Dr. Harivansh Rai Bachchan was regarded as a highly respected poet who achieved widespread acclaim. He has a distinct style of writing poetry that has inspired people of all ages in the modern era. He was a man of exceptional talents, and his works not only had a significant impact on the world of literature, but he also played an important role in the country's freedom movement. His poetry is distinguished by a sense of life and playfulness that can be felt deeply by those who read it.
Throughout his 60-year career, his work depicted Neo-romanticism, and he was regarded as a leader of the Chhayavaad or Romantic upsurge literary movement, but in his later years, he was better known for being Amitabh Bachchan's father than for his own work. Thousands of people from all over would flock to theatres and auditoriums in the past, eager to hear his poems, with the most popular and famous poem, 'Madushala,' being the most sought after. His poetry was renowned for its lyrical beauty, rebellious attitude, and powerfully vivid imagery, which distinguished it from the works of his Chhayavaad contemporaries.
Biography of Harivansh Rai Bachchan (1907 -2003)
Also Read: Biography of Prithviraj Chauhan (1166-1192)
Harivansh Rai Bachchan established himself as the archetypal romantic rebel and became a literary icon. In his poems, he was able to capture the common man's deep desire for freedom while also encapsulating the sensuality that drove this desire, making him an important literary figure who was widely accepted by the public.
On November 27, 1907, the great Harivansh Rai 'Bachchan' Srivastav was born to Pratap Narayan Shrivastav and Saraswati Devi, members of the Kayastha family, in the Babupatti village located in the Pratapgarh District near Allahabad. Being born first, he was the oldest member of the family. His playful and innocent behaviour during his childhood made him well-loved and he was given the nickname 'Bachchan' as a result. He was given the nickname, and over time it developed into one of the most recognisable names that was associated with him.
Education and Early life
The first stop on Harivansh Rai Bachchan's educational path was a municipal institution. He started going to Kayasth Paathshaalas and studying Urdu at the same time. He then completed his education at Banaras Hindu University and Allahabad University. He entered the English department at Allahabad University in 1941 and remained there as a faculty member until 1952.
He then spent two years at Cambridge finishing his doctoral paper on W.B. Yeats, making him the second Indian to receive a Ph. D. in English Literature from this institution. At this point, he stopped using Srivastav in his identity and switched to using the family name Bachchan. When he got back to India, he carried on teaching and occasionally worked at the All India Radio Allahabad Station.
Upon his return to India in 1955, he was given the role of a Hindi expert in the Ministry of External Affairs for the Government of India. Where he was given the task of translating official documents into Hindi. He devoted ten years of his life to working in his position.
During this period, he was also very dedicated to the cause of making Hindi the official language of India, and he took the initiative to translate some of the most famous works, such as “Macbeth”, “Othello”, “Bhagvad Gita”, the works of W.B Yeats and the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, into Hindi. Later, the Government of India acknowledged Harivansh Rai Bachchan by nominating him as a member of the Rajya Sabha.
Shyama Devi (First wife)
Bachchan's initial matrimonial alliance was with Shyama Devi. On the day of their marriage, he was just nineteen years old. He was married to a woman who had just turned fourteen. Unfortunately, due to Shyama Devi's diagnosis with Tuberculosis at the age of 24, their marriage was unable to last for a long time, and she passed away in 1936.
Teji Bachchan (Second wife)
The flow of time refused to be stalled, continuing on its course. It has been five years since this event occurred. In the year 1941, Bachchan decided to enter into a second marriage with Teji Bachchan. Teji was born to a Punjabi Sikh Khatri family that resided in Lyallpur, Punjab Province, British India (present-day Faisalabad, Punjab, Pakistan). After she had acquired her qualifications, she was employed to teach psychology at Khoob Chand Degree College, located in Lahore.
When Harivansh Srivastava, who was at the time a lecturer of English at Allahabad University, went to a college event in Lahore, it was there that she met him. The couple tied the knot in Allahabad in 1941, and upon their marriage, Teji took on the role of homemaker. Even though she was a lover of the stage, she always enjoyed singing at social gatherings and would graciously accept when invited to.
His dedication to his work was so strong that it took up nearly all his time, entrusting his wife to take care of all family matters. The Bachchans had the great fortune of having two sons: Amitabh Bachchan and Ajitabh Bachchan. The Bachchans held a prestigious place among India's literary and social elite. In 1973, she was appointed to the position of director of the Film Finance Corporation. T
he main goal of the Film Finance Corporation of India (and its successor National Film Development Corporation of India), an undertaking of the Government of India, was to finance the production of meaningful films with high quality in order to improve the average standards of the film industry. After her health began to decline in November 2007 she was taken to the Intensive Care Unit, having spent almost all of the year thus far at Lilavati Hospital. Her prolonged illness concluded on the 21st of December 2007 when she died at the age of 93.
Harivansh Rai Bachchan is renowned for the iconic 142-verse lyrical poem "Madhushala" (The House of Wine), which he released in 1935 and is still being celebrated today. His work revolutionized Hindi poetry and was soon rendered into English and other Indian languages. The poem was wildly popular and it was no surprise when it made its way onto the stage as a performed piece. His poetic trilogy included "Madhushala", alongside the other two works "Madhubaala" and "Madhukalash".
He has become well-known due to the success of this trilogy. His four-part autobiography commenced with the publication of 'Kya bhooloon kya yaad karoon' in 1969. In 1970, the second part of the series 'Need ka nirmaan fir' was printed and then in 1977, the third instalment 'Basere se door' was released. After a long wait, the last section of the book 'Dashdwaar se sopaan tak' was eventually printed in 1985.
The series was met with great acclaim and Rupert Snell was commissioned to translate an abridged version into English, which was published in 1998 and titled 'In the Afternoon of Time'. This is a renowned work that is now seen as a ground-breaking achievement in Hindi literature.
Bachchan was a very talented writer, having released up to thirty collections of poetry, essays, travelogues and even some songs for the Hindi film industry during his time as a teacher and in the External Affairs ministry. He was not shy to perform his poems in front of large groups of people, leaving them mesmerized. He wrote his poem 'Ek November 1984' that was dedicated to Indira Gandhi in November 1984, shortly after her assassination.
In 1966, Harivansh Rai Bachchan was offered a nomination to the Rajya Sabha and three years later he was honoured with the Sahitya Akademi Award. In recognition of his contribution to Hindi literature, seven years later the Government of India bestowed the Padma Bhushan award upon him.
He was highly honoured and received the Sovietland Nehru Award, the Lotus Award of the Afro-Asian writers' conference, and the prestigious Saraswati Samman. He was honoured with the "Yash Bharati" Samman by the government of Uttar Pradesh in 1994. As a tribute to his memory, a postage stamp was issued in 2003.
List of Poems written by Harivansh Rai Bachchan
- Chal Mardane
- Barsaat Ki Aati Hawa
- Tera Haar
- Raat Aadhi Kheench Kar Meri Hatheli
- Nisha Nimantran
- Ekaant Sangeet
- Aakul Antar
- Bengal ka Kaavya
- Khaadi ke Phool
- Soot ki Maala
- Milan Yamini
- Pranay Patrika
- Dhaar ke idhar udhar
- Aarti aur Angaare
- Buddha aur Naachghar
- Chaar kheme Chaunsath khoonte
- Do Chattane
- Bahut din beete
- Kat-ti pratimaaon ki awaaz
- Ubharte pratimaano ke roop
- Jaal sameta
- Ek Geet
Famous lines by Harivansh Rai Bachchan
- “Ye bura ya accha, vyarth hai iss par din bitana, ab asambhav chhodh ye path, doosre path par pag badhana.”--PATH KI PEHCHAAN
- “Jab tak safal na ho, neend chain ko tyaago tum. Sangharsh ka maidaan chhodh kar mat bhaago tum. Kuch kiye bina hi jai jai kaar nahi hoti, koshish karne walo ki kabhi haar nahi hoti.”--HIMMAT KARNE WALO KI HAAR NAHI HOTI
- "Ek apni shanti ki kutheeya banana kab manaa hai? Hai andheri raat par diya jalana kab manaa hai?"--DARNA ZAROORI HAI
- "Chahe jitna tu pee pyala, chahe jitna tu ban matwala, sun bhed batati hun antim, yeh shaant nahi hoga jwala, main madhushala ki madhubala." --MADHUSHALA
- "Ho jaye path mein raat kahin, manzil bhi toh hai kahin, ye soch thaka din ka panthi bhi jaldi-jaldi chalta hai. Din jaldI-jaldi dhalta hai."--DIN JALDI-JALDI DHALTA HAI
- “Tu na thakega kabhi, tu na thamega kabhi, tu na mudega kabhi. Kar shapath! Kar shapath! Kar shapath! Agneepath! Agneepath! Agneepath!"—AGNEEPATH
- “Kabhi phulo ki tarah mat jina, jis din khiloge tutkar bikhar jaoge, jeena hai toh pattar ki tarah jio, ek din taraashe gaye to, bhagwan ban jaoge."--YAHAN SAB KUCH BIKATA HAI
- "Madhur prateeksha hi jab itni, priye tum aate tab kya hota?"--PRATEEKSHA
In 2003, when Harivansh Rai Bachchan had reached the age of 95, he took his last breath. He was experiencing severe respiratory difficulties. Harivansh Rai Bachchan was an influential figure in the world of Hindi literature and in the Indian cultural and intellectual history. His writing was used as a platform to further his beliefs in social justice and nationalism, and his work continues to be an inspiration and influence to people in India and beyond. The mark that Bachchan has left on Hindi literature, Indian culture, and society will be remembered for many generations to come.