Remembering Shanta Shelke on Her Birthday – 12th October 1922

Shanta Janardan Shelke, the well known Marathi Poetess and one of the most talented creative  Female Literati from Maharashtra has over a 100 Books to her credit including poetry collections, translations, and novels. She blossomed in stages, from Journalist to Professor, Translator of Novels and literature, to Poet and Composer. Her First identity is that she was important prominent Feminist writer and Poetess from India. It is creditable that despite coming from Rural background and socially backward strata she could compose more than 200 songs in Marathi and Hindi infused with progressive messages, emotions and melodies of unforgettable nature. Her Poetic verses inspired singers and music Directors to create coherent and logical fusion of verses and alluring music.                            

Shanta Shelke- Unforgettable Lyricist

Shanta Shelke’s, known as Shantabai’s  Song and Lyrics, “असेन मी, नसेन मी, तरी असेल गीत हे, फुलाफुलांत येथल्या उद्या हसेल गीत हे I(Whether I will exist or not, this song will be there forever) remained her Unforgettable Song and Lyrics. Filled to the brink with its lyricism, Mellifluence and melancholy offers testimony of immortality of her creativity. Hence date of her Birth, 12th October 1922 cannot be forgotten.  

Shanta Shelke

Whether I will exist or not, this song will be there forever .

In Flowers, tomorrow  the song will smile with bloom -1

The warm sunlight around, will be filled with intoxicating fragrance.

Deep inside my mind I felt somewhat the same  when I look on you.-2

This song will alight, like a butterfly in the grass.

It’s ‘self’, perpetually  awake and alive in the mind, does not call for

tune and rhythm – 3

Remains Silent and speaks out everything in the unconscious. 

Amidst Flickering  light, in water, the Song will glimpse.-4

Who and what one knows, how and where,we will be tomorrow

 Lines are drawn in Blue sky, do not erase feelings.-5

You will  understand the meaning  of the song, dwelling in your mind

As a talented lyricist, she wrote Hundreds of Lyrics for Marathi Films and is considered as  one of the pioneers of film music in Marathi cinema. She worked with famous music directors like Vasant Desai, Sudhir Phadke, Hridaynath Mangeshkar and Salil Choudhari.. Her songs have been popular and will be remembered forever!  She and her songs, gazelles,  are remembered and sung in every household. Ripples and Rythamic forms of her Poetic creations inspired the composers to translate the rhythms into musical casts to ride on to hearts of the listeners

Shanta Shelke born on 12th October 1924-22  at Indapur village Maharashtra and lived at various locations near Pune.  Her father passed away in her childhood when she was just nine years old. She completed her B.A. and M.A.(1944) subsequently wrote her first poem in 1941.She worked with Well known Marathi all rounder Editor, Achary Atre, the  Greatest orator, Dramatist and Humorist for five years as Asst. EDITOR OF Marathi popular daily Navayugand emerged as great Female literati well versed in variety of writings. Her first Album was ‘Toch Chandrma Nabhat’ and various Novels in Marathi sucj as Mukta, Gulmohar.Her Autobiography ‘DHulpathi’ is an illustration of her outstanding contribution. She was well versed with Sanskrit and English literature and Japanese language as well. 

Shanta Shelke had been a Prolific literati and her linguistic proficiency and command over vocabulary was astonishing. Her literature includes various forms such as stories, songs, film songs, novels, Journalistic writings, children’s literature , translation of outstanding works and so on. During the stages of her evolution, we can highlight milestones and landmark creations her career was shaped by her associations with Madhav Julian, her close working relationships with Well known Marathi all rounder Editor, Achary Atre, the  Greatest orator, Dramatist and Humerist for five years as Asst. EDITOR OF Marathi popular daily Navayug and Maratha transformed her into a great Female literati well versed in variety of writings.

 Well known for her linguistic proficiency she has been described as Prodigy who created pioneering works by way of translation of world renowned Female US literati Luisa May Alcott’s Little Sisters into Marathi, ‘Char Chaughi”. The Book was published in 1991. Like Alcott Shanta Shelke is known as Feminist and  remained unmarried throughout her life. Despite her tryst with multiple forms, her true love remained for poetry, even though she dabbled in various literary genres. Her poetry comes to us in various forms from slow devotional poetry to drama songs, devotional songs, koli songs, children’s songs, film songs, casual songs. Poetry was Shanta Shelke’s  life and breath. Like a bubbling spring, Poetry and songs flowed continuously from her mind and heart throughout her life..                                           

Her poems and songs have enthralled all of us and her literature has enriched language. Her poetic journey began with Varsha (1947) was his first collection of poetry. Rupsi (1956) Toch Chhandam (1973) Gondan (1975), Anolakh (1986), Kalya Anche Divas, Phule Raati (1986), Janmjanhavi (1990), Chitragite (1995), Purvasandhya (1996), Ityarth (1998) are her other works. Many of her songs have been recorded on  VCD. ‘Nakshatranche Dene’ for illustration is a unique program which includes several songs which have opened up colourful horizon of art-pieces for the receptive audiences.  We can include other literary segments of her writings as well- 

Her Anthologies, Mukta(1944), Gulmohor(1949), Premik(1956), ‘Kach’-kamal(1969), Savashna(1974), Anubandh (1980), Basari(1982), Kavala (1987), Sagarika(1990),  

Novels- Vizli Jyot (1946), Nar-rakshas (1948), Rebirth (1959), Dharma, Adha, Swapnatarang, Kojagiri, Mayecha Pazar. 

Aesthetic writing-include books like In the World of Words, Joy Tree, Dhudpati, Rain Before Rain, Ekpani, Vadildhari Manas, Memoirs, Madarangi, As I Wanted To Say, 

Translated material- these include books such as Talpushkar, Aut Ghatkecha Raja, Chaughijani, (Alcott)  Gath Paldi Thaka Thaka, Ghati Samudra, Andhli, Gajalele Foreign Films, Water On The Petals, Meghdoot.

But despite these endeavors she will be remembered because of her Poetics and which in most of the cases have been composed by musicians and singers and hence acquired status of most popular Literati.            

Saint Tradition and Shanta Shelke’s Linguistic Proficiency.

Her secularism is reflexted in her great poem,’Reshamachche Bandh’.

Saint Tukaram’s pioneering Abhang,’Amha Ghari Dhan shabdanche’, she followed in words and essence throughout her life. She carried forward the Saint Tradition in Modern Epoch of Literature. The Abhang reads as ….. and carried forward his heritage.


Saint Tukaram’s and Saint tradition’s influence on Shanta Shelke’s literature, particularly on her Poetic world, particularly his Hymn, ‘Abhang’ is note worthy and discernible. Saint Tukararam’s “आम्हा घरी धन शब्दांचीच रत्नेआम्हा घरी धन शब्दांचीच रत्ने” (Our homes are filled with Jewels of the words). This pioneering Abhang, she followed in words and essence throughout her life and carried forward his Heritage in Modern Epoch of Literature. Shanta Shelke’s linguistic proficiency was Unique and unparallel and shows that she literally followed Saint Tukaram’s  Hymns in ‘Word and Spirit”. I cannot refrain myself from reiterating this Poem in Marathi & English Both.

Her entire Poetic works is casted in the Same Mould. Her heart and mind were the ‘springs’ of Words. Her relationship with words is well rooted in her inner psyche and flowering in her poems like dreams. ‘Shabd Jeeva-Bhavache Sobati (the words are my Soulful Friends and Mates). It will not be overestimation to claim that Tukaram’s and Hymns of other Saints inspired her to venture into all forms of literature. 

The Hymn means-

Our homes are filled with wealth of the words. These jewels of words fill our homes with light of knowledge

Our efforts will always be to use these words as our weapons.

The knowledge hidden or imbibed in these words is what we live for

We will share these words , this knowledge with the people around. Look these words are divine says Tukaram.

Let us worship the knowledge hidden in these words of glory. 

Saint Tukaram’s concept of Words as GEMS and also as weapons has been utilized by Shanta Shelke in most Profound Sense in following ‘COMPOSITION’:

1 1

Similar way, the words are my Soulful Friends and Mates – Shanta Shelke 

Thus, the words are the companion of my soul

At each moment they are as close to me as breathing

So far I have been able to endure only on the support  of words

So also every joy, trauma, or all shortcomings in my life.

Today as well when the mind is choked up,

I Feel like breaking free myself to ‘words’I feel intensely that I should fully surrender my entire being to them

since they alone will be able to understand and know my ardent outbursts

Yet, I am always suspicious while approaching and dealing with the words,

their minute veins and blazing fire around them

Their sharp edges cleaving into the Heart

Which suddenly inappropriately lead to injury, covered in blood

I am ever been possessed by the words, but when will they be mine?

With their loss where can I unload their invisible burden on my heart?

 Hence we can conclude that she inherited her radical reformism from great Marathi Saint tradition. 

She was fond of words and found her own existence in the words. She had inner feelings that words are companion of her Soul and are none other than her Breathing by which she exists!. In situations when she felt choked up, uneasy or repressed she freed herself in words. She harped on the nitty-gritty’s  of  her investigations into core and essence of words. It must be said that she understood the multiple powers of ‘Words’. She spells out her suspicion about words which possess sharp edges and by cleaving into heart or their meaning flow through their minute veins or have ‘blazing power” TO Ignite. The Poem shows how versatile Shanta Shelke was  as par as Words and Language are concerned. She is considered as ‘founding mother” of all types of poetry.


There are many songs of Shanta Shelke which have captured emotions of love and affections and overwhelming disappointments in the life of women. For illustration, song, “Sampali kahani Mazi”, articulates the deep anguish in the minds of women, on break up of the love. The poem ends with, “ life has become meaningless, Brutal winds of the storm, are surrounding from all sides, leaving the Nights without  shores”.  Such songs articulate the inner stirrings in the state of women’s mind under various situations.  Shanta Shelke has written many songs with hovering rhythms, which have a touch of frustrations Several of her such poems have become very touching and memorable. Shanta Shelke used her poems as an effective weapon to explore the mysterious and invisible depths of human mind. 

Shanta Shelke’s composed most of her Poetry in Rhythmic form. Like Saint Kabir who came from Lowest ‘Weaver’s Caste she also by birth was  ‘Koshti’  (We aver) orogins .  Her verses uses  aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language, such as s phonaesthetics, sound symbolism to evoke meanings.  As Lyricist Poetess she could explore and express person’s, particularly the feminine state of mind and or attitude. She conveyed proactive messages based on her social interactions through her poetic creations. Number of poetic creations have sprung up from her dream world and from memories in Couplet, Sonnets, Gazals etc. Due to the famous compositions of her poetry, Shanta Shelke became the  one of the most popular  lyricist  in Maharashtra . Like Alcott, she championed the cause of Women and never got married also..

  We know Shantabai Shelke as a Poetess and as Lyricist. She has also shown proficiency in all creative writings and as columnist she has written in many Newspapers which include Navayug, Maratha and other Newspapers independently. The main impetus to her creative writings has been her curiosity about the world around her. Her minute observations of the human beings around her and her eagerness to include everyone’s character around, particularly the women folk has been appreciated by all. She has been a great reader and Shantabai’s highly rich vocabulary has enabled her to create their portraits in literature.  Her roots in village enriched her experiences. The Folk songs and village Songs she used to listen from women singers made long lasting impressions in terms of Rhythmus, vocabulary, all other aspects. Sanskrit Lyrics she heard in Childhood god embedded into her Psyche. Most of the Marathi literati, poets also made high impact.


Those who do not believe in Creed, Caste and Religion

Understand that Love has to be exchanged for love!                                                                                                                   

The mysterious super confusion residing in heart   

 will never result into break up of the silky  relationships. 

However when Man forgets Man   Monstrous Flame will burn this world.                                                                                   

But the silk like relations can wipe these stains also.  

These bonds of silk will never break.

Oh! Life preserve the Bonds of these silk threads. 

The unbreakable thread should be embroiled in our breath.

 These bonds provide strength to the life of the weak.  

These bonds of silk will never break

It is noteworthy that in the Introduction to Book Titled ‘DHARMA”, Shanta Shelke has word of appreciation for Narayan Surve, Keshav Meshram and Dr. Padma Sahastrabudhe for expressing their interest in The Book.

The Drama which incorporates these lines interpreats these stranzas as follows.  “Even if the intoxication caused by wine, power and money ascends rapidly, sometime or other,  it has to descend.  But the addiction of religion? There is nothing worst than it. Do not test it. Why is religion bad? who says so? Religion is innocent, unconscious. On one hand  when Religion holds the finger of Humanity It appears that Heaven has descended on earth. But when Human being begins to walk around by holding the finger of Religion it doesn’t take much time for heaven to become hell! Not only the thing which is held steadfastly but also the Human beings also do not reach the edge of the river shore. In essence the. Religion devoid of Humanism is the Road to Hell, not Heaven. S COMPANIONS ALONG THIS ROAD finds it nearly impossible to reach their destination unscathed and help it”. The poem is based on unbreakable Silky  friendship between two close friends against the background of Hindu- Muslim conflict which led to partition of India and Pakistan!       

Introducing and Remembering Shanta Shelke, the Pioneering, Progressive, Humanist Lyricist in the Present Conjuncture will provide message to the young generation of Music Lovers   

Anil Pundlik Gokhale is an Engineer by profession. As a non regular writer on political literature I have always been attempting to integrate Psychology and Marxism. I have recently published books ‘Condensation And Condescension In Dreams And History: Essay – From Sigmund Freud To E P Thompson’ by Author House London. Psychoanalysis & A- Historical Story of GENGHIS KHAN, Author House- London.

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