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Exploring the Life and Works of Maithili Sharan Gupt

Maithili Sharan Gupt is not only considered one of the most important of the modern poets of Hindi literature, whose literary genius is remembered by only some at the current times but he is also considered to be one of the few pioneers of Khari Boli or the plain dialect poetry in his times.

While most of the Hindi poets were the followers of the difficult Braj Bhasha dialect while writing their poems, Maithili Sharan Gupt being the man he was, preferred the use of the Khari Boli dialect, which could be read and understood by the masses as well as the class with equal ease. That was the greatness of this man who believed that poetry is for everyone and not only for some of the highly literate few. Currently, his dialect of writing poetry is extensively used by all Hindi poets to date.

Coming from a modest family background, this poetic genius was born in a small city in the Jhansi district in Uttar Pradesh in Chirgaon in a Gahoi family. Ghalois was a term that describes the class, mainly traders and merchants residing in Central India during British rule. While he was wary of attending school in childhood, his family arranged for home tuitions, where he learned various languages like Sanskrit, Bengali and English. While other than the languages mentioned above, Maithili Sharan Gupt learned in his childhood, his deep knowledge and understanding of Hindi literature might be accredited to his home tutor Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi, who himself was a stalwart in the Hindi modern literature segment, who influenced his interest in Hindi literature to a great extent.

Even though this literary genius of a man, Maithili Sharan Gupt, did not have formal schooling, he still managed pretty well to make his name in the Hindi literature circuit of his times and also in the current times due to his profound knowledge of the Hindi language, the Khari Boli dialect became his medium via which he wrote in numerous drama, poetry and translations from other languages with utter ease.

The literary life of this great icon and hero of modern Hindi literature started when he started writing Hindi poems in well-known and renowned Hindi magazines such as Saraswati. While writing poetry in the Hindi dialect, the first time his name was recognized by the masses and the classes was when his work, “Rang Mein Bhang”, was published in 1910 by the Indian Press.
While most of the subjects of his poetry and the plots of his plays were inspired by mythology, like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, he also took an extreme interest in dealing with the times and lives of various great religious leaders from across the world, leaving India alone. In these lines, he has published and written various poems revolving around the characters in the life of Gautama Buddha, like the one he wrote about Yashodhara, the wife of Gautama Buddha, in his story “Yashodhara” in 1932. Another of his literary genius can be seen in “Saket”, which deals with the story of Lakshmana’s wife in Ramayana, Urmila, penned down by him in 1931.

In his time, Maithili Sharan Gupt, along with bringing the Khari Boli dialect of Hindi into his writing, also brought back the epic tradition with his long narrative poems, traces of which are found in all his major work along with others such as Jayadrath Vadh written in the year 1910 and Panchavati which he wrote in the year 1925.

If the general impression of this man in your mind has only been that he had only written about religion and religious characters and subjects throughout his life, you would be gravely mistaken. Where his interests lay in religion, his role in the still British-dominated India was not excused. This great man was well aware of the times his country was going through, which may have compelled him to pen down a collection of poems published in British-dominated India named “Bharat Bharati”, which spoke of his nationalistic spirit and support to the freedom fighters of the nation who were toiling hard to achieve independence in the nation.

“Bidya Bharti” was one of the most popular nationalist works of this poet, Maithili Sharan Gupt, which served as a medium of inspiration to the freedom fighters of the times and was also one to be widely circulated across the country too. This was the man you might fail to judge if you did not know of his patriotic spirit.

Along with poetry and drama, Maithili Sharan Gupt as a writer, was also associated with translations to a large extent. The most noticeable of his translation work included the likes of “Swapnavaasavdatta” and the “Rubaiyat”, both of which he translated into Hindi from Sanskrit.

While most of us know this man as the “National Poet”, an honorary title bestowed upon him for his literary work in Hindi poetry, whose career spanned more than fifty-seven years, some of his time had also been dedicated to the nation.

While this man was always impressed with his writing skills, he joined India’s politics after the nation gained independence in 1947. During this time, Maithili Sharan Gupt was appointed an honorary member of the Rajya Sabha in the Indian Parliament. Even when he was actively a part of the Indian political system, this gem of a man did not leave writing where he had been quoted to present his opinions in the Parliament in terms of poetry.

A member of the Parliament, an avid Hindi literature reviver, a writer, a poet, a translator, a reformer, a freedom activist supporter and a playwright, Maithili Sharan Gupt has given the world some of the works we would never forget.

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