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

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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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21 comments:

  1. I haven't read much of his works, I am not an avid reader anyway.

    Anyway, a great tribute to him! Such simplicity in his words!

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  2. Aarti: Aapne ek atee uttam blog post likhee hai. Mere jaise desi log jo Munshi Premchand kee kahaniyon ko hee pad kar bade huye hain unke liye yeh jaise bachpan kee kuch yadon ka lot ana hai. Upar say Banaras kee yeh Munshi Ghat kee tasveer bahut hee badiya. Main Munshi Ghat gaya hoon par kabhee socha nahi tha kee yeh Munshi Premchand kee smriti main hai. :)

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  3. Never read his books but heard a lot about him from my elders. Thank you for enlightening us with such wonderful information about Munshi Ji's works and simple life lessons. :)

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  4. Premchand is one of my favorite authors. I have read some of his works in my school and college days as Hindi was one of subjects.Though I am from South, I love reading Hindi and Urdu.

    I like his works very much,like those of Sarath Chandra Chatterji. Though I have read some of his novels, I like short stories, especially like Shatraj ke Khiladi. This was made into a movie and it is a treat to watch many time with actors like Sanjeev Kumar, Amzad Khan, Farooq Shaik and Shabana Azmi among many other good actors.

    Nice post. You took me back down the memory lane. Thank you :)

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  5. Munshi Premchand was a writer for the grass root people like me and has inspired the generations with his writing like no one else. A lovely tribute Arti!

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  6. He deserve all our accolades for his condemning the cruelty of customs

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  7. This was such a beautiful tribute, Arti. I have read many of his stories when I was growing up and always felt how he could connect beautifully with those simple emotions and he was way ahead of his times. Recently my younger son had Idgaah in his Hindi text and he was so touched by it that he asked me to get some more of his stories. I was elated. I also remember that there was a great serial that was based on one of his stories that used to come a long time back and I used to love watching it. I loved the doodle too. I really enjoyed this post!

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  8. Beautiful tribute to a great one...Thank you:-)

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  9. Just beautiful(: I saw the doogle about Munshi Premchand but did not read the details, but after reading your post I want to read his works even though I am not so hindi saavy like don't read hindi, just watch hindi stuff... he indeed had very awesome thoughts, I loved the beggining english quote on cause for remarriage of women(:... having such thoughts in his era was definitely something(: ... lovely

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  10. Beautiful post, Arti. I've read his translated works- they reflect the subtle nuances of life and society wonderfully. A nice tribute to a great writer... :-)

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  11. Very well written. loved reading it. i have read some of his books.

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  12. Great tribute. Awesome post, Thanks for sharing.

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  13. Lovely tribute and a timely one too. :)
    The ghat looks great. I love how the buildings and the steps in the foreground look like ONE piece of art. :) Lovely colour. :)

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  14. I have read many stories of him in school. They were best indeed. Your post is a great tribute to this legend.

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  15. Thanks for the post, I read most of the stories recently(1 year). I like Bade Bhaisaab and pretty much everthing I have read of him so far. Cheers.

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  16. A beautiful tribute. Thanks for introducing me to this great poet, Arti.

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  17. Great knowing this writer whose writing seems to be revolutionary, even at that time period! Despite his writing, breaking certain customs and rules followed blindfolded, a Ghat dedicated at the devotional centre, Varanasi is quite impressive

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  18. Goodness! I had totally forgotten about him. Being from South India, we aren't well acquainted with Hindi writers. But I do remember learning Harivansh Rai Bachchan's poems and Premchand's stories. I remembered the former. But not the latter. Now, as I read this post, it all came to me. I think it was an excerpt from Idgaah we had to learn in our CBSE curriculum. I should probably go hunt for the book. This post has inspired me to read his work. Specially the one we learnt. :)

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  19. Not known to me, but Totally enjoyed reading your tribute to him dear friend- beautiful and interesting --- and great pic. Hope you are well and happy. Sending you BIG hugs:-)

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  20. Great post!
    Din't know there was a Munshi Ghat in Varanasi!

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  21. Hi Arti! Am so glad you wrote this post. Even I was reminded of the great man when I saw the doodle. I think he is one of the finest writers, and I am not saying 'Hindi writers' on purpose -he could convey emotions like the anguish and helplessness of the poor and unfortunate in such simple words. We need more like him.

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