The Most Famous

WRITERS from India

Icon of occuation in country

This page contains a list of the greatest Indian Writers. The pantheon dataset contains 7,302 Writers, 128 of which were born in India. This makes India the birth place of the 10th most number of Writers behind Poland, and Turkey.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Indian Writers of all time. This list of famous Indian Writers is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Indian Writers.

Photo of George Orwell

1. George Orwell (1903 - 1950)

With an HPI of 80.00, George Orwell is the most famous Indian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 140 different languages on wikipedia.

Eric Arthur Blair (25 June 1903 – 21 January 1950) was a British novelist, poet, essayist, journalist, and critic who wrote under the pen name of George Orwell. His work is characterised by lucid prose, social criticism, opposition to all totalitarianism (i.e. to both left-wing authoritarian communism and to right-wing fascism), and support of democratic socialism. Orwell produced literary criticism, poetry, fiction, and polemical journalism. He is known for the allegorical novella Animal Farm (1945) and the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). His non-fiction works, including The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), documenting his experience of working-class life in the industrial north of England, and Homage to Catalonia (1938), an account of his experiences soldiering for the Republican faction of the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939), are as critically respected as his essays on politics, literature, language and culture. Born in India, Blair was raised and educated in England from the age of one. After school he became an Imperial policeman in Burma, before returning to Suffolk, England, where he began his writing career as George Orwell—a name inspired by a favourite location, the River Orwell. He made a living from occasional pieces of journalism, and also worked as a teacher or bookseller while living in London. From the late 1920s to the early 1930s, his success as a writer grew and his first books were published. He was wounded fighting in the Spanish Civil War, leading to his first period of ill health on return to England. During the Second World War he served as a sergeant in the Greenwich Home Guard (1940–41), worked as a journalist and, between 1941 and 1943, worked for the BBC. The 1945 publication of Animal Farm led to fame during his lifetime. During his final years, he worked on Nineteen Eighty-Four and moved between London and the Scottish island of Jura. Nineteen Eighty-Four was published in June 1949, less than a year before his death. Orwell's work remains influential in popular culture and in political culture, and the adjective "Orwellian"—describing totalitarian and authoritarian social practices—is part of the English language, like many of his neologisms, such as "Big Brother", "Thought Police", "Room 101", "Newspeak", "memory hole", "doublethink", and "thoughtcrime". In 2008, The Times named Orwell the second-greatest British writer since 1945.

Photo of Rabindranath Tagore

2. Rabindranath Tagore (1861 - 1941)

With an HPI of 79.10, Rabindranath Tagore is the 2nd most famous Indian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 160 different languages.

Rabindranath Tagore ( ; pronounced [roˈbindɾonatʰ ˈʈʰakuɾ]; 7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941) was an Indian poet, writer, playwright, composer, philosopher, social reformer, and painter of the Bengal Renaissance. He reshaped Bengali literature and music as well as Indian art with Contextual Modernism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Author of the "profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful" poetry of Gitanjali, in 1913 Tagore became the first non-European and the first lyricist to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Tagore's poetic songs were viewed as spiritual and mercurial; where his elegant prose and magical poetry were widely popular in the Indian subcontinent. He was a fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society. Referred to as "the Bard of Bengal", Tagore was known by the sobriquets Gurudeb, Kobiguru, and Biswokobi. A Bengali Brahmin from Calcutta with ancestral gentry roots in Burdwan district and Jessore, Tagore wrote poetry as an eight-year-old. At the age of sixteen, he released his first substantial poems under the pseudonym Bhānusiṃha ("Sun Lion"), which were seized upon by literary authorities as long-lost classics. By 1877 he graduated to his first short stories and dramas, published under his real name. As a humanist, universalist, internationalist, and ardent critic of nationalism, he denounced the British Raj and advocated independence from Britain. As an exponent of the Bengal Renaissance, he advanced a vast canon that comprised paintings, sketches and doodles, hundreds of texts, and some two thousand songs; his legacy also endures in his founding of Visva-Bharati University. Tagore modernised Bengali art by spurning rigid classical forms and resisting linguistic strictures. His novels, stories, songs, dance dramas, and essays spoke to topics political and personal. Gitanjali (Song Offerings), Gora (Fair-Faced) and Ghare-Baire (The Home and the World) are his best-known works, and his verse, short stories, and novels were acclaimed—or panned—for their lyricism, colloquialism, naturalism, and unnatural contemplation. His compositions were chosen by two nations as national anthems: India's "Jana Gana Mana" and Bangladesh's "Amar Shonar Bangla" .The Sri Lankan national anthem was also inspired by his work. His Song "Banglar Mati Banglar Jol" has been adopted as the state anthem of West Bengal.

Photo of Rudyard Kipling

3. Rudyard Kipling (1865 - 1936)

With an HPI of 74.89, Rudyard Kipling is the 3rd most famous Indian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 118 different languages.

Joseph Rudyard Kipling ( RUD-yərd; 30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936) was an English journalist, novelist, poet, and short-story writer. He was born in British India, which inspired much of his work. Kipling's works of fiction include the Jungle Book duology (The Jungle Book, 1894; The Second Jungle Book, 1895), Kim (1901), the Just So Stories (1902) and many short stories, including "The Man Who Would Be King" (1888). His poems include "Mandalay" (1890), "Gunga Din" (1890), "The Gods of the Copybook Headings" (1919), "The White Man's Burden" (1899), and "If—" (1910). He is seen as an innovator in the art of the short story. His children's books are classics; one critic noted "a versatile and luminous narrative gift". Kipling in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was among the United Kingdom's most popular writers. Henry James said "Kipling strikes me personally as the most complete man of genius, as distinct from fine intelligence, that I have ever known." In 1907, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, as the first English-language writer to receive the prize, and at 41, its youngest recipient to date. He was also sounded out for the British Poet Laureateship and several times for a knighthood, but declined both. Following his death in 1936, his ashes were interred at Poets' Corner, part of the South Transept of Westminster Abbey. Kipling's subsequent reputation has changed with the political and social climate of the age. The contrasting views of him continued for much of the 20th century. Literary critic Douglas Kerr wrote: "[Kipling] is still an author who can inspire passionate disagreement and his place in literary and cultural history is far from settled. But as the age of the European empires recedes, he is recognised as an incomparable, if controversial, interpreter of how empire was experienced. That, and an increasing recognition of his extraordinary narrative gifts, make him a force to be reckoned with."

Photo of Valmiki

4. Valmiki (-80 - -2)

With an HPI of 71.24, Valmiki is the 4th most famous Indian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 59 different languages.

Valmiki (; Sanskrit: वाल्मीकि, romanized: Vālmīki, [ʋɑːlmiːki]) was a legendary poet who is celebrated as the traditional author of the epic Ramayana, based on the attribution in the text itself. He is revered as Ādi Kavi, the first poet, author of Ramayana, the first epic poem. The Ramayana, originally written by Valmiki, consists of 24,000 shlokas and seven cantos (kaṇḍas). The Ramayana is composed of about 480,002 words, being a quarter of the length of the full text of the Mahabharata or about four times the length of the Iliad. The Ramayana tells the story of a prince, Rama of the city of Ayodhya in the Kingdom of Kosala, whose wife Sita is abducted by Ravana, the demon-king (Rakshasa) of Lanka. The scholars' estimates for the earliest stage of the text ranging from the 8th to 4th centuries BCE, and later stages extending up to the 3rd century CE, although original date of composition is unknown. As with many traditional epics, it has gone through a process of interpolations and redactions, making it impossible to date accurately. British satirist Aubrey Menen says that Valmiki was "recognized as a literary genius," and thus was considered, "an outlaw," presumably because of his "philosophic scepticism," as part of an "Indian Enlightenment" period. Valmiki is also quoted as being the contemporary of Rama. Menen claims Valmiki is "the first author in all history to bring himself into his own composition."

Photo of Kālidāsa

5. Kālidāsa (400 - 420)

With an HPI of 71.21, Kālidāsa is the 5th most famous Indian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 133 different languages.

Kālidāsa (Sanskrit: कालिदास, "Servant of Kali"; 4th–5th century CE) was a Classical Sanskrit author who is often considered ancient India's greatest poet and playwright. His plays and poetry are primarily based on Hindu Puranas and philosophy. His surviving works consist of three plays, two epic poems and two shorter poems. Much about his life is unknown except what can be inferred from his poetry and plays. His works cannot be dated with precision, but they were most likely authored before the 5th century CE during the Gupta era. Scholars have speculated that Kālidāsa may have lived near the Himalayas, in the vicinity of Ujjain, and in Kalinga. This hypothesis is based on Kālidāsa's detailed description of the Himalayas in his Kumārasambhava, the display of his love for Ujjain in Meghadūta, and his highly eulogistic descriptions of Kalingan emperor Hemāngada in Raghuvaṃśa (sixth sarga). Lakshmi Dhar Kalla (1891–1953), a Sanskrit scholar and a Kashmiri Pandit, wrote a book titled The birth-place of Kalidasa (1926), which tries to trace the birthplace of Kālidāsa based on his writings. He concluded that Kālidāsa was born in Kashmir, but moved southwards, and sought the patronage of local rulers to prosper. The evidence cited by him from Kālidāsa's writings includes: Description of flora and fauna that is found in Kashmir, but not in Ujjain or Kalinga: the saffron plant, the deodar trees, musk deer etc. Description of geographical features common to Kashmir, such as tarns and glades Mention of some sites of minor importance that, according to Kalla, can be identified with places in Kashmir. These sites are not very famous outside Kashmir, and therefore, could not have been known to someone not in close touch with Kashmir. Reference to certain legends of Kashmiri origin, such as that of the Nikumbha (mentioned in the Kashmiri text Nīlamata Purāṇa); mention (in Shakuntala) of the legend about Kashmir being created from a lake. This legend, mentioned in Nīlamata Purāṇa, states that a tribal leader named Ananta drained a lake to kill a demon. Ananta named the site of the former lake (now land) as "Kashmir", after his father Kaśyapa. According to Kalla, Śakuntalā is an allegorical dramatization of Pratyabhijna philosophy (a branch of Kashmir Shaivism). Kalla further argues that this branch was not known outside of Kashmir at that time. Another old legend recounts that Kālidāsa visits Kumāradāsa, the king of Lanka and, because of treachery, is murdered there. Several ancient and medieval books state that Kālidāsa was a court poet of a king named Vikramāditya. A legendary king named Vikramāditya is said to have ruled from Ujjain around the 1st century BCE. A section of scholars believe that this legendary Vikramāditya is not a historical figure at all. There are other kings who ruled from Ujjain and adopted the title Vikramāditya, the most notable ones being Chandragupta II (r. 380 CE – 415 CE) and Yaśodharman (6th century CE). The most popular theory is that Kālidāsa flourished during the reign of Chandragupta II, and therefore lived around the 4th-5th century CE. Several Western scholars have supported this theory, since the days of William Jones and A. B. Keith. Modern western Indologists and scholars like Stanley Wolpert also support this theory. Many Indian scholars, such as Vasudev Vishnu Mirashi and Ram Gupta, also place Kālidāsa in this period. According to this theory, his career might have extended to the reign of Kumāragupta I (r. 414 – 455 CE), and possibly, to that of Skandagupta (r. 455 – 467 CE). The earliest paleographical evidence of Kālidāsa is found in a Sanskrit inscription dated c. 473 CE, found at Mandsaur's Sun temple, with some verses that appear to imitate Meghadūta Purva, 66; and the ṛtusaṃhāra V, 2–3, although Kālidāsa is not named. His name, along with that of the poet Bhāravi, is first mentioned the 634 CE Aihole inscription found in Karnataka. Some scholars, including M. Srinivasachariar and T. S. Narayana Sastri, believe that works attributed to "Kālidāsa" are not by a single person. According to Srinivasachariar, writers from 8th and 9th centuries hint at the existence of three noted literary figures who share the name Kālidāsa. These writers include Devendra (author of Kavi-Kalpa-Latā), Rājaśekhara and Abhinanda. Sastri lists the works of these three Kalidasas as follows: Kālidāsa alias Mātṛgupta, author of Setu-Bandha and three plays (Abhijñānaśākuntalam, Mālavikāgnimitram and Vikramōrvaśīyam). Kālidāsa alias Medharudra, author of Kumārasambhava, Meghadūta and Raghuvaṃśa. Kālidāsa alias Kotijit: author of Ṛtusaṃhāra, Śyāmala-Daṇḍakam and Śṛngāratilaka among other works. Sastri goes on to mention six other literary figures known by the name "Kālidāsa": Parimala Kālidāsa alias Padmagupta (author of Navasāhasāṅka Carita), Kālidāsa alias Yamakakavi (author of Nalodaya), Nava Kālidāsa (author of Champu Bhāgavata), Akbariya Kalidasa (author of several samasyas or riddles), Kālidāsa VIII (author of Lambodara Prahasana), and Abhinava Kālidāsa alias Mādhava (author of Saṅkṣepa-Śaṅkara-Vijayam). According to K. Krishnamoorthy, "Vikramāditya" and "Kālidāsa" were used as common nouns to describe any patron king and any court poet, respectively. Kālidāsa is the author of two mahākāvyas, Kumārasambhava (Kumāra meaning Kartikeya, and sambhava meaning possibility of an event taking place, in this context a birth. Kumārasambhava thus means the birth of a Kartikeya) and Raghuvaṃśa ("Dynasty of Raghu"). Kumārasambhava describes the birth and adolescence of the goddess Pārvatī, her marriage to Śiva and the subsequent birth of their son Kumāra (Kārtikeya). Raghuvaṃśa is an epic poem about the kings of the Raghu dynasty. Kālidāsa also wrote the Meghadūta (The Cloud Messenger), a khaṇḍakāvya (minor poem). It describes the story of a Yakṣa trying to send a message to his lover through a cloud. Kālidāsa set this poem to the mandākrāntā metre, which is known for its lyrical sweetness. It is one of Kālidāsa's most popular poems and numerous commentaries on the work have been written. Kalidasa also wrote the shyamala Dandakam descripting the beauty of Goddess Matangi. Kālidāsa wrote three plays. Among them, Abhijñānaśākuntalam ("Of the recognition of Śakuntalā") is generally regarded as a masterpiece. It was among the first Sanskrit works to be translated into English, and has since been translated into many languages. Mālavikāgnimitram (Pertaining to Mālavikā and Agnimitra) tells the story of King Agnimitra, who falls in love with the picture of an exiled servant girl named Mālavikā. When the queen discovers her husband's passion for this girl, she becomes infuriated and has Mālavikā imprisoned, but as fate would have it, Mālavikā is in fact a true-born princess, thus legitimizing the affair. Abhijñānaśākuntalam (Of the recognition of Śakuntalā) tells the story of King Duṣyanta who, while on a hunting trip, meets Śakuntalā, the adopted daughter of the sage Kanu and real daughter of Vishwamitra and Menaka and marries her. A mishap befalls them when he is summoned back to court: Śakuntala, pregnant with their child, inadvertently offends a visiting Durvasa and incurs a curse, whereby Duṣyanta forgets her entirely until he sees the ring he has left with her. On her trip to Duṣyanta's court in an advanced state of pregnancy, she loses the ring, and has to come away unrecognized by him. The ring is found by a fisherman who recognizes the royal seal and returns it to Duṣyanta, who regains his memory of Śakuntala and sets out to find her. Goethe was fascinated by Kālidāsa's Abhijñānaśākuntalam, which became known in Europe, after being translated from English to German. Vikramōrvaśīyam (Ūrvaśī Won by Valour) tells the story of King Pururavas and celestial nymph Ūrvaśī who fall in love. As an immortal, she has to return to the heavens, where an unfortunate accident causes her to be sent back to the earth as a mortal with the curse that she will die (and thus return to heaven) the moment her lover lays his eyes on the child which she will bear him. After a series of mishaps, including Ūrvaśī's temporary transformation into a vine, the curse is lifted, and the lovers are allowed to remain together on the earth. Montgomery Schuyler, Jr. published a bibliography of the editions and translations of the drama Śakuntalā while preparing his work "Bibliography of the Sanskrit Drama". Schuyler later completed his bibliography series of the dramatic works of Kālidāsa by compiling bibliographies of the editions and translations of Vikramōrvaśīyam and Mālavikāgnimitra. Sir William Jones published an English translation of Śakuntalā in 1791 CE and Ṛtusaṃhāra was published by him in original text during 1792 CE. According to Indologist Siegfried Lienhard:A large number of long and short poems have incorrectly been attributed to Kalidasa, for instance the Bhramarastaka, the Ghatakarpara, the Mangalastaka, the Nalodaya (a work by Ravideva), the Puspabanavilasa, which is sometimes also ascribed to Vararuci or Ravideva, the Raksasakavya, the Rtusamhara, the Sarasvatistotra, the Srngararasastaka, the Srngaratilaka, the Syamaladandaka and the short, didactic text on prosody, the Srutabodha, otherwise thought to be by Vararuci or the Jaina Ajitasena. In addition to the non-authentic works, there are also some "false" Kalidasas. Immensely proud of their poetic achievement, several later poets have either been barefaced enough to call themselves Kalidasa or have invented pseudonyms such as Nava-Kalidasa, "New Kalidasa", Akbariya-Kalidasa, "Akbar-Kalidasa", etc. Kālidāsa's influence extends to all later Sanskrit works that followed him, and on Indian literature broadly, becoming an archetype of Sanskrit literature. Notably in modern Indian literature Meghadūta's romanticism is found in Rabindranath Tagore's poems on the monsoons. Bāṇabhaṭṭa, the 7th-century CE Sanskrit prose-writer and poet, has written: nirgatāsu na vā kasya kālidāsasya sūktiṣu, prītirmadhurasārdrāsu mañjarīṣviva jāyate. ("When Kālidāsa's sweet sayings, charming with sweet sentiment, went forth, who did not feel delight in them as in honey-laden flowers?"). Jayadeva, a later poet, has called Kālidāsa a kavikulaguru, 'the lord of poets' and the vilāsa, 'graceful play' of the muse of poetry. The Indologist Sir Monier Williams has written: "No composition of Kālidāsa displays more the richness of his poetical genius, the exuberance of his imagination, the warmth and play of his fancy, his profound knowledge of the human heart, his delicate appreciation of its most refined and tender emotions, his familiarity with the workings and counterworkings of its conflicting feelings - in short more entitles him to rank as the Shakespeare of India." "Here the poet seems to be in the height of his talent in representation of the natural order, of the finest mode of life, of the purest moral endeavor, of the most worthy sovereign, and of the most sober divine meditation; still he remains in such a manner the lord and master of his creation." Philosopher and linguist Humboldt writes, "Kālidāsa, the celebrated author of the Śākuntalā, is a masterly describer of the influence which Nature exercises upon the minds of lovers. Tenderness in the expression of feelings and richness of creative fancy have assigned to him his lofty place among the poets of all nations." Many scholars have written commentaries on the works of Kālidāsa. Among the most studied commentaries are those by Kolāchala Mallinātha Suri, which were written in the 15th century during the reign of the Vijayanagara king, Deva Rāya II. The earliest surviving commentaries appear to be those of the 10th-century Kashmirian scholar Vallabhadeva. Eminent Sanskrit poets like Bāṇabhaṭṭa, Jayadeva and Rajasekhara have lavished praise on Kālidāsa in their tributes. A well-known Sanskrit verse ("Upamā Kālidāsasya...") praises his skill at upamā, or similes. Anandavardhana, a highly revered critic, considered Kālidāsa to be one of the greatest Sanskrit poets. Of the hundreds of pre-modern Sanskrit commentaries on Kālidāsa's works, only a fraction have been contemporarily published. Such commentaries show signs of Kālidāsa's poetry being changed from its original state through centuries of manual copying, and possibly through competing oral traditions which ran alongside the written tradition. Kālidāsa's Abhijñānaśākuntalam was one of the first works of Indian literature to become known in Europe. It was first translated into English and then from English into German, where it was received with wonder and fascination by a group of eminent poets, which included Herder and Goethe. Kālidāsa's work continued to evoke inspiration among the artistic circles of Europe during the late 19th century and early 20th century, as evidenced by Camille Claudel's sculpture Shakuntala. Koodiyattam artist and Nāṭya Śāstra scholar Māni Mādhava Chākyār (1899–1990) of Kerala choreographed and performed popular Kālidāsa plays including Abhijñānaśākuntala, Vikramorvaśīya and Mālavikāgnimitra. The Kannada films Mahakavi Kalidasa (1955), featuring Honnappa Bagavatar, B. Sarojadevi and later Kaviratna Kalidasa (1983), featuring Rajkumar and Jaya Prada, were based on the life of Kālidāsa. Kaviratna Kalidasa also used Kālidāsa's Shakuntala as a sub-plot in the movie.V. Shantaram made the Hindi movie Stree (1961) based on Kālidāsa's Shakuntala. R.R. Chandran made the Tamil movie Mahakavi Kalidas (1966) based on Kālidāsa's life. Chevalier Nadigar Thilagam Sivaji Ganesan played the part of the poet himself. Mahakavi Kalidasu (Telugu, 1960) featuring Akkineni Nageswara Rao was similarly based on Kālidāsa's life and work. Surendra Verma's Hindi play Athavan Sarga, published in 1976, is based on the legend that Kālidāsa could not complete his epic Kumārasambhava because he was cursed by the goddess Pārvatī, for obscene descriptions of her conjugal life with Śiva in the eighth canto. The play depicts Kālidāsa as a court poet of Chandragupta who faces a trial on the insistence of a priest and some other moralists of his time. Asti Kashchid Vagarthiyam is a five-act Sanskrit play written by Krishna Kumar in 1984. The story is a variation of the popular legend that Kālidāsa was mentally challenged at one time and that his wife was responsible for his transformation. Kālidāsa, a mentally challenged shepherd, is married to Vidyottamā, a learned princess, through a conspiracy. On discovering that she has been tricked, Vidyottamā banishes Kālidāsa, asking him to acquire scholarship and fame if he desires to continue their relationship. She further stipulates that on his return he will have to answer the question, Asti Kaścid Vāgarthaḥ" ("Is there anything special in expression?"), to her satisfaction. In due course, Kālidāsa attains knowledge and fame as a poet. Kālidāsa begins Kumārsambhava, Raghuvaṃśa and Meghaduta with the words Asti ("there is"), Kaścit ("something") and Vāgarthaḥ ("spoken word and its meaning") respectively. Bishnupada Bhattacharya's "Kalidas o Robindronath" is a comparative study of Kalidasa and the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore. Ashadh Ka Ek Din is a Hindi play based on fictionalized elements of Kalidasa's life. Sanskrit literature Sanskrit drama Bhāsa Bhavabhūti Kālidāsa (1984). Miller, Barbara Stoler (ed.). The Plays of Kālidāsa: Theater of Memory. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-81-208-1681-7. Sethna, Kaikhushru Dhunjibhoy (2000). Problems of Ancient India. Aditya Prakashan. pp. 79–120. ISBN 978-81-7742-026-5. Venkatachalam, V. (1986). "Kalidasa Special Number (X), The Vikram". Bhāsa. Sahitya Akademi. pp. 130–140. Kalidasa: Translations of Shakuntala and Other Works by Arthur W. Ryder Biography of Kalidasa Works by Kalidasa at Project Gutenberg Works by or about Kalidasa at Internet Archive Clay Sanskrit Library publishes classical Indian literature, including the works of Kalidasa with Sanskrit facing-page text and translation. Also offers searchable corpus and downloadable materials. Kalidasa at The Online Library of Liberty Kalidasa at IMDb Epigraphical Echoes of Kalidasa

Photo of Salman Rushdie

6. Salman Rushdie (b. 1947)

With an HPI of 70.90, Salman Rushdie is the 6th most famous Indian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 97 different languages.

Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie (; born 19 June 1947) is an Indian-born British-American novelist. His work often combines magic realism with historical fiction and primarily deals with connections, disruptions, and migrations between Eastern and Western civilizations, typically set on the Indian subcontinent. Rushdie's second novel, Midnight's Children (1981), won the Booker Prize in 1981 and was deemed to be "the best novel of all winners" on two occasions, marking the 25th and the 40th anniversary of the prize. After his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses (1988), Rushdie became the subject of several assassination attempts and death threats, including a fatwa calling for his death issued by Ruhollah Khomeini, the supreme leader of Iran. In total, 20 countries banned the book. Numerous killings and bombings have been carried out by extremists who cite the book as motivation, sparking a debate about censorship and religiously motivated violence. In 2022, a man stabbed Rushdie after rushing onto the stage where the novelist was scheduled to deliver a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, New York. In 1983, Rushdie was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He was appointed a Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France in 1999. Rushdie was knighted in 2007 for his services to literature. In 2008, The Times ranked him 13th on its list of the 50 greatest British writers since 1945. Since 2000, Rushdie has lived in the United States. He was named Distinguished Writer in Residence at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute of New York University in 2015. Earlier, he taught at Emory University. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2012, he published Joseph Anton: A Memoir, an account of his life in the wake of the events following The Satanic Verses. Rushdie was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine in April 2023. Throughout his life, Rushdie has had five marriages, four of which ended in divorce.

Photo of Tulsidas

7. Tulsidas (1532 - 1623)

With an HPI of 68.79, Tulsidas is the 7th most famous Indian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 57 different languages.

Rambola Dubey (Hindi pronunciation: [rɑːməboːlɑː d̪ubeː]; 11 August 1511 – 30 July 1623), known as Tulsidas (Sanskrit pronunciation: [tʊlsiːdaːsaː]), was a Vaishnava (Ramanandi) Hindu saint and poet, renowned for his devotion to the deity Rama. He wrote several popular works in Sanskrit, Awadhi, and Braj Bhasha, but is best known as the author of the Hanuman Chalisa and of the epic Ramcharitmanas, a retelling of the Sanskrit Ramayana, based on Rama's life, in the vernacular Awadhi language. Tulsidas spent most of his life in the cities of Banaras (modern Varanasi) and Ayodhya. The Tulsi Ghat on the Ganges in Varanasi is named after him. He founded the Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple in Varanasi, believed to stand at the place where he had the sight of the deity. Tulsidas started the Ramlila plays, a folk-theatre adaptation of the Ramayana. He has been acclaimed as one of the greatest poets in Hindi, Indian, and world literature. The impact of Tulsidas and his works on the art, culture and society in India is widespread and is seen today in the vernacular language, Ramlila plays, Hindustani classical music, popular music, and television series.

Photo of Ghalib

8. Ghalib (1797 - 1869)

With an HPI of 68.43, Ghalib is the 8th most famous Indian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 64 different languages.

Mirza Beg Asadullah Khan (1797–1869), also known as Mirza Ghalib, was an Indian poet. He was popularly known by the pen names Ghalib and Asad. His honorific was Dabir-ul-Mulk, Najm-ud-Daula. During his lifetime, the already declining Mughal Empire was eclipsed and displaced by the British East India Company rule and finally deposed following the defeat of the Indian Rebellion of 1857; these are described through his work. He wrote in both Urdu and Persian. Although his Persian Divan (body of work) is at least five times longer than his Urdu Divan, his fame rests on his poetry in Urdu. Today, Ghalib remains popular not only in the Indian subcontinent but also among the Hindustani diaspora around the world.

Photo of Savitribai Phule

9. Savitribai Phule (1831 - 1897)

With an HPI of 68.13, Savitribai Phule is the 9th most famous Indian Writer.  Her biography has been translated into 30 different languages.

Savitribai Phule () was one of the first female teachers in India, a social reformer, and a poet. Along with her husband, Jyotiba Phule. In Maharashtra, she played a vital role in improving women's rights in India. She is considered to be the pioneer of India's feminist movement. She strived to abolish discrimination and unfair treatment to people based on caste and gender. She and her husband were pioneers of women education in India. They started their first school for girls in 1848 in Pune at Tatyasaheb Bhide's residence or Bhidewada.

Photo of Meera

10. Meera (1498 - 1546)

With an HPI of 67.83, Meera is the 10th most famous Indian Writer.  Her biography has been translated into 50 different languages.

Meera, better known as Mirabai, and venerated as Sant Meerabai, was a 16th-century Hindu mystic poet and devotee of Krishna. She is a celebrated Bhakti saint, particularly in the North Indian Hindu tradition. She is mentioned in Bhaktamal, confirming that she was widely known and a cherished figure in the Bhakti movement by about 1600. Most legends about Mirabai mention her fearless disregard for social and family conventions, her devotion to Krishna, her treatment of Krishna as her husband, and her persecution by her in-laws for her religious devotion. She has been the subject of numerous folk tales and hagiographic legends, which are inconsistent or widely different in details. Millions of devotional hymns in passionate praise of Krishna are attributed to Meerabai in the Indian tradition, but just a few hundred are believed to be authentic by scholars, and the earliest written records suggest that except for two hymns, most were first written down in the 18th century. Many poems attributed to Meera were likely composed later by others who admired Meera. These hymns are a type of bhajan, and are very famous across India. Some Hindu temples, such as Chittor Fort, are dedicated to Mirabai's memory. Legends about Mirabai's life, of contested authenticity, have been the subject of movies, films, comic strips and other popular literature in modern times.


Pantheon has 156 people classified as Indian writers born between 1000 BC and 1992. Of these 156, 39 (25.00%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living Indian writers include Salman Rushdie, Deepak Chopra, and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. The most famous deceased Indian writers include George Orwell, Rabindranath Tagore, and Rudyard Kipling. As of April 2024, 29 new Indian writers have been added to Pantheon including Sankardev, Dnyaneshwar, and Suryakant Tripathi.

Living Indian Writers

Go to all Rankings

Deceased Indian Writers

Go to all Rankings

Newly Added Indian Writers (2024)

Go to all Rankings

Overlapping Lives

Which Writers were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Writers since 1700.