Introduction in short
Gulab Khandelwal started writing poetry at an early age. His first volume of poems was published in 1941 with preface by the famous poet Suryakant Tripathi ‘Nirala’. Since then, 73 books have been published, including more than 50 volumes of poems and 2 dramatic works in prose, some of which have been digitised by the Digital Library of India. Six of his books have received awards from the Uttar Pradesh government and one has received an award from the Bihar government. Some of his books were selected as textbooks for colleges in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, with Alok Vritt used in the intermediate board in Uttar Pradesh, India, since 1976.
Mahakavi Gulab translated some of his poems in English in Gulab Khandelwal: Selected Poems, which was published in 1986 with preface by Dr. Karan Singh, ex-Prince of Kashmir. In recognition of this and his achievements in his literary career, he was awarded honorary citizenship of Baltimore City, USA on 13th July, 1985. Furthermore, both the mayor of the City of Baltimore and the governor of Maryland state declared this day as Hindi Day.
Mahakavi Gulab was the president of Archana, a literary society of Kolkata founded in the fifties and presided over many events organized by multiple literary organizations. He was the president of Akhil Bhartiya Hindi Sahitya Sammelan, Prayag, for 18 years. He was also the president of Bharati Parishad, an organisation founded by Mahamana Madan Mohan Malaviya. For 15 years, he was the senior member of the editorial board of Vishwa, a literary magazine by the International Hindi Association. He was also the president of the International Hindi Association.
Mahakavi Gulab lived mostly in the USA, but visited India every year. Till his death, he was active in his literary pursuit. In addition to his involvement in the Indian literary organizations, he also worked extensively with Indian organizations in the United States. He presided on meetings in New York on Vishwa Hindi Sammelan, an organization which strives towards the firm establishment of the Hindi language. At the age of 82, he wrote his auto-biography ज़िन्दगी है कोई किताब नहीं (Zindagi Hai Koi Kitaab Nahi).
Literary Bio Data of Poet Gulab Khandelwal
(February 21, 1924 – July 2, 2017)
Gulab Khandelwal was born in the town of Navalgarh, Rajasthan (India), on 21st Feb 1924. He received his early education in Gaya, Bihar (India). He graduated from Banaras Hindu University, Banaras, U.P. (India) in 1943. While in Banaras, he came into contact with the great luminaries of Hindi Literature: poets like Maithili Sharan Gupt, Hariaudh Ji, Bachchan Ji and Bedhab Ji; critics like Pt. Ramchandra Shukla, Nand Dulare Bajpayee and Pt. Shri Narayan Chaturvedi; and scholars like Sampoorna Nand Ji, Kamla Pati Tripathi and Sitaram Chaturvedi. As a result, his inborn poetic faculty matured. At the age of 17, his first volume of poems ‘Kavita’ was published in 1941 with a preface by the famous poet Suryakant Tripathi ‘Nirala’. Since then, more than 50 volumes of his poems, 2 dramatic works in prose and one autobiography have been published. Some of his works have been digitalized as well in the Digital Library of India.
Gulabji wrote poetry in different forms such as Epics, Lyrics, Sonnets, Rubais (Quatrains), Dohas (Couplets), Odes, Elegies, Lyrical Ballads, Poetic Dramas, Ghazals, and Masnavi, with equal felicity. He wrote poetry in both Urdu and Hindi, and even introduced some of these forms into Hindi Literature. The span of his poetic language touched upon Sanskrit on the one end and Urdu on the other.
In addition to Hindi and Urdu, Gulabji also wrote poems in English language, which made him known in places outside of India, such as U.S.A. and Canada. He translated some of his poems into English in Gulab Khandelwal: Selected Poems, which was published in 1986 with the preface by Dr. Karan Singh, ex-Prince of Kashmir. His original English poems were published as The Evening Rose, setting his place among English poets. His latest book Omar Khaiyyam and the Scholar is still unpublished.
His ideals in poetry were Tulsidas, Kabirdas, Ravindranath Tagore and Shakespeare, among others. He had a deep admiration for the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi. In his 2013 book Rabindranath: Hindi Ke Darpan Mein, Gulabji did poetic translation from Bangla to Hindi of his favorite poems written by Ravindranath Tagore.
Over the course of his lifetime, he was honored by numerous literary and non-literary institutions in India, Canada, and U.S.A.
Six of his books – Usha, Roop Ki Dhoop, Sau Gulab Khile, Kuchh Aur Gulab, Ahalya and Har Subah Ek Taza Gulab – were presented awards by Hindi Sansthan (U.P. Government, India) over various years. Adhunik Kavi-19 was awarded by Bihar Government in 1989. Some of his books have been used as textbooks for various colleges at different times. His khand-kavya Alok-Vritt has been in the Intermediate Board in Uttar Pradesh (India) since 1976.
Gulab Khandelwal was awarded the Honorary Citizenship of Baltimore City (U.S.A.) on 13th July 1985 “for his achievements and eminent gifts to our times.” And this day was declared as Hindi Day in the entire state of Maryland by the Maryland Governor. He was awarded the Vishisht Samman (Special Literary Award) by the Antar-Rashtriya Hindi Samiti, Washington D.C. (U.S.A.) on 6th Dec 1986. He was conferred the highest honor of Sahitya Vachaspati (equivalent to the degree of Ph. D.), by Akhil Bharatiya Hindi Sahitya Sammelan (India), under the president-ship of Padma Bhushan Dr. Ram Kumar Verma, in 1989.
Two of his books, Bhakti-Ganga and Tilak Kare Raghubeer, were released by the President of India, honorable Shri Shankar Dayal Sharma, in 1997. On 10th October 1998, he was honored by Alberta Hindi Parishad, Edmonton (Canada). In 2001 in Itawa (India), he was felicitated jointly by the then Governor of U.P. Shri Vishnukant Shastri, ex-Chief Minister of U.P. Shri Mulayam Singh Yadav, Pujya Murari Bapu, and ex-Attorney General Shri Shanti Bhushan.
On Republic Day celebration of India, 2006, he was honored and the title of ‘Kavi Samrat’ was bestowed upon him by the Governor of Maryland, U.S.A. On 28th April 2013, Antar-Rashtriya Hindi Samiti, Ohio (U.S.A), felicitated him the title of ‘Aaj Ke Tulsidas’ for his contributions to the Hindi Literature. On 22nd April 2017, Bazm-E-Sukhan of Ohio, USA, awarded him the Lifetime Achievement Award.
He was the president of Hindi Sahitya Sammelan, Prayag (India), since 1989, a post in which he got elected six times consecutively and unanimously, and held for more than twenty years. In 2007 he became the president of Bharti Parishad, Allahabad (India), an organization founded by Mahamana Malviya Ji in 1910. He had been the senior most member of the editorial board of ‘Vishwa’, a literary journal by International Hindi Association (U.S.A.). Gulab Khandelwal had been the president of ‘Archana,’ a literary society of Kolkata, India, founded in the 1950s.
Seven people have been awarded degree of Ph. D. on Gulabji’s literature from various universities in India and three more are currently in progress. Dissertation for M.A. degree has also been done on this literature.
Gulab Khandelwal is Hindi Literature’s gem and one of the greatest contemporary Hindi poets. Even while living in the U.S.A. he always dedicated himself to Hindi Language and Literature, and promoted Hindi worldwide. He was writing poems and active till his last breath. His poetry is unparalleled in both quality and quantity. The full potential of his poetic work is yet to be discovered.