(Last Updated on : 04/07/2013)
Indian Social Writings Literary Writings are the powerhouse of powerhouse talents. Indian Literature
pertains to a vast and almost incomprehensible body of artistic works by the conscious mind or eye. India, with its stupendously per-historic past and culturally rich times, does contain its prestigious share of historical evolution against the backdrop of civilization in the map of world history.
However it was precisely during this British Empire that genres in Indian literature began to be formatted in a rather unusual and infrequently treaded path, with English language capturing the writers' as well as the readers' imagination. The overwhelming response of advancement in the regional literary phases had also begun to bloom towards proliferation, with indigenous artistic wonders also being recognized.
However, the Independence Movement and its umpteen battle cries and the contrasting theorem of non-violence, did impress upon deeply on every sort of native life, touching lives and making very many of the young or old populace a fanatic and dedicated literary man. As such, genres of literature from Indian oppressed class came to light over and over again, giving birth to fiery brand of nationalism, which again was not free form its criticisms and bitings. The fact that India was so successfully colonies was made to come to cognizance under regional wonders of Rabindranath Tagore
and his essays or songs, or the poems of Kazi Nazrul Islam
or Sukanta Bhattacharya
, the 'Bidrohi Kobi' (revolutionary poet).
Colonial Indian literature was literally bursting out with the deep impact upon every Indian common consciousness, the subaltern to the most classically high societal man. As politics was thus seeping in within the gradual vision of modernism in India, genres in Indian literature like Marxism was also beginning to influence and make its sway upon the 'angry young Indian'. Indeed, Marxism in Indian literature is one aspect that cannot be ignored, with all possible languages of Bengali language
, Hindi language
, Kannada language
, Tamil or Kashmiri literature informing the country to stand against British oppression.
The impact of western civilization, the rise of political consciousness, and the change in society could be seen in what was written during that time. Contact with the western world resulted in India's acceptance of western thought on the one hand, and rejection of it on the other, and resulted in an effort made to revive her ancient glory and Indian consciousness. A large number of writers opted for a synthesis between Indianization and westernization, in their search for a national ideology. All these attitudes were combined to bring about the renaissance in 19th century India. But it was a renaissance in a country which was under foreign domination. So it was not that kind of renaissance which had spread in 14th-15th century Europe, where scientific reasoning, individual freedom and humanism were the dominant characteristics. The Indian renaissance took a different shape, in the context of the Indian race, moment and milieu, and as a result, nationalistic, reformistic and revivalistic thinking found its way into literature, which slowly turned itself into a pan-Indian movement, spearheaded in different parts of the country by renaissance leaders like Raja Rammohun Roy
(1772-1833), Bankim Chandra Chatterjee
, Swami Vivekananda
, Mahadev Govind Ranade
, U.V. Swaminatha Aiyer, Gopal Krishna Gokhale
, K.V. Pantulu
, Narmada Shankar Lalshankar Dave and others. The leaders of the renaissance, in fact, succeeded in instilling nationalistic fervor in the people, and induced in them a desire for social reform and a sentimental yearning for their past glory.
The most important literary event that revolutionary literature was the emergence of literary prose in all the modern Indian languages, and the advent of the printing press, under the patronage of an Englishman, William Carey (1761-1834), at Serampore, Bengal. It is true that Sanskrit and Persian had a vast body of prose, but the necessity for prose in modern Indian languages, for use in administration and higher education, led to the emergence of prose in different languages at the beginning of the modern period. The birth of newspapers and periodicals in Indian languages between 1800 and 1850 was extremely important for the development of prose. The missionaries of Serampore
started off Bengali Journalism on its career. The emergence of prose as a powerful medium brought a kind of change that coincided with the process of modernization.
Emergence of Nationalism in Indian Social Writings
The notion or idea of a modern state took root in Indian society as India came in contact with Western thoughts. However very soon, Indian writers like Bankim Chandra Chatterjee
(Bengali, 1838-1894) and numerous others used the notions to attack colonial rule and in the process created their own brand of nationalism, rooted in the soil. Bankim Chandra wrote many historical novels like Durgesh Nandini
(1965), and Anand Math
(1882), acquired a pan-Indian popularity and made nationalism and patriotism a part of dharma. This alternative was a distinctive civilizational concept of universalism that was accepted by many as a reply to western colonialism. Revivalism and reformism were natural corollaries of the newly emerging idea of nationalism. Rabindranath Tagore
(Bengali, 1861-1942), the greatest name in modern Indian literature, made federalism an important part of his concept of national ideology.
Literature of Nationalism, Reformism and Revivalism in Indian Social Writings
The essence of Patriotic writings proliferated in most of the available languages as the resistance of a community against foreign rule. Rangalal in Bengali, Mirza Ghalib
in Urdu and Bharatendu Harishchandra in Hindi expressed themselves as the patriotic voice of that era. This voice had been on the one hand, against colonial rule, and on the other, for the glorification of India. Besides, Mirza Ghalib
(1797-1869) wrote ghazals in Urdu, about love, with unusual imagery and metaphors. He accepted life both as a joyous existence and as a dark and painful experience. Michael Madhusudan Dutt
(1824-73) wrote the first modern epic in an Indian language, and naturalized blank verse in Bengali. Subramaniam Bharati
(1882-1921) was the great Tamil patriot-poet, who revolutionized the poetic tradition in Tamil. Themes from mythology or history were taken to write epics, by Maithili Sharan Gupta
(Hindi, 1886-1964), Bhai Vir Singh
(Punjabi, 1872-1957), and others, with the express purpose of fulfilling the needs of the patriotic reader.
The birth of the novel is associated with the social reform-oriented movement of the 19th century. This new genre, borrowed from the West, is characterized by a spirit of revolt, right from its adoption into the Indian system. The first Tamil novel, Pratap Mudaliyar Charitram (1879) by Samuel V. Pillai, the first Telugu novel, Sri Ranga Raja Charitra (1872) by Krishnamma Chetty
, and the first Malayalam novel, Indu Lekha (1889) by Chandu Menon were written with didactic intentions and to re-examine evil social customs and practices like untouchability, caste distinctions, denial of remarriage of widows, etc. In other first novels, like the Bengali novel, Phulmani O Karunar Bibaran (1852), by an Englishwoman, H. Catherine Mullens, or the Hindi novel, Pariksha Guru (1882) by Lala Sriniwas Das, one can discover shared patterns of response and articulation towards social problems.
Historical novels were written by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee (Bengali), Hari Narayan Apte (Marathi), and others, to describe the glorious past of India, and to instill nationalist fervour in her people. Novels were found to be the most appropriate medium to eulogize the intellectual and physical richness of the past, and reminded Indians about their obligations and rights. In fact, in the 19th century, the idea of national identity emerged from literature, and most Indian writings turned into the voice of enlightenment. This paved the way for India to understand the real, factual position by the time it reached the threshold of the 20th century. It was during this time that Tagore started writing the novel Gora (1910), to challenge colonial rule, colonial criteria and colonial authority, and to give new meaning to Indian nationalism.
The advent of Marxism on the Indian literary scene in the thirties is a phenomenon which India shared with many other countries. Both Gandhi and Marx were driven by opposition to imperialism and concern for the dispossessed sections of society. The Progressive Writers Association was originally established in 1936 by some expatriate writers in London, like Mulk Raj Anand
(English). However, soon it became a great pan-Indian movement that brought together Gandhian and Marxist insights into society. The movement was especially conspicuous in Urdu, Punjabi, Bengali, Telugu and Malayalam, but its impact was felt all over India. It compelled every writer to reexamine his/her relationship with social reality. In Hindi, Chhayavad was challenged by a progressive school that came to be known as Pragativad (progressivism).
Nagarjun was the noted Hindi poet of the progressive group. The Bengali poets, Samar Sen and Subhas Mukhopadhyay
, added a new socio-political outlook to their poetry. Fakir Mohan Senapati (Oriya, 1893-1918) was the first Indian novelist of social realism. Rootedness to the soil, compassion for the wretched, and sincerity of expression are the qualities of the novels of Senapati. Manik Bandyopadhyay
was the most well-known Marxist Bengali novelist. Malayalam fiction writers like Vaikkom Muhammed Basheer, S.K. Pottekkat and Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai, made history by writing progressive fiction of high literary value. They covered fresh ground exploring the life of ordinary men and the human relations that economic and social inequalities fostered. Shivaram Karanath, the most versatile fiction writer in Kannada, never forgot his early Gandhian
lessons. Sri Sri (Telugu) was a Marxist, but showed interest in modernism at a later stage in his life. Abdul Malik, in Assamese, writes with an ideological bias. The critical norms of progressive literature were established by the pioneer of this phase in Punjabi by Sant Singh Sekhon. The progressive writers' movement attracted the attention of eminent poets of Urdu, like Josh Malihabadi and Faiz Ahmad Faiz. Both imbued with the Marxist spirit, infused in the age-old love symbolism a political meaning.
The post modernist literature was intensified with the post-modernist had been the emergence of writings of the outcasts, as a major literary force, leading to the emergence of Dalit Literary Movement
means the downtrodden and the literature which was concerned with the socially underprivileged and the underdog and asserts the socio-political stature of the underdogs, is known by this name. The Dalit movement was started in literature by Marathi, Gujarati and Kannada writes under the leadership of Dr. B R Ambedkar
. It came into the limelight because of progressive literature moving nearer to the downtrodden. It is a literature of militant protest against upper caste literature upholding Brahmanical values. Marathi poets, Namdev Dhasal or Narayan Surve, or novelists like Daya Pawar, or Laxman Gaikwad, reflect in their writings the anguish of a community, and demand the shaping of a just and realistic future for the underprivileged and the outcast in society. Mahadev Devanur (Kannada) and Joseph Macwan (Gujarati), in their novels, deal with the experience of violence, protest and exploitation. It challenges the tone and context of existing literary canons and decentralizes the whole process of a literary movement. It creates an alternative aesthetics and extends the linguistic and generic possibilities of literature. Dalit literature introduces a new world of experience in literature, widens the range of expression, and exploits the potentiality of the language of the outcasts and underprivileged Dalits.