Bishnu Priya Dutta Barua
 
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Bishnupriya Dutta Barua

There are many talented ladies in our society. Some entered family life and some became silent without any social recognition. Some were grasped by the family burden and troubles. This might be the reason why music lovers are becoming voiceless. So, most of them spend their time by performing their household chores. Only a few could manage and devote some time in creativity and flourish their talents for the uplifting and welfare of the society after fulfilling the household responsibilities.

I happened to go to meet a pious and talented lady in her residence in Ambari, Guwahati. I saw a grandmother like figure aged over sixty coming out of her prayer room with a plate of cereals and offerings made to God. She responded with a very amicable smile, handed me few grains and said, "Have them". She was so friendly to someone whom she never met in her entire life.

Even I bowed to accept the Prasad and gracefully said "I came here to meet you and learn few things from you".

"What do you like to know from me? I am a simple person. What is so special about my life that you desire to know?"

She was a grounded lady with a simple heart. She was born on the day of the Jammastami in 1916. She wrote books in the midst of hundreds of family burdens and troubles. She never saw any school. She just had a little basic knowledge of education which she achieved by home schooling. At a very young age she got married to a joint family. It is an example of how to practice literature along with fulfilling all the household responsibilities. Altogether she published six books. They were Shishu Krishna, Krishna Leela, Sati Kahini, Dhurba Charit, Prahlad Charit and Saptabir Rahashya. Since she was a daughter-in-law of the famous book seller and publisher, Harinaryan Dutta Baruah, she received the proper environment and opportunity to excel in the field of literature. She successfully utilized the opportunities given to her.

She was the daughter of Dharanidhar Choudhury a fiscal officer (Moujadar) of Dharmapur revenue circle, Samata. She was confined to her house as like all the girls of the state at that time. Very few knew the women of that age as they could barely step out of their house. Of course, exceptions were seen in all society. So, the sincere and the enthusiastic one manage to overcome all the problems of life. Bishnupriya had a great urge to study and that made her educate without even stepping into the school premises. She took home schooling and later on she managed to establish herself as a writer in the society. As per prevalent rituals she got married to Bichitranarayan Dutta Baruah from Nalbari before she achieved puberty. She entered her husband’s house at a tender age of fourteen. The Dutta Baruah family belonged to the Kalakuchi village of Nalbari. Later they shifted to Khatabari, a suburb of Nalbari. It was a huge family filled with relatives, friends, neighbors and well-wishers. Bichitanarayan had his early education from his elder brother, Harinarayan who was a teacher in the Jorhat Normal school. At the time of their marriage, Bichitnarayan was a school teacher in the Nalbari Gordon School. Mrs. Bishnupriya in her mood of nostalgia narrated how as a newlywed entered the family filled with relatives, sister-in-law, brother-in-law etc. she expressed her feelings as- "Droupadi with her virtue of work and innocence impressed her five husbands. People should have understanding among themselves along with beauty for a relationship to be successful. However, crude a man is, he could be won by good service and manner". These statements of her showed how firm her personality was.

Mrs. Dutta Baruah was an honest lady with full of virtue. She become more skilled under the expertise of her mother-in-law, Late Sundarpriya, who herself was a knowledgeable and pious lady. Bishnupriya read the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and the Bhagwat etc. getting inspired by her. She led the kitchen in the joint family abiding the rules and regulations of the orthodox family. She never showed any reluctance towards her work and never considered her responsibilities as liability and so she earned love and affection from her mother-in-law.

Her day’s work started with the morning prayers. She followed the same time-table for her entire life. She regularly spent about eight hours in the prater hall in the name of God. In her last days she peacefully led amongst hymns and prayers (Naam-Prasanga).

They organized a prayer ceremony (Pal-Naam) lasting for seven days remembering the Guru on his Tithi in her father-in-law’s residence. On those days she devoted herself in the proper hospitality and offering respect and care to the priests conducting the ceremony. Since the time Mrs. Dutta Baruah enters her married life, her beliefs towards spiritualism and religion became stronger. She installed spiritualism in herself and many other people surrounding her by singing hymns and prayers and took them as a walking stick which would lead her in life.

She followed her husband, Bichitranarayan Dutta Baruah in all aspect of her life who was the very popular publisher, book seller and proprietor of the very famous Lawyers Book Stall. The life of this couple was very peaceful and full of happiness. They had ten children, five sons and five daughters. They lost three sons at very early age. It was very difficult for both of them to handle this loss but eventually, they accepted and considered it to be as God’s wish.

During their middle age, Mrs. Dutta Baruah and her husband visited various holy places of North and South India together new experienced in life. She then got involved in Eksharan Naam Dharam (worshipping single God) with hymns and prayer songs. Mrs. Dutta Baruah whole heatedly accepted this and got involved with the Shankardev Naamghar, Guwahati.

Among all her talents, she was a talented weaver. She wove clothes from handloom as she desire till her age permitted. Though she was conservative and orthodox, she had the ability to adjust herself with the dynamic change in the society. She never interfered in the life style of her daughter in law, Mrs. Rina Dutta Barua. It was seen as she was seen to supervise the press situated in Ambari, Guwahati.

Mrs. Bishnupriya Dutta Baruah’s message to today’s housewife is to successfully and in a disciplined way to conduct a family- "if kids observe their mother to pray every morning and evening regularly, they would follow their mothers .the way birds return to their nest in the evening, the same way children should return their homes. If they do not follow the protocol in the family they should be questioned. There should be strict discipline in these matters. A wife should not leave the kitchen to some outside. It is observed that if the wife cooks the meal for her husband and her kids, they would have it with full happiness and relish"

Mrs. Bishnupriya Dutta Barua, along with contributing towards enriching the Assamese literature managed to handling her family and providing proper education to her kids.

All her children were highly educated and well brought up. One among her sons was Kagenranarayan Dutta Baruah immensely contributed to the Assamese literary treasury by translated many valuable books from Hindi language. Probably we would have received more from Mrs. Dutta Baruah had she been around a modern environment. Yet it would always be a commendable for Mrs. Dutta Baruah to accomplish such a job without any formal education from any schools, college etc.

A grandmother of eighteen grandchildren maintained a good health till her old age. She brought pride amongst the Assamese woman’s society.

Mrs. Bishnupriya Dutta Baruah’s literary achievement:

Mrs. Dutta Baruah was inspired by her husband to work in the field of literary as her husband was always associated with it. There was a very suitable atmosphere amongst the Dutta Barua family members for practicing literature. She introduced herself with the famous books written by writers. She was an enthusiastic reader and continuous reading gave her the interest to write. It was already mentioned about the books which she wrote such as Sishu Krishna, Krishna Leela, Sati Kahini, Dhurba Charti and Saptabir Rahashya. Apart from them, there are also two books which are awaited to be published. One was on the message on Mahapurush Sankardeva the other was based on the sketches on the heroes of Mahabharata.

Mrs. Dutta Bruah’s first book, ‘Shishu’ Krishna comprises of 92 pages. It was useful for the children when it was published in 1956 and so it was re-published in 1962 and 1987 respectively. In the preface the writer mentioned as, "Just like the way the father of the nation, Bapuji had spent his childhood reading books like Harishchandra Upakhayan and earned devotion towards his parents and religion, similarly, the kids of our state can read tales of Lord Krishna’s childhood and enrich themselves by learning about his adventures, works, innocent mischievous deed etc. along with ideals and responsibilities of a child". The language of the book was quite appealing, interesting, useful and idealistic for the children. Druba Charit and Prahlad Charit were also children novels. The description of the story was interestingly depicted along with pictorial representations.

"Krishnaleela", a book in which the adventures of Lord Krishna were very beautifully represented in an appealing language. This book covers the tales from Lord Krishna’s adolescence till his last breath (Maha-Prayan). "Sati Kahani" gives the life sketch of Tulsi, Droupadi, Shakuntala, Sati, Savitri and Usha in a soulful language. In certain occasion, the stories are expressed in pictures. The sincerity towards religion, love for husband, truthfulness, good manner, respect for teacher etc. were focused in these stories, in order to grace pure nobility to women community. A woman could be idealized with such qualities and they can win everyone’s heart in the family by these qualities. It was the sole motive in Mrs. Dutta Baruah’s writing.

"Sapta Biran Rahasya", another book which deals with the strong and heroic stories of seven heroes.

The content and the language used in her writings were simple and precise. She used phrases and idioms quite beautifully which turns her writing into a strong script. The flow of the language, the gravity of the thought and simplicity in the expression through words in books especially in Sishu Krishna and Sati Kahini have attracted her readers. The readers could familiarize with her writings and it made the readers before granting her boon as following, "This world is meaningless (Asar), all are bound in illusion (Maya). People have to live and get involved in misdeeds. Release me from this life. Calm my body with your (God) touch".

Listening to Savitri, the King of Death, Yama replied, "I am very happy to hear. I have never heard words as sweet as yours. I have not seen as you in this entire universe. I am very impressed with you, so allow me to provide your any wish to be fulfilled".

These types of conversations in the script make the look very realistic and attractive for the readers.

Her books Shishu Leela also very beautifully depicted the divine activity of Lord Krishna in his childhood to attract the tender minds of the children. One befitting example for this is, "Oh! Look how beautifully my dearest son is dancing".

There are some more illustrations which added beauty to the book viz. "The Gods of Baikuntha could not stop him from watching the children play (Krishna, his friends and Gopies) from the heavenly abode. Even Lord Surya (the Sun God) forgot to spread light while he was absorbed in the plays of Lord Krishna and Gopini. The bird animals too were stunned. By this Lord Krishna fulfill the desires of the Gopis. On the other hand the Gopis were engrossed in Lords Krishna’s love". The simplicity in which the writer has illustrated the myth gave a new form of literature. Along with that she was successful in introducing the youth and the children about the beauty of the Assamese language.

In total, Mrs. Bishnupriya Dutta was successful in expressing all the ideas behind her stories in an appealing style. Her writings proved her knowledge, correct language, and unique technique in selecting proper words. It can also be guessed by reading mythological books that she reached the hidden thoughts of the great Indian Culture. She was greatly influenced and inspired by the Aryan Culture. She wrote stories about them in heart touching language by which the ideology of early Indian literature could influence her as well as others.

It was already mentioned that Mrs. Dutta Baruah always had an interest in books. She read many religious books and wrote the above mentioned books. She continued to read as many books she could including Sahityarathi Laksminath Bezbaruah. She also mentioned how her husband encouraged and accompanied her in every step in the field of literature.

This religious, idealistic writer who wrote for the uplifting and enrichment of the women and children in the society used Assamese literature and enriched the Assamese literary treasury. By doing so she successfully achieved a respectable position in the Assamese Literature society.

 

 
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