Bihar has contributed significantly in the field of literature in every period. With time, changes the writing style, language, and domain and so does the face, but the level of excellence always stays consistent and remarkable. There is a long list people who helped Bihar in attaining that stature in Hindi literature. Out of those great literary giants, today we’re talking about Rambriksh Benipuri, a man who did wonders by his pen. He donned many hats throughout his literary career. Be it journalism, essays, stories, poetry or being a literary critic, he became a prominent figure in all those fields. Along with the stories, essays and plays, that he is known for, he also contributed greatly in the freedom struggle and also emerged as a socialist leader.
Rambriksh Benipuri was born on 23rd of December, in the year 1899, in a small village named Benipur in Bihar. After getting educated in a school at his village, young Rambriksh was sent to Muzaffarpur for further studies. But as if patriotism was running through his veins and he was ready to give up anything for the country, he could not just stand by and merely witness the movements for freedom of India at that time. He left his studies to participate in non-cooperation movement against the Rowlett Act, launched by Mahatma Gandhi, in year 1920. From then, till the independence of India, Rambriksh Benipuri lived all his life like a true patriot, with his each breath dedicated to the motherland and so did his pen. As a writer, he used to write short stories, essays and dramas in order to inspire other countrymen to come forward and fight as one, leaving behind the differences of caste, creed and religion. He encouraged his countrymen to take back what belonged to them but taken away and that’s how he turned his pen into his sword. In one of his famous poems, “Shahido- tumhari yaad me” he writes:
“Hey, the Martyrs of August Revolution,
We shall forever keep the flag high
For which thy hath given thy lives;
We shall always esteem the path of martyrdom
Sanctified by the blood of thy supreme sacrifice.”
These motivating lines from his pen, sculpted the mind-set of people, eventually leading to more contributions in the fight for freedom, and made him one of the most influential figures from Bihar during the freedom struggle.
Throughout his life, he had been a very active and frequent political face of not just Bihar, but of the whole country. He was imprisoned during the non- cooperation movement that he participated in after leaving the college. But it seemed as if nothing could deter him in realising the dream of a free nation. He was associated to few socialist parties during the struggle for independence, such as Bihar Socialist Party in 1931 and Congress Socialist Party in 1934. He also served as the president of Patna District Congress Committee of Indian National Congress from 1935 to 1937 during the Indian provincial elections, 1937.
Rambriksh Benipuri played a significant role in other parties like All India Socialist Party. He worked as the President of the Bihar Provincial Kisan Sabha and as the Vice-President of the All India Kisan Sabha. Being involved in these political parties, he contributed to bring out some major changes in the society which include the abolition of Zamindari. His devotion to public service led him to take part elections for Member of the Legislative Assembly from Katra North in 1957 and in 1958. He got elected as the Syndicate Member of Bihar University, which is now known as Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar Bihar University, situated in Muzaffarpur, Bihar. Because of his active roles in different movements and initiations (like the non-cooperation movement), he spent more than eight years in all his life in jail, but even the iron bars couldn’t hold the power to break him. About the non-cooperation movement days, he writes:
“When I recall Non-Cooperation era of 1921, the image of a storm confronts my eyes. From the time I became aware, I have witnessed numerous movements, however, I can assert that no other movement upturned the foundations of Indian society to the extent that the Non-Cooperation movement did. From the most humble huts to the high places, from villages to cities, everywhere there was a ferment, a loud echo.”
The Breaking of the Upanayana threads (“Janeyu Todo Abhiyaan”) was also initiated in Hazaribagh Central Jail only, to bridge the gap between upper and lower castes of Indian society, which was one of the main reasons of division between Indian societies and was exploited by the British. He was so sincere about abolishing the caste based discrimination that he removed his caste based surname and adopted the name “Benipuri”- derived from his village’s name Benipur – as his last name. In fact, Rambriksh Benipuri, the brave soul of Bihar also helped Jayaprakash Narayan along with Jogendra Shukul, Suraj Narayan Singh, Gulali Sonar, Pandit Ramnandan Mishra, and Shaligram Singh to escape from the Hazaribagh Central Jail, on 9 November 1942 while everyone was engaged in Diwali Celebration.
As a writer, Rambriksh Benipuri got his first piece of writing published in 1916, in Pratap magazine of Kanpur. He started his career in writing from 1921, as an associate editor in a weekly Hindi magazine, named Tarun Bharat. But he wasn’t comfortable with the idea of earning for himself and living a normal life. Instead, he dedicated his life for a greater cause, so he quit his job and dedicated his time and effort for this cause. So, for continuing his livelihood and working for freedom struggle in the same time, Benipuri worked as an associate editor in another weekly magazine in 1922 called Kisan Mitra and after that he joined a monthly journal named Gomal in 1924, as an editor. The publication of a monthly magazine that he launched in 1929 named “Yuvak”, proved to be a milestone in his career. Yuvak, just like Rambriksh Benipuri, was solely written to revive patriotism heart of its readers. This magazine was published with the assistance of Ganga Sharan Singh, Ambica Kant Sinha and Jagdish Narayan and printed at The Searchlight. Yuvak was a menace for the British empire as it was clearly a nationalist journal, having the prime motives lilke securing Swaraj for India and promotion of armed revolution, as the. It was supported by many political powers, and thus, could not be easily shut down by Britishers.
After all that he did for the country, he finally got to celebrate the India’s freedom as well as an independent republic. He left the country in the hands of his own people and with a dream of India’s bright and secured future, he closed his eyes for ever, on 7th September, 1968.
Benipuri’s famous literary works include essays like Gehun Banam Gulab, Patiton Ke Desh Mein, Chita Ke Phool, Lal Taaraa, and plays like Ambpali, Sanghamitra, Amar Jyoti and many others. Because of his contribution to Hindi literature and freedom of the country, postal stamps were released with his photograph, in 1999, to celebrate the 50th anniversary since Indian Union had declared Hindi as our official language. He also got the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution in literature from Rashtra Bhasha Parishad. He didn’t just wrote about the great ruler Ashoka in his stories, but also inculcated his bravery in his real life.
(Featured image credit: Satyagrah Scroll)
Quote of the day:“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” ―Abraham Lincoln