Contrary to popular belief, the only thing that guarantees success in life is educating oneself in a true sense and fostering a passion for discovering and learning about topics beyond the usual approach. This is a strong belief that was espoused by the literary legend of India, Munshi Premchand.
It is possible for writers to create a change in society through their work. A great example of such an inspiring writer was Munshi Premchand, who encouraged thousands about independence, poverty, and social discrimination during the early 20th century. Considering the societal norms in those days, an Indian author wrote about sensitive issues like caste discrimination and the plight of women. A number of his novels and short stories focus on the exploitation of rural poor and peasantry, such as Rangbhumi (1925), Godan (1936), and many others. His early writings were in Urdu only, as he was schooled in Urdu and Farsi. He later turned to Hindi as a medium of expression and wrote many masterpieces in the language. In this article, we will follow Munshi Premchand through the stages of his life.
Originally called Dhanpat Rai Srivastav, he began writing under the pen name "Nawab Rai." He later adopted the name "Premchand". His admirers gave him the title Munshi in recognition of his quality and effective writing. He was a novelist, a storyteller, a dramatist, and also a poet and playwright, and was given the title - "Upanyas Samrat". Over a dozen novels, 250 short stories, several essays, and translations of renowned Indian and Urdu works are part of his literary contribution.
Originally from Lemhi, India, Premchand was raised in a joint family. Ajaib Lal, who was a post office clerk, and Anandi Devi bore him as their fourth child. At the age of 7, he started learning Indian languages in Madras in the village of Lalpur, specializing in Urdu and Persian. Having lost his mother at an early age, he was raised by his stepmother.
As a social realist, Premchand developed an interest in discussing the status of women in society in his writing. In the 1890s, his father posted him to Jamniya, at which time he attended Queen's College at Banaras as a day scholar. His marriage took place in 1895 when he was 15 years old. With the passing of his father, the year 1897 marked the year that Premchand abandoned studies.
His first government job was as an Assistant Teacher at the Government District School, Bahraich, where he earned 20 rupees per month. Approximately three years afterward, he joined the District School of Pratapgarh. First, he wrote a short novel entitled Asrar e Ma'abid, which means The Mystery of God's Abode or The Mystery of God's House. A few years later, he published his articles and stories in the magazine "Zamana".
Beginning in 1921, Premchand began to focus on his literary works. After setting up his own publishing and printing company in Varanasi in 1923, he published Rangabhumi, Nirmala, Pratigya, Gaban, Hans, and Jagran under the Saraswati Press name. Among the novels published by this establishment were Nirmala (1925) and Pratigya (1927), which tackled the issue of the dowry system and widow remarriage. As a teacher at Marwari College, he was relocated to Kanpur in 1931. After publishing Karmabhumi in 1932, he served as the headmaster of the Kashi Vidyapith and a magazine editor in Lucknow. This marked his incredible journey from a school teacher to owning a publishing house.
Although you'll never know what the music of life is, you can definitely choose how to dance to it. In a similar vein, he made his entrance into the entertainment industry. In 1934, Premchand was employed by the Ajanta Cinetone production house as a scriptwriter. A writer of scripts for movies, he was also the screenwriter of the film Mazdoor by Mohan Bhawnani and lived in Dadar. Following the completion of his one-year contract, he returned home to Banaras. His nomination to the Progressive Writers Association of Lucknow in 1936 made him its first president. An Indian literary gem was lost on the 8th October of 1936 when Munshi Premchand passed away. Among his best-known works in that year were Godan, Kafan, and a final essay about a cricket match published in Zamana.
In a small neighborhood of an Indian village, Munshi Premchand grew up. During his early years, he witnessed numerous forms of social discrimination. He was inspired to raise awareness about matters such as this. His writing contained proverbs and idioms along with simple language. The work of Mahatma Gandhi served as an inspiration to him. Munshi Premchand was much more than just the writer of words; he was a writer who put his immense talent beyond the boundaries of published work, a writer who drew paths along much appreciated and thought provoking ideas, all of this defines him as a literary legend.