Poet; philosopher and merchant; Banarasidas had no precedent in literature or tradition that might have inspired him to write his life’s story or guided him in his task. His motivation to write his story was simple: ‘Let me tell my story to ...
all.’ Completed in the winter of 1641; in Agra; Ardhakathanak is the first autobiography in an Indian language.
Banarsidas charms us with his transparency and frankness; revealing as much of himself as possible. And he punctuates the fast-flowing narrative of his life every now and then to muse on the nature of human existence. The result is an astonishing account that is more modern than medieval in tone; and free of formulaic conventions and stylized ornamentation.
At the end of his ‘half story’; Banarasi becomes as intimate to us as an old friend. We know the ups and downs of his life almost as well as we know our own and we come to identify with his intellectual and spiritual struggles; and perhaps even share them.