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Day 1 – Q 2.What is ‘Romanticism’? Explain. Discuss the trends of romanticism in Indian literature.

2. What is ‘Romanticism’? Explain. Discuss the trends of romanticism in Indian literature.

स्वच्छंदतावाद क्या है? स्पष्ट करें। भारतीय साहित्य में स्वच्छंदतावाद की प्रवृत्ति पर चर्चा करें।


Romanticism, a cultural movement which sought to develop a particular form of nationalist sentiment. Romantic artists and poets generally criticized the glorification of reason and science and focused instead on emotions, intuition and mystical feelings. Their effort was to create a sense of a shared collective heritage, a common cultural past, as the basis of a nation. 


  • Romantics such as the German philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder (1744-1803) claimed that true German culture was to be discovered among the common people – das volk. It was through folk songs, folk poetry and folk dances that the true spirit of the nation (volksgeist) was popularised. So collecting and recording these forms of folk culture was essential to the project of nation-building. 
  • The emphasis on vernacular language and the collection of local folklore was not just to recover an ancient national spirit, but also to carry the modern nationalist message to large audiences who were mostly illiterate. 

The trends of romanticism in Indian literature

  • The trend of Indian romanticism ushered in by three great forces influenced the destiny of modern Indian literature. These forces were Sri Aurobindo’s *(1872-1950) search for the divine in man, Tagore’s quest for the beautiful in nature and man, and Mahatma Gandhi’s experiments with truth and non-violence. 
  • Sri Aurobindo, through his poetry and philosophical treatise, ‘The Life Divine’, presents the prospect of the ultimate revelation of divinity in everything. He wrote mostly in English. 
  • Tagore’s quest for beauty was a spiritual quest, which attained fruition in the final realisation that service to humanity was the best form of contact with God. Tagore was aware of a supreme principle pervading nature and the entire universe. This supreme principle, or the unknown mystique, is beautiful, because it shines through the known; and it is only in the unknown that we have perpetual freedom. Tagore, a many-splendoured genius, wrote novels, short stories, essays and dramas, and never ceased to try out new experiments. 
  • The age of romantic poetry in Hindi is known as Chhayavad, the age of romantic mystery, in Kannada, is Navodaya, the rising sun, and in Oriya, it is known as Sabuj, the age of green. Jaishankar Prasad, Nirala, Sumitra Nandan Pant and Mahadevi (Hindi); Vallathol, Kumaran Asan (Malayalam); Kalindi Charan Panigrahi (Oriya); B.M. Srikantayya, Puttappa, Bendre (Kannada); Viswanath Satyanarayana (Telugu); Uma Shankar Joshi (Gujarati), and poets of other languages highlighted mysticism and romantic subjectivity in their poetry.
  • The poets of Ravikiran Mandal (a group of six poets of Marathi) searched for the hidden reality in nature. Indian romanticism is fraught with mysticism – not like English romanticism, which wants to break puritanic shackles, seeking joy in Hellenism. 
  • In fact, the romantic trend of the modern times follows the tradition of Indian poetry, where romanticism indicates the Vedantic (the philosophy of one Reality) oneness between Nature and man, more along the lines of Vedic symbolism and not Paganism. Muhammad Iqbal (1877-198), the greatest poet that Urdu had produced, second only to Ghalib, went through initially a romantic-cum-nationalistic phase in his poetry. His best collection of Urdu poems is Bang-i-Dara (1924). His quest for Pan-Islamism did not deter him in his concern for humanity at large.


Thus, Romanticism was a cultural movement that believed in emotions, intuitions and mystical feelings over reason and science. They tried to evoke the feelings of a common past and shared heritage.


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