Tuesday, October 5, 2010

शिवपूजन सहाय साहित्य समग्र

Shivapujan Sahay Sahitya-Samagra
Shivpujan Sahay (1893-1963),famous for his pioneering Hindi regional novel Dehati Duniya, and his two short stories Mundamal and Kahani ja Plot. besides his semi-autobiographical literary memoirs collected in the volumes Wey Din:Wey Log, Mera Jeevan, and Smriti-shesh, had earned over his half-century-long career in literary journalism as editor of Matwala, Jagaran, Himalaya and Sahitya, an enviable stature as one of the greatest prose writers and literary editors of his time, after Acharya Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi. A four-volume edition of his writings, Shivapujan Rachanavali (1956-’59) was published in his lifetime.
Shivapujan Sahay had chosen to pursue the career of a writer in Hindi literature almost as early as 1910, when he was still a school student at Arrah, the headquarters of the Shahabad district of those days. Since then, his literary career spanned almost half a century of creative writing which comprised from fiction writing, literary prose and journalism to semi-autobiographical memoirs, diaries and literary correspondence. He was acknowledged as the most perceptive editor of literary texts after Achrya Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi, and is said to have edited countless texts, including much of the fictional and poetic creations of Jayshankar Prasad, Premchand and Nirala, besides many of his other contemporary writers.
Throughout his long life he amassed a vast collection of books, literary journals, manuscripts, photographs, letters, his own diaries, and other literary miscellanea. In his centenary year 1993, a Trust was created in his memory, called ‘Acharya Shivpujan Sahay Memorial Trust’ at Patna, in which the copyright of all his writings was duly vested; and the largest part of his vast literary collection, including his diaries, correspondence, manuscripts, etc were donated to the Nehru Memorial Library and Museum, Teen Murti House, New Delhi.
Now, in November, 2010, a 10-volume edition of his Complete Works known as Shivpujan Sahay Sahitya-Samagra ( edited by Dr Mangal Murty, his younger son) is being published by the Trust from Anamika Prakashan, New Delhi ( : Ph. 9111-23281655). The price of the entire set of 10-volumes is Rs. 11,000, which is available for individual buyers at a reasonable discount. Those who may be interested, may contact the publishers directly, or through Dr Mangal Murty, Trust Secreatary (Mob. 919451890020/ Ph. 0542-2227479) email : .

Shivapujan Sahay Sahitya-Samagra: Ed. by Mangal Murty
The details of the contents of the 10 volumes are as follows:
Vol 1 : Fiction : Vibhuti (short stories), Dehati Duniya (novel), Asmanjas, Maya-Mandir, Anam Upanyas (incomplete novels), Gram Sudhar ( on rural uplift), etc
Vol 2 : Memoirs & Satire : Mera Jeevan, Smriti-shesh; Do Ghadi, etc.
Vol 3 : Essays & Editorial Notes : Selected essays and editorial notes(1912-’62).
Vol 4 : Miscellaneous Prose writings : ‘Matwala’ editorials, literary speeches, prefaces, reviews, Mahila Mahatwa, Adarsh Parichay, Bihar ka Vihar, Sewa-Dharm ( Tr. of Sidney Arundale’s ‘The Way of Service, pub. 1913), etc.
Vol 5 : Children Literature, etc : Bhishma, Arjuna, Ma ke Sapoot,Balodyan, Khoonta Pandit, Amar Senani Kunwar Singh, Abhimanyu, Bharat Charit; Vyakaran Darpan, Satya Harishchandra (ed.),Bibliographical lists, etc.
Vol 6 : Diaries (1) : Jeevan Darpan (1916-’55)
Vol 7 : Diaries (2) : Jeevan Darpan (1956-’63), Atma- Nandini.
Vol 8 : Literary Correspondence (1) : Letters of Hindi writers to Shivapujan Sahay (Ambika Prasad Vajpayee to Firaq Gorakhpuri)
Vol 9 : Literary Correspondence (2) : Letters of Hindi writers to Shivapujan Sahay ( from Harivansh Rai ‘Bachchan’ to Havaldar Tripathi)
Vol 10 : Literary Correspondence (3) : Letters of Shivapujan Sahay written to various writers, and to Smt Bachchan Devi(wife) and others in the family.
Each volume starts with the editor’s Preface and ends with Chitravali, a section containing an average of about 20 photographs of literary personages, book illustrations, documents, etc.
A few sample photos and facsimiles are given hereunder.

Clockwise: Shivji with Rahulji, Shivji and Bachchan Devi, Matwala, Nirala

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Plot for a Story
Shivpujan Sahay

I am not a story writer. Nor do I have the talent for it. A story writer should naturally be an art connoisseur, and I am not even an art novice. But I have come across a ‘plot’ for gifted story writers, and hope they can erect an impressive structure on this ‘plot’.

There is a small hamlet near my village. It has a very vulgar name. You will detest to hear it. An old Munshiji lived there – who is no longer in this world. His name also was peculiar – mixed up letters, with neither sound nor sense, – that is why I hesitate to reveal it to literary persons. Any way, he had a daughter, who is still alive. Her name ? Don’t ask; what use will it be to you. Nor will I disclose it. For the sake of convenience only, let’s give her an imaginary name. Say, it’s ‘Bhagjogani’. As it all happened in a village, so a rustic name will be quite in order. Well, then, let’s proceed further –
Munshiji’s elder brother was a police inspector – in those days when the number of English-knowing persons was hardly as many as the number of people knowing the inner meaning of the holy scriptures nowadays. Only Urdu-knowing persons could get higher jobs. The amount of money the inspector sahib had earned on the basis of the rudimentary Urdu learnt from karima-khaliqbari costing hardly eight or ten paise, was far more than that earned by the lawyers today who have lapped up whole libraries in colleges and the courts.
But whatever he earned, he burnt merrily as warm his hands. He left behind merely a mare which, though originally worth only seven rupees, was more than a match even for the best Turkish breed – indeed, a real keg of gunpowder. Big shots among the British officers had their eyes on her, but he dodged them all. In fact, his promotion itself hung in balance on that account, but he never fell into their trap. And though, in every way, he was efficient, hard-working, honest, clever, brave and vigilant, yet he never rose above the rank of an inspector – for his sheer love of the mare.

But the mare also did not let him down. It repaid his love by providing for a marvellous funeral feast after his death. Had he sold the mare also, not a single Brahmin could have been fed in his funeral feast..Only thus was Munshiji able to repay his brother’s largesse after selling the mare to a white officer for a handsome price.

Many a ghee-lamp had he liberally burnt while his brother, the police inspector, lived. He would rub the best perfumes into the ganja he smoked – and the chillum would never go cold. A single meal would mean at least thirty two quails and fourteen chapattis. He would easily beat even his brother in courtesan deflowering ceremonies. They were annual events for him – these ceremonies.
But when the flood waters receded, it was all bare and barren. The death of his brother sent all his opulence up his arse. Not only the chillum, but even the kitchen went cold. The tongue which never tired of slurping quail-curry, was now compelled to sing the praises of gram-powder paste. The teeth that always chewed chapattis soaked in ghee were now content with grinding gram only. People started saying – living on ill-gotten wealth of a police job and warming your hands on paddy straw are all the same.

The person who deflowered a fresh virgin courtesan every year was now treated with disdain by all and sundry. Even those who would rub palmfuls of Munshiji’s perfumes on their clothes, found him longing for drops of mustard oil to soften his parched skin. Perhaps, there is no darner for the torn sheet of misfortune.
But behold the double stroke of bad luck!. When his brother was alive, he was blessed with three or four sons, but they had all passed away. Poor fellow – when he was at the top of the world in life, none remained even to share a meal with him, and when his old age burdened his shoulders, he found both his legs caught in the morass .of direst adversity, as a daughter was born to him, like an itch added to a leper. As if, already, the misfortune were no less abiding than his brother’s beautiful mare!
To tell you the truth, it’s a great folly to beget a daughter in this age of dowry. But what is the remedy against the norms of the age, in which infirm females themselves have become all important : in truth, man himself –poor creature - is being chased off by the all-powerful woman..So, why to blame poor Munshiji? When he feasted on ghee and relished costly spices, he brought forth sons only, but now this gram powder – how can he produce sons with such miserable stuff. True it is – the grass of poverty growing on the grave of prosperity is extremely lethal.

Bhagjogni was born in his days of penury, and because the mother died in giving birth to her, everyone started calling her an orphan. But although she proved for the Munshiji an emblem of his misfortune, her beauty truly burnt like a lamp in his dark abode. Comeliness and charm of her kind had never been seen till then by anyone.

As it is and, as ill luck would have it, I had myself seen her radiant beauty. I had first seen her when she was only eleven or twelve. But, to tell you the truth, looking at her incomparable beauty set in her terrible poverty, my heart cried. Had some sentimental story writer or a sensitive poet seen her, a stream of commiseration would surely have oozed out of his pen. But my feeble pen doesn’t have the strengrh ro draw a true picture of her appalling poverty from its fearful image stuck in my heart.* Nor can I recount her story in moving or artful language, as it is, indeed, a true story. As a matter of fact, language does not have the power to depict poverty in its actual hideous form, even though it may paint a dazzling picture of the great opulence and splendor of royal palaces.

Ah, Bhagjogni, even in that tender age, would just have a rag wrapped round her waist hardly able to cover her shame. Her hair, dry and knotted for want of oil, would look awful. Her large black eyes would always give a dismal look. As if, the demoness of poverty with its cruel fingers had strangled the beauty of that little soul.

It is said that natural beauty does not need any elaborate make-over, because Shakuntala, embellished with the forest flowers, leaves and tree-barks, looked evermore lovely than she did after all her royal cosmetic makeup in the palaces of King Dushyant. And Shakuntala was surely not brought up in an atmosphere of misery and vexation. The demon of hunger had never ever howled into her ears. She had grown up always swinging in the lap of peace and contentment. That is why Kalidas’ simile of her being ‘like a lily entangled in water grass’ is so befitting. But how could Bhagjogni’s beauty bloom while she was mercilessly being ground in poverty’s mill. She suffered the pangs of hunger for every grain of food, craved for rags to cover her shame. She could never even dream for a palmful of linseed oil to rub into her tangled hair. Not even for a day in a month could she have a proper meal. How could the goddess of beauty live in a cage of bare bones?

Ah, my heart broke into pieces the other day when Munshiji started telling his tale of woe through his tears. He said –
“How can I tell you my story about the days gone by; it makes my head reel. The sting of my penury becomes all the more unbearable when I look at this girl. Look at her hair – how dry and matted they have become. Had her mother been there, at least it wouldn’t be such a lice-infested nest . My own eyesight is now so weak that I can’t pick them out myself, and not even a drop of oil is there for her hair. If there were even a palmful of oil, she could have gone to a neighbour’s house and got her hair combed and done properly; she wouldn’t at least have this ruffled birdnest on her head. You know that this is a very small village, and only when in some family a child is born, good fortune would return to her dry and dirty hair.
“When well-fed boys in the village would come out of their homes carrying and munching on grams or nuts, she would wait for them and follow them everywhere, for an occasional fistful or two of the eatables she would be given.out of pity. If she goes to some neighbours’ home during meal time, people would just try to shoo her off for her inauspicious presence. Brother, it is an endless story of my woes, She doesn’t even have a piece of cloth or anything on her, even to receive the alms given out of sympathy. She has to satisfy her hunger with whatever she can hold in her tiny palms. At times, she will bring a fistful for me, too, which will make my heart bleed.

“Some times she would come back in the evening after roaming around neighbours’ homes for the whole day, and whisper to me in a faint voice – Babuji, I feel very hungry; can I have anything? – and then, I tell you honestly, I feel, I should just go hang myself, or jump into a well. But then soon the thought will come – without me, who in this wide world will look after my poor child. Had her mother been alive, she would have been able to find some food for her by serving in neighbours’ homes, doing odd jobs or grinding their grain for them. She would have brought her up somehow. And had my elder brother been alive, he would have held her as a blooming flower in his palms. He would, surely, have married her into some big landlord’s family. I, too, was purblind enough to spend my days in unbridled wastefulness on my brother’s ill-gotten wealth, and had no inkling of my coming days of misfortune. My brother also was such a wild squanderer of his fortune that he would not leave even a single cowrie behind to meet his funeral expenses. He sold out every single piece of land for his pleasure’s sake, and only cultivated animosities with everyone in the village, and, as a result, there’s none today to have pity on me. On the contrary, everyone would just treat me with utter disdain. There was a day when lamps would burn with my brother’s piss, and there is this day when my bones would burn and melt away like candles in the fire of penury.

“Far and near in the vicinity, I have made scores of visits to all those of my fraternity for accepting the hand of this girl as a bride. And falling on their feet, even begged and bared my teeth, for showing pity on me. Leaving aside all sense of shame, I have even implored them to make my daughter stand in a row with the choicest-looking daughters of big lawyers, deputy magistrates and even zamindars, and see if she does not easily outshine them all. I have said, they could reject her as their ward’s bride if any single girl matches her in beauty. But, to my misfortune, in spite of all my beseechings on bended knees, no single heart has melted so far.. I would find that one dismisses my plea, saying - the boy’s mother wouldn’t agree for the marriage for the simple reason that the girl has neither her mother nor a brother in her home , or that there is no capacity for a good reception for the marriage party; and another would say that a girl from such an indigent family would be both greedy and stingy, and would pollute the entire family culture..Most of them boasted that their son was getting so much of dowry and all, and still they were unwilling to accept; so how could they even talk about where there was absolutely no possibility of any dowry. There were as many pretexts as there were different tongues. Indeed, my luck is so deplorable that I am forced to countenance the ‘behinds’ of people even whose faces I wouldn’t prefer to look at.

“It so irritates me, and fans my anger, to find even the most ordinary of them asking for a dowry of five hundred or a thousand. But my poverty has broken off my wings to such an extent that I cannot even flutter them. How bizarre are these customs of the whole of our Hindu society?. Those who haggle so hard to barter their sons for exorbitant dowries still get respect in society, whereas those, poor fellows, who are compelled by poverty to sell their daughters are considered so depraved. Had I thought of doing so, I would have exacted such a price for my daughter which could have given me a life of ease and comfort for the rest of my days. But in my life, I would never take even a fly in lieu of my child– whether she remains unmarried or brings shame upon me by the sins of her youth. And, as you can well see, youth is not very far off from her. Only the blight of hunger has smothered her growth, her blooming into youth. Had she been in some well-to-do family, by now she would have blossomed into full youthfulness.- in fact, youthfulness shines only through a full-bloomed body. And, as you know, girls attain it much faster than boys, too.

“Babu Saheb, what more can I say. I am only reaping what I have sown. Cataract, arthritis and asthma have ruined my health. Even my tears of repentance have lost their power of melting God’s heart. To tell you the truth, at this moment, I am only hanging by a slender thread of hope – one gentlemen, after great persuasion, has promised to marry this girl, although I still have my doubts whether the villainous among my villagers will succeed in dissuading him, or allow my leaking boat across to the shore. The groom is a little older for her – around forty-forty one years of age, but there is no other option for me, except this. With this load of a heavy stone on my chest, I will have to give away my little nightingale to….”

Munshiji could hold himself no longer and broke into heart-rending sobs, as poor Bhagjogni sat quietly in his lap. I failed to stop him from crying, or to give him any assurance in this context. It’s not easy to console someone who is constantly hounded by destiny itself.

After hearing Munshiji’s story, I appealed to many of my unmarried friends to rescue a destitute brother by marrying his poor though exceptionally beautiful daughter, and enjoy the bliss of marriage. But all of them ignored my pleas. Among them were also such persons who would vainly spill lots of ink on various issues of social reform. Even middle-aged widowers would shy away.

At last, that same gentleman took the girl on a covered dola and had the marriage rituals performed in his home; thus rescuing poor Munshiji from the morass of his worries.

Thus though the heavy stone of misery was taken off poor Munshiji’s chest at last, but there was no one now even to give him a glass of water. The only crutch on which he could lean in his old age was gone, and his health declined so rapidly that within the passage of a year he kicked the bucket. His co-villagers tied a pitcher to his neck and threw him into the river…..

Bhagjogni lives today – a woman in full bloom, glowing in a fully developed, graceful body – a heavenly boon for her present youthful husband. Her first husband is now no more. But the present one is – her own stepson!

© Dr Mangal Murty
A transcreation of the short story ‘Kahani ka Plot’ by Shivpujan Sahay (1893-1963)by Dr Mangal Murty. The original Hindi short story was first published in a literary monthly ‘Saroj’ (July, 1928). * There is a reference to this magazine in this line of the story which, translated literally, means “My pen does not have the power to transfer the fearful picture of her poverty from the canvas of my heart on to the soft petal of the ‘Lotus’ (‘Saroj’)”. The short story was based on a real story known to the author, and was much later, coincidentally, corroborated by a similar story told to the author by a literary friend which he has mentioned in his diary. The diaries of the author are published in two volumes of a 10-volume set of his Collected Works ‘Shivpujan Sahay Sahitya-Samagra’ published by Anamika Prakashan, 21A, Nepal Carrier Bldg, Ansari Rd, New Delhi-2, (Ph. 011-23281655) and edited by Dr Mangal Murty (Mob. 09451890020). Email: The two photos are from a dramatic adaptation of the story performed at Kalidas Rangalaya, Patna in 1993, as part of the Centenary Celebrations of Acharya Shivapujan Sahay, with Bhagjogni (Kranti Bhatt) and Munshiji, her father.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


In the God’s Creation
And the Emperor’s domain,
By the order of the town’s police chief…
All and sundry are hereby warned
To remain vigilant,
And bolt all doors from inside,
Pull down the window curtains,
And keep the children from getting on the road;
Because a seventy-two year old man
Has come out on the roads
Speaking the truth in his trembling voice.

Every townsman knows,
For twentyfive years,
It’s been hazardous to speak
Of things as they are;
To call a thief, a thief,
Or a murderer, a murderer;
Or commit the folly of protecting
A good soul being bashed,
Or a woman being violated;
Or a skin-and-bone skeleton
Pressing its hungry belly,
Or a child getting crushed by a jeep;
Being the Emperor’s jeep
Has it not the right to run over the child’s belly?
After all, the Emperor built the road!

O you ungratefuls,
Running after the old man!
Have you forgotten
That it’s the Emperor who has
Given you this excellent ambience
Where you can see day-time stars,
Even if only because of your aching hunger,
And angels keep you on the footpaths through the nights
Under the benign shadow of their wings,
And damsels wait under every lamp-post
Ready to pounce on the car-borne clients.
As if paradise itself has descended upon the earth:
After all, what more will you get
By running after that old man?

What’s your spat, after all, with those gentlemen
Quietly sitting on their respective chairs,
Waking through the nights
And working for the welfare of the kingdom;
Rambling like mendicants
Through Moscow, New York, Tokyo, London
To find out how best to mend
The gutter in the village.

Your legs will be broken,
Eyes gouged, if you walked down
To the inner courts of the royal ladies
And tried to peep down their walls.

Haven’t you seen that long stick
With which our burly young soldier
Thwacked the old man - doddering and unarmed?
We have buried that stick deep in a time-capsule
So that coming generations can have a look
And applaud our gallantry.

Now ask me where is that truth
That the old man was muttering about on the roads?
We have raised the volume of our radios
And ask for playing film songs ever so loudly
So that they drown the old man’s balderdash
In the entrancing might of their swaying tunes.

Half-witted children have flung down their schoolbags,
Tossed their slates and chalk away,
And are running and romping like mice
Behind this numskull magician;
And the woman whose child was killed day before
Has come out on the road
Unfurling her sari’s end like a flag.

Beware, this is your own country,
But stay where you stand.
No rebellion will be tolerated –
So that you cover distances and reach your destination;
We ourselves will jam the wheels of the trains.
Boats will be stalled in midstream,
Bullock-carts stopped beneath the roadside neem trees;
Trucks will be sent back from the turnings –
All traffic stopped where it is.
‘Coz, remember, the kingdom must march ahead,
And so it’s important that everything’s stopped
Right where it is!

Be not impatient.
You like jostling, processions and hullabaloo.
The Emperor, too, sympathizes with his people.
By his special orders, just to fulfil your fad,
His own court will come out in a procession
For you to have the Emperor’s darshan!

Those same trains will carry you for free.
The bullock-cart drivers will get double bakshish
The trucks will be festooned with buntings.
Water stalls will be set up at every corner,
And whoever asks for water
Will be served perfumed soft drinks.

Join this procession in hundreds of thousands,
And walk the road scraping your feet
So that the spattered blood of the old man
Is wiped off!
The Emperor does not relish bloodshed.

In the God’s Creation
And the Emperor’s domain,
By the order of…

Dharmveer Bharati’s Hindi poem ‘Munaadi’, written during the Bihar Movement (1974), rendered into English by Dr Mangal Murty
© Dr Mangal Murty.

They call him Jayprakash!

The lulled storm, the hushed gale,
The sea waves dashed on the shores,
But all their might echoes aloud
Even now in your robust roars.

The foot of the mountain shook awhile,
The sea waves ebbed from the shore.
But in the nations hands were bestowed
A brand new lusty sword.

Victory come to Bharat’s new sword
O soldier of a new country.
Victory, O new fire, O new flame.
Victory to the archer of the bull’s eye.

Welcome O trampler of the Time Serpent
Who ride on its fanned out hood.
Welcome O priest ready to jump
And burn In the holy fire as its food.

You hold the nation’s future in your fist
With a mighty roar in your throat,
Descending from the mind you hold in your hand
A world in which your dreams float.

O soldier give your salute to the future
As history heralds your coming.
The planets in the darkest sky burn out
With you the sky starts glowing.

The new effulgence formless and abstract
Has found its tangible form in you.
The fire that you swallowed and ingested fearlessly
Has turned into a glowing ember true.

The winds of our country get hot and hotter
By the countless breaths exhaled,
While the shadow skimming the Ganga waters
Sets it ablaze in its trail.

You are the diamond disgorged by revolution
Like a she-serpent at the mouth foaming,
Which the Mother gathered as a precious gift
As she went about searching and roaming.

You came back to your land as an icon
Of sacrifices made into the holy fire;
And now that name ‘Jayprakash’ rings loud
From the ardent unshakable youth’s choir.

They call him ‘Jayprakash’ or ‘Victory be to light’!
He is one who always defies death,
And leaps undaunted into the midst of fire
When he finds it dwindling in the youth’s breath.

Jayprakash is the one and only name
Whom no power can ever restrain
Holding aloft a burning beacon in darkness
Spreading light, like a hurricane!

Jayprakash is he who gives feet to the lame,
He is the one who gives voice to the dumb.
It is Jayprakash who embodies the hope
Of the country’s freedom soon to come.

Yea, Jayprakash is truly the name
Of turning time, and time’s tide;
Of the earth-shaking youth’s pledges
With their hurricane power and pride.

Jayprakash is the name, aye
Who is revered by the annals of history,
Seeking fervently to get his footprints
To record their enigma, their mystery.

The wise offer their obeisance to him
And the brave sacrifice their lives.
The singer sings him songs of praise
And to enkindle his voice he strives.

The poet’s talent, his fervent imagination
Glows and takes flight on its wings.
The tide of imagination roars and rolls
On the shores of humanity it sings.

O hear, hear, the future is calling
The saviour of the downtrodden many.
Jayprakash is the dreamer of dreams,
The maker of our country’s destiny.

Ramdhari Singh ‘Dinkar’s Hindi poem ‘Kahte Hain Usko Jayprakash’, recited by the poet himself in a public reception accorded to Shri Jayprakash Narayan in Patna Gandhi Maidan on April 21, 1946, after his release from imprisonment - rendered into English by Dr Mangal Murty.
© All text and photos:  Dr Mangal Murty

Jayprakash Narayan was a great political figure across the major span of the 20th century in India. He was born in a village (Sitab Diara) near Chapra in Bihar (Oct 11, 1902), and went for his higher studies to the U.S. in the earlty twenties. He formed a powerful dissident group of socialists in the Congress which dominated the Indian freedom struggle under Gandhi. His daring escape from the Hazaribag gaol in 1942 made him a hero among the youth of his times. He always shunned power politics and, later in life, the course of his political activities turned away from revolutionary socialism. During the sixties he devoted himself to the problem of Chambal decoits in central India, most of whom voluntarily surrendered under his persuasion. He also involved himself with Vinoba Bhave’s Bhoodan Movement in which land was voluntarily surrendered to be distributed among the landless. During the 1970s he returned to active politics by leading a people’s movement against corruption and nepotism in government. He called the movement a Total Revolution (Sampurna Kranti) which led to the declaration of Emergency by Indira Gandhi in 1975. JP- as he was popularly called – was put into prison, and released only after the lifting of the Emergency in 1977. He died in Patna on Oct 8, 1979.
JP, like many other political activists of his time, also wrote a number of books, besides many articles. Why Socialism? (1936), From Socialism to Sarvodaya (1957), Prison Diary (1976) are three of his well-known books. But besides his political writings he also wrote an article, and two short stories in Hindi which are published here in English translation for the first time ever.

Our Ancient Heritage
Jayprakash Narayan

Ordinarily, an Indian Hindu is totally unaware of their ancient heritage; not to speak of the illiterate ones. At the most, they can get some acquaintance with it from the village priests, who would generally not go beyond the Bhagwadgeeta, Ramayan and some other Puranas. The educated Indians are, of course, conversant with the Western heritage. But it is our Indian education system which is to blame for this, as even those who could study the Vedas or the Indian philosophy are hampered by their lack of knowledge of Sanskrit. They could do so through English, but few of them have the requisite proficiency in that language. As a result, most of us consider our ancient heritage as something extraordinarily inscrutable and ungraspable, which interferes with our mental freedom and development. Our Vedic knowledge and philosophy become like a long sprawling Himalayan range of mountains, impossible for us ever to scale. But unless this mental and intellectual hesitancy is overcome, we can neither have the freedom of thought, nor the mental courage that we need. If we have to raise new edifices of civilization on our old foundations, then we must give importance and strength to these foundations.
It is true that this heritage is both accessible and graspable for those among us who are scholars of Sanskrit. But Sanskrit is not the language of the common people today. What is needed is that this rich ancient heritage should be made available to people by being translated in their language, which, of course, must include Urdu. The situation as it exists today is that our Vedas and philosophy are more easily available in English and German languages than in our own modern Indian languages. If we take the situation in Hindi, such translation of our heritage literature is not for small publishers. Only major institutions can take up such massive work in hand. It is not a cause for worry that an American university – Harvard, for instance - should start publishing a series of Oriental books, and our (Benares) Hindu university should teach even Kautilya’s Arthashastra in English? It should well be expected that this university will make our old heritage available in Hindi, but, on the contrary, there also we find English reigning supreme. This empire of English is so expansive that if someone tries to address the students there in Hindi, a loud clamour rises for English from all corners! At least that has been my personal experience twice in the past. The reason that is put forward is that students from all parts of the country come to this university, and students from south India, in particular, find it difficult to understand Hindi. But how strange it sounds! If these same students of the south go to Paris or Berlin, they would try to learn French or German so as to understand and speak them in the shortest possible time, but while they stay in Kashi, they are not inspired to learn Hindi even to that extent. And why blame them only, when Mahmana Pandit Madan Mohan Malviyaji himself preferred to make English the medium of instruction in his holy ‘Hindu university’? *. Who can say whether the million-rupee temple proposed to be built there will keep the old Indian heritage alive for the posterity, rather than the systematic publication of the old heritage literature by the university, which has been spoken of above? A rapid revival of that old cultural heritage through its easy and popular availability among the common masses, seems to be of lesser importance to Mahamana Panditji than embodying the soul of that Hindu culture in a magnificent stone and mortar edifice.
My ideas is that we must establish an institution with the sole purpose of publishing this old heritage material – Vedic, non-Vedic, Buddhist, Jain, social, political, historical and literary – by getting them translated into Hindi; not with any commercial motive, but only as a cultural mission. It must be taken up by duly qualified scholars, and should not be intended in any way to propagate any particular ideology. The scholars must be experts of English, German, Chinese, Arabic, etc – but they should preferably all be Indian. There could be an advisory committee of foreign scholars, of course, who can render expert advice. The language of translation - Hindi, for instance - should be easy, from which common and popular Urdu words should not be excluded. An exhaustive plan should be prepared which must be completed within a time-frame. We must also remember that all such planning should not merely be the mind games of our business magnates. Finance will be essential, but satisfactory execution of such a plan by people of the business class is simply beyond imagination. Such work can only be done by noble-minded, tolerant and selfless scholars. Scholars tainted by jealousy and narrowness must also be kept away from such an enterprise.
[ Lahore Fort: 20 August, 1944 ]

*In an editorial footnote, it was pointed out that Hindi had been introduced as the medium of instruction at the Banaras Hindu University from the same year (1946), by Malviyaji himself, as it was also introduced in some other Indian universities like Nagpur and Lucknow during the same year.
The article was published in Himalaya (July, 1946), a literary monthly edited by Shivpujan Sahay and Rambriksha Benipuri and published from Pustak Bhandar, Patna.
The English translation of the article and the note has been done by Dr Mangal Murty
© Dr Mangal Murty
The Second Moon
Jayprakash Narayan

The tale is of olden times. There was a small kingdom in the foothills of the Himalayas. The ruling family of the warrior caste claimed descent from the Sun-god, though the subjects were hill tribesmen. Marriages in the royal family took place either within the clan or in the caste families situated in the lower stretches of the central parts of the land.
In those days of this tale, a very talented, learned, art-loving and brave king ruled the kingdom. He loved music and philosophy, and though he was also a good hunter, that remained for him, his lesser love. He never wielded arms for the expansion of his kingdom nor did he ever cede even a yard of his realm to the mightiest of his rivals. None could ever defeat him till his last breath. His success depended on three things. First, he never cast a greedy eye on any of his neighbouring kingdoms - big or small. Second, his ruling and fighting capacity was unmatched. And, third, his kingdom had invincible natural boundaries.
He occupied the highest place in the Council of Kings which he well-deserved due to his gallantry, efficiency, wisdom, statecraft and love of justice. His wise counsel was heard with reverence and rapt attention. In his own realm, he had the stature of kings of the order of Janak.
Chandrashekhar – that was his name. He would engage himself for his own pleasure in playing the ‘veena’ and painting exquisite pictures. In painting, he invented a unique style in which the lines he sketched were characterized by an extraordinary sharpness, delicacy and acuteness. His paintings had the razor-edge quality of a fine sword. He would choose only such objects for his paintings which had the inherent quality of thinness, tenuousness and subtlety. His lines would have the flexibility of a cane and the exquisiteness of the ‘shiris’ flower. The objects of his painting would be - the second moon of the bright fortnight, the delicate hues of the sunset, the flickering tongue of the serpent, or the lotus or chameli flowers, or a thin nose and sharp eyes looking sideways, with bent brows and slender lips, or the cute spiky breasts of a fresh maiden. He would just take a few lines and set them in such an angular arrangement as to hit the very heart of the viewer instantly.
The people in his kingdom were all of small stature, with flat little noses, and did not possess any charm in their looks which could attract him. Perhaps, his love for sharp, acute lines was inversely inspired by the dull blunt looks of his subjects.
One of his favourite pastimes was looking at the second moon of every bright fortnight. It was as if the bright second moon was a symbol of his own art, which would kindle in him new artistic inspirations and experiences. He loved this gaze at the second moon so ardently that on every second evening of the bright fortnight, ere the moon would appear in the sky, he would sit at the highest rampart of his palace, or oftentimes, at some mountain-top itself, and would stare blissfully at the rising moon till it would vanish. Often the queen would be by his side, or his companions would be there – poets, artists, ministers and courtiers. Never did the king miss the second moon of the bright fortnight till his last breath. Gradually it became the usual practice not only among the nobility in the kingdom, but also among its common people, to view the second moon of the bright fortnight.
The king died at the age of seventy. A flood of grief extended right up to the Kurukshetra. On the occasion of his son, Chandraketu’s coronation, even the great emperor of the Bharat dynasty was present.
He was fondly remembered by his subjects as ‘Rajarshi Chandrashekhar’ or Chandrashekhar, the ‘Sage-King’. Even thousands of years after his death, a grand fair would be held in his kingdom on that day of the second moon, and it would be considered a highly auspicious occasion to view the moon and make offerings to the priests right on that mountain top from where the king used to view the moon for his sheer pleasure. Womenfolk would specially observe the pious day as it was considered particularly holy, to bring them a son-bearing boon.
[ Lahore Fort, 1944 ]

The Hindi short tale ‘Dooj ka Chand’ published in Himalaya, a celebrated Hindi monthly edited by Shivpujan Sahay and Rambriksha Benipuri, published from Pustak Bhandar, Patna, in its November, 1946, issue, and transcreated into English by Dr Mangal Murty.
© Dr Mangal Murty

Tommy Peer
Jayprakash Narayan

At the outskirts of the town, lies a famous mausoleum of a peer (or Muslim saint). An annual fair is held there to mark his death anniversary which is attended by all and sundry – Hindus or Muslims, men and women, the children and the old alike. They would throw flowers and coins, and touch their foreheads on the grave in prayer, and then join the crowd in the fair. Even on normal days at least five or ten people must visit this mausoleum.
On the road leading from the town to the mausoleum, there lay, next to it, another small grave. The square table-like platform of this small grave suggested that it could be a child’s grave. Those who went to offer prayers at the peer’s mausoleum, would also stop for a while at this small grave, put some flowers on it, and would make some sacred wishes there, too. It was said that this was also a minor mausoleum of a ‘Tommy peer’ who was supposedly the disciple of the great peer. But nobody was very sure. Quite often it was said that the present keeper of the peer’s mausoleum used to forbid people to offer prayers at the other grave. But he would not explain why. Be that as it may, except for some of the present keeper’s own disciples or people close to him, nobody would listen to his admonitions. Or, rather, would hardly care to know why not. Thus it was quite usual that people visiting the peer’s mausoleum would stop at the Tommy peer’s also, put some flowers on it, burn a lamp and offer prayers, there, too.
One day, I also went for a stroll towards the mausoleum. The small grave next to it was just there. On way back, I met a few Muslims who were returning after offering prayers at the main peer’s mausoleum. I struck up a chat with them. They spoke highly of the great peer and the power of his piety. A minor poet among them also sung a couple of verses in his reverence. By then we had arrived at the smaller grave of Tommy peer. I expressed my curiosity, and was told that it belonged to a lesser peer who was one of the minor disciples of the great peer.
The name ‘Tommy’ struck me as rather curious and I put my queries to them. All the others, except the poet, were illiterate rustics. They knew nothing, and, may be, the poet had some idea, but he, too, could’nt shed any light on the subject. But his way of speaking clearly suggested his irreverence towards this other ‘Tommy’ peer; in fact, he would never even care to visit it, although he would often be at the main mausoleum for his love meets!
The name ‘Tommy’, and the seeming irreverence of the poet, fanned my curiosity still more. My enquiries in the next 3-4 weeks led to the discovery of a reality which seemed to me as ludicrous, as it was dismal. I wondered what absurdities our superstitions could lead us to?
Just near that small grave was an old brick and mortar bungalow – though rather in a shambles. The rotting roof lurched low, and the bricks of the boundary walls were fallen helter-skelter. The bungalow was in such ruin, may be, also because the town itself seemed to be in a marked decline. The market had been slowly dwindling, and towns like these seemed to be slowly decaying. Also, it was widely rumoured, that the bungalow was haunted by ghosts. The issueless owner had been dead for many years, and none dare enter it even as a tenant. The remnants of the owner’s family had long shifted to some other town.
When I went close to the grave, I found it situated within the boundary of that bungalow itself. The slightly lower boundary wall drawn around the grave had been constructed with the same bricks as of the bungalow’s boundary walls. Although, apparently, the grave seemed totally unrelated to the bungalow.
When I found out this peculiar relationship between the grave and the bungalow, I became curious to discover who its last tenant had been. Eventually, I also met the distant relatives of the owner who had shifted to another town. There I could only gather that about 70-80 years back, a white European lived there as a tenant who was involved in the opium business. From documents I discovered his name to be Robinson. Further queries revealed that he used to pay the rent through his clerk on every seventh or eighth day of the month. Ultimately, the name of the clerk could be deciphered from the several slips signed by him as one ‘Naurangi Lal’.
My curiosity aroused further, I tried now to find out where did this ‘Naurangi Lal’ belong to and whether any of his existing relatives could still be traced. However, nothing more could be discovered there, and I returned to my own town, where after persistent efforts, I met an old opium-seller, whose father had been in business partnership with that Robinson. With the cessation of opium farming, the opium trade had declined, but that old man still had a small licenced shop selling opium. He did not know Naurangi Lal, of course, but he knew of a big shot of the town – Hira Lal, whose ancestors had made a fortune in the opium trade.
I went straight to Hira Lal’s shop, and it was there that I learnt from the manager that Hira Lal was none other than Naurangi Lal’s own grandson. The manager’s age must have been around seventy. I thought, who better than this fellow would know the inside story of Naurangi Lal’s business affairs. In course of our rambling conversation I tried to learn something more about Robinson. The manager soon opened up – “Nauragi Lal was only the manager of Robinson sahib. And, to tell you the truth, the old Lalaji had always taken the sahib for an easy ride, and swindled him so thoroughly that the sahib couldn’t even have the wildest guess about the whole bluff. Lalaji piled up all the wealth in his house, while the sahib kept adoring him for his honesty till his last days.
When I enquired about the ruined bungalow, the manager smiled and said – “Spooks there? It’s all bullshit. The sahib’s own relatives had spread these stories, so that the property is ultimately reduced to ruins. As God willed, not only the sahib perished, but his relatives, too, turned into beggars. One who digs a ditch for others, himself falls into it, Babuji!”
Shadows of such suckers suddenly floated before my eyes, but I just kept mum, and only nodded my head in sombre agreement with his views. After a while I asked about ‘Tommy peer’ which made the manager burst into laughter. “ Don’t you know the real story which half the town surely knows?” Puzzled, I blurted out – “ For weeks I have been trying hard to find out the truth, but till now I haven’t found anyone except you who knows anything about it at all.”
The old man stared at me in wonder, and uttered with a sigh – “Yes, that’s true. The older folk are all gone. And the town itself is now in decay. But let me now soothe your itching heart a little. This ‘Tommy peer’ was, in fact, the name of the sahib’s pet dog; he had till then not been consecrated into a ‘peer’, but was just a cute little fearless dog of sound pedigree. Both the sahib and the memsahib loved him dearer than their lives – because being issueless, they used to pour all their love on him alone. Unfortunately, the dog fell ill and just passed away one day. You can well imagine the unfathomable grief of the couple. They buried him in one corner of their compound, and raised a small square table-like structure there to enshrine his memory. Every morning they would pick flowers from their garden to place on the grave.”
“O I see! So even today we and our Muslim brethren are offering prayers at a dog’s grave? I would sooner let the cat out of the bag, indeed!”
The old manager kept mum for a while, and then slowly said – “Forget about it, Babuji. How’d it matter? All those who put flowers on that grave and pray for divine boons, do they ever know that it is a dog’s grave? They must be thinking that it is some pious saint’s small mausoleum – which would only wash away their sins by their virtuous prayers.”
I had no answer to the old man’s plea. For a while I sat still, and then, thanking the old man profusely, and totally lost in my thoughts, I rose listlessly to go.
The Hindi short story “Tommy Peer” published in Himalaya, a celebrated literary Hindi monthly edited by Shivpujan Sahay and Rambriksha Benipuri, published from Pustak Bhandar, Patna, in its December, 1946, issue, and transcreated into English by Dr Mangal Murty.
© Dr Mangal Murty