An Unsung Writer and Freedom Fighter | India News

Her name did not find a high place in the list of women who participated in the freedom struggle, but she was ‘Kaptaan’ (captain), one who led women volunteers during the freedom movement and was even imprisoned for picketing stores selling foreign products. in Lucknow. Chivrani Devi, wife of legendary Hindi writer Munshi Premchand, contributed immensely to the independence struggle as well as through her literary works. “Munshi Premhand stayed in Lucknow for about six and a half years from 1924 to 1930 with her two sons, daughter and wife Shivrani Devi. Munshi Premchand and Shivrani Devi wanted to go to jail as he was fighting for the independence of the country, and it was Shivrani who was imprisoned for two months,” says the prominent critic Virendra Yadav.
She was arrested for picketing shops selling foreign goods on November 11, 1930 at Jhandewala Park, Aminabad. “She has always been interested in the socio-economic uplift of the people and actively participated in the liberation movement. What moved her the most was the speech and the arrest of Swarup Rani Nehru, mother of former Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru, at Jhandewala Park during the liberation movement,” says Yadav. “Shivrani’s active participation in all freedom activities made her so popular that when Congressman Mohan Lal Saxena compiled a list of female volunteers, Shivrani was unanimously chosen as their ‘Kaptaan’ ( captain)”, he adds.
“The most interesting thing about his participation in the freedom movement was that even Munshi Premchand was unaware of it. He knew this when he found his wife’s name as the leader of the women’s wing of the Congress in the list of volunteers sent to him for translation into Hindi and Urdu,” Yadav explains. A book, titled ‘The Life and Works of Premchand’ by Manohar Bandopadhyaya which is published by the Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, contains details of Shivrani’s arrest and the growing feelings of police officers who stopped him in a touching story from Shivrani’s book ‘Premchand Ghar Mein’. During Shivrani’s arrest at Jhandewala Park, one of the policemen could not resist his emotions of tribute to these selfless female volunteers who were happily going to jail for the good of the country. The book cites his interaction with the policeman.
“Mataji, we get Rs 23 here but if someone offers us even Rs 10 elsewhere, we would gladly give up this sinful service,” the policeman had said. Shivrani Devi, who was very moved by the cop’s statement, consoled him that he was performing his official duty after all. To this, the policeman replied, “You are so generous, that’s why you are going to jail. It is painful that we take our mothers and sisters to prison instead of worshiping them. “Shivrani Devi did not sit idly by after her release from prison and even though her health deteriorated considerably, she organized an active protest against the mistreatment of Class C prisoners who were inhumanely starved and deprived of food. warm clothes during the winter.The authorities finally had to give in to their request.
“When Shivrani was arrested, Premchand was in Varanasi. Later he went to the prison and told him: “Not you, I am in prison because I have to take care of our children”, says Ravi Kant Chandanprofessor in the Hindi department of the University of Lucknow and critic.
“Premchand felt he could be arrested any day after returning from Varanasi. In fact, he was looking forward to this “glorious” day. He was delighted to see that his wife had gotten ahead of him. Premchand had said she raised her self-esteem a hundredfold,” he says.
Shivrani had literary talents but she hid them for some time. She published her first story “Sahas” in 1931, which Premchand did not know about until after it was published. Her book about her husband, “Premchand Ghar Mein”, is a valuable contribution to Premchand’s literature and is a must read for scholars and researchers.
While in Lucknow, the couple continued to change homes every year since, during summer vacation, Munshi Premchand returned to his hometown of Lamhi, Varanasi, as they could not afford to waste time. ‘money in rent when they were back home,’ quotes critic Virendra Yadav.
As quoted in the book ‘Munshi Premchand’ by Madan Gopal, Premchand got married to Shivrani Devi after reading an advertisement in the matrimonial columns of a newspaper of Munshi Deviprasad of Salempur village, Fatehpur, regarding his daughter who had was married at the age of 11 and widowed three months after the marriage. Premchand sent details of his education and salary. He proposed to accept the widowed child in marriage. Deviprasad (Shivrani’s father), an Arya Samaji who had written a pamphlet advocating remarriage of widows, sent Premchand a copy of the pamphlet and invited him to Fatehpur, liked him and gave him his fare and a usual gift symbolizing commitment. As quoted in the book, Shivrani said, “The marriage didn’t get the approval of Premchand’s parents. So he didn’t even inform them of his wish. Her marriage to me, against all convention, was a bold move. ”
Use of English for Wife | Shivrani Devi had literary talent but as she did not understand English, her husband, Munshi Premchand used to translate news published in ‘Leader’, one of the most influential English-language newspapers of the British Raj.
One of his stories, Sahas, sent to Chand’s editor, was corrected by the editor and published in his magazine under his name “Shivrani Devi, wife of Premchand”. Sehgal, who sent Premchand a copy containing an episode of Pratigya, congratulated the “king of novelists” that his wife had also started writing. “Sahas is the story of a young girl who beats her future husband in marriage ceremonies. (quoted from the book Munshi Premchand by Madan Gopal)


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