Gujarat Celebrates Father-Son Duo’s Influence on State’s Modern Literature
By Asmita Dave
Ahmedabad, June 19 (IANS): Gujarat observes a rare celebration. It is the 125th birthday of popular literary stalwart Jhaverchand Meghani, while his son Mahendra Meghani will enter the 100th year of his life on June 20.
It’s a rare coincidence that celebrations come together for a father-son literary duo.
Imprisoned in 1930 for his collection of poetry “Sindhudo”, Jhaverchand Meghani was honored with the title of “Rashtriya Shayar” (national poet) by Mahatma Gandhi. His adaptation of Tagore’s poems made people believe that they were Gujarati folk songs.
He was also the editor of “Phulchhab” magazine, which is still published from Saurashtra.
Jhaverchand Meghani wandered the inland villages of Gujarat and brought folk tales and folk songs to mainstream literature. He did a great job on documenting the oral tradition.
He has over 25 collections of folklore, over 10 collections of folk songs, four dramas, travelogues, over 12 collections of short stories, over 17 novels and about 17 biographies and collections of poetry to his credit. He was considered an outstanding journalist, whose writing inspired young people to protest against British rule and join the freedom movement.
Likewise, Mahendrabhai Meghani, the eldest son of Jhaverchand Meghani, is a revered literary artist in his own right. After his return from New York, he launched “Milaap”, India‘s first vernacular monthly collection. He formed the Lokmilaap Trust after his visit to Eurasian countries as a journalist and delegate to former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. He visited five continents and organized book fairs to publicize India and Indian books in 1969 and the centenary year of Mahatma Gandhi.
Mahendrabhai has published ‘Ardhi Sadini Vachanyatra’, a collection of select literary works from his vast experience of 50 years as a reader, at the beginning of the 21st century. Over 2,00,000 copies of four volumes of these voluminous books have been sold at just Rs 75 in an incredibly short time. He is the author of more than 12 books, including collections from his “Vachan Yatra” series and collections of poetry.
Urvish Kothari, columnist and author of the book ‘Mahendra Meghani’, shares his view on Jhaverchand Meghani’s literature and says, “If you think about his literature, you will realize that he worked in almost all forms simultaneously literary, in all directions and how concrete it was. Along with popular art forms, he also wrote sharp articles with the concern of the ordinary person in a remote village. You can think of any what a style of writing and Jhaverchand Meghani worked with him in an excellent way. He was not just a writer of folk songs and folk tales. His letters in “likhitang hun avun chhun” are so insightful that they are prolific of every way and relevant even today. His writings are so timeless that the topics he chose at that time are still relevant. If we put his poetry as it was, nowadays people would consider her a communist.
“If I talk about Mahendrabhai, then he and his family have kept alive the literature and tradition created by Jhaverchand Meghani. Without the efforts of the Meghani family, the literature of Jhaverchand Meghani would have been limited to folk music and would not be us. not come in this manner and in these many forms. There might be controversies surrounding Mahendra Meghani’s summaries, but the colossal work he has done in editing Gujarati literature is beneficial even for generations to come” , adds Kotheri.
Sanjay Bhave, an award-winning English teacher and translator as well as columnist, writes a note on Mahendra Meghani for IANS. He writes: “While Mahendra Meghani’s unprecedented work in promoting book culture is widely accepted and respected in Gujarat, his gestures of dissent and protest are less well known. In the early 1950s he took batons against Akashvani for royalty for using the works of his father and literary stalwart Jhaverchand Meghani. The battle was not so much over the meager amount, but over the autonomy of the writer. He opposed the censorship of the press imposed by the government of Indira Gandhi during the state of emergency of 1975. , and had thus invited the authorities to close the press.
Mahendrabhai’s anguish over right-wing violence in Gujarat following the Goddhra carnage is indicated by his translation into Guajarati of an English article titled “General Dyer ni Gaurav Yatra” in September 2002. During the turbulent post-Godhra period, Mahendrabhai translated parts of Pyarelal’s account of Gandhi’s Peace Mission during the score. By this, the translator wanted to sensitize the reader and society by showing the violent parallels between Noakhali in 1947 and Gujarat in 2002.”
Mahendrabhai also led the signature campaign in Gujarat against the decision to grant a ten-year extension to Vishvabharati University on the copyrights of Rabindranath Tagore’s writings. Ahead of the 2017 polls for the Gujarat Assembly, Mahendabhai had launched a voter education campaign in which he called on citizens to demand that candidates pledge to engage in no misconduct while in office. as elected representatives. The examples of his concern for human rights and an egalitarian society drawn from his many books are indeed legion.
Himanshi Shelat, a well-known retired writer, novelist and lecturer from Surat – wife of Vinod Meghani, son of Jhaverchand Meghani and younger brother of Mahendra Meghani, said: “I was born in 1947 and Bapuji (Jhaverchand Meghani) passed away in 1947, so I never got to meet him. I have met Mahendrabhai a few times, but I am much closer to them through their literature than through their family. The honesty and integrity of the Meghani family m have always inspired in my personal and professional life”. Their total dedication is a value that everyone should try to assimilate. He is someone who has given himself completely to any type of activity and can even bear to be ruined for it. I am a follower of these two values of the Meghani family, you can find these values in all Meghani brothers, Mahendrabhai, Nanakbhai, Mastanbhai, Jayant, Ashok and Vinod. I am impressed by their values, it is rare to find these days.