Teji Bachhan: How the same song made Teji and Harivansh Rai Bachchan life partners, know the whole story


Poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan has written the whole story very well in his autobiography.
His autobiography gives no less pleasure than ‘Madhushala’, it is in four volumes
Meet and marry Teji Bachchan in “Need Ka Nirman Phir”

Teji Bachchan, wife of immortal singer Harivansh Rai Bachchan of Madhushala and mother of unmatched film actor Amitabh Bachchan, was also a good teacher. The way Hindi’s unique poet and writer Harivansh Rai has mentioned Teji Bachchan in his autobiography shows how sensitive, intelligent and modern she was. In the forties, when he was bound by customs, Teji Bachchan instead of getting married in the traditional way went to the court and did a civil marriage. While her father Khajan Singh wanted that the procession should come as it happens and see off the daughter.

After getting married in Allahabad on January 24, 1942 in front of the magistrate, Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s mother definitely performed some rituals at home according to her own. The wedding feast was also organized in the lawns of Allahabad University. However, many of his relatives did not attend the feast. By the way, it is known to all that Bachchan was a professor in the English Department of the University. Teji was also a professor of psychology in the college of Lahore before marriage.

To trap me somewhere, no trap is laid

Teji and Harivansh Rai Bachchan met in a very interesting way. Between the death of first wife Shyama and father, Harivansh Rai’s trend turned towards an Irish woman, but the talk with the Irish woman did not work out. Seeing Harivansh Rai Bachchan entangled in his troubles, a friend of his from Bareilly, Prakash Johri called him to his home in Bareilly. Bachchan ji had gone to Punjab in the meeting of Hindi Sahitya Sammelan. Prakash called Bachchan Saheb by sending a telegram there. Later understanding this coincidence, Bachchan wrote –

that’s why seeing beauty

doubts arise immediately

to trap me somewhere

net is not laid

the song that united the two
By the way, Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s attention went towards this only later. First of all, he reached Bareilly after finishing the work of the conference. There he meets Teji Suri. Teji used to teach in the college along with Prakash Johri’s wife. Prakash Johri’s family requested Bachchan ji for songs after dinner and after returning from some program. It was the last night of December. The family wanted the new year to come with songs. By that time Harivansh Rai had become famous as a poet. Bachchan’s sorrow at that time burst into songs –

What should I do with your sympathy?

what to do

i was sad whenever

you showed compassion

i am forever grateful

both performed the ritual

but now of this gratitude

the burden is heavy

What should I do with your sympathy?

what to do

Bachchan ji has also written the reason for his sorrow along with this song in page number 236-237 of his autobiography series book ‘Need Ka Nirman Phir’. He writes that he was tired of listening to condolences for months. His indication is from the sorrow after the death of the father. He wrote this song in the same ‘cynical mood’. Then its next verse was also narrated-

my single sigh

which day could be yours

when could flow in that eye

tears of this eye

Truth will be blinded

How long is the box of words?

what to do

Yours with sympathy?

what to do

Bachchan Ji writes, the whole family, who understood the song and its context, cried over the song. But they were also drenched by Teji’s tears of deep sympathy. The tears of this eye had flowed from ‘that’ eye as well. On this page he writes – “… and what have we become after bathing in tears. Twenty four hours ago we entered this room as strangers and twenty four hours later we are leaving as life partners (not husband and wife).

Pant ji’s prediction

It is here that he has also remembered the prediction of Pant ji (Sumitra Nandan Pant). He had made this prediction in March before leaving Allahabad for the mountains – “Bachchan, your marriage did not happen at all. It will happen now and by the end of this year. It is worth noting that Harivansh Rai had a lot of love for his first wife Shyama, but both people could not meet. The first wife had TB disease and mother used to take full care that she should not become a victim of this disease after meeting Shyama. Shyama was swallowed by this disease.

A needy woman becomes ‘subdued’ by dry stale breads, read Dalit literature’s famous autobiography ‘Achhoot’

However, on the very first day of the new year, Prakash Johri announced his engagement to his younger son by garlanding the newly married couple. Not only this, the newspapers were also informed. There it was decided that both the people would do a civil marriage. Teji’s father Sardar Khajan Singh had come from Vilayat after studying barrister and was working as a minister at Raja Patiala. Had a lot of respect. Still the couple decided to have a civil marriage.


Harivansh Rai Bachchan has also written about his honeymoon during that period. Amar Nath Jha, head of Bachchan ji’s English department, invited both of them to visit Mussoorie in the mountains during the summer vacation of the same year. On page number 276-277 of ‘Need Ka Nirman Phir’ he writes- “After marriage people go out for honeymoon. We could not go anywhere; We thought, come on, there will be some delay in the honeymoon. After going to Mussoorie, this couple stayed at Jha Saheb’s place, but they did not like Jha Saheb’s formal and officer-like style. After staying for a few days, when these people were returning on a rickshaw, they write on page number 279 of this book – “When we sat on the road above Linwood Cottage, the first sentence that Teji said was – Breathe free air though hot Breathe in the free air, even if it is hot. Saying this, he took two or three long breaths. I also joined them, and both of us laughed so loudly that Jha Saheb downstairs must have heard it – for the first time in a month and a half we had such free laughter.

Tags: harivansh rai bachchan, Hindi Literature, hindi writer, Literature, love story

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