Sumitranandan Pant is considered as one of the most celebrated twentieth century poet. He was known for his progressive left-wing poems and was even invited to stay by the Russian Government. His poems also had romanticism and were inspired by the beauty of nature and people.
Childhood and Education
Sumitranandan Pant was born on 20 May 1900 in Kausani village of Almora District which now falls in the state of Uttarakhand. His was a Brahmin family who were educated and economically middle-class. His father was a manager in a tea garden and was also a landholder. Thus he was in a good financial position and never lacked anything.
It is said his mother died within few hours of his birth. In his childhood, he lacked affection from any of his relatives like his grandmother, father, or elder brother. This is reflected in his writings.
He grew up in his native village, and the love for rural life remained with him all through his life, finding an expression in his works. His birth name was Gosain Dutt, but he did not like this name and chose Sumitranandan Pant as his official name.
Pant’s school education took place in his village. In 1918, Pant took admission in Queens College in Banaras, from where he passed matriculation examination. He studied the works of several Indian and English poets, which greatly influenced his future writing.
In 1919, he shifted to Allahabad to study at Muir College. However, he was drawn to the freedom struggle by Mahatma Gandhi. He left his studies mid-way. As a protest against the British, he only attended for two years.
He began writing poetry. In 1926, he published a poetry collection Pallav. Pallav brought him to the limelight of the Hindi renaissance poetry. This tradition was started by Jaishankar Prasad.
In 1931, Pant moved to Kalakankar, and spent nine years in seclusion, close to nature. He was greatly influenced by Gandhi and Marx. They found liberal mention in his poetry.
Pant was invited by Russian Government, and he visited Russia thinking that his poetic thoughts were being honored. He has also written a poem on Lenin. However, it turned out that he was being used as a propaganda tool.
In 1941, Pant returned to Almora. He attended drama classes at the Uday Shankar Cultural Centre. He was also influenced by Aurobindo’s The Life Divine. In 1944, he moved to Pondicherry to Aurobindo’s Ashram.
In 1946, he returned to Allahabad to take up again his work as a writer.
Chhayavaadi school of Hindi literature is a particular genre that came into prominence in the early twentieth century. Pant became one of the top Chhayavaadi poets. His Hindi was sanskritized and different from the Braj Bhasha or Khadi Boli.
He had about twenty-eight published works which include poetry, verse, plays, essays etc. He also wrote in different genres of poem such as progressive, philosophical, socialist and humanist.
Awards and Accolades
In 1961, he received the Padma Bhushan, India’s second highest civilian award from the Government of India.
In 1968, Pant was awarded the Jnanpith Award which is India’s highest literary award. He was the first Hindi poet to receive this award. It was for his poetry collection Chidambara.
Pant also received the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1960, India’s Academy of Letters, award for Kala Aur Budhdha Chand.
To Pant goes the honor of composing the Institute’s anthem of the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, Jayati Jayati Vidya Sansthan.
Pant died on 28 December 1977 at Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh, India. His parental house in Kausani has been made into a museum. His articles of daily use, draft of poems, letters, awards etc. are displayed in the museum.
Pant’s poems have been translated in several languages, and he remains a very influential voice in the realms of Indian poetry.