He was a pioneer of modernism in Hindi literature. But Sachchidanand Hirananda Vatsyayan, or Agyeya as he was known, was much more than a literary figure. He was a political revolutionary in his youth, he joined the Army during the Second World War, had intense romantic affairs, and went on to become a journalist who forged connections across the political spectrum.

In his remarkable new book, Writer, Rebel, Soldier, Lover: The Many Lives of Agyeya, Akshaya Mukul tells the gripping story of the writer’s turbulent life. As he does so, his publisher notes, Mukul “also tells a history of the Hindi literary world and of a new nation-spanning as it does two world wars, Independence and Partition, and the building and fraying of the Nehruvian state”.

In the latest episode of Scroll Books, Mukul tells Naresh Fernandes about Agyeya’s legacy and why he still matters.