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With this 12th Newsletter the series completes a revolution. We began in June, 2009 with the aim to relate the news of the month with astrology and to bring astro thoughts, classical dictas and ideas that emerge from analysis of events to the fore in a modern, debate format. read more...read more...
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HARIVANSHRAI BACHCHAN (27 NOV 1907-18 JAN 2003)--1

KN RAO
On 18 January 2003 when the famous Hindi poet, Harivanshrai Bachchan, father of the famous actor, Amitabh Bachchan died, and the next day some obituaries were written remembering his days in Allahabad, particularly of the university days where he taught English literature, an important fact not mentioned was that Allahabad university had the rare distinction of having on its staff of English department two famous poets, Raghuvir Sahai alias Firaq Gorakhpuri, the famous Urdu poet and Harivanshrai Bachchan, the famous Hindi poet. The comparisons always made between these two have been that Firaq was a great poet and Bachchan a popular one.

It was a strange experience of my life that while I was very intimate with Firaq saheb because we met daily in the coffee house during lunch time, at the time of my posting in Allahabad (1959 1962) and had very fine memories of him, the poet who had acquired iconic status of a popular poet during my boyhood days, Harivanshrai Bachchan had left Allahabad to accept a job with the government of India in 1952 or 1954 and was rarely even talked of in the coffee house circles.

Yet, some people did remember in 2003 that his son Amitabh Bachchan was a great son serving his father with such rare devotion.

There were others who talked of the dynamic role of his second wife, Teji, who is said to have made full use of her Allahabad days in which she became intimate with Nehru family to promote her husband and son. Perhaps this was the cause of so much heart burning in some circles against the Bachchans.

Jealousies are common in any field, more so in literary circles particularly in the case of Harivanshrai Bachchan whose unparalled popularity with audiences in Kavi Sammelans (gathering of poets) did arouse the envy of many of his contemporaries.

Once in his literary career he was castigated most uncharitably by a writer for wanting to become an Omar Khayyam of Hindi literature vainly. That jealousy increased more because during the 15 August function of poets organized at Red Fort for many years, he was the chief attraction and on public  demand, he had to recite his poems which had created a new literary genre in Hindi known as halavaad or the cult of wine.

Till the arrival of Harivanshrai Bachchan on the Hindi poetic scene in 1935 with his famous Madhushala, it was the romantic poetry known as chayavaad that had fired the imagination of lovers of Hindi literature. Writing about wine as Urdu poets do so profusely and frequently was less known to Hindi literature read mostly by traditional Hindus who look upon madira (wine) as a social evil. To eulogize drinking as Madhushala did may have appeared outrageous to many who did not know that what Harivanshrai Bachchan was doing was using the language of the people to create a new literary genre though he himself never drank.

Chayavaad has become something of a shackle Hindi poetry had to get out of. It is remarkable that at a time when two of the greatest masterpieces of Hindi literature Kamayini of Jai Shankar Prasad and Godan the immortal novel of Prem Chand had created great literary waves, his Madhushala held its  unparalleled sway on the minds of listeners in kavi sammelans and lovers of literature, particularly the youth. My own favourite was Jai Shankar Prasad but a friend of mine, Girija Pant was full of Madhushala and Bachchan always. He had a voracious memory for poetry and could reel off stanzas after stanzas from the works of many poets.

























I never met Harivansh Bachchan though I could have as his wife Mrs.Teji Bachchan came to consult me astrologically three or four times and twice with her famous son, the actor Amitabh Bachchan in 1982 January and February and later once in September of that year also.


Pop culture being what it is, it was not surprising to learn that Amitabh the actor was better known in India, in all Hindi and non-Hindi speaking areas than his famous poet father, Harivanshrai Bachchan. I also heard from someone that sometimes Harivanshrai Bachchan had to introduce himself to people as the father of Amitabh Bachchan!

In January 1982, when Mrs. Teji Bachchan came to meet me, she had given me the birth details of her famous husband and more famous son, and also of the second son, Ajitabh Bachchan. I remember that when all the three horoscopes were cast, it was the one of Harivanshrai Bachchan which was attracting me about whose health Tejiji had asked some question. There was no need to worry I had told her. It was about her actor son, Amitabh that there was some worry I told. I have discussed it my book Ups and Downs in Career.

In July 1982, Amitabh was hurt seriously during the shooting of a film, Coolie, and was nearly on his death bed. During this period, Harivanshrai Bachchan was in Bombay attending to all the correspondence at Breach Kandy hospital when thousands of letters and messages were pouring in everyday inquiring about the condition of Amitabh. I distinctly remember that I was least interested in the horoscope of Amitabh Bachchan as I am not a cinema fan. It was the poet father whose horoscope interested me but Teji was asking questions more about her son Amitabh. It was only after Tejiji left, that I saw the horoscope of Harivanshrai Bachchan more deeply but never wrote about it anytime.

The creeping shadows
On 16 January 2003 when I heard of his illness in television news I saw his horoscope and noticed Saturn in Vrisha in the eighth house from his lagna and eighth house from the Moon of Amitabh Bachchan. Mars from Vrischika was aspecting it and Moon was soon to transit into Karka and cause fatal janma chandra. He was ninety six and that dasha was of Saturn with the second lord Mars, the maraka and the antardasha of Venus in the second house.

The inevitable was near inspite of the best
efforts of his son, Amitabh to make available to his father best of medical facilities right in his own house with nurses attending on his both parents all the time. Now it is time to write about him after his very long life of ninety six years has come to its inevitable terminus and he is no more.


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