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Purushottam Agrawal

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Occupation  writer, academic
Notable awards  still counting

Name  Purushottam Agrawal
Role  Writer
Purushottam Agrawal

Born  25 August 1955 (age 60)Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh (1955-08-25)
Alma mater  Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
Education  Jawaharlal Nehru University

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Kavita par purushottam agrawal


(Hindi:हिंदी पुरुषोत्तम अग्रवाल, born August 25, 1955) is an Indian writer, academic, novelist, literary critique, theologian, secularist, columnist, and broadcaster.


Early life

He is born in the city of Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh in the year of 1955 on August 25.

Academic Life

He is a M.A. (Masters of Arts) in Political Science, 1977 from Jiwaji University, Gwalior and in Hindi Literature, 1979 from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He was awarded a PhD degree by Jawaharlal Nehru University in 1985 on the topic of The Social Meaning of Kabir's Bhakti under the supervision of Prof. Namwar Singh.

He is a former chairman of the following places: Center of Indian Languages, School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University; Chief Advisor, Hindi textbooks (classes VI-XII), NCERT, New Delhi (2005–07), He taught at Ramjas College, University of Delhi (1982–90), served as Associate Professor, Center of Indian Languages, JNU (1990–2003). Professor of Hindi literature, Center of Indian Languages, School of Languages, Literature and Culture Studies (SLLCS), JNU (2003–07).

He was a British Academy Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Oriental Studies, Cambridge University and a Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge University, United Kingdom in 2002. He has also served as a visiting professor at the El Colegio de Mexico (National College of Mexico, Mexico City) during May–July 2002.

He has served as Chief Advisor (2003–06) of the 'Peaceful co-existence in South Asia' project of the Aman Trust, Delhi. As a consultant to Oxfam, India (1998–2002), he organized interfaces of scholars, creative artists and social activists as part of the Violence Amelioration and Mitigation Project (VMAP). Of particular value have been the interfaces between Kabir-panthis and the scholars of Kabir, and conferences on the question of social identities and a dialogue on Spirituality without Religion. His writings have been included in a course called 'Public intellectuals of India' offered by the College of Mexico, Mexico City.

Between 2 July 2007 – July 2013 he was a member of the Union Public Service Commission, New Delhi.

Anti Communalism Movement

Agrawal is a known crusader against communalism, specifically, Hindu right wing communalism of Rashtriy Swayan Sewak Sangh in India. Since his university life at JNU he was involved in anti-communalism movement. A Large part of his intellectual work is centered against communalism. He has been speaking against communalism in many ways. He has a brilliant understanding of Hindu Communalism.

''Kan-Kan men Vyape hain Ram, Mat Bhadkao Danga Lekar Unka Nam" (कण-कण में व्यापे हैं राम, मत भड़काओ दंगा लेकर उनका नाम), Agrawal coined famous slogan against communal tension in north India and Babari Masjid demolition.

Reservation Policy and MIRRA

When a UPA government led by Indian National Congress at the center introduced a 27 percent reservation in central institutions of higher education, the debate on reservation policy surfaced again. Irrational and unscientific methods were questioned. Many intellectuals who support reservation as tool of improving impoverished communities and Dalits also questioned the method of reservation. Agrawal addressed this aspect and proposed the Multiple Index Related Affirmative Action (MIRRA) rather than an existing form of caste based reservation. Originally published as "Beyond Caste" in Tehelka newspaper.

Identity Politics, Discourse and Literature

Agrawal is a credible critic of identity politics, discourse in India, specifically in the Hindi public sphere.

Indigenous Modernity and Critic of Euro-Centric Modernity

Purushottam Agrawal is known for conceptualization of Indigenous Modernity in Hindi. He says that the traits of modernity in India are older than western modernity. He refers to the Bhakti Movement in India, specifically Sant poets and Kabir to show the indigenous modernity. He says that western scholars have named Pre-British India as a medieval era but in India this period is not as 'medieval' as it was in the west. These scholars have imposed their experience and concept of modernity on the historiography of this era. He says if we forget Euro-Centric concept of modernity for a moment and study our history we shall find the indigenous modernity. He proves that Sant poets look more modern than the reformers who led modernity to happen. He compares Kabir with Martin Luther and proves that Kabir was for more modern than Luther. Martin Luther was full of hatred against Jews but Kabir not only criticised every form of communalism but rejects organised religion also. The features of modernity is quite strongly visible in Kabir. Luther (1483-1546) was Kabir's contemporary.

1.Teesara Rukh

Teesara Rukh is a collection of literary and cultural essays),

Shivdan Singh Chauhan

A monograph in "Makers of Indian Literature" series published by Sahitya Akademy, Delhi.

2. Sanskriti: Varchsva aur Pratirodh

Sanskriti : Varchasva Aur Pratirodh is a collection of cultural and political essays related to gender, caste and identity politics.

3. Nij Brahma Vichar: Dharma, Samaj aur Dharmetar Adhyatma

This book is a collection of essays on religion, spirituality and philosophy originally published in Jansatta newspaper under the column of Mukhamukham.

4. Vichar ka Ananta

Vichar ka Anant is a collection of theoretical and cultural essays published in 2000 by Rajakamal Prakashan, New Delhi. This is a collection of articles on various issues ranging from Mutiny of 1857 to Kabir, from Sanskrit poetics to Post- Modernism between 1992 and 2000.

5. Akath Kahani Prem Ki : Kabir ki Kavita aur Unka Samay

Akatha Kahani Prem ki : Kabir ki kavita aur Unka samay published in 2009 by Rajkamal Publication, New Delhi.

6. Hindi Saray: Astrakhan via Yerevan

Hindi Saray : Astrakhan via Yerevan is a travelogue published by Rajkamal Publication, New Delhi in 2012.

7. Scholaris ki Chhanv Men

This book is a collection of his articles published in Jansatta Hindi daily during 2005 to 2007 as part of his weekly column- 'Mukhamukham'. 'Scholaris ki Chhanv Men' published by Rajkamal Prakashan, New Delhi in July 2015. Alstonia Scholar

Kiya - Ankiya

'Kiya-Ankiya' is a representative selection from the vast and diverse world of writings of Purushottam Agrawal. This selection is edited by Om Thanvi, former editor Jansatta Hindi Daily and co-edited by Anand Pandey. This selection meant to give readers a holistic and representative glimpse of his writing. This collection has changed perspective of many who used to understand them differently. The readers and intellectuals find this collection very useful and purposeful. This is published by Rajkamal Prakashan, New Delhi in 2015.


He has published his debut novel Nacohus in 2015 from Rajkamal Prakashan, New Delhi. NACOHUS is abbreviation of National Commission of Hurt Sentiments. In contemporary India there is a growing threats against free speech and right to expression.

Leading Hindi novelist Mridula Garg introduces this novel as follow, which is published on the cover page of the novel:"हमारे समकाल के बदलते परिदृश्य की जादुई-सी दीखती पर हर मायने में सटीक तस्वीर...."

In response to Govind Nihlani, filmmaker, Purushottam Agrawal says, "My novel is dark because I wrote it in a state of bechaini (anxiety). In truth, I would like to think of myself as in a state of neither extreme pessimism nor optimism." Nihlani had said that NACOHUS is deeply dystopian, making it hard to read. Nihlani compared this novel to George Orwell's novel 1984.

Story Teller

He is also a poet and story writer. One of his short stories, Cheng Chui published in Pragatishil Vashudha (2012). His other short story is Chaurahe Par Putala published in Naya Gyanodaya (a Bharteey Jnanpeeth Magazine). Pan Patte ki Goth (appeared in Pakhi) is a story about a renowned scientist and academician who is fighting against casteist professors and other stakeholders in an Indian University System in his own style. This style is quite different from the style of fight against caste oppression in India. Pair Ghanti is a story about feudal minded policy and casteist bureaucracy. Nacohus (appeared in Pakhi) is a short story by Agrawal which talks about mindless communal sentimentalism and irrational approach towards art and culture.

Edited Works

Kabir: Sakhi aur Sabad (A collection of Kabir’s poetry with an analytical introduction), published by National Book Trust, India, Hindi Nai chaal mein Dhali ( edited proceedings of the international symposium organized in Patna, India on the evolution of modern Hindi). He also edited and published Jigyasa, an inter-disciplinary academic journal (1983–84).

He is editor of prestigious Bhakti Series of Rajkamal Prakashan, New Delhi. In this series two books have been published till today: Nirgun Santon ke Swapn by American scholar David Lawrengan and translated by Dr. Dheerendra Bahadur Singh; second book is Tulasidas by Dr. Raman Sinha of CIL, JNU.

Columnist and Journalistic Writings

Purushottam Agrawal started contributing to the newspapers and magazines of Hindi and English on current affairs from his student days. Though core nature of his writing is philosophical, cultural and academic, he has been continuously writing on current affairs. His journalistic writing is so ample that it gives him an independent personality as a journalist, columnist and public intellectual.

He still contributes regularly to academic journals and popular magazines on wide-ranging issues of culture, literature and current affairs. Numerous articles both in Hindi and English have been published in academic journals, popular magazines and newspapers over the last twenty-five years.

Broadcaster and Media Panelist

Purushottam Agrawal is the only leading Hindi scholar who takes media, specially electronic media very seriously and uses this medium very effectively and frequently. Since the emergence of electronic media in India he is expressing himself through this. It was the time when most of the Hindi intellectuals and writers had stigma regarding this media, but Professor Agrawal foresaw the future and power of electronic media. He has been discussing wide-ranging issue related to culture, literature, politics, society, violence, peace and communal harmony sitting for hours on the prominent news channels in Hindi and English.

Currently he is presenting a program, 'Kitab', on Rajya Sabha TV as an anchor and interviewer. This program is based on the classical books of eminent people. He takes one book in one episode with one expert guest on the book. Audience also interacts with the guest and presenter. First episode was based on Nobel Laureate economist and philosopher Amartya Sen's book Argumentative Indians with Sen himself as a guest.

He not only uses electronic media but deeply understands it also. In his lectures and creative writings he is depicting the negative cultural aspects of electronic media with deeper understanding. In his novel NACOHUS he has shown the limitations and horror that market driven media creates in the minds of the masses in detail. Because of his comprehensive and scientific understanding of media as phenomenon and reality he has never been a blind supporter or advocate of the infotainment revolution in India. He is one of the strongest critics of media, specially electronic media.

Film Critic

Purushottam Agrawal is a big fan of cinema, specially Bollywood cinema. He not only loves to watch cinema but to write on it also. He has written numerous articles and reviews on Hollywood and Bollywood films. He has published a book- Badalati Surat Waqt ki Badalati Murat Waqt ki- composed of his selected articles on films as ebook by He has written on film personalities like Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak, Vimol Roy etc. and films like Fahrenheit 451. He rewieved film The Da Vinci Code.

1. Majbooti Ka Naam Mahatma Gandhi

It is a published version of annual Gandhi Lecture, organized by Gandhi Peace Foundation, Delhi.


He is awarded with Devi Shankar Awasthy Samman for Teesra Rukh, 1996, and Mukutdhar Pandey Samman for Sanskriti: Varchaswa aur Pratirodh, 1997 and Pratham Rajkamal Pandulipi Puraskar for Akath Kahani Prem Ki : Kabir Ki Kavita Aur Unka Samay(2009).


Purushottam Agrawal Wikipedia