The Poetess of India Who Fought for Freedom – Subhadra Kumari Chauhan

Written by Syeda Ghaniyah Ali & Edited by Kimberly Anne

Subhadra Kumari Chauhan was a renowned Indian poetess and advocate for freedom. She was born in the Uttar Pradesh village of Nihalpur, in Prayagraj District. She was the first female Satyagrahi to be court-arrested in Nagpur and spent two years in prison for her participation in anti-British rallies in 1923 and 1942.
Subhadra – Oil on Canvas by Rajasekharan Parameswaran

Who was Subhadra Kumari Chauhan?

Subhadra Kumari Chauhan was a renowned Indian poetess and advocate for freedom. Subhadra Kumari Chauhan was the first female Satyagrahi to be court-arrested in Nagpur and was sent to prison twice for her participation in anti-British rallies in 1923 and 1942. The first time she was sent to prison she was 18 years old and pregnant.

Satyagrahi (/ (ˈsʌtjəˌɡrʌhiː) / noun. an advocate for nonviolent resistance, especially when used for political protest.)

She was born in the Uttar Pradesh village of Nihalpur, in Prayagraj District. She wed Khandwa’s Thakured Thakur Lakshman Singh Chauhan when she was sixteen years old. They had five kids together.

Subhadra’s life demonstrates tenacity, drive, and compassion. Her life is inspiring since she produced excellent literary works despite financial hardships, health issues, jail periods, and a life spent assisting the poor and oppressed. Her writing achievements reflect her courage, compassion, tenacity, and affection.

Most Famous Poem by Subhadra Kumari

Chauhan created several famous pieces in Hindi poetry. Her most renowned piece is Jhansi Ki Rani, a powerful and emotional poem portraying the life of Rani Lakshmi Bai. Her poetry is among the most recited and sung pieces in Hindi literature.

In India, schools frequently cover the life of the princess of Jhansi (British India) and her involvement in the 1857 movement in an emotionally charged manner.

The Poetess of India Who Fought for Freedom - Subhadra Kumari Chauhan
Photo credit: Newsflicks

The Central Theme of Most of her Poems

Subhadra Kumari Chauhan’s early women’s poetry and writing focused on the adversity faced by Indian women, such as caste and gender oppression. 

Her poems remained distinctively marked by her unwavering nationalism. She used her poems to inspire people to fight for their nation’s freedom as a part of the Indian Nationalist Movement.

Achievements in Her Writing Career 

After the success of “Jhansi ki Rani” her other best poems, like Jallianwala Bagh mein Vasant, Veeron Ka Kaisa Ho Basant, Rakhi Ki Chunauta, and Vida, discuss the freedom movement openly. These poems have encouraged many young Indians to join the Indian Freedom Movement. 

The Indian poetess and freedom fighter Subhadra Kumari Chauhan wrote in a straightforward, Khariboli-accented form of Hindi. In addition to heroic poetry, she also composed poems for children. She penned some short stories about the lives of the working class.

 Best Works of Literature by Subhadra Kumari Chauhan

The Indian prolific writer and poetess who made important contributions to the world of Hindi literature, Subhadra Kumari Chauhan, was known for her literature and bravery. Kumari was an enthusiastic freedom fighter who fought to awaken the youth and women of India to fight against oppression & social injustice. She was known for her involvement in the Indian independence movement.

The following are some of Subhadra Kumari Chauhan’s most notable literary works:

  • Sheresta Kahaniyan 
  • Kavitaen by Subhadra Kumari Chauhan 
  • Subhadra Kumari Chauhan Ki Lokpriya Kahaniyan
  • Sampoorna Kahaniyan 
  • Chuni Huyi Kahaniyan 
  • Khilonewala
  • Ye Kadham Ke Ped
  • Mera Naya Bachpan
  • Bikhare Moti 
  • Tridhara
  • Mukul
  • Hingwala
  • Seedhe Saade Chitra, and many more. 

Why did Subhadra Kumari Chauhan Go to Jail?

From 1858 until India and Pakistan’s independence in 1947, the Indian subcontinent was directly under British authority, or the British Raj. Two times, in 1923 and 1942, she was imprisoned for her participation in anti-British protests.

In 1921, the Chauhans became members of Mahatma Gandhi’s Non-Cooperation Movement in protest of British rule. Two years later, in 1923, they took on prominent leadership roles in Jabalpur during the Jhanda Satyagraha, also known as the Flag Satyagraha. This is when they would be arrested for their protests.

Photo credit: Slate

It was a protest in which nationalist flags were flown across the country to question the legality of British rule. – During this time, nationalist flags were flown across the country. – Subhadra Kumari Chauhan, who was just about 18 years old and pregnant then, was the first woman satyagraha to be sentenced to jail.

According to most of her devotees, her “Khoob Lari” poetry best depicted the life and spirit of Jhansi Ki Rani.

Her never-ending troubles and public appearances did not interfere with her lovely and deep bonds with her kids. She showed genuine compassion and determination in jail. Despite loving her children, she resisted advice to curtail her political activity (which would lead to jail).

She entered prison and left her three children, including Sudha her oldest, to fend for themselves. Second, despite the jail’s hard surroundings, she showered Mamta, her physically challenged child, with maternal attention while locked up.

When she was in lock-up, she committed all of her maternal care to protect and raise her baby to the best of her abilities despite the harsh conditions in which they were held. But besides these obstacles, as soon as she learned that ‘C’ class prisoners were being denied food, she hurried to find a way to give food to them. 

She did this even though she was aware that doing so would result in a punishment for her, making life more challenging for her and her daughter. Ultimately, this led to being placed in an even more precarious position.

This instinct to stand up for the oppressed and fight against the oppressor was a very important part of her personality. It led her always to take the path less traveled and choose the hardest option out of the ones she had.

In 1923, the tenacious and burgeoning revolutionary was taken into custody and transported to the Nagpur jail. She remained there for a few months before being freed since she was pregnant. She was blessed with the ability to give birth to her first child, Sudha, in the comfort of her own house in Jabalpur. 

Subhadra was elected to the Bihar Legislative Assembly in 1936 after serving as the head of the women’s section of the state Congress Committee of Madhya Pradesh during the 1930s.

Subhadra Kumari Chauhan’s Legacy? 

In her honor, the Indian Coast Guard ship ICGS Subhadra Kumari Chauhan was named after the poet. A statue of Subhadra Kumari Chauhan was erected by the state government of Madhya Pradesh and placed in front of the office of the Jabalpur Municipal Corporation.

On August 6, 1976, a commemorative postage stamp bearing her image was made available for purchase by the Indian Post. Subhadra Kumari Chauhan postage stamp.

On August 6, 1976, a commemorative postage stamp bearing her image was made available for purchase by the Indian Post.

On the 117th birth anniversary of Subhadra Kumari, the search engine Google honored her by dedicating a Doodle to the occasion on August 16, 2021.

Google made the following statement regarding Chauhan’s poetry: “Chauhan’s poetry remains a staple in many Indian classrooms as a sign of historical progress, inspiring future generations to stand up against social injustice and cherish the words that molded a nation’s past.”

– Google on Subhadra’s Birthday, 2021 Google Doodle

Is Subhadra Kumari Chauhan Still Alive?

Subhadra Kumari Chauhan died in a road accident near Sivni on February 15, 1948, while returning from Nagpur to Jabalpur after attending an educational conference. The sudden and untimely passing of someone who had led such an illuminating life and made many significant achievements saddened millions across the country.

Long after her death, Subhadra Kumari Chauhan’s contributions to literature, the liberation movement, social change, and service for the public good will continue to be celebrated and honored. 

Her performance as a political leader was characterized by a very strong commitment to public service, focusing on assisting the poor and opposing injustice, exactly the attributes the Congress leadership required most in the post-independence era.

Photo credit: Artquid, Lily in Wonderland

Unfortunately, such a prominent leader had to be taken from the country at the peak of her public career. 

Her children and grandchildren like Ishan Chauhan have worked on the English translations of a collection of Subhadra’s short works. In addition, the fascinating memoirs of Subhadra are being translated into English by writer and translator Professor Alok Rai, the son of Subhadra and Amrit.

Takeaway:

  • Subhadra Kumari Chauhan was a renowned Indian poetess and advocate for freedom. She was born in the Uttar Pradesh village of Nihalpur, in Prayagraj District. 
  • She was the first female Satyagrahi to be court-arrested in Nagpur and spent two years in prison for her participation in anti-British rallies in 1923 and 1942.
  • Chauhan created several famous pieces in Hindi poetry.
  • Her most renowned piece is Jhansi Ki Rani, a powerful and emotional poem portraying the life of Rani Lakshmi Bai.
  • Her poetry is among the most recited and sung pieces in Hindi literature.
  • Subhadra Kumari Chauhan’s early women’s poetry and writing focused on the adversity faced by Indian women, such as caste and gender oppression. 
  • The Indian prolific writer and poetess who made important contributions to the world of Hindi literature, Subhadra Kumari Chauhan, was known for her literature and bravery.
  • From 1858 until India and Pakistan’s independence in 1947, the Indian subcontinent was directly under British authority, or the British Raj.

But what about the remaining Indians for whom Subhadra fought so valiantly? Wouldn’t it be beautiful if the narrative of this 20th-century Jhansi Ki Rani was likewise conveyed to every youngster?

Written by: Syeda Ghaniyah Ali – Syeda Ghaniyah Ali is a Freelance Content Writer who creates content that is both interesting and SEO-friendly. She holds a Master’s degree in Economics and has been a blog, article, and scholarly writer since 2016. She is an extremely competent, enthusiastic, and self-motivated blogger with a five-year track record of achievement.

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