Dr Jayakant Mishra in the Maithili world was the literary successor of his father Mahamahopadhyaya Umesh Mishra. He was the father and mentor of Mrs Mishra, and the inspiration behind Anadi Anant.
Professor Mishra was a dedicated scholar and discerning critic of Maithili language and literature. He devoted more than half a century to the study and appreciation of Maithili, as perhaps no other single individual has hitherto been able to do. It has been said that:
"his name will be handed down to posterity in India as the greatest benefactor of Maithili at present day after that of the illustrious George Abraham Grierson, and will earn for him gratitude of sixteen millions of Maithili speakers in the first instance and of the scholarly world of the whole of India, in the second".
(Professor Suniti Kumar Chatterji in his Foreward to Brihat Maithili Sabdakosa).
Dr Mishra was born in a family of reputed Sanskrit scholars of Mithila, then residing in Varanasi, on November 20th 1922. He was the son of Mahamahopadhyaya Dr. Umesh Mishra and grandson of Mahamahopadhyaya Pandit Jayadev Mishra. Further details of his ancestry can be found by following the links: Lineage, Family Tree
Professor Mishra with his parents and brothers
Dr Mishra was brought up and educated in Allahabad where his father was a Sanskrit Professor at the university. In those days Allahabad had become the centre of modern European traditions in Northern India and he had the good fortune of imbibing them through his teacher Professor Amarnatha Jha. He had a brilliant career in the Department of English Studies and Modern European Languages, and hence offered a lectureship in 1944 after getting his M.A. degree in English language and literature in 1943. He retired as Professor and Head of the Department in 1983.
He was selected as Visiting Fellow in English at Sagar University from 1985 to 1988. He was called upon to the All India Board for Research Awards in Humanities in 1986 in Mysore. He was also the Dean, Faculty of Languages and Social Sciences, Chitrakoot Gramodaya Visvavidyalaya from 1992 to 1994.
Although Dr. Mishra earned his livelihood as a renowned scholar of English language and literature, he devoted almost his entire life in the service of Maithili language and literature. Dr. Mishra became interested in his mothertongue Maithili and his native region Mithila at an early age, as matters connected with them used to be discussed in his home and he had the unique opportunity to access the collection of Maithili books in his father's library. Another influence was Dr. Ganga Natha Jha, the then Vice-chancellor of Allahabad University.
Dr Mishra's juvenile writings used to be circulated in a handwritten children's magazine of his village called Balvinod. The first significant piece of literary criticism, which got publicity, was a long review of Gangapati's novelette Sushila, which was published in the celebrated Maithili weekly Mithila Mihir in 1943. Soon thereafter he organized a Sahitya Samiti in the university and took steps to hold literary gatherings frequently.
The Indian P.E.N. attracted his attention and he became attached to it as a Maithili writer since 1947. He attended its meetings held at Baroda (1957), Bhubaneshwar (1959), and Lucknow (1964). He began his studies in Maithili literature under the guidance of Professor Amarnatha Jha. Subsequently, his reputation grew as an eminent writer of Maithili. It was in this context that he planned and published his 'A History of Maithili Literature' in two volumes and 'An Introduction to the Folk Literature' in two parts.
After a chance meeting with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Dr. Mishra organized a historic National Maithili Book Exhibition in Delhi in 1963 and made concerted efforts to publish scholarly editions of Maithili classics. It was Dr. Mishra's critical essays on Maithili that poured in plenty in various journals and forums. He was invited to preside over various meets. His most important contribution was made on the study of Kirtania Drama in 1970. His magnum opus is Brihat Maithili Sabdakosa of which two volumes have come out from Simla and the remaining volumes are in the course of publication.
The Maithili Samachar, a fortnightly bulletin of the All India Maithili Sahitya Samiti Allahabad, being edited by Dr. Mishra for more than 50 years, has created bonds of affinity, purposefulness, creativity and momentum in the world of Maithili letters.
A Select Bibliography:
Tirhuta Kakahara 1967
Prathmik Shiksha 1969
Kirtania Natak 1970
Brihat Maithili Sabdakosh (Published by Institute of Advanced Study, Simla) Fascicule I 1973, Fascicule II 1995
Maithili Sahityak Itihas (Published by Sahitya Akademi) 1988
Gorakshavijaya of Vidyapati (1515AD) 1960
Kirtipataka of Vidyapati (1500AD) along with Dr. Umesh Mishra 1960
Rukmini Parinaya of Ramapati (1700AD) 1960
Maithilidhurtasamagama of Jyotirishwara (1325AD) 1961
Gaurisvayamvara of Lalkavi (1750AD) 1962
Sri Krishna-Keli-Mala of Nandipati (1800AD) 1962
Sri Krishna-Janma-Rahasya of Srikanta Ganak (1800AD) 1962
Gaurivayamvara of Kanharam (1842AD) 1962
Gauriparinaya of Shivadatta (1850AD) 1962
Lectures on Thomas Hardy 1955 & 1965
Lectures on Four Poets 1957 & 1963
Complex Style in English Poetry 1977
Lectures on Four Poets, 1st Series (Romantic Poets) 1987
Lectures on Four Poets, 2nd Series (Victorian Poets) 1992
1922 Born at varanasi
1939 Married Shreemati A Devi (a Maithili poetess and writer)
1943 President, All India Maithili Sahitya Samiti Allahabad
1948 Member, Council of All India Oriental Conference
1963-1982 Member, Advisory Board and General Council of Sahitya Akademi
1967-1971 Secretary, G. N. Jha Research Institute, Allahabad
1971-1974 Founder-Secretary, Dr. Ishwari Pd. Institute of History, Allahabad
1973-74 Prabandha Mantri & Sangrahalaya Mantri, Hindi Sahitya Sammelan, Allahabad
1977 President, Diamond Jubilee Session of Assam Sahitya Sabha, Jorhat
1984-1989 Member, Executive Board of Maithili Akademi, Patna
1993 Inaugurated 1st International Maithili Conference, Ranchi
1995-1999 Editor, Maithili Section of Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature and Modern/Medieval Indian Literature
1967 Samman Patra by Akhil Bhartiya Maithili Sammelan, Bombay
1989 Gaurinath Memorial Lectures
1990 Tamra Patra by Chetna Samiti, Patna
1995 Samman Patra by Mithila Sanskritik sangam, Prayag
1999 Samman Patra by Vidyapati Samiti, Dhanbad
2000 Bhasha Samman by Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi
Dr. J K Mishra 1922 - 2009