Celebrating Mahadevi Varma – Born in 1907, Mahadevi Varma was a transformative poet, essayist, and advocate for women’s rights in India. She spent her childhood near the city of Allahabad, where her father was a professor. While both parents encouraged their daughter to pursue her education, it was Varma’s mother who inspired her daughter to write in Sanskrit and Hindi.
While pursuing a masters degree in Sanskrit, Varma penned her first verses in secret — only to be discovered by her roommate and friend, Subhadra Kumari Chauhan (herself a well-known poet). As modern Hindi became more accepted in literary circles, Varma and Subhadra grew together as writers, reading aloud and publishing their work in the language. Today, Varma is considered one of the foundational poets of the Chhayavad movement in Hindi literature.
Varma’s poignant poetry, and later, essays, often centered on the experience of being a woman. Her feminist work appeared in magazines and books, and her collection of short stories, “Sketches from My Past,” portrays the women she encountered while principal of an all-girls school. While she was a firm supporter of women’s rights, Varma also explored the topics of tradition and the past with great fondness.
Varma received the Jnanpith Award on this date in 1982 for her outstanding contributions to Indian literature.
Doodle by guest artist Sonali Zohra
Early drafts of the Doodle below
You can find more about Celebrating Mahadevi Varma on the official Google Doodle Page