Gujarati Literature - Era or Yug - Arvaachin Sahitya (Modern Literature, 1850 AD - To Date)

To Date)

With the British Government and the new technology of printing and press, education in the English language began. The new age brought many newspapers and magazines, which spread awareness in society. Because of this, there was much more literature, and it included forms other than the ancient religious style of poetry. The creations reflect social welfare, criticism, plays, new-age thinking, worship of the country, the values of life, etc. This era is subdivided into 'Sudharak Yug' or 'Narmad Yug', 'Pandit Yug' or 'Govardhan Yug', 'Gandhi Yug', 'Anu-Gandhi Yug', 'Adhunik Yug' and 'Anu-Adhunik Yug'.

  • Sudharak Yug or Narmad Yug (1850-1885 AD)

From the middle of 19th century, Gujarati, like other regional Indian languages, came under strong western influence, precisely due to colonial residence and colonial reign. Dalpatram (1820–1898) and Narmad (1833–1886) are the trailblazers of modern Gujarati literature. Dalpatram's "Vinacharitra" portrays his incredible command over hilarity and wittiness. The very first Gujarati dictionary, known as "Narmakosh", was composed and compiled by Narmad; it is essentially a history of the world, and also an authority on poetics. Narmad attempted many varieties of poetry and smoothly adapted English verses into Gujarati. His "Rukmini Haran" and "Virasinh" are considered to be masterpiece compendia of poems. The other great works in Gujarati literature in this era are Bholanath Sarabhai's "Ishvara Prarthanamala" (1872), Navalram's "Bhatt nu Bhopalu" (1867) and "Veermati" (1869), and Nandshankar Mehta's (1835–1905) "Karana Ghelo" (1866), which was the first novel of Gujarati literature. Ranchhodlal Udayaram Dave (1837–1923) is almost always respected as the groundbreaker and trailblazer in the art of play-writing in Gujarati with his "Lalita Dukh Darsak" Natak (Play). Other significant dramatists were Dalpatram, Narmad and Navalram.

Modern studies of Gujarat and its language began with the British administrator Alexander Kinlock Forbes shortly after the British occupation of the region. Alexander Forbes carried out an extensive investigation of Gujarati culture and literature over the previous thousand years and amassed a large collection of manuscripts. An organisation named after him, called the Farbas Gujarati Sabha, dedicates itself to the preservation of Gujarati literature and language and history from its headquarters in Mumbai.

  • Pandit Yug or Govardhan Yug (1885-1915 AD)

Govardhanram Tripathi is the main author of this age. The work of others includes Narsinhrao Divetiya's "Smarana Samhita", "Kusumamala", "Hridayavina", "Nupur Jhankar" and "Buddha Charit"; Manishankar Ratanji Bhatt or Kavi Kant's "Purvalap" ('Devayani', 'Atijnana', 'Vasanta Vijay' and 'Chakravak Mithuna') and Balwantray Thakore's "Bhanakar". Nhanalal was another important poet of this period in Gujarati literature, who had outshone incredibly in his "Apadya Gadya" or rhyming prose. Nhanalal's recognition and reputation is based on two poetic compilations, namely "Vasantotsava" (1898) and "Chitradarshan" (1921), an epic referred to as "Kuruksetra", and numerous plays like "Indukumar", "Jayajayant", "Vishva Gita", "Sanghamitra" and "Jagat Prerana".

Govardhanram Tripathi (1855–1907) was among the dazzling and stupendous novelists of Gujarati literature, whose celebrated and well-admired novel is "Saraswatichandra (novel)".

  • Gandhi Yug (1915-1945 AD)

During this period, the Gandhiji and Gujarat Vidyapith became the nerve-centre of all literary activities, where new values emerged and more emphasis was given to Gandhian values, Indianisation and simplification. Novels, short stories, diaries, letters, plays, essays, criticisms, biographies, travel books and all kinds of prose began to flood Gujarati literature.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi or Gandhiji, Ramnarayan Pathak, Kanaiyalal Munshi or K. M. Munshi, Swami Anand, Umashankar Joshi, Sundaram, Jhaverchand Meghani, Pannalal Patel, Jyotindra Dave, Chandravadan Mehta, Zinabhai Desai ("Snehrashmi"), Manubhai Pancholi ("Darshak"), and Ishwar Petlikar are the main contributors of this age.

Modern Gujarati prose was ushered in with a bang by Narmada, but K.M. Munshi and, of course, the legend and nationalist himself, Mahatma Gandhi, gave it prominence in this age. Gandhiji's autobiography, An Autobiography of My Experiments with Truth ((Gujarātī "સત્યના પ્રયોગો અથવા આત્મકથા")), Satyagraha in South Africa about his struggle there, Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule, a political pamphlet, and a paraphrase in Gujarati of John Ruskin's Unto The Last are his most well-known works. This last essay sets out his programme on economics. He wrote extensively on vegetarianism, diet and health, religion, social reforms, etc. Gandhi usually wrote in Gujarati, though he also revised the Hindi and English translations of his books.

Gandhiji was a prolific writer. For decades he edited several newspapers including Harijan in Gujarati, Hindi and English; Indian Opinion while in South Africa and, Young India, in English, and "Navajivan", a Gujarati monthly, on his return to India. Later, "Navajivan" was published in Hindi. He wrote letters almost every day to individuals and newspapers.

During the 1940s, there could be witnessed a rise in communistic poetry and this inspired a movement for progressive literature in Gujarati too. Meghani, Bhogilal Gandhi, Swapnastha and others began to preach class conflict and hatred of religion through their writings. K.M. Munshi is deemed one of the most multi-talented and flexible and looming literary figures of Gujarati literature of contemporary times. K.M. Munshi's voluminous works include dramas, essays, short stories and novels. His famous novels are included in the list of "Patan ni Prabhuta", "Gujarat no Nath", "Jay Somnath" (1940), "Prithvi Vallabh", "Bhagavan Parshuram" (1946) and "Tapasvini" (1957).

Indeed, after the rise of Mahatma Gandhi's prominence in a steadily strengthening struggle for independence and social equality, a great volume of poetry, written by poets like Umashankar, Sundaram, Shesh, Snehrashmi and Betai, amongst others, centred on the existing social order, the struggle for independence and the travails of Mahatma Gandhi himself. Highly inspired by Rabindranath Tagore's dialogue poems, Umashankar Joshi enriched the existing Gujrati literature by penning in the same manner. Two such poems are his "Prachina" and "Mahaprasthan". For his poem "Nishith", he received the Jnanpith Award in 1967. Pannalal Patel received the Jnanpith Award in 1985 for his novel "Maanavi Ni Bhavaai".

The Gujarati novel was also made a household name by G.G. Joshi ('Dhumaketu'), Chunilal V. Shah, Gunvantrai Acharya, Jhaverchand Meghani, Pannalal Patel and Manubhai Pancholi.

Significant dramatists of this age are Chandravadan Mehta, Umashankar Joshi, Jayanti Dalal and Chunilal Madia.

Amongst the important essayists, citation can be made of Kaka Kalelkar, Ratilal Trivedi, Lilavati Munshi, Jyotindra Dave, Ramnarayan Pathak.

  • Anu-Ghandhi Yug (1940-1955 AD)

In this era there is a dominance of poetry. The main contributors of this age are Rajendra Shah, Niranjan Bhagat, Venibhai Purohit, Prahlad Parekh and Balmukund Dave. Rajendra Shah won the Jnanpith—the Indian government's most prestigious literary prize—for the year 2001. The judges noted, "his intensity of emotion and innovation in form and expression which set him apart as a poet of great significance. The mystical tone of his poetry stems from the tradition of great medieval masters like Kabir, Narsinh Mehta and literary giants like them". He authored more than 20 collections of poems and songs, mainly on the themes of the beauty of nature, and about the everyday lives of indigenous peoples and fisherfolk communities. In his poems using Sanskrit metrics, he was influenced by Rabindranath Tagore. He was one of the giants of the post Gandhi-era, called 'Anu-Gandhi Yug' in Gujarati literature.

  • Adhunik Yug (1955-1985 AD)

Post-independence Gujarati poetry displays a higher form of subjectivity and explores newer philosophies and lines of thought and imagery. The poems became more subjective and brutal, discarding old imageries and symbols and replacing them with new ideas. Prominent Gujarati poets of the post-independence era include critically acclaimed poets like Suresh Joshi, Gulam Mohamed Sheikh, Harinder Dave, Chinu Modi, Nalin Raval and Adil Mansuri, among others.

Post-independence prose literature in Gujarati had two distinct trends, traditional and modern. The former dealt more with ethical values and its main writers were Gulabdas Broker, Mansukhlal Jhaveri, Vishnuprasad Trivedi and others. Existentialism, surrealism and symbolism influenced the latter. The modernists also wanted to do away with moral values and religious beliefs. Eminent writers of this trend comprise Chandrakant Bakshi, Suresh Joshi, Madhu Rai, Raghuvir Chowdhury, Dhiruben Patel, Saroj Pathak and others. There was also a noticeable segment of Popular writers like Vithal Pandya, Sarang Barot, Dinkar Joshi, Harkisan Mehta, Ashwini Bhatt whose novels found a place in the hearts of common people . Their novels reached every corner of Gujarat and also to vast Gujarati readers outside Gujarat thro Newspapers and Magazine. Gujarati prose has recorded growth and literary feats quite rapidly in less than two hundred years and now can be counted among the front benchers in Indian literature.

  • Anu-Adunik Yug (1985 - to date)

Bhagwatikumar Sharma, Vinesh Antani, Dhruv Bhatt, Yogesh Joshi, Bindu Bhatt, Kanji Patel brought freshness in narration in novels. Same can be said for Bholabhai Patel, Manilal H . Patel, Anil Joshi for essays.

In this age the other outstanding themes are Dalit literature and 'Feminist literature'.

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