Friday, 17 June 2016

History of Saurashtra’s literature Part-2

This post is in continuation of the previous post on the same subject. Moving on to the other contributors’ to the literature of Saurashtra, we come to the following as written in the book Saurashtra No Itihas -1807-1948 by S.V. Jani. Select excerpts from the book are translated from Gujarati by me.The tranlsated text is in blue.

“...Born in Chavand, later the education officer of the State of Bhavnagar, Manishanker Ratnaji Bhatt is popularly known as ‘Kant’...some of his writings titled ‘Sagar ane Shashi’ (The Sea and The Moon), ‘Vasant Vijay’ (Vasant as per Gujarati lexicon means presents given to the bride by the groom’s family), ‘Uphar’(Gifts/presents), ‘Udgar’ (Outpouring) are unique... Narayan Hemchandra Divecha of Diu wrote a total of 200 books. For half of these, he was awarded by the Bhavnagar State... ‘Hu Pote’ (I Myself),  (by the author) is the first published autobiography in Gujarati...

“Krushnalala. M Zaveri, who studied in Shamaldas College (Bhavnagar), is considered a pioneer in writing the history of Gujarati literature. He has written books titled, ‘Mile Stones in Gujarati Literature’, ‘Present State of Gujarati Literature’, and ‘Development of Gujarati Literature’...

Shamaldas College in Bhavnagar is one of the oldest in Western India established in the year 1885 by the then Maharaja of Bhavnagar. Many eminent people have studied here including Mahatma Gandhi. Source of the photo:,199400217

 “Junagadh’s Gulam Ahmed Sheikh has written the history of Junagadh titled, ‘Mirat-E-Mustafabad’ in Urdu.  Jagjeevan Kalidas Pathak of Porbander wrote, ‘Jethwa Vansh No Itihas’ (the history of Jethwa clan) and ‘Muslim Mahatmao’ (Muslim Saints)...

The beautiful palace of Porbander right on the sea shore has been built by the then Maharaja Natwarsinghji of the Jethwa dynasty. Source of the photo:

“ Chavand’s Mulshanker Mulani was a popular play writer in the olden days. His plays ‘Rajbij’, ‘Saubhagya Sundari’ (Saubhagya as per Gujarati Lexicon means happy state of wife hood and Sundari means beauty),  ‘Ajabkumari’ (Wonderful Maiden) and ‘Dev Kanya’ (Daughter of God or Virtuous girl) had become very popular...Mahuva’s Manilal Tribhuvandas Trivedi was popularly known as ‘Pagal’, he had written about hundred plays...of these, ‘Ra Mandlik’ and ‘Mayamachendra’ (in Hindi), became very popular. Vedshastri of Jamnagar – Manishanker Govindji...has written books on Ayurveda titled, ‘Chikitshabdhi’, and ‘Arya, Anarya Aushad’...Jamnagar’s Dr. Pranjeevan Mehta did the editing of the book ‘Charak Sanhita’...

“Gijubhai Badheka of Bhavnagar...has written eighty seven books for children...he has written a total of 174 books ( Gijubhai's Diwaswapna , first published in the year 1932 and later translated into many languages, is a must read for parents and educationists.)...Nanabhai Bhatt’s ... ‘Ramayan Na Patro’ and ‘Mahabharat Na Patro’ (books based on the characters of Ramayana and Mahabharata), became very popular among children...

“...Halvad’s Tarachand Popat Adalja has written historical novels like – ‘Veer Ni Vato’ (Stories of the heroic/brave men), ‘Virangana Ni Vato’ (Stories of the heroic/brave women), ...’Saurashtra ni Premkathao’ (Love Stories of Saurashtra), etc...Wadhvan’s Chunilal Vardhman Shah was his contemporary... his novel titled ‘Jigar ane Ami’, became very popular...

“Born in Chotila, Jhaverchand Kalidas Meghani...has contributed significantly to folklore, folktales, folk songs, travelogues, historical stories, plays, poetry, novels, and so on...”

[One of my favorite songs written by Jhaverchand Meghani is ‘Charan Kanya’  (Daughter of a Charan- a caste). It is about how a young girl armed with just a stick drives away a lion in the Gir forest in order to protect her cattle. This song is so popular even today that it has been pictured as follows. Click the link below to listen to the song:]

“After Meghani and after independence, those who became popular as folk-artists and writers are- Dula Kag, Merubha Gadhvi,  Pingalshibhai Gadvi, Jaymal Parmar, Hemu Gadhvi, Khodidas Parmar...”

[As a child I used to enjoy folk artists sing folk songs with great fervor. Folk tales were woven into the songs. I recall that many from the nomadic tribes of Saurashtra would even come home and sing. One of my favorite songs sung by nomadic tribes or Gadhvis and Charans is ‘Ranuja Na Raja...’. I tried to look for the same on you tube but could not find a single one that has been sung as beautifully as the folk artists used to sing. The closest I could find is sung by Manna Dey! However it is not like the original. Click the link below to listen to the song. ]

[People of Saurashtra have been going to far away lands in search of work since the olden days. This could be because Saurashtra is drought prone and at the same time, people were enterprising. Moreover, Saurashtra has a long coastline. Literature has evolved around this social, geographical and economic reality of the region.]

“Hajeevan Somaiya of Jamnagar has written twenty books of which ‘Bhar Dariye’ (In midst of the sea), ‘Dariya na Mamla’ (Matters of the sea), etc are based on the adventures of the seas...The home town of Gunvantrai Acharya who has written ‘Dariyalal’, is Jamnagar. He has written books like ‘Jal Samadhi’ (Jal means water and Samadhi means being one with the supreme), ‘Haji Kasam Tari Vijli’, ...these are stories of adventures of the seas... ‘Hu Bavo ane Mangaldas’ is his famous creation...His historical novels are ‘Girnar Ne Khole’ (In the lap of Girnar),  ‘Ideriyo Gadh’ (Fort of Idar)...”

[It would be interesting to note here that a steamship named Vaitarna popularly called Haji Kasam Ni Vijli drowned way back in the year 1888 off the Saurashtra coast- over two decades before the Titanic. Nearly 800 people died in the tragedy. Many were from among the wedding parties and students traveling by the ship. For details see:]

Haji Kasam, Captain of the Ship Haji Kasam Ni Vijli. Photos Source: Wikipedia

[This tragic incident captured the imagination of writers and poets of Saurashtra and songs as well as poetry have been written based on the incident. In fact, Jhawerchand Meghani too has written a song based on the incident titled: હાજી કાસમ, તારી વીજળી રે મધદરિયે વેરણ થઈ’.]

“Devshanker Mehta of Gujarwadi, Dhangadhra...his books- ‘Suna Dariya Ni Pale’ (On the solitary banks of the sea) ‘Mehraman No Mobhi’ (Mehraman means the Sea. However I could not fined the meaning of Mobhi either in Gujarati Shabdakosh or Lexicon), ‘Dariya ni Khole’  (In the lap of the sea) are novels based on the sea...”

[Similarly, two popular songs concerning a blind mother's letter to her son who has left home for a living and the son’s reply, clearly depicts the social fabric and emotional upheaval of the times when family members left home for far away places in search of work.]

“Indulal Fulchand Gandhi of Morbi became popular with his poem- ‘Andhli Ma No Kagal (Blind Mother’s letter)...”

અમૃત ભરેલું અંતર જેનું, સાગર જેવડું સત્,
પૂનમચંદના પાનિયા આગળ ડોશી લખાવે ખત,
ગગો એનો મુંબઇ કામે;
ગીગુભાઇ નાગજી નામે.

લખ્ય કે માડી ! પાંચ વરસમાં પ્હોંચી નથી એક પાઇ
કાગળની એક ચબરખી પણ, તને મળી નથી ભાઇ !
સમાચાર સાંભળી તારા,
રોવું મારે કેટલા દ્હાડા ?

ભાણાનો ભાણિયો લખે છે કે, ગગુ રોજ મને ભેળો થાય,
દન આખો જાય દાડિયું ખેંચવા રાતે હોટલમાં ખાય,
નિત નવાં લૂગડાં પ્હેરે
પાણી જેમ પઇસા વેરે.

હોટલનું ઝાઝું ખાઇશ મા, રાખજે ખરચી-ખૂટનું માપ,
દવાદારૂના દોકડા આપણે કાઢશું ક્યાંથી, બાપ !
કાયા તારી રાખજે રૂડી,
ગરીબની છે મૂડી.

ખોરડું વેચ્યું ને ખેતર વેચ્યું, કૂબામાં કર્યો છે વાસ,
જારનો રોટલો જડે નહિ તે દી પીઉં છું એકલી છાશ,
તારે પકવાનનું ભાણું,
મારે નિત જારનું ખાણું.

દેખતી તે દી દળણાં-પાણી કરતી ઠામેઠામ,
આંખ વિનાનાં આંધળાંને હવે કોઇ આપે કામ,
તારે ગામ વીજળીદીવા,
મારે આંહીં અંધારાં પીવાં.

લિખિતંગ તારી આંધળી માના વાંચજે ઝાઝા જુહાર
એકે રહ્યું નથી અંગનું ઢાંકણ, ખૂટી છે કોઠીએ જાર.
હવે નથી જીવવા આરો,
આવ્યો ભીખ માગવા વારો.


[The son who had left home for Mumbai, sends a reply back to his blind mother- also written by Indulal Gandhi. This is sung very well by Hemant Chauhan. Clink the link below to hear the song:]

[Similarly, Dhumketu’s popular short story titled ‘Post office’, is about an old father named Ali Dosa waiting for his daughter Marium’s letter. This is also one of the best short stories that I have read. Dhumketu belonged to Veerpur.

This story in Gujarati can be read here:]

[There are other popular writers of Saurashtra listed in the book but have not been covered in these posts such as Ghayal of Rajkot, Kureshi and Majnu of Bhavnagar, Saint Khurshidas of Khambhaliya, and so many others. I plan to bring to light some of the women, Dalit, Jain and Muslim writers of Saurashtra in the next post.]