Gajanan Madhav Muktibodh (गजानन माधव मुक्तिबोध) (13 November 1917 – 11 September 1964) was one of the most prominent Hindi poets, essayist, literary and political critic, and fiction writers of the 20th century. He also remained assistant-editor of journals like, Naya Khun and Vasudha etc.
He is widely considered one of the pioneers of modern poetry in India, and doyen of Hindi poetry after, Surya Kant Tripathi 'Nirala', and known as being a pioneer, the mainstay of PrayogvaadExperimentalism movement of Hindi literature and it was also his work, which also marked the culmination of this literary movement and its evolution into the Nayi Kahani and Nayi KavitaModernism in 1950s, his presence is equally important in the rise of 'New Criticism' in Indian literature.
Brahmarakshas (ब्रह्मराक्षस) is considered his most influential work in experimental poems, noted for the use of archetypal imagery, and the stark depiction of the contemporary intellectual, who gets so lost in his own sense of perfectionism, unending calculations, and subjective interpretation of the external reality that soon he loses touch with the reality itself, and eventually dies and fades away like dead bird.
His work was deeply influenced by his viewpoints of Marxism, Socialism and Existentialism, and carried an innate expression of his deep discontent, heightened by his virulent imagery. He continued to show his progressive streak even after the disintegration of the Progressive Writers' Movement after 1953; and, through the rest of his career, he along with writers like, Yashpal, continued his ideological fight against modernist and formalist trends in Hindi literature.
He is best known for his long poems:Brahma-rakshasa (ब्रह्मराक्षस), Chand ka Muh Teda hai (The Moon Wears a Crooked Smile) (चाँद का मुहँ टेढ़ा है),Andhere Mein (In the Dark) (अंधेरे में) and Bhuri Bhuri Khak Dhul (The Brown Dry Dust) (भूरी भूरी ख़ाक धूल); his complete works extending to 6 volumes, were published in 1980, as Muktibodh Rachnavali.
His first individual book was published in 1964, when he was on his death-bed: [Chand Ka Muh Teda Hai  (चाँद का मुहँ टेढ़ा है). Although Muktibodh could not manage to get his works published, as a book in his lifetime, he was one of the contributing poets to the first three volumes of Tar Saptak, a series of path-breaking poetry anthologies, edited by Ajneya."Bhoori Bhoori Khak Dhool"is the collection of his remaining poems.His complete work is available as 'Muktibodh Rachnavali"edited by Nemichand Jain.
He is today considered a bridge between the Progressive movement in Hindi poetry and the Nayi Kavita (Modern Poetry) movement.
Muktibodh made a name for himself in the field of criticism as well, with his strong views on the upper caste influence on the disintegration of Bhakti movement in India, which he viewed a lower caste uprising against the hegemony upper caste. In literary criticism, he wrote a critical work on Kamayani of literary doyen, Jaishankar Prasad titled: Kamayani, Ek Punarvichar.
Ek Sahityik ki Diary, first written for his column in the weekly Naya Khun, and later continued in the journal Vasudha, published from Jabalpur (1957–60), offers a glimpse of his literary and socio-political criticism, and insights into his way of thinking, and was first published in 1964. It is most noted for the article, Teesra Kshana (Third Moment), where he shows his preference for the hypothesis of three successive stages in the creative process, of inspiration, impersonalisation and expression, rather than a single moment of inspiration
(चाँद का मुहँ टेढ़ा है)
नगर के बीचों-बीच
अंधेरे की काली स्याह
शिलाओं से बनी हुई
भीतों और अहातों के,
काँच-टुकड़े जमे हुए
ऊँचे-ऊँचे कन्धों पर
चांदनी की फैली हुई
अहाते के उस पार
धूम्र मुख चिमनियों के ऊँचे-ऊँचे
मीनारों के बीचों-बीच
चांद का है टेढ़ा मुँह!!
The wind's sari border quivers
bullets pierce empty
nests on the fig-tree
Bald detective of pale moonlight
wander the city streets
penetrating its many secret woes
in multiangular corners...
and further on:
Her lips turn dark
a sculpted torso in a harijan temple
gnarled banyan roots
misty ghosts of lime-smeared rags
The lustful eye of the bald crooked moon...
A Hindi feature film, Satah Se Uthata Aadmi (Arising from the Surface), with script and dialogues by him, was directed by veteran film director, Mani Kaul, and shown at Cannes Film Festival in 1981. In 2004, "Brahmarakshas ka Shishya", a dramatization of Muktibodh's story, was presented in New Delhi by Soumyabrata Choudhury.
His novel, Vipatra has also been made into an audio book for the blind.
His brilliance was recognised by the literary world after the posthumous publication of Chand Ka Munh Tedha Hai, the first collection of his poems, in the early 1960s. Ever since, the book has run into several editions, and is recognised as a modern classic. In his memory, Madhya Pradesh Sahitya Parishad, has instituted the annual MuktiBodh Puraskar.
In 2004, 'Muktibodh Smarak', a memorial was set up at the 'Triveni Sangrahalaya' in Rajnandgaon in Chhattisgarh, along with fellow poets of Chhattisgarh, Padumlal Punnalal Bakshi and Baldeo Prasad Mishra.
^Dalit "According to Gajanan Madhav Muktibodh: the Bhakti movement began as a revolt of the lower castes/lower classes against the upper castes/upper classes; it drew people from all castes/classes but the egalitarian agenda was generally raised by the lower caste saints; and, when the movement was taken over by the upper castes, the entire movement disintegrated."