Gujarati Literature

The important figures and facts in Gujarat Literature for General Knowledge are as follows:

Acharya Hemachandra

Though the history of Gujarati Literature can be traced to as back as 1000AD; the discussion starts with Acharya Hemachandra (1089–1172), the great Jain scholar, poet, and polymath. He was trained in religious discourse, philosophy, logic and grammar and is known as Kalikal Sarvagya. He was ordained as the acharya of the Svetambara sect of Jainism and was given the name Hemachandra also Somachandra.

Hemachandra was contemporary and teacher of the Kumarapala of the Solanki dynasty of Gujarat. Kumarapala was such a dedicated disciple of Hemachandra that he  banned all kinds of cruelty against any living being in his kingdom. Such was the kingdom of Solankis, based on the principles of Ahimsa. He also built the Taranga Jain temples and took up the project of restoring the Somnath temple. Acharya Hemachandra wrote grammars of Sanskrit and Prakrit, texts in logic, philosophy and mathematics.

Narsi Mehta

Narsi Mehta or Narsi Bhagat (1414 – 1481) was a Vaishnavite poet-saint, who is revered in Gujarati literature as its Adi Kavi. Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite Bhajan “Vaishnav Jan To” was a creation of Narsi Mehta.

Narsi Mehta was the pioneer poet of Gujarati literature. His wrote Padas called Akhyan and Prabhatiya and numerous Bhajans and Kirtans which were preserved orally for centuries before being scripted in writing.

Shamal Bhatt

Shamal Bhatt was a Gujarati author of 18th century. He is special because, Mahatma Gandhi once said that idea of Satyagraha was conceived in a primitive form by him taking inspiration from one of the poems of Shamal Bhatt. We note here that Mahatma Gandhi’s idea of Satyagraha took inspiration from the following:

  1. A Poem of Shamal Bhatt, which he learnt when he was eight year old.
  2. Sermon on the Mount (Saying of Jesus)
  3. New Testament
  4. Bhagavad-Gita and
  5. Kingdom of God is within you (Leo Tolstoy).

Narmadashankar Dave

Narmadashankar Dave or Narmad was a Gujarati author, poet, scholar and lexicographer of 19th century. His most popular work is the poem “Jai Jai Garavi Gujarat“. In 2004, the South Gujarat University was renamed after his name.

K M Munshi

Kanaiyalal Maneklal Munshi (1887 – 1971) was freedom movement activist, politician and the founder of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. He wrote numerous novels, dramas and non-fiction works in Gujarati and several works in English.

The most famous work is his trilogy which includes Patan-ni-Prabhuta (The Greatness of Patan), Gujarat-no-Nath (The Ruler of Gujarat) and Rajadhiraj (The Emperor).

He was active participant in freedom movement ever since arrival of Gandhi in India. In the Bardoli Satyagraha, he supported Sardar Patel. For a brief period, he joined the Swaraj party but later returned to INC on Gandhi’s behest at the time of launch of Salt Satyagraha.  Munshi was on the ad hoc Flag Committee that selected the Flag of India in August 1947, and on the committee which drafted the Constitution of India under the chairmanship of B. R. Ambedkar.

Umashankar Joshi

Umashankar Jethalal Joshi was the first winner of Jnanpith award in Gujarati Language in 1967 for his collection of poems titled Nishitha.

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