Er. Prabhat Kishore

Hindi Journalism and its contribution in Indian freedom struggle

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”UdantMartand” was the first Hindi newspaper published by ShriYugal Kishore Shukla from Kolkata on 30th May, 1826. It was a weekly, which was published every Tuesday and priced Rs 2/- annually. It went on publishing for one year and seven months. The Hindi-speaking Kolkatians took no interest in the magazine, as expected, that caused   its   untimely closure with the following editorial on 4th December 1827- “The day marks the death of UdantMartand, Here it goes to sunset the sun at last”.  Udant was not a political newspaper; but it can never be looked down upon for its contribution to Hindi language. Born on 1788 in Kanpur, Shuklaji   was a Proceeding Reader in DewaniKachehari of Kolkata and has ability to edit a magazine. Besides Hindi, he could write in Brajbhasha. He might have opposed the English but his eyes remained glued to the method of the English merchandise. UdantMartand, though of very short journey, constructed the path for Hindi journalism, which later on not only acted as vehicle of social, political and academic change, but became the voice of Indian freedom struggle.

“Banaras Akhbar” (1845) from Kashi was one of the first weekly published from any Hindi state. Though the name of the paper was in Hindi, yet it was composed using words from three languages Devnagari, Arabic & Persian making it complex for commoners to read. Strangely, the editor of this bilingual spirited newspaper was a Marathi-speaking GovindRaghunathThatte. A monthly, “BuddhiPrakash” came out from Agra in 1852 under the editorship of MunshiSadaSukhlal. For this magazine an eminent French Professor GariandTasse went to the extent of saying, “He used to print interesting essays and news items. Even articles of sheer academic values such as history, geography, mathematics, education and on other subjects were published in it”.

The outbreak of 1857 mutiny brought out new political consciousness in Hindi belts and a vehement protest against the brutal tyranny of the British colonialists. With new political awareness and earnest eagerness for the advancement of his own language Hindi, BharatenduHarishchandra   was inspired to promote social, economic and academic reforms in Hindi regions. He used to go through the contemporary newspapers, books and magazines to find out paths for Hindi readership. He was not only well versed in Urdu, Hindi, Brajbhasha, KhadiBoli, Bangala but also in English, that shows his link with western literature. In 1868, he motivated the Hindi writers by publishing the monthly “KaviVachanSudha” from Kashi. In the beginning it published the collected works of the poets, but later it became a fortnightly allowing prose-works too. In 1875 Sudha turned into a weekly and began to be published both in Hindi and English by 1885.

Bharatendu had created flicker by publishing “Sudha” in Hindi speaking areas. When all of us were deep delved into the sleeps of ignorance, he brought mass consciousness and advocated for gender equality. He dreamed of India’s self-rule, her complete sovereignty and that was earlier than the foundation of Indian National Congress.  An influential magazine “Bharat Mitra” was edited by RudraDutta Sharma on 17th May 1878 from Kolkata. Bharatendu   revealed that Bharat Mitra was a political journal, though contained genetics subjects. The Bharatendu Age in Hindi literature    and journalism  is deemed to be a golden era and marks not only awareness among the Hindi speaking people, but also the sharp reaction against the British repression.

“Saraswati” is supposed to be the first most popular Hindi monthly, which was published by ChintamaniGhosh from Prayag at the Indian Press in 1900. It was recognised by NagariPrachariniSabha. Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi took charge of editorship of “Saraswati” in 1903 and third stage of Hindi Renaissance began by his   consciousness campaign among the Hindiwallas both socially and culturally. Though its main object was to do away with feudal and  colonial system in every walk of life, yet somewhere it was patronized by the government, that prevented the paper from voicing directly and openly against the English Rule.   Dwivediji was full of patriotism, though he was much in favour of the British judiciousness and good governance. He cared both for the proprietor of the newspaper and the British government. He reformed his faults after 1906 and stopped talking less against the British government; if necessary, he vehemently criticized her. The Hindi Renaissance during the Dwivedi Age was the age of revival when social, political & economic problems were gradually mirrored in poetry; while songs emoted a theme of social arousal.

In 1907 weekly “Sahitya” was brought out by Madan Mohan Malviya   from Prayag   and in the same year “Hind Keshari” was started from Nagpur by MadhavRaoSapre. A young enthusiast from Kanpur, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi launched a flamboyant and revolutionary weekly “Pratap” in 1910, which was the mouthpiece of the rebellious youths who had yearnings for an   Angrej-mukt Bharat. The paper rendered not only revolutionary dimension but also novel upheavals. Another significant journalistic contribution to Hindi is appearance of  “Prabha” in 1913, first published from Khandwa by KaluramGangrade and MakhanlalChaturvedi   and   later in 1919, began to come out from the Vidyarthi’s   “Pratap Press” of Kanpur.

‘Prabha’ too was a dedicated newspaper to the freedom struggle. ‘Chand’ was a significant journal allied with “Prabha” and “Pratap”. It planted the seeds of poisonous cactus in the Indians for the English by publishing  Nand Kumar written “Phansi”. “Chand” showed the seed hatred against the English Colonial Rule as Winston Churchill had for the Indian natives and played a pivotal role during freedom movement. The popular book in three volumes written by ShriSundarlal “Bharat meinAngareji  Raj” were immediately banned and seized; but   despite governmental intrusions, thousands of its copies were circulated nationwide.

In 1920, Shiv Prasad Gupta started “Aj” from Kashi to facilitate the freedom struggle. On 19th August 1921, Gandhiji launched Hindi version of “Navjiwan”. Acharya Shiv PoojanSahay began with editing the monthly journal “Adarsh” in 1922. In the same year, a weekly journal “Madhuri”  was launched from Lucknow under the editorship of DulareLalBhargav. “Madhuri” earned good reputation in a shorter span, as it was primarily a literary journal. Publication of Hindi weekly “Matwala” started on 26th August 1923 from Kolkata, to which eminent Hindi litterateurs   like   SuryakantTripathiNirala, Mahadev Prasad Seth, ShivpoojanSahay, Bechan Sharma “Ugra”  andNavjadikLalSrivastava were attached. “Matwala” was an outspoken paper of wisdom and humour, whose comments were sharp and stringing. It had unrestrained fearless comments on culture, society, communalism and politics, due to which it had to walk on the sharp edge of censorship   for six years. In 1928, it was again from Kolkata,Banwari Das Chaturvedi began to edit the monthly “Vishal Bharat”. It is opined that Chaturvediji had more journalistic morality than literary foresights and  there was no tip toeing of freedom struggle in the journal.   In 1933 Gandhiji started “HarijanSevak” which was the vehicle of his crusade against untouchability& poverty.

Later phase of MunshiPremchand was the trend of extremism. The JalianwallaBagh massacre, going back of Simon Commission, commitment for “PurnaSwarajya”, Sentence of Hanging to   Bhagat Singh, Round Table Conference in London hold testimonials of political extremity. Such was the time of political repressions and upheavals that Premchand began to publish “Hans” in 1930. The firelight of patriotism which was lit by Bharatendu, and passing  through editorial excellences of Vidyarthi, reached at climax by Premchand’s politico-literary journal.   The early works of Premchand reflect that the idea of Gandhism have influenced him. But, gradually, he evolved his own vision on politics and literature. He entered the world of literature by abandoning the service of a school inspector during the turbulent period of political passion by turning Premchand from Dhanpat Ray. He illustrated the odds and oddities of the British Rule to the Indian People   with fierce virulence  in his literature as well as in his editorials of “Hans”, which resulted in punitive sentences by the Raj. He introduced a weekly called “Jagaran” along with “Hans”;  though it vanished but “Hans” is still alive. Premchand is one of those Hindi writers who condemned the British course of actions through his regular writings. In September 1936, in the last issue of  “Hans” of his lifetime, a brilliant essay “MahajaniSabhyata” was published, which is the testimony of Premchand’s sharpening revolutionary consciousness.

The country has witnessed up & down of numerous Hindi journals   & newspapers during the fight for independence   and most of them have acted as an effective weapon for social & political renaissance. Hindi journalism has been the backbone of the freedom struggle through formation & propagation of the nationalist ideology and building up of strong national sentiment & consciousness among the masses. Its contribution has always been saluted by the Indian people.

(The author is a technocrat & academician.)

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