BOOK REVIEW

Hindi poetry

HINDI

MADHYAKALEEN HINDI KAVAYITRIAN — Jeevan Aur Sahitya: Aditya Prachandiya; Tarmandal, 398, Avas Vikas Colony, Sasni Gate, Aligarh-202001. Rs. 150.

THE MIDDLE period of Hindi literature is identified with the rule of the Moghuls, a time of subjection for the Hindus except for the liberalism practised by Akbar. This period however witnessed an efflorescence of devotional poetry with the rise of religious movements led by men of spiritual vision and poetic gift like Vallabhacharya, Ramananda, Surdas, Tulsidas and Kabir.

These spiritual leaders inspired a democratic spirit of the equality of social classes before God, and a number of men from the lower rungs emerged to preach by example the good life without false pretensions and deceit.

Women-poets like Mira Bai belong to this bhakti milieu; this wave of religious emotion dwindles, giving rise to courtly and conventional poetry of love on well worn lines in post-Akbar times.

This period, called in the history of Hindi literature as "Bhakti" and "Riti-kal", witnessed several women-poets also who have not attracted sufficient attention. They are considered minor poets but their poetic output is worth consideration and assessment in the history of the language.

The author has chosen four minor poetesses; of them three belong to Rajasthan and one, a Muslim woman marrying a Hindu poet-courtier, is inferred to hail from the Punjab. The first three (of which two were of royal lineage) wrote in Brajbasha, the favoured medium of pre-modern standard Hindi and their language employs a mixed vocabulary of Sanskrit, Punjabi, Gujarati, and Arabic-Persian.

Their poems are all individual pieces and one of them has a version of the Srimad Bhagavata. The last mentioned Muslim poetess of Auranga Zeb's time wrote Riti — verses of conventional love — and her inspiration came from her absorption in the Hindu religious ethos. The book needs a bibliography and an index as well.

J. PARTHASARATHI

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