(Last Updated on : 19/01/2013)
Impact of national unity and reform on Hindi Literature
can be seen in the works of the era. The influence of these various factors can be best understood by looking at the various events that took place at the time. In 1906 the Hindu-Muslim conflict culminated in the partition of Bengal. British rulers at this time played on the communal divisions. The passed the Morley-Minto Reforms Act
which gave patronage to Hindi and granted a separate electorate to the Muslims in 1909. As an effect of all these changes and occurrences in the Indian socio-political scenario, this phase witnessed the growth of a literature that emphasized Hindu-Muslim unity and evoked India's historical past as an example of solidarity against the foreign powers. This was a trend that continued into the 1930s and 1940s as writers perceived the designs of British divisiveness of Hindus and Muslims in the interest of consolidating imperial rule. Signs of such an awareness became visible in plays like Swapan Bhang and Raksha bandhan
, which expressed the theme of Hindu-Muslim unity. The aftermath of the partition led to the initiation of the Swadeshi movement
in Bengal (1905-8). Poets such as Mahavir Prasad Dvivedi and Lakshmidhar Bajpai articulated their nationalist aspirations by satirizing and ridiculing foreign goods and urging the use of homespun cloth. Their message was that Swadeshi, which aimed at improving the conditions of Indian peasants through the use of indigenous goods, would bring back India's prosperity.
The socio-political message of mass unity intensified as Mahatma Gandhi
, upon his return from South Africa in 1915, launched his anti-colonial campaigns for suffering peasants in Champaran, Bihar
, in 1917 and against the zamindars in the Kaira district of Gujarat
in 1918. A combination of Gandhi's campaigns and the Swadeshi movement exerted a great influence on Hindi writers and brought forth a new outpouring of nationalistic literature, with Munshi Premchand
as the most powerful spokesman of freedom. The writer resigned from his job as inspector of Government schools and increased his active participation in Gandhi's movement to teach the villagers how to spin their own yarn and produce indigenous handmade cloth.
The influence of Gandhi's Salt march (1930) and the second non-cooperation movement recast itself in his novel Karmabhumi
, which propagates the effectiveness of public demonstrations. An anti-industrial outlook found its way in Premchand's Rangbhumi (1925). In the novel, Premchand interrogates the effects of Western industrialization through a blind beggar's struggles against a cigarette factory owner who establishes his factory next to the beggar's piece of land. Premchand invokes the idea that the consequences of industrialization are brutal: the beggar is killed in his attempts to save his little plot of land that is threatened by the factory. Premchand also expresses the helplessness of the peasants amid rising industrial colonialism by showing the expansion of the factory despite the villagers' protests.
Hindu-Muslim dissensions deepened in the 1940s as the movement for a separate Pakistan became stronger. Hence, Hindu-Muslim unity became a popular theme for writers like Pant, Dvivedi, and Harivanshrai Bachchan
, who lamented the possibility of the subcontinent's break-up and reconstructed in their poems a nation devoid of religious, class, and caste distinctions.
Even the writings echoed modernity which was bathed by the rays of Nationalistic hues. Colonial modernity had indeed ushered an instigated plethora of cultural and political dimensions. The nexus of identity formation of the post colonial country and the formation of an individual tongue apart from the colonial language seemed to be the national fervour. Western influence on Hindi literature had cast its shadow by then. There had been a marked metamorphosis in the form, matter and the way of conglomerating the essence of Nationalism. Apart from the cultural and literary subjugation arose a new language which was influenced by the various "isms": Marxism, Feminism, Freudianism, etc within the framework of national penumbra.