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Gujarati Language



Some Facts



Developed into an independent language around the 12th century.

¤ Gujarati Literature Divided Mainly Into Prose and Poetry

In the medieval period, poetry was actually the means of expressing religious sentiments and the first poetry of the language was Bharateswara Bahubali Rasa.
It was composed by Shalibhadrasuri, a 7th century Jain monk. A number of Jain Sadhus followed his example and composed short story poems called Rasas till the end of the 18th century.

All this while in the 15th century, Narsingh Mehta was bringing in a new era of Vaishnava poetry. His poems portray Krishna as a playful child, a lover, a friend and the poet’s muse. He became a source of inspiration for his successors in composing not only similar poetry but also philosophical poems.

¤ The Great Writers

Raje, Raghunathdas, Pritam, Ratno and Muktananda were some of the great contributors to devotional poetry. In the 18th century, Vallabh left his artistic touch in devotional songs like Garbo and Garbi. They are popular even in today’s age.

Premananda, the greatest medieval poet introduced the famous ‘Akhyana’. He had a wonderful command over the language, treated the subject in an outstanding way and moreover had a great understanding of human nature. Jains and non-Jains have written narrative poems using Sanskrit as well as Prakrit fiction as the source. Nayasundar among the Jains and Samal amongst the non-Jains were popular narrators.

¤ Narmad and Dalpat --The Poets Know During British Rule

With the advent of the British in the 19th century, poetic literature soared to new heights. Narmad and Dalpat were the pioneers of this age. In 1886, Narsingharao’s collection of lyrical poems Kusummala, was published.

Poetry was getting restricted to the elite class and Mahatma Gandhi urged poets to write for the masses. The noted poets of this century like Kalapi, Kant, Nanalal and Balavantrai Thakor were all greats in their respective style of writing. Literature produced under Gandhi’s influence is known as Gandhian literature and the era as Gandhian era.

¤ Poetry Inclined Towards Patriotism

Poets of this time wrote about social order, the struggle for independence and especially about Gandhi himself. Umashankar, Sundaram, Shesh, Snehrasmi, Betai and many more were the principal poets of this era.
During the 40s, there was a rise in communistic poetry and this inspired a movement for progressive literature. Meghani, Bhogilal Gandhi, Swapnastha and others preached class conflict and hatred of religion through their writings.
Highly inspired by Tagore’s dialogue poems, Umashankar Joshi enriched the existing Gujrati literature by writing in the same manner. His two such poems are Prachina and Mahaprasthan.

Poetry of post-independence era is more subjective and brutal, discarding old imageries and symbols and replacing them with new ideas. The main representatives of this age are Suresh Joshi, Gulam Mohamed Sheikh, Harinder Dave, Chinu Modi, Nalin Raval, Adil Mansuri and others.

¤ The Beginning of The Gujarati Literature

Gujarati literary prose in the real sense begins from the 19th century. Narmad was the leader in this field and began by writing essays meant to be read before an audience. His essays dealt mainly with social revolution, but he also wrote on literary, social, political and religious subjects.
Narmad coined new words and phrases, using them to explain his ideas. His contemporary was Dalpat, an essayist and dramatist. The era starting from Narmad is called the social reform era.
Naval Ram of this age was a critic of distinction besides writing literary essays and book reviews.

Nand Shankar was the first novelist of his time and wrote Karanghelo a historical fiction. Govardhanram is another great novelist whose Saraswati Chandra is a classic not only in Gujarati literature but also in Indian literature.
It was the first social novel, which mentioned contemporary problems and their solutions.

During this period, the Gujarat Vidyapith became the centre of all literary activities where new values emerged and more emphasis was given on Indianisation.
Novels, short stories, diaries, letters, plays, essays, criticisms, biographies, travel books and all kinds of prose began to flood Gujarati literature.
However, Kanhaiyalal Munshi was absolutely untouched by this change and made a mockery of the Gandhian principles, whereas Ramanlal Desai, novelist, dramatist, literary critic and short storywriter all rolled into one is the true representative of the Gandhian era.
His works include ‘Divya Chakshu’ and ‘Bharelo Agni’. Kaka Kalelkar was a voluminous writer and subjects included travel, culture, nature, sociology and biography. Other pioneers of this era were Kishorelal Mashruwala (essayist), Ramnarayan Pathak (critic and short story writer), and Darshak (dramatist).

¤ Post Independence Prose Literature

The post independence prose literature had two distinct trends that of traditional and modern.
The former deals more with ethical values and its main writers were Gulabdas Broker, Mansukhlal Jhaveri, Vishnuprasad Trivedi and others. While existentialism, surrealism and symbolism have influenced the latter. The modernists want to do away with moral values and religious beliefs.
The eminent writers of this trend are Chandrakant Baxi, Suresh Joshi, Madhu Rai, Raghuvir Chowdhury, Saroj Pathak and others.
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.

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