Munshi Premchand, real name Dhanpat Rai Srivastava is one of the most celebrated Indian writers of modern Hindustani literature. His works dealt with the social and national issues of India. Premchand’s writing encompasses laborers, caste hierarchies, temple priests and exploitation of women, British India, and more. His works include over 300 short stories, dozen novels, translations, essays, and more. Munshi Premchand’s works continue to captivate new generations. In this article, we are going to read about the 8 most popular books of Munshi Premchand.
8 Most Popular Books of Munshi Premchand
Godaan (The Gift of a Cow) is a Hindi novel by Munshi Premchand, published in 1936. It is considered one of his greatest works and is a landmark in Hindi literature. The novel is set in rural India and depicts the struggles of a poor farmer, Hori, who dreams of owning a cow. The story explores themes of poverty, corruption, and the caste system, and the impact they have on the lives of the characters. Hori’s struggles to acquire a cow, which is seen as a symbol of prosperity and status, is a metaphor for the larger issues of poverty and social injustice that plague Indian society. Despite the many obstacles he faces, Hori remains determined and resilient, ultimately succeeding in his quest for a cow, but at a great cost. The novel is a powerful commentary on the social and economic realities of rural India during the early 20th century.
Rangbhoomi (Battleground) portrays graphically the destruction of agriculture and peasant society under colonial rule. Premchand deals with the tensions between the ruled and the ruler in this novel. The ruler in this story is the amalgamation of the Indian landowners, the whites, and the Indian Christians. And, the ruled are the Indians. The story spans the period from the 1920s to the 1930s before Indian independence. Rangbhoomi celebrates the incontrovertible spirit of the common Indians, especially the farming community which knows no submission or defeat.
1931 published Gaban tells the story of a charming but morally weak young man Ramanath. To fulfill his wife Jalpa’s excessive craving for jewelry, Ramanath engages himself in complex economic and personal connections. This entire thing leads to ignominy and escapes from home. Ramanath does not realize that by doing this he is leaving his wife all alone and bringing disgrace to his family. However, his wife’s brave attitude brings a sense of redemption in him and they reunite.
Amritarai lives in Banaras. By profession he is a lawyer, however, he likes social service over advocacy. He is married to the first daughter of a well-known man in the city Lala Badri Prasad. But, Amritarai’s child and wife die in childbirth. Then he returns to Banaras, by this time Lalaji’s second daughter Prema is a grown-up. Prema and Amritarai fall in love with each other. Even though Lala wants Prema to get married to Daannath, Amritarai’s friend, seeing Prema’s attachment towards Amritarai, he changes his mind. When they are about to get married, one incident changes their life. Upon being inspired by a speech in a temple, Amritarai is determined to only marry a widow. Lala is angered by this choice however, Prema welcomes this decision. Now, Prema’s marriage is again fixed with Daannath.
The neighbor of Lala, Vasantkumar drowns in the flood leaving his wife Poorna a widow. Lala offers Poorna shelter in the house. Kamalaprasad, the son of Lala is mischievous and stunned by Poorna’s beauty and keeps trying to get her by any means. Kamalaprasad’s wife Sumitra inspires her to fight against any injustice. On the other hand, Daannath Is suspicious that Prema still loves Amritarai. So, he goes against Amritarai and publicly starts criticizing him. Amritarai sells his property and builds Vaita-Bhawan, a refuge for orphan girls and widows, and faces attacks and backlashes.
1927 published novel Nirmala focuses on a young girl Nirmala who was compelled to marry a widower 20 years older than her. The novel unfolds to reveal Nirmala’s husband Totaram’s suspicion of an affair between his wife and his eldest son, Mansaram. This suspicion leads to the death of the son. The novel deals with the themes of dowry and the repercussions of mismatched marriage. Nirmala highlights an era of much-needed social reform n 1920s Indian society.
Sevasadan covers themes of marriage, sexuality, and prostitution. The novel is a bold statement on the religious and political debates as it is written about a time when Indian women were being held up as standard-bearers. Munshi Premchand attacks the hypocrisy of ‘pillars of society; who never shrink from mouthing moral platitudes in the crowd, but can sacrifice their principles behind closed doors. The idealism that runs through his works has often been criticized by scholars. However, it is the counterpart of persistent social and psychological realism that has remained unmatched to this day.
The story is set in the fictional town of Karmabhoomi, where the main character, Saryu, is a farmer who is struggling to make a living due to the exploitative practices of the wealthy zamindars (landlords) and moneylenders. Despite his hard work, Saryu is unable to make ends meet and is forced to borrow money from the moneylenders at exorbitant interest rates.
As the story progresses, Saryu becomes more and more disillusioned with the unjust system and begins to question the caste hierarchy and religious traditions that keep the poor oppressed. He also starts to question the role of the government and the British colonial authorities in maintaining this state of affairs.
Despite his struggles, Saryu never loses hope and continues to fight for his rights and the rights of his fellow farmers. Through his struggles, Saryu becomes a symbol of resistance and hope for the oppressed masses of Karmabhoomi. The novel is a powerful critique of the social, economic and political conditions of the time, and continues to be relevant today.
Bade Bhai Sahab
Story of two brothers, Jhumri and Jhoomar. Jhumri, the elder brother, is a successful businessman while Jhoomar is a struggling writer. Jhumri is proud of his success and looks down upon his younger brother, thinking that he is not capable of achieving anything in life. Jhoomar, on the other hand, is deeply hurt by his brother’s attitude and tries to prove himself to him.
As the story progresses, Jhoomar’s writing becomes successful and he becomes a renowned author. Meanwhile, Jhumri’s business starts to falter and he finds himself in financial trouble. In the end, Jhoomar helps his brother out of his troubles and Jhumri realizes the error of his ways and apologizes to his brother.
The novel highlights the importance of family and the dangers of pride and arrogance. It also touches on themes such as the struggles of the creative artist and the harsh realities of the business world.