Subhadra Kumari Chauhan (16 August1904– 15 February 1948) was an Indian poet famous for Hindi poems composed primarily in Veer Ras, one of the nine Ras’ (English: Flavour/Subgenre).
Born in Nihalpur village in Allahabad District in Uttar Pradesh. She initially studied in the Crosthwaite Girls’ School in Allahabad and passed the middle-school examination in 1919. After her marriage with Thakur Lakshman Singh Chauhan of Khandwa in the same year, she moved to Jabalpur.
She had five children:Sudha Chauhan (now deceased), Ajay Chauhan (now deceased), Vijay Chauhan (now deceased), Ashok Chauhan (now deceased) and Mamta Chauhan(Bhargava), currently residing in Buffalo, New York. The widows of Ajay and Ashok Chauhan currently live in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh.
Subhadra Kumari Chauhan joined the Non-Cooperation Movement in 1921 and was the first woman Satyagrahi to court arrest in Nagpur. She was jailed twice for her involvement in protests against the British rule in 1923 & 1942.
She has authored a number of popular works in Hindi poetry. Her most famous composition is Jhansi Ki Rani, an emotionally charged poem describing the life of Rani Lakshmi Bai. The poem is one of the most recited and sung poems in Hindi literature. This and her other poems, Veeron Ka Kaisa Ho Basant, Rakhi Ki Chunauti, and Vida, openly talk about the freedom movement. They are said to have inspired great numbers of Indian youth to participate in the Indian Freedom Movement. Here is the opening stanza of Jhansi ki Rani:
Original Hindi text:
सिंहासन हिल उठे राजवंशों ने भृकुटी तानी थी,
बूढ़े भारत में bhi आई फिर से नयी जवानी थी,
गुमी हुई आज़ादी की कीमत सबने पहचानी थी,
दूर फिरंगी को करने की सबने मन में ठानी थी।
चमक उठी सन सत्तावन में, वह तलवार पुरानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।
Roman transliteration using ITRANS:
simhasan hil uthe, rajavanshon ne bhrikuti tani thi,
boodhhe bharat mein bhi aayi, phir se nayi jawaani thi,
gumi hui azadI ki keemat sab ne pahachani thi,
door firangi ko karne ki sab ne man mein thani thi.
chamak uthi san sattawan mein, woh talwaar puraani thi,
bundele harbolon ke munh ham ne sunI kahani thi,
khoob ladi mardani woh to jhansI wali rani thi.
The thrones shook and royalties scowled
Old India was re-invigorated with new youth
People realised the value of lost freedom
Everybody was determined to throw the foreigners out
The old sword glistened again in 1857
This story we heard from the mouths of Bundel bards
Like a man she fought, she was the Queen of Jhansi
Subhadra Kumari Chauhan wrote in the Khariboli dialect of Hindi, in a simple, clear style. Apart from heroic poems, she also wrote poems for children. She wrote some short stories based on the life of the middle class too.
She died in 1948 in a car accident near Seoni M.P. on her way back to Jabalpur from Nagpur, the then capital of CP, where she had gone to attend the assembly session. She was a member of the legislative assembly of the state.
The ICGS Subhadra Kumari Chauhan,an Indian Coast Guard ship, was named for the poetess. The government of Madhya Pradesh placed a statue of Subhadra Kumari Chauhan before the Municipal Corporation office of Jabalpur. On August 6, 1976, India Posts released a postage stamp to commemorate her.