Munshi Premchand is considered the Indian literature’s Mahatma Gandhi – and that is not without reasons.
Leaving a frugal life, he gave India (and the world) literary works (novels, short stories and essays) that were for everyone – speaking for the people on the margins – and speaking of the people forming the exploitative hub of societies.
If he portrayed social sensitivities in a language that the people spoke, he also tickled their funny bones with situational comedies much before their formal inauguration by the entertainment industry.
Without any doubt we can say that he was the biggest among his contemporaries that the modern Indian literature (Hindustani literature) produced. His grip was in the fact that he was the people’s writer who didn’t need decorative metaphors to prove his mettle.
And he remains the greatest of his field – with his unique skills and works. Yes, we are fortunate that we have had many luminaries of the Hindi literature since the 18th Century but Munshi Premchand stands tallest among them.
India realized that a long ago. And Premchand ji was a craze even outside India – in countries with socialist bent of mind like Russia. His anti-feudal writing was like an eye-opener. You can easily identify where his works belong if you are not among the few super-elite of India and the pseudo modernists.
And the thing is – his writing remains relevant even today – because the basics of Indian social weaving have not changed much. The social malaise that he focused on in his writings – feudalism, poverty, corruption, humiliating condition of women and girls, class divides and social layers – still form the distorted spinal cord of our society.
Like our Father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, connected the dots and transformed us into a strong cohesive unit to fight the British colonialism – inspired by the Mahatma’s Non-cooperation Movement, Premchand ji went on to reflect on social issues of the time in his writings, connecting to the readers of his works – provoking them to think. He established himself as the parallel of Mahatma Gandhi in the Indian literary landscape of the time.
And he still he provokes us, stirs our souls.
While Premchand ji has been translated in almost every Indian language and many foreign languages, it is the Hindi speaking belt of north, east, central and west India that must feel indebted to him. And he has a special place in hearts of the people from Varanasi, the city he belonged to. His birthplace in Lamhi is a must visit for any proud Banarasi and I know I am a proud Banarasi.
When I woke up this morning and saw the Google doodle paying tribute to our literary Gandhi on his birth anniversary on July 31, it was like summing up my all those feelings. We all know Google does some sincere things and it was one of them. I loved the image and the idea that went behind it – a doodle focusing on the central settings (the rural India) in most of the literary works written by Munshi Premchand – in this case his last novel Godaan published in 1936.
Google says about Munshi Premchand – “Today’s homepage celebrates a man who filled many pages (of a different kind) with words that would forever change India’s literary landscape.”
Thanks Google – from a proud Indian (and Banarasi).
Feature Image Courtesy: Google Doodle on Munshi Premchand