Modern Literature – UPSC Notes – Art and Culture

The phase of Modern literature is also known as Adhunik Kaal Sahitya. It is a term mostly used in Hindi. Although Hindi became one of the major languages in Northern India, several other languages, such as Bengali, Odia, Assamese, Rajasthani, Gujarati, and so on also made their mark. In this article, we will learn about the various literary works produced under different languages of that time which will be helpful for the preparation of the UPSC IAS exam.

Modern Literature – Hindi Literature

The focus of literature shifted with the arrival of the British. This shift was especially noticeable in Hindi prose writing, where there was a desire to return to the classics and be inspired by Sanskrit. This zeal was combined with nationalistic zeal.

In the 1850s, Bharatendu Harishchandra wrote his most famous drama, Andher Nagari (City of Darkness), which became a major play and has been reproduced several times. Bharat Durdasha is another well-known nationalist work. Another significant writer from this era is Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi, after whom an entire period of Hindi writing is named.

There are four subsections in the modern period of Hindi known as Adhunik kaal:

Yug Time Period

  • Bhartendu Yug 1868-1893
  • Dwivedi Yug 1893-1918
  • Chhayavad Yug 1918-1837
  • Contemporary Period 1937-today

Swami Dayanand spearheaded the movement to make Hindi the national language, which would connect all regions. Although he wrote extensively in Gujarati, Satyartha Prakash is his most well-known work in Hindi.

Several Hindi authors, including Munshi Prem Chand, Surya Kant Tripathi ‘Nirala,’ and Maithili Sharan Gupt, challenged societal norms. Prem Chand wrote many anthologies in Hindi and Urdu, and some of his best-known works include Godan, Bade Bhhaiya, and others.

Sumitranandan Pant, Ramdhari Singh ‘Dinkar,’ and Harivansha Rai Bachchan, who wrote Madhushala, are other notable Hindi writers.

Mahadevi Verma was a well-known female Hindi writer of the twentieth century. She was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in Hindi for her writing and how it highlighted the plight of women in society.

Modern Literature – Bengali, Odia, and Assamese Literature

  • Bengali Literature
    • Developed alongside Urdu and Hindi in the twentieth century.
    • Baptist Mission Press in Serampore, Bengal by William Carey in 1800 facilitated distribution.
    • Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, and Akshay Kumar Dutta were influential figures.
    • Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s novel Anand Math played a pivotal role in nationalist literature.
    • Rabindranath Tagore, the first Indian Nobel Prize recipient for his masterpiece Geetanjali.
    • Important contributors: Sharat Chandra Chatterjee, Qazi Nazrul Islam, R. C. Dutta.
  • Assamese Literature
    • Buranjis (court chronicles) dominated medieval Assamese literature.
    • Shankardev contributed devotional poetry.
    • Significant modern contributors: Padmanaba Gohain Barua, Lakshmi Nath Bezbarua.
  • Odia Literature
    • Sizable corpus from the east of India.
    • Sarala Das created the first piece.
    • Upendra Bhanja, notable Medieval period writer.
    • Modern contributors with a nationalistic tone: Radha Nath Ray, Fakirmohan Senapati.

Gujarati, Rajasthani, and Sindhi Literature

  • Gujarati Literature
    • Bhakti movement’s peak in Gujarat influenced the local literature.
    • Narsinh Mehta, known for fusing devotional songs for Lord Krishna with folk traditions.
    • Works by Narmad and Govardhan Ram, author of the classic novel Saraswati Chandra.
    • Dr. K.M Munshi, a prolific writer of fiction and non-fiction, reached success with Prithvi Vallabha.
  • Rajasthani Literature
    • Medieval Rajasthani literature with dialects, featuring Dingal and Pingal forms of fictional writing.
    • Dhola Maru, a well-known text.
    • Mirabai’s writings in Braj gained recognition.
    • Oral storytelling tradition with bards singing the virkavya (victory poetic songs).
  • Sindhi Literature
    • Heavily influenced by neighboring Rajasthan and Gujarat.
    • Early contact with Islamic settlers influenced by Islam and Sufism in poetry.
    • Notable figures: Dewan Kauramal and Mirza Kalish Beg.

Kashmiri Literature

  • One of the earliest texts: Kalhan’s Rajatarangini, written in Sanskrit.
  • Local language: Kashmiri, influenced by Persian and Hindi dialects.
  • During the Bhakti movement, the first female poetess, Lal Ded, a Shaivite mystic, emerged.
  • Major development after the arrival of Islam and Sufism; notable writers include Sufi Ghulam Muhammad, Zinda Kaul, Mahjoor, and others.
  • Intriguing figure: Noor Din (Nand Rishi), combining Hindi and Islamic elements in poetry.
  • Political shift in 1846: Dogra family gaining power led to the eclipse of the Kashmiri language by Dogri.

Punjabi Literature

  • Recent interest in reviving the language.
  • Influenced by regional and geographical factors; written in two major scripts: Persian and Gurmukhi.
  • Adi Granth, the Sikh religious book, a significant text mostly written in Gurmukhi.
  • Guru Gobind Singh, a contributor to the Adi Granth, also wrote Punjabi Savaiyyas (poetry).
  • Love stories and epics heavily influenced by local literature; notable works include Sohni-Mahiwal, Sassi-Punnu, and Heer-Ranjha by Waris Shah.
  • Sufi poetry by Baba Farid and Bulley Shah popular with the masses; composed songs or classical compositions known as Kafi(s).
  • Nationalistic writing influenced modern Punjabi literature; Bhagat Singh’s ‘Rang de Basanti Chola’ is a classic example.

Marathi Literature

  • Maharashtra has various dialects; literature written in all of them.
  • Saint Jnaneshwar’s 13th-century work, the oldest known in Marathi.
  • Jnaneshwar credited with establishing kirtan in Maharashtra and writing a detailed Marathi commentary on the Bhagavata Gita.
  • Other saints during the same period: Namdev, Sena, and Gora; Janabai is the oldest known female writer.
  • Sixteenth-century saint Eknath wrote commentaries on the Bhagwat Purana and Ramayana as well as works in the vernacular language.
  • Notable Bhakti poets include Tukaram and Ramdas.
  • Nationalist movement impact on Marathi’s poetry and prose; Bal Gangadhar Tilak published Kesari in Marathi, criticizing the British.
  • Prose writing improved with works of Hari Narayan Apte, V.S. Chiplunkar, and Keshav Sut; examples of contemporary Marathi poets: M.G. Ranade, G.T. Madholkar, and K.T Telang.

The revolutionary transformation in literature was marked by the significant emergence of literary prose across all modern Indian languages and the advent of the printing press in Serampore, Bengal, under the patronage of the Englishman, William Carey (1761-1834). The period between 1800 and 1850 witnessed a pivotal development with the establishment of newspapers and periodicals in various Indian languages, playing a crucial role in the evolution of prose. The Serampore missionaries played a pivotal role in initiating Bengali journalism during this period. The rise of prose as a potent medium catalyzed a transformative change that aligned with the ongoing process of modernization.

FAQs on Modern Literature

Q: What is considered modern literature?

A: Modern literature refers to the literary period characterized by a focus on individualism, subjective experiences, and a rejection of traditional forms and conventions. It emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, encompassing various movements such as modernism.

Q: What are the themes of modern Indian literature?

A: Themes in modern Indian literature often include the clash between tradition and modernity, the impact of globalization, exploration of individual identity, caste and class dynamics, gender issues, and the diasporic experience. These themes provide a nuanced portrayal of the Indian experience.

Q: What subject is modern literature?

A: Modern literature is characterized by a focus on individualism and subjective experiences, along with a rejection of traditional forms and conventions. It explores the complexities of modern life and the impact of societal changes on individuals.

Q: What is modernism in Indian literature?

A: Modernism in Indian literature is a complex and varied movement that resists simple definitions. It involves a departure from traditional literary forms and a reflection of the historical and locational specificities of India. It often explores tensions between tradition and modernity in the Indian context.

Q: Who is the father of modern literature?

A: While there isn’t a single “father” of modern literature, William Shakespeare is often considered the father of modern English literature due to his significant contributions to the development of the English language and enduring influence on subsequent writers.

Q: Why is it called modern literature?

A: Modern literature is called so because it emerged during a specific historical period characterized by significant social, political, and technological changes. The term “modern” reflects the departure from traditional literary styles and the embrace of new forms of expression, especially in the aftermath of World War I and into the middle of the 20th century.

For Daily Current Affairs Click Here

Join our Official Telegram Channel HERE
Subscribe to our YouTube Channel HERE
Follow our Instagram ID HERE

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *