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
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
"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
"Watcl1ing that destructive force
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
"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’
"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
" 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,
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
5. ‘Kobita Manjari’------ a collection of forty-fifty
miscellaneous poems in Assamese language.
6. A Wholesome collection of some poems written in
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
4. R.S.S. Bhartiya Jatiya Anusthan (letter) Alok in
5. Alok’ or birudha abhijug prasongot (a long letter)
6. Bharatiya Rashtriya Swarup (a beautifully written
7. ‘Eitihaxhik dalilkhanar pratiuttar’
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’
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!