Suryakant Tripathi 'Nirala' (सूर्यकांत त्रिपाठी 'निराला') was one of the most famous figures of the modern Hindi literature. He was a poet, novelist, essayist and story-writer. He also drew many sketches.
Suryakant Tripathi 'Nirala', one of the most significant poets of modern Hindi, was born on February 21, 1896 in a Brahmin family of Midnapore in Bengal (originally from Unnao,Uttar Pradesh). He was also a famous poet of Hindi Kavi Sammelan. Though a student of Bengali, Nirala took keen interest in Sanskrit from the very beginning. In time, through his natural intelligence and acquired knowledge, he became an authority on various languages – Bengali, English, Sanskrit, and Hindi.
Nirala's life, barring short periods, was one long sequence of misfortunes and tragedies. His father, 'Pandit Ramsahaya Tripathi' was a government servant and was a tyrannical person. His mother died when he was very young. Nirala was educated in the Bengali medium. However, after passing matriculation exam, he continued his education at home by reading Sanskrit and English literature. Thereon he shifted to Lucknow and then to Village Gadhakola of District Unnao, to which his father originally belonged. Growing up, he took inspiration from personalities like, Ramakrishna Paramhans, Swami Vivekananda and Rabindranath Tagore.
After his marriage at a young age, Nirala learnt Hindi at the insistence of his wife, 'Manohara Devi'. Soon, he started writing poems in Hindi, instead of Bengali. After a bad childhood, Nirala had few good years with his wife. But this phase was short-lived as his wife died, when he was 20, and later his daughter (who was a widow) also expired. He also went through a financial crunch. During this phase, he worked for many publishers, worked as proof-reader and also edited Samanvaya.
Most of his life was somewhat in the Bohemian tradition. Since he was more or less a rebel, both in form and content, acceptance did not come easily. What he got in plenty was ridicule and derision. All this must have played a role in making him a victim of Schizophrenia in his later life. He wrote strongly against social injustice and exploitation in the society.
Nirala died in Allahabad on 15 October 1961. The world of Hindi literature is remarkable for ideological and aesthetic divisions. But today, the same reviled Nirala is one of the very few people in Hindi literature who are admired and respected by almost all, across all divisions.
Today, a park, Nirala Uddyan, an auditorium, Nirala Prekshagrah and a Degree College - Mahapran Nirala Degree College, in the Unnao district are named after him. His life size bust has been installed at the main market square of Daraganj, Allahabad, a place where he lived for most of his life. His family still lives in Daraganj, Allahabad.
Nirala pioneered the Chhayavaad (छायावाद) movement along with Jaishankar Prasad, Sumitranandan Pant (सुमित्रानंदन पंत) and Mahadevi Varma (महादेवी वर्मा). Nirala's Parimal (परिमल) and Anaamika (अनामिका) are considered as the original Chhayavaadi Hindi literature. He was unrecognized during his life. His style of poetry, revolutionary for his time, often was unpublished due to its unconventional nature. He voiced his protest against exploitation through his verses. He amalgamated Vedanta, nationalism, mysticism, and love for nature and progressive humanist ideals in his works. The sources of his themes include history, religion, nature, Puranas and contemporary social and political questions. He initiated the use of blank verse in his poems. He introduced aesthetic sense, love of nature, personal viewpoint and freedom of form and content in writing which went on to become the chief tenets of Chhayawad. His multifaceted genius, which ushered in a new style of poetry, acquired him a pseudonym, Nirala (unique). His poem Saroj Smriti is one of the greatest, showing his emotions and sentiments for his daughter. Nirala is also credited with bringing in free verse in the modern Hindi prose.
His thinking was influenced by Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa and Swami Vivekananda and in the literary field by Michael Mudhusudan Dutt and Rabindranath Tagore.