Sachchidananda Vatsyayan

Sachchidananda Vatsyayan
Sachchidananda Hirananda Vatsyayan 'Ajneya'
सच्‍चिदानन्‍द हीरानन्‍द वात्‍स्‍यायन 'अज्ञेय'
Born March 7, 1911(1911-03-07)
Kushinagar Village, Deoria District, Uttar Pradesh, British India
Died April 4, 1987(1987-04-04) (aged 76)
New Delhi, India
Occupation Writer, Novelist, Journalist, Traveler
Nationality Indian
Notable award(s) 1964: Sahitya Akademi Award
1978: Jnanpith Award
1983: Golden Wreath Award
Bharatbharati Award

Sachchidananda Hirananda Vatsyayana 'Agyeya' (सच्‍चिदानन्‍द हीरानन्‍द वात्‍स्‍यायन 'अज्ञेय') (March 7, 1911 – April 4, 1987), popularly known by his pen-name Ajneya ("Beyond comprehension"), was a pioneer of modern trends not only in the realm of Hindi poetry, but also fiction, criticism and journalism. He was one of the most prominent exponents of the Nayi Kavita (New Poetry) and Prayog (Experiments) in Modern Hindi literature,[1][2] edited the 'Saptaks', a literary series, and started Hindi newsweekly, Dinaman.[3]

Agyeya also translated some of his own works, as well as works of some other Indian authors to English. A few books of world literature he translated into Hindi also.


Early life and education

Sachchidananda Vatsyayana was born on March 7, 1911 in a tent at Kushinagar, Kushinagar district of Uttar Pradesh.[4] His father Hirananda was an archaeologist, and an expert in the Sanskrit language. His childhood was spent in many different places, including Gorakhpur, Lucknow, Nalanda, Udupi, Madras, Jalandhar, Jammu and Srinagar.

He did Intermediate from Madras Christian College in 1927, thereafter studied at Forman Christian College, Lahore, where he did his B.Sc. in Industrial Science 1929. After graduation he was included in Punjab University's "Cosmic Ray Expedition" to Kashmir under Prof. James Martin Baned. He joined M.A. English, but couldn't complete his studies as soon he joined the Indian independence movement's underground activities with Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad, Sukhdev and Yaspal. In November 1930 he was arrested under the fictitious identity of Mulla Mohammed Bux in Amritsar. He was kept in Lahore for one month, then spent three and a half years (1930–33) in jails of Delhi and Punjab in the infamous Delhi Conspiracy Case. Later he remained under house arrest for two months in the Fort and for two years at home. His classic novel-trilogy Shekhar: Ek Jivani was a product of those prison days. The third part of the novel was never published. In the beginning he was associated with the PWA (Progressive Writers Association) and was a member of the Anti-Fascist Front. He could not understand the purport of Japanese and INA incursions in the North-East as an essential part of Indian freedom struggle and served the Allied Forces for three years (1942–1946) also as a captain by mobilising the people's resistance against the enemy. He left the army when the war was over.


Agyeya edited "Sainik" from Agra (1936), "Vishal Bharat" from Calcutta (now Kolkata) (1936) and "Prateek" (1947) and "Naya Prateek" (1973) respectively from Allahabad and New Delhi. In English he edited "Vak" (1951) also.

He travelled extensively, both in India and abroad. Between 1961 and 1964, he held a visiting faculty position at the University of California, Berkeley.

In 1965, he returned to India and became Founder Editor of the newsweekly Dinaman of the Times of India Group. When the members of the Hungry generation or Bhookhi Peerhi movement were arrested and prosecuted for their anti-establishment writings, 'Ajneya' through Dinmaan relentlessly supported the young literary group of Kolkata till they were exonerated. His dispatches on Bihar's famous famine are considered milestones in pro-people reporting.

He remained in India till 1968, before embarking on a trip to Europe. In 1969 he returned to Berkeley as Regents Professor, and continued there till June, 1970. In 1976, he had an 8-month stint at Heidelberg University, as a Visiting Professor. Later he joined University of Jodhpur, Rajasthan as Professor and Head of the Deptt. of Comparative Literature.

He served as Editor of Jayprakash Narayan's Everyman's Weekly (1973–74) and Editor-in-Chief of Hindi daily Navbharat Times (1977–80) of the Times of India Group.

He died on April 4, 1987 in New Delhi.

Literary works

Poetry anthologies:

  • Bhagndoot (1933)
  • Chinta (1942)
  • Ityalam (1946)
  • Hari ghaas par kshan-bhar (1949)
  • Baawra aheri (1954)
  • Indradhanu raunde hue ye (1957)
  • Ari o karuna prabhamaya (1959)
  • Aangan ke paar dvaar (1961)
  • Poorva (1965)
  • Sunahale Shaivaal (1965)
  • Kitni naavon mein kitni baar (1967)
  • Kyonki main usei jaanta hoon (1969)
  • Saagar-mudra (1970)
  • Pahle main sannata bunta hoon (1973)
  • Mahavriksha ke neeche (1977)
  • Nadi ki baank par chhaya (1982)
  • Sadanira-1 (1986)
  • Sadanira-2 (1986)
  • Aisa koi ghar aapne dekha hai (1986)
  • Maruthal (1995)
  • Sarjana ke kshan (Selection)
  • Thaur thikaane (Handwritten, circulated zeroxed)
  • Karaawas ke din (Trans. from English by Uday Shankar Shrivastava)
  • Kavishri ( Ed. Shiyaram Sharan Gupt)
  • Aaj ke lokpriy kavi (Ed. Vidya Niwas Mishra)
  • Kaavya-stabak ( Ed by Vidya Niwas Mishra & Ramesh Chandra Shah)
  • Sannate ka chhand (Ed by Ashok Vajpeyi)
  • Ajneya: Sanklit kavitayen (Ed by Namvar Singh)


  • Shekhar: Ek Jeevani I (1941)
  • Shekhar: Ek Jeevani II (1944)
  • Shekhar: Ek Jeevni III (Unpublished)
  • Nadi ke dweep (1952)
  • Apne-apne ajnabi (1961)
  • Barahkhambha (co-writer, 1987)
  • Chhaya mekhal (Incomplete, 2000)
  • Beenu bhagat (Incomplete, 2000)

Stories anthologies:

  • Vipathga (1937)
  • Parmpara (1944)
  • Kothri ki baat (1945)
  • Sharnaarthi (1948)
  • Jaydol (1951)
  • Amarvallari tatha anya kahaniyan(1954)
  • Kadiayan tatha anya kahaniyan (1957)
  • Acchute phool tatha anya kahaniyan (1960)
  • Ye tere pratiroop (1961)
  • Jigyasa tatha anya kahaniyan (1965)
  • Meri priy kahaniyan (Selection,2004)
  • Chhorra hua rasta (Sampoorn kahanitan-1, 1975)
  • Lautti pagdandiyan (Sampoorn kahaniyan-2, 1975)
  • Sampoorn Kahaniyan (2005)
  • Adam Ki diary (Ed by Nand Kishore Acharya, 2002)


  • Uttar Priyadarshi


  • Arei Yayavar Rahega Yaad (1953)
  • Kirnon ki khoj mein (Selection,1955)
  • Ek Boond Sahsa Uchhli (1960)


  • Trishanku
  • Hindi sahitya: Ek adhunik paridrishya
  • Atmanepad
  • Aatmparak
  • Aalwaal
  • Likhi kagad kore
  • Jog likhi
  • Adyatan
  • Samvatsar
  • Smriti ke paridrishya
  • Srot aur setu
  • Vyakti aur vyavastha
  • Yug-sandhiyon par
  • Dhaar aur kinaare
  • Bhartiya kala drishti
  • Smritichhanda
  • Kendra aur paridhi
  • Srijan: kyon air kaise
  • Kavi-Nikash
  • Kavi-drishti (Prefaces)
  • Tadbhav (Selection by Ashok Vajpeyi)
  • Lekhak ka Dayittva (Ed by Nand Kishore Acharya)
  • Khule Mein Khada Ped (Ed by Nand Kishore Acharya)

Light Essyas:

  • Sab rang
  • Sab rang aur kuchh raag
  • Kahan hai dwaraka
  • Chhaya ka jangal


  • Bhavanti
  • Antara
  • Shaswati
  • Shesha
  • Kaviman (Ed by Ila Dalmia Koirala)


  • Smriti lekha
  • Smriti ke galiyaron se


  • Taar Saptak
  • Doosra Saptak
  • Teesra Saptak
  • Chautha Saptak
  • Pushkarini
  • Naye ekanki
  • Nehru abhinandan granth (co-editor)
  • Roopambara (Sumitrnandan Pant abhinandan granth)
  • Homvati smarak granth
  • Sarjan aur sampreshan
  • Sahitya ka parivesh
  • Sahity aur samaj parivartan
  • Samajik yatharth aur katha-bhasha
  • Samkaleen kavita mein chhand
  • Bhavishya aur sahitya
  • Indian Poetic Tradition (With Vidya Niwas Mishra and Leonard Nathan)


  • Naye Sahitya Srishta-1 Raghuveer Sahay: Seedihiyon par dhoop mein
  • Naye Sahitya Srishta-2 Sarveshawar Dayal Saxena: Kaath ki ghantiyan
  • Naye Sahitya Srishta-3 Ajit Kumar: Ankit hone do
  • Naye Sahitya Srishta-4 Shanti Mehrotra


  • Aparoksh, Ramesh Chandra Shah & others
  • Rachna: Kyon aur kinke beech, Sharad Kumar, Geeti Sen & Others
  • Agyeya Apne bare mein (AIR Archives), Raghuveer Sahay & Gopal Das
  • Kavi Nayak Ajneya, Ila Dalmia & Neelima Mathur

In English:

  • Prison days and other poems (Poetry)
  • A sense of time (Essays)

Selection (general): Sanchayita (Ed Nand Kishore Acharya)


  • Shrikant (Sharat Chandra, from Bangla, 1944)
  • Gora (Rabindranath Thakur, from Bangla)
  • Raja (Rabindranath Thakur, from Bangla)
  • Vivekanand (With Raghuvir Sahay, from Bangla)
  • The resignation (Jainendra Kumar, into English)
  • The seventh horse of the sun (Dharmveer Bharti, into English)
  • The Silent waters (Poems of Sarveshwar Dayal Saxena, in 'Thought'0
  • Vazir ka Feela (Ivo Andric, from English)
  • Mahayatra (Par Lagerkvist's trilogy, from English)

Self-translated works:

  • Islands in the stream (Nadi ke dweep, into English)
  • To each his stranger (Apne apne ajnabi, into English)
  • The unmastered lute and other poems (Asadhya Veena and other poems into English, Ed by Pritish Nandy)
  • The revolving rock and other poems (Chakrant Shila and other poems into English, Ed Pritish Nandy)
  • First Person, Second Person (Poems, into English with Leonard Nathan)
  • Signs and silences (Poems, into English with Leonard Nathan)
  • Nilambari (Poems, into English)
  • Truculent clay (Bhavanti, into English with Manas Mukul Das)
  • Preparing the ground (Antara, into English with Manas Mukul Das)

Translations in other languages: (Indian languages list too long)

  • German: Sekh Ktoratien (By Lothar Lutze)
  •  : Stand-orte (By Lothar Lutze)
  • Swedish: Den arket (By orten Al Bud)
  • Servo-Crotian: Catoetien
  •  : prvo liche drugo liche
  •  :Vsak ima svoyega tuicha (By Tregoslav Andrich)

Films on Ajneya:

  • Sarswat Van Ka Bavra Aheri, Producer Durgavati Singh, Doordarshan, New Delhi
  • Sannate ka Chhand, Dir. Pramod & Neelima Mathur, Vatsal Nidhi, New Delhi
  • Deep Akela, Dir. Pramod Mathur, MGAHVV, Wardha
  • Kavi Bharti, Bharat Bhawan, Bhopal

Awards and honours

  • Sahitya Akademi Award 1964 for Aangan Ke Par Dvar (Poetry).
  • Jnanpith Award in 1978, for 'Kitni Naavon mein kitni baar', and the anthology of poems.[5]
  • Bharatbharati Award
  • Golden Wreath Award for poetry in 1983.[6]

Dramatic productions

His verse play Uttar Priyadarshi, about the redemption of King Ashoka was adapted to stage and Manipuri, by theatre director, Ratan Thiyam in 1996, and since been performed by his group, in various parts of the world.[7][8]

Further reading

  • Ajneya: Kathakaar Aur Vicharak, by Vijay Mohan Singh, Parijat Prakashan, Patna
  • Ajneya aur Adhunik Racna ki Samasya, by Ramswarup Chaturvedi, Lokbharti, Allahabad
  • Ajneya aur Unka Sahitya, by Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari. National Publishing House, New Delhi
  • Ajneya: Ek Adhyayan, by Bholabhai Patel, Vani Prakashan, New Delhi
  • Ajneya: Van ka Chhand, by Vidya Niwas Mishra, Vani Prakashan, New Delhi
  • Ajneya ki Kavya Titirsha, by Nand Kishore Acharya, Vagdevi Prakashan, Bikaner
  • Adhunik Hindi Kavya mein Vyaktittva, Ajneya ke Vishesh Sandarbha mein, by Ramkamal Rai, Lokbharti, Allahabad
  • Shikhar Se Sagar Tak(Biography), by Ram Kamal Rai, National Publishing House, New Delhi
  • Ajneya Aur Unka Katha Sahitya, by Gopal Rai, Vani Prakashan, New Delhi
  • Ajneya Ki Kavita, by Chandrakant Bandivadekar, Vinod Pustak Mandir, Agra
  • Ajnyeya: Vichar ka Swaraj, by Krishna Dutt Paliwal, Pratibha Pratishthan, New Delhi
  • Ajneya: Kavi-karm ka Sankat, by Krishna Dutt Paliwal, Vani Prakashan, New Delhi
  • Ajneya ka Katha-sahitya, A. Arvindakshan, Kochin
  • Ajneya ka Antahprakriya Sahitya, by Mathuresh Nandan Kulshreshtha, Chitralekha Prakashan, Allahabad
  • Ajneya aur Poorvottar Bharat, Ed Rita Rani Paliwal, Vani Prakashan, New Delhi
  • Vagarth ka Vaibhav, by Ramesh Chandra Shah, Vani Prakashan, New Delhi
  • The Quest of Ajneya, by Roger Hardham Hooker. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, New Delhi
  • Alochak Ajneya ki Upasthiti, Krishna Dutt Paliwal, Vani Prakashan, New Delhi
  • Kavi Ajneya ki Saundarya Chetna, by Chandraprabha Baluja, Sahitya Prakashan, Meerut
  • Ajneya: Kavya Rachana ki Visheshtayein, by Krishna Sinha. Bihar Hindi Granth Akademi, Patna
  • Ajneya (Monograph), by Ramesh Chandra Shah, Sahitya Akedemi, New Delhi
  • Ajneya by Prabhakar Machve, Rajpal & Sons, Delhi
  • Ajneya ka Sansar, Ed by Ashok Vajpeyi, Pooroday Prakashan, New Delhi
  • Chhayavad ke Pariprekshya mein Ajneya ka Kavya, by Kamal Kumar, New Delhi
  • Ajneya ki Kavita: Parampara aur Prayog, by Ramesh Rishikalp, Vani Prakashan, New Delhi
  • Ajneya: Kuchh Rang Kuchh Raag, by Srilal Shukl, Prabhat Prakashan, New Delhi
  • Ajneya Vol.1 to Vol.5, Anthologies Ed by Harish Trivedi/ KD Paliwal, Roopa & Co., New Delhi
  • Apne Apne Ajneya, Vol.I & Vol.II, Ed by Om Thanvi, Vani Prakashan, New Delhi


External links

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