Remembering Munshi Premchand on his 84th death anniversary
08 Oct 2021
Munshi Premchand, the author of the famous books Godan and Kafan passed away on October 8, 1936. In the memory of this prolific writer, many literary societies and associations will celebrate the 84 death anniversary of the literary master on October 8, 2021.
A literary giant of Hindi-Urdu literature, he is recognized in India as the foremost Hindi-Urdu writer of the early 20th century. He is a novel writer, a story writer and a dramatist. He is also famously known as the Upanyas Samrat which means a great emperor among novel writers.
Early Life of Premchand
Munshi Prem Chand was born as Dhanpat Rai on July 31, 1880 in a village called Lamhi in Varanasi. His early education was at a local madrasa under a maulvi, where he studied Urdu. After his parents’ death he was responsible for his step mother and his step-siblings. With no means to support himself, he intermittently abandoned his studies and took up a job as a teacher in Chunar, near Varanasi. He completed his Bachelor’s of Arts while being employed as a teacher and resigned from his services in 1921 on the call of Mahatma Gandhi.
He was married once at the age of 14 to a girl from a neighboring village but she soon returned back to her village when he left in 1889. In 1909, he remarried a widow Shivarani Devi in spite of the opposition faced by the society for this revolutionary step.
When Mahatma Gandhi asked people to resign from government jobs in a seminar held in Gorakhpur, Premchand took his advice and quit his job as a school teacher. Thereafter, to serve the cause of Independence, he tried writing for columns of Urdu dailies of Gorakhpur Tehqeeq and Swadesh but could not keep up the job. He then returned to work as a teacher for Marwari Vidyalaya but again left it to take the responsibility of editing the magazine Maryada. Later he became a principal at a school in Varanasi.
Dhanpat Rai first wrote under the pseudonym “Nawab Rai.” Nawad (Prince) was a name given to him by his uncle. In 1907, after the publishing of his controversial Soz a watan – a short story collection which contained four stories that inspired the Indians to strive for the freedom of the country – was banned, his house in Hamirpur was raided and five hundred copies of his book were burnt, he secretly changed his pseudonym from Nawab Rai to Premchand. His earlier works are produced in Urdu. It was only in 1914, that he started writing in Hindi.
In his ambitious career, he tried running a printing press, he became editor of the journal Madhuri, started a weekly called Hans, then another weekly called Jagran. His last two ventures left him in debt which made him take up a job as a script writer for Ajanta Cinetone in Mumbai. He wrote for the film Mazdoor and did many other translations and novels.
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