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 poets 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 todays 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, Narsingharaos 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 Gandhis
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 Tagores 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
¤ 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
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
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.