In 2006, a software engineer decided to bring together all the Hindi and Urdu poetry that was scattered widely on virtual space. What started out with a few hundred poems through a website - kavitakosh.com - has turned into the biggest encyclopedia of Hindi/Urdu poetry on the internet, with the availability of verses from other Indian languages, thanks to Delhi-based literary enthusiast Lalit Kumar.
The website has a collection of more than 50,000 poems, from 1,500 to 2,000 Indian poets, covering a time frame of about 1,000 years.
The site features the collection of major medieval poets such as Chand Bardai, Dadu Dayal and Kabir, besides almost all modern Hindi poets. The work of foreign poets, with translations in Hindi, are also available on the site.
"I would mislead people if I say this effort came out of my passion for Indian literature and poetry. In the beginning, it was more of a technical challenge, but I eventually sunk into the literature," says 35-year-old freelance web developer Lalit Kumar, who was in city on Sunday for the Chandigarh Literature Festival (April 13-15).
What's even more inspiring about this man is that Lalit is polio affected, and has been walking with crutches for the past 31 years. It's his uplifting spirit that made Indian poetry available for the present generation. "I should not be given the entire credit for Kavita Kosh," he says, adding, "Its success goes to all our contributors, who joined me in my effort to build up that site. Our basic aim was to make Indian poetry available for people at large. Initially, it was a task to convince people to contribute for the website, but as its popularity grew, we got many volunteers, including some littérateurs, who started chipping in for this website on a daily basis. Today, we have about 10 to 15 core contributors who update the website daily."
About his vision for the future, Lalit says he wants to increase their collection to more than 1.5 lakh poems, over the next two years. "For accomplishing our vision, we have also established a trust with the same name, which will take care of the finances for the site to hire professional proof-readers and typists, to sustain the quality and quantity of work."
According to Lalit, it is very important for people to not only read the poems, but also critically appreciate them. "People should not agree with someone else's view point immediately. This site is a platform to share your views, and also to read what others think about the work of several poets," he concludes.