These 4 Path-Breaking Hindi Women Writers Should Be On Your List

Posted: August 17, 2018

We have all read many female voices in English literature. How many of us are aware of the women writers in Hindi who shaped the Hindi Literature with their mighty pens?

Despite English becoming a household language in the last few decades, Hindi literature has continued to evolve and enrich India’s literary heritage.

With this thought in my mind, I started exploring the Hindi literature and thought I should share more about these 4 inspiring women writers in Hindi who have enriched Hindi Literature with their poignant portrayals of women in the patriarchal Indian society.

Mahadevi Verma

A renowned Hindi poet, writer, essayist, women’s right activist, freedom fighter, and educationist Mahadevi Verma holds a prominent place in the Hindi literary world. Born to a relatively liberal family in Farukhabad, near the city of Allahabad, Mahadevi’s mother inspired her to write in Hindi and Sanskrit.

While in college, Mahadevi used to pen verses secretly. It was her roommate and another Hindi literary gem, Subhadra Kumari Chauhan, who stumbled upon Mahadevi’s work by chance and urged her to pursue it. Mahadevi Verma was the leading and the only women poet of the Chhayavad movement in Hindi literature, which marked the beginning of romanticism in Modern Hindi poetry. She was also the editor of the Hindi magazine ‘Chand’ and encouraged women in Hindi literature through her editorials and reviews.

Her love for animals is evident through her gamut of stories on her pets who unexpectedly stepped into her life. Many of these short stories such as Neelkanth and Gaura, have been included in the CBSE school children curriculum. Her famous prose works include, Shrinkhla ki kadiya, Mere bachpan ke din, Smriti ki Rekhayen, and Path ke Sathi. Some of her famous poetic works include Yama, Deepshikha, Neehar, Neerajaa, and Agnirekha. For her remarkable contribution in Indian literature, she received the Jnanpith Award in 1982. This year, Google honoured Mahadevi Verma by dedicating their doodle for the day to her.

Krishna Sobti

Hailed as the grande dame of Hindi Literature, Krishna Sobti has enriched the Hindi literature by creating strong audacious characters and experimenting with new styles of writing. Born in the Gujarat province of now Pakistan, an influence of Hindi, Urdu, and Punjabi can be seen in Sobti’s writings.

Regarded as a path-breaking novelist, Sobti has explored diverse themes in her works such as Indo-Pak partition, relationships between man and woman, changing dynamics of Indian society and the decaying human values. She is one of the few Hindi women writers who dared to explore the themes of female identity dysphoria and sexuality in her works.

Her renowned novel, Mitro Marjani, is an impenitent saga of a married women’s exploration of sexuality. In her novel, Surajmukhi Andhere Ke, which explores the complexity and intensity of a woman’s lifelong trauma provoked by a brutal childhood rape. Her other classic works include Zindaginama, Daar Se Bichhudi, and Badalom ke Ghere.

The nonagenarian writer was conferred with the Jnanpith Award in 2017 and also published her autobiographical novel Gujarat Pakistan se Gujarat Hindustan in 2017.

Shivani (Gaura Pant)

A master story teller, Gaura Pant aka Shivani’s name is held with great respect in the world of Hindi readers. Born to a Kumaoni family, with their ancestral home in Almora, she paints a vivid picture of the Himalayas in her works. She is renowned for her women-centricfiction writings that raised the question of women’s individuality and life in the tradition-bound, male dominated society.

Even before feminism and gender became conscious areas for much of Indian society, Shivani was instinctively writing about them. In Chaudhah Phere, through her protagonist Ahilya, she portrays how men assume their rights over the lives of women. Her major works were serialized in various literary magazines and gained immense popularity with each edition. Suffused with warm humanism, Shivani’s fiction protrays characters which would seem pale or uninteresting in real life, such as a very orthodox Brahmin priest, his traditional wife, or the widowed mother.

She received the Padma Shri Award in 1982 for her outstanding contribution to Hindi Literature. Her most well-known works include Chaudah Phere, Krishnakali, Atithi, Lal Haveli and Vishkanya.

Mannu Bhandari

One of the prominent Hindi women writers, and also a dialogue writer and story writer, Mannu Bhandari has made significant contributions in Hindi Literature. Her two Hindi novels, Aapka Banti and Mahabhoj are considered her masterpieces. Mahabhoj, was later adapted into a play and performed all over the nation.

Mannu gives a distinct dimension to woman’s position in the family and society in her works. In her short story, Ek Kamjor Ladki ki Kahani, a young girl can’t put her brave thoughts into action due to the parental restrictions imposed on her under the name of tradition. On the contrary, Trishanku, tells the story of a young girl Tanu, trying to understand the social moral values and modernity. The discriminating socio-cultural values, attitudes and practices which cripple the personalities of the female psyche are highlighted in Mannu’s stories.

In Aapka Banti, she highlights the social stigmas faced by a divorced women in the Indian society. Her work, Yahi Sach Hai, was made into a hindi movie Rajnigandha, that won the Best Movie Award in 1974 by Filmfare. She also wrote dialogues for the film Swami (1977) and the story of the film, Samay ki Dhara (1986).

Considering the remarkable and mind-boggling works of these Hindi women writers, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that they are the bards of Hindi Literature.

Images via Wikipedia

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