Divya Prabha Bharali
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Divyaprabha Bharali

"Nobody ever opened a novel or managed an exposition better than Jane Austen who would deserve immortality if she wrote only first chapter of the "Pride and Prejudice".

This remark is made by the famous English critic A.C. Bradley. The statement applies equally to the poem ‘Swadhintar Abhijaan’ by Divyaprabha Bharali:

"Freedom seeking pilgrims

We have come- out together

The earth trembles under our mounting footsteps

We need valor and courage

We need love for motherland and inspiration

We need strength in our arms

And an unwavering determination and will power".

The main difference between poem and prose writing is the balance of words. The things which can be expressed well in prose are not required to be written in poetry. The main feature of poet Divyaprabha Bharali’s writing is her command over poetic language and meaningful insight. She has studied the traditional and contemporary trends in Assamese poetry including the poets and put her knowledge of the same in her poems. ‘Swadhintar Abhijaan’ is a beautiful example. ‘The earth trembles under our mounting footsteps’ the common 'people have come out in the quest for freedom. Their victory march is equal to the journey of pilgrims. Enlighten by ancient Indian philosophy, the ‘soul’, according to the poet is free from any worldly ties or bondage. It is free and has got immense potentialities. Therefore there is a need to awaken the spirit of patriotism and ingrain moral strength. The love for one’s motherland is itself a source of power and courage. The poet cries for the awakening of the ‘consciousnesses of history. The ‘consciousness’ encompasses both past and present:

"Where the life did got lost

Where the body did got raided

Today it will be reawakened"

Freedom is every person’s birth right. It is the primary duty and responsibility of every individual to safeguard this right and' teach them lesson who tries to snatch away their freedom. To prepare for the battle for freedom, one needs determination and patriotism:

"Watcl1ing that destructive force

Fierce storms

Do not be afraid,"

The poet’s advice of not to get scared resulted from the undoubting the spirit of victory. When one determines to sacrifice one’s life willingly and happily for one’s motherland, even the most destructive powers cannot frighten that person.

The romantic poet has brought examples from the glorious history of India filled with patriotic tales and spirit of sacrifice in order to create awareness among the people of Assam, and broadly speaking, India is a country of brave mothers like Ahalya bai, Jijabai. Shivaji, Lachit, Mulagabharu are the sons and daughter of this country. Indian people are always ready to give their life to defend and protect the sovereignty of our country. During the Indo - China War, many people emptied the towns and villages situated at the north banks of Brahmaputra and rushed to safe areas, a young girl accomplished a praiseworthy job by trying to awake the sense of patriotism among people. This poem a Divyaprobha Bharali surfacing the relation between literature and Women Writers of Assam (Vol-ll) culture is actually a question. Poetry is not a medium of entertainment only It cannot blind to problems and dangers faced by the nation. It will be wrong to conclude that the patriotic poems, written at the behest of Indian government, during the Indo - China war in 1962, turned literature into a political tool. Literature never remains away from social or political context. The occasional poems written for specific situation not only served its purpose but also set up a model of extraordinary artistic brilliance.

Though her poems reveal familiarity with the ground realities of life and country, Divyaprava Bharali is basically a romantic poet. The influence of Rabindranath Tagore is clearly discernible in her romantic sensibility. In the first poem of the collection ‘Malanja’, she hails the divine polar star. Against the ever-changing and transitory material world, the polar star stands as a symbol of performance. The darkness of the heart can be shed away by the light of this star. It is the source of love and a friend in distress. It removes the anxiety of the heart which is lost and frustrated encountering the troubles and burdens of life, and provides an external peace to it. Thus the poet declares:

"Come, O eternal polar star,

Extinguish the darkness of ignorance,

Come, o, nocturnal source of love Friend of the weak and forlorn

"Come, and bless us with eternal peace

Remove the myriads misbelieves

This depressed heart’s

Remove the illusion of unfulfilled dreams".

A comparative reading can be made between ‘Gitanjali’ and ‘Malancha’

"Offering your anal peace

My enveloped in your ultimate light

Stand by me, and give shelter

At yours lotus heart

All my pride and vain glory

Let it drown in my eye’s tears"

The poet wants to do away with false pride and vanity with the tears of eyes to gain permanent oneness with the Supreme soul. He is the only source of peace against the pain and sufferings of human life. The poet desires to a spiritual essence in all her poems. The poem ‘Ma1anja’establishes the pole star as the source of light of knowledge and peace' against the darkness of ignorance and misbelieves. The ‘Ultimate Peace’ in Rabindra becomes ‘eternal peace’ in Divyaprabha Bharali. But the il impersonality achieved by Tagore in dealing with personal problems could not be touched upon by Divyaprabha. Rabindranath considers the personal troubles as the design of that Supreme Soul and dedicates the vanity and insult, as his will, to him. On the contrary Divyaprava considers the personal sufferings as a calamity and requests the pole star for its remedy. The feeling of futility and incompleteness is clearly visible in the consciousness of\the poet Divyaprabha. The poet prays to God in order to find relief, from the hollowness, grief, the pang of unfulfilled dreams, and insensibility In ‘Malancha’, she speaks in one of the places:

" This empty darkness and light

The grief-stricken worthless heart

This unsuccessful dream

The insensibility of life

This is your poem’

In every page of the book ‘Malanja’, the poet’s battle with her tormenting worldly life and a desire to achieve eternal peace in the company of that all-mighty is evident. Divyaprabha Bharali.was born in March, 1922 in the auspicious day of Dol-Purnima at Jorhat. Her mother, Kanchan Duwarah, is the daughter of the famous Duwarah family of Golaghat. Her father, Devananda Bharali, was a linguist, writer and playwright. Her maternal grand father was Tahsildar and maternal uncle was one of the founder tea planters of upper Assam.

Divyaprabha spends her childhood at Nagaon and Jorhat. Her father after retiring from his government service (Sub- magistrate) and settled down in Jorhat. Even though as a child, Divyaprabha went: to school, her basic education took place at home. Her father started teaching her first lessons in English ‘King’s Primer English Reader’ at the age of five. She was sharp brained and possessed a strong memory from her childhood. She could remember songs, verses or poems by listening them once or twice. As a child, she used to listen to her mother and elder sisters reciting devotional poems at home, and would memories them by listening. To everyone’s amazement, the seven year old Divyaprabiha once narrated the entire story of Prahlad, a full chapter on abduction of Sthyamanta, unerringly. Finishing her education at Town M.E. School, Divyaprabha, for sometime, studied in the newly established Girls English School. But to some difficulties, she had to opt out of school, and continued her education under' her father’s supervision. At about 15 year’s age, she passed her matric exam in first division with distinction in Mechanics. She studied in Jagannath Barua College but later appeared as a private candidate and passed I.A. in first division. She, ivasagain, admitted in the same college for graduation. Divya met some teachers who were also educationist writers. They were Jjogeswar Sarma, Hem Barua, Dulal Bhuyan.

Divyaprabha as writer:

Divyaprabha started writing articles initially in English for the newspaper Assam Tribune’ published from Dibrugarh. Her father instructed her to write articles for the daily Assam Tribune’. Her first article was published in 1943. Some of her English articles are:

‘Sri Sankar Dev’, ‘Shakti’, ‘The Goddess of Energy’, ‘Blessings of ‘War’, ‘Price of freedom’, ‘Magh Bihu’, ‘Rangali Bihu’, ‘ The festival of Mirth’, etc. Apart from articles, Divya has written many letters on various topics in Assam Tribune. The then-editor of Assam Tribune, Lakshinath Phukan, encouraged her by not only publishing all her articles and letters but also introduced her to the society of scholars and writers. ‘2‘\t that time, the number of girls or women writing in English was very low, or to say, negligible. Thus, on reading my articles, many found it difficult to believe that those were written by a girl. Of course, some senior, well-wishers known to us blessed me with their wishes. One of them was the famous archaeologist Rajmohan Nath. At that time, he was posted in Jorhat as the executive engineer. His home was not very far from us. He used to visit our house often, and would discuss literary matters with my father. He had affection for me. He was a determined person. Dr Umesh Bordoloi (son of Navin Bordoloi, brother of poet Nalinibala Devi) was also in Jorhat, during that time, which encouraged and inspired me". Divyaprabha states in this context. Beginning from Assam Tribune, Divyaprabha went on to contribute articles and letters in many other newspapers a viz. Hindustan Standard from Calcutta, Statesman, Advance and Organizer published from Delhi, etc.

The poet Divyaprabha right from her childhood is thoughtful and idealistic. Getting besotted with the cheerful beauty of nature, the winter season, the boys and girls used to sit near the fire grate and narrate various stories. Divyaprabha herself composed some short riddles in rhymes. The vocabulary and the rhyming pattern were of high standard. While reading in M.E. level, she composed a poem and got it published in the school Magazine. Ten years hence, she could fully develop her poetic talents. Then, she started writing poems unstoppably. Her Brsty poem ‘Kachsut’ was published in ‘Bahi’ edited by Madhav Chandra Women Writers of Assam (Vol-II) Bezbaruah. The 50 lyrical poems composed in the first six months of 1945 were published by Divyaprabha in 1947 with the title 1/\rpana’. Next, she publishes ‘Malancha’, (a collection of 31 reflective poems) in 1954, and ‘Bharattirtha’ (17 patriotic poems) in 1978. Another volume ‘Kabita Manjari’ is in manuscript. In ‘Kabita Manjari’, she has included 40-45 poems dealing with different issues (subjective/objective). Divya has composed many poems. Of them, some patriotic songs have been published in ‘Alok’ a weekly magazine. As a whole, she has written more than 300 poems and songs in Assamese language. Apart from this, she has written a good number of poems in Bengali and English. A brief analysis will be provided in the later section.

Influence of her father:

Divyaprabha grew up in the company of her father. Her father was a scholar, sharp minded poet, a lover of music and he wrote Devananda Bharali, was her teacher, and her companion with whom she used to discuss literature, poems, music, politics, etc. She learnt music, especially ‘Rabindra Sangeet’ from her father. All the twelve volumes of the book ‘Book of Knowledge’ were there in their house. Their father used to read about various subjects from there, and would teach the children in simple language. The book, besides spreading knowledge on different matters, also consisted of many useful stories, poems, nursery rhymes, etc. When Divya grew up a little, she used to read them by herself and she learned and enjoyed reading them.

In the decade of 1940 (1940-48) 'at the initiative of the poet Anand Chandra Barua, a cultural ceremony was organized with the title ‘Baani Sammelan’ for the discussion and review of poems, novels, etc. for the sake of pleasure.. From 1947, Ananda Barua invited Divyaprabha to recite self-composed poems and deliver speeches. Ananda Barua was so enthralled and delighted to hear the poems that he expressed his joy by clapping loudly from the other side of the wings. The Lakshmi Union Club of Jorhat used to recommend its organizers to invite Divyaprabha on the various occasion viz. Rabindra jayanti, to recite her poems or deliver speech. Once, during Rabindra Jayanti, she recited a poem entitled ‘Bishwakbi Rabindranath’ and earned huge appreciation from the audience.

Divyaprabha as an orator:

During those times (1994-51), many organizations and associations came up in Jorhat. Among them, ‘Mohila Xamiti’ (Women organization), ‘Satra Congress’ (Youth Congress) are worth mentioning. These two organizations used to conduct regular meetings. In these meetings, Divyaprabha was invited, sometimes, as the president, as the special spokesperson, as an invited guest, or sometimes just as a member. She used to encourage the members through her speeches. Her speeches were daring and truthful. Be it politics or social matters, she would exhibit her reasonable and farsighted self. -Religion culture, literature or politics, Divyaprabha could fluently give speech on any subject and astonished many senior, experienced orators. Once she was invited to speak on the occasion of the celebration (three day) of the birth anniversary of great Indian sage and thinker Swami Vivekananda. On the first day she was invited as the special spokesperson, the next day as the president of the meeting-and on the last day as a guest. All the three days, Divyaprabha appeased the audience by delivering lectures in a dynamic language reminding Swamiji’s voice. Listening to her speech, renowned orator Neelmoni Phukan had said to her, ‘you are more eloquent than myself ’. To attend the meetings of Women Organization and Youth Congress, she had to visit many places outside Jorhat viz, Guwahati, Tezpur, Charinga, Baaligaon, Dergaon, etc. Later, to attend the meetings of ‘Lekhika xamaroh’, she would go to places outside Jorhat.

The Patriot Divyaprabha

During the pre-independence and post-independence period, many associations were formed. Divya would never hesitate in speaking, truthfully and judiciously for the progress of her country and its people. After the Partition, Pakistan was constituted as a Muslim nation. The Hindu population residing in Pakistan faced brutal torture, and came to India seeking refuge and shelter. The Hindu population settled in East Pakistan (Bangladesh) suffered the same fate, and came back fleeing to Assam, Tripura and West Bengal. The then Indian Government tried to resettle these homeless people. But some of the people of this nation (Assam) did not appreciate this initiative of the government. At that time, Divyaprabha, supported the decision of the government on a principle to humanity to give shelter to homeless, helpless people and Wrote in various newspapers' supporting her cause. Among these, a long article entitled ‘Rule of Assam in India’, appeared in the daily English newspaper Hindustan Standard published from Calcutta (1950). Later also, she Wrote several letters and articles addressing this issue and sent it to the same. It is unfortunate that many people of this state were enraged at this generous, humane outlook of Divyaprabha. And to suppress this issue, some of them sent her anonymous threatening letters in an abusive and vulgar language. But all the immodest and obscene rumors and talks could not disturb or upset Divyaprabha. She kept her faith on God firm, and prayed for that shelter less Hindu people. The God, probably, listened to the pure-hearted prayer of this virtuous Woman.

Principles of Life:

From a young age, she accepted moral righteousness as the ideal of her life. She considered virtue and purity of character as the best asset of her single life. Unlike the common girls, she had no affinity towards luxurious life. Her lifestyle, manner of dressing was also very simple. She would wear whatever her parents used to give her. She never demanded clothes or any 'other thing from her parents. At an age when other girls like her used to discuss about marriage and such things with each other, Divya used to discuss literature, politics, religion, and related topics with her father and other senior people. Spending her time in such an atmosphere, the inner soul of Divyaprabha was probably' awaiting the arrival of the day when she would enjoy the good company of sages.

The Company of Saints and Sages:

From 1948-49, Divyaprabha started reading the books of Swami Vivekanada. The knowledge of Vivekananda’s mystical life added a new ray of light to her life. The speeches of Swamiji thrilled her. Her thinking took a different turn as if now she realized the true purpose of her life. She became the disciple of Swamiji by heart and soul. The invisible presence of Swamiji inspired her. During this time, she started corresponding through letters with a devout sage Swami Jogeswarnanada from Ramakrishna mission. For many years, this sage kept sending his blessings to Divya through letters. Jogeswarnanda treated her with great affection, and at his invitation, she visited the Belore Math in Kolkata to meet him and found a divine happiness acquiring both his blessings and teachings. Another sage of Ramkrishna mission, Swami Chandikananda also greeted Divya with affection. Once he came to Jorhat He, too, for many years, kept in touch with Divya through letters and granted her his affectionate blessings. He was a musician, and used to compose and sing devotional songs.

Next, on 1954-55, Divyaprabha came in touch with another saint, political leader Swami Sivananda Saraswati. His ashram was located in the beautiful Himalayan valley of Hrishikesh. He had formed a society called ‘Divine Life Society’. Swami Sivanada was a religious scholar, philosopher and a good orator. He had written many books on Hinduism and philosophy. This religious teacher, Women Writers of Assam (Vol-II) for many years, sent regular letters to Divya, and gave her his blessings as well as spiritual lessons. Of the books authored by him, he had sent some more than two hundred to Divya. After reading these books, she became inspired and gradually, her heart got rid of trivial worldly matters, and entered a new domain of enlightenment. During this time, she composed some deep spiritual poems in English and Bengali. Among these poems, she sent a copy of an English poem ‘My Silent Prayer’ to Swami Sivananda. He sent a note to her after reading the poem "you will be an intellectual genius doubled a yogini’.

Brought up with the principles of sacrifice and self-control, Divyaprabha in the company of sages and saints became completely elusive to the material world. She developed a desire to become an ascetic. She wrote letters to her spiritual teachers expressing her desire. However, she could not leave home as she did not want to hurt her patents. By heart and soul, she embraced a life of ascetic.

Her Personality:

Common people could not understand the simple Divyaprabha. The most attractive quality of her personality was the purity of character. No men could come near her with nasty thoughts. The essence of purity reflected in the light of young Divyaprabha’s face would -create a sisterly affection in the heart of the weak men. Among the pen-friends of Divyaprabha was one Sindhi woman (girl) named Draupadi Sahni. She corresponded with Draupadi for a long time through letters and would write poems (English) to her. Another pen friend of Divyaprabha was Ralph B hilting a native of Leeds in England. He came to India during the Second World War. With him also, Divya kept in touch through letters for many years. She wrote and sent several poems to Ralph; one of them ‘To My Friend’ was heart-touching. Another pen-friend of Divya was a young ascetic of ‘Biraaj’ ashram in Women Writers of Assam (Vol-E) Dibrugarh, Swami Puragra Param Panthi. He was the younger brother of Swami Jogiraj. The 'famous writer of Tezpur, Shi Narendra Shastri was also one of the good friends of Divyaprabha* He used to send regular letters to Divyaprabha. Both of them" used to send verse letters to each other. Some verse epistles sent by Divyaprabha to him are heartwarming.

The State honors conferred on Divyaprabha:

1. She was felicitated in the annual meet of Sadou Axom Lekhika Samaroh held at Bokaghat in the year 1990.

2. The Jorhat Sahitya Sobha honoured her as a ‘Yashaswin Kobi’ with an honorary letter and a Phulam Gamosa in 1975'

3. In 1973, the Githarthi Society of Jorhat, on the eve of Geez" Jayanti, greeted her with the title of ‘Geetadhyayi’ and honoured her with an honorary letter written in Sanskrit and a book of Geeta.

4. She also received honor in a function of ‘Shilpi Diwas organized by All Assam Students Union in 1985.

5. In 1979, Divyaprabha received a literary honor by the then Janata Government. On account of this achievement, she was felicitated by the Jorhat Women Organization.

In 1975, through the medium of Radio, a long poem Divyaprabha ‘Jaaga Naari Mahiyasi’ (Wake up, great women), was widely popularized. The poem, in a persuasive language is status of Hindu Women in society, and their ideals. A beautiful review of this poem was published in the newspaper ‘Dainik ]anambhoomi’.

The poem ‘Tumi jen Purnimar joon’ (You are like full moon") from the volume ‘Maland was translated into Hindi and published by Delhi Sahitya Academy in one of its editions.

Her works:

Some of her essays written in English and published in various newspapers are:

1. Sri Sankardev’--- Published in Assam Tribune, 1943.

2. ‘Shakti, The Goddess of Energy’-; --- Assam Tribune,1 943.

3. Blessing of war’1-__-"Assam Tribune, 1943.

4. Price of Freedom-_---Assam Tribune, 1943.

5. Magh Bihu ---- Assam Tribune, 1944.

6. Rangali Bihu, the Festival of Mirth, 1944.

7. Bohag Bihu, the ‘Assamese National Festival’ in Assam Tribune, 1945.

8. The Rule of Assam in India’ published in the ‘The Hindustan Standard’, 1950.

9. Patriotism in Hinduism published in ‘The Organization"

10. A series of Articles on ‘The Ideal of Indian Woman’ published in the Assam Tribune in 1954-55.

11. ‘Mother Divine’ published in the Assam Tribune.

12. ‘Swami Vivekananda’ published in the Assam Tribune’, 1963.

13. ‘March to Freedom’, A poem published in the 1" independence Number of Assam Tribune in 1948.

A brief account of her Assamese Works Poems and published volumes:-

1. ‘Arpana’, a collection of fifty lyrical poems first published in 1947.

2. ‘Malanja’, a collection of thirty one profound, reflective lyrical poems published in 1954.

3. ‘Bharat Tirtha’ a book of seventeen patriotic poems of high quality, published in 1978.

Other poems and songs of different tastes have been published in various newspapers and magazines.

4. ‘Ekadashi’ ----------------- a book of eleven poems in Bengali. The t Women Writers of Assam (Vol-II) poems have appeared, at different times, in the monthly magazine. ‘Uddhodhan’ (published by Ramkrislma Mission)

5. ‘Kobita Manjari’------ a collection of forty-fifty miscellaneous poems in Assamese language.

6. A Wholesome collection of some poems written in English.

Two of them were published - one is ‘March to Freedom’ appeared in the first page of the first independence number of Assam Tribune in 1948.

Another is ‘My Silent Prayer’ appeared in the monthly edition of Jorhat Sankardev Seminar.

7. ‘Gaam aru Gathu’-- poems and songs in Assamese Written on different occasions. Some of these were published in Zilok’

8. ‘Sangita’--------------------- a collection of some songs. Essays and articles (in Assamese) published in various newspapers are: - .

1. Bishkumbha appeared in ‘Alok’ in 1970

2. Secular Rashtra aru Swadhin Bhaart Alok

3. Naari borkho upolokhe likha eti nibondha Alok in 1975

4. R.S.S. Bhartiya Jatiya Anusthan (letter) Alok in 1977

5. Alok’ or birudha abhijug prasongot (a long letter) Alok in1979

6. Bharatiya Rashtriya Swarup (a beautifully written long letter)

Alok (16-07-79

7. ‘Eitihaxhik dalilkhanar pratiuttar’

Alok (20-08-81)

8. ‘A dhyatmik Sadhanat Bharatiya Naari’ One of the Bohag Bihu edition Axom Baani, probably in 1967.

9. Sadou Axom Lekhika Samaroh Samitir Kobi Sammelanor, ‘Sobhanetrir Abhibhasan’ 1976.

10. ‘Porajoy’-1- (a long story) appeared in ‘Seujiya’ in the

Published by the ‘Seuji Sarnaj’ magazine

The Life of Divyaprabha:

Born in a cultured family, the present life of Divyaprabha is not happy and peaceful!


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