Occasionally | Ashok Bajpai: For Agyeya, freedom and self-respect were values on which he never compromised. His biography written by Akshay Mukul attests to this notion.
Summing up the many lives of Agyeya, a comprehensive biography has been named by biographer Akshay Mukul as: ‘Writer, Rebel, Soldier Lover: The Many Lives of Agyeya’. It is published by Vintage which is included in the Penguin group. The biography is huge not only because it tells a factually contextual tale of the many lives of an eminent writer: it is also in great shape – a massive 565-page biography and over 200 pages of reference material.
I think this is the most well-researched biography of any Hindi writer. Rarely has such a vast biography of any litterateur been written in the wider Indian literature. Akshay Mukul has spent many years writing this and has scoured all possible sources from across the world in search of authentic facts and references.
Such refinement and perseverance is rare in Hindi. Very few biographies will stand up to authenticity and detail, due diligence of details and facts. It is learned that the Hindi translation of this huge biography is going to be published by Penguin itself.
For almost four decades, the modern Hindi literature was dominated by Agyeya. He was the most controversial writer of Hindi during his lifetime. Many rumors were constantly being spread about his personal life. Akshay must not have been unaware of these rumours. But he has told this life story in a very objective manner with the help of references and documents. His narrative runs like a readable novel and there is almost no room for boredom or quirks in it.
Another little-known love affair of Agyeya is probably Akshay’s discovery with Kripa Sen, and therefore it is appropriate to designate Agyeya as a lover in the title of his book: Agyeya, however, has written some poignant love-poems.
There is a very detailed account of Agyeya’s early life and his prison life and his own advocacy of the case. The arguments and facts given by Agyeya in his defense also indicate his future: it is clear that he is a challenger to social and political norms.
To those who continue to accuse Agyeya of being aristocratic and distant from the masses, this biography explains in detail how Agyeya had close contacts with, for example, the peasant movement. Later, he, along with Renu, had continuously covered the plight of the farmers and the failures of the administration during the Bihar famine.
Agyeya was almost always short of money because he had decided to lead the life of a writer at a time when writers in most of Hindi literature received very little, nil, remuneration. Popular novels like ‘Shekhar’ earned him very little royalties from Saraswati Press. So later, it is understandable to insist on Agyeya being remunerated for his lectures.
It is also worth noting that when he started getting some money, for example from the Jnanpith Award, then he ventured to form a trust, giving it twice the prize money and spending it on others. Agyeya was probably the first such Hindi writer.
There has been controversy over Agyeya’s connection to the Congress for Cultural Freedom. This was the relationship and at that time many of the world’s greatest writers had such a relationship. Before that, Agyeya had organized a big conference against fascism with progressive writers. Freedom and self-respect were values for him on which he never compromised. This biography attests to this notion.
The literature, thought, and ideological activities of Agyeya do not prove any anti-Americanism. If it was justified to receive financial aid from the then Soviet Union to publish books at cheap prices and to receive the Soviet Land Prize, then American aid should also be justified. Ironically, both camps were ignoring the Soviet genocide at the time and the US involvement and genocide in the subsequent Vietnam and Korea wars.
A personal incident has also been discovered by this biography which I had forgotten. My correspondence and communication with Agyeya started when I was 18 years old. At that time, he once expressed his desire to stop writing, when he was not even 50.
I protested this and wrote to him that if this happens then it will be unfortunate and a great loss. I even suggested that Agyeya should publish a new collection of poems containing his poetic experiences, problems faced by contemporary poets and a long essay on new poetry.
I even dared to write that the most authentic representatives of Nai Kahani and Nai Kavita at that time are the writers Nirmal Verma and Raghuveer Sahai. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Agyeya kept this correspondence safe while Agyeya’s letters, dated at that time, were lost with me.
Another side of Agyeya emerges from this biography: his contacts and interactions with many active generations of his time. He also helped many in time. There have also been controversies regarding writer-camps organized by Vatsal Nidhi. Akshay Mukul has carefully scrutinized their background and their discussions.
For decades, many leftist writers have been condemning this stupidity by calling it right-wing people-oriented etc. This biography makes it clear that unlike most leftists, Agnosia spent three years in prison for participating in freedom; He was in contact with small movements thereafter; He never took any pro-incumbency, anti-people stance while editing ‘Dinman’ and ‘Nav Bharat Times’, remained democratic and critical and supported Jayaprakash Narayan in the massive and decisive mass movement of that time.
He had a long dialogue with Muktibodh and had denounced Harishankar Parsai in ‘Naya Prateek’ when he was attacked by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh goons.
If you will read this biography with an open mind, then you will realize the struggle of Agyeya’s life, his authorship, self-respect, dignity and some kind of murky, but authentic life intimately.
start and end
Watch the two parts at the beginning and end of Gitanjali Shree’s famous and award-winning novel ‘Rat Samadhi’:
‘A story will tell itself. There will be a complete story and an incomplete one, as is the trend of stories. Interesting story. There is a border in it and women, who come, go on and on. If the woman and the border are together, then the story itself becomes a story, but also on the woman. The story is.
The story flies in the air that blows full of fragrance. The grass that grows, stirs the body in the direction of the wind, and the setting sun also burns many candles of the story and hangs them on the clouds and all these are added to the saga. Like, the senses do not know where to stop, and everything and anything starts telling tales.’
And the last lines:
‘What’s the lack of stories, maybe we too will be in the middle of someone. There is a donation in the sky, due to which strange light is bursting. What a beautiful night The wind is blowing, it rang softly like a slow whistle. What a night it is full of moonlight. Stories revolve around who to throw your net on.
I jump out of the window with laughter. The window did not happen, it became the corner of the canvas where there are still concerns of coloring, other stories, characters coming up, new shapes.’
Can’t remember if any other novel has done this in its beginning and the end, when it has its story on the point.
(The author is a senior litterateur.)
The post Agnostic: ‘Writer, Rebel, Soldier, Lover’ appeared first on The Wire – Hindi.