Amrit Priya Devi
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Amritpriya Devi was born in 1883 in a remote village ‘Bhalukee’ of Kamrup District. She may not be rich in material resources but she was very progressive in the field of education. Unless her earnest love and enthusiasm to learn it would have been impossible on the part of an orphan to learn Sanskrit and Bengali language without attending a formal educational institute. But she did it staying with her brother late Dharmeswar Devasharma. Amritpriya’s father was late Ratneswar Devasharma and Haladhipriya Devi was her mother. She memorized all available prayer hymns by heart and she knew the mode and rites and rituals to worship the various Goddesses. Her memory was very sharp. She could memorize the contents of a ‘Sanchipat’ by listening from others. She had in her memory the entire contents of ‘Bhimacharita’, ‘Kanakhowa’, ‘Lakshmicharita’, ‘Prahladacharita’ or ‘Dhruvacharita’ and the like. Her thirst for knowledge was so great that she did not let even a minute to go idly without reading books. In her study she was hindered neither by her husband’s family nor by the parental home. Her husband late Praneswar Sharma also had a deep love for study. He copied books written by other writers and thereby quenched the thirst for knowledge. He copied ‘Ratnavali’, ‘Kankhowa’ etc and apart from that he prepared some notes on religion, philosophy, and mantra and on Ayurveda also. She had the rare opportunity of having contact with a learned husband and this inspired Amritpriya to engage herself in acquisition of knowledge.

Amritpriya wrote a research article on ‘Garubihu bharatiya Sanskriti which was published in ‘Sadiniya Asamiya’. Her diction was sweet and the style was unique. She in this article wrote that cow should always be placed in reverence because as god the cow protects and nourishes us from all quarters. Cow is dumb but this dumbness is the symbol of sacrifice. In another article titled ‘The cultural value of Garubihu’ published in the magazine ‘Pashupalana’ the writer describes that the scene of celebrating the Garubihu in a village is very fascinating and it reveals the culture of the people. The cow is an inseparable livestock to the Assamese people and rightly in literature of all time the references of cow can be found. She wrote that especially in Vaisnava literature the cow has been projected as sacred, important and a part and parcel of life of the people. In this way a few article of very high standard had been published in the journals of that time but these were not published in the form of a book.

In Ampritpriya’s time the position of women in the society was not so high, but it was a great credit on her part to create a very good literature though the society was not congenial for women’s development. How many articles remained unpublished in her old trunk is known to no one. Had she been given the chance of receiving formal and higher education, certainly she would have contributed a lot to the development of Assamese literature. Even then there are sample scopes of contemplating the fact that taking birth in an age of darkness it was more than enough what she had done for the Assamese literature. In addition to her proficiency in old Assamese literature, along with songs and ballads, she was also aware of the modern literature. She knew the facts and figures of the Second World War, the reign of Queen Victoria, the royal court of Delhi etc. This proved that she was familiar with the outer world.

Amritpriya was not sitting idle during the freedom movement of India. She was a true devotee of Bapuji and taught others also to do according to the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. She composed lyrics encompassing the life of Bapuji and sang those in gatherings. She wove cloth with threads prepared by her. She helped and gave hospitality to the volunteers who were underground for the fear of the British Government. People respected her very much for her generous view towards the activities of the Indian freedom movement and also for hosting almost all formal and informal settings at her residence to discuss the matter relating to freedom struggle. She was very much endearing to all communities of the society as she did not make any difference between man and man.

Amritpriya was loved very much by the children. She started a library at her residence and helped the children of her locality greatly by providing books and other reading materials. She used to sing before the children the beautiful songs of old Indian tradition and thereby helped the growth of their personality. Moreover she used to tell tales to the children for which they loved her much.

A lone educated mother is more valuable than hundreds of teachers. Hundred years back from today there was no environment for woman education as it is today. Only a few elite women of the town were able to get it. But in spite of her birth in such an age Amritpriya could nurture so much merit in the field of learning. She must be credited for such achievements. As a firefly directs the traveler in the right path in darkness, so also, Amritpriya, through her creations, though not much in number, will inspire people of literature in the coming years.

Amritpriya was a good house wife and could manage her household very neatly. Because of her high thinking and healthy environment of her home it was natural that her children were able to develop their love for education. Amritpriya, even in that age, sent her elder daughter to a co-education institution which caused social resentment. A woman of such quality is adorable in all ages. She used to attend meetings, discussions and religious functions. In such gatherings she was able to take part in all sorts of discussions relating to religion, philosophy and social problems and was very happy to do that. It was amazing to note that many teachers and students of various institutions came to her to discuss various subjects and were very happy to talk to her. But she did not under estimate the illiterate women of her locality and had a good relation with them.

This well educated, talented, resolute and determined lady passed for her heavenly abode on 16th February 1955. On her demise news published in ‘The Assam Tribune’ and ‘The Hindustan Standard’ on 20th February in the following words: The death was occurred here of Srimati Amritpriya Devi at the age of 72. She a highly cultured woman and was proficient in ancient lore. She had also acquired proficiency in Ayurveda from her deceased husband. Srimati Amritpriya kept herself abreast of current developments in the country. During the struggle for freedom, she extended her hospitality to the fighters in no limited measure and her village home at Bhaluki of Bajali was the hub of them all.

The funeral was largely attended. She is survived by two sons and two daughters.’

It was not a matter of insignificance to get the funeral news published in a daily like the Assam Tribune. This great and meritorious lady is not here in the earth to-day but the aroma she left to the world of women is still enveloping it. The resonance and melody of the song she sang mostly echoes in each and every heart:

His dekhiyo canchala mana

Chayabaji khela |

Khela dekhi nubhuliba

Rama Krishna bola ||

(O! fickle mind, do not be infatuated with this mundane world and always take refuge in the Holy name of the God)


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