At first glance, it is easy to dismiss Mahadevi Verma as a writer of vividly sentimental and romantic poetry. On deeper inspection, however, you will find a formidable force of a woman who quietly but persistently continued to challenge the limitation set upon her gender. Born in a somewhat orthodox family, she was married at the age of nine. To Verma, it was painfully obvious that in order to pursue a career as a writer and an educator, she would need to be free of the shackles of social conventions such as marriage. Although many of her poems speak of romance, rapture, longing and love, she was no slave to her passion or impulse. She was distinctly self-aware and claimed both her personal freedom and professional space.
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Author and veteran journalist Mrinal Pande remembers Verma as a dignified woman who wore only khadi saris and had her head covered at all times.
Verma was only nine years old when it was decided that she would be married off to Swarup Narain Verma, a boy from Bareilly. The famous friendship between Verma and her inspiration, poet Subhadra Kumari Chauhan, began in Crosthwaite. The latter encouraged her to write in Khari Boli. After graduating from college, Verma refused to fulfill her marital obligations and instead chose to live an ascetic life.
Verma was often dismissed as a woman who only wrote about sorrow even though she was widely respected because of her proximity to Gandhi, Nehru and the poet Narela. Verma, however, was much too aware of the loneliness of a woman who lived a creative life and was unrelenting in her commitment to her craft.
Once, as part of a prize awarded to her in Indore, Verma was given 21, silver coins. Gandhi claimed he had no understanding of poetry and refused, but Verma never forgave him and wrote about the incident years later. Another time, during a lesson with her Buddhist guru, she realised he was hiding his face from her with a palm leaf.
Shocked, she walked out and later said that someone who could not trust himself had nothing to teach her. With no political or financial authority, she said, women were relegated to lives of being wives and mothers. Mahadevi Verma died on 11 September, leaving behind a huge body of work that still requires critical feminist engagement.
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List of Hindi Poems
I had the good fortune to spend this past Thanksgiving week in one of the most beautiful parts or the most beautiful part, in my opinion of the United States: Vermont. Although I have visited Vermont several times before, I looked forward to this visit especially as it would be the first time I would see the state in the winter. I spent much of the week enjoying the natural beauty Vermont is famous for: breathing in the crisp, clean mountain air and taking long walks in the countryside enjoying the sights of the snow-blanketed hills, the mist-covered mountains and the small, glistening ponds that seem to be in no short supply. Although she is known mostly for her poetry, which often features symbols drawn from nature and concerns the theme of a lover enduring the painful and seemingly unending separation from her beloved, she also wrote memoirs and essays on social issues. However, Mahadevi is very much her own person and possesses her own voice, which was and remains unparalleled.
Poet Mahadevi Verma and her undiscovered feminist legacy
Mahadevi Verma 26 March — 11 September was a Hindi poet, freedom fighter and educationist from India. She is widely regarded as the "modern Meera ". Mahadevi Verma was born on 26 March in Farrukhabad. Mahadevi was originally admitted to a Convent school, but upon protests and an unwilling attitude, she took admission in Crosthwaite Girls College in Allahabad.