The mother of Literature

By Ram Kamal Mukherjee


Ram Kamal Mukherjee

‘When you read a line that is so well written you just close the book and stare at the wall for a minute’. Who can forget this famous explanation of Mahasweta Devi for an excellent craft? And the line is applicable for her each and every novel and short story too. 

Being a bong, Mahasweta Devi has always inspired me to write my thought about this world later when I grew up; I found that the weight of her each line is immortal and appreciated by all. The bong pride turns into a matter of sheer addiction and I was compelled to gobble her novels like hypnotized person. Each word is poised with brilliance, each sentence is magic and each story is a classic and that’s the definition of Mahasweta Devi’s creations. I am not the one who was astonished by the brilliance of her but the whole world was. So, when she succumbed to the prolonged illness the literatis’ mourned and that left a big void in me.

“Struggle can build the steps of success “. When I read Rudali, Hazar Churashir maa, I always found the reflection of skillful draft of human conflicts and their unusual life stories. Later I found that practicing and observing the humanities are one of her key abilities and that made her a prolific of India.

She was born in 1926 in Bangladesh. Her father was Manish Ghatak and mother was Dharitri Devi.  She was moved to Medinipore after the partition took place.
She always followed the footprint of Kobiguru Rabindranath Tagore and she ends up being in Santiniketan. The ideology of Tagore, the smell of soil and the beauty of nature amalgamate in her blooming grey matters. She learned to describe the human complexities and delved into the untold story of nature. Santiniketan and Tagore fuelled the gasoline of her world viewing.

Bijon Bhattacharya

Bijon Bhattacharya

She got married to another stalwart, playwright Bijon Bhattacharyya who had always been the voice of anti-establishment but she faced a massive financial problem. Infact poverty and financial problems had always been a big barrier for Mahasweta Devi but that didn’t overshadow the jaw dropping fight she was doing.  She had struggled a lot until she wrote Jhansir Rani in 1956 which immediately gave her a new height with aplomb and she never turned back again. Mahasweta Devi wrote more than 100 novels and over 20 collections of short stories. In 1964 she was the lecturer of Bijoygarh College. During that period she has researched a lot about the tribal people who were enslaved and tortured by the upper class rich peoples.
She immediately connected with them and led the movement for Shabor and Lodh. She roamed every single remote area possible to pass the torch of the movement. She rejected the distorted history and told ‘ I have always believed that the real history is made by the ordinary people constantly come across the reappearance in various forms of folklore, ballads, myths and legends carried by ordinary people across generation.’

Mahasweta Devi. January 14, 1926 - July 28, 2016

Mahasweta Devi. January 14, 1926 – July 28, 2016.

Her inspiring works for the tribal still give me massive goosebumps and charge me like anything. Her works clearly showcased the story of the lower casts but what I like about her writing is her reluctance to natural feminism.  Her works portrayed the cultural differences between castes and economical misbalances. Hazar churashir maa, Droupodi, Agnigorbha, Aranyer Adhikar, Puran Sahai o’ Pritha etc.  There are among her notable works. She had worked in different languages like Sanskrit, Bhojpuri. Most of her works had been translated by famous translator Gayatri Chakrovorty.
For her immortal works Mahasweta Devi won lots of awards Sahitya Akademi Award, Janpith Award , French legion of honour, the Ramon magsyasay Award, Padmashri and Padmavibhushan.
On one side creating the dots in literature and the other side taking the government on Mahasweta Devi dared to follow her heart. She was an icon in true sense and has left a deepmark on me and many more like me. With her death an era has ended. She wanted to live more but the unfulfilled works of her will be remembered by everyone perennially.

2 replies »

  1. Respected R.K.Mukherjee sir,
    I have an enquiry about the photo of Bijan Bhattacharya. Can you please confirm me the source of the picture. Actually this photo is unknown to us.
    With Namaskar,
    Dr.Tapas Saha
    Mob no: 09874355193
    Assistant Professor
    St. Xavier’s College Kolkata.


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