“The pen is mightier than the sword”. If you are even vaguely familiar with any type of literature, you have heard that phrase before. It was coined in 1839 by a British author named Edward Bulwer-Lytton. However, that phrase is useful in daily life because it is a reference to the many literary geniuses who have changed the course of history with their writing. One such notable author is Mahadevi Verma who was a noted Indian poet. Read on to learn more about her.
Who was Mahadevi Verma
“The name does ring a bell, yet the world knows little about her!” The world does know little about this influential poet, so here is some background information on her! Mahadevi Verma was born in 1907 in Farrukhabad province. This province is currently in Uttar Pradesh. As with many intellectual Indians at the time, she was an Indian activist who pioneered the Chaavyvad movement which emphasized learning and understanding Hindi literature.
Her dad was an English professor. It may have been this linguistic background that prompted her to study Sanskrit at the University of Allahabad. Mahadevi Verma eventually earned an MA in the language. She attended Crosswaithe Girls School in Allahabad. She loved to read and write and thus developed a passion for poems that she did so in secrecy. However, her older roommate Subhadra Kumari Chauhan exposed her. She and Chauhan became poem writing buddies.
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Many of their poems were published in local magazines. She got married when she was nine but divorced as an adult because her husband thought she was ugly. Her work as a poet started in 1930 when she was a village school teacher. She admired Mahatma Gandhi and adopted many of his teachings including speaking only in Hindi and dressing in simple, handmade, Indian clothes.
Her work as a freedom fighter
Her embracing of ideals of a free India and her linguistic education gave her the background to become a writer who was a freedom fighter. Mahadevi Verma was strongly in favor of women’s rights, but could not be considered a pure feminist because of the nature of her writings. She wrote a collection of poems collectively referred to as “Srinkalaa Ke Kadiyaan”. This collection is world-renowned because of its emphasis on raising awareness of the ills and discrimination against Indian women at the time. This laid the foundation for other social movements and NGOs to work on improving the status and life of the average Indian woman.
Interestingly enough, she renounced her initial marriage at age 9 and never remarried through she got lots of proposals to do so!
She is remembered in India’s Education System
Indian education is strongly governed by the Central Board of Standardized Education (CBSE.) Many of her poems were so good that they were incorporated into India’s national primary and secondary education system. For example, she wrote a poem called Neelkanth which described her experiences with meeting a peacock. This is standard literature for all 7th-grade Indian students. Her poem Gillu is required reading for 9th-grade Indian students, and her poem Madhur Madhur Mere Deepak Jal is standard reading for all 10th graders.
Mahadevi Verma was an interesting woman
Mahadevi Verma had a talent with the pen and this was evident in her poetry. She died leaving a permanent mark in terms of the progression of women’s rights in India. This was a feat that few women of her time could boast of!
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