New Login   

Children's Literature in Hindi

Mrinal Pande

India of the 1950s, where this writer and her siblings lived in many small towns in the Hindi belt, was a veritable heaven for precocious and avid bookworms without much knowledge of English, and/or money. This period saw the idealistic intellectual elite of the Hindi belt, who had participated in the Freedom struggle, turn their energies to writing for children in Hindi. They felt that children’s books mattered and children’s books in their mother tongue mattered even more, because India’s intellectual properties belonged now not to the Angrez or the urban brown Sahibs, but to all Indians. This mindset greatly affected both the shape and thrust of children’s literature and its dissemination. The ethos of the great Azadi Ki Ladai and the austere and sombre lifestyle of its great leaders mattered, but not as an essential gesture. The writers realized that the themes and ideas that had happily peopled the vast storehouse of traditional Indian folklores, had a timeless appeal for the young minds. All those grandmas’ stories about promiscuous kings who flew into murderous rages, their scheming queens who banished little princes and princesses to forests, all those fearsome withches, wily Brahmins, crafty Banias, regal and supremely autocratic Thakurs, were not gross symbols of a feudal and autocratic caste bound society , but metaphors for power and powerlessness as a child experiences them . The tellers of the timeless tales from Hatim to Tenaliraman to Birbal, were closer in spirit to sceptics of 4th century BC , who rejected all total explanations or solutions concerning the human situation. Most Hindi writers turned storytellers for children came from humble rural backgrounds and had grown up on a staple diet of folk tales in the dialects of their region. These stories spoke for the common experience of all those who, like children, felt themselves frequently as powerless and insignificant creatures pitted against the big, the strong and the powerful of the world. When they showed the youngest son or daughter outsmarting the older and wilier siblings, or the humble courtier outwitting the privileged priests and minister in the King’s court, they were upholding the cause of the weak and the marginalized and also slyly teaching them to challenge all knowledge and dismantle all theories before accepting them.   Of course in families like ours, it was felt that children must also read about contemporary history, about how India won ...

Table of Contents >>
Please or to Read Entire Article

Free Access Online 12 Back Issues
with 1 year's subscription
Archive (1976-2011)
under construction.