The story goes that Mahadevi Varma (also spelt as Verma) was a student at Crosthwaite School for Girls when her talent for poetry was discovered by her friend, Subhadra Kumari Chauhan.
Subhadra, even at that early age, was already making a name for herself as a poet (a harbinger of the widespread recognition that was to soon follow), and in her friend's secret jottings, she found a similar spark.
The girls, joined by their love for poetry, would spend hours writing verse while their peers played or indulged in other pastimes.
Subhadra was right in her assessment: her friend's poetry was special. Like Subhadra, Mahadevi Varma too came to be known as one of India's leading poets who the Google Doodle for 27 April 2018 celebrates.
Mahadevi Varma was born in 1907 in Farukkhabad. Her father was a professor of English, and while the family got Mahadevi married at the age of nine, they also emphasised on a quality education for her, an opportunity she utilised fully.
After Subhadra Kumari Chauhan discovered that Mahadevi wrote poetry too, the young students became sending submissions to literary magazines together, attending 'kavi sammelans' and conferences.
Mahadevi earned her Master's degree in Sanskrit from Allahabad University and then began working as a teacher. In 1933, she became the principal of the Prayag Mahila Vidyapeeth in Allahabad.
Even as she taught, Mahadevi kept writing as well. Her evocative verses made her into one of the leading figures of the Chhayavaad movement of Hindi poetry. Her fellow poets in the movement included Suryakant Tripathi 'Nirala' and Sumitranandan Pant. Mahadevi's memoirs of her childhood, Mere Bachpan Ke Din and Gilli, also proved to be popular.
The entry for Mahadevi Varma in the Encylopaedia Brittania reads: "...her verse carries an intense underlying pathos... Varma's support for women’s rights runs throughout her prose writings..."
Indeed, Varma was a champion for the girl child and women's rights.
For her literary contributions, Mahadevi was honoured with a Padma Bhushan, Sahitya Akademi Award and Jnanpith Award.
Mahadevi Varma died in September 1987, aged 80. Her poetry, however, lives on.
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Updated Date: Apr 27, 2018 13:45:42 IST