Harishankar Parsai Birth Anniversary: Commemorating India’s revolutionary satirist

Harishankar Parsai was born on August 22, 1924, in Jamani village in Itarsi, Madhya Pradesh. His works were famous because of their simple language and understanding of the global society.

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Sunday, August 21, 2022, 04:40 PM IST
article-image
Harishankar Parsai | Rekhta.org

Literary critic Northrop Frye once said, “in satire, irony is militant.” His phrase is self-explanatory that satire is genre of art and literature wherein vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up for mockery, frequently in an effort to shame or expose the alleged shortcomings of people, organisations, the government, or society at large and spur them to change.

Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver’s Travels and George Orwell, author of 1984 are two of many renowned satirists. India, too, has seen great satirists. Kaka Hathrasi, Jadumani Mahapatra, Ramdhari Singh Dinkar and Harishankar Parsai are some of the well-known Indian satirists.

Parsai was born on August 22, 1924 in Jamani village in Itarsi, Madhya Pradesh. This August 22 marks the writer and satirist’s 98th birth anniversary.

Let’s take a look at life and body of work of the prolific author on the eve of his birth anniversary.

Harishankar Parsai—who is often known for revolutionising satire in Hindi—studied in Nagpur University and got his Master’s degree in Hindi. Parsai did not pursue writing full-time until much later. He held a job which he later quit to pursue writing.

Parsai also wrote a column for Raipur-based Hindi daily named Deshbandhu. His column Poochiye Parsai se [Ask Mr Parsai] was a unique one wherein the writer answered people’s queries which is now published as a collection.

He also started his own literary magazine titled Vasudha which due to economic losses was shut, the magazine was operative during the Emergency period in India.

According to an article in The Hindu, the author established satire as a “respectable and distinctive” literary genre which was divorced from light or slapstick humour like it was labelled.

The article also stated that Parsai lost his parents at a young age and had to take on responsibilities of his siblings without much financial backing. He struggled but eventually got educated and also got a diploma in teaching.

Parsai wrote a great body of literature and also received the prestigious Sahitya Akademi award in 1982. The author got the award for his satire Vikalang Shraddha Ka Daur [Age of the Handicapped Devotion]. His other notable works include: Nithalle Ki Diary (Journal of jobless person), Jaane Pahchane Log (Familiar people), and Awara Bheed Ke Khatare (Dangers of a misshapen crowd).

Parsai's works were popular because of their simple language and his understanding of the global society. His writings made readers feel as if the writer was speaking to them.

Few years after he passed, Doordarshan, the government broadcasting channel, ran show titled Parsai Kehate Hain which aired adapted versions of his work.

(If you have a story in and around Mumbai, you have our ears, be a citizen journalist and send us your story here. )

(To receive our E-paper on WhatsApp daily, please click here.  To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

RECENT STORIES

Budget 2023 LIVE UPDATES: Cabinet meeting chaired by PM Narendra Modi underway to approve Union...

Budget 2023 LIVE UPDATES: Cabinet meeting chaired by PM Narendra Modi underway to approve Union...

Bengaluru cops arrest man for sexually assaulting, killing his partner's 3-year-old daughter

Bengaluru cops arrest man for sexually assaulting, killing his partner's 3-year-old daughter

In pics: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman dons a graceful red saree to present Union Budget 2023

In pics: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman dons a graceful red saree to present Union Budget 2023

Dense fog in North India: 10 trains running late due to low visibility

Dense fog in North India: 10 trains running late due to low visibility

US Deputy Secretary of Defence Kathleen Hicks meets NSA Doval, discusses bilateral ties

US Deputy Secretary of Defence Kathleen Hicks meets NSA Doval, discusses bilateral ties