Karmendu Shishir Shodhagar (KSS): An Introduction

Karmendu Shishir Shodhagar (KSS) is the first international archival collection of Hindi literary little magazines (Laghupatrikās). The project tries to digitize, catalogue and document the vibrant literary circles of North India. Unique to the Shodhagar is the attempt to retrieve now-almost-extinct little Hindi literary magazines and journals (Laghupatrikās), currently about 4500 issues, covering the period from 1883 to 1947 and from 1947 to 2009.

Literary aspirations and movements, mutual appreciations and rivalries are fought out on the pages of Laghupatrikās before their canonization into the literary world. The website of the Karmendu Shishir Shodhagar, categorized according to areas of interest and topics by literary experts from India and Germany, shall aim to establish itself as one of the significant addresses for students as well as scholars of contemporary South Asian history and literature.

Urdu Section

The Urdu section of the archive includes a large collection of publications by the famous Munshi Naval Kishore Press, Lucknow, published between 1870 and 1970. Besides literary works of all kinds in Urdu, the section contains:

(1) Persian classics like the Masnavī-e-maʿnavī, the Gulistān and the Bostān of Sheikh Saadi;

(2) Urdu translations of Hindu scriptures like the Mahābhārat, the Bhagvad Gītā, the Liṅga Purāṇ and Hindu ritual texts like the Ekādaśī Mahātam;

(3) Urdu translations of popular English fiction, including bestsellers of their time like the novels of George W.A. Reynolds, who, in his Urdu avatar, was a remarkable influence even for young Munshi Premchand;

(4) books on Unani medicine and practical knowledge as e.g. The Book of Horse or Faras-nāma-e Rangīn (26th ed., 1925) by the well known poet Sa̔ādat Yār Khān Rangīn, the initiator of rekhta poetry in Urdu literature in early 19th century Lucknow.


Letters, Images and CDs

At present the Shodhagar includes significant Hindi journals (amounting to ca. 4500 issues), hundreds of hand-written letters of literary personalities (before the advent of the mobile phone effectively snuffed out the art of letter-writing in India!), about 300 photographs on CDs, an album of forty celebrated writers as well as laminated photographs of 20 writers.

Books and Sañcayan Śṛṅkhalā

Besides journals the Shodhagar contains some rare Hindi classics on history, culture, language, history of literature, art, music, poetry, novel, short story, drama, criticism, memoirs and folk literature etc. (for example, the first edition of the celebrated Hindi translation of the Majjhim Nikāy by Rahul Sankrityayan from Pali, 1933).

One section consists of exhaustively categorized newspaper clippings (about 5000 pages) on important literary issues and personalities. The material of the Sañcayan Śṛṅkhalā consists of articles, talks, book-reviews, interviews, reminiscences of/on authors and their works published in newspapers. They have been retrieved before they disappear from the Hindi literary world without a trace.

Rare Issues and Special Numbers

The oldest Hindi journals in the Archive include issues from Bhāratendu edited by Rādhācaraṇ Gosvāmī (1883), Ānand Kādambinī brought out by Bābū Badrīnārāyaṇ Caudharī (1883-1884), as well as Sāmyavādī (1926).

The Shodhaghar houses almost all Hindi literary magazines of significance brought out after India’s Independence (1947). A substantial section of the Laghupatrikās in this Archive has become rare in Indian libraries and archives. Normally these Laghupatrikās started off with great enthusiasm and limited resources, demanding immense sacrifice on the part of littérateurs and their close ones. Many of them stumbled through some years of publication until they were forced to wind up owing to lack of resources. A substantial part of them is not available even with their editors or publishers today.

Nevertheless, the historical importance of these rare issues is not to be underestimated as they effectively underline the dreams and aspirations of a literary or political personality, of a group or a section of society. The Laghupatrikās of the Shodhagar cover a wide range of issues and articles that may help the younger generation and scholars in locating the social and literary milieus and their sensibilities in proper perspective. A large number of magazines are special volumes focusing on a particular social or literary issue or celebrated personality or author; some of them are on Mahadevi Varma, Uday Prakash, Vijay Kumar, Nirmal Varma, Agnishekhar, Nayī Kavitā, 1857. Some journals survived only for a few years but they nevertheless left their deep mark on the literary landscape, for example Aṇimā, Abhirūci and Nayā Sāhitya etc.

For two important magazines, namely, Pahal and Dharmyug, detailed catalogues and indices are available in print. They not only indicate the contents of the magazines, but also provide information regarding the historical background and the personalities (editors, literary movements etc.) associated with them as well as the importance of the respective magazines.

The collection of magazines mostly available in libraries and academic institutions in India consist of widely read journals of well-known publishing houses. This Shodhagar, however, lays great emphasis on making the ‘insignificant’ voices of disparate regional and social groups equally heard. Some examples of these are:

  • Yuddhrat Ām Ādmī from Hazaribagh, Jharkhand, brought out especially for and by (a sizeable number of contributors being) women, dalits and adivasis;
  • Śeṣ from Jodhpur, Rajasthan specializing in translating regularly from Urdu literature into Hindi;
  • Ādhī Zamīn representing the voice of the militant women’s movement;
  • Filhāl for social and economic change;
  • Farīdābād Mazdūr Samācār (since 1982) for autonomous social transformation anchored in the experiences of (60-70 percent of contributors being) workers from Gurgaon, Okhla and Faridabad close to Delhi. (To be made availabe online soon.)

Digitized Sections

The Shodhagar includes CDs containing photographs of writers of the earlier and the present generation. Photographs of editors of magazines included in this collection are accompanied by short biographical sketches. This section may be further developed and extended in course of time.


Sārsudhānidhi (Essence-Nectar-Treasure)

A Hindi weekly from 19th Century India (1879-1884), Sārsudhānidhi, assumes historical importance, among other things, for its commentaries on contemporary events, such as autobiographical and biographical accounts of indentured labour from Eastern U.P. and Bihar to Mauritius, Fiji, Surinam (within the last decades of the 19th century in Colonial India).

Works of Kamta Prasad Guru (late 19th to early 20th century)

Some of the lesser known and unpublished works have been put together to offer a glimpse into the first treatise on Hindi grammar (by Kamta Prasad Guru) as well as examples of early prose writing in Hindi.

Issues of Kalpnā and Pratīk

The Archive possesses some of the rare issues of Pratīk and Nayā-Pratīk brought out by Ajñeya as a response to the Progressive presence in the Hindi literary sphere during the first decades after the Independence (1947). Another journal representing this trend is Kalpnā.

Nirmal Varma Papers

A collection of some literary criticisms and letters of Nirmal Varma that gives fresh insight into the life and writings of this master story teller.


Following the 150th celebration of 1857 in 2007 a unique collection of documents, anthologies and new material unearthed by researchers has been compiled as a part of the Sañcayan Śṛṅkhalā.

Content list of Pahal

Here you can download the introduction and list of contents categorized according to various topics like book reviews, memoirs, poems and literary critical essays in Pahal (1973-2009), edited by Gyanranjan: PDF download [Caution! Yet to be edited: diacritical marks etc.]. We want to catalogue other magazines on similar lines.

Printed Catalogue

A detailed catalogue of the contents of the Shodhagar has been provided in three separate volumes for smooth and quick reference.

Some remaining parts of the Shodhagar are still on their way to Germany and will be catalogued as and when they are available.

To be completed

Archival Part

(1) Priority will be given to complete the project of cataloguing and indexing the remaining part of the Shodhaghar. A bibliographical database will be created to provide information about the content of the Hindi journals and magazines and the Urdu publications of Munshi Naval Kishore Press with the help of a search engine.

(2) To archive and prepare detailed catalogues and content lists of Urdu literary magazines from India and Pakistan.

(3) Creation of an audio-visual database on the editors and writers of the first generation Laghupatrikas from 1947 to 1980.

Literary Part

The Shodhagar will encourage publication and republication of important works in collaboration with interested publishers. The Shodhagar will also provide texts from its archive for reprint, if needed.
Among publications under preparation we would like to mention:

(1) Unpublished works of the poet Somdatt (1938-1989).

(2) Parādhinoṁ kī vijay yātrā by Munshi Navjādik Lal Shrivāstav (1934) to be republished with foreword under the editorship of the literary critic Manager Pandey.

An audio-visual survey of Urdu and Hindi literary journals and events will be accessible at regular interval on our homepage.

We look forward to establish closer contact with international institutions, Departments of Indology or South Asian Studies in Europe and in India for intensive cooperation and for common projects in the field of academic research and promotion of intercultural understanding between South Asia and the World.