Sunday, July 31, 2016

In the Memory of a Great Writer: Happy Birthday, Munshi Premchand!

“Why a widow, even if Mani were untouchable, or something worse,
she is still a gem of a woman for me.
We look for experienced people,
but when it comes to choosing life partner,
we don’t consider experience a good thing.
I am not one who would strangle justice.
No school can impart experience as adversity does.
The person who has a degree from this school
can easily be trusted with the reins of your life.
In my eyes, being a widow is not a sin for a woman…”

~ Munshi Premchand.
Born: July 31, 1880, Lamhi
Died: October 8, 1936, Varanasi


Hindi Writer Munshi Premchand's Google Doodle on his birthday
Munshi Premchand's Google Doodle celebrating his 136th birthday.

As I logged into Google today morning, I noticed this beautiful doodle on Munshi Premchand, the Hindi Upanyas Samrat, the king of Hindi literature, celebrating his 136th birthday. Soon enough, I was busy scanning my Varanasi pictures folder to look for the 'Munshi Ghat' -  named after the incredibly renowned writer, a native of Benares or Varanasi whose ancestral house lies in Lamhi village on Azamgarh Road.

Munshi Premchand was one of the greatest writers in Hindi and Urdu literature; his thoughts were way ahead of the times and the era that he lived in. Simple, sensitive and poignant in style, his stories often challenged the traditional patterns of thinking and living of the society highlighting the bitter truth not traditionally spoken about or accepted. Through classics like Suhag ka Shav, Miss Padma, Swarg Ki Devi, Thakur ka kuan, Godaan, Ghar Jamai, Nirmala, Bade Bhaisaab, Sava Ser Gehu, Poos ki raat, Boodi Kaki and many many more he touched on many subjects like dowry, untouchability, casteism, remarriage of widows, mismatched marriages, the oppressive plight of women and other deprived weaker sections of the society, or simply dared the many hollow shackles of religious beliefs that accommodated blind acceptance and obedience – as opposed to humane progress by originality or innovation.

For the protagonist – he went for the common man and life was his plot, everything else revolved around them. Through his pen, he dived deep into the depths of the human psyche not with a rational mind but with a sensitive heart that made his voice eternal through time.

Have you read any of the stories by Munshi Premchand?

I consider my admiration for Munshi Premchand as a gift from my father - I never read him in school or college or any time during my growing up years until my father began speaking very highly about this man eventually bringing his special love home – a big fat spirally binded book of Munshi Premchand’s stories that he joyfully savoured in his office with his afternoon tea. Seeing his enthusiastic appreciation, I was encouraged and did give the book a try.

Thanks to my lazy reading instincts though, I have missed out on so many gems by this wonderful man but from the few that I have read is Idgaah – one of my absolute favourites, this story depicting the innocent pure love and affection of a young boy for his grandmother never fails to move my heart from the core.

This google doodle today served a perfect excuse for me to get my hands moving. It was just a matter of seconds that I retrieved this picture of ‘Munshi Premchand Ghat’ from my Varanasi pictures folder. And got working on this post. Everything else after that has been an inspiration - how his love for art rose from the depths of his heart and how his creations have left far reaching echoes in the hearts of many till date.

Soak a few moments in the memory of Munshi Premchand...
at the Munshi Ghat in Varanasi.

Munshi Premchand Ghat, Varanasi
Munshi Ghat in Varanasi dedicated to the Hindi Upanyas Samrat.

Couldn't resist ending this post without a few quotes by him. All of them are in Hindi as he wrote it. For all my friends who don't understand the language, I tried translating but soon gave up realising my pathetic translation skills would take away the soul of the words... please excuse me for the same.

- आशा तो बड़ी चीज़ है, और फिर बच्चों की आशा! उनकी कल्पना तो राई का पर्वत बना लेती है।

- कविता सच्ची भावनाओं का चित्र है, और सच्ची भावनाएं चाहे सुख़ की हो या दुःख की, उसी समय संपन्न होती है जब हम सुख या दुःख का अनुभव करते हैं।

- डरपोक प्राणियों में सत्य भी गूंगा हो जाता है |.

- नमस्कार करने वाला व्यक्ति विनम्रता को ग्रहण करता है
और समाज में सभी के प्रेम का पात्र बन जाता है |

- आत्म सम्मान की रक्षा, हमारा सबसे पहला धर्म है |

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