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Introduction of Hindi Language

The constitution of India (Article 343) recognises Hindi as the official language of India. Hindi is also the main language in many states of India such as Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal/ Uttarakhand, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh and Himachal Pradesh. It is spoken by more than 437 million people in the world. The other dialects of Hindi are Brajbhasha, Bundeli, Awadhi, Marwari, Maithili, Bhojpuri, to name only a few. Hindi can be traced back to as early as the seventh or eighth century. The dialect that has been chosen as the official language is Khariboli in the Devnagari script. Other dialects of Hindi are Brajbhasa, Bundeli, Awadhi, Marwari, Maithili and Bhojpuri. It was in the 10th century that authentic Hindi poetry took its form and since then it has been constantly modified. History of Hindi literature as a whole can be divided into four stages: Adikal (the Early Period), Bhaktikal (the Devotional Period), Ritikal (the Scholastic Period) and Adhunikkal (the Modern Period).



Between the middle of the 10th century and the beginning of the 14th century, known as Adhikal, Hindi literature was mainly in the form of poetry. Religious ideologies or the bravery of the great rulers and warriors were the focus of these works. The earliest version is called by the name Apabhramsha poetry. The renowned poet Gorakhnath and his followers had a great influence on other mystic poets like Kabir, Nanak and Dadu Dayal. During this period Jain poets like Swayambhu, Som Datt Suri, Sharang Dhar and Nalla Singh composed the Charit Kavyas, which comprised of moral tenets and portrayals of nature. However, heroic poetry was an integral part of the Hindi literature of the Adikal period. Several raso-kavyas like Prithiviraj Raso, Visaldev Raso, Parmal raso, etc. came into being during this period.


Bhakti Kal or the Devotional Period-

The period between the 14th and the 17th century is known as the Bhakti Kal. Emergence of devotional poetry is the highlight of this period. Kabir was the most important poet of the period 1399 to 1518 AD. He along with the poets Guru Nanak, Dharma Das, Maluk Das, Dadudayal, Sunder Das laid an emphasis on the importance of knowledge for the realization of God. The Sufi poets, on the other hand, preached love as the means to realise God. Jayasi, Manjhan, Kutuban and Usman were the pioneers of this school. Tulsi Dass, Agradasa, Nabhadasa and Pran Chand Chauhan were other important poets of this group. Surdas (1483-1563) Sur Sagar and Sur Saravali are the masterpieces of devotional Hindi poetry. Nand Das, Parmananda Das and Meera Bai were other celebrated poets of the medieval times. Maulana Daud, Kutuban, Malik Mohammad Jayasi were some famous Sufi poets of this period. The devotional period created immortal literature and is distinguished as the golden age of Hindi Poetry.


Ritikal or the Scholastic period-

The period between 1600-1850 AD is known as Ritikal. Hindi literary works created during this period resembled more like Sanskrit poems in as much as the rhetoric tradition it followed. Different aspects of poetics such as rasa, alankara and nayika bheda were well managed. Leading poets like Chintamani Tripathi, Keshavadasa, Mati Ram, Deva, Kulpati Misra, and Bhikari Das followed the Rithibadha tradition and composed on definitional and illustrative themes. The Ritimukta group of poets, on the other hand have done a tremendous work highlighting the meaning and power of love and few of such renowned poets of this tradition are Ghanananda, Bodha and Thakur.


Adhunikkal or Modern Period-

Modern Hindi literature has been divided into four phases; the age of Bharatendu or the Renaissance (1868-1893), Dwivedi Yug (1893-1918), Chhayavada Yug (1918-1937) and the Contemporary Period (1937 onwards). Bharatendu Harishchandra (1849-1882) brought in a modern outlook in Hindi literature and is thus called the 'Father of Modern Hindi Literature'. Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi later took up this vision. Dwivedi was a reformist by nature and he brought in a refined style of writing in Hindi poetry, which later acquired a deeper moral tone. This was the age of revival when the glory and grandeur of ancient Indian culture was fully adopted to enrich modern life. Social, political and economic problems were portrayed in poetry while songs were of social awakening. This trend helped in the emergence of National Cultural Poetry whose leading poets were Makhanlal Chaturvedi, Balkrishna Shama 'Navin', Siyaram Gupta and 'Dinkar'. These poets put more stress on moral aspect of life rather than on love or beauty, which later evolved in the Chhayavada style of poetry. Kamayani is the zenith of this school and Chhayavada was best represented by Prasad, Nirala, Pant and Mahadevi Verma. After the decline of this movement in came the leftist ideology which found voice in two opposite styles of Hindi poetry. One was Progressivism and Prayogavada or later called Nai Kavita. The former was an effort of translating Marx's philosophy of Social realism into art. The most notable figure of this movement was Sumitranandan Pant. The latter safeguarded artistic freedom and brought in new poetic content and talent to reflect modern insight. The pioneers of this trend were Aggeya, Girija Kumar, Mathur and Dharamvir Bharati. A third style called Personal Lyrics also appeared, aiming at free and spontaneous human expressions with Harivansh Rai Bachchan as the leader of this trend. The history of Hindi poetry, thus, extends over a period of almost one thousand years. The proper development of Hindi prose followed the rise and growth of Khari Boli (colloquial dialect). Pre-Bharatendu writers like Ram Prasad Niranjani, Sadasukh Lal, Insha Allah Khan and Sadal Misra composed proses mainly based on mythological stories. Insha Allah Khan used the typical Khari Boli while others were more influenced by Sanskrit and Braj Bhasha. The development of Hindi prose has been classified into three periods: The first phase (1868-1918), the period of growth (1918-1937) and the present age of excellence (1938 onwards).


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