In India, the vast history of literature can be traced to the 6th century BC. During this period, the great epics were composed in the form of verse. The country has a deep history of poetry as well. From divine Sanskrit verses wrote over 3,000 years ago to beautiful Urdu poetry that bloomed from the early 16th to the mid-18th century, the sheer variety is quite awe-inspiring. Many great poets are the pillars of this amazing history. Here’s a list of those poets who stood out amid the test of times. These poets have penned down globally praised poems and produced exemplary works. These poets wrote in a variety of languages including Hindi, Sanskrit, Oriya, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Urdu, Bengali, and also English and Persian. These well-known poets may or may not be around us today, but what they all have in common is that all of them have crafted superlative works of poetry.
Kabir Das was a 15th-century Indian mystic poet and saint, whose writings influenced Hinduism’s Bhakti movement and his verses are found in Sikhism’s scripture Guru Granth Sahib. His early life was in a Muslim family, but he was strongly influenced by his teacher, the Hindu bhakti leader...Read More
Ramdhari Singh “Dinkar” (23 September 1908 – 24 April 1974), was an Indian Hindi poet, essayist, patriot and academic, who is considered as one of the most important modern Hindi poets. He remerged as a poet of rebellion as a consequence of his nationalist poetry written in the days...Read More
Maithili Sharan Gupt (3 August 1886 – 12 December 1964) was one of the most important modern Hindi poets. He is considered one among the pioneers of Khari Boli (plain dialect) poetry and wrote in Khari Boli dialect, at a time when most Hindi poets favoured the use of Braj Bhasha dialect. He was...Read More
Khanzada Mirza Khan Abdul Rahim Khan-i-Khanan (17 December 1556 – 1 October 1627), popularly known as simply Rahim, was a poet who lived in India during the rule of Mughal emperor Akbar, who was his mentor, also. He was one of the nine important ministers (dewan) in his court, also known as the...Read More
Sumitranandan Pant (20 May 1900 – 28 December 1977) was an Indian poet. He was one of the most celebrated 20th century poets of the Hindi language and was known for romanticism in his poems which were inspired by nature, people and beauty within.
6 hours after childbirth, and it appears he...Read More
Suryakant Tripathi (21 February 1896 – 15 October 1961), known by his pen name Nirala, was an Indian poet, novelist, essayist and story-writer. He also drew many sketches.
Most of his life was somewhat in the Bohemian tradition. He wrote strongly against social injustice and exploitation...Read More
Tulsidas (1497–1623), also known as Goswami Tulsidas, was a Ramanandi Vaishnava saint and poet, renowned for his devotion to the deity Rama. He wrote several popular works in Sanskrit and Awadhi, but is best known as the author of the epic Ramcharitmanas, a retelling of the Sanskrit Ramayana based...Read More
Surdas was a 16th-century blind Hindu devotional poet and singer, who was known for his lyrics written in praise of Krishna. They are usually written in Braj Bhasha, one of the two literary dialects of Hindi.
Surdas is usually regarded as having taken his inspiration from the teachings of Huzur...Read More
Mahadevi Varma (26 March 1907 – 11 September 1987) was a Hindi poet, freedom fighter and educationist from India. She was a major poet of the “Chhayavaad”, a literary movement of romanticism in modern Hindi poetry ranging from 1914–1938 and a prominent poet in Hindi Kavi sammelans...Read More
Rabindranath Tagore (born Robindronath Thakur, 7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941; sobriquet Gurudev, Kobiguru, Biswakobi) was a Bengali poet, writer, composer, philosopher and painter. He reshaped Bengali literature and music, as well as Indian art with Contextual Modernism in the late 19th and early 20th...Read More
Kālidāsa ( 4th–5th century CE) was a Classical Sanskrit author and is often considered ancient India’s greatest playwright and dramatist. His plays and poetry are primarily based on the Vedas, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Puranas. His surviving works consist of three plays, two...Read More
Subhadra Kumari Chauhan (16 August 1904 – 15 February 1948) was an Indian poet. One of her most popular poems is “Jhansi ki Rani” (about the courageous Queen of Jhansi).
Chauhan has authored a number of popular works in Hindi poetry. Her most famous composition is Jhansi Ki Rani,...Read More
Sampooran Singh Kalra (born 18 August 1934), known professionally as Gulzar, is an Indian lyricist, poet, author, screenwriter, and film director. He started his career with music director S.D. Burman as a lyricist in the 1963 film Bandini and worked with many music directors including R. D. Burman,...Read More
Ghalib (Urdu: غاؔلِب), born Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan (Urdu: مِرزا اسَدُاللہ بیگ خان), (27 December 1797 – 15 February 1869), was an Indian poet. He used his pen-names of Ghalib (Urdu: غالِب, ġhālib means “dominant”) and Asad (Urdu: اسَد, Asad...Read More
Abu’l Hasan Yamīn ud-Dīn Khusrau (1253–1325), better known as Amīr Khusrau Dehlavī, was a Sufi singer, poet and scholar from India. He was an iconic figure in the cultural history of the Indian subcontinent. He was a mystic and a spiritual disciple of Nizamuddin Auliya of Delhi, India....Read More
Sri Aurobindo (15 August 1872 – 5 December 1950) was an Indian philosopher, yogi, guru, poet, and nationalist. He joined the Indian movement for independence from British rule, for a while was one of its influential leaders and then became a spiritual reformer, introducing his visions on human progress...Read More
Purandara Dāsa (c. 1484 – c. 1565) was an Indian philosopher, a Haridasa, a renowned composer of Carnatic music, a great devotee of Lord Krishna, a Vaishnava poet, a saint and a social reformer. He was a disciple of the Dvaita philosopher-saint Vyasatirtha, and a contemporary of yet another Haridasa,...Read More
Meera, also known as Mirabai, was a 16th-century Hindu mystic poet and devotee of Lord Krishna. She is a celebrated Bhakti saint, particularly in the North Indian Hindu tradition.Mirabai was born into a Rajput royal family in Kudki, Pali district, Rajasthan, Mira then spent her childhood in Merta,...Read More
Harivansh Rai Bachchan (27 November 1907 – 18 January 2003) was an Indian poet of the Nayi Kavita literary movement (romantic upsurge) of early 20th century Hindi literature. He was also a poet of the Hindi Kavi Sammelan. He is best known for his early work Madhushala. He is also the husband of social activist, Teji Bachchan, father of Amitabh Bachchan and grandfather of Abhishek Bachchan. In 1976, he received the Padma Bhushan for his service to Hindi literature.
Jaishankar Prasad (30 January 1889 – 15 November 1937) was a prominent figure in modern Hindi literature as well as Hindi theatre. Prasad was his pen name. Prasad started writing poetry with the pen name of ‘Kaladhar’. The first collection of poem that Jai Shankar Prasad penned, named, Chitradhar, was written in Braj dialect of Hindi but his later works were written in Khadi dialect or Sanskritized Hindi.
Kumar Vishwas (born Vishwas Kumar Sharma; 10 February 1970) is an Indian Hindi poet, politician and a lecturer. He was a member of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and a former member of its National Executive. Vishwas routinely gives performances in which he demonstrates his poetry and love for Hindi, Urdu...Read More
Sarala Dasa (Odia:ସାରଳା ଦାସ) was a 15th-century Poet and scholar of Odia literature. Best known for three Odia books — Mahabharata, Vilanka Ramayana and Chandi Purana — he was the first scholar to write in Odia. As an originator of Odia literature, his work has formed an enduring source of information for succeeding generations.
Balarama Dasa ( c. 1474-1522) was an Odia poet and litterateur. He was one of the 5 great poets in Odia literature, the Panchasakha during the Bhakti age of literature. He was the eldest of the Pancha sakha . He wrote the Odia Ramayana also known as Jagamohana Ramayana.
Syed Abdullah Shah Qadri or Syed Abdullah Shah Gilani ( 1680–1757), known as Bulleh Shah was a Punjabi philosopher and Sufi poet during 17th-century Punjab. His first spiritual teacher was Shah Inayat Qadiri, a Sufi murshid of Lahore. He was a mystic poet and is universally regarded as “The father of Punjabi enlightenment”. He lived and was buried in Kasur.
Pandit Makhanlal Chaturvedi (4 April 1889 – 30 January 1968), also called Pandit ji, was an Indian poet, writer, essayist, playwright and a journalist who is particularly remembered for his participation in India’s national struggle for independence and his contribution to Chhayavaad, the...Read More
Dushyant Kumar (1 September 1933 – 30 December 1975) was an Indian poet of modern Hindi literature. He is famous for writing Hindi Ghazals, and is generally recognised as one of the foremost Hindi poets of the 20th century. Dushyant Kumar was married to Rajeshwari Tyagi.
Atibadi Jagannatha Dasa was an Odia poet and litterateur. He was one of the 5 great poets in Odia literature, the Panchasakha. He wrote the Odia Bhagabata. Dasa was born in Kapileswarpur Sasana (one of the 16 traditional Sasana villages in Puri) on Radhastami in 1491, in an established Brahmin family of Kaushiki Gotra. His mother was Padmabati Debi and his father was Bhagabana Dasa.
Achyutananda Das or Mahapurusha Achyutananda was a 16th-century poet seer and Vaishnava saint from Odisha, India. He was considered to have the power to see the past, present and future. He was a prolific author, and one of the group of five, that led a revolution in spirituality in Odisha by translating...Read More
Thiruvalluvar, commonly known as Valluvar, was a celebrated Tamil poet and philosopher. He is best known as the author of Tirukkuṟaḷ, a collection of couplets on ethics, political and economical matters, and love. The text is considered an exceptional and widely cherished work of the Tamil literature.Almost...Read More
Jayadeva ( born c. 1170 CE), also known as Jaidev, was a Sanskrit poet during the 12th century. He is most known for his epic poem Gita Govinda which concentrates on Krishna’s love with the gopi, Radha in a rite of spring. This poem, which presents the view that Radha is greater than Krishna,...Read More
Sachchidananda Hirananda Vatsyayan (7 March 1911 – 4 April 1987), popularly known by his nom de plume Agyeya (also transliterated Ajneya, meaning ‘the unknowable’), was an Indian writer, poet, novelist, literary critic, journalist, translator and revolutionary in Hindi language. He pioneered...Read More
Bharatendu Harishchandra (9 September 1850 – 6 January 1885) is known as the father of Hindi literature as well as Hindi theatre. He is considered one of the greatest Hindi writers of modern India. A recognised poet, he was a trendsetter in Hindi prose-writing. He was an author of several dramas,...Read More
Jasobanta Dasa (also spelled as Jasobanta Das or Yasovanta Das; Odia: ଯଶୋବନ୍ତ ଦାସ; born c. 1487) was an Odia poet , litterateur and mystic. He was one of the five great poets in Odia literature, the Panchasakha during the Bhakti age of literature.He is known for his work Prema Bhakti Brahma Gita .
Mir Muhammad Taqi Mir (February 1723 – 20 September 1810), also known as Mir Taqi Mir or Meer Taqi Meer, was an Urdu poet of the 18th century Mughal India, and one of the pioneers who gave shape to the Urdu language itself. He was one of the principal poets of the Delhi School of the Urdu ghazal and is often remembered as one of the best poets of the Urdu language. His takhallus (pen name) was Mir. He spent the latter part of his life in the court of Asaf-ud-Daulah in Lucknow.
Sisu Ananta Dasa ( born c. 1475) was an Odia poet , litterateur and mystic. He was one of the five great poets in Odia literature, the Panchasakha during the Bhakti age of literature.He is known for his work Hetu Udaya Bhagabata .
Bihari Lal Chaube or Bihārī (1595–1663) was a Hindi poet, who is famous for writing the Satasaī (Seven Hundred Verses) in Brajbhasha, a collection of approximately seven hundred distichs, Kumar which is perhaps the most celebrated Hindi work of poetic art, as distinguished from narrative and...Read More
Syed Ibrahim Khan (1548-1628) was a poet of Pashtun origins, who became a devotee of Lord Krishna. He is known to have lived in Amroha near Delhi, India. Raskhan was his takhallus in Hindi. In his early years, he became a follower of Lord Krishna and learned the bhakti marga from Goswami Vitthalnath...Read More
Abdul Hayee (8 March 1921 – 25 October 1980), popularly known by his takhallus (pen name) Sahir Ludhianvi, was an Indian poet and film song lyricist who wrote in the Urdu and Hindi languages.His work influenced Indian cinema, in particular Bollywood film. Sahir won a Filmfare Award for Best Lyricist...Read More
Pash (9 September 1950 – 23 March 1988) was the pen name of Avtar Singh Sandhu, one of the major poets of the Naxalite movement in the Punjabi literature of the 1970s. He was killed by Khalistani extremists on 23 March 1988. His strongly left-wing views were reflected in his poetry.
Dharamvir Bharati (25 December 1926 – 4 September 1997) was a renowned Hindi poet, author, playwright and a social thinker of India. He was the chief editor of the popular Hindi weekly magazine Dharmayug, from 1960 till 1987.Bharati was awarded the Padma Shree for literature in 1972 by the Government...Read More
Sarojini Naidu (née Chattopadhyay; 13 February 1879 – 2 March 1949) was an Indian political activist and poet. A proponent of civil rights, women’s emancipation, and anti-imperialistic ideas, she was an important figure in India’s struggle for independence from colonial rule. Naidu’s...Read More
Amrita Pritam ( 31 August 1919 – 31 October 2005) was an Indian novelist, essayist and poet, who wrote in Punjabi and Hindi. She is considered the first prominent female Punjabi poet, novelist, essayist and the leading 20th-century poet of the Punjabi language, who is equally loved on both sides...Read More
Shiv Kumar Batalvi (8 Oct 1937- May 1973) was an Indian poet, writer and playwright of the Punjabi language. He was most known for his romantic poetry, noted for its heightened passion, pathos, separation and lover’s agony.He became the youngest recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1967,...Read More
Agha Shahid Ali (4 February 1949 – 8 December 2001) was a Kashmiri-American poet. His collections include A Walk Through the Yellow Pages, The Half-Inch Himalayas, A Nostalgist’s Map of America, The Country Without a Post Office, Rooms Are Never Finished, the latter a finalist for the National Book Award in 2001. The University of Utah Press awards the Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize annually “in memory of a celebrated poet and beloved teacher.”
Kazi Nazrul Islam, (24 May 1899 – 29 August 1976) was a Bengali poet, writer, musician and the national poet of Bangladesh. Popularly known as Nazrul, he produced a large body of poetry and music with themes that included religious devotion and rebellion against oppression. Nazrul’s activism...Read More
Michael Madhusudan Dutt, or Michael Madhusudan Dutta ( 25 January 1824 – 29 June 1873) was a Bengali poet, writer and dramatist. He was a pioneer of Bengali drama. His famous work Meghnad Badh Kavya, is a tragic epic. It consists of nine cantos and is exceptional in Bengali literature both in terms of style and content. He also wrote poems about the sorrows and afflictions of love as spoken by women.
Arundhathi Subramaniam is an Indian poet, writer, critic, curator, translator, Journalist, writing in English. Arundhathi Subramaniam’s volume of poetry, When God is a Traveller (2014) was the Season Choice of the Poetry Book Society, shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. She is the recipient...Read More
Jeet Thayil (born 13 October 1959) is an Indian poet, novelist, librettist and musician. He is best known as a poet and is the author of four collections: These Errors Are Correct (Tranquebar, 2008), English (2004, Penguin India, Rattapallax Press, New York, 2004), Apocalypso (Ark, 1997) and Gemini...Read More
Nissim Ezekiel (16 December 1924 – 9 January 2004) was an Indian Jewish poet, actor, playwright, editor and art critic. He was a foundational figure in postcolonial India’s literary history, specifically for Indian Poetry in English. He was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1983 for his...Read More
Vikram Seth (born 20 June 1952) is an Indian novelist and poet. He has written several novels and poetry books. He has received several awards such as Padma Shri, Sahitya Academy Award, Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, WH Smith Literary Award and Crossword Book Award. Seth’s collections of poetry such as Mappings and Beastly Tales are notable contributions to the Indian English language poetry canon.
Attipate Krishnaswami Ramanujan (16 March 1929 – 13 July 1993) was an Indian poet and scholar of Indian literature who wrote in both English and Kannada. Ramanujan was a poet, scholar, professor, philologist, folklorist, translator, and playwright. His academic research ranged across five languages:...Read More
Jibanananda Das (17 February 1899 – 22 October 1954) was an Indian poet, writer, novelist and essayist in the Bengali language. Popularly called “Rupashi Banglar Kabi” (Poet of Beautiful Bengal), Das is the most read poet after Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam in Bangladesh...Read More
Kamala Surayya (born Kamala; 31 March 1934 – 31 May 2009), popularly known by her one-time pen name Madhavikutty and married name Kamala Das, was an Indian poet in English as well as an author in Malayalam from Kerala, India. Her popularity in Kerala is based chiefly on her short stories and autobiography,...Read More
Ilavenil Meena Kandasamy (born 1984) is an Indian poet, fiction writer, translator and activist from Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.Meena published two collections of poetry, Touch (2006) and Ms. Militancy (2010). From 2001-2002, she edited The Dalit, a bi-monthly alternative English magazine of the Dalit...Read More
Arvind Krishna Mehrotra (born 1947) is an Indian poet, anthologist, literary critic and translator. Mehrotra was nominated for the post of Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford in 2009. He came second behind Ruth Padel, who later resigned over allegations of a smear campaign against Trinidadian...Read More
Geet Chaturvedi (born 27 November 1977, in Mumbai, Maharashtra) is a Hindi poet, short story author and novelist. Often regarded as an avant-garde writer, he was awarded the Bharat Bhushan Agrawal Award for poetry in 2007 and Krishna Pratap Award for Fiction in 2014. He lives in Bhopal, India. He...Read More
Jayanta Mahapatra (born 22 October 1928) is an Indian English poet. He is the first Indian poet to win a Sahitya Akademi award for English poetry. He is the author of poems such as Indian Summer and Hunger, which are regarded as classics in modern Indian English literature. He was awarded a Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian honour in India in 2009. He returned the award in 2015 to protest against rising intolerance in India.
Ranjit Hoskote (born 29 March 1969) is an Indian poet, art critic, cultural theorist and independent curator. He was honoured with Sahitya Akademi Award for lifetime achievement in 2004. Ranjit Hoskote was born in Mumbai and educated at the Bombay Scottish School, Elphinstone College, where he studied for a BA in Politics, and later at University of Bombay, from where he obtained an MA degree in English Literature and Aesthetics.
Arun Balkrishna Kolatkar (1 November 1932 – 25 September 2004) was an Indian poet who wrote in both Marathi and English. His poems found humour in everyday matters. Kolatkar is the only Indian poet other than Kabir to be featured on the World Classics titles of New York Review of Books.
Gieve Patel (born 18 August 1940) is an Indian poet, playwright, painter, as well as a practising physician. He belongs to a group of writers who have subscribed themselves to the ‘Green Movement’ which is involved in an effort to protect the environment. His poems speak of deep concerns...Read More
R. Parthasarathy also known as Rajagopal Parthasarathy (born 1934) is an Indian poet, translator, critic, and editor. His works include Poetry from Leeds in 1968, Rough Passage published by Oxford University Press in 1977, a long poem ( Preface “a book where all poems form part of a single poem,...Read More
Rukmini Bhaya Nair is a linguist, poet, writer and critic from India. She won the First Prize for her poem kali in the “All India Poetry Competition” in 1990 organised by The Poetry Society (India) in collaboration with British Council. She is currently a Professor at the Humanities and...Read More
Eunice de Souza (1940–2017) was an Indian English language poet, literary critic and novelist. Among her notable books of poetry are Women in Dutch painting (1988), Ways of Belonging (1990), Nine Indian Women Poets (1997), These My Words (2012), and Learn From The Almond Leaf (2016). She published two novels, Dangerlok (2001), and Dev & SImran (2003), and was also the editor of a number of anthologies on poetry, folktales, and literary criticism.
Keki N. Daruwalla (born 1937) is an Indian poet and short story writer in English. He is also a former Indian Police Service officer.
He was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award, in 1984 for his poetry collection, The Keeper of the Dead, by the Sahitya Akademi, India’s National Academy of Letters. He was awarded Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in India, in 2014.