Raghuvir Sahay (1928-1990) is among the most significant figures
on the modern literary scene in India. He represents a generation
that grew with the aspirations of the freedom movement in the subcontinent,
lived to see the unfolding of what this freedom meant for people at
large,and gave voice to the unfulfilled aspirations. He died on the
threshold of the new wave of communalism and right wing onslaught
that threatens our national unity and divides people along religious
His voice is an expression of much wider concerns in that his work
transcends the world of Hindi, the language in which he wrote even
as he belongs to it. Sahay belongs to a tradition of literature that
looks forward rather than to the past for inspiration, for whom the
golden age would come when the aspirations of all the millions of
people are fulfilled. His concern for people was not romantic. It
expressed itself in the voice of democracy and scientific temper.
The baggage that he carried with him of the past was one of the heritage
of composite culture and a rational expression whose roots lay within
the movements for social emancipation in the struggle against colonialism.
Like Tagore, Iqbal and Faiz, his is the voice of the entire subcontinent.
Sahay, like most literary figures of his generation was not merely
a significant poet. He was a writer-journalist, a social commentator,
a literary critic and a partisan for secularism. From late 60's till
the beginning of 80's he was editor of Hindi weekly Dinman, whose
status as the best political-social journal in Hindi is yet to be
surpassed. He advocated the use of a language that preserved the heritage
of Hindustani, the Hindi-Urdu synthesis. In 1990 the year of his death,
he chaired a committee of the Press Council of India to look into
the role of the press in the context of Mr. Advani's rath yatra, the
first attempt at destruction of the Babri Masjid and the ensuing anti-Muslim
He died in December 1990, without having compromised on any of his
ideals, may be not a very happy man at the way things were some 45
years after Independence.
Poems of Raghuvir Sahay
In our first issue, we are presenting a selection
from the poetry of Raghuvir Sahay. These English
translations of the his original Hindi poems were mostly done
during a workshop organised in the winter of 1989. The 15 day workshop
organised by Sahitya Akademi, the Indian Academy of Letters, brought
together 25 eminent Hindi poets and translators for an intensive interaction.
The purpose of the workshop was to produce an anthology comprising
the poems of 10 selected Hindi poets.