Annada Devi Barkataky
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Annada Devi Barkataky was born in 1881 in Dichoi Kosh, Jorhat. Her father Jaiguram Pandit was well known as a Sanskrit scholar. At that time he was the headmaster of higher primary school. High ideology and education inherited from her father and religious thinking received from her mother molded the life and character of Annada Devi. At that time women education was not in vogue and so she could not have her proper education for which she regretted till later part of her life. Regarding her education she said ‘Students used to learn lesson at evening at our house. I used to listen to these and sometimes I read one or two books. By doing so I could read the Ramayana and the Mahabharata and put my signature. I have only that much of education.’

She was married with the social worker late Gangadhar Barkataky who inspired his wife to engage herself to work for the people. They participated together in the India’s struggle for independence in 1921. Apart from running her family smoothly Annada Devi involved herself in socio cultural work and as a result many social organizations had been initiated due to her sincere effort. Together with the women of Baligaon she established the Baligaon Mahila Samity’ and initiated the Khadi movement. She had her contact with Asom Harijan Sangha also. Borkataky family is credited for the establishment of ‘Annada Printing House’ and ‘Borkataky co’. A newspaper named ‘Asom Raij, was published from this press. She was an expert weaver and the hand loom gave her economically a great relief to her early married life. She did not give up spinning even in her old age. Under the leadership of Annada Devi ‘Baligoan Matri Mandir’ was established. She was the secretary of the Matri Mandir for several years for inspiration and integration of women. She was also a nice singer of devotional song. Annada Devi took along with late Narayani Devi took initiative for the celebration of the festival of Joymati in 1935. In the meeting Barkataky called upon Assamese girls to become ideal women following the example set by Jaya. May Jaya bless Assamese to prosper in their life’? Such was the inspiring speech delivered by Annada Devi fifty years ago for the sake of Assamese women. She is really a guide for Assamese women in the path of their success.

Annada Devi established Joymati Adarsha Vidyalaya at Baligaon. She also took initiative in the establishment of two other schools ‘Joymati Madhya Engraji Vidyalaya’ and ‘Joymati Ucha Engraji Vidyalaya’. Apart from this she extended her cooperation in the establishment of the social organizations like ‘Matrimangal Kendra’, Sishu Mangal Kendra, ‘Milan Mandir’ etc. She did a lot for the development of Baligaon. She also popularized the ‘Sarbodaya’ system at Baligaon.

Annada Devi Barkataky composed some marriage song centering round the characters from myths like ‘Siva-Parvati’, ‘Usha Aniruddha’ and ‘Krishna Rukmini’. She can be credited for taking initiation of four books namely ‘Namanjali’, Biyanam, Ainam’ and Ashanpata nam’. Some of them were taken from folk tradition while some others were composed by her. The popularity of these collections can be understood from the publication of eleven edition of Namanjali and the ninth edition of the Biyanam. In addition to these she wrote a book with the title ‘Sadhukatha". It’s really a matter of great credit for a woman of pre independence era to author five books inspite of the constraints faced by the women at that time. Here is an example of a refrain from a devotional song composed by Annada Devi.

Namo Krishna Kripa sindhu anathajanara bandhu

Akhilara bipada bhanjana he Ram.

Tomara chran tale ai dashi sharan lalo

Rakha prabhu bipadbaran – he Ram’

(O Lord Krishna! You are the ocean of blessings; the friend of destitute, reliever of all troubles; O Rama! I have come to the refuge of your feet, please sustain me.)

Annada Devi Barkataky though had to spend most of her time inside the four walls of her household; she was ready to take active part in the critical juncture of her motherland. She delivered her lecture in various meetings in the nook and corner of Assam igniting the Assamese mind during the time of the Quit India Movement. She was the president of Mahila Sanmilan’ held in North Lakhimpur and delivered a serious speech there. This speech was published in’ Banni’. She was felicitated in a public meeting at Baligaon for her valuable contributions. She left this earthly abode in 1968 at her own residence at Baligaon. Her character will remain as an instance of perennial inspiration to the people of Assam for her sacrifice for the country.

Annada Devi loved society and its people. She engaged her in awakening the women of her area and called them upon to work for the development of society. She will remain alive not only as a social worker but also as a pioneer in the field of Assamese literature for the contribution she has made.


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