Jhaverchand Meghani (17 August 1897 – 9 March 1947) was a noted poet, writer, social reformer and freedom fighter from Gujarat. He is a well-known name in the field of Gujarati literature. He was born in Chotila. Mahatma Gandhi spontaneously gave him the title of Raashtreeya Shaayar (National Poet).
Besides this he received many awards like Ranjitram Suvarna Chandrak and Mahida Paaritoshik in literature. He authored more than 100 books. His first book was a translation work of Rabindranath Tagore’s ballad Kathaa-u-Kaahinee titled Kurbani Ni Katha (Stories of martyrdom) which was first published in 1922. He contributed widely to Gujarati folk literature. He went from village to village in search of folk-lores and published them in various volumes of Saurashtra Ni Rasdhar. He was also the Editor of Phoolchhab Newspaper of Janmabhoomi group (which is being published till date from Rajkot).
A sample of his collection of folk tales from Saurashtra has recently been published in an English, with the translation done by his son Vinod Meghani. The three volumes published so far are titled A Noble Heritage, A Shade Crimson and The Ruby Shattered.
His poems are taught as a part of syllabus in Gujarat Board Schools (GSEB).
Jhaverchand Meghani was born in Chotila town in Surendranagar, Gujarat to Kalidas and Dholima Meghani. His father Kalidas worked in the Police force and hence was often transferred to new places causing most of Jhaverchand’s education to happen in Rajkot. He had two brothers Lalchand and Prabhashankar. He was married to a woman named Damyanti at the age of 24 and following the demise of his wife he married Chitradevi at the age of 36. He had 9 children out of which 3 were girls namely Padmala, Murali and Indu while 6 were boys, namely Mastan, Nanak, Vinod, Ashok, Mahendra, and Jayant.
He lived a simple and sober life and his simplicity prompted his college mates to call him Raja Janak. He wore a white long coat, a dhoti reaching well down the knees and a turban typically tied around his head was his regular attire. He finished his matriculation in 1912 and completed his BA in 1917. He started his career in Kolkata and joined Jeevanlal and Co. in 1918 as Personal Assistant and Fondly called Paghadee Babu by his colleagues and workers alike. He was soon promoted as the Manager of the company’s factory at Belur, Crown Aluminium. In 1919 he went to England for a four-month tour. After coming back to India he continue to work in Kolkata for 2 and half-year. Later he returned to Saurashtra and joined the editorial board of the weekly Saurashtra in 1922.
In 1930, he was sentenced for 2 years in jail for writing the book ‘Sindhudo’ that contained songs to inspire the youth of India that was participating in the struggle for Independence against the British Raj. It is during this time that he wrote ‘Kavya Triputi’ based on Gandhiji’s visit to London for the round table conference. During this period he also started writing short stories independently and served as editor for ‘Phoolchaab’ magazine.
In 1926, he ventured into poetry with his book of children poems ‘Veni Na Phool’ and started writing in ‘Janmabhoomi’ under the column ‘Kalam Ane Kitaab’. He established his reputation as a critic by his independent novels. In 1936 he became the editor of Phoolchaab’ In 1942, he ventured into began publishing with his book Marela Na Rudhir. In 1945, after retiring from ‘Phoolchaab’ he concentrated on personal writing. In 1946 his book Mansai Na Deeva was awarded the ‘Mahida award’. The same year he was elected to head the Gujarati Sahitya Parishad’s Sahitya Section. In 1929, he gave 6 lectures for ‘Gyan Prasarak Mandali’ . He also lectured at Santiniketan owing to his long association with Rabindranath Tagore. Meghani was also known as a Manbhatt poet due to his significant contribution to folk ballads.