Marathi literature is the body of literature of Marathi, an Indo-Aryan
language spoken mainly in the Indian state of
Maharashtra and written
1 Yadava period
2 Sultanate period
4 British Period
4.1 Beginning of journalism
5 Post-independence period
7 See also
10 External links
Dnyaneshwar as imagined by the Ravi Varma press
Epigraphic evidence suggests that Marathi was a standard written
language by the 12th century. However, the earliest records of actual
literature in Marathi appear only in the late 13th century. The
Marathi literature emerged during the Seuna (Yadava) rule,
because of which some scholars have theorized that it was produced
with support from the Yadava rulers. The Yadavas did regard Marathi
as a significant language for connecting with the general public,
and Marathi replaced Kannada and
Sanskrit as the dominant language of
the inscriptions during the last half century of the Yadava rule.
However, there is no evidence that the Yadava royal court directly
supported the production of
Marathi literature with state funds.
Marathi literature was mostly religious and philosophical in
nature, and was composed by the saint-poets belonging to
Warkari sects. During the reign of the last three
Yadava kings, a great deal of literature in verse and prose, on
astrology, medicine, Puranas, Vedanta, kings and courtiers were
created. Nalopakhyan, Rukmini Swayamvar and Shripati's
Jyotishratnamala (1039) are a few examples.
Bhaskarbhatta Borikar of the
Mahanubhava sect is the first known poet
to have composed hymns in Marathi.
Dnyaneshwar (1275–1296) was the first Marathi literary figure who
had wide readership and profound influence. His major works are
Bhavarth Deepika (popularly known as Dnyaneshwari).
Bhavarth Deepika is a 9000-couplets long commentary on the Bhagavad
Namdev, the Bhakti saint and contemporary of
Dnyaneshwar is the other
significant literary figure from this era.
Namdev composed religious
songs in Marathi as well as Hindi; some of his
Hindi compositions are
included in the Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib.
Another early Marathi writer was Mukundaraja, who wrote Vivekasindhu
and Paramamrita. Both the works deal with the
Some earlier scholars dated him to the 12th century, and considered
Vivekasindhu as the first literary book in Marathi, dating it to 1188.
However, most linguistic historians now date
Mukundaraja to 14th
century or later: the Vivekasindhu was likely written after
Lilacharita and Dnyaneshwari.
There was relatively little activity in Marathi in the early days of
Bahmani Sultanate (1347–1527) and the Bijapur Sultanate
Eknath (1533–1599), the main
successor of Dnyaneshwar, was a major Marathi literary figure during
this period. He made available an authentic, edited version of
Dnyaneshwari, which had been forgotten after the Islamic invasion of
Deccan. He also wrote several abhangs (devotional poems),
narratives and minor works that dealt with the
Bhagavata Purana He
wrote Eknathi Bhagwat, Bhavarth Ramayan, Rukmini Swayamwar Hastamalak,
and Bharud. Dasopant was another minor but notable poet from this
era. Mukteshwar (1574-1645), the grandson of Eknath, too, wrote
several works in Marathi including a translation of the epic
Krista Purana, written by the Goa-based Christian missionary Thomas
Stephens, was first published in 1616. It is written in a mix of
Marathi and Konkani languages, and the first copy was printed in the
Roman script, and tells the story of Jesus Christ.
The Marathas, the Marathi-speaking natives, formed their own kingdom
in the 17th century. The development of the Marathi literature
accelerated during this period. Although their leader, Shivaji, was
formally crowned as the king in 1674, he had been the de facto ruler
of a large area in Western
Maharashtra for some time.
Tukaram and Samarth Ramdas, who were contemporaries of Shivaji, were
the well-known poets of the early
Maratha period. Tukaram
(1608–1650) was the most prominent Marathi
Varkari spiritual poet
identified with the Bhakti movement, and had a great influence on the
Maratha society. His contemporary,
Samarth Ramdas composed
Dasbodh and Manache Shlok in Marathi.
In the 18th century, several well-known works like Yatharthadeepika
(by Vaman Pandit), Naladamayanti Swayamvara (by Raghunath Pandit),
Pandava Pratap, Harivijay, Ramvijay (by Shridhar Pandit) and
Mahabharata (translation by Moropant) were produced. The historical
section of the old
Marathi literature contained the Bakhars and the
Katavas. Krishna Dayarnava and Sridhar were other leading poets during
Peshwa rule. Mahipati, the author who wrote the biographies of
the Bhakti Saints also belonged to this era.
Front page of the book Sarvajanik Satya Dharma Pustak by Jyotiba
The British colonial period (also known as the Modern Period) saw
Marathi grammar through the efforts of the
Christian missionary William Carey. Carey's dictionary had fewer
entries and Marathi words were in
Devanagari script instead of the
Modi script prevalent at that time. Carey also translated the new
and old testament of the bible into Marathi in 1811 and 1820
respectively The most comprehensive Marathi-English dictionaries
was compiled by Captain
James Thomas Molesworth and Major Thomas Candy
in 1831. The book is still in print nearly two centuries after its
publication., The colonial authorities also worked on
standardizing Marathi under the leadership of Molesworth . They used
Pune for this task and adopted the
dialect spoken by this caste in the city as the standard dialect for
Marathi. The Christian missionaries introduced the Western forms
to the Marathi literature. [note 1]
Marathi at this time was efficiently aided by Marathi Drama. Here,
there also was a different genre called 'Sangit Natya' or Musicals.
The first play was V.A. Bhave's Sita Swayamvar in 1843 Later Kirloskar
(1843–85) and G.B. Deval (1854-19l6) brought a romantic aroma and
social content. But Krishnaji Prabhakar Khadilkar (1872-1948) with his
banned play Kichaka-Vadh (1910) set the trend of political
playwriting. These were followed by stalwarts like Ram Ganesh Gadkari
and Prahlad Keshav Atre.
The modern poets like Keshavsuta, Balakavi, Govindagraj, and the poets
of Ravi Kiran Mandal (such as Madhav Julian) wrote poetry which was
influenced by the Romantic and Victorian English poetry. It was
largely sentimental and lyrical. Prahlad Keshav Atre, the renowned
satirist and a politician wrote a parody of this sort of poetry in his
collection Jhenduchi Phule.
Sane Guruji (1899–1950) contributed to the children's literature in
Marathi. His major works are Shyamchi Aai, Astik and Gode Shevata. He
translated and simplified many Western Classics and published them in
a book of stories titled Gode Goshti (Sweet Stories).
Beginning of journalism
On January 6, 1832,
Balshastri Jambhekar of the Elphinstone College
began Darpan, the first Marathi-English fortnightly magazine.
On 24 October 1841, Govind Vithal Kunte began Prabhakar. Kunte was the
first professional Marathi journalist. Prabhakar eulogised Indian art
and culture. Jnyanodaya was begun in 1842 by Christian missionaries in
Western India. Jnyan Prakash was started on 12 February 1849 in Pune.
It was edited by Krishnaraj Trimbak Ranade. It was a weekly till 1904,
when it became a daily. It ceased publication in 1951. It was a
prestigious journal and supported education and social reform. Hari
Narayan Apte, a famous Marathi novelist served as its editor. Some of
its contributors included Mahadev Govind Ranade and Gopal Krishna
In the early years of Marathi journalism, most periodicals were
concerned with spreading education and knowledge. These include
Jaganmitra (from Ratnagiri), Shubh Suchak (from Satara), Vartaman
Dipika, Vartaman Sangrah. In 1862, Induprakash was begun in Bombay
(now Mumbai). It was a bilingual journal, edited by M.G. Ranade. It
criticised orthodoxy and was the mouthpiece of many social reforms. In
Jyotiba Phule and Krishnarao Bhaskar began Deenbandhu, as part
Dalit upliftment movement. Deenabandhu was the organ of the
Satyashodhak Samaj founded by Phule.
On 4 January 1881,
Bal Gangadhar Tilak
Bal Gangadhar Tilak began Kesari, along with Gopal
Ganesh Agarkar. In 1887, Agarkar left to start sujeet Sudharak
(bilingual) along with Gopal Krishna Gokhale. After Agarkar's death in
1895, it ceased publication. In 1889, K. Navalkar started the weekly
Vartahar to highlight atrocities committed by Europeans. In 1890, Hari
Narayan Apte began Karmanuk as a family entertainment paper. It
contained articles on science. Also in 1890, Anandrao Ramachandra
Dharandhar started Bhoot published every new and full moon day. It was
the first Marathi paper to carry cartoons on political and social
matters. It was very popular but ceased publication in 1904.
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Maharashtra Bhushan Award
Vishnu Sakharam Khandekar (1889–1976)'s Yayati won him the Jnanpith
Award for 1975. He also wrote many other novels, short stories, essays
etc. His major works are Don Dhruv (Two Poles), Ulka (Meteorite),
Krounchavadh, Jalalela Mohar, Amrutvel.
Marathi drama flourished in the 1960s and 1970s, with literary figures
like Vasant Kanetkar,
Kusumagraj and Vijay Tendulkar. This drama
movement was supported by Marathi films which did not enjoy a
continuous success. Starting with
V. Shantaram and before him the
Dadasaheb Phalke (during the British period), Marathi cinema
went on to influence contemporary
Marathi language as
spoken by people here was throughout influenced by drama and cinema
along with contemporary literature.
The major paradigm shift in Marathi literature
sensibilities began in the forties with the modernist poetry of B.S.
Mardhekar. In the mid fifties, the little magazine movement gained
momentum. It published writings which were non-conformist, radical and
Dalit literary movement also gained strength due to the
little magazine movement. This radical movement was influenced by the
Babasaheb Ambedkar and challenged the literary
establishment which was largely middle class, urban, and upper caste
people. The little magazine movement threw up many noted writers.
Bhalchandra Nemade is a well-known novelist, critic and poet. Sharad
Rane is a well-known child literary figure. The notable poets include
Arun Kolatkar, Dilip Chitre, Namdeo Dhasal,
Vasant Abaji Dahake and
Manohar Oak. Bhau Padhye, Vilas Sarang, Shyam Manohar, Suhas
Shirvalkar and Visharm Bedekar are well known fiction writers.
Another major shift in Marathi sensibility began in
the nineties with the poems and criticism of Shridhar Tilve and the
poetry of poets associated with Saushthav, Abhidhanantar and
Shabadavedh. In the post nineties, this 'new little magazine movement'
gained momentum and poets like Shridhar Tilve who stood against
postmodernism and nativism and poets like Manya Joshi, Hemant Divate,
Sachin Ketkar, Mangesh Narayanrao Kale, Saleel Wagh, Mohan Borse,
Nitin Kulkarni, Nitin Arun Kulkarni, Varjesh Solanki, Sandeep
Deshpande, Vasant Gurjar who touched the new areas of post-modern
life. The poetry collections brought out by Abhidhanantar Prakashan,
Time and Space, Popular Prakashan, Navta Prakashan and the regular
issues of the magazine Abhidhanantar and IRREGULAR issues of
Saushthav, Shabdvedh are taking
Marathi poetry to the global
standards. Another leading wave in contemporary
Marathi poetry is the poetry of new dalit wave poets like Arun Kale,
Bhujang Meshram and new deshi wave poets like Pravin Bandekar,
Shrikant Deshmukh and Veerdhaval Parab.
Marathi science fiction has a rich heritage and boasts of modern
complex stories. The known Marathi science fiction authors are Dr.
Jayant Narlikar, Dr Bal Phondke, Subodh Javadekar, Niranjan Ghate, and
Laxman Londhe. edh Over the last century or so, a number of producing
encyclopedias have been produced in marathi. These include . Shreedhar
Venkatesh Ketkar's 'Dnyaankosh', Siddheshwarshastri Chitrao's
'Charitra Kosh', Mahadevshastri Joshi's 'Bharatiy Sanskrutikosh', and
Laxmanshastri Joshi's 'Dharmakosh' and 'Marathi Vishwakosh'.
It was in 1958, that the term "
Dalit literature" was used for the
first time, when the first conference of
Dalit Literature Society) was held at Mumbai, a
movement inspired by 19th century social reformer,
Jyotiba Phule and
eminent dalit leader, Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar.
Baburao Bagul (1930–2008) was a pioneer of
Dalit writings in
Marathi. His first collection of stories, Jevha Mi Jat Chorali
(जेव्हा मी जात चोरली) (When I
Concealed My Caste), published in 1963, created a stir in Marathi
literature with its passionate depiction of a cruel society and thus
brought in new momentum to
Dalit literature in Marathi.
Gradually with other writers like,
Namdeo Dhasal (who founded Dalit
Dalit writings paved way for the strengthening of
Dalit movement. Notable
Dalit authors writing in Marathi include
Arun Kamble, Shantabai Kamble, Raja Dhale,
Namdev Dhasal, Daya Pawar,
Annabhau Sathe, Laxman Mane, Laxman Gaikwad, Sharankumar Limbale, Bhau
Panchbhai, Kishor Shantabai Kale, Narendra jadhav, Namdeo Vatkar,
Ashok Vatkar, Baliram G. Kamble and Urmila Pawar.
Four Marathi writers have been honored with the Jnanpith Award:
Vishnu Sakharam Khandekar
Vishnu Vaman Shirwadkar (Kusumagraj)
Sahitya Akademi gives the
Sahitya Akademi Award to Marathi
writers for their outstanding contribution to Marathi literature.
See the List of
Sahitya Akademi Award winners for Marathi.
List of Marathi-language authors
^ According to Hartmut Scharte, Professor Emeritus of Sanskrit,
University of California, Los Angeles, USA vide his book "A History of
Indian Literature - Grammatical Literature", the author of the first
Marathi Grammar was Venkata Madhava, who was a lecturer in Fort St.
George College, Madras (now Chennai). Venkata Madhava's three works on
Marathi (as was spoken by the then large
Maratha colony of Tanjore)
exist only in the autographs of the author or his assistant Bhima
Pandita. His Marathi Grammar book "महाराष्ट्र
प्रयोग चंद्रिका" was written cir. 1827. It
has 227 sutras in Samskrt and is accompanied by a Samskrt commentary,
a Marathi commentary and Marathi illustrations. The Samskrt section is
written in Devnagari script and the Marathi in Modi script. The
grammar which generally follows the Siddhanta Kaumudi in its design,
was probably meant to introduce Marathi to the neighbouring Tamil
Christian Lee Novetzke 2016, p. 54.
Christian Lee Novetzke 2016, p. 74,86.
Christian Lee Novetzke 2016, p. x.
Christian Lee Novetzke 2016, p. 53.
Christian Lee Novetzke 2016, p. 74.
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"Marathi". In Nagendra. Indian Literature. Prabhat Prakashan.
pp. 202–. Retrieved 8 April 2012.
^ Amaresh Datta (2006). The Encyclopaedia Of Indian Literature (Volume
Two) (Devraj To Jyoti). Sahitya Akademi. p. 1624.
ISBN 978-81-260-1194-0. Retrieved 8 April 2012.
^ Shrikant Prasoon (2009). Indian saints and sages. Pustak Mahal.
pp. 139–. ISBN 978-81-223-1062-7. Retrieved 8 April
Christian Lee Novetzke 2016, p. 88.
^ Winand M. Callewaert; Rupert Snell (1994). According to Tradition:
Hagiographical Writing in India. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag.
pp. 164–. ISBN 978-3-447-03524-8. Retrieved 8 April
^ Neeti M. Sadarangani (2004). Bhakti Poetry in Medieval India: Its
Inception, Cultural Encounter and Impact. Sarup & Sons.
pp. 45–. ISBN 978-81-7625-436-6. Retrieved 8 April
^ Chavan, Dilip. (2013). “Language Politics: Translation of Coercion
into Consent”, Language Politics under Colonialism: Caste, Class and
Language Pedagogy in Western India, Cambridge Scholars, 71-135
^ Smith, George (2011). The life of William Carey : shoe-maker
and missionary. New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 239.
ISBN 9781108029186. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
^ James, Molesworth, Thomas Candy, Narayan G Kalelkar (1857).
Molesworth's, Marathi-English dictionary (2nd ed.). Pune: J.C. Furla,
Shubhada Saraswat Prakashan. ISBN 81-86411-57-7. CS1 maint:
Multiple names: authors list (link)
^ Chavan, Dilip (2013).
Language politics under colonialism :
caste, class and language pedagogy in western India (first ed.).
Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars. pp. 136–184.
ISBN 978-1443842501. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
^ John V. Vilanilam (5 November 2005). Mass Communication In India: A
Sociological Perspective. Sage Publications. pp. 57–.
ISBN 978-0-7619-3372-4. Retrieved 8 April 2012.
^ Natarajan, Nalini; Emmanuel Sampath Nelson (1996). "Chap 13: Dalit
Literature in Marathi by Veena Deo". Handbook of twentieth-century
literatures of India. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 363.
^ Issues of Language and Representation:Babu Rao Bagul Handbook of
twentieth-century literatures of India, Editors: Nalini Natarajan,
Emmanuel Sampath Nelson. Greenwood Publishing Group, 1996.
ISBN 0-313-28778-3. Page 368.
^ Mother 1970 Indian short stories, 1900–2000, by E.V. Ramakrishnan,
I. V. Ramakrishnana. Sahitya Akademi. Page 217, Page 409 (Biography).
^ Jevha Mi Jat Chorali Hoti (1963) Encyclopaedia of Indian literature
vol. 2. Editors Amaresh Datta. Sahitya Akademi, 1988.
ISBN 81-260-1194-7. Page 1823.
^ "Of art, identity, and politics". The Hindu. Jan 23, 2003.
^ "Jnanpith Laureates Official listings". Retrieved 2012-04-08.
^ "sahitya-akademi.org". sahitya-akademi.org. Archived from the
original on 2006-12-30.
Christian Lee Novetzke (2016). The Quotidian Revolution:
Vernacularization, Religion, and the Premodern Public Sphere in India.
Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-54241-8.
M. K. Nadkarni (1921). A short history of Marathi literature. Luhana
Mitra Steam Printing Press, Baroda. (PDF form)
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