Five हिन्दी classics you need to read before you turn 20!


This epic written by Rashtrakavi Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, is a strong and expressive poem centred around Karna, the first born son of Kunti, from Mahabharata. Like all great stories, you may have heard of it and would want to read it. Again and again.

Composed in वीर रस (Heroic Subgenre), it starts with Duryodhana befriending Karna and ends with Krishna praising Karna after he dies on the battlefield.

The most famous passage is that of the first theophany – Karna revealing himself to Duryodhana in the Kourava court. But for me, this poem gets better and better with every passing stanza.

“मैं उनका आदर्श, कहीं जो व्यथा न खोल सकेंगे,

पूछेगा जग; किंतु, पिता का नाम न बोल सकेंगे.

जिनका निखिल विश्व में कोई कहीं न अपना होगा,

मन में लिए उमंग जिन्हें चिर-काल कलपना होगा.”

The use of strong sanskritised hindi is there and you would often find your self looking for a dictionary and hence I would recommend you go for its explanation in simplified Hindi.



If you are looking for a reformist agenda and transparency both at once, “Upanyas Samrat” Munshi Premchandra is your writer. Much like his critically acclaimed work Godaan, Nirmala too uses fiction to highlight an era of much needed social reform in 1920s Indian society.

The melodramatic novel is centered on Nirmala, a young girl who was forced to marry a widower of her father’s age. The plot unfolds to reveal her husband’s suspicion of a relationship between her and his eldest son, a suspicion that leads to the son’s death.(SPOILER!)

It has a tendency of repeating emotions, which I find to be a guilty pleasure of mine. Also it is one of the earliest inspirations of a feminist character in modern hindi literature.

This book has the potential to be a repeated weekend read for your years to come.

सूरज का सातवाँ घोड़ा

This list would be incomplete without a meta fictional novel and hence Dharamvir Bharti’s second novel, सूरज का सातवाँ घोड़ा, gets a deserving mention.

The novel presents three related narratives about three women and  is narrated by Manik Mulla, who is also a character in the novel, to his friends over seven afternoons, in the style of  Hitopadesh.

For Manik Mulla, the purpose of telling these stories is to define the meaning of love. As it transpires, none of the stories Manik tells actually define Love. If they do, they define what love is not.

The work is a comedy but not without a twinge of pain and a sense of loss. We are all suckers for such stories.

झूठा सच

This two volume novel, is based on the events surrounding the partition of India.The first volume of the novel was published in 1958 under the title Vatan Aur Desh and two years later the second volume Desh Ka Bhavishya completed the novel series.

Known for its realism, this novel often tends to draw comparison to works of the west, Leo Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’ being one of them.

The book is a real account of that historical period because the author, Yashpal himself was a member of Hindustan Socialist Republican Association led and operated by Chandra Shekhar Azad and had been a close associate of Bhagat Singh. After the martyrdom of these revolutionaries, Yashpal left the path of violence and devoted himself to literary work.

He wrote many good books consisting of both novels and stories and was bestowed upon the Gyanpeeth Award too. However his best work, this epic novel giving a true account of the country’s partition and the subsequent decline of the national character in India, did not get any award.


Although originally published in bengali, Devdas is something we all have heard of but only a very few of us have read. This literary masterpiece was written by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay when he was only seventeen years of age. Phew!

The tragic tale of Devdas has become synonymous with a passionate, intense love that does not find consummation.

Although the plot needs no introduction, I would sincerely urge you to read the book even if you have seen the movie. Some works are way too delicate to be portrayed on screen, even if the best directors have a crack at it.

The new translated version brings the classic tale of star-crossed lovers alive for a new generation of readers. So do check that one out.

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