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Mahasweta Devi

Mahasweta Devi
Mahasweta Devi

Born 14 January 1926
Dhaka, British India
Occupation Activist, author
Nationality Indian
Period 1956present
Genre novel, short story, drama, essay
Subject Denotified tribes of India
Literary movement Gananatya
Notable works Hajar Churashir Maa (No. 1084's Mother)
Aranyer Adhikar (The Occupation of the
Titu Mir
Mahasweta Devi (Bengali: Mhashsheta Debi) (born 14 January 1926)
is an Indian social activist
and writer.
Mahasweta Devi was born in 1926 in Dhaka, to literary parents. Her father Manish Ghatak was a well-known poet
and novelist of the Kallol era, who used the pseudonym Jubanashwa. Noted filmmaker Ritwik Ghatak was the
youngest brother of Manish Ghatak. Mahasweta's mother Dharitri Devi was also a writer and a social worker whose
brothers were very distinguished in various fields, such as the noted sculptor Sankha Chaudhury and the
founder-editor of the Economic and Political Weekly of India, Sachin Chaudhury. Her first schooling was in Dhaka,
but after the partition of India she moved to West Bengal in India. She joined the Rabindranath Tagore-founded
Vishvabharati University in Santiniketan and completed a B.A. (Hons) in English, and then finished an M.A. in
English at Calcutta University as well. She later married renowned playwright Bijon Bhattacharya who was one of
the founding fathers of the IPTA movement. In 1948, she gave birth to Nabarun Bhattacharya, currently one of
Bengal's and India's leading novelist whose works are noted for their intellectual vigour and philosophical flavour.
She got divorced from Bijon Bhattacharya in 1959.
In 1964, she began teaching at Bijoygarh College (an affiliated college of the University of Calcutta system). During
those days, Bijoygarh College was an institution for working class women students. During that period she also
worked as a journalist and as a creative writer. Recently, she is more famous for her work related to the study of the
Lodhas and Shabars, the tribal communities of West Bengal, women and dalits. She is also an activist who is
dedicated to the struggles of tribal people in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. In her elaborate Bengali
fiction, she often depicts the brutal oppression of tribal peoples and the untouchables by potent, authoritarian
Mahasweta Devi
upper-caste landlords, lenders, and venal government officials. She has written of the source of her inspiration:
I have always believed that the real history is made by ordinary people. I constantly come across the
reappearance, in various forms, of folklore, ballads, myths and legends, carried by ordinary people
across generations....The reason and inspiration for my writing are those people who are exploited and
used, and yet do not accept defeat. For me, the endless source of ingredients for writing is in these
amazingly noble, suffering human beings. Why should I look for my raw material elsewhere, once I
have started knowing them? Sometimes it seems to me that my writing is really their doing.
At the Frankfurt Book Fair 2006, when India was the first country to be the Fair's second time guest nation, she made
an impassioned inaugural speech wherein she moved the audience to tears with her lines taken from the famous film
song "Mera Joota Hai Japani" by Raj Kapoor (the English equivalent is in brackets):
This is truly the age where the Joota (shoe) is Japani (Japanese), Patloon (pants) is Englistani (British),
the Topi (hat) is Roosi (Russian), But the Dil... Dil (heart) is always Hindustani (Indian)... My country,
Torn, Tattered, Proud, Beautiful, Hot, Humid, Cold, Sandy, Shining India. My country.
Postcolonial scholar Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak has translated Devi's short stories into English, most notably the
1995 collection Imaginary Maps, published by Routledge.
Recent activity
Mahasweta Devi has recently been spearheading the movement against the industrial policy of the government of
West Bengal, the state of her domicile. Specifically, she has stridently criticized confiscation of large tracts of fertile
agricultural land from farmers by the government and ceding the land to industrial houses at throwaway prices. She
has connected the policy to the commercialization of Santiniketan of Rabindranath Tagore, where she spent her
formative years. Her lead resulted in a number of intellectuals, artists, writers and theatre workers join in protesting
the controversial policy and particularly its implementation in Singur and Nandigram. She is a supporter of Budhan
Theatre the theatre group of Chhara Denotified Tribals of Gujarat.
The Queen of Jhansi (biography, translated in English by Sagaree and Mandira Sengupta from the 1956 first
edition in bangla Jhansir Rani)
Hajar Churashir Maa
Aranyer Adhikar (The Occupation of the Forest, 1977)
Agnigarbha (Womb of Fire, 1978)
Bitter Soil tr, Ipsita Chandra. Seagull, 1998. Four stories.
Chotti Munda evam Tar Tir (Choti Munda and His Arrow, 1980) Translated by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak.
Imaginary Maps (translated by Gayatri Spivak London & New York. Routledge,1995)
Dhowli (Short Story)
Dust on the Road
(Translated into English by Maitreya Ghatak. Seagull, Calcutta.)
Our Non-Veg Cow
(Seagull Books, Calcutta, 1998. Translated from Bengali by Paramita Banerjee.)
Bashai Tudu
(Translated into English by Gayatri Chakraborty Spivak and Shamik Bandyopadhyay. Thima,
Calcutta, 1993)
Titu Mir
Breast Stories (Translated into English by Gayatri Chakraborty Spivak. Seagull, Calcutta, 1997)
Of Women, Outcasts, Peasants, and Rebels (Translated into English By Kalpana Bardhan, University of
California, 1990.) Six stories.
Ek-kori's Dream (Translated into English by Lila Majumdar. N.B.T., 1976)
Mahasweta Devi
The Book of the Hunter (Seagull India, 2002)
Outcast (Seagull, India, 2002)
In Other Worlds: Essays in Cultural Politics (Translated into English by Gayatri Chakraborty Spivak. Methuyen
and Company, 1987. New York, London)
Till Death Do Us Part
Old Women
Kulaputra (Translated into Kannada by Sreemathi H.S. CVG Publications, Bangalore)
The Why-Why Girl (Tulika, Chennai.)
Dakatey Kahini
Films based on Mahasweta Devi's works
Sunghursh (1968), based on her story, which presented a fictionalized account of vendetta within a Thuggee cult
in the city of Varanasi.
Rudaali (1993)
Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa (1998)
Maati Maay (2006), based on short story, Daayen
Gangor (2010) Directed by Italo Spinelli, based on her short story, Choli Ke Peeche, from the Book, Breast
Major awards
1979: Sahitya Akademi Award (Bengali): Aranyer Adhikar (novel)
1986: Padma Shri
1996: Jnanpith Award the highest literary award from the Bharatiya Jnanpith
1997: Ramon Magsaysay Award Journalism, Literature, and the Creative Communication Arts
1999: Honoris causa Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU)
2006: Padma Vibhushan the second highest civilian award from the Government of India
2010:Yashwantrao Chavan National Award
2011: Bangabibhushan the highest civilian award from the Government of West Bengal
2012: Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Sahityabramha the first Lifetime Achievement award in Bengali
Literature from 4thScreen-IFJW.
. 2014: 1st Mamoni Raisom Goswami National Award for Literature constituted by Assam Sahitya Sabha and
sponsored by Numaligarh Refinery Limited, Assam
[1] Detailed Biography (http:/ / www. Awardees/ Biography/ BiographyDeviMah. htm) Ramon Magsaysay Award.
[2] Hajar Churashir Maa (http:/ / www. bookstore/ bookpage/ Mahasweta_Devi_HajarChurashir. html) (No. 1084's Mother,
[3] http:/ / www. bookstore/ bookpage/ Mahasweta_Devi_Dust. html
[4] http:/ / www. bookstore/ bookpage/ Mahasweta_Devi_OurNonveg. html
[5] http:/ / parabaas. com/ bookstore/ bookpage/ Mahasweta_Devi_01. html
[6] http:/ / www. bookstore/ bookpage/ Mahasweta_Devi_Rudali. html
[7] http:/ / www. bookstore/ bookpage/ Mahasweta_Devi_TillDeath. html
[8] http:/ / www. bookstore/ bookpage/ Mahasweta_Devi_OldWomen. html
[9] http:/ / www. bookstore/ bookpage/ Mahasweta_Devi_DakateKahini. html
[10] Marathi cinema has been producing a range of serious films.. (http:/ / www. hinduonnet. com/ fline/ fl2320/ stories/ 20061020001908200.
htm) Frontline, The Hindu Group, Volume 23 Issue 20: 720 Oct. 2006.
[11] Citation (http:/ / www. ph/ Awardees/ Citation/ CitationDeviMah. htm) Ramon Magsaysay Award.
Mahasweta Devi
External links
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mahasweta Devi.
from the website of Emory University (http:/ / www. english. emory. edu/ Bahri/ Devi. html)
Mahasweta Devi: Witness, Advocate, Writer (http:/ / films. shashwati. com/ about-mahasweta-devi) A film on
Mahasweta Devi by Shashwati Talukdar
Mahasweta Devi at imdb (http:/ / www. imdb. com/ name/ nm1194313)
Interview with Outlook magazine (http:/ / www. outlookindia. com/ full. asp?fodname=19970115&
fname=profile& sid=1)
The Rediff Interview/Mahasweta Devi (http:/ / www. rediff. com/ news/ dec/ 24devi. htm)
Sawnet-Bookshelf:Mahasweta Devi (http:/ / www. sawnet. org/ books/ authors. php?Devi+ Mahasweta)
Mahasweta Devi materials in the South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA) (http:/ / www.
saadigitalarchive. org/ search/ mahasweta devi)
Article Sources and Contributors
Article Sources and Contributors
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That Guy, From That Show!, Titodutta, Tompsci, Tony1, Utcursch, Vinoth.3v, Waacstats, Walter Grlitz, Watershedg, , 57 anonymous edits
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