Full name of Firaq Gorakhpuri was Raghupati Sahay. He was born in Gorakhpur into a Hindu Kayastha family steeped in the traditions of Urdu poetry and well-versed in the "Ganga-Jamni tehzeeb". His father was a well-known lawyer and an Urdu poet who wrote under the pseudonym ‘Ibrat’. Firaq’s early education began at home. His father, who was a master of Persian and Urdu, taught these languages to the young Firaq. Firaq passed his School Leaving Certificate examination from the Government Jubilee High School at Gorakhpur in 1913. He then proceeded to Muir Central College, Allahabad. Soon after, his family arranged his marriage. In 1914 he was married to Kishori Devi, putting him in a position of life-long anguish. He continued to complain bitterly about this throughout his life. Another defining feature of this problem may have been his sexual orientation which became an "open secret" at the heart of his celebrated aesthetic creed.

In 1919 he was selected for the Civil Service, but he was involved in freedom struggle and refused to serve under British Government and preferred to follow Mahatma Gandhi's Non-Cooperation Movement. In 1920 he, along with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and others, was imprisoned for boycotting the visit of the Prince of Wales. After a summary trial in the prison Firaq was sentenced to one and a half year’s rigorous imprisonment and a fine of five hundred rupees. Firaq and his friends were taken to Agra jail. After the release from prison, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru visited Gorakhpur and was a guest of Firaq. Pandit Nehru offered him the office of the Under Secretary of the All India Congress Committee. He worked there from 1923 to 1927. He did not find the job very interesting and quit. He started teaching English, at Lucknow Christian College, Lucknow and later at Sanatan Dharam College, Kanpur. In 1930 he completed his M.A. in English from Agra University in the First Division.

In 1932, he joined the Allahabad University's department of English as a lecturer and remained associated with it till his retirement. He was loved and admired by successive generations of students of English literature because of his alertness of feeling, his refreshingly original idiom, and his infectious enthusiasm for the literature he taught. Firaq was a living legend at the Allahabad University of those years, known to countless students as an inspiring if somewhat moody and eccentric teacher at a bastion of learning. He retired on 31 December, 1958, but continued as a UGC National Research Fellow until 1966. He wrote most of his Urdu poetry here.

For his academic and creative achievements, Firaq was given several awards including the India’s highest award for literature, the Janpeeth Award in 1970. He was the first Urdu writer to receive this award.

Firaq has started writing poetry in Urdu in teens. He had been taking Islah from an Ustad since about 1915. He established an early reputation as a poet and had an early association with critic and short story writer ‘Majnoon Gorakhpuri’.

Firaq's major collections of poetry appeared by the time he was at the peak of his career. These include ‘Shola-e-Saz’ (1945), ‘Ramz-o-Kanayat’ (1947), and ‘Shabnamistan’ (1947). ‘Rooh-e-Kainat’ published in 1945, included his nazms. Another collection published in 1946 is ‘Roop’, focusing on forms of feminine beauty based on the traditional Indian concepts of the aesthetic.

Firaq was a romantic aesthete who venerated the themes and the love-center which characterize the ghazal. He became associated with the Progressive movement and wrote a number of nazms
which reflected his social and political concerns. In his later years he became known as a champion of the Urdu language when he felt that it was under threat from the pro-Hindi policies, going to the extent of ridiculing Hindi.

Firaq Gorakhpuri was a learned person and wrote “Ghazal”, “Rubaai”, “Nazm”, “Qat’aa”.  He has written volumes of Urdu poetry, Urdu prose, several volumes on literary themes in Hindi, as well as volumes of English prose.

Firaq breathed his last in a hospital in Delhi in March 1982 at the age of 85.


“Sahitya Academy Award” in 1960.

“Janpeeth Award” for his “Gul-e-Naghma” in 1969.

“Padma Bhushan” in 1968.

“Soviet Land Nehru Award” in 1968

“Sahitya Academy Fellowship” in 1970

“Ghalib Academy Award” in 1981.

He was nominated to Rajya Sabha (Upper Legislative House) for his contribution to literature and communal harmony

His selected work





“Roop” (Rubaayi),



“Urdu Ki Ishqia Shayri”,




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