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The Roots of Early Hindi Literary Culture

Majewski Lecture
Oriental Institute, Lecture Room 1
Dr. Imre Bangha
Monday, 29 April 2013 - 5:00pm

The theoretical framework of Hindi literature today is still defined by the almost century-old History of Hindi Literature (1929) of Ramchand Shukla. This History, written at the time of the Indian freedom struggle, created the image of a national literature extended in time and space. Rejecting claims for a 1000–1500 year old history, my talk examines the emergence of vernacular literature in the Gangetic Plain in the fourteenth century,and argues for continuity in poetic genres, forms and language between the Jain-inspired Maru Gurjar literature and the poetic idioms of Avadhi and Brajbhasha. Using reliably dated literary material, it documents the spread of Maru Gurjar literature beyond Gujarat and Rajasthan into Central North India (Madhyadesha) and presents how non-Jains used this trans-regional literary idiom to develop it into more localised ones that in modern times came to be considered literary dialects of Hindi.

Dr. Bangha is a Lecturer in Hindi. His research has focused on early modern Hindi poetry and he has produced editions and translations of early modern Hindi texts. His research interests include the emergence of Hindi as a literary dialect in various scripts, textual transmission and Hindi manuscript culture, riti poetry and the continuity of classical Sanskrit aesthetics in court literature and individual poets such as Vishnudas, Kabir, Tulsidas, and others. He publishes his work in both English and Hungarian. Among his publications are Hungry Tiger: Encounter between India and Central Europe – the case of Hungarian and Bengali Literary Cultures(Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 2007) and a translation of Indian short stories into Hungarian (E. Greskovits ed., Tehén a barikádon: Indiai elbeszélések (The Cow of the Barricades: Indian Short Stories) Pallas Akademia, M. Ciuc/Csíkszereda, 2008). He is currently working on several editions and translations of early modern Hindi texts including ‘Love, Scorpion in the Hand’: Late Brajbhasha Court Poetry from Bundelkhand: Thākur-kabittāvali (critical edition accompanied with an introduction and English translation of selected poems).