Legendary writer and social activist Mahasweta Devi passed away on Thursday at a Kolkata’s Belle Vue Clinic after undergoing treatment for two months. She was 90 and suffering from old age ailments. Padma Vibhushan Mahasweta Devi has also won the Sahitya Akademi award and Jnanpith award for her literary excellence and the Magasaysay award for her social work. She is survived by her daughter-in-law and grandchild. Her son died in 2014. “She passed away at 3.16 p.m. following a cardiac arrest and multi-organ failure,” the doctor said, IANS reported. “Her condition deteriorated at 3 PM. We tried our level best, but suddenly her condition became very bad and at 3.16 pm she passed away,” P. Tandon, CEO of the nursing home said.
The renowned social activist and writer was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh in the year 1926 writers Manish Ghatak and Dharitri Devi. Mahasweta Devi was known all over the world for her literary works which brought out reality in the simplest and starkest of ways. The fact that is not known to many is that she was the sister of famous pioneer Bengali film director Ritwik Ghatak. She was the wife of a famous Bengali actor, Bijon Bhattacharya. Famous revolutionary writer, Nabarun Bhattacharya was her son. She published her first book in 1956. It was titled ‘Jhansir Rani’ (The Queen of Jhansi). She was a professor at Bijoygarh college, and also did journalism. After retiring in 1984, she dedicated the rest of her life to literature and social work.
Her social work is widely known, and also known as ‘The mother of the Sabars’ because of her work for the welfare of tribal communities especially with the ‘Sabars’, a de-notified tribal community in the Purulia district of West Bengal. She has more than a hundred novels published many more short stories collection. Hers works like Hazaar Chaurasir Maa, Sunghursh, Gangor, Rudaali and Maati Maay, have inspired many filmmakers and theatre directors all over the world. Hajar Churashir Ma, one of her most favourite novels, based on the Naxalite movement, was made into a film by Govind Nihalani in 1998.