occultism (1968)
  • Markat dweep ka swar (मरकट द्वीप का स्वर) (1968)
  • Naagar geet (नागर गीत) (1966)
  • Bachpan ke lokpriya geet (बचपन के लोकप्रिय गीत) (1967)
  • Hamlet (1969)
  • Bhaasha apni bhaav paraaye (भाषा अपनी भाव पराये) (1970)
  • Pant ke sau patra (पंत के सौ पत्र) (1970)
  • Pravaas ki diary (प्रवास की डायरी) (1971)
  • King Lear (1972)
  • Tooti Chooti kadiyan (टूटी छूटी कड़ियां) (1973)
  • Meri kavitaayi ki aadhi sadi (मेरी कविताई की आधी सदी) (1981)
  • So-ham hans (सोहं हंस) (1981)
  • Aathve dashak ki pratinidhi shreshth kavitaayein (आठवें दशक की प्रतिनिधी श्रेष्ठ कवितायें) (1982)
  • Meri shreshth kavitaayein (मेरी श्रेष्ठ कवितायें) (1984)
  • Jo beet gai so Bat gai

Harivanshrai Bachchan Biography

Harivanshrai Srivastav (November 27, 1907 – January 18, 2003) was a Hindi poet.

He born in an ordinary Kayasth family in a small town near Allahabad. He was called “bachchan” at home, which means “child.” He received his formal schooling in a municipal school and attended Kayasth Paathshaalas to learn Urdu, which was the family tradition so as to help getting jobs in court. He completed his later education both at the Allahabad University and Banaras Hindu University. Since he gave up his university education to participate in the great upsurge of nationalism that began in 1930.

Realizing that this was not the path he wanted to follow, he went back to university. However from 1941 to 1952 he taught in the English Department at the Allahabad University and after that he spent the next two years at Cambridge University doing his doctoral thesis on W.B. Yeats. It was then, that he used ‘Bachchan’ as his last name instead of Srivasta. Harivanshrai’s thesis got him his PhD at Cambridge. He however is the second Indian to get his doctorate in English literature from Cambridge. After returning to India he again took to teaching and also served at All India Radio, Allahabad.

In 1955, Harivanshrai shifted to Delhi to join the External Affairs Ministry as an officer on Special duty and during the period of 10 years that he served he was also associated with the evolution of Hindi as the official language. He also enriched Hindi through his translations of major writings. As a poet is famous for his poem Madhushala (a bar selling alcoholic drinks). Besides Omar Khayyam’s Rubaiyat, he will also be remembered for his Hindi translations of Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Othello and also the Bhagvad Gita. However in Nov 1984 he wrote his last poem ‘Ek November1984’ on Indira Gandhi’s assassination.

He got married to Shyama his first wife in 1926. She was just 14 yrs old. But she died 10 yrs later after suffering from a long spell of TB. Shortly after her death Harivanshrai married Teji Suri in 1942. The birth of his two sons Amitabh and Ajitabh changed the course of his life as his days of hardship ended when both his sons did extremely well in their careers – Amitabh became a superstar and a multi billionaire and Ajitab turned out to be a successful business magnate in England.

Harivanshrai was nominated to the Indian Rajya Sabha in 1966 and received the Sahitya Akademi award three years later. In 1976 he was honoured with the Padma Bhushan for his immense contribution to Hindi literature. He was also honoured with the Saraswati Samman, the Sovietland Nehru Award and the Lotus Award of the Afro-Asian writers’ conference, for his unique contribution to the world of letters. But if ever asked to introduce himself, he had a simple introduction: Mitti ka tan, masti ka man, kshan-bhar jivan — mera parichay. (A body of clay, a mind full of play, a moment’s life – that is me.).

Dr. Harivanshrai Bachchan’ passed away on January 18, 2003, Dr Bachchan was 94 years old and had been suffering from serious respiratory ailments.

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