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Mahasweta Devi (Bengali: মহাশ্বেতা দেবী Môhashsheta Debi) (born 1926 in Dhakamarker in what is now Bangladeshmarker) is an Indianmarker social activist and writer.


Mahasweta Devi was born in 1926 in Dhakamarker, to literary parents. Her father Manish Ghatak was a poet, novelist , a social activist and deeply involved with IPTA, and elder brother of noted filmmaker Ritwik Ghatak, and her mother Dharitri Devi was also a writer and a social worker. Her first schooling was in Dhaka, but after the partition of India she moved to West Bengal in India. She joined the Rabindranath Tagore founded Vishvabharati University in Santiniketanmarker and completed a B.A. (Hons) in English, and then finished an M.A. in English at Calcutta University as well. She later married renowned playwright and actor Bijon Bhattacharya.


In 1964, she began teaching at Bijoygarh College (an affiliated college of the University of Calcutta system). During those days, Bijoygarh College was an institution for working class women students. Also during that period, she also worked as a journalist and as a creative writer. Recently, she is more famous for her work related to the study of the Lodhas and Shabars,the tribal communities of West Bengalmarker, women and dalits. She is also an activist who is dedicated to the struggles of tribal people in Biharmarker, Madhya Pradeshmarker and Chhattisgarhmarker. In her elaborate Bengali fiction, she often depicts the brutal oppression of tribal peoples and the untouchables by potent, authoritarian upper-caste landlords, lenders, and venal government officials. She has written of the source of her inspiration:

I have always believed that the real history is made by ordinary people.
I constantly come across the reappearance, in various forms, of folklore, ballads, myths and legends, carried by ordinary people across generations....The reason and inspiration for my writing are those people who are exploited and used, and yet do not accept defeat.
For me, the endless source of ingredients for writing is in these amazingly, noble, suffering human beings.
Why should I look for my raw material elsewhere, once I have started knowing them?
Sometimes it seems to me that my writing is really their doing.

At the Frankfurt Book Fair 2006, when India was the first country to be the Fair's second time guest nation, she made an impassioned inaugural speech wherein she moved the audience to tears with her lines taken from the famous film song by Raj Kapoor (the English equivalent is in brackets):

This is truly the age where the Joota (shoe) is Japani (Japanese), Patloon (pants) is Englistani (British), the Topi (hat) is Roosi (Russian), But the Dil...
Dil (heart) is always Hindustani (Indian)...
My country, Torn, Tattered, Proud, Beautiful, Hot, Humid, Cold, Sandy, Shining India.
My country.

Recent Activism

Mahasweta Devi has recently been spearheading the movement against the industrial policy of the government of West Bengal, the state of her domicile. Specifically, she has stridently criticized confiscation of large tracts of fertile agricultural land from farmers by the government and ceding the land to industrial houses at throwaway prices. She has connected the policy to the commercialization of Santiniketanmarker of Rabindranath Tagore, where she spent her formative years. Her lead resulted in a number of intellectuals, artists, writers and theatre workers join in protesting the controversial policy and particularly its implementation in Singurmarker and Nandigrammarker.

Recently she praised Gujaratmarker for strides made in development at the grassroots level and criticised the West Bengalmarker government saying that 30 years of Left rule has achieved "very little" in that state.

She is also in the long list of Man Booker International Prize with Nobel Laureate V S Naipaul as a main contender.Along with her is The 14 authors on the list are: Peter Carey (Australia), Evan S. Connell (USA), Mahasweta Devi (India), E.L. Doctorow (USA), James Kelman (UK), Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru), Arnošt Lustig (Czechoslovakia), Alice Munro (Canada), V.S. Naipaul (Trinidad/India), Joyce Carol Oates (USA), Antonio Tabucchi (Italy), Ngugi Wa Thiong'O (Kenya), and Dubravka Ugresic (Croatia), Ludmila Ulitskaya (Russia).--parvez 14:46, 19 March 2009 (UTC)


  • Hajar Churashir Ma (No. 1084's Mother, 1975)
  • Aranyer Adhikar (The Occupation of the Forest, 1977)
  • Agnigarbha (Womb of Fire, 1978)
  • Bitter Soil tr, Ipsita Chandra. Seagull, 1998. Four stories.
  • Choti Munda evam Tar Tir (Choti Munda and His Arrow, 1980)
  • Imaginary Maps (translated by Gayatri Spivak London & New York. Routledge,1995)
  • Dhowli (Short Story)
  • Dust on the Road (Translated into English by Maitrayee Ghatak. Seagull, Calcutta.)
  • Our Non-Veg Cow (Seagull Books, Calcutta, 1998. Translated from Bengali by Paramita Banerjee.)
  • Bashai Tudu (Translated into English by Gayatri Chakraborty Spivak and Shamik Bandyopadhyay. Thima, Calcutta, 1993)
  • Titu Mir
  • Rudali
  • Breast Stories (Translated into English by Gayatri Chakraborty Spivak. Seagull, Calcutta, 1997)
  • Of Women, Outcasts, Peasants, and Rebels (Translated into English By Kalpana Bardhan,University of California, 1990.) Six stories.
  • Ek-kori's Dream (Translated into English by Lila Majumdar. N.B.T., 1976)
  • The Book of the Hunter (Seagull India, 2002)
  • Outcast (Seagull, India, 2002)
  • In Other Worlds: Essays in Cultural Politics (Translated into English by Gayatri Chakraborty Spivak. Methuyen and Company, 1987. New York, London)
  • Till Death Do Us Part
  • Old Women
  • Kulaputra (Translated into Kannada by Sreemathi H.S. CVG Publications, Bangalore)
  • The Why-Why Girl (Tulika, Chennai.)
  • Dakatey Kahini

Films based on Mahasweta Devi's works

Major awards


External links

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