The title aptly encapsulates the mindscape in addition to the assorted milestones that mark the journey of a person who straddles the Hindi literary world just like the proverbial colossus.  A formidable work of analysis (pages 569 to 767 of this weighty tome are dedicated to notes and bibliography), the determine of Agyeya is dropped at life phrase by phrase, line by line, paragraph by paragraph, part by part.  All the clichés that spring to thoughts when considering of this redoubtable author are as true as their very opposites.

A person of contradictions  (somebody who thought and wrote about ladies’s rights however whose relationships with ladies usually tended to be extractive), an individual who admitted to considering and dreaming in English however championed the trigger of Hindi vehemently sufficient to appear a linguistic chauvinist (even when he was described as having Western tastes and sensibility, he went on to later grow to be an surprising torch bearer of language nationalism), a person of the world, refined and properly travelled, with eclectic studying and way of life tastes, however who insisted on rootedness to custom (“rebel-traditionalist” was what he described himself as in his Jnanpith award acceptance speech), and a revolutionary who fought in opposition to British rule, obtained concerned within the Delhi Conspiracy Case of 1912 and was despatched to jail however who later joined the British Army to combat in opposition to fascist forces throughout WWII, Agyeya’s persona may slot in all these conflicting traits. His allure and attraction stretched throughout generations as a reticent, enigmatic character, famed for his aloofness which he probably additionally consciously draped round himself later.  He distrusted authorities establishments and juries that presumed to guage a author’s work for awards however did settle for some of these awards. He may very well be caustic and outspoken however later penitent, even self-abasing if he felt that his phrases had triggered offence and may hurt his personal pursuits.  This biography too appears to mirror these inherent contradictions — it talks about one of the giants of the Hindi literary firmament however in English. Apart from being a poet and a author of fiction, travelogues, essays, a critic, an editor, a diarist and a journalist, Agyeya was additionally a revolutionary, painter, sculptor, cook dinner, inside decorator, tailor, gardener, photographer, organiser of writers’ camps and journeys, cat and animal lover, environmentalist — and a person who may prove pleasant sketches!

Here is a person who was half of historical past within the making — two World Wars, the clamour and battle for India’s freedom, Gandhi and Partition, the newly minted Indian democratic republic with its beliefs and later disenchantment, the erosion of democracy through the Emergency. But his life is just not solely a historical past of political and social change but additionally shows the ebb and stream  of literary types and sensibilities, with its impassioned debates, acrimonious rivalries and lasting mental bonds. Chhyavad, pragativad, prayogvad, nayi kavita and nayi kahani, Agyeya noticed all of it.  Along the way in which, he contributed to the edifice of Hindi literature along with his controversial Shekar: Ek Jiwani (which Prof. Namvar Singh, his critic, later described as one of the 5 traditional Hindi novels), Nadi ke Dvip (which acquired combined critiques on the time of its publication) and his enhancing of the landmark Saptak collection of anthologies. Agyeya was usually the bridge between custom and modernity in his mentoring of new writers and experiments with model.  

The checklist of his mates, collaborators and companions reads like a veritable who’s who of the greats of that period.  Never shying away from controversy or his tenacity to carve his personal path, at a time when the Hindi literary world was dominated by followers of Marxism, Agyeya was a freethinker.  He asserted that his non-political stance was itself a political act although he did align with sure political forces and ideologies later. Everything about him evoked sturdy opinion, from his writing, his themes, his life, his relationships and the way in which he carried out himself.  He was generally criticised for believing within the messiah-like qualities that adoring readers and mates credited him with.   He thought of and wrote a few quantity of points, starting from language, society, politics, atmosphere, modernism, the standing of ladies and tradition.

The biography offers an in depth account of Agyeya’s father’s skilled life, his personal childhood and the early influences that formed his considering and character. The distinction Agyeya made between dharma and faith could also be debatable however is attention-grabbing however as he envisages the previous as one thing that imbibes whereas the latter binds.  Similarly, the concept “self-consciousness concerning the freedom of others is the actual freedom… The declare of ‘I’ is animal intuition, declare for others is humanity” is a noteworthy articulation of the idea of democracy and the thought of civil rights.

The elusive nature of his character evokes Howard Roark of Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead as the assorted individuals who inhabit his life, particularly ladies, uncover however fail to flee the results of his sturdy charisma. But readers who strategy this ebook with hopes of salacious descriptions of the assorted loves of Agyeya’s life might be disenchanted.

The voluminous data that Agyeya saved of his life and relationships are exceptional for the sunshine they throw on this man’s life and journey.  Akshaya Mukul has admirably managed to not deliver out a hagiography and his dispassionate descriptions, supported by references to letters, books, and so on., flesh out the determine of a public mental whose life was largely internally lived — bearing out his personal phrases that “poetry is de facto an association of silences between phrases”. As the ebook involves a conclusion, one is left with an odd feeling of loss akin to that of an expensive, deeply beloved, pal.

Writer Rebel Soldier Lover: The Many Lives of Agyeya  

 By Akshaya Mukul                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Vintage Penguin Random House

pp. 779, Rs 999

: .