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Harivansh Rai Bachchan Edit Profile

writer , poet

"A body of clay, a mind full of play, a moment's life - that is me". That is how one of the doyens of Hindi literature, Harivansh Rai Bachchan described himself. And indeed, reading his poems, one feels a sense of life and playfulness, the two aspects which would become the hallmark of his poetry. In a career that spanned for about 60 years, he was the torch bearer of the Chhayavaad or Romantic upsurge literary movement.


Born in a Srivastava Kayastha family, in Allahabad while his ancestors belonged to the village of Babupatti in the district of Pratapgarh, U.P. near Allahabad in the United Provinces (modern Uttar Pradesh) he was the eldest son of Pratap Narayan Shrivastav and Saraswati Devi. He was called bachchan (meaning Kid at home). He received his formal schooling in a municipal school and followed the family tradition of attending Kayastha Paathshaalas to learn Urdu as the first step to a career in law.


Harivansh Rai Bachchan started his education from a municipal school. It was the same time that he also started learning Urdu from Kayasth Paathshaalas.

He pursued his higher education from Allahabad University and Banaras Hindu University. In 1941 he joined the English department of Allahabad University as a faculty and taught there till 1952. He then went to Cambridge for two years to do his doctoral thesis on W.B Yeats and occultism, becoming the second Indian to get a Ph. D. in English Literature from this university.


In 1941 Bachchan began teaching English at Allahabad University, some ten years later an opportunity arose to apply for study in England. Although the principal objective was to study English-teaching methodology, Bachchan saw it as an opportunity to complete his previous studies on the Irish poet WB Yeats. His acceptance at Cambridge may well have rested more on his popular acclaim rather than his academic studies, but whilst at Cambridge he excelled, achieving his doctorate in English Literature for his work on Yeats. After returning to India, Bachchan taught briefly and then worked as a producer for All India Radio in Allahabad. In 1955, he moved to Delhi to join the Ministry of External Affairs of the Government of India and was closely involved with the evolution of Hindi as the country's official language.

Bachchan published about 30 volumes of poetry throughout his lifetime and translated several English works into Hindi. He is best known for his early lyric poem Madhushala (The House of Wine) which was inspired by Edward Fitzgerald's translation The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam; first published in 1935 it brought him instant fame and his recitals were met with wild enthusiasm from the huge audiences he attracted. The poem has been choreographed and performed on stage, and set to music. Madhushala is one of the most enduring works of Hindi literature and has been translated into English and many regional Indian languages.


  • Bachchan was nominated to the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of the Indian Parliament, in 1966 and received many honours for his contribution to Hindi and Asian literature. In 2003, an Indian postage stamp was released in his memory. The enduring popularity and influence of Bachchan was evident at his funeral in January 2003. Thousands of people attended his funeral procession, and tributes were paid by politicians, industrialists and Bollywood stars. His son, Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan, visited St Catharine's in 2007 and spoke movingly of his father's time at the College.


  • Autobiography

    • Kya bhooloon kya yaad karoon

    • Basere se door

  • Miscellaneous

    • Bachpan ke saath kshan bhar

    • Othello

    • Chausath roosi kavitaayein

    • Hamlet

  • poem

    • Madhushala

    • Nisha Nimantran

    • Ekaant Sangeet

    • Halaahal

    • Milan Yamini


1st wife 1926-1936:
Shyama - India

2d wife:
Teji Bachchan - India - social activist , a confidant of Prime Minister
Teji Bachchan - 2d wife of Harivansh Rai Bachchan

Teji Bachchan was a social activist who became a confidant of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi; as well as being the wife of Hindi literary poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan and mother of Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan

Amitabh Bachchan - India - producer , singer , television presenter , Actor, producer, singer, television presenter
Amitabh Bachchan - son of Harivansh Rai Bachchan

Amitabh Harivansh Bachchan is an Indian film actor. He first gained popularity in the early 1970s as the "angry young man" of Hindi cinema, and has since appeared in over 180 Indian films in a career spanning more than four decades. Bachchan is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential actors in the history of Indian cinema

Ajitabh Bachchan - India
Ajitabh Bachchan - son of Harivansh Rai Bachchan