The Melody of Life: The Biography of Harivansh Rai Bachchan

OV Digital Desk
4 Min Read
Harivansh Rai Bachchan

Harivansh Rai Bachchan (27 November 1907 – 18 January 2003) was a renowned Indian poet and writer.

Life and Career

Harivansh Rai Bachchan was born on 27 November 1907, in Uttar Pradesh, India. He was born into a Hindu Kayastha family and was the eldest son of Pratap Narayan Shrivastav and Saraswati Devi. His original name was Harivansh Rai Srivastava, but he later adopted the pen name “Bachchan,” which means “child-like” in Hindi.

Bachchan completed his early education in a village school and later attended Allahabad University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature. He then pursued a master’s degree in the same subject and completed it in 1936.

Bachchan started his career as a teacher of English at the Allahabad University. He later joined the Hindi department of the same university as a lecturer. During this time, he also worked as an assistant editor for the Hindi magazine “Madhuri,” which was published by the famous writer Sumitranandan Pant.

Bachchan’s literary career began in the 1930s when he started writing poetry. His early poetry was influenced by the romanticism of the Chhayavad movement, which was a literary movement in Hindi poetry that emphasized the beauty of nature and the emotions of love and longing. However, Bachchan’s later works moved away from the romantic style and became more socially conscious and politically engaged.

One of Bachchan’s most famous works is the long narrative poem “Madhushala,” which was first published in 1935. The poem is written in the form of a series of “quatrains” (four-line verses) and is structured like a “madhushala” or a tavern where the poet serves “madhu” or wine to his readers. The poem is a metaphor for life, and the “wine” represents the experiences and emotions that make life worth living. “Madhushala” became immensely popular and has been translated into several languages.

Bachchan’s other notable works include the poetry collections “Madhubala” (1936), “Madhukalash” (1937), “Nisha Nimantran” (1938), and “Satarangini” (1945). He also wrote several essays and articles on literature and politics.

In addition to his literary career, Bachchan was also involved in politics. He was a member of the Indian National Congress and was elected to the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian Parliament, in 1966. He was also appointed as the Vice-Chancellor of the Sahitya Akademi, India’s national Academy of Letters, in 1967.

He died on 18 January 2003 (age 95 years), in Mumbai.

Award and Legacy

Harivansh Rai Bachchan was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1968 for his autobiography “Kya Bhooloon Kya Yaad Karoon”.

He was honored with the Padma Bhushan, India’s third-highest civilian award, in 1976.

Bachchan was also awarded the prestigious Lenin Peace Prize by the Soviet Union in 1954 for his contributions to world peace and literature.

Harivansh Rai Bachchan is remembered as one of the most influential poets of the 20th century in India. His poetry, particularly “Madhushala,” continues to be popular and is often recited at public gatherings and events. He is also remembered for his contributions to Indian literature and his involvement in politics and social causes. Bachchan’s son, Amitabh Bachchan, is a legendary actor in Indian cinema and has also contributed significantly to the arts and entertainment industry.

Share This Article