India, with eighteen officially recognized languages, uses English as
an additional official language. The Indo-Aryan languages evolved from
Sanskrit. Hindi is the official language of the Government of India, and
is also the official language of six states. Hindi has several dialects.
Haiku has not gained
popularity in India for several reasons. Although the haiku poem was
known to poets as far back as the beginning of the
twentieth century it did not become popular and the spread of haiku
poetry was sporadic. The Indian Nobel Laureate, Rabindranath Tagore,
about Japanese culture and literary heritage. He was aware of the haiku
poem and his collection of haiku like poems, Fireflies, was published
in English and Bengali. In 1916 the other national poet—Subramania
Bharati—wrote a long essay under the title "Japaniyat Kavitai," (Japanese
poetry) which was a lengthy critical appraisal of haiku where Bharati
examined at length the opinion on haiku poems expressed by a Japanese
poet, Yone Noguchi.
A three day seminar
on 'Impact of Haiku in Indian Literature' was held at the Institute
of Asian Studies based in Chennai (Madras)
of March 2000. Several poets from India and Japan participated in
this seminar, but till now the abstracts of papers presented there
The pioneer of haiku is India's first Japanese scholar, Prof. Satya
Bhushan Verma, whose first translation of Japanese haiku into Hindi—Japani Kavitaian—was published in 1977. In 1981 Prof. Verma started a newsletter
in Hindi called Haiku. This was in the form of an aerogramme. This
was discontinued in 1989. Prof. Satya Bhushan Verma, now a professor
of Jawaharlal Nehru University, was chosen for the Masaoka Shiki International
Haiku Prize in 2002. He shared the one million yen prize with an American
poet, Cor van den Heuvel.
The second Indian
whose efforts are to be commended is Prof. B.S. Aggarwala who publishes
a Hindi quarterly journal called Haiku Bharati,
in 1998 and continuing till today. There are about 300 poets writing
in their native mother tongues associated with this quarterly Hindi
Some haiku are translated from the original into Hindi, and then
published. Prof. Aggarwala, the author of several books in Hindi,
working on a history of haiku in Hindi.
English language haiku
in India is slowly finding a foothold and there are quite a few haijin
writing in English, but most of these
haiku is being published abroad. Some poets are bilingual or multilingual,
haiku written in one language does not get easily assimilated
One sees every recognized form of the English poem taught in schools
all over India, but haiku is not taught.
Unfortunately, India does not
have any formal haiku association or club. There are some Indian poetry
magazines in which haiku are being published
in English; however, the Indian haiku scene is still far from satisfactory
and needs all the help it can get. Books about haiku are still almost
non existent and difficult to obtain. Unless haiku is introduced into
the schools it will not gain the attention it deserves. The language
for the study of haiku in India will have to be English, so that Indian
can communicate and share haiku with poets worldwide.
essay is reprinted by permission of the author. It was originally
published on the Haiku International Association's webpage: http://www.haiku-hia.com/hyoron_en.html
a haiku poet and artist from India. She has a keen interest in promoting
haiku and its related forms throughout the world. Her artwork is
a form of modern digital haiga. She tells us that it provides her with an opportunity
to share different cultural perspectives with a view to improved friendships
Her haiku and haiga
have been published internationally in various books, journals and on
She is a member of several haiku groups worldwide, the chief among them being
the Haiku Society of America, Haiku Society of Canada, and Haiku International
Association-Japan, Meguro International Friendship Association-Japan, Evergreen
Haiku Society-Japan and the World Haiku Association-Japan.
In her work life,
Angelee is an eye surgeon, a member of International Arts Medicine Association
and is published in medical magazines.
She lives in Chandigarh
her physician husband, a son and two dogs.