(India, 1940)   

 Rituraj was selected by Hindi poet and editor Mangalesh Dabral for the special edition of PIW India, ‘Poets on Poets’.

Rituraj (born 1940) is a senior poet in Hindi. He began his writing career in the mid 1970s and has ten collections of poetry to his credit. Born in Rajasthan, he did his Masters in English and went on to spend almost thirty-five years of his life as a teacher. After his retirement, he worked as a foreign-language expert with China Radio International for three years. Based in Bundi (Rajasthan), Rituraj has spent most of his life away from the big cities – a fact that has had an enduring impact on his poetry. Several awards have been conferred upon him including the prestigious Pahal Samman, Meera Puraskar, Sudhindra Puraskar and Bihari Puraskar. He is currently at work on an anthology of women-centric poems entitled Mashuq.

Mangalesh Dabral describes Rituraj’s writing as poetry that “seems unburdened by cosmopolitan pressures” and one that often adopts a perspective close to that of the native Bhil or Muria of Rajasthan when indicting the tensions and compulsions of urban life. There is a strong sense of recoil and disgust in the extract quoted by Dabral “about a tribal coming to the city as a daily labourer”: “Such a vast world lies sprawled / But why . . . does it feel that I must catch the first bus back to the plateau?”

This is poetry that affirms the strength of ordinary people, the flotsam of life; that concerns itself with the minutiae and trivia, the quiet ironies of daily living, so often ignored in the furious clamour of urban mainstream existence. These details linger in the reader’s memory: the “recently-widowed wife . . . / invisible inside the house somewhere / just as she was in her husband’s lifetime”; “the mark on the stairs” left by a friend who fell to his death; the possible future moment when a daughter’s hand “may brush against” one of her father’s “closed books” of poetry.

This is also a poetry of social conscience. Dabral contextualises Rituraj as part of the generation of intellectuals disturbed by the bitter aftermath of the Nehruvian dream of a modern democratic resurgent India. It was a disenchantment that ushered in a new climate in Hindi literature. Certainly some of this spirit of political critique is evident in the poem, ‘What’s An Eye Alone’, a disturbing comment on the many ways of obliterating the unflinching gaze of the witness:

Whatever is seen can be made unseen . . .

What’s an eye alone?
There could be ash as evidence
and they would call it an illusion.

© Arundhathi Subramaniam



Chuni Huin Kavitayen, 2008
Asha Naam Nadi, 2007
Leela Mukharvinda, Medha Books, New Delhi, 2002
Surat Nirat, Panchscheel Prakashan, Jaipur, 1987
Nahin Prabodhachandrodya, Dharati Prakashan, Bikaner, 1984
Abacus, Sambhavana Prakashan, Hapur, 1983
Pul aur Pani, Rajkamal Prakashan, New Delhi, 1981
Kitna Thora Waqt, 1970
Ek Marandharma aur Anya, 1967
Main Angiras, Kavita Prakashan, Alwar, 1964

Lajja Ram Mehta, 1989

As Editor
Kavita Ki Baat, 1990 (A collection of teachers’ poems)

Kritya: Poems by Rituraj (in translation)


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