Jamuneshwari Khatonier
 
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JAMUNESWARI KHATONIER

(1899-1924)

A perpetual talent of Assamese poetry, Jamuneswari Khatonier, was a frontline Assamese poetess. Ending the drama of real life at noontime, Jamuneswari Khatonier was the messenger of an era.

Jamuneswari was born in 1899 at Da Samua Gaon, situated in the south of Golaghat town. Proud father Bhadram Saikia embraced his first child closely. Maternal grand father and grand mother also had intense love to their first grand daughter. They brought their grand daughter to their house at Golaghat town. They found an opportunity to make themselves busy with child Jamuneswari. Grand father Kusharam Tiwari was a reputed figure of Golaghat and had inclination towards education. In those days there were no schools for children at Golaghat. Therefore; Kusharam appointed a tutor to teach Jamuneswari at home. As a student, Jamuneswari was very much intelligent. Under the tutor’s guidance she passed the middle class examination. When the educational development was in infant stage and the girl child was not encouraged to go to school, at that time Jamuneswari established a primary school near her grand father’s house and devoted her self to spread the light of knowledge as a teacher. This school as Mudoigaon Balika Vidyalaya has been standing as a symbol of Jamuneswari’s immense inquisitiveness and her love for work till today.

In 1920, Jamuneswari got married to Bhairab Chandra Khatonier who was well known as a poet of ‘Manimuni Shak ‘(a type of vegetation) of Bajali in Kamrup district. Her married life did not last long; she died at a very early age in February 1924.

During the long British period from 1826 - 1947 if we look into the contributions of Assamese women in the field of literature, it is found that although during the pre Arunodoi and Arunodoi periods a few women from foreign countries were engaged in literary works to preach Christianity but it had no impact on Assamese society due to their different ideals and attitude of publicity. At that time much importance was given to bring about awareness among women and to establish their rights in the society. Literature, especially the creative literature was not given much importance. Therefore, in comparison to the contributions of Assamese women towards the national movement, their contributions in the field of literature were insignificant.

The name of only one woman in Assamese poetry had been included in the literary movement which was taking place with the vaisnava movement and she was none other than the daughter of Gopal Dev, Padmapriya. After the first decade of the 20"‘century the name of another woman had been found and she was Padmawati Devi Phukanani, the first Assamese woman novelist. Subsequently Jamuneswari Khatonier, Nalinibala Devi and Dharmeswari Devi Baruani started writing poems. Himala Baruani also wrote lyric ‘Binnoni’ (Lamentation).

Jamuneswari’s life as a poetess began during 1914-15. Her only work on poems ‘Arun’ (The Sun) was published in 1919 and it brought the message of a new birth in the history of Assamese lyrics. Jamuneswari and her husband Bhairab Chandra Khatonier were the writers of exquisite lyrics in Assamese. Later on Jamuneswari’s book ‘Arun’ was recognized as college text book. A few poems written by Jamuneswari were published in ‘Banhi’ and ‘Chetana’ edited by Sahithyarathi Laxminath Bezbaruah and Padmanath Gohain Baruah respectively. ‘Sabitri’ and ‘Raja Lear’ remained unpublished.

Influence of family on the life of poetess Jamuneswari was immense. To meet her craving for knowledge, grand father Kusharam Tiwari set up a small library in their house. The library contained variety of books including Upanisads, Puran, Kirtan, Dasham and many other books on poems in Assamese, Hindi and Bengali languages. Studying those books, she entered into a new world of knowledge. Apart from learning her mother tongue, Jamuneswari also learnt Sanskrit language.

Jamuneswari set up ‘Jurani chora’ (Sedative sitting) in their house and every evening she used to sing Bargeet, Bhatima etc. Recitation, story telling, discussions on relevant topics etc. were various other daily activities of the chora ‘Jurani Chora’ was the medium through which she tried for cultural enlistment. lf we analyze the essence of Jamuneswari’s poems, it comes out to be like this the poetess after leading a life full of struggle, aspires for the peace and salvation of the spirit. Dynamism of life is reflected in her poems. Entering deep into the spiritual world, the poetess had been successful in bringing the Indian thought and philosophy to her poems.

The sun, setting in the western sky,

Fading away the last ray,

Spreading in the horizon,

Darkness ascends from a place far away.

Same manner,

Evening’ II come to my life

No light in eyes, no wave of aspiration

Danger of death will engulf me at that time

*******

In the evening of life

While sleeping in the lap of death

My closed eyes will see

Many aluminous countries in great height

(Mritru Sandhya)

Evening of death

******

Evening sun walks away slowly

Spreading repose to the tired souls,

My soul does not get repose

Still at the time,

For my soul is an unsatisfied mine.

(Kiba Jen Nai, Nai- Something is

Lacking, something is lacking)

*********

Morning breeze blows away

Soothing slowly my distressed heart,

Still my mind is stable never,

Day and night thinking over and over

Something is lacking, something is lacking.

(Kiba Jen Nai, Nai- Something is

Lacking, something is lacking)

******************

Spiritual feelings are reflected in the poems of the two poetess of the third decade of the 2O" century, Nalinibala Devi and Dharmeswari Devi Baruani Jamuneswari’s poems also reflect such feelings. However the mysticism of Nalinibala Devi’s poems is not found in her poems. She died untimely. Jamuneswari khatonier’s works have not been properly discussed so far. To illuminate the coming days with the inspiration of such a talent, the responsibility goes especially to the educated women of the society as well as women literary organizations like Sadou Asom Lekhika Samaroh Samiti.

The writer in Assamese expressed her gratefulness to Shri Girindra Nath Bora, brother of Jamuneswari Khatonier and Ms. Arati Saikia for data and information.

 

 
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