Ratan Nath Dhar Sarshar

Ratan Nath Dhar Sarshar (1846 or 1847 – 21 January 1903) was an Indian Urdu novelist, columnist and editor from British India. Born into a Kashmiri Brahmin family which settled in Lucknow, he received his education at Canning College and later took up employment as a schoolteacher. In August 1878, he was appointed editor of the Lucknow-based newspaper Avadh Akhbar, in which his most famous work Fasana-e-Azad was published serially.

Ratan Nath Dhar Sarshar
A mustachioed Ratan Nath Dhar Sarshar, wearing a fez
Born1846 or 1847
Died21 January 1903
Hyderabad, British India
Pen nameSarshar
Occupationnovelist, columnist, editor
NationalityBritish India
Notable worksFasana-e-Azad



Sarshar's date of birth is uncertain.[1] Most probably he was born in 1846 or 1847. He was born in Kashmiri Brahmin (a group well known for their proficiency in Persian and Urdu) family. His father, Pandit Bej Nath Dhar, a trader who immigrated from Kashmir to Lucknow, died when Sarshar was four years old; thereafter Sarshar was brought up by his mother. Sarshar was initially schooled in the traditional way by learning Arabic and Persian at a local maktab (primary school).[2]

Sarshar joined, for his schooling, the Canning College (which later migrated into University of Lucknow), but left without taking a degree. In 1878, he joined Avadh Akhbar as its editor.[3]

In 1895, Sarshar moved to Hyderabad where he was engaged by Maharaja Sir Kishen Pershad to correct and improve upon his prose writings and poetic composition. Sarshar also edited a journal, Dabdaba-e-Asifi.[3]

He died on 21 January 1903 at Hyderabad due to heavy drinking.[1]



The historian Ram Babu Saksena called Sarshar 'a most remarkable figure' in the last decade of nineteenth century.[4]

His serialized novel Fasana-e-Azad (The Tale of Azad), which appeared between 1878 and 1883 as a regular supplement in his paper,[5] was influenced by novels like The Pickwick Papers and Don Quixote, as well as the epic romances (dastan) of Persian and Urdu.[citation needed] Spanning over three thousand pages, the novel narrates the adventures of the protagonist, Azad, through the streets of Lucknow to the battlefields of the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878).[5] It was first published in 1881 by Munshi Naval Kishore Press. Sarshar gave copyrights of Fasana-e-Azad to Munshi Naval Kishore of Lucknow who also published Talism Hoshruba. Fasana-e-Azad was translated into Hindi as Azad Katha by Premchand, who also translated Sarshar's Sair-i-Kohsar as Parvat Yatra.[6] Satirist Sharad Joshi also penned a Hindi TV serial Wah Janaab based on Fasana-e-Azad which ran successfully on the state-run television channel Doordarshan in the 1980s.[7]

His other novels are Sair-i-Kohsar and Jam-i-Sarshar. His novel Gor-i-Ghariban remained unpublished due to his accidental death.[8] His novel Khuda-e-Foujdar is translation of Don Quixote.[4]


  1. ^ a b Husain, Firoz (1964). Life and works of Ratan Nath Sarshar (PhD thesis). SOAS University of London. p. 11–18.
  2. ^ Dubrow, Jennifer (2011). From newspaper sketch to "novel": The writing and reception of "Fasana-e Azad" in North India, 1878–1880 (PhD thesis). Departments of South Asian Languages and Civilizations, The University of Chicago. p. 57 – via ProQuest.  
  3. ^ a b Lal, Mohan, ed. (2007) [1991]. Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature: Navaratri to Sarvasena. Sahitya Akademi. p. 3830. OCLC 633744520.
  4. ^ a b Saksena, Ram Babu (1990). A History of Urdu Literature. New Delhi: Asian Educational Services. p. 325–326. OCLC 312754167.
  5. ^ a b Dubrow, Jennifer (October 2018). "The Novel in Installments: Fasana-e Azad and Literary Modernity". Cosmopolitan Dreams: The Making of Modern Urdu Literary Culture in Colonial South Asia. University of Hawaii Press. pp. 35–36. ISBN 978-0-8248-7270-0 – via De Gruyter. (subscription required)
  6. ^ Nagendra (1981). Premchand: an anthology. Bansal. p. 70. OCLC 8668427.
  7. ^ Report. 1985.
  8. ^ Sud, K. N. (July–August 1977). "Urdu Fiction and Krishan Chandar". Indian Literature. 20 (4). Ahmedabad: Sahitya Akademi: 124. JSTOR 24158701.