The history of Hindi poetry in the 20th Century is a history of its growing distance from the masses. Over the decades, a neat division among poets has come about. There are ‘high brow’ poets whose poetry is read and appreciated by a small number of poetry lovers, and there are ‘low brow’ poets whose poetry is heard and admired by thousands of people in kavi sammelans. Thus, poetry that can offer aesthetic pleasure and intellectual nourishment remains confined to a limited number of people while poetry that aims at providing momentary thrill and pedestrian entertainment manages to reach a very wide audience. Gone are the days of Harivansh Rai ‘Bachchan’ or Ramdhari Singh ‘Dinkar’ who could sway the audiences with their poetry without making any compromises with its literary quality. However, there was one notable exception to this rule – Nagarjun, the people’s poet whose 106th birth anniversary has just passed us by on June 30. Like Rahul Sankrityayana, Nagarjun too was a phenomenon. While Rahul was an intellectual colossus, Nagarjun was a literary giant. Born as Vaidyanath Mishra in the Mithila region of Bihar, he too went to Tibet and Sri Lanka and became a Buddhist monk. […]