Saturday, March 9, 2013

Some Reflections on Origin and Development of Science Fiction in Hindi Language

Origin and Development of Science Fiction in Hindi Language 
(Not for final use  as it may need certain editing and correction of data based on the inputs of audience of the conference and this blog)

Arvind Mishra*, Bhise Ram** and Arvind Dubey *** 

*Secretary, Indian Science Fiction Writers’ Association, 

Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh, India 

**Assistant Professor, Communication Skills, Department of FE &H, 

Saraswati College of Engineering, Khargpur, Navi Mumbai -410209 

***Assistant Editor, Kalkion, (Hindi), 

Despite the  upsurge in sf writing of the 90's of last century the genre is  largely neglected in India. The main rejection of the genre comes  from the traditional literati who do not consider it to posses the  literary merits. Therefore the onus is on science fiction writers in India to collate their efforts and try to boost the status of Indian sf not in intra-country languages [and there are 24 constitutionally recognized] only but also at the international level. Unfortunately the efforts of Indian Sf writers so far seem to be divided and scattered in the form of contributions from writers in Hindi , Marathi, Kannada, and Bengala and so on so forth. There is an urgent need that all such creative talents join hands and consolidate their efforts under just one  banner of ‘Indian Science Fiction’. 
Present paper deals with a brief account of origin and development of sf writing in Hindi language. It may encourage writers from other languages to compile the origins and developments of sf writings in their own mother tongues in order to facilitate documentation of a comprehensive account of sf writing in whole India. 

History of modern Hindi sf literature dates back to the end of nineteenth century when first Hindi science fiction work “AASHCARYA VRITTANT ( A Strange Tale) by Pandit Ambika Datta Vyas was  published in 1884, in “PIYUSH PRAVAH”, a popular contemporary Hindi magazine from Madhya Pradesh. For the sake of convenience we may divide Hindi science fiction in- Proto science fiction, Pseudo science fiction and modern science fiction. Proto science fiction means the scientific fiction written before recognition of SF as a separate genre in Hindi literature.
Traces of science fiction in India could even be found as far back as in 1500 BC in the ancient Vedic literature. There are numerous descriptions of unidentified flying objects referred to as “Vimanas “ which are depicted to be of  two types- man made crafts that resemble airplanes and fly with the aid of birdlike wings or un-streamlined structures that fly in a clandestine manner and were  generally not made by human beings.  A well talked about example being the Puspak Viman . 

More Sf in Ancient Literature 

There are many anecdotes, stories and passing references found in our sacred books such as Puranas, Upanishads, Brahmans and mythological literature like Mahabharat and Rmayana having  sf elements.   Among these Srimad Bhaagvat, Mahabharat and Ramayana are full of what we could call proto - science fiction stories, which may not need  further elaboration. Many scholars of Indian science fiction do not consider these anecdotes, as pure sf because they see no science in them . But science is an ever developing domain. When these books were written in 1000 to 1500 BC, scientific concepts would have been in very primitive stage. Mental energy was only powerful gadget available to these writers to stretch their imaginations. So they  imagined to do the impossible things made possible with the advent of appropriate technology . Safely it could be said that these creative works were within  the limits of the science of that era. Don’t we accept even implausible fantasy of Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury and Frankstien by Mary Shally as a work of science fiction? Now when scholars are tracing the history of Science fiction to “Epic of Gilgamesh', a seventh century epic poem from ancient Iraq, a serious thought may be given to certain ancient Indian stories  in the realms of  proto sf in India . 

Proto Sf in Tilism Writings of Hindi Literature 
This is a literature( The Tilism)  which apparently looks like the work of science fiction but in reality they are not based on scientific principles.. Devaki Nandan Khatri, is credited to be the first author of Tilism novels in Hindi. His classical work is “Chadrakanta”, published in 1918. People from non Hindi speaking areas were so mesmerized by novel  Chandrakanta and the later works named Chandrakanta Santati and Bhootnath that many of them learned Hindi to be able to read these novels.. Though these “Tilism” stories, cannot be classified as true science fiction yet they prepare ground for development of science fiction in Hindi. Besides, there were many pseudo Science Fiction stories appeared in the form of novelettes, comics published on poor quality papers and were termed as “Pulp Science fiction”.

Father of Modern Hindi SF and other Prominent Authors 

The credit for being the father of Hindi  science fiction is given to Acharya Chatursen. He wrote more than 400 books during his lifetime comprising  novels based on a fine blend of historical events, mythology and  social issues.Of  the 400 books, he only wrote three science fiction novels: Khagras (The Eclipsed Moon), Neelmani (The Sapphire), and Adbhut Manav (The Amazing Man). Similarly, following in Chatursen's footsteps, author Guru Dutt wrote almost an equal number of social and historical novels, yet only had one science fiction novel titled Sangarsh (The Struggle) which  dealt with the social problems brought about from geriatrics and the fountain of youth based on cellular regeneration. 
With the publication of “Ashcharya Vritant”in 1884 as earlier stated the era of modern science fiction began and further got consolidated with the appearance of Hindi magazine “Saraswati” in the year 1900, In its sixth issue of opening year a land mark story, “Chandralok Ki Yatra” by Keshav Prasad Singh was published, which is though seems to be influenced by Jules Verne’s ‘Five week in a balloon’ but is considered an original contribution to Hindi sf literature. Many science fiction stories were later published in Saraswati. Besides Saraswati other popular magazines also initiated sf publication and by the end of 6th decade of 20th century, publication of Saraswati unfortunately stopped and Sarika and Dharmyug too met the same fate later.
Among many sf writers of 80’s in last Harish Goyal and Arvind Mishra need a special mention. Harish Goyal is credited to have written maximum number of sf novels. Though a critic of Hindi sf literature Arvind Dubey once quipped that as quantity always takes its toll from quality Harish Goyal’s SF is no exception. Arvind Dubey futher said that Arvind Mishra not only wrote many wonderful science fiction stories but  also devoted his efforts to the preservation, restoration and establishing Sf as a separate genre in Hindi. According to Arvind Dubey   first science fiction story anthology of Arvind Mishra entitled  “Ek Aur Kraunch Vadh” (One More Killing Of A Crane) included a   story “Antariksh Kokila”  which is a must read item for the new comers . He claimed this anthology to be as as a “primer of Hindi science fiction”.

Hindi Sf Novels and Writers’ Workshops 
A famous novel “Niyogita Nari” by Yamuna Datt Vaishnav “Ashok” and Zakir Ali Rajneesh’s novel “Guinea Pig” have  been in discussion for long. In recent  years, many more Hindi science fiction novels have come up which is an encouraging trend . Most of the  plays  written in Hindi science fiction are mainly Radio plays. and are  mostly transformation of existing Hindi science fiction stories.  Many innovative science writing workshops organized by Bhartiya Vigyan Katha Lekhak Samiti Faizabad(Indian Science Fiction Writers' Association) in later years of 1990's  resulted into number of good Hindi science fiction plays for radio, television and for stage as well. It is interesting to note that these plays were written by the participants, the budding Hindi science fiction writers during the workshops organized in collaboration with  NCSTS (DST). Satire, Comedy, poetry and Folk are the latest  preferred sub genres in Hindi science fiction.

Zeashan Haider Zaidi is only author who has written much comedy sf.  Arvind Dubey has wriiten three Classical Nautanki in Hindi science fiction, produced by Central production unit of All India Radio and were also broadcast in a multi language, 156 episode radio serial “Manav Ka Vikas”, jointly produced by All India Radio and NCSTC, New Delhi. Puppetry has also been employed in presenting “Buddha Future” a comedy sf written by Zeashan Haider Zaidi. A recent puppetry show was also staged during National discussion on science fiction in Varanasi(2009) .
Under the president ship of Dr.Rajiv Ranjan Upadhyaya a Hindi science fiction veteran, Bhartiya Vigyan Katha Lekhak Samiti Fizabad (U.P) came into existence in 1995. Secretary is Dr. Arvind Misra. In its quarterly publication “Vigyan Katha”, association has not only provided  a platform for contemporary writers but has also been publishing  stories of Hindi science fiction veterans. 
Many innovative workshops were organized jointly by Bhartiya Vigyan Katha Lekhak Samiti Fizabad (U.P) and NCSTC, New Delhi at various places in Uttar pradesh  Tips of science fiction writing were given to budding writers by the experts. As a pleasant surprise many good Hindi science fiction stories came out of these workshops. 

Hindi science fiction in present century 
Present scenario of Hindi science fiction is not encouraging as there is long silence and new writers seem to be not interested in this genre. Though old generation of writers is still active yet there is apparent stagnation in Hindi science fiction writing.Despite the  upsurge in sf writing of the 90's of last century the genre is  largely neglected in India. It is ironical that  main rejection of the genre comes  from the traditional literati itself who do not consider the genre  to posses the  literary merits.
The onus of glamorizing the genre today In India  is on science fiction writers of the country by  collating  their efforts and try to boost the status of Indian sf not only  in intra-country languages [and there are 24 constitutionally recognized]  but also at the international levels Unfortunately the efforts of Indian Sf writers so far seem to be divided and scattered in the form of contributions from writers in Hindi , Marathi, Kannada, and Bengala and so on so forth. There is an urgent need that all such creative talents join hands and consolidate their efforts under just one apt  banner of ‘Indian Science Fiction’. 


1. Mishra Arvind and Harish Goyal (2012), ‘The origins’ Down to Earth, 1-15 January, 2012,,2 

2. Arvind Mishra and Manish Mohan Gore (2011), Science Fiction in Hindi, 

Internova, Edited by Michael Iwoliet, 

3. “Vimanas of Ancient India.”

4. Gupta, Cyril (2005). Science Fiction in India. 5. It Happened Tomorrow: A Collection of 19 Select Science Fiction Stories from Various Indian Languages. Ed. Bal Phondke. New Delhi: National Book Trust, 1993.

6. Hevil Shah (2005), Science Fiction in India,

Paper presented in FIRST WORLD CONFERENCE ON ‘SCIENCE FICTION STUDIES’ IN INDIA (held in Pune,India 1-2 February,2013)