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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Modern Meera

Mahadevi Varma (26 March 1907– September 11, 1987) best known as outstanding Hindi poet, was also a freedom fighter, woman's activist and educationist. She was also a famous poet of Hindi Kavi Sammelan. She is widely regarded as the "modern Meera". She was a major poet of the Chhayavaad generation, a period of romanticism in Modern Hindi poetry ranging from 1914-1938. With passage of time, her limited but outstanding prose has also being recognised as unique in Hindi Literature.She was the Principal, and then the Vice Chancellor of Prayag Mahila Vidyapeeth, a woman's residential college in Allahabad. She was awarded, India's highest literary award, for lifetime achievement, the Sahitya Akademi Fellowship in 1979, followed by the Jnanpith Award in 1982.

Mahadevi was born in Farrukhabad, United Provinces in a family of lawyers. She was educated at Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh. She was the eldest child of Govindprasad and Hemrani and had two brothers and a sister, Shyama. She was married in 1914 with Dr Swarup Narain Varma in Indore at a tender age of 7. She stayed with her parents while her husband studied in Lucknow to complete his education, during which time, she received her higher education at the Allahabad University and passed her B.A. examination in 1929 and completed her M.A. in Sanskrit in 1933. She later joined her husband in the princely state of Tamkoi around 1920 and later moved to Allahabad to pursue her interest in poetry with agreement from her husband, as she refused to accept her marriage with him in childhood. Mahadevi Varma and her husband mostly lived separately pursuing their respective interests and used to meet occasionally.

After the death of her husband in 1966, she moved permanently to Allahabad and lived there until her death. Mahadevi Varma was deeply affected by Buddhism and also contributed to the Indian freedom movement. She even tried to become a Buddhist bhikshuni.Mahadevi was appointed as the first headmistress of Allahabad (Prayag) Mahila Vidyapeeth, which was started with a view to imparting cultural and literary education to girls through Hindi medium. Later, she became the chancellor of the institute.

She died on September 11, 1987 at 9:27 pm. Her bunglow still stands at Ashok Nagar colony in Allahabad. It is under possession of descendants of her deceased secretary, Pt. Ganga Prasad Pandey. On her birth centenary year (2007), they have recreated a room dedicated to her memory. Mahadevi Verma (1907–87) : was educated in Allahabad, where she founded the 'Prayag Mahila Vidyapitha', promoting education for girls. An active freedom fighter, Mahadevi Verma is regarded as one of the four pillars of the great Romantic movement in modern Hindi poetry, Chayavada, the remaining three being Suryakant Tripathi 'Nirala', Jaishankar Prasad and Sumitranandan Pant. She is renowned for her book of memoirs, Atit Ke Chalchitra (The Moving Frames of the Past) and Smriti Ki Rekhayen (The Lines of Memory). Her poetic canvas boasts Dipshikha (The Flame of an Earthen Lamp, 1942), a book comprising fifty one lyrics, all of which carry maturity of expression and intense mystical quality. Some of her other famous publications are Nihar (1930), Rashmi (1932), Neerja (1934), and Sandhya Geet (1936). Of her four prose works, Shrinkhala ki Kadiyan deals with the plight of Indian women. Her reflections on art and literature included in Sahityakaar ki Astha, evince a highly cultivated aesthetic sensibility, firmly rooted in the permanent values of life.

In 1935, She was appointed Honorary Editor of the famous Hindi monthly magazine Chand. She was honoured with the Padma Bhushan by the President of India. She died on 14 September 1987.Mahadevi is considered to be one of the four major poets of the Chhayavaadi school of the Hindi literature, others being Suryakant Tripathi 'Nirala', Jaishankar Prasad and Sumitranandan Pant. She was also a noted painter. She drew a number of illustrations for her poetic works like Deepshikha and Yama.

Her poems have been published under a number of other titles as well, but they contain the poems from these collections only. They include:
  • Neehar (1930)
  • Agnirekha (1990, published after her death)
  • pagal hai kya?(1971, published in 2005)
Mahadevi Varma's creative talents and sharp intellect soon earned her a prominent place in Hindi Literary world. She is considered among the four pillars of the Chaayavad movement. In 1934, she received Sekseriya Purashkar from the Hindi Sahitya Sammelan for her work, Niraja. Her poetry collection (Yama, यामा-1936) received the Jnanpith Award, one of the highest Indian literary award.In 1956, Government of India bestowed her with the award of Padma Bhushan. She was the first woman to be awarded the Sahitya Akademi Fellowship, in 1979.In 1988, Indian Government bestowed her with the title of Padma Vibhushan.

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