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Indian literature

Marathi literature (Marathi: मराठी साहित्य) is the body of literature of Marathi, a Sanskrit-derived language spoken mainly in the Indian state of Maharashtra and written in the Devanagari script.


Early Marathi Literature (before 1800 CE)

Though the earliest known Marathi inscription found at the foot of the statue at Shravanabelgola in Karnataka is dated c. 983 CE, the Marathi literature actually started with the religious writings by the saint-poets belonging to Mahanubhava and Warkari sects. Mahanubhava saints used prose as their main medium, while Warkari saints preferred poetry as the medium. The early saint-poets were Mukundaraj who wrote Vivekasindhu, Dnyaneshwar (1275-1296) (who wrote Bhawarthadeepika, which is popularly known as Dnyaneshwari, a 9000-couplets long commentary on the Bhagavad Gita) and Namdev. They were followed by the Warkari saint-poet Eknath (1528-1599). Mukteswar translated the great epic Mahabharata into Marathi. Social reformers like saint-poet Tukaram transformed Marathi into an enriched literary language. Ramdas's (1608-1681) Dasbodh and Manache Shlok are well-known products of this tradition.

In the 18th century, some well-known works like Yatharthadeepika (by Vaman Pandit), Naladamayanti Swayamvara (by Raghunath Pandit), Pandava Pratap, Harivijay, Ramvijay (by Shridhar Pandit) and Mahabharata (by Moropant) were produced. However, the most versatile and voluminous writer among the poets was Moropanta (1729-1794) whose Mahabharata was the first epic poem in Marathi. The historical section of the old Marathi literature was unique as it contained both prose and poetry. The prose section contained the Bakhars that were written after the foundation of the Maratha kingdom by Shivaji. The poetry section contained the Povadas and the Katavas composed by the Shahirs. The period from 1794 to 1818 is regarded as the closing period of the Old Marathi literature and the beginning of the Modern Marathi literature.

Modern Period (after 1800)

In Modern period of internet , (MK) helps poets to present their talent. The period of the late nineteenth century in Maharashtra is the period of colonial modernity. Like the corresponding periods in the other Indian languages, this was the period dominated by the English educated intellectuals. It was the age of prose and reason. It was the period of reformist diadicticism and a great intellectual ferment.

The first English Book was translated in Marathi in 1817. The first Marathi newspaper started in 1835. Many books on social reforms were written by Baba Padamji (Yamuna Paryatana, 1857), Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, Lokhitwadi, Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade, Hari Narayan Apte (1864-1919) etc. Lokmanya Tilak's newspaper Kesari, set up in 1880, provided a platform for sharing literary views. Marathi at this time was efficiently aided by Marathi Drama. Here, there also was a different genre called 'Sangit Natya' or Musicals. The first play was V.A. Bhave's Sita Swayamvar in 1843 Later Kirioskar (1843-85) and G.B. Deval (1854-19l6) brought a romantic aroma and social content. But Krishnaji Prabhakar Khadilkar (1872~1948) with his banned play Kichaka-Vadh (1910) set the trend of political playwriting. Later on this "stage" was ably served by stalwarts like Ram Ganesh Gadkari and Prahlad Keshav Atre.The Drama Flourished in 60s and 70s with few of the best Indian actors available to take on a variety of protagonists. Mohan Agashe, Sriram Lagoo, Kashinath Ghanekar, Prabhakar Panshikar playing many immortal characters penned by greats like Vasant Kanetkar, Kusumagraj, vijay Tendulkar to name a few. This Drama movement was ably supported by Marathi films which did not enjoy a continuous success. Starting with V.Shantaram and before him the pioneer DadaSaheb Phalke, Marathi cinema went on to influence contemporary Hindi cinema. Director Raja Paranjape, Music director Sudhir Phadke, lyricist G.Madgulkar and actor Raja Gosavi came together to give quiet a few hits in later period. Marathi Language as spoken by people here was throughout influenced by drama and cinema along with contemporary literature. Modern Marathi poetry began with Mahatma Jyotiba Phule's compositions. The later poets like Keshavsuta, Balakavi, Govindagraj, and the poets of Ravi Kiran Mandal like Madhav Julian wrote poetry which was influenced by the Romantic and Victorian English poetry. It was largely sentimental and lyrical.Prahlad Keshav Atre, the renowned satirist and a politician wrote a parody of this sort of poetry in his collection Jhenduchi Phule. Sane Guruji (1899-1950) contributed to the children's literature in Marathi. His major works are Shyamchi Aai (Shyam's Mother), Astik (Believer), Gode Shevat (The Sweet Ending) etc. He translated and simplified many Western Classics and published them in a book of stories titled Gode Goshti (Sweet Stories). Vishnu Sakharam Khandekar (1889-1976)'s Yayati won him the Jnanpith Award for 1975. He also wrote many other novels, short stories, essays etc. His major works are Don Dhruv (Two Poles), Ulka (Meteorite) , Krounchavadh, Jalalela Mohar, Amrutvel.

The major paradigm shift in sensibility began in the forties with the avant-garde modernist poetry of B.S. Mardhekar. In the mid fifties, the 'little magazine movement' gained momentum. It published writings which were non-conformist, radical and experimental. Dalit literary movement also gained strength due to the little magazine movement. This radical movement was influenced by the philosophy of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and challenged the literary establishment which was largely middle class, urban, and upper caste people. The little magazine movement threw up many excellent writers. Bhalchandra Nemade is a well known novelist, critic and poet. Dr.Sharad Rane is a well known bal-sahityakar. The poetry of Arun Kolatkar, Dilip Chitre, Namdeo Dhasal, Vasant Abaji Dahake, Manohar Oak and many other modernist poets is complex, rich and provokative. Bhau Padhye,Vilas Sarang, Shyam Manohar, Suhas Shirvalkar and Visharm Bedekar are well known fiction writers.

The another major paradigm shift in Marathi sensibility began in the nineties with the another avant-garde modernist poetry of poets associated with Abhidhanantar and Shabadavedh. In the post nineties, this 'new little magazine movement' gained momentum and poets like Manya Joshi, Hemant Divate, Sachin Ketkar, Mangesh Narayanrao Kale, Saleel Wagh, Mohan Borse, Nitin Kulkarni, Nitin Arun Kulkarni, Varjesh Solanki, Sandeep Deshpande, Vasant Gurjar touched the new areas of post-modern life. The poetry collections broughtout by Abhidhanantar Prakashan and the regular issues of the magazine Abhidhanantar is taking Marathi poetry to the global standards.[1]

Marathi is also the one of the few Indian languages (and possibly the only one) where there is a stream of science fiction literature. A few well known Marathi science fiction authors are Dr. Jayant Narlikar, Dr Bal Phondke, Subodh Javadekar, and Laxman Londhe.

Many writers like Dnyaneshwar Mulay have added new dimensions and enriched Marathi with their literary talent. His autobiographical book 'Maati Pankh Aani Aakaash' was considered to be among the best ten autobiographies of last 100 years in Marathi by a survey conducted by Antarnaad, a respected martahi literary magazine. His other immensely likeable books are 'Russia Navya Dishanche Amantran' a book that captures post 1992 Russia. It is popular because it is the only work of its kind. His recent poetry collection 'Swatahteel Awakash' won the state literary award of governmment of Maharashtra. He is highly popular among young readers and writes regular columns in Marathi dailies like Lokmat and Loksatta and Sadhana, weekly published from Pune.

Dnyananpith award

Three Marathi writers have been honored by the Jnanpith Award:

Sahitya Akademi Awards in Marathi

Every year, Sahitya Akademi gives the Sahitya Akademi Award to Marathi writers for their outstanding contribution to Marathi literature [2].

Winners of the Award along with their books are :

  • 1955 - Tarkateertha Laxman Shastri Joshi - 'Vaidik Sanskruticha Vikas'
  • 1956 - B. S. Mardhekar - 'Saundarya ani Sahitya'
  • 1957 - (No Award)
  • 1958 - Chintamanrao Kolhatkar - 'Bahurupee'
  • 1959 - G.T.Deshpande - 'Bharatiya Sahityashastra'
  • 1960 - Vishnu Sakharam Khandekar - 'Yayati'
  • 1961 - D.N.Gokhale - 'Dr.Ketkar'
  • 1962 - P.Y.Deshpande - 'Anamikachi Chintanika'
  • 1963 - S. N. Pendse - 'Rathachakra'
  • 1964 - Ranjit Desai - 'Swami'
  • 1965 - P.L.Deshpande - 'Vyakti ani Valli'
  • 1966 - T S Shejwalkar - 'Shri Shiv Chhatrapati'
  • 1967 - N.G.Kelkar - 'Bhasha : Itihas ani Bhoogol'
  • 1968 - Irawati Karve - 'Yugant'
  • 1969 - S.N.Banhatti - 'Natyacharya Deval'
  • 1970 - N.R.Phatak - 'Adarsh Bharat Sevak'
  • 1971 - Durga Bhagwat - 'Pais'
  • 1972 - Godavari Parulekar - 'Jevha Manus Jaga Hoto'
  • 1973 - G. A. Kulkarni - 'Kajalmaya'
  • 1974 - Vishnu Vaman Shirwadkar - 'Natasamrat'
  • 1975 - R.B.Patankar - 'Soundarya Mimansa'
  • 1976 - G. N. Dandekar - 'Smarangatha'
  • 1977 - A.R.Deshpande 'Anil' - 'Dashapadi'
  • 1978 - C.T.Khanolkar 'Arati Prabhu' - 'Nakshatranche Dene'
  • 1979 - Sharadchandra Muktibodh - 'Srushti, Saundarya ani Sahityamulya'
  • 1980 - Mangesh Padgaonkar - 'Salaam'
  • 1981 - Laxman Mane - 'Upara'
  • 1982 - Prabhakar Padhye - 'Saundaryanubhav'
  • 1983 - Vyankatesh Madgulkar - 'Sattantar'
  • 1984 - Indira Sant - 'Garbhareshmi'
  • 1985 - Vishram Bedekar - 'Ek Zad ani Don Pakshi'
  • 1986 - N.G.Deshpande - 'khoon Gathi'
  • 1987 - R.C.Dhere - 'Shri Vitthal : Ek Mahasamanvay'
  • 1988 - Laxman Gaikwad - 'Uchalya'
  • 1989 - Prabhakar Urdhwareshe - 'Haravlele Diwas'
  • 1990 - Anand Yadav - 'Zombi'
  • 1991 - Bhalchandra Nemade - 'Teeka Svayanwar'
  • 1992 - Vishwas Patil - 'Zada Zadati'
  • 1993 - Vijaya Rajadhyaksha - 'Mardhekaranchi Kavita'
  • 1994 - Dilip Chitre - 'Ekun Kavita - 1'
  • 1995 - Namdeo Kamble - 'Raghava vel'
  • 1996 - Gangadhar Gadgil - 'Eka Mungiche Mahabharat'
  • 1997 - M.V.Dhond - 'Dnyaneshwaritil Laukik Srushti'
  • 1998 - Sadanand More - 'Tukaram Darshan'
  • 1999 - Ranganath Pathare - 'Tamrapat'
  • 2000 - N.D.Mahanor - 'Panzad'
  • 2001 - Rajan Gavas - 'Tanakat'
  • 2002 - Mahesh Elkunchwar - 'Yugant'
  • 2003 - T.V.Sardeshmukh - 'Dangora Eka Nagaricha'
  • 2004 - Sadanand Deshmukh - 'Baromas'
  • 2005 - Arun Kolatkar - 'Bhijaki Vahi'
  • 2007 - Asha Bage - 'Bhoomi'
  • 2008 - Shyam Manohar - 'Utsuktene Mee zopalo'


  1. ^ Sunita Deshpande. Preface. The Encyclopaedic Dictionary Of Marathi Literature Vol 2 . New Delhi, Global Vision Publishing House, 2007,p.vii, ISBN 81-8220-221-1.
  2. ^ Sahitya Akademi awards in Marathi

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