Niranjan Bhagat strode like a colossus on the Gujarati literature scene in the 2nd half of the 20th century and the first two decades of the 21st century. His deep studies of several Gujarati poets and his critical essays on them collected in eight volumes of ‘swadhyaylok’ are an invaluable treasure of Gujarati literature. This included Dayaram, Akho, Mirabai, Balvantrai Thakore, Kant and others. His own poems were a departure in Gujarati poetic tradition as he captured the urban scene with its street life and characters. His contribution to Gujarati poetry exhibited a unique pattern. After a productive period of about two decades, during which 5 collections of poems were published, a period of silence followed for four decades. The harvest that followed the silence is bound to colloquialise and spiritualise Gujarati poetry.
Tagore had made a deep impression on him and to reach him directly he taught himself Bengali. He translated Chitrangada, Tagore’s verse play. His study of world literature spanned a vast canvas ranging from the ancient Greek to the modern poets. He pioneered global literary studies in Gujarat.
Generations of students were initiated by him in English and Gujarati literature. He left a deep impression on them and an indelible impact. Besides literature, he displayed deep appreciation and sensitivity to other forms of art like plays, films, paintings etc. Many friends from different walks of life and diverse backgrounds became his great admirers. He was like a magnet for all those who came in his contact. His perennial curiosity till the last day not only got expressed in his vast knowledge on diverse subjects but was a great inspiration for all those who engaged with him.
His social and political philosophy was rooted in liberal tradition with freedom of expression at the centre. The ideals of truth and universal humanism propounded by Tagore, were also the guiding principles for Niranjan Bhagat.
With his tall and slim figure, a stern but curious countenance and a firm and sonorous voice, his was a charismatic personality which attracted students, litterateurs, scholars and eminent persons from varied walks of life. They adored him!
He was the recipient of many awards and accolades in his life. He neither sought or coveted them. Above all, he was a modern liberal citizen of India with deep sensitivity, great erudition and a fearless non-dogmatic thinker.
This Trust has been founded by his friends and family to commemorate him and to take forward his life’s work.