Premchand was a famous legendary Indian writer from the early 20th century. Even today, he is considered among the topmost prominent writers of Hindi short stories and novels. Any person who has grown up studying in the Indian education system will have read at least one of Munshi Premchand’s stories.
This is because his stories feature in academic textbooks. If you wish to read more of Premachand’s stories because you like them and to improve your reading skills, then this blog post is for you.
Here, I have presented a few of his stories for kids, teens and young adults in Hindi and their English translation. Additionally, you will read a comprehensive biographical sketch of the renowned author.
About Munshi Premchand (Biography)
The scope of his literary work is wide and includes 14 novels, over 300 short stories, many essays and articles. He also translated several European literary works into Hindi. His book genre is realistic fiction with social, economic and political overtones (social realism in literature).
Munshi Premchand’s stories speak about the life and struggles of the Indian rural and semi-urban middle class of the early twentieth century. With his stories, he aimed to raise patriotic, social and political awareness in society.
Premchand’s childhood and family
Dhanpat Rai Shrivastava was Munshi Premchand’s proper name, given by family. He was born on 31st July 1880 in a small village of Lamhi near Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, India. Dhanpat Rai’s father was a modest post office clerk and his mother a devoted homemaker.
During his early education, Dhanpat Rai (Munshi Premchand) studied Urdu and Persian from a Maulavi in a madrassa in Lalpur near his village Lamhi.
Learning Urdu in his childhood influenced his literary work. Dhatpat Rai’s mother died when he was 8 and his grandmother died soon thereafter. His father remarried and transferred to Gorakhpur for his job. His only elder sister was married.
So Little Dhanpat felt lonely and turned to read fiction books.Thus began his connection with books at a young age.
The author’s education
In Gorakhpur, Dhanpat Rai learnt English at a missionary school. He was scolded by his uncle for reading fiction but ironically, Dhanpat Rai went on to become a famous Hindi writer. This was in the late nineteenth century in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh.
Dhanpat Rai completed his matriculation at the Queen’s college in Benaras in those days. He couldn’t continue his studies at the Central Hindu College because he wasn’t very good at mathematics. After a long interval, he got a B.A. degree in 1919 just before promotion in his job in a government school.
At the young age of 15, Premchand’s marriage was arranged with the daughter of a rich landlord. Dhanpat Rai thought she was dominating him. She was older than him. His stepmother and wife did not get along amicably. After one such tiff, his wife tried to commit suicide.
Dhanpat Rai wasn’t too happy with the alliance. They separated a few years later. Then he took an unusual and revolutionary step of marrying a child widow, Shivarani Devi, in 1906.
Many years later (after Munshi Premchand’s death) Shivarani Devi wrote a book titled “Premchand Ghar Mein” which means Premchand at home, based on her perception of her husband at their home.
Nawab Rai’s (Premchand) early years of writing
In his youth, Dhanpat Rai moved from Lamhi to Gorakhpur and then Benaras. Later he moved to Allahabad and then Kanpur. In Kanpur, he started writing articles and stories for an Urdu magazine. Thus began his writing career in Urdu.
He was named Nawab Rai by his wealthy uncle. Dhanpat Rai adopted this name as his pen name in his early writing years.
His early writings were patriotic stories with revolutionary social themes. This was the period of the early twentieth century when India’s struggle for freedom was ignited. The author’s first collection of Hindi short stories, “Sapta Saroj” was published in 1917. “Seva Sadan” was his first full-length novel in Hindi in 1919.
Dhanpat Rai’s (Munshi Premchand) change of name
Dhanpat Rai/Nawab Rai’s patriotic and provocative revolutionary writings were discovered by the local British officers. His book “Soz-e-Watan” was banned thereafter. They raided his home and burnt all his book copies. After this incident, he was advised by the editor of Urdu magazine Zamana, to change his pen name from Nawab Rai to Premchand.
This way Nawab Rai (Dhanpat Rai’s pen name) became Premchand. He also transitioned from writing Urdu to writing in Hindi in 1914. His first Hindi short story “Saut” was published in the first Hindi magazine named “Saraswati” in 1915, under his new pen name.
Other work and employment of the author
- Dhanpat Rai was a teacher in a government school.
- He also tutored children of people who could afford private tuitions.
- In his free time, Dhanpat Rai wrote articles and short stories for Zamana, an Urdu magazine, while in Kanpur (1905).
- Dhanpat Rai became Sub-Deputy Inspector of Schools and moved to Hamirpur in 1909.
- He was promoted to Deputy Inspector of Schools in 1921.
- When Gandhiji called for quitting government jobs in 1921, Munshi Premchand gave up his job after 5 days of contemplation.
- Thereafter, he was sickly, had financial troubles yet focused on his literary work.
- He went on to establish his printing and publishing house named Saraswati Press in 1923.
- In 1934, he tried his luck in writing scripts for Hindi movies in Mumbai. But he was not happy. So he returned to Benaras.
- Before he died in 1936, he was elected the first president of the Progressive Writers Association.
Premchand’s books for kids and teens
Surely reading any of this great author’s stories in your textbooks would have touched your heart. So if you wish to read more of his stories (I am sure you do) then here I have listed some interesting and easy to read books for kids and teenagers.
These stories in Hindi will help you improve your fluency in the language. If you wish to read in English then you will find a few translated editions too. He is an icon author therefore reading Premchand’s stories is essential for any avid reader of Indian literature.
Illustrated Biography of Premchand (Hindi)
This illustrated large print biographical book on the author is published by Om Books in 2017. There are large colourful illustrations that show the life and times of the author.
Though the author came from a remote rural area of the country, he followed his passion and created a legacy of timeless stories. His stories are read and remembered by generations of readers.
The author might have been deeply sensitive by nature and so his stories of the common people are so heartwarming. They have a moral lesson and emotional appeal along with social messages that are relevant even today.
It’s important to read about the famous author’s life because young readers must know where he comes from and what inspired him to write such touching stories
Stories for Children by Premchand (Hindi)
This set of 10 books published by Maple Press, has beautiful illustrations that capture any young reader’s attention and teenagers will especially enjoy reading this series. His books have helped in moulding young minds over generations.
Munshi Premchand’s books portray a variety of human emotions and struggles, especially of simple village folks. The collection of short stories includes…
- Bade Bhai Saheb
- Gilli Danda
- Do Bailon ki Katha
- Poos ki Raat
- Gupt Dhan
- Sachai ka Uphar
And many other stories.
Famous Illustrated Tales of Premchand (English)
Maple Press has published this 72 page illustrated edition in 2018. The short stories include,
- The Holy Panchayat
- A Wintry Night
- Tale of Two Oxen
- Protecting One’s Dignity
- The Salt Inspector
And many others.
Beautiful large illustrations in the book appeal to readers and aid visualisation. “The Holy Panchayat” story is about two friends who continue being friends despite differences in opinion.
The story is a translation of “Panch Parmeshwar”. “The Salt Inpector” is a translation of “Namak ka Daroga”, it’s a story about honesty and how being honest can be rewarding too. Each story has a beautiful message for its young readers.
Selected Stories of Munshi Premchand (English)
Published by Scholastic in 2019, this book has 80 pages of heartwarming stories from rural and urban areas of the early 20th century. This collection of classic stories from Indian literature include,
- Moment of truth
- Mother’s Love
- Secret Treasure
- Guru Mantra
- Road to Liberation
- A Forgiving Heart
- Gulli Danda
- My Elder Brother
- The Test
- Temple and the Mosque
“Mother’s Love” is a translation of the story “Mata ka Hriday”, it’s about a mothers love that surmounts everything else. Even plans of revenge and hatred melt away due to compassion and love in the delicate heart of a mother. Teen readers will like this story collection. The language is suitable for independent readers. Pages are of good quality. A Kindle edition is also available.
Stories for Children by Premchand (English)
Published by National Book Trust in 2019, it’s a mixed assortment of stories in this collection of short stories. This book has the most popular stories of the author and teenagers will enjoy reading them.
There is wisdom and lessons to be derived from each of his stories. The emotional appeal combined with social and humanitarian messages in the stories makes them heartwarming.
National Book Trust (NBT) and Children’s Book Trust (CBT) publishes good books for kids and teenagers. The thoughtful effort they generally put into making beautiful books is praiseworthy.
3 in 1 Stories of Munshi Premchand (English)
This book published by Mindfuels in the year 2020 has 3 stories, namely,
- My Elder Brother (Bade Bhai Saheb)
- The Road to Salvation (Mukti Marg)
- Penalty (Jurmana)
“My elder brother” is an English translation of “Bade Bhai Sahab” about two brothers. The elder brother is in high school. He oversees the younger brothers studies and kind of dominates him. “The Road to Salvation” is English translation of “Mukti Marg”.
The story is about the tussle between Jhingur and Buddhu and their need for selfish superiority. Both have a bloated ego and are extremely revengeful. Ultimately their revengeful nature is wasteful and destructive of their peace and prosperity.
Holy Panchayat and Idgah (English)
Published in 2021 by Maple Press, this set of 2 picture books has two classic stories of the renowned author. The story of “The Holy Panchayat” is an English translation of “Panch Parmeshwar”. Jumman and Algu are 2 friends.
They have to be a responsible Sarpanch by turns in the village panchayat. When it is Algu’s turn to be the village Sarpanch, he has to resolve a dispute involving his close friend Jumman.
Jumman and Khala have a dispute. Making a just decision, Algu decides in favour of Khala. But it upsets Jumman. Some other time when it is Jumman’s turn to be the village Sarpanch, he has to decide in a dispute involving Algu. Now he can take revenge.
But Jumman makes a fair decision in favour of Algu. He does not think of any revenge at this time. The story shows how friends can be impartial and responsible.
Shatranj ke Khiladi tatha anya kahaniyan (Hindi)
The stories are in Hindi, comprehensive and the illustrations are great. Published by Diamond Books, there are 96 pages with large colourful illustrations. The story is from the times of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah of Lucknow.
Everybody in the kingdom is busy enjoying a life of games, food and pleasure. The story is from Awadh in 1856, Mirza along with Mir Raushan Ali enjoy playing chess.
They ignore the work of their kingdom and their domestic life. The result is the British attack their kingdom even as they are busy playing chess. The book is available in two editions, paperback and Kindle.
Gupt Dhan (Hindi)
The story is of a brick factory owner named Haridas. He has good character but when he happens to see the map of a worker’s family treasure, he forgets his morals.
Premchand’s simple stories are of ordinary people dealing with human feelings like greed, temptation, truth and justice. These are what makes them interesting to read.
Every person on this planet goes through the gamut of these emotions while interacting with others throughout their life. How the story characters react and what moral lesson to derive from the story is what makes this story useful for kids and teens in this era.
Premchand is fondly called “Upanyas Samrat” or “Emperor of Novels” by his fans. His short stories are equally good as his novels.
Gulli Danda evam Dhikkar (Hindi)
This 32 page illustrated classic story picture book was published by Maple Press in 2019. It has 2 stories, namely, Dhikkar and Gulli Danda. The illustrations are large, colourful and appeal to readers. The story brings forth messages about the innocence of childhood, Indian games, and social disparity.
Gulli Danda story is about two boys, one from a well to do family and the other named Gaya comes from a poor family. They love to play Gilli danda.
Their playing together is not tinged with awareness of their status. Times change, they grow up and drift away to different places. One day the rich young man comes back from the city. Can they play Gilli danda innocently, like the way they did back in their childhood?
Munshi Premchand’s Stories for Young Adults
Social realism topics were prominent themes in Munshi Premchand’s books, like
- Dowry system
- Reforms in education and politics
- Child marriage
- Widow remarriage
Read further to find some of his best stories and their English translations.
Complete Short Stories of Premchand Vol. 1 to 4 (English)
This is a series of 4 books that contain poignant, profound and occasionally funny short stories of the author. Series published by Penguin Classics in 2017. The introduction is lengthy, educating the readers about the author and his writing style.
The English translation of the Hindi or Urdu stories are equally good as the original. Each volume in the series has different stories.
The 76 stories in the first volume include The Salt Inspector, The Rarest Pearl in the World, and many other touching stories. The second volume has 75 stories by the pioneering author. These include The Outcaste, A Mother’s Heart, and other impactful stories.
The third volume has 75 stories like The Debt Collector, A Night in the Month of Poos, and other stories. The 73 short stories in the fourth volume include The Two Bullocks, The Second Marriage, and other stories.
Collection of Classic Indian Novels of Munshi Premchand (Hindi)
This set of 6 classic novels includes,
Each of these novels is legendary and read by generations of Indian readers. Gaban is about how material aspirations make people strive to achieve their dreams. Gender stereotypes and status consciousness is the theme of this story.
Karmabhoomi has several layers in its storyline. There’s class, casteism, ambition, patriotic fervour, duty, exploitation and interpersonal relations.
The author’s special ability to combine all these elements makes this novel a masterpiece. The story is set in the time the British ruled India during the early twentieth century. These stories have created life-changing impressions in the psyche of readers.
Several readers have turned to Premchand’s books to find themselves in these stories. His stories continue to create an impact even in present times.
Premchand was a deeply intuitive and sensitive soul. That is the reason he could write such soulful stories. He could go beyond the surface and touch upon various emotions. His way with words is praiseworthy.
He has written stories about greed, compassion, austerity, celebration, hunger, struggle, power and much more. These topics were relevant in the early twentieth century when he wrote them and even today more than a hundred years later.
Real social issues of politics, exploitation, disparity, and other social evils, were the background of his stories. Few notable authors have combined all these elements into their stories.
His 14 novels, more than 300 short stories and countless articles, essays and translations show his passion for writing and expressing himself. All of this he could write in his free time after his school job despite his ill health and later financial struggles. Premchand’s life and work reflect his greatness, beyond words.