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CHAPTER - IV

LARSHMINATH BEZBARUAH AND HIS WORKS

Lakshminath Bezbaruah was born in an aristocratic

family in November 1868. His father, Dinanath Bezbaruah was ■»

Munsif in the British administration. In his childhood ho

moved from place to place like Tezpur, Barpeta etc., with his

father. Even in his boyhood Lakshminath got acquainted with

the natural beauty of different places, the social life of

the Assamese people and the way of life of the ordinary

people. The environment of Vaisnavism at home and the strict

discipline, had an enduring influence on him in his later-

life. He started his educational career at Sibsagar. After

passing the Entrance Examination in 1886, he went to Calcutta

for higher education and got his B.A. degree. Though he

studied for M.A. and B •L • but he did not get the

opportunity to pass them. In 1891 he got married to

Pragnasundari Devi, daughter of Hemendra Nath Tagore of the

famous Tagore family of Jorasanko in Calcutta.

A new generation of educated Assamese youths came

forward to establish the Assamese literature in the forum of

the world, the foundation of which was already laid by

Hemchandra, Gunaviram and their associates. This group of

young men were all educated in Calcutta Colleges. For this


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reason the centre of their new literary movement was Calcutia

itself. They realised that unless they were able to awaken

the self-consciousness of the Assamese people with the

development and spread of Assamese literature, the very

existence of the Assamese people, with a distinct identity of

their own, would be at stake. In 1872 the Assamese students,

studying in Calcutta, established an organisation sailed

"Asamiya" Sahitya Chara" (Assamese Literary Society) When

its infleunce gradually waned them the organisation was given

a new name, "Asamiya Bhasa Unnati SadhinI Sabha", in 1888.

This Society published a monthly magazine, "Jonakl" as their

organ in 1889. The chief contributors to this magazine were

the young, educated generation of Assam. They weir,

Lakshminath Bezbaruah, Chandra Kumar Agarwala, Hemchancira

Goswami, Padmanath Gohain Baruah, Satyanath Bora, Kanaktal

Baruah, etc. The foremost person of this group of literary

men, who brought a new epoch in Assamese literature, through

"Jonakl", was Lakshminath Bezbaruah. He has enriched and

strengthened almost every branch of Assamese literature w th

the alchemy of his many-sided genius. He proclaimed his

literary goal, which is also a promise, in the very fiist

issue of "Jonaki".

"For the new Assam which has come up we shal l use

all our strength .... We have come out to fiuht


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darkness. Our goal is the uplift and development of

the country".^

The chief objective of Bezbaruah was to arouse

self-confidence in the mind of the self-forgetful, senile,

idle and custom-ridden Assamese people and how to enlighten

and instill a new life in the social life with the lighf of

wisdom and knowledge. The more he went far from Assam tin

more he realised the true and vivid picture of the Assamese

rural life. The wonderful memories of his childhood laye

appeared before his eyes with the strangeness of a fair

tale. For this reason town-life and village-life have offer

become the subject matters of many of his short stories, flu

objective of the corpus of his works was only to inspire tin

Assamese people with a deep feeling of patriotism for thr

progress and development of the motherland - Assam. Afar*

from producing creative literature, he also wanted to is<

literature as a medium, as a force to build a nation, and al

his life he worked tirelessly to achieve this goal. Hi

contribution to literature, to the society and the nation

are things to remember for all times. In those dark days o

the country he showed the path to the people with hi

"JonakI" and with the melody of "Banhi" he inspired national

1 "Nakoi uthi aha Asomar nimitte amar atai shakti p» r >a


karim .... ami junjibalai elaichho andhakarar biruvihr
Uddeshya deshar unnati - JonakI".

Dr. Dilip Barua : Bezbaruar Sahitya Darshan, 1981. p. 20


80

consciousness in the people. The literary greatness cf

Bezbaruah is undeniable and beyond question. He started a new

era, brought a new trend in Assamese literaturer by his

literary pursuits. His life-long struggle to guard an)

maintain the purity of the Assamese language, is a memorable

episode in the history of Assamese literature. With his great

intellectual gift he realised that without a pure language a

great literature would be an impossibility. He always tried

to make the Assamese language more modern,more lucid and more

flexible.

A substantial portion of the works of Bezbaruah

falls in the category of the literature of humour. He entered

the literary arena primarily as an artist of a wit and

humour. Of course, he is also incomparable as a journalist < f

the first order. Through his journalistic works also he tried

to save the cause of his country, its progress and

development. An inspired feeling of nationalism, a wonderful,

skill of c tposition and a bright and true sense of humour

illuminate all his works. He was a poet, a playwright, short

story writer, a satirist, a prose writer, a journalist, a

critic, the pioneer of juvenile literature and a connoisseur

of ancient literature, all rolled into one. The name of

Bezbaruah will shine brightly in all the branches of Assamese

literature. He launched himself in his literary career b ; h e

play "Litikai". After this came his, (2) "Kamat Fritit.u


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labhibar Sanket" (1903), (3) Kripabar Baruahr Kakatai

Topola" (1904), (4) the novel "Padum Kunwari" (1905), (5) the

anthology of short stories "Suravi Galpa Sangraha", (1909),

(6) "Kripabar Baruihr Ovatani" (1909), (7) Dinanatl

Bezbaruahr Jiban Charit", (8) "Shankardeo" (1912), (9) "Burh;


Air Sadhu", (10) "KakadeotS Aru Natilara" (1912)

(11) "Chikarpati-Nikarpati", (12) "Nomol Nat", (13) "Pacham

Nat, (1918), (14) the anthology of short stories, "Jonbiiu

Galpa Sangraha", (15), "Sri Shankar Deb - Madhab neb’

(1914), (16) "Blkhar" (1914), (17) "Joymati", (18) Belimar"

(19) "Chakradhwaj Singha", (20) "Sadhukathlr Kuki"

(21) "Junuka", (22) "Bhagbat Katha", (23) "Kripabar Baruah;

Bhabar Burburani", (24) "Kehokali", an anthology of shor>

stories, and "Jiban Sowaran", Dinlekha" (Diary), "Patralekha

etc. "Tatwa Katha" was also published under his editorship.

After the publication of his "Litikai" he published

three more farces, "Namol", "Panchani" and "Chikarpati

Nikarpati". The stories of most of his farces have been taker,

from widely known old folk tales and fairy tales. The fare

"Litikai" is divided into five acts. The story is about th

life and doings of seven brothers. The seven brothers are th

biggest of fools and their foolishness lands them into yrea'

difficulty and trouble. Taking advantage of their foolishnes-

a Brahmin keeps them as jesters and flatterers. But in th

end he also finds himself in great distress. The stoi> i


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very weak, as if some inconsistent characters and some

farcical incidents have been joined together. Its literary

value is very little. The author has tried to show here that

if we try to harm others, we ourselves will be harmed.

The story of the farce "Nomol" has also been

borrowed from a well known fairy tale. The story of the farc<-

is like this; a person goes to a pundit to have his sot;

named, lest he forgets it he repeats it in his mind on hi<

way home, but for wrong pronounciation he suffers much before

he returns to his home. This story is also weak, it is onl

an attempt to create an atmosphere of humour by inventin ;

some queer and odd situations. However, the author has made t

scathing attack on some prevalent customs and rituals of the

society with satire and irony.

The story of "Pachani" goes like this - A God

fearing man takes hospitality to be the chief virtue of

religion and brings home a new guest every day. But his wif<^

scares them away putting a terror in their minds about the

cruel doings and evil intentions of the "Pachani" (a stick)

because she feared extreme load of works. The story being

inconsistent and the characters being weak, the farce has

very little literary merit.


83

In the farce "Chikarpati-Nikarpati" the strany*

thieving activities of two theives, Chikarpati and Nikarpati.

and their skill in stealing, have been described. Here tlv

judicial administration and the itching palm of the judge;

have been ridiculed and satirised.

As in real fairly tales, unnatural events an •

characters with oddities and inconsistencies, have loan

their place in these farces. The intention of the author i>

these farces was to entertain the reader only by preseritin ;

humorous situations, inconsistent behaviours of tb

characters, by putting wrong words in wrong sentences it th

mouths of the characters, wrong interpretations of things an •

by exaggerating descriptions.

After this Bezbaruah wrote three plays, "Jaimati"

"Belimar" and "Chakradhwaj-Singha" basing them on Assam';

history and tradition. "Jaimati Kunwari" and "Belimar" depict

the period of the revolution and downfall of the Ahom reign

"Jaimati" tells us of the beginning of the ruin of ft

country brought about by some power-hungry and worthless men

during the reign of Lora Raja; and "Belimar" speaks ol t! -

completion of the ruin caused by the factions quarreJ atJ

conflict between Purnananda Buragohain and Badan Chundi i

Phukan. The story of "Jaimati" starts from the night pre

to the fleeing of Gadapani and ends with her death if tf


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suffering inhuman torture and oppression. The play "Bellmar"

wonderfully describes how the glorious sun of freedom set due

to the factional quarrel, civil strife and utter selfishness

of the Assamese people.

The real source of the plot of the play

"Chakradhwaj Singha" was an essay, "Saraighatar Juddha", by

Hemchandra Goswami. This is a glorious episode of the history

of Assam. The intention of the author was to tell the people

how the patriotic heroes of the country held their lives cf

no consequence in the war with the Mughal invaders and how

they won the victory after a great blood-bath. Lachit

Barphukan inflicted a crushing defeat on the Mughal army in

1670. Lachit Barphukan is worshipped by the Assamese people

as a national hero of the country to this day. Since the

events of the play happened during the reign of kit j

Chakradhwaj Singha, the play has been named after the name <-f

the king. In the artistic skill employed in these grave ate!

dignified plays, Bezbaruah has followed the norm:? r!

Shakespeare to some extent, and a few characters are modelled

on that of the English playwright. In the characters <f

Gajapuria and Priyaram in "Chakradhwaj Singha" and in the

character of Pijou in Belimar, this influence is clear y

visible. In the presentation of the facts he has not novel

away from history anywhere, but in some places he has trie i

to bring variety in introducing some external incidents and


85

and events. The undramatic dialogues and the excessive number

of characters have made the play unstageable. But skill ha

been shown in the portrayal of a few independent characters.

The characters of Dalimi, Pijou, Gajapuria and Buragohain i i

"Jaimati" are worth mentioning in this regard. Written

against the background of history his "Gadadhar" is i

humorous play. It is his one-act play. The royal reception

and honour accorded to an ordinary rustic taking him to b ’

Gadadhar Kuwar in disguise, creates an unrealistic an 1

humorous situation, and this is the theme of the play.

Besides these "Babematara" and "Ha-ja-ba-ra-la", two

play-lets with three scenes in each, were publishes! b,

Bezbaruah in "Banhi".

The only novel authored by Lakshminath Bezbaruan

was "Padum Kunwari". This novel was published in "JonakI" i.n

its third year in several small instalments. This is the

first historical novel in Assamese literature. This novel was

written against the background of Dundia or Dandua rebel lion

which took place in North Kamrup during the reigt of

Kamaleswar Singha in the last part of the 18 th century.

Unnatural events, sensational endings, unnecessary

descriptions, have degenarated the worth of the novel T1>■'

only achievements of the writer is that he is able to ski. 11

fully fuse the love episode with the historical ev< its.

Perhaps his genius did not go in favour of writing novels.


86

At that time Bezbaruah had little experience, he was but i

young college student. For this reason he could not get mucn

success in writing novel, and this was why he did not at tempi;

it. In this regard we may recall the remark of the eminent

historian of Assamese literature, Dr. Satyendra Nath Sarma,

"On the whole Bezbaruah could not get any success

in writing novel. Perhaps he did not attempt any


2
more because of this unsuccess"

''Kadamkali" is Bezbaruah* s only anthology of poems.

His poems, written with the attitude. "If it be a poem, let

it be; if it is not a poem still let it be" (Kabita hai jabi

haok, nahai jadi nahaok), have not become very successful bui:

some of his poems are thoughtful and have artistic virtues.

His poems written in the early years of his life are romantic

in character and are steeped with deep feeling and

sensitivity, and his later poems are humorous. We get some <f

his poems written with their basis on folklore, such ns

"Dhanbar Ratani", "Malati", "Nimati Kanya" etc. There are

some poems where the only theme is love such as, "Priyatama ',

"Priyatamar Saundarya", "Prem" etc. These poems are excellent

specimens of Assamese love poems. We find in these poems tue

influence of Wordsworth, Shelley, Herrick etc. the English

2 "Muthote upanyas rachanat Bezbaruahi muthei safalata 1 i v


kariba para nai. Asamarthatar karane bodhkarou tekhelo
dwitiyabar upanyas rachanat hat nidile".

Dr. Satyendra Nath Sarma, "Asamiya Sahityer Bhumika, p. 70.


87

poets of eminence. Another important theme of Bezbaruah's

poems is his love for his country and his people. In his

poems "Been aru Baragi", "Asom Sangeet", "Au mor Aponat

Desh", "Brahmaputra" etc. he has sung the glorious days of

Assam’s past and has called upon the people to wake up from

their fitful sleep. The poem "Been aru Baragi" needs special

mention because here the poet has fused his patriotic

feelings with the agony of his soul which moves the hearts

of the readers. There was no place of despair in his life, he

always wished to go forward with determination and hope. The

soul of his poems "Been aru Baragi" and "Au mor Aponar Desh"

is his country and his people, in other words, Assam and the

people of Assam. No other writer before Bezbaruah ever

expressed such patriotic and nationalist feelings in their

works so openly and so forcefully.

Short story is a precious gift of Western


literature. Lakshminath Bezbaruah is the father of Assamese

short story. His "Sadhu Kathir Kuki" (1910), "Suravi" ( 1909 )

and "Jonbiri" (1913) are the first anthogies of Assamese

short story. His "Kehokali" was published after his death.

All his short stories are not successful. In some cases it is

just a burlesque, in some attempts have been made to create

farcical characters where there is no story and some ate

based on well known fairty tales. Since more stress has be* n

laid on the subject matter, the integrated and compact


88

character of a short story is lost. But the character of the

stories, "Bhadari", "Jalkuwari", "Kanya", "Dhowakhowa" etc.

have been picked up from different strata of the society an J

the descriptions are also more lively and attractive.

Of the writers of the "Jonakx" age Lakshminath

Bezbaruah realised the necessity of child literature and

wrote a few very attractive books. His "Kaka-Deota aru Nat i

Lara", "Burhi Air Sadhu", "Junuka" are very important

contributions in this regard. Some characters of these books,

being humorous, are very appealing to a child's heart. Tie

language is easy and simple but unreal character at,cl

exaggerative descriptions have marred their literary merit


Yet for the skill and style of his narration, the stories

will remain memorable in the history of Assamese literature-.

In this regard the opinions of Trailokya Nath Goswami need to

be mentioned. He said,

"In the first part of the 20th century our shot t

story made its appearance check and jowl with the

ancient stories with definite morals, in the nanus

of our great literature Lakshminath Bezbaruah. frun

Bezbaruah's wonderful pen, six short stories, i few

with a moral message, came out. They are - "Sadhu

kathar kuki", "Jonbi7*i"» "Suravi", "Kaka-Deota a m

Nati-Lara", "Burhi Air Sadhu" aru "Junuka", The

last mentioned three books have a moral message and


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in "Sadhu kathar kuki", "Suruvi" and "Jonbivi"

modern short stories have been introduced. Even in

the old moral stories Bezbaruah has shown a

definite style of his own in description and

narration. Whether in the old moral stories or the

modern short stories, Bezbaruah occupies an

important place in our


literature, for this
3
inimitable style of presentation."

A major part of the works of Bezbaruah falls in the

category of literature of humour. The serious write*

Bezbaruah and the humorist Bezbaruah are, as it were, twe

different personalities, two different individuals, in the

same person.

3 "Bingsha shatikar pratham choat prachin sidhu kathar gate


ga lagai amar sahityat chuti galpar janma hoi,
Sahityarathi Bezbaruahr hatat, Bezbaruahr kaparpara
chhakhan sadhu aru galpa puthi olai "Sadhukathar Kuki"
"JonbiTi", "Suravi", "Kaka-Deota aru Nati-Lara". "Burhi
Air Sadhu", aru "Junuka". Sheshar tinikhan puthit prachin
Sadhu bor achhe, aru "Sadhu kathar kuki", "Suravi" a m
Jonbiri 0 Sarahabhag STdhunik chuti galpa sannit :ist,i
haiche. Prachin Sadhuborat rupdiyar kshetrato Bezbaruahr
kathanbangi eta baishishtya achhe. Prachin sadhutei haot
ba adhunik chuti galpatei haok bhangir ei baishistar
karane galpa lekhak hichape Bezbaruah amar sahityat e-khan
bishista asan adhikar kari achhe".

Troilakya Nath Goswami s "Adhunik Galpa Sahitya"


1987, p. 102.
90

In this regard Birendra Kumar Bhattacharya has

said,

"To use different types of languages and vulgar

speech, was a trick of Bezbaruah's light-humour. We

often see that he has tried to bring humour by

using different languages in some parts of the


4
sentences".

Ambiguous sentences, broken sentences, exaggeration

in description, use of wrong words in wrong places, queer anti

add situations and contradiction in the characters presented

by creating strange situations and sentences and words - are

his literary devices to create humour in his works. He wanted


to awaken and arouse the Assamese people with the pricks of

satire and irony. His farcical essays, like "Kakatar Topola"

"Ovotani", "Bhabar Burbarani" and his humours plays

"Litikai", "Panchani", "Nomal", "Chikarpati-Nikarpati", etc

are bright examples of this. Even in his serious and

thoughtful writings we find the tanntings of irony and

ridicule.

4 "Bibhinna bha^a aru apabhasa byabahar karato Bezbaruah1


laghu byangar kaushal achhil; bakyar jnaje maje an bhas i
sumai di hanhir thunpak melibor chesta karar drishya amar
satata chakut pare".

Birendra Kumar Bhattacharya "Bezbaruahr Hasya Rasar Prakrit!


p. 113.
Vide "Lakshmi Nath Bezbaruah" published by Asom Prakashar
Parishad.
91

In his thoughtful and philosophical writings

Bezbaruah has presented the spread of Vaishnavism in Assam

and its ideals, particularly that of the Mahapurusia sect.

"In the biographies "Sri Shankardeb 0, Sri Madhabdeb" and in

some essays published in "Banhi", he has expounded the

characteristics and virtues of the religion preached by

Srimanta Shankardeb. In his opinion the Monotheism of the

Geeta, Satsanga of Srimadbhagat and the unshaken faith in Rarr

as an Avtar as expounded in the Ramayan, all have found their

place in the Mahapurusia faith. The interpretation oi

Vaisnavism by Bezbaruah is the expression of the heartfelt

belief of a devoted person.

The contribution of the great literature

Lakshminath Bezbaruah in the language, literature and culture

of Assam is immense and epoch making. With his many-sidec

genius, deep patriotism and an inexhaustible power to lead,

Bezbaruah appeared at a very critical time of Assam's history

and gave the necessary leadership to the people to establish

the country in the world forum in her own pristine glory. The

sole objective of his life was to safeguard the glory of his

motherland and kept it untarnished.

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