Posted by Sandesh Dixit on January 17, 2009
Baidyanath Mishra was born in Mithila in Satlakha, his mother’s village. His native village, Tarauni, is not far away from Satlakha. He was brought up in his native village. As per the tradition of those days, the child was admitted to a Sanskrit pathshala (school). Thereafter, he studied Sanskrit at Kashi and Calcutta and obtained the degree of ‘Sahitya Acharya’ in Sanskrit. But, Baba never took up a job. He grew to become a restless traveler, a Sanskritist, classicist scholar, poet and religious rebel. He came under the spell of the anti-colonial nationalism and joined the revolutionary peasant movement led by Swami Sahajanand Saraswati. His first poem was published in Maithili in 1930 under the pen-name ‘Yatri’. His association with Rahul Sankrtyayana led him to travels to Sri Lanka and conversion to Buddhism. He became a communist at the same time and started writing in Hindi under the name ‘Nagarjun’. In fact, he was called Baba Nagarjun. From 1934 to 1941, Nagarjuna toured various parts of India and even went abroad. He was very active in journalism too during this period. Meanwhile, his first poem in Hindi was published in 1935 and he started writing under the name Nagarjun.Though always a well-known and popular poet, initially he was ignored by the conservative literary and critical establishment — till the great cultural upsurge in the Hindi-speaking areas in late 1960’s and early 1970’s turned writers like Nagarjun, Muktibodh, Shamsher Bahadur Singh and others into cult figures. His works include Baba Batesarnath, Balchanma, Ratinath ki Chachi, Patrahin Nagna Gachh, Khichri Viplav Dekha Hamne, translations of Jayadeva’s Gita Govinda, works of Kalidasa and many other classical works of Sanskrit literature. His Pratinidhi Kavitayen (a collection of representative poems, 1984) contains Hindi poems and Maithili poems. He was honoured with the Sahitya Akademi award (196 8) for his Patraheen Nagna Gaachh. He was honoured by the Sahitya Akademi, which nominated him its Fellow in 1994. In addition to that he was honoured with the Bharat Bharti award by the Uttar Pradesh Government, the Kabir Samman by the Madhya Pradesh Government and the Rajender Shikhar Award by the Bihar Government.