Shirwadkar’s original name was Gajanan Ranganath Shirwadkar. After he was adopted, his name changed to Vishnu Waman Shirwadkar.
He is born in Pune on 27th February 1912 . His primary education was in Pimpalgaon and high school education was in New English School, Nashik, which is now called as J.S. Rungtha High School of Nashik. He passed matriculation from Bombay University.
His poems and articles were published in "Balbodhmewa " magazine edited by the famous poet of Maharashtra D.N. Tilak way back in 1929, when he was hardly 17 years old. .
He joined H.P.T. College in 1930 and his poems were then published in "Ratnakar" magazine. In 1932, he participated in the "Satyagraha" for allowing untouchables to enter Kala Ram Temple. Since then the budding poet in him started soaring up in the sky of literature - by writing not only poems, but stories, plays, writing for the news papers like Weekly Prabha, Daily Prabhat, Sarathi, Dhanurdhari, Navyug etc.
In 1942 his collection of poems "Vishakha" was published and is till date being cherished by Marathi speaking people. Likewise his collections of poems named "Marathi Mati", "Swagat", "Himraesha", "Yayati Ani Devayani", "Veej Mhanali Dhartila" were published in 1960, 1962, 1964, 1966 and 1967 respectively .They all received Maharashtra State Awards. His first novel "Vaishnav" and his first drama "Doorche Dive" were published in 1946. His play "Natsamrat" is one of the mile stones in not only play writing, but also for the staging of the play.
Natsamrat is welcomed by the Marathi speaking population like anything. The theme of this play is very touching and an eye-opener for many old people. Many old people are said to have changed their will, after seeing this drama.
A detailed list of his awards will be very long. However, without a mention of the following awards, one would not appreciate why he is considered such a great poet and writer. His play "Natsamrat" received Sahitya Academy Award in 1974. He received Ram Ganesh Gadkari Award of All India Natya Parishad in 1985. Poona University conferred on him the honourable degree of D.Lit. in 1986. In 1988 he received Sangeet Natya Lekhan Award. Topping the list is the "Dnyanpeeth Award", which he received in 1988. Considering his great contribution to Marathi literature, he was selected for this award. Earlier his senior friend, well-known Marathi Writer - Mr V.S. Khandekar had received this award. He was the first Marathi person to receive it and the second one is Kusumagraj.
*Vishnu Vaman Shirwadkar aka Kusumagraj birthday is celebrated today as World Marathi Day ...*
However when it comes to any celebration for him, he prefers to take a back seat. His favourite writer is P.G. Wodehouse and the favourite actor is Charli Chaplin.
Nashik city respects him as a "Rishi", because of his knowledge, his simple living,his deep understanding of humanity and his unparalleled urge to help the society. For Nashikites, he is the living God. His polite demeanour makes everybody comfortable to be with him. In nutshell one can say that "Kusumagraj is Nashik and Nashik is Kusumagraj".
Department of India Post issued commemorative postage Stamp on Vishnu Vaman Shirwadkar,
Issued Date: 14.03. 2003
Denomination: 500 Paise