Important Facts About Marathi Literature

Marathi was the court language of the Yadavas of Devagiri (850-1312 CE). The Yadavas contributed greatly towards the origin and growth of the Marathi literature by patronizing learned men of this language. Important facts and figures about Marathi Literature are as follows:

Sant Dnyaneshwar / Jnanadev

Dnyaneshwar (1275–1296) or Jnanadeva was a 13th century yogi of the Nath tradition and is considered to be first Marathi literary figure who had wide readership and profound influence. His work Bhavartha Deepika (a commentary on Bhagavad Gita) and Amrutanubhav are considered to be milestones in Marathi literature. Bhavarth Deepika is a 9000-couplets long commentary on the Bhagavad Gita).

Sant Tukaram

Sant Tukaram (1577–1650) was Varkari Sant and spiritual poet of the Bhakti. He is widely considered to be the first modern poet of Marathi. Tukaram was a devotee of Vitthala or Vithoba and a disciple of Bahagat Namdev.

His poetry is considered to be the zenith of the literary development by the Varkari sect in Marathi Language. He is best known for many Abhangas written by him. The Abhangas are the devotional poetry sung in praise of Vithoba, first by the Varkari saints like Namdev, Dhyaneshwar, Eknath and Tukaram in Marathi.

Samarth Ramdas

Samarth Ramdas (1608–1681) was one of the most important spiritual poets of India who is best known for his Marathi Arti of Lord Ganesha ” Sukhkartā Dukhhartā Vārtā Vighnāchi”. Dasbodh is the most famous book ascribed to Samarath Ramdas. Dasbodh is a treatise on Advaita Vedanta.

Jyotiba Phule

Mahatma Jyotirao Govindrao Phule (1827 – 1890) was a social reformer, writer, philosopher, theologist, scholar, editor and revolutionary, best known as pioneer of women’s education in India.

He formed Satya Shodhak Samaj in 1873 with the main objective of liberating the Bahujans, Shudras and Ati-Shudras and protecting them from exploitation and atrocities.

One of his best known works is Ghulamgiri, which was inspired by the American civil war. He gave a message to the lower castes to take inspiration from America. Another famous work is Shetkaryaca Asud (The Whipcord of the Cultivators), a critique of the joint exploitation of peasantry by the British and Brahmans in bureaucracy.

Gopal Hari Deshmukh (Lokhitwadi)

Gopal Hari Deshmukh (1823 – 1892) was a social reformer from Bombay Presidency. He retired as a sessions judge in the British Government. He used to write in a weekhly Marathi newspaper under the pen name Lokhitawadi, on several social issues such as caste system, education of women, arranged child marriages, dowry system, polygamy etc. He also founded a public library in Bombay and also played role in foundations of several periodicals such as Gyan Prakash (ज्ञानप्रकाश), Indu Prakash (इंदुप्रकाश), and ”Lokhitwadi (लोकहितवादी) in Maharashtra.

Mahadev Govind Ranade

Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade (1842 – 1901) was one of the founding members of the Indian National Congress. He was an influential personality in the 19th century British India.

He helped in the establishment of the Poona Sarvajanik Sabha and the Prarthana Samaj. He is best known as the first Indian thinker to give the idea of a “welfare state”.

Ranade and Welfare State

Concept of Welfare State was first given by Archbishop William Temple during the Second World War and was first implemented by Bismarck. In modern India, it was Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade who is accepted to be the first thinker who gave the idea of a welfare state. He said that the state now is more and more recognized as the national organ for taking care of the national needs in all matters in which individual and cooperative efforts are not likely to be effective as nation’s effort.

Hari Narayan Apte

Hari Narayan Apte was a Marathi writer of 19th and 20th century, who wrote many social and historical novels, reflecting the contemporary life. Some of his notable novels are Manjughosha and Muktamala.

Vishnu Sakharam Khandekar

Vishnu Sakharam Khandekar was an eminent writer, who was the first Jnanpith award winner in Marathi language for his magnum opus Yayati. Yayāti (ययाति) received three prestigious awards: A Maharashtra State Award (1960), a Sahitya Akademi Award (1960), and a Jnanpith Award (1974).

Fact-Box: Bakhars

The Bakhars are important in the construction of history of the Marathas. Bakhar means to tell the news or record of happenings or biography of an eminent person and is written on its own orders. Bakhars are written in Modi script of Marathi language. Some historians say that Bakhars are based on hearsay and secondary information and can not cent percent be relied upon them. Among the

Bakhar literature, the Sabhasad Bakhar is the prime and the most important, which is written by Krishnaji Anant Sabhasad, a ministerof Chhatrapati Rajaram in 1694. In Marathi language, Shakavalies and official files and diaries also are treated as sources of this history.

Kusumagraj (Vishnu Vāman Shirwādkar)

Kusumagraj was the popular name of Vishnu Vāman Shirwādkar (1912 – 1999), an eminent Marathi poet, playwright and novelist. He is best known for his play Natsamrat which won him Jnanpith award in 1987. His other work Vishaka (1942) is a collection of lyrics, inspired a generation into the Indian freedom movement, and is today considered one of the masterpieces of Indian literature.

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