LIFE AND WORKS
Full sleeve shirt, dhoti, shawl round the neck coming up both the knees, fair complexion, white
moustaches, loose ordinary spectacles on eyes, shining bald head and a gifting forehead, lock of
white hair round the ears and the neck, quite and serious face is the person’s personality drawn by
the lines of words, who was like a plain-river, which never changed its course though out its life
and continued flowing slowly and steadily. That was the invaluable individuality of Babu Gulabrai.
He was a great scholar of Hindi literature, well versed in Sanskrit. He was well conversant with
philosophy and rhetoric. He was a master of making easy, difficult and serious literary topics so that
the reader may follow the same.
Babu Gulabrai represented the cultural ethical tradition of Dwivedi era. He is famous as one of the
most decent and accommodating a critic, pure essayist and prose writer par excellence. By nature,
he was a philosopher, which lent a particular touch to his essays and criticism in Hindi literature.
On one side he produced works of serious thinking and on the other side; he produced series of
essays full of humour. Both have their value and pleasantness and are unique in their respective
Babu Gulabrai is a unique writer of humour, an accomplished essayist, prose writer of a highest
order, a philosopher , a considerable critic and a successful teacher.. But above all he was a very
generous saintly person. Inspite of being a serious scholar of philosophy, endowed with intelligence
of high order and genius in original thinking. He had in him and endlessly flowing current of grace
and pleasantness. In self analysis, he has written “my criticism is sweet, soft and pleasant as butter
and a dish made of rice and milk. Between both one may find a piece of almost a satire. Although, I
am selfish yet I do not want any fame at the cost of someone’s good name. In spite of being selfish,
I am humanist. Due to selfishness and indolence, I am not able to carry out the resolve”. From this,
it is obvious that he never wanted to do harm to anyone and was ever willing to do good to others.
Babuji was instrumental in creating many famous authors of Hindi literature.
Babu Gulabrai is one of the very few writers in the world who dared to describe their shortcomings,
both in personal and professional life. His book “ Meree Asafltayein”(My Shortcomings) is a
master piece creation in this regard. Look how well he has described the ‘secret’ of his success in
“In brief I may say that I have mastered the art of plagiarism. I pick up the gems from others
writings without breaking their locks. These gems glow with their own light. But I do not take these
gems to the market for sale in their original form. I trim them and polish them, so that they are
unrecognisable. May be in this process they get slightly deformed. My plagiarism has not been
detected so far; and that is the secret of my life. I have heard that there are many books in Sanskrit
on the art of theft- be it material theft or literary theft (plagiarism)”
Babu Gulabrai had his ancestral house in Jalestar Uttar Pradesh. But he was born in Etawah (U.P.)
where his highly religious father Babu Bhawani Prasad was working in the local courts. He received
his primary education at Mainpuri (U.P) and higher education at Agra College and St. Johns
College, both located at Agra[ B.A.1911, M.A. (Philosophy) 1913 and LLB 1917] and affiliated to
Allahabad University at that time. Just after completing his education, he was initially appointed as
the philosophical companion to the Maharaja of Chhatarpur (Madhya Pradesh)- His Highness
Vishwanath Singh Judev and was later given the important jobs of the Private Secretary to the
Maharaja, Dewan (Prime Minister)and the Judge. He worked there upto 1932. Thereafter, he came
back to Agra and stayed at Jain Boarding House and worked as a honorary Professor of Hindi at St.
Johns College, Agra His book Shanti Dharma was published as early as 1913. The process of
writing continued without break for 50 years till his death in 1963. He was conferred honorary D.
Lit by Agra University in the year 1957. This was presented by the then Vice President Hon’ble V.
V. Giri Ji (Who later became India’s fourth President). In the year 2002, the then Prime Minister Sri
Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji released a 5 Rupee postal stamp in his memory.
After reading the traditions of poetry and studying social works, he presented his conclusions based
on personal experience in the form of principles. Babuji’s thought process alongwith his
philosophies are available in his books.viz. Siddhant aur Adhyan, Kavya ke Roop, Navras,, Adhyan
aur Aaswad, Sahitya Samiksha, Hindi Natya Vimarsh and Hindi Sahitya Ka Subodh Itihas. In these
books Babuji comes before us as an exponent of principles and one who believes in explicitly
explaining things. Some other books reflect his ideals, ideas, thought process and fields of work
viz. Jeevan Rashmian, Mere Nibandha, Meri Asafaltayen, Kuch Uthle Kuch Gahre, Rashtriyata,
Abhinav Bharat ke Prakash Stambh, Satya evam Swatantrata ke Upasaka, Bhartiya Sanskriti ki
Rooprekha and Man Ki Baat.
His style of thinking, contemplation, study & presentation are purely ‘Bhartiya’ (Indian). Therefore,
his principles have force, power and energy. In the field of reinterpretation of Rhetoric, Hindi
Essays and Criticism, Babuji’s contribution is extremely important and unparalleled. Whole literary
work of Babu Gulabrai is the manifestation of his deep realisation, eternal love for literatureparticularly hindi literature and devotion to his profession. He lived by pen, rich in original ideas
and uniquely competent in the art of writing. Babu Gulabrai had an exemplary capacity as an editor
too which could be seen with the publication of ‘Sahitya Sandesh’- a high-end monthly magazine of
Hindi Literature at that time. Its first issue was published in July 1937 with the blessings of
Archarya Mahaveer Prasad Dwivedi.
The mind and heart of Babuji was greatly influenced by Gandhian morality. Non –violent ethical
values of Gandhiji made babuji adopt the style of ‘Samanvaya’ (Coordination). In the words of
Achyaya Nand Dulare Vajpai, Babuji was a follower of harmony which was present in all his
literary works. Accepting good points from any source was another unique quality of Babuji. To
summarise Vajpai writes- “If the metaphor of quality catching saint can be used for any man of
literature, it must be Babuji”.
Indeed, Babuji is respected and honoured as a Hindi writer of the 20th century for his sympathising
nature, generosity, coordination and accommodating temperament. The immense contribution of
Babu Gulabrai to Hindi literature for establishing most modern ideas in the style of Dwivedi
period is undisputable.
Courtesy: Dr. R.P. Chaturvedi