Devaki Nandan Khatri

The children in urban India, especially belonging to the affluent families, are mesmerized by the mystery stories written by the British author J.K.Rowling under the name Harry Potter series. I bet most of them or even there parents who are wedded to English language and culture have heard about this gentleman who the first Indian writer of mystery novels in Hindi.

And when did he wrote all these books? He lived from 1861 to 1913, about roughly a century ago when India was under British rule and there were kings and princes in India. There were dense jungles which kindled the fires of mysterious creatures and spirits living in the jungles. Khatri wrote many thrillers like Chandrakanta Santati, Kajar ki Kothari, Narendra-Mohini, Kusum Kumari, Virendra Veer, Gupt Godna, Katora Bhar Khoon and Bhootnath, some of which became the rage among the readers. People were so much addicted with the serialized version of Chandrakanta that many began learning Hindi language and eagerly waited for the issues.

He gave Hindi literature new words like Aiyyar and Aiyyara, male and female spies for the king who specialized in the art of becoming invisible and magic. Another word he gave to Hindi was Tilism which means the maze containing secret places, passages and prisons like those in the Prince of Persia game.  The book Chanderkanta was televised on Doordarshan and became a rage among the viewers. It depicts the romance between prince and princess of two rival states and the travails they face in this endeavor. Khatri who was a also a forest contractor and thus familiar with forests and jungles based his story on his experiences.

India has a very rich treasure of literature which somehow lies in oblivion. Let our children also explore these treasures and compare these with the Harry Potters which comes at a high price.

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