Amrita Pritam - an Indian Novelist, Essayist and Poet | Premium Essay

Amrita Pritam - an Indian Novelist, Essayist and Poet

Amrita Pritam was an Indian novelist, essayist and poet who was born on 31 August 1919 and died on 31 October 2005. She is considered the first famous Punjabi author, novelist, essayist and the leading Punjabi language poet of the 20th century, who is equally respected on both sides of the border between India and Pakistan. She produced more than 100 books of poetry, prose, biographies, essays, a compilation of Punjabi folk songs and an autobiography, all translated into several Indian and foreign languages with a career spanning over six decades.

She is best remembered for her poignant poem, Ajj aakhaan Waris Shah nu, an elegy of the Punjabi poet of the 18th century, where she shared her sorrow at the massacre during India's partition. Her most noted work as a writer was Pinjar ("The Skeleton," 1950), in which she developed her memorable character, Puro, an epitome of violence against women, turned the novel into an award-winning movie, Pinjar (2003).

She migrated from Lahore to India when India was split into the independent states of India and Pakistan in 1947, although she remained equally popular throughout her life in Pakistan compared to contemporaries Mohan Singh and Shiv Kumar Batalvi.

In 1966, she became the first woman to win the Sahitya Akademi Award for her magnum opus, a long poem, Sunehade (Messages), and later the Bharatiya Jnanpith, one of India's highest literary prizes, for Kagaz Te Canvas(' The Paper and the Canvas') in 1982. She was awarded the highest award in 1969 for Padma Shri and 2004 for Padma Vibhushan, and the same year she was awarded the highest literary award in India by the Sahitya Akademi (India's Academy of Letters), the Sahitya Akademi Fellowship for lifetime achievement given to the "immortals of literature." She mostly wrote her poems for the score 

Early Life and Family

Amrita Pritam was born as Amrit Kaur in 1919 in Mandi Bahauddin, Punjab, in present-day Pakistan, Raj Bibi's only child, who was a school teacher and Kartar Singh Hitkari, who was a poet, a Braj Bhasha language scholar, and the editor of a literary newspaper and a Sikh faith preacher. The mother of Amrita died at the age of eleven. Soon after, she moved to Lahore with her father, where she lived until she moved to India in 1947. She started writing at the very early age when she was faced with adult responsibilities by depression by the death of her mother. Amrit Lehran ("Immortal Waves"), her first anthology poem, was published in 1936.

At the age of sixteen, she married Pritam Singh, an editor she had been associated with in early childhood, and legally changed her name from Amrit Kaur to Amrita Pritam.

While she began her journey as a romantic poet, she soon shifted gears and became part of the Progressive Writers ' Movement and its influence was seen in her book, Lok Peed ("People's Anguish," 1944), which openly criticized the war-torn economy after the 1943 Bengal famine. After Independence, when social activist Guru Radha Kishan took the initiative to create the first Janta Library in Delhi, Shri Balraj Sahni and Aruna Asaf Ali inaugurated the first Janta Library in Delhi and contributed to the occasion. At Clock Tower, Delhi, this study center as well as a library are still operating to date. She also worked for a while at a Lahore radio station, ahead of India's partition.

Renowned as the director of the partition film Garam Hava (1973), M. S. Sathyu paid her a theatrical tribute through his rare play' Ek Thee Amrita.' 


She wrote 28 novels, 18 prose anthologies, five short stories and 16 miscellaneous prose volumes throughout her career spanning over six decades.

Novels written by Amrita Pritam

· Pinjar
· Doctor Dev
· Kore Kagaz, Unchas Din
· Dharti, Sagar aur Seepian
· Rang ka Patta
· Dilli ki Galiyan
· Terahwan Suraj
· Yaatri
· Jilavatan (1968)
· Hardatt Ka Zindaginama

Autobiography Written by Amrita Pritam

· Black Rose (1968)
· Rasidi Ticket (1976)
· Shadows of Words (2004) 

Short stories written by Amrita Pritam

· Kahaniyan jo Kahaniyan Nahi
· Kahaniyon ke Angan mein
· Stench of Kerosene

Poetry anthologies written by Amrita Pritam

· Amrit Lehran (Immortal Waves)(1936)
· Jiunda Jiwan (The Exuberant Life) (1939)
· Trel Dhote Phul (1942)
· O Gitan Valia (1942)
· Badlam De Laali (1943)
· Sanjh de laali (1943)
· Lok Peera (The People's Anguish) (1944)
· Pathar Geetey (The Pebbles) (1946)
· Punjab Di Aawaaz (1952)
· Sunehade (Messages) (1955) – Sahitya Akademi Award
· Ashoka Cheti (1957)
· Kasturi (1957)
· Nagmani (1964)
· Ik Si Anita (1964)
· Chak Nambar Chatti (1964)
· Uninja Din (49 Days) (1979)
· Kagaz Te Kanvas (1981)- Bhartiya Jnanpith
· Chuni Huyee Kavitayen
· Ek Baat 

Literary journal written by Amrita Pritam

· Nagmani, poetry monthly

Awards and honors

Amrita Pritam was the first recipient of the Punjab Rattan Award given to her by Captain Amarinder Singh, Punjab Chief Minister. She was Sunehadey's first female winner of the 1956 Sahitya Akademi Award, Amrita Pritam was awarded the Bhartiya Jnanpith Award, India's highest literary award, and Kagaj te Canvas in 1982. She was awarded the Padma Shri Award in (1969) and Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award in India, as well as the Sahitya Akademi Fellowship, the highest literary award in India, in 2004. She's got D.Litt. Honorary degrees from many universities including the University of Delhi (1973), the University of Jabalpur (1973) and the University of Vishwa Bharati (1987).

She was also awarded the Republic of Bulgaria's International Vaptsarov Award in the year (1979) and the French Government's Degree of Officer Dens, Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in (1987). She was nominated in the year 1986–92 as a member of Rajya Sabha. Toward the end of her life, she was awarded by Pakistan's Punjabi Academy, to which she remarked, "Bade dino baad mere Maike ko meri Yaad aayi.." meaning (my motherland remembered me for a long time); and also Pakistan's Punjabi poets sent her a chaddar from Waris Shah's tombs, and Sufi mystical poets as well as Bulle Shah and Sultan Bahu.

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