Lakshminath Bezbaruah Essay

Lakshminath Bezbaroa
BornNovember, 1864
Aahatguri, Nagaon, Assam, India
Died26 March 1938
Dibrugarh, Assam, India
OccupationWriter, Novelist, Dramatist, Poet, Editor, Satirist, Timber-trading
Spouse(s)Pragyasundari Devi

Lakshminath Bezbaroa /lokh-mi-nah-th bej-boh-ruu-ah/ (Assamese: লক্ষ্মীনাথ বেজবৰুৱা, Hindi: लक्ष्मीनाथ बेजबरुवा; 1864–1938) was a great Assamese personality and celebrated pioneer of modern Assamese literature. He was one of the literary stalwarts of the Jonaki Era, the age of romanticism in Assamese literature when through his essays, plays, fiction, poetry and satires, he gave a new impetus to the then stagnating Assamese literary caravan.[1]

As a sensitive artist, he responded to the prevailing social environment through his beautifully timed satirical works to bring and sustain positive changes to the former. His creative literature reflected the deeper urges of the people of Assam.[2]

Confusion regarding date of birth[edit]

There is a confusion regarding the date of birth of Lakshminath Bezbaroa and also a story behind it as told by Bezbaroa himself. In the first line of the first paragraph of the first chapter of his auto-biography Mor Jiban Xuworon (মোৰ জীৱন সোঁৱৰণ),Lakshminath Bezbaroa confirms outright his inability to remember his exact date of birth that his parents used to tell him. But later when he grew young and required to put his date of birth for essential records, he invented a date for the purpose viz."1868 AD , November".But was born in 1864. He writes that he would like to offer this piece of information to anyone interested in knowing about his date of birth, although he is unsure whether that information would in any way affect the balance-sheet of anyone's life. In the next line he explicitly writes that approximately translates into

"I am not convinced that on hearing,knowing or composing the news of my incarnation to destroy the "Annasur" (Food Devil) in that given year, perhaps two or four years earlier or later for that matter, the mankind shall be at any loss or profit or concede any damage."

In the very next paragraph, he went on describing in detail how and why the Bundle of Birth-Charts,kept religiously and secretly away from the kids by his parents, which contained the one, the his one he knew for certain during his childhood, was lost.

Lakshminath Bezbaroa has however confirmed in his auto-biography that he was born in the autumn on a full-moon night, on which "Lakhmi Puja" ( A Hindu festival of worship of Goddess Lakhmi) is celebrated in India, and to mark the coincidence, he was named by his parents as "Lakshminath" ( A name for Vishnu, the Hindu God and husband of Goddess Lakhmi). This autumn-festival celebrated in the full-moon of Ashvin usually falls in the month of October in any year. As per a NASA web-site data, there was only one full-moon day in the month of November, 1868 and that was on 30th[3] but that was not the day of celebration of Lakshmi puja in that year. Presently, the Assam Sahitya Sabha has settled on a date "14th October,1864", that was a full-moon night of Lakshmi Puja in India,for his date of birth.

Early life[edit]

Lakshminath Bezbaroa was born on a boat, as it stood moored in a sand bank of the river Brahmaputra at Ahatguri, near Nagaon on a Lakshmi Purnima night, on 14 October 1864. His father Dinanath Bezbaroa, a senior official with the British government, was in the process of moving to Barpeta due to official transfer.[4]

Lakshminath Bezbaroa spent his childhood in different places of Assam. His father brought his family with him from Barpeta to Tezpur. From Tezpur they shifted to North Lakhimpur. In between the family stayed for a brief while at Guwahati and finally they settled in Sibsagar.[4]

Education[edit]

Lakshminath Bezbaroa received his early education Sibsagar Govt. High School at Sibsagar. Thereafter he studied for his F.A. from the City College and subsequently graduated with B.A. from the General Assembly's Institution in Calcutta. Then he took his M.A. and B.L. degrees from the University of Calcutta.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Lakshminath Bezbaroa married Pragyasundari Devi, a niece of the poet Rabindranath Tagore.[6]

Honours[edit]

Lakshminath Bezbaroa is honoured by a unique title on 29 December 1931, 'Roxoraj' (ৰসৰাজ) by Asam Sahitya Sabha in 1931 at Sibsagar session. In the felicitation letter by Asam Sahitya Sabha, the word 'Sahityarathi' was used for the first time for Bezbaroa. Roxoraj meaning 'The King of Humour' in Assamese literature for his ever-popular satirical writings under the pen-name "Kripaabor Borbaruah", a pseudo-personality that he created and portrayed as the lead character in such works. He is also known in Assamese literary society as the Sahityarathi (সাহিত্যৰথী) which means "Charioteer of Literature" for his expertise in all branches of literature. .[7]

He presided over the All-Assam Students' Conference at Guwahati in 1921.[8]

He presided over the 7th annual session of Assam Sahitya Sabha held at Guwahati in 1924.[9]

He died in Dibrugarh on 26 March at the age of seventy only a few months after he went back to live in Assam permanently. The Asom Sahitya Sabha annually observes this day Sahitya Divas.[4]

Pragya Sundari Devi was the second daughter of Maharshi Debendranath Tagore's third son Hemendranath Tagore (1845- 1885). Pragya Sundari was the first to write a cookbook in bangla named 'Aamish O Niramish Aahar' in three volumes which became immensely popular. She also used to edit a magazine named 'Punya'. Pragya Sundari and Laxminath's granddaughter,Rita Devi is famous Odissi dancer.

Literary career[edit]

Lakshminath Bezbaroa started his literary career with a farce, "Litikai" serialized from the first issue of Jonaki magazine. He wrote 8 plays, 4 farces, 3 historical works, 1 act drama, 3 biographies and 2 autobiographies. He also wrote for the children. He collected and compiled folk tales of Assam (Xadhukotha) and added on his own to the basket, quite a few new tales to the benefit of nurturing parents and baby-sitters. Lakshminath Bezbaroa was the pioneer short story writer in Assam.[1] His short stories covered the different features from the Assamese society but with humorous sentiment. Rasaraj Bezbaroa was earmarked as a patriotic playwright while he composed three historical plays, namely- Chakradhaj Singha, Joymoti Konwori and Belimaar.

O Mur Apunar Dex, a patriotic song composed by him, is the state anthem of Assam.[10]

Literary works[edit]

Poetry Collection:[7]

  • Kodom Koli (কদম কলি) (1913)
  • Podum Koli (পদুম কলি) (1968)

Novel:

  • Podum Kunwori (পদুম কুৱঁৰী)

Short Story Collection:

  • Surobhi (সুৰভি)(Short Stories, 1909)
  • Xadhukothaar Kuki (সাধুকথাৰ কুঁকি)(Short Stories, 1912)
  • Junbiri (জোনবিৰি)(Short Stories, 1913)
  • Kehukoli (কেহোঁকলি)

Children's literature:

  • Junuka (জুনুকা) (Folk tales, 1910)
  • Burhi aair xadhu (বুঢ়ী আইৰ সাধু)(Folk tales, 1911)
  • Kokadeuta aaru nati lora (ককাদেউতা আৰু নাতি-ল'ৰা)(Folk tales, 1912)
  • Baakhor (বাখৰ)

Collection of satire essays:[7]

  • Kripabor Barbaruar Kaakotor Tupula (কৃপাবৰ বৰবৰুৱাৰ কাকতৰ টোপোলা) (1904)
  • Kripabor Barbaruar Ubhutoni (কৃপাবৰ বৰবৰুৱাৰ ওভোতনি)(1909)
  • Barbaruar Bhabor Burburoni (বৰবৰুৱাৰ ভাবৰ বুৰবুৰণি)
  • Barbaruar Buloni (বৰবৰুৱাৰ বুলনি)

Comic Plays:

  • Litikai (লিটিকাই)
  • Nomal (নোমল)
  • Paachani (পাচনি)
  • Chikarpati Nikarpati (চিকৰপতি নিকৰপতি)

Plays:

  • Joymoti Kunwari (জয়মতী কুঁৱৰী)(1915)
  • Chakradhwaj Singha (চক্ৰধ্বজ সিংহ)(1915)
  • Belimaar (বেলিমাৰ)(1915)
  • Litikai (লিটিকাই) (1890)
  • Chikarpati-Nikarpati (চিকৰপতি-নিকৰপতি) (1913)
  • Nomal (নোমল) (1913)
  • Pachoni (পাচনি) (1913)

Biographies:

  • Dinanath Bejbaruar Xankhipto Jibon Charit (দীননাথ বেজবৰুৱাৰ সংক্ষিপ্ত জীৱন চৰিত)
  • Sri Sri Shankardev (শ্ৰীশ্ৰী শংকৰদেৱ)
  • Mahapurush Sri Sankardev Aru Madhabdev (মহাপুৰুষ শ্ৰীশংকৰদেৱ আৰু শ্রীমাধৱদেৱ)

Autobiographical:

  • Mor Jiban Sowaran (মোৰ জীৱন সোঁৱৰণ)[11]
  • Patralekha, Dinalekha (পত্ৰলেখা, দিনলেখা)

English Books:

  • History of Vaishnavism in India
  • Rasalila of Sri Krishna (The Baroda Lectures, 1934)
  • The Religion of Love and Devotion (1968), including the Boroda lectures and two other essays.

Others:

  • Kaamat Kritatwa Labhibar Xanket (কামত কৃতিত্ব লভিবৰ সংকেত)
  • Bhagawat Katha (ভাগৱত কথা)
  • Bharatbarshar Buranji (ভাৰতবৰ্ষৰ বুৰঞ্জী)
  • Tatwa Katha (তত্ত্ব কথা)
  • Sri Krishnakatha (শ্ৰীকৃষ্ণকথা)
  • Axomiya Bhaxa Aru Xahitya (অসমীয়া ভাষা আৰু সাহিত্য)

Editor:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Lakshimath Bezbaruah was residing with his parents in the house located near Mandela Chowck, Sambalpur, Odisha from 1878 to 1938. Odhisa Government is planning this house to his museum.

Lakshminath Bezbaroa was one of the great Assamese multifaceted personality scholars and a pioneer in modern Assamese literature. He was one of the brightest luminaries of the 19th – 20th century Assam who excelled in all branches of Assamese literature. He was one of the literary stalwarts of the ‘Jonaki Era’, the age of romanticism when through his essays, plays, fiction, poetry and satires; he occupies a unique place in the Assamese literary world. As a sensitive artist, he responded to the prevailing social environment through his beautiful satirical works to bring and sustain positive changes to the former. His creative literature reflected the deeper urges of the people of Assam. Bezbarua was able to identify the nuances and intimate features of the Assamese language with which he could develop a new style of creative literature where emotion merged with the intellect.

Lakshminath Bezbarua (1864-1938) was born on a Boat, as it stood moored in a sand bank of the river Brahmaputra at Ahatguri in undivided district of Nagaon on ‘Lakshmi Purnima’ night on 14th October 1864. It needs to be mentioned here that it is, in fact, a controversial matter about his date of birth. Presently the Assam SahityaSabha has accepted the 14th October, 1864, that was a full-moon night of Lakshmi Puja in India, for his date of birth. His father Dinanath Bezbaroa, a senior official with the British Government, was in the process of moving to Barpeta due to official transfer. As his father’s job was transferable in nature, hence Bezbaroa spent his childhood in various places of Assam. His father brought his family with him from Barpeta to Tezpur. From Tezpur they shifted to North Lakhimpur and followed by Guwahati for a short while and finally they settled in Sivasagar.

Lakshminath Bezbaroa received his early education at Sivasagar Govt. High School. Thereafter he studied F.A. at City College and subsequently graduated (B.A.) from the General Assembly Institution in Calcutta. Then he studied M.A. and B.L. degrees at the University of Calcutta, but he left without completion. Bezbaroa married Pragyasundari Devi in 1891; she is a niece of the Nobel Laureate Poet Rabindranath Tagore. In fact Pragyasundari Devi was the second daughter of Maharshi Debendranath Tagore’s third son Hemendranath Tagore. She was the first to write a cookbook in Bangla entitled ‘Aamish O Niramish Aahar’ in three volumes which became immensely popular.

Lakshminath Bezbaroa began his literary journey with a light, but good-humoured play named ‘Litikai’ (The aide) in 1890 which was serialized from the first issue of Jonaki magazine. He began to show his deft hand in all branches of literature. His proficiency surfaced as an able novelist, poet, lyricist, playwright, essayist, biographer, translator and editor. He wrote 7 dramas, 4 farces, 3 historical works, 1 one act play, 3 biographies and 1 autograph. He also collected and compiled many folk tales for children and also wrote a few tales to the benefit of nurturing parents and baby-sitters. Bezbaroa was the pioneer short story writer in Assam, covering the different features from the Assamese society but with humorous sentiment. The works of Lakshminath Bezbaroa consists of –
  • Composer: O Mur Apunar Dex – a patriotic song composed by him is the state anthem of Assam. It is noteworthy to be mentioned here that an edited version of his lyrics, Mor desh (My motherland) has been accepted unanimously as the anthem of Assam.
  • Novel: Padum Kunwari (Lotus princes), 1905.
  • Poetry Collection: Kadam Kali (Kadam buds) 1913 and Padum Kali (Lotus buds) 1968.
  • Short Story Collection: Surabhi (1909), Xadhukathaar Kuki (1912), Jonbiri (1913) and Kehokali.
  • Collection of Satire Essays: Kripabor Baruar Kaakotor Topola (1904), Kripabor Barbaruar Ubhatani (1909), Barbaruar Bhabar Burburani and Barbaruar Bulani.
  • Comic Plays: Litikai, Nomal, Paachani and ChikarpatiNikarpati.
  • Plays: (a) Historical – Joymati Konwari (1915), Chakradhwaj Singha (1915) and Belimaar (1915) and (b) Others-Litikai (1815), Chikarpati-Nikarpati (1913), Nomal (1913) and Pachoni (1913).
  • Children’s Literature: Junuka (Folk tales, 1910), Burhi Aair Xadhu (Granny’s tales, 1911), Baakhar and Kokadeuta AaruNati Lora (Grandpa and grandson, 1912).
  • Biographies: Dinanath Bezbaruar Xankshipta Jiban Charit (1909), Sri Sri Shankardeva(1911) and Mahapurush Sri Sankardeva Aru Madhabdev (1914).
  • Autobiographical work: Mor Jiban Sowaran (Reminiscences of my life), 1941.
  • Miscellaneous:  (a) Works in English- History of Vaishnavism in India, Rasa Lila of Sri Krishna (1934) and The Religion of Love and Devotion (1969) and (b) Other works in Assamese language- Tatwa Katha, Sri Krishnakatha, Bhagawat Katha, Kaamt Kritatwa Labhibar Xanket (1903), Axomiya Bhaxa Aru Xahitya, Patralekha, Dinalekha (Dairy), Bare Motora and Ha-Ya-Va-Ra-La.
  • Editor: Bahi (1909- 1929).


Lakshminath Bezbaroa was honoured by a unique title, ‘Rasaraj’ by Assam Sahitya Sabha on 29 December, 1931 at Sivasagar session. The word ‘Rasaraj’ means the King of Humour in Assamese literature for his satirical writings under the pen-name ‘Kripabor Borbaruah’. It needs to be mentioned that he was also known as ‘Sahityarathi’, the word used for the first time for Bezbaroa in the felicitation letter of Assam Sahitya Sabha which means ‘Charioteer of Literature’. So to sayhe showed his expertness in all branches of literature. He presided over the 7th Annual Session of Assam Sahitya Sabha held at Guwahati in 1924 and his speech was a valuable contribution to Assamese literature. He also presided over the All Assam Students’ Conference at Guwahati in 1921. He also delivered a memorable speech on the philosophy of Vaishnavism at Baroda in 1933 on being invited by the Maharajah of Baroda. The speech was published in book-form in 1969 as ‘The Religion of Love and Devotion’.

Lakshminath Bezbaruawas a powerful representative of the creative and intellectual resurgence of modern India.  Dominating the literary world of Assam for more than a quarter of a century, Bezbarua died on  March 26, 1938 at Dibrugarhat the age of 70 only after a few months’ he went back to live in Assam permanently. His death marked the end of an epoch. We all mourn on sad and untimely demise of such a fine person who brought kudos to the Assamese literary world as well as India. It is a tribute to Lakshminath Bezbarua that Assam Sahitya Sabha observes his death anniversary as Sahitya Divas.

References:

  • Datta, A. (1987). Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature: A Devo. New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi.
  • Neog, M. (1972).Lakshminath Bezbaroa: the Sahityarathi of Assam. Guwahati: Deptt. of Publication, Gauhati University.
  • Sarma, Dr. S. (2013). Asomia Sahityar Samikshatmok Itibritta. Guwahati: Sowmar Prakash
About the Author: Ms.Archana Konwar is serving as Assistant Professor (Grade-II) in C.K.B. College, Teok, Jorhat, Assam. [Read more]

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