It’s status of writing SF in Hindi which lingua franca of India.Hindi is the lingua franca of India, statutory declared county’s official language though there are 24 other constitutionally recognised languages, prominent among them being Marathi, Bengla, Assamise, Kannad, Malyalam, Tamil and Telugu. Here is description of SF writing in Hindi first which would be followed by the status of SF writing in these said languages along with trends in SF writing in English in the country.
History of modern Hindi sf literature could be traced back to the end of nineteenth century when first Hindi science fiction work “AASHCARYA VRITTANT ( A Strange Tale) by Pandit Ambika Datta Vyas was published in 1884, in “PIYUSH PRAVAH”, a popular contemporary Hindi magazine from Madhya Pradesh. For the sake of convenience we may divide Hindi science fiction in three phases – Proto science fiction, Pseudo science fiction and modern science fiction phase . Proto science fiction means the scientific fiction written before recognition of SF as a separate genre in Hindi literature.
Traces of science fiction in India could even be found as far back as in 1500 BC in the ancient many ancient scriptures. There are numerous descriptions of flying objects referred to as “Vimanas “ which are depicted to be of two types- man made crafts that resemble airplanes and fly with the aid of birdlike wings or un-streamlined structures that fly in a clandestine manner and were generally not made by human beings. A well talked about example being the Puspak Viman which being an intelligent device could accommodate any number of passengers and having a seat vacant. Flight of fancy indeed as there were no befiting technology which existed in said times. But ideas paves the way for inventions. There are many anecdotes, stories and passing references found in sacred books such as Puranas, Upanishads, Brahmans and mythological descriptions of epic works of Ramayan and Mahabharat.
This is a also a curious literary style of fiction writing known as Tilism which apparently looks like the work of science fiction but in reality they are not based on scientific principles. Devaki Nandan Khatri, is credited to be the pioneer author of Tilism novels in Hindi. His classical work is “Chadrakanta”, published in 1918. People even from non Hindi speaking areaswere so mesmerized by novel ‘Chandrakanta’ and the later works named ‘Chandrakanta Santati’ and ‘Bhootnath’ that many of them learned Hindi to be able to read these novels.. Though these “Tilism” stories, cannot be classified as true science fiction yet they prepared ground for development of science fiction in Hindi. Besides, there were many pseudo Science Fiction stories appeared in the form of novelettes, comics published on poor quality papers and were termed as “Pulp Science fiction”.
Father of Modern Hindi SF and other Prominent Authors
The credit for being the father of Hindi science fiction could be given to Acharya Chatursen Shastri . He wrote more than 400 books during his lifetime comprising novels based on a fine blend of historical events, mythology and social issues.Of the 400 books, he wrote three science fiction novels: Khagras (The Eclipsed Moon), Neelmani (The Sapphire), and Adbhut Manav (The Amazing Man). Similarly, following in Chatursen’s footsteps, author Guru Dutt wrote almost an equal number of social and historical novels, yet only had one science fiction novel titled Sangharsh (The Struggle) which dealt with the social problems brought about from geriatrics and the fountain of youth based on cellular regeneration.
With the publication of “Ashcharya Vritant”in 1884 as earlier stated the era of modern science fiction began and further got consolidated with the appearance of Hindi magazine “Saraswati” in the year 1900. In Sarswati’s sixth issue of opening year a land mark story, “Chandralok Ki Yatra” by Keshav Prasad Singh was published, which though seems to be influenced by Jules Verne’s ‘Five week in a balloon’ but is considered an original contribution to Hindi sf literature. Many science fiction stories were later published in Saraswati. Besides Saraswati, other popular magazines also initiated sf publication and by the end of 6th decade of 20th century, publication of Saraswati unfortunately Saraswati unfortunately stopped and magazines like Sarika and Dharmyug too met the same fate later.
By Dr.Arvind Mishra