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Mahasweta Devi was honored with several awards such as Sahitya Akademi Award, Gnyanpith Award, and Ramon Magsaysay Award, Padma Shri and Padma Vibhushan. Wikimedia Commons

Mahasweta Devi was famous for her work in the field of Bengali fiction. Hajar Churashir Maa, Rudali, and Aranyer Adhikar are some of her most notable literary works. Mahasweta Devi’s awards consist of Sahitya Akademi Award, Gnyanpith Award, and Ramon Magsaysay Award, Padma Shri, and Padma Vibhushan. Mahasweta Devi was a self-recognized communist. She died on 28th July 2016 after suffering a heart attack.

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Here are some facts you need to know about Mahasweta Devi:

1. Mahasweta Devi was born in 1926 in Dhaka and her family migrated to India after partition.

2. Her parents were also writers. Her father was related to Kallol movement, one of the most influential literary movements in Bengali literature. Film-maker Ritwik Ghatak was her uncle.

3. After completing her MA in English from Calcutta University, Devi married famous playwright Bijon Bhattacharya, one the founding fathers of Indian People’s Theatre Association. Their son Nabarun Bhattacharya, also went on to become a writer. Devi divorced Bhattacharya in 1959.

4. Mahasweta Devi worked opposed West Bengal government’s acquisition of farmers’ lands that were sold to corporates. She also worked for the tribals of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh. She edited a tribal magazine called Bartike.


A mourning ceremony for Mahasweta Devi. Wikimedia Commons

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5. Her work in support of the Sabar tribe earned her the title ‘The Mother of the Sabars’.

6. Her writings often depict the oppression of tribals and untouchables by upper-caste landlords and lenders. She used to say, ‘Real history is made by ordinary people’.

7. Mahasweta Devi Books

Jhansir Rani (1956), Hajar Churashir Maa (1975), Aranyer Adhikar (1977) and Rudaali (1993) are some of her most famous works in Bengali Literature.

8. She left her teaching career in 1984 to dedicate time to writing and activism.

9. She had a deep respect for tribal life and culture. She would often say, ‘The tribals are more civilized than us’, highlighting the absence of the caste and dowry systems and discriminations in their society.

10. Mahasweta Devi Films

Mahasweta Devi’s literary works have been adapted in several films. For example, Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa, Sunghursh, Gangor, Rudaali and Maati Maay.


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