If you are a great patron of Literature, then you must be familiar with the popular Munshi Premchand Books. Dhanpat Rai Shrivastava, popularly known as Munshi Premchand or just Premchand is a revolutionary writer of Hindi Literature. His works have greatly influenced and touched people all over the world. Premchand is termed as the first writer to start the Modern Age of Literature.
From Idgah to Godaan, he never fails to impress the readers with his simplicity of words. Munshi Premchand books are a true embodiment of the society in the 19th Century. He satirized the follies and foibles of the society and penned it down with utmost magnificence.
Premchand wove magic through his words and touched the soul of every reader deeply. He sought to revolutionize the way people thought and acted.
He mostly wrote about rural life and the various problems and evils that dwelled in society back then and still does. Premchand could think beyond time and space. He had the ability to break free the barriers of caste, creed, colour, or religion. Premchand books have a power of their own.
They cast a magic spell on the readers to date. Munshi Premchand books, short stories, and plays have been translated into various languages and thus, read and appreciated worldwide. As Shakespeare is to English Literature, Premchand is to Hindi Literature. Such is his greatness!
If you are looking to read some of his best works, then your search ends here.
- Godaan (Cow Donation)
This Munshi Premchand book was first published in 1936. This book is termed as one of the best Hindi-Urdu classics of all time. The book received a lot of critical acclaim throughout the country. It was translated into English by Jai Ratan and P. Lal publications.
The story revolves around the life of a poor farmer named Hori who’s lifelong desire is to own a cow. According to him, owning a cow will make all well for him. However, the opposite happens and he falls deeper into the debt trap. The story is not simply about Hori but Premchand paints a far wider canvas wherein he corresponds to the various characters of this story with the different strata of the society.
This Premchand book is a complete picture of society as a whole. From the corrupt zamindari system to the pipe dream of a poor farmer to own a cow, it covers it all. The secondary characters provide a profound insight into the life of bureaucrats, the oppressive zamindari system, and the blind faith in superstitions. All these societal evils draw a stark contrast between the rich and the poor.
Keeping all this in mind, Premchand has woven a story that overwhelms you. The utmost brilliance of the writer is apparent in his words. He conveys a far deeper message by engaging readers in an absolutely unadulterated story. The story will make you question the rules of society and its blind faith in non-sensible superstitions.
- Gaban (Embezzlement)
Gaban which literally translates to embezzlement is in every sense a masterpiece in the category of Munshi Premchand books. Premchand built this story around the theme of lust for jewels along with the prevailing corruption in our system. The protagonist of the story, Rama goes to any length to fulfill his wife’s desire to own jewels. Rama and his wife Jalpa commit a lot of mistakes and then cover it up with a lot of lies. The catalyst of all this being gold and the undying lust for wealth and fame. Need and greed both are perfectly balanced in this Premchand book.
Both the protagonists of our story, Rama and Jalpa react in different ways when faced with similar circumstances. This provides us an insight into the character understanding in Munshi Premchand books. The book is all about greed and how it overwhelms one’s mind to make them corrupt. This is the sole reason why corruption spreads like a forest fire in our society even today.
This book is an excellent example of a Premchand book that breaks free the shackles of time and place and proves the brilliance of Premchand’s writing. It describes the struggle of a middle-class man fighting against all odds to satisfy his wife’s needs. It is a story of joy and gloom, realization and redemption, and light and darkness.
Idgah is one of the most celebrated stories of Munshi Premchand of all time. This Munshi Premchand book was published in the year 1938. It is one of the books that Premchand wrote during the last years of his life. This book has gained a lot of popularity in the 20th century and can be found in every school book as a part of the syllabus.
The central character of this story is a five-year orphan boy named Haamid. He lives with his grandmother who tries very hard to make two ends meet by taking up odd jobs. The story takes on the pious day of Eid. It is a moment of joy for the young and the old. The children, especially are excited to go to the nearby fair to fulfill their heart’s materialistic desires. Among this lot, poor Haamid who has only three paise with him heads towards the fair as well. Now, the question arises: What will he buy with the meager amount of money that he possesses? Will he give in to his childish temptations or rise above them?
This story is a clear example of why Munshi Premchand books are class apart! Though its a short story but it is wonderful in true sense. It touches the reader deeply and evokes empathy for the characters. This Premchand book is a heartwarming tale of a poor and orphan boy whose despair has not yet turned into hopelessness. His impeccable take on child psychology is highly commendable. This book perfectly captures human emotions in true form and makes it an emotional and wholesome read. It is recommended to people of all age groups.
Published first in the year 1928, this Munshi Premchand book is a revolution in itself. Themed upon the marriage that included an unacceptable age gap, this is Premchand’s bold take on the society of the 19th century. The way the story is narrated clearly shows the amount of respect and empowerment that Premchand wanted women to receive back then. For a novel that was written nearly a century ago, this was the first step towards women empowerment.
The story’s principal character is a fifteen-year-old girl, Nirmala. As soon as she is about to get married to a nice, handsome, and young man her father is killed under unforeseen circumstances. This leaves the family in shreds. Nirmala’s mother finds it absolutely impossible to find a suitable match for Nirmala. Hence, in a hurry to get her married and not being able to gather enough for the dowry she marries her off to Totaram, a widower with three sons. The eldest son is a year older than Nirmala. What follows is a set of tragic and heart-wrenching circumstances that breaks Nirmala to pieces. A young and vibrant girl with enormous potential lives a life of absolute darkness and despondency.
Premchand’s book, Nirmala is one of a kind hard-hitting remark on the evils that prevailed back then. Dowry forced Nirmala’s mother to marry her daughter off to a life of utmost misery. The tradition of marrying young women to far older men broke their life into two, leaving no room for happiness or hope. The story is weaved beautifully wherein the series of events keeps the reader engaged and focused. This Munshi Premchand book evidently brings out his reformative mindset about the women of his time. Premchand is a revolutionist in the utmost sense.
This Munshi Premchand book was published in 1918, one of the first novels of Premchand’s career. The story deals with numerous bold topics like prostitution, sexuality, dowry, and marriage. This novel makes a high and strong statement on the topics that were left untouched by the people in his time. Talking or discussing prostitution in public was considered a disgraceful act. Premchand was courageous enough to write upon such a topic which was sure to arouse questions, debates, and various controversies among the public. Premchand books have always talked about shameful or disgraceful aspects of society. Premchand’s writings are living proof of his progressive mindset.
Sevasadan is based on the life of Suman, whose father is a respected police officer. However, to be able to pay for the lavish wedding of his daughter and afford the heft dowry, he gives in to corruption this one time. With an unfortunate turn of events, her father is put behind bars and Suman ends up marrying a poor and old guy who has been married once. All hell breaks loose for Suman with this marriage. One day with a minor conflict at home, she is forced to leave the house.
Suman, now homeless and without money is forced to join prostitution and live a life of shame. All of this evokes severe controversy among the people since Suman belonged to the prestigious clan of Brahmins. The book profoundly brings out all the aspects of the characters in the story. What follows is a series of misfortunes for Suman. All this does not even form half of this Premchand book.
Premchand knew the Pre-Independent India in and about. His deep knowledge of the psyche of the people can be found in his writings. The prevailing hypocrisy that every person rich or poor exhibited in this society was not only pathetic but absolutely ridiculous. Prostitution was popular enough to derive pleasure from but nobody liked talking about it. Even when dealing with such a bold issue, Premchand does not force his opinions on the readers rather leaves them wondering so that they form an opinion of their own. Hence, this Munshi Premchand book strikes a chord with the readers and leaves them with questions about their own society.
- Kafan (Shroud)
This Munshi Premchand book was published in the year of Premchand’s death. It was the last story that Munshi penned down. Coincidentally, the title of the book is also related to death. Kafan or Shroud is the cloth that a corpse is covered with. In Hindu tradition, it is a mandatory ritual that should take place at all costs. It is believed that the Shroud helps the dead attain salvation and makes their soul rest in peace.
The Premchand book revolves around the life of a father-son duo, Ghisu, and Madhav who belong to the clan of Dalits. The story begins on the night when Budhia, Madhav’s wife dies due to child labor. The men of the house spend their time eating potatoes rather than looking after the woman in pain. This incident truly justifies the selfishness of the central characters of the story. The two men never paid any attention to Budhia while she was alive and do not pay any respect to her even when she is dead. Their life’s joy lies in enjoying themselves without working hard to even earn money. Kafan covers a wide range of themes including selfishness, tradition, gender roles, casteism, independence, and guilt.
Premchand brilliantly brings out the best and worst in his characters. He skillfully balances his words to show us the dark side of the poverty-stricken society where castism is a major problem. The struggles of living the life of a Dalit dehumanizes both Ghisu and Madhav. They lose basic human values and become extremely selfish during the process. They stop valuing human relationships and emotions. They also tend to run away from the responsibility that they have for their own family member. This is an amazing read for anyone who wants to be aware of the caste system and its effect on people in our country. This Munshi Premchand book will leave you with a trail of thoughts and you will find yourself engaged in passive thinking.
Prema is one of the most popular Munshi Premchand books that again has a female as its protagonist. But unlike Nirmala, this story unfolds in a really unexpected way and you will be left asking for more. It covers a lot of hard-hitting topics that will make you think deeper about the norms of society. Published at a time when numerous things were talked about in hushed tone or not talked about at all, this book is a sure-shot winner.
As the name may suggest, this Premchand book revolves around the life of a young girl Prema who belongs to the upper class. She has been promised to Amritrai, a highly educated and wealthy man with an extremely progressive mindset. He is often ridiculed for his thinking among his peers. Prema is deeply in love with Amritrai and desperately wants them to get married. However, Amritrai pays more heed to his reformative work and delays the marriage by four years. When a rumor surfaces about Amritrai, Prema’s father breaks off the marriage. Prema is reduced to pieces.
What follows is a serious turn of events where we see Amritrai marrying another girl and proposing a widow remarriage in front of the whole society. Prema is left alone and shattered. Amritrai being a strong and educated man with new-age thoughts finds it hard to be accepted in society. The book is all about how this marriage that took place at odd times changes the life of all the characters and brings out their hidden traits. The twists and turns that follow in this story make it worth reading.
The narration of the book is quite intriguing and makes you read it further. Premchand has brilliantly captured the essence of the book by firstly, putting a female character in the front and secondly, writing about widow remarriage that was considered a sin back then. As you read Premchand, you will realize how subtly he highlights the most serious of issues. He just makes it easy for his readers by not burdening them under the weight of heavy words. This Munshi Premchand book makes for an interesting read especially to understand the dark rules and regulations that shaped our society.
- Rangbhumi : The Arena of Life
Premchand was most familiar with Pre-Independent India. He was a keen observer and a revolutionist which caused him to give up his government job and rebel against the system. The rebellion that Premchand carried against the system can be clearly reflected in this Premchand book. The protagonist of this book is one of the best creations of Premchand to date.
The hero of this Munshi Premchand book is Soordas, a blind beggar. Premchand satirizes the concept of an ideal hero in this story wherein the central character bears slightly no resemblance to the ideal hero standards. He is physically challenged and poor. Though faced with so many problems in life, Soordas does not give up. His actions make him a true hero. He stands up for his own rights fearlessly against the British rule. Though in abject poverty, Soordas does not lose his hope and courage.
The story is a vivid portrayal of the condition of the peasants under colonialism. The submissive nature of the Indian peasants and lack of courage and authority among them paves way for the Britishers to establish their rule and treat the Indians as slaves. Premchand’s storytelling is top-notch in this book. Soordas sets up a benchmark for all the fictional characters who have ever existed or will exist in the near future. Hence, Rangbhumi is one of the most exceptional Munshi Premchand books that you will ever read.
This is yet another of the reformative Munshi Premchand books. The book draws a close resemblance with another Premchand book titled Prema. Prema was the first novel that he wrote and Pratigya was next in line. The characters of this story are quite similar to that of Prema. The story has some strong yet delicate themes like widow remarriage, love, friendship, extra-marital affair, and trust.
With the same set of characters as in Munshi Premchand’s book Prema, this book is centred around the lives of two best friends Amritrai and Daannath. Amritrai is a lawyer and a reformist who has been married once. He is supposed to marry Prema but gets influenced by a speech on widow remarriage and takes a vigorous oath to marry a widow only. Prema gets married to Daannath. Coincidentally, Prema’s best friend Poorna is a widow now and marries Amritrai. Further, Kamala Prasad who is Prema’s brother and already married falls in love with Poorna and promises to leave his wife for her.
This one among all the Munshi Premchand books is an appealing read. Premchand explores the depth of human relationships with the utmost grace and affection. The characters are confusing at times but brutally honest and very real. The story highlights the two most taboo topics of Indian society: widow remarriage and extramarital affairs. Both these practices are not so common even today. Premchand provides an intense perspicacity into the Indian mindset with this book. If you liked Prema and want to know what happens to the characters consequently, this is your pick!
- Panch Parmeshwar
First published in the year 1922, among all the Munshi Premchand books, this one is centred on the theme of justice, friendship, reconciliation, and realization. Premchand elegantly captures the dilemma that one is faced with when told to choose between friendship and code of ethics. The system of Panchayat which still predominates in rural India is perfectly described in this Premchand book. Premchand never fails to capture the heart of the rural lifestyle in his writings.
This Munshi Premchand book revolves around the life of two best friends, Algu Chaudhary and Jumman Sheikh. Nothing is common between them except their outlook on life. On an occasion when Algu is elected as the Panch or the lawgiver, he makes a decision that is against his friend Jumman’s favour. Jumman feels betrayed and destroyed by Algu’s gesture. This creates a feud between the two. Days pass by and on a similar event, justice is to be served and Jumman is elected as the Panch. A decision is to be taken between his friend and an opposing party. You have to read it for yourself to find out what happens next to the two friends: Do they reconcile or get separated forever?
Panchayat is a common practice that takes place in rural India wherein a group of five serve as the jury members with a head or Panch to guide them and give the final verdict. This story distinctly states the true meaning of justice and its importance in the life of people. When deciding between right or wrong, one should look past all their personal friendships, relationships, or attachments, and focus only on the truth. A person in power is solely responsible to see to the act that justice is served at all conditions. This Munshi Premchand book truly lifts up to the motto of Satyamev Jayate or truth thrives. Premchand gives a lesson for life to all those in power! This book will make you wonder about the judiciary system and praise Premchand’s brilliance to write about such a topic.
Now that you are at the end of this list, you will realize that a writer like Premchand has only walked the face of this earth once. There was and will be just one Premchand to ever exist in the world of Literature. Premchand books have a world of their own. If you have read one or more of his works, make sure to get your hands on all these books. All of his creations are a genuine work of art and imagination. They are worth your time and energy. You can also read more books by Indian authors here.