Born In: 1861
Born In: Samastipur, Bihar, India
Died In: 1913
Devaki Nandan Khatri was one of the most popular authors of Hindi novels, best known to have introduced the concept of mystery in Hindi novel writing. Fondly referred to as Babu Devakinandan Khatri, he was the first writer of mystery novels in the Hindi language. Devaki Nandan Khatri's writings were so popular that even people who were not Hindi literate made it a point to learn the language to be able to read his mystery novels. Therefore, it may be aptly concluded that Devaki Nandan Khatri not only contributed to Hindi literature, he also played a major role in making people of his times learn Hindi. Devaki Nandan Khatri introduced several words in his novels which went on to become an integral part of mystery novel writing in Hindi by future authors.
Devaki Nandan Khatri was born in the year 1861 in the city of Samastipur in Bihar. After completion of his primary schooling in Samastipur, Devaki Nandan Khatri moved to the city of Tekari in Gaya for further education. He later assumed office as an employee of the Raja of Varanasi. Since his initial years of professional life, Devaki Nandan Khatri was a resident of Varanasi.
It was in the year 1898 that Devaki Nandan Khatri took up novel writing in Hindi seriously. By that time, he had already started a printing press at Varanasi by the name of 'Lahari'. It was from Lahari that his first writing was published in a Hindi monthly called 'Sudarshan', also started by Devaki Nandan Khatri. The Lahari Press inaugurated by Devaki Nandan Khatri at the Ram Katora Road in Varanasi stands till today at the Ram Katora Crossing. Devaki Nandan's son and grandson followed his footsteps to take the tradition of mystery novel writing in Hindi forward.
Babu Devakinandan Khatri, as he was fondly called after his works began to be distributed in places all over India, set up a book shop by the name of Lahrai Book Depot in Varanasi. During this time, he had already acquired fame as one of the chief writers of mystery novels in Hindi. The bookshop sold Hindi books written by Devaki Nandan Khatri and other eminent authors. A unique feature of Devaki Nandan Khatri's writings was that he never published one novel at one go. The author's novels were not published in the form of a book but as parts of the story in the monthly magazine 'Sudarshan'.
At the time when entire India was disturbed by the British rule in the country, Devaki Nandan Khatri participated in the freedom struggle, while also taking time out to write parts or chapters of his novels. The chapters, or 'bayaans' as Devaki Nandan Khatri referred to them, were eagerly awaited by one and all throughout the country. In fact, it became a ritual among those who were not educated in the Hindi language to visit friends or family members who were Hindi literate so that they may also hear the latest development in Devaki Nandan Khatri's mystery saga. His works gradually gained so much popularity that people who did not know Hindi decided to learn the language only to be able to read the novels written by him. In this way Babu Devakinandan Khatri contributed to the widespread dissemination of the Hindi language in India.
As mentioned earlier, Devaki Nandan Khatri specialized in the writing of Hindi mystery novels. 'Aiyyar' and 'Aiyarra' were two of his most famous terms used to describe spies, male and female respectively, who served rulers of different regions in his novels. Both these words were previously unknown in the Hindi literary world. However, it was because of the popularity of the Devaki Nandan Khatri novels that both the terms began to be widely used thereafter. Similarly, he also introduced the word 'Tilism' in the Hindi novel writing dictionary, a term which was used to mean a maze of hiding places, prisons and unknown passages.
Devaki Nandan Khatri contributed some of the most popular novels that not only helped to introduce a new genre in Hindi literature, but also led to the enrichment of the Hindi language as a whole. Some of the most important works of Devaki Nandan Khatri are: