Munshi Premchand Biography
Biography of Munshi Premchand
Dhanpat Rai Srivastava or Munshi Premchand as he was better known was born on 31 July, 1880 in Lamahi near Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. He ranks as one of the tallest icons in the field of modern Hindi and Urdu literature. He had to face tremendous struggles to make his ends meet due to his patents’ early death. In 1910, the District Magistrate in Jamirpur reprimanded him for his collection of short stories Soz-e-Watan, which was termed as seditious. Hereafter, he began to write under the pen name “Premchand”.
He wrote in Urdu too under the name of Nawabrai. Credited with introducing realism to the world of Hindi literature, he responded to Mahatma Gandhi’s call in 1921 and resigned from government service. For a brief period, he worked as a scriptwriter for Mumbai film industry. On the personal front, he married twice. He used to write in the language of the common people and is credited with introducing issues like communalism, corruption, poverty and colonialism into Hindi and Urdu literature.
He lived a life of penury. Many of his works were later made into movies and television serials. The legendary Satyajit Ray made two movies based on Premchand’s works – Sadgati and Shatranj Ke Khiladi. Premchand also wrote some plays. His works have been translated into many Indian and foreign languages. He passed away on October 8, 1936.
Premchand was born to Ajaib Rai and Anandi Devi. He was the fourth child of his parents. He got his name Dhanpat Rai, while his uncle named him Nawab, which he used as his first pen name.
Premchand received his early education in a Madrasa in Lalpur and from there he learned Urdu and Persian. Later, he was sent to a missionary school where he learned English.
He was very young when his mother died. His father remarried soon; but Premchand did not share a good relation with his step-mother. After a few years, his father passed away too and he had to discontinue his education.
To support his step-mother and half-brother, he started providing tuition classes to students. Later, he also received an offer for the post of an assistant teacher at the Government District School in Bahraich. Around the same time, he also started writing fictions. His first pseudonym was “Nawab Rai” However, later he had to change his name and take up Premchand as pseudonym after publishing ‘Soz-e-Watan’, a short story collection which was banned by British officials.
During the mid-1910s, Premchand became a famous Urdu writer and by 1914 he became a Hindi writer. In 1916 he took up a job of Assistant Master in the Normal High School, Gorakhpur. ‘Seva Sadan’ is his first major Hindi novel which was published in 1919.
During the non-cooperation movement, he resigned from the post of Deputy Inspector of Schools. He moved to Benares and started working on his literary career. In 1923, he established a publishing house ‘Saraswati Press’. In 1930, he came up with a political-weekly called ‘Hans’. In 1931, he took a job of teacher in a Marwari College in Kanpur. In the same year he left the job and came back to Benares and worked as an editor of the ‘Maryada’ magazine and as a headmaster the Kashi Vidyapeeth. In 1931, he moved to Mumbai and worked as a script writer for Ajanta Cinetone, a production house. The script for film Majboor was written by him. His last works were Kafan and Godaan.
- Devasthan Rahasya (Urdu title:Asrar-e-Ma’abid)
- Prema (Urdu title: Hamkhurma-o-Ham Sawab)
- Roothi Rani
- Soz-e-Watan (Urdu)
- Vardaan (Urdu title: Jalwa-e-Isar)
- Seva Sadan (Urdu title: Bazaar-e-Husn)
- Premashram (Urdu title: Gosha-e-Afiyat)
- Rangbhoomi (Urdu title: Chaugan-e-Hasti)
- Nirmala (Urdu title: Nirmala)
- Kaayakalp (Urdu title: Parda-i-Majaz)
- Pratigya (Urdu title: Bewa)
- Gaban (Urdu title: Ghaban)
- Karmabhoomi (Urdu title:Maidan-e-Amal)
- Mangalsootra (incomplete)
- Adeeb Ki Izat
- Duniya ka Sabse Anmol Ratan
- Bade Bhai Sahab
- Beti ka Dhan
- Sajjanata ka dand
- Panch Parameshvar
- Ishwariya Nyaya
- Lottery, to name a few.
Some of His other Works include:
- Mazdoor (1934)
- Prem Ki Vedi
- Roohani Shadi
- Mahatma Sheikhsadi (biography of Saadi)
- Qalam Tyag aur Talwar
- Kuchh Vichar (two parts)
- Jangal ki Kahaniyan
- Kutte ki Kahani
- Ram Charcha