Harivansh Rai Bachchan was a noted Indian poet of Chhayavaad literary movement of 20th century.
In 1941 Bachchan began teaching English at Allahabad University, some ten years later an opportunity arose to apply for study in England. Although the principal objective was to study English teaching methodology, Bachchan saw it as an opportunity to complete his previous studies on the Irish poet WB Yeats. His acceptance at Cambridge may well have rested more on his popular acclaim rather than his academic studies, but whilst at Cambridge he excelled, achieving his doctorate in English Literature for his work on Yeats.Bachchan was a student of the renowned English literature don, Thomas Rice Henn. In June 1954 Henn wrote a reference for Bachchan describing his thesis as a genuine contribution to our knowledge, [that] will be of great assistance to future students of the work of WB Yeats
Bachchan was nominated to the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of the Indian Parliament, in 1966 and received many honours for his contribution to Hindi and Asian literature. In 2003, an Indian postage stamp was released in his memory. The enduring popularity and influence of Bachchan was evident at his funeral in January 2003. Thousands of people attended his funeral procession, and tributes were paid by politicians, industrialists and Bollywood stars. His son, Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan, visited St Catharines in 2007 and spoke movingly of his fathers time at the College.
At present, more people may know Bachchan as being father to Indias best known film actor, Amitabh Bachchan, than know his reputation as a poet.The creator of the great collection Madhushala is often thought to be a great admirer of wonder solutions himself. It is wrongly believed that the creator of one of the most famous poems on wine (Madhushala) never drank liquor. In reality, he had never drank liquor till the time he completed Madhushala. He did drink, although sparingly, later in his life, a fact that he admits to in his autobiography.
One of his inspirational poems, agneepath was used as the title and the theme for the 1991 blockbuster movie Agneepath (translates path of fire) featuring his superstar son Amitabh Bachchan as a ruthless mafia don. This movie was a massive success earning Amitabh Bachchan a National Award for his performance. You can see Amitabh narrating the poem through out the movie.The poem describes the entire gamut of sufferings that the human race had gone through and is going through.
Harivansh Rai Bachchan Srivastav was born in the year 1907 in the village Babupatti near Allahabad in a Kayastha family to Pratap Narayan Shrivastav and Saraswati Devi. He was their eldest born. As a child, he was fondly called bachchan because of his child like ways. The moniker stuck with him, thus becoming one of the most recognizable names.
5. Early Life
Harivansh Rai Bachchan started his education from a municipal school. It was the same time that he also started learning Urdu from Kayasth Paathshaalas. Later, he pursued his higher education from Allahabad University and Banaras Hindu University. In 1941 he joined the English department of Allahabad University as a faculty and taught there till 1952. He then went to Cambridge for two years to do his doctoral thesis on W.B Yeats and occultism, becoming the second Indian to get a Ph. D. in English Literature from this university. It was also during this time that he dropped Srivastav from his name and used Bachchan as his last name. He then came back to India and took up teaching, while at the same time, serving sometime at the Allahabad Station of All India Radio.
6. Later Life
Harivansh Rai Bachchan later moved on to Delhi in 1955 to join the External Affairs Ministry as a Special Officer in the Hindi cell, translating official documents into Hindi. He served for a period of ten years. During this time, he also worked on promoting Hindi as the official language of India as well as translating some of the major works into Hindi like Macbeth, Othello, Bhagvad Gita, the works of W.B Yeats and the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.
Harivansh Rai Bachchan is best remembered for his 142 verse lyrical poem Madhushala (The House of Wine), which was published in 1935. This work catapulted him as the foremost Hindi poet and was subsequently, translated into English and a number of Indian languages. The poem became a craze and was even performed on stage. Madhushala was a part of his poetic trilogy, the other two being Madhubaala and Madhukalash. It is on this trilogy that his fame rests. In 1969, he published the first of his four part autobiography Kya bhooloon kya yaad karoon. The second part Need ka nirmaan fir was published in 1970, the third Basere se door in 1977 and the last part Dashdwaar se sopaan tak in 1985. The series was well received and an abridged English translation by Rupert Snell, In the Afternoon of Time, was published in 1998. It is now considered to be a landmark in Hindi literature. Throughout his teaching career and while working in the External Affairs ministry and later, Bachchan published about 30 poetry collections as well as other works in Hindi like essays, travelogues and a few songs for the Hindi film industry. He also read his poems to large audiences. His last poem Ek November 1984 based on Indira Gandhis assassination was written in November 1984.
8. Awards And Recognition
In 1966, Harivansh Rai Bachchan was nominated to the Rajya Sabha and in 1969 he received the Sahitya Akademi Award. Seven years later the Government of India bestowed on him the Padma Bhushan in recognition for his contribution to Hindi literature. In addition he was also awarded the Sovietland Nehru Award, the Lotus Award of the Afro Asian writers conference and the Saraswati Samman. The Uttar Pradesh government conferred him the Yash Bharati Samman in 1994. A postage stamp was released in 2003 in his memory.
1907 Harivansh Rai Bachchan was born in a Kayastha family in Uttar Pradesh.
1926 Married his first wife.
1935 Madhushala, his seminal work, was published.
1941 Became a faculty of the English department in Allahabad University and marries a second time.
1953 Went to Cambridge to pursue his doctoral thesis.
1955 Joined the Hindi Cell of the External Affairs ministry.
1984 Published his last poem.
1966 Nominated to the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian parliament.
1969 Received the Sahitya Academi Award.
2003 Harivansh Rai Bachchan breathed his last.
10. Teaching career
From 1941 to 1952 he taught English Literature at Allahabad University and then spent two years at Cambridge University, at St Catharines College. There he studied with the famous English literature don, Thomas Rice Henn, and received a doctorate in English Literature for his work on the Irish poet W.B. Yeats and Occultism. It was there that he used Bachchan as his last name instead of Srivastava. He was the second Indian to get his doctorate in English literature from Cambridge University.After returning to India, he taught briefly and then worked as a producer for All India Radio, Mumbai. In 1955, he moved to Delhi to join the Ministry of External Affairs of the Government of India and there he was closely involved with the evolution of Hindi as the official language of India.
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