Upcoming Events

Akshaya Mukul | Writer, Rebel, Soldier, Lover

Akshaya Mukul | Writer, Rebel, Soldier, Lover

  5 - 6:30 p.m.
  341 SSEAS Library. (Located on Level F) Dwinelle Hall

Akshaya Mukul
Rahul Bjørn Parson

Join us for a conversation on Writer, Rebel, Soldier, Lover: The Many Lives of Agyeya, between author Akshaya Mukul and Assistant Professor of Hindi Literature, Rahul Bjørn Parson.

DATE: Thursday, October 13, 2022
TIME: 5pm Berkeley | Calculate Your Local Time
VENUE: 341 Dwinelle Hall (Located on Level F)
This event will also be live streamed on the Institute's FB page: ISASatUCBerkeley


Sachchidanand Hirananda Vatsyayan ‘Agyeya’ is unarguably one of the most remarkable figures of Indian literature. From his revolutionary youth to acquiring the mantle of a (highly controversial) patron saint of Hindi literature, Agyeya’s turbulent life also tells a history of the Hindi literary world and of a new nation-spanning as it does two world wars, Independence and Partition, and the building and fraying of the Nehruvian state.

Akshaya Mukul’s comprehensive and unflinching biography is a journey into Agyeya’s public, private and secret lives. Based on never-seen-before archival material-including a mammoth trove of private papers, documents of the CIA-funded Congress for Cultural Freedom and colonial records of his years in jail-the book delves deep into the life of the nonconformist poet-novelist. Mukul reveals Agyeya’s revolutionary life and bomb-making skills, his CIA connection, a secret lover, his intense relationship with a first cousin, the trajectory of his political positions, from following M.N. Roy to exploring issues dear to the Hindu right, and much more. Along the way, we get a rare peek into the factionalism and pettiness of the Hindi literary world of the twentieth century, and the wondrous and grand debates which characterized that milieu.

Writer, Rebel, Soldier, Lover features a formidable cast of characters: from writers like Premchand, Phanishwarnath Renu, Raja Rao, Mulk Raj Anand and Josephine Miles to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, revolutionary Chandra Shekhar Azad and actor Balraj Sahni. And its landscapes stretch from British jails, an intellectually robust Allahabad and modern-day Delhi to monasteries in Europe, the homes of Agyeya’s friends in the Himalayas and universities in the US. This book is a magnificent examination of Agyeya’s civilizational enterprise.

Ambitious and scholarly, Writer, Rebel, Soldier, Lover is also an unputdownable, whirlwind of a read.

Akshaya Mukul is an independent researcher. He is the author of Writer, Rebel, Soldier, Lover: The Many Lives of Agyeya and Gita Press and the Making of Hindu India. The latter won every major non-fiction award in India on its release, including the Crossword Book Award, Ramnath Goenka Award, Tata Literature Live Award, Atta-Galatta-Bangalore Literature Festival Prize and the Shakti Bhatt Award. An alumni of Delhi University, he has been a journalist for 24 years and worked at The Times of India, Hindustan Times, The Pioneer and the Asian Age. He has written extensively on Indian politics, education and culture and has contributed essays for India: A Conceptual Lexicon for the 21st Century, edited by Rukmini Bhaya Nair and Peter Ronald deSouza, and A Functioning Anarchy? Essays for Ramachandra Guha, edited by Srinath Raghavan and Nandini Sundar. Akshaya Mukul is the author of Mukul is the recipient of the Homi Bhabha, Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund and the New India Foundation fellowships.