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Karbala- A Play by Premchand

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Item Code: HAQ833
Author: Munshi Premchand
Language: English
Edition: 2003
ISBN: 9789355486325
Pages: 232
Other Details 8.5x5.5 inch
Weight 212 gm
Book Description

Anyone acquainted with the literary heritage of India would not deny the canonical position that Premchand (31 July 1880-8 October 1936) occupies in the tradition of Hindi/ Urdu literature. Born as Dhanpat Rai Srivastava in the small village of Lamahi in Uttar Pradesh, Premchand is renowned as a translator, columnist, and editor of popular magazines such as Hans, Madhuri, Jagran, and Maryada and is widely considered the greatest Hindi-Urdu author. In the span of his literary career, he had a "dual authorial presence" (Asaduddin 01) in the world of Indian literature. He began his literary career with Soz-e-Watan (1907), a collection of short stories banned by the colonial British government, and he wrote fourteen novels, a few plays, more than three hundred short stories, hundreds of articles, and a film script in his lifetime. Besides these, his corpus includes Urdu/Hindi translations of the plays of John Gals worthy, and Maurice Maeterlinck, and the transcreation of George Eliot's Silas Marner (as Sukh Das). Premchand's works have been translated into several languages across the world and have also been adapted for the screen.

Over his long career, Premchand developed new social and aesthetic parameters of writing and analysing literature by focusing on idealist realism, utilitarian poetics, and progressive thoughts. He regarded "literature as a criticism of life" (Premchand "Nature and Purpose"185) and played a crucial role in the propagation of social realism in the literature of colonial India by influencing generations of Hindi and Urdu authors with his progressive politics and poetics. He redefined the purpose of literature and the role of the author in Sahitya ka Uddesh (The Aim of Literature), his inaugural address at the first conference of the Progressive Writers Movement held on 9 April 1936, at Lucknow. The address is a crucial document that heralded a new era of aesthetic sensibilities in literature in colonial India. Premchand emphasised the importance of utilitarian poetics and the need to transform the aesthetic standards in literature. For him, as a "standard- bearer of humanity," ("Nature and Purpose" 186) an author's duty is "to help all those who are downtrodden, oppressed and exploited-individuals or groups-and to advocate their cause" (186). In his novels, short stories, and articles, he vociferously critiqued the different hegemonic structures of society and advocated the cause of the people who are relegated to the margins of society. In his celebrated novels such as Rangbhoomi (Chaugan-e-Hasti), Karambhoomi (Maidan-e- Amal), Nirmala, Sevasadan (Bazaar-e-Husn), Premashram (Gosha- e-Afiyat), and Godaan (Gaudaan) amongst others, and hundreds of short stories, Premchand portrays the complexities of the urban and the rural masses of colonial India.


Generally, the history of every community has a few important events that keep the literary imagination in ferment for eternity. In literary circles, they are regularly recounted in new forms as verses, songs, essays, and proverbs. Though they recur in narratives from time to time, yet there is always a place for new authors. The stories of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata are two such events from the history of Hinduism. The battle of Karbala occupies a similar status in the history of Muslims. Volumes have been written about the battle in Urdu and Persian Literature. Just as numerous poets in Hindi literature have spent their lives singing praises of Rama and Krishna, similarly many Urdu and Persian poets have invested their lives in writing only in the genre of Marsiya. But, as far as I know, till date, no play has been written on the subject of Karbala. I have mustered the courage to write the drama in Hindi.

It is a sad and shameful fact that despite having lived with Muslims for so many centuries, we are still unacquainted with their history. One of the problems related to Hindu-Muslim animosity is that we, Hindus, are not familiar with the good qualities of the great personalities in Muslim history. Whenever the name of a Muslim emperor is mentioned, the image of Aurangzeb appears before us. But good and bad characters have always been and will always be a part of every community. Even among Muslims, there were great benefactors, great holy men, and famous justice-loving emperors. There can be no doubt that the study of the great personalities of any community depicts a sympathetic relationship with the community.

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