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Gujarati Literature before, with and beyond Gandhi


The first plenary session of the Hyderabad Literary Festival (HLF) on January 25, 2019 was inaugurated by distinguished Gujarati poet and playwright Dr. Sitanshu Yashaschandra.

The event was moderated by Professor T. Vijay Kumar of Osmania University’s English department.

Since HLF 2019 commemorated Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th anniversary, the language in focus for the event was Gujarati and the first session gave an edifying start to the festival with its topic: ‘Gujarati literature before, with and beyond Gandhi’.

Dr. Yashachandra placed literature in the larger socio-political, cultural and philosophical framework and in his talk traced the roots of Gujarati literature from its documented beginning in the 6th Century, all the way to the 15th century further down to the 20th century.

Dr. Yashachandra highlighted that: “Gujarati literature did a favor to Gandhi.’’

It is from this opulent tradition that his ideological stance was forged and moderated.

He then ventured into a colonial discourse and spoke about how consolidation of British power in Gujarat was not only economic and military, but spread itself to its cultural life.

He said that it was Gandhi’s desire to awaken a nation from its torpid state that doubted the vitality of its own language which provoked him to write most of his books in Gujarati, including his widely known autobiography, to foreground his contention that ‘our literature is a reflection of ourselves’ therefore Indian sensibilities must express itself in its mother tongue.

Dr. Yashachandra spoke about how the Gandhi emboldened Indian’s to fight the inner battle of the self and live a life of compassion, fearlessness and truth; cues he (Gandhi) picked up from the rich literary heritage of Gujarat.

He said that Gandhi’s ideas aren’t in any manner dictatorial for Gujarati literature and focuses on the paradox – ‘unless you go beyond Gandhi you cannot be with him’.

Author: Sayona Bose

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