Himala Baruani
 
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HIMALA BORUANI

(1877-1948)

Parane bichare

Mor he mrittyu sundar

Shantimai aligane Jurua antar.

Jalice hridai mor

Nepao tarani,

Bukut sabati chalo mrittyu shantiani.

(O beautiful Death! My heart longs for your peaceful embrace. My heart blazes making me restless and so I want drops of peace in the form of death.)

This is a lively expression of sorrow and suffering at the death of the son of a mother who sought solace through death and surrender to Almighty.

Shakti diya prabhu mok hridayar jata dukh

Hahi mukhe upekhita karu |

Shakti diya prabhu mok tomara charane shir

Dine rati rakhiba jen paru. ||

(O Lord! Give me strength to endure joyfully the endless sorrows of life and also bless me to rest my head at your feet)

Thus Himala surrendered herself to Almighty with a mind made heavy at the death of her son. Inspired of the infliction of mind she realized the eternal truth of the Supreme Being and mutability of life and reverentially sought a place under the lotus feet of God. She was a woman of magnificent soul and firm mind. Her anthology of poems Binani published in the beginning of the modern Assamese literature reflects eternal mother love and the soul of an Indian woman strengthened by devotional and spiritual power.

Himala Boruani was born at Pakamura of Jorhat district in the Assamese month Ahara in the year 1877. Her mother’s name was Chandrawati Boruah. Himala Boruani started her education in Bengali language as the importance of Bengali had not been diminished in Assam. According to her daughter Sudha Borua who was also an Assamese story writer and a social worker, she has been a girl of sharp intelligence even from her childhood. She stood first in her school examinations. She was also expert in household chores like cooking, sewing, weaving etc. Growing up she started reading Bengali novel, short stories, books on religion and magazines bringing from Calcutta. At that time there was restriction in girl’s mobility. But Himala Boruani’s literary mind was not held back with such restriction. She was married to late Radhika Prasad Barua, the grandson of Jaduram Barua, the first composer of Assamese dictionary in 1898. So she had an environment which was conducive to the growth of her literary mind. Moreover, late Radhika Prasad Barua was an educated man and he contributed articles to ‘Jonaki’. The building of Natya Samaj in Sivasagar is in the plot of land donated by her husband. Himala Baruani was inspired by her husband in practicing literature. He made her regular customer of ‘Antahpur’ a woman magazine published from Calcutta at that time. She started writing articles and poems from that time. She wrote some elegy in memory of her sister who had a premature death. Finally ‘Binani’, her anthology of poetic work bears the testimony of her creative work.

It was already been mentioned that Himala was expert in sewing and other handicrafts. She knew how to spin muga thread and she taught this skill to her daughters and daughter – in-laws. Their residence was named ‘Sonali Pam’ by her eldest son Bhagawati Prasad because of his mother’s love for gold colour thread used in weaving. Himala Baruani with the help of late Kamalalaya Kakoty and Maisena Devi established ‘Mahila Samity’ in Sivasagar. She also composed devotional songs to chant in ‘Gopini Sabah’. (Ritual observed by women chanting the Holy name for domestic well being). She was also the president of reception committee in Joymati festival celebrated in Sivasagar at that time. She had a collection of books and magazines of Bengali language and also the collection of Assamese magazine like ‘Arunodoi’, Bahi, Jonaki, Usha, and Abahan. And apart from these she was familiar with the literary works of the writers of that time. She could memories the refrains from the Kirtana Ghosa and the Bhagawat and explained their advice and admonition to her fellow women.

Himala Boruani’s life was not a smooth one. She had to experience the pain of the death of her first daughter in the year 1923 and two years later she lost her husband. The ‘Sonalipam’, her residence in Sonari became the centre of literary study due to her inspiration. Her youngest son published magazine named ‘Ghar Jeuti’, being inspired by her. She was a regular contributor to ‘Ghar Jeuti’, the first woman magazine published from Sivasagar. Her eldest son Bhagawati Prasad was a man of rars personality and talent. He was drowned in the Disang River along with his wife, son, sister and a maid, causing a great affliction to Himala’s mind. Her anthology of poems ‘Binani’ is the creation of her deep sorrow at the bereavement of her son and his family. But her deep faith and devotion to God led her to surrender to God inspite of the affliction of her mind. Her article ‘ai’ is about the intimate relation between mother and child and in this article she eulogized motherhood without which a woman cannot attain perfection. Her personal love towards her children and grief sustained from their loss attains universal significance. She believed that only death can act as soothing power to her agonized soul. She accepted God’s will and prayed Him earnestly to strengthen her to live her last days of her life family. She made a sincere surrender to God:

Tomar dhan tumi nila mor eko nai

Tomar pawat sapi dilo, diba charanat thai.

(You have taken away your treasure, I have no objection but I pray you to grant me place in your feet.)

Himala Boruani was my grandmother. I had the rare privilege of establishing a close association with her as a result of which her grave and bright personality had a long run effect in childhood mind. She was suffering from disease. But she never yields to such ailments. She was the store house of folk tale, proverb and knowledge. She was teacher and guide. She taught us the notion of right and wrong and also taught us to keep faith in God. She made us to chant the chapters from the Ramayana and the Mahabharat in the evening before her. She introduced us to Assamese and Bengali literature. She was the follower of Gandhi. She was aware of the current news. She wrote a poem entitled Mahatma in ‘Ghar Jeuti’ and this was her last poem in her life. She died in 7 June, 1948

Bagmibar Nilamoni Phukon in the preface of ‘Binoni’ wrote:

‘It was her habit in morning and evening to pray God establishing a spiritual association with Supreme Being and also to engage herself the in the shastras. The reading of the Bhagawata was her daily routine; sincerity and good manner was her regular feature, and she was averse to criticizing other. But destiny was cruel to her, even though she could console herself with spiritual power exhibiting her woman full of mystic temperament. The eternal mother love along with the deep realization of God and His creation finds full expression in ‘Binani’. She offers her self to God considering his feet the most desired refuge in life.

‘Binani’ has a literary value as a product of a period when a struggle was going on for re-establishment of Assamese language. The expression of eternal mother love and the lively expression of bereavement and depth of spiritualism made ‘Binany’ a type of successful literature. We render our love and reverence to the sacred soul of this great woman.

 

 
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