Allahabad: A city of literary doyen

Allahabad is a venue for Urdu-Hindi literary feat.

A feast for the lovers of art and literature, Allahabad is a venue for Urdu-Hindi literary feat. Allahabad is a cradle of the Hindi and Urdu literary world which attracts writers, poets and scholars from all over the world. 

Allahabad has been a political hub since the very beginning and has also contributed to the making of at least six prime ministers, namely Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira and Rajiv Gandhi, Lal Bahadur Shastri, VP Singh and Chandrashekhar and it is very well known that politics leads to creation and invention of different forms art, poetry, stories.  

Art and writing, poems and stories, basically any form of art is revolutionary and hence, there was also a literary movement taking place during the time when politics was at its peak in Allahabad. One of the contributing factors was the Allahabad University, which was for a long while referred to by the proud alumni as the “Oxford of the East”. 

The city is also associated with some of the literary giants of the Hindi-Urdu world in the last century. Some of the legends are mentioned below: 

1.Sumitranandan Pant: Sumitranandan Pant was an Indian poet. He was one of the most celebrated 20th century poets of the Hindi language and was known for romanticism in his poems which were inspired by nature, people and beauty within. 

He is considered one of the major poets of the Chhayavaadi school of Hindi literature. Pant mostly wrote in Sanskritized Hindi. Pant authored twenty-eight published works including poetry, verse plays and essays. Apart from Chhayavaadi poems, Pant also wrote progressive, socialist, humanist poems and philosophical (influenced by Sri Aurobindo) poems. Pant eventually moved beyond this style. As the late scholar and translator of Pant, David Rubin, writes, “In the early forties the new psychological and experimental “schools” were emerging. It was typical of both Nirala and Pant that they themselves anticipated these trends and, by the time the new approaches were in vogue, they had already moved on to newer areas of experimentation.” 

2.Mahadevi Varma: Mahadevi Varma was an Indian Hindi-language poet and a novelist. She is considered one of the four major pillars of the Chhayawadi era in Hindi literature. She has been also addressed as the Modern Meera.  Poet Nirala had once called her “Saraswati in the vast temple of Hindi Literature”. Varma had witnessed India both before and after independence. She was one of those poets who worked for the wider society of India. Not only her poetry but also her social upliftment work and welfare development among women were also depicted deeply in her writings. These largely influenced not only the readers but also the critics especially through her novel Deepshikha. Varma was a feminist par-excellence even before the term became trendy in public discourse. She was turned down by her husband only a few years after marriage. Her looks were not the kind that the fashion industry portrays as desirable, but the physicality of being has little to do with the beauty of her soul and intellect. 

3.Firaq Gorakhpuri: Raghupati Sahay, better known under his pen name Firaq Gorakhpuri, was a writer, critic, and, according to one commentator, one of the most noted contemporary Urdu poets from India. He established himself among peers including Muhammad Iqbal, Yagana Changezi, Jigar Moradabadi and Josh Malihabadi. Some of his works are as followed, 

  • Gul-e-Naghma 
  • Gul-e-Ra’naa 
  • Mash’aal 
  • Rooh-e-Kaayenaat 
  • Roop   

4. Harivansh Rai Bachchan: Harivansh Rai Bachchan was an Indian poet and writer of the Nayi Kavita literary movement (romantic upsurge) of early 20th century Hindi literature. He was also a poet of the Hindi Kavi Sammelan. He is best known for his early work Madhushala. He is also the husband of social activist, Teji Bachchan, father of Amitabh Bachchan and Ajitabh Bachchan, and grandfather of Abhishek Bachchan. In 1976, he received the Padma Bhushan for his service to Hindi literature. 

As the river Saraswati flows in the city and is regarded as the goddess of education according to the Hindu scriptures, hence, Allahabad is gifted with literature. The city is buffet of art and literature and is a feast for explorers.