On the occasion of the 12th All India Oriental Conference held at Varanasi in December 1943, a few leading Indologists approached Sahu Shanti Prasad Jain for setting up of an organisation to undertake systematic research and publication of Sanskrit, Prakrit, Pali and Apabhramsha texts. In response to this, Sahuji, true to his deep love for learning and cultural heritage, took the decision to found the Bharatiya Jnanpith.
On 18th February, 1944 the formal registration of the organization took place in the form of Deed of Declaration, laying down its objectives as follows: To conduct research and publication of the extinct, rare and unpublished works of knowledge and to encourage the creation of original literature in the service of the people.
Bharatiya Jnanpith is one of the premier literary organizations of India, which is nurturing literature and culture through its literary endeavors, which include Awards, Publication, Fellowship and Research for the last several decades.
Jnanpith maintains regular network with authors of various generations of all the Indian languages for the purpose of its awards and publications.
Jnanpith Award has achieved the recognition of the highest literary award of the country and has been presented, so far, by Presidents, Prime Ministers and international celebrities like Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, Mr. Nelson Mandela, Sir V. S. Naipaul and H.R.H. Princess of Thailand Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. Jnanpith Award has been conferred to literary geniuses of various Indian languages, who have brought many laurels to our nation through their creations.
Bharatiya Jnanpith has also instituted another award namely Moortidevi Award, which is presented every year for a contemplative and perceptive work written in any forms of literature which expresses, underlines and illumines human values rooted in the broad vision of Indian philosophy and cultural heritage. The objective of this award is to foster social and individual commitment to higher values of life through the medium of literature in its larger sense.
Besides, Jnanpith has instituted Navlekhan Award for young authors, below forty years of age, writing in Hindi for their first ever creations.– The Fellowship programme has been rechristened as Jnangarima Manad Alankaran – an award especially reserved for very senior and celebrated authors, who have made immense contribution towards Indian literature through their creations.
The selection processes of all the Awards are independent of any influence from Jnanpith management and are transparent. Jnanpith has independent Language Advisory Committees of all the Indian languages comprising of scholars of that language. Besides the National Selection Board comprises of literary stalwarts, which include celebrated authors, eminent literary critics and Vice Chancellors. The first President of India Dr. Rajendra Prasad was the first Chairman of the Jnanpith Selection Board. Some of other noted scholars who adorned the Chairmanship of Selection Board include Dr. Karan Singh, P. V. Narsimha Rao, Dr. L. M. Singhvi and Prof. Namwar Singh.
Bharatiya Jnanpith is also one of the celebrated publication houses of India. It has, so far, published more than twelve hundred titles admired by the readers of all sections of the society. The Official Language Department of the Ministry of Home, Ministry of Culture and HRD, Govt. of India has regularly recommended books of Bharatiya Jnanpith for purchase by different government establishments.
Since its inception, Bharatiya Jnanpith has been working devotedly for the fulfillment of its twin objectives, to conduct research and publication of the extinct, rare and unpublished works of knowledge and to encourage the creation of original literature in the service of the people and aspires to continue its noble mission in future as well.