Chandrawati Devi Kotoky
 
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CHANDRAWATI DEVI KOTOKY

(1897-1974)

Late Chandrahans Goswami, the ‘Satradhlkar’ of Jakhalabandha Satraz of Nagaon District had three sons and a daughter. The illustrious sons were Satradhikar Jagat Chandra Goswami the veteran lawyer, freedom tighter, litterature Brindavan Chandra Goswami and Golok Chandra Goswami. Chandravati Devi was his sole daughter. Her mother's name was Bhunsita Devi. Jagat Chandra Goswami succeeded Chandrahans Goswami as Satradhikar of Jakhalabandha Satra.

Jagat Chandra Goswami studied Sanskrit in Benaras and acquired a vast knowledge in the same. His deep knowledge in religious texts expatiation in judgment of scriptures, "Sadha- Bhajan" (religious practices) were well known to all. He was a very pious soul.

Jagat Chandra Goswami was very fond of his sole sister Chandrawati Devi and blessed her with spiritual power. As a result, Chandrawati Devi obtained a religious, moral bent of mind from her childhood. She received respect and love from all quarters while offering religious prayers and other devotional songs at ‘Namghars’ (community prayer hall) of different places of Nagaon as well as in Assam.

Chandrawati Devi was born in 1897 on a Monday of mid June and was brought up at the Jakhalabandha Satra. She passed her childhood amid the disciplined religious atmosphere of the Satra.

Chandrawati Devi could not continue her education beyond lower primary level as women education remained in a very confined state in those days. She had discussed religious texts in details with her elder brother Jagat Chandra Goswami. She had also learned by listening to the recitation of religious texts and other hymns like Bhagavad, Gita etc.

Her parents made preparation of her marriage when she was only eleven years of age. Her brother Jagat Chandra Goswami wished to arrange her marriage within the same caste. But her brother Brindavan Chandra Goswami arranged her marriage with his classmate Jogendra Nath Kotoky of Purani Gudam in the first month of Assamese calendar in 1908. She started her conjugal life in her husband’s ancestral house after two years of marriage when she attained her puberty. The people from all sections of Purani Gudam established a Middle English School and Jogendra.nath joined there as head master. Jogendra Nath was a meritorious student. He passed ‘Entrance’ Examination with scholarship. He received F.A. degree with scholarship from Dhaka. But he could not continue his study in Calcutta due to economic constraints. He later joined as sub inspector in Excise Deptt of Assam Govt. after resigning from the school. He settled down in Barpeta while Chandrawati Devi lived in Jakhalabandha Satra. In the mean time he became father of two sons but at the death of these two sons he gave up his job and joined in the Nagaon Govt. Boys' school. Chandrawati Devi gave birth to four sons and a daughter later, but lost two of her four sons and the daughter. The astonishing fact was that when others went to condole her on the said demise of her children, she in turn gave solace to them by reciting religious hymns.

Chandrawati’s lifestyle was very simple. She was polite, faithful to God and cordial to all. She provide due respect to everyone. She was sympathetic towards poor and helped them according to her capacity. Chandrawati Devi was very meritorious. She wrote a book just after passing lower primary class inheriting merit from her grand father late Raghu Deva Goswami and grandmother late Tarini Devi. She was first to compose verses on the mythical story of Sri Krishna and Rukmini's marriage. She also composed books on "Aai Naam", "Biya Naam" etc. "Gunamala" and "Tottomala" were her two more books. A few lines from her "Aai Naam" as follows –

"Sari Sari Hoya Gupi trinote bosia

Durgak aradhe sobe kritanjali hoya

Padya argha madhuporka asmoni dile

Gupini hobhat asi bhobani bosile

Aair agotjoli ase jikimiki tora

Dukhialoi pelai dise juti phular mala

Bhakat botchola matrik hubha bor mage

Bate bate aai phure hishu umolai

Tap gusai hanta kora bhogowoti aai

Jiba dan diya matri pran dan diya

Bisphut bhoyor pora uddhar kori juwa."

Chandrawati Devi’s splendid writings were based on religion and philosophy. The strong language and themes of the songs composed by her fascinates the minds of the audience with spirituality. She composed a philosophical song known as "Deh Bicharar Geet" in a unique way. She started each line of the song with an Assamese alphabet. A few lines from the song are mentioned below –

O-ye bule onadi ananta bhagawan

Aa-ye bule mayajat prokriti prodhan

E-ye bule ihokal subha sorasor

Dighoie bule iswaror mohima opar

U-ye bule umakanta shiva trinayan

Drighu-ye bule upasanta krishnar charan

Ri-ye bule hidayat dhyan kori juwa

No-ye bule lila khela rahasya amiya

A-ye bule elah nokoriba nor nari

Oi-ye bule oikantik bhojiu srihori

u-ye bule umkarante brahma sonaton

ou -ye bule oukhodhot bishnu humron.

The writer through her simple writing appealed the people to have faith in the Supreme Being for salvation as the life is very fragile. Her theoretical, philosophical explanation of life was to be noted.

She was so simple by heart that when anybody asked for her writings for publication, she gave her valued writings to them without any second thought. But alas l it had been found that her writings were published in other’s name and that was even during her life time. Whenever someone drew her attention on such matter of plagiarism, she smiled and expressed her happiness as ultimately her writings had reached the people at least for whom she wrote. On several occasions, the noted professors of philosophy remained spell bound by her explanation of critical philosophical thoughts in simple language.

Chandrawati Devi suffered a lot from gastritis. An unpublished manuscripts on gastritis has been found in which she described as quoted below –

"Purba jonme kiba pap kori asu oti

Tar phale pittaruge bhunjaise durgoti

Dadash botsor mane pittarjalat

Kothur jantana kore khudra sarirat

Nanabidh baiu, pitta, ruge pira kore

Tothapitu prabhu mur mukhar lubhe nere

Agyan pamor mon porom lubhia

Luv domain muk prabhu kisu kora doya

Kune potiabo prabhu nedekha biyadhi

Tuwa padudoke mur hook mohukhodhi

Toju name har prabhu toju name goti

Tumar nameshe khondai homosta durgoti

Ghugola bemari moi hoilu jorahor

Tumar sorone matra udharibo para

Onek oukhodh khailu nohi tar hima

Dekhauk Krishna toju namor mohima

Janu Krishna toju naam porom amrit

Tumar bhaktar honge piayuk neet

Tebekhe durghur pitta rug hoibo dur

Koriuk Krishna muk karuna prasur

Tumi bine kune muk koribek tran

Srimadhusudan prabhu pokhilu saran

Ahi mane kripa muk kora jadupoti

Korjure prathana korisu chandrawoti."

She plunged herself at the feet of the Lord and prayed to be relieved from all kinds pains and sufferings from this disease.

Chandrawati Kotoky was also known as Padmawati and Konmai, though most of her contemporaries called her as "Chakradhari Aai". She was a renowned social worker. This well known motherly figure rushed to others whenever she had heard that anybody was in trouble and dismay. She brought solace to the suffering souls through prayer and quoted verses from religious scriptures like Gita, Bhagabat etc.

This pious soul breathed her last in the end of May in 1974. At her death, the people of Nagaon as well as of Assam had lost a very popular sociable woman.

 

 
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