For many of us, it is easy to name the famous poets of India.. actually easy enough to name men. From Rabindranath Tagore to Sumitranandan Pant, there are many men poets whose poems inspire a lot of us. But when it comes to name female poets several of them are unknown to the people.
Here we present a list of fascinating women poets who have contributed to the wealth of Indian literature.
Sarojini Naidu was an Indian independence activist and poet. Born in a Bengali Hindu family at Hyderabad, Sarojini was known as the Nightingale of India. Some of her popular books are A Golden Threshold and The Feather of the Dawn.
“O YOUNG through all thy immemorial years!
Rise, Mother, rise, regenerate from thy gloom,
And, like a bride high-mated with the spheres,
Beget new glories from thine ageless womb!
The nations that in fettered darkness weep
Crave thee to lead them where great mornings break . . . .
Mother, O Mother, wherefore dost thou sleep?
Arise and answer for thy children’s sake!
Thy Future calls thee with a manifold sound
To crescent honours, splendours, victories vast;
Waken, O slumbering Mother and be crowned,
Who once wert empress of the sovereign Past.”
Mahadevi Varma was born in 1907, Farrukhabad, United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, India. She was a writer, activist, and leading poet of the Chhayavad movement in Hindi literature. Varma was honoured with the Padma Bhushan. For her contributions to Indian literature, she received the Jnanpith Award in 1982.
“मैं नीर भरी दुःख की बदली,
स्पंदन में चिर निस्पंद बसा,
क्रंदन में आहत विश्व हँसा,
नयनो में दीपक से जलते,
पलकों में निर्झनी मचली !
मैं नीर भरी दुःख की बदली !
मेरा पग पग संगीत भरा,
श्वांसों में स्वप्न पराग झरा,
नभ के नव रंग बुनते दुकूल,
छाया में मलय बयार पली !
मैं नीर भरी दुःख की बदली !”
Kamala Surayya, also known by her pen names Madhavi Das and Kamala Das, was an English poetess and Malayalam author. Born in 1934 in Punnayurkulam in Kerala, she came to be admired for her bold and honest treatment of women’s sexuality at a time when very few women had the courage to speak up about it.
” I don’t know politics but I know the names
Of those in power, and can repeat them like
Days of week, or names of months, beginning with Nehru.
I am Indian, very brown, born in Malabar,
I speak three languages, write in
Two, dream in one.
Don’t write in English, they said, English is
Not your mother-tongue. Why not leave
Me alone, critics, friends, visiting cousins,
Every one of you? Why not let me speak in
Any language I like? The language I speak,
Becomes mine, its distortions, its queernesses
All mine, mine alone.”
Nalapat Balamani Amma was an Indian poet who wrote in Malayalam. She was known as the “poetess of motherhood”. Her poetry on the love for children and grandchildren earned her the titles of Amma (mother) and Muthassi (grandmother) of Malayalam poetry.
“Your grandmother knows
Nothing is destroyed
Everything exists in human forever
In my old heart there are
so much of riches, still
for your hands too
to play with.”
Subhadra Kumari Chauhan
Subhadra Kumari Chauhan is one of the most famous Indian poets of the veer ras sub genre. She was born in Nihalpur village in 1904, was an open opposer of the British rule in India, and was jailed twice for her protests. Her poems revolve around patriotism and nationalism.
“जलियाँवाला बाग में बसंत”
यहाँ कोकिला नहीं, काग हैं, शोर मचाते,
काले काले कीट, भ्रमर का भ्रम उपजाते।
कलियाँ भी अधखिली, मिली हैं कंटक-कुल से,
वे पौधे, व पुष्प शुष्क हैं अथवा झुलसे।
परिमल-हीन पराग दाग सा बना पड़ा है,
हा! यह प्यारा बाग खून से सना पड़ा है।
ओ, प्रिय ऋतुराज! किन्तु धीरे से आना,
यह है शोक-स्थान यहाँ मत शोर मचाना।
वायु चले, पर मंद चाल से उसे चलाना,
दुःख की आहें संग उड़ा कर मत ले जाना।
कोकिल गावें, किन्तु राग रोने का गावें,
भ्रमर करें गुंजार कष्ट की कथा सुनावें।
Subhadra Kumari Chauhan
Born in Pali in Rajasthan, Mira Bai was a 16th century Hindu poet and a devout follower of Krishna. She is recognised as one of the most popular faces of the Bhakti movement in India.
“I am mad with love
And no one understands my plight.
Only the wounded
Understand the agonies of the wounded,
When the fire rages in the heart.
Only the jeweller knows the value of the jewel,
Not the one who lets it go.
In pain I wander from door to door,
But could not find a doctor.
Says Mira: Harken, my Master,
Mira’s pain will subside
When Shyam comes as the doctor.”