Manorama Bhattacharjee
 
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Manorama Bhattacherjee

‘Dhvaja Brajakush Lekha Porosat Dhuniya Brindavan

Dhanya Brajabahigon Sunichit Anukhan

Madhumai Nupur Sinjan’

The English meaning of this stanza is- The Brindavan is blessed with red foot prints. Blessed are the inhabitants of Braja who hear constant sweet riggings of the ‘Nupur’.

The gravity of such old styled rhymes and language had enhanced the poetic beauty of Manorama Bhattacherjee’s poem on ‘Mon Brindavan’ and elevated its attractiveness.

‘Jibonar pare pare Sapunar Aare Aare

Bisari phurise Mone arup Ratan,

Napale Tripti Nai Bisaru Puwa nai

Kot ba lukai Ase Sai Maha Dhan.’

The English meaning is-

Along the edges of life/ behind the trees/ my mind searches for a beautiful diamond. No contentment without it/ not yet found it. Do not know where that ‘great wealth’ (Maha Dhan) lies hidden’. In the midst of her busy life the mind of the poet is in search of that 'Maha Dhan' (Great Wealth), that beautiful diamond that could seal the brim of her life vessel and make it beautiful, attractive and magnificent. To enrich her life the poet devoutly pursues fine arts. Even now, at the age of 77, this female writer keeps herself busy in writing poetry. Although adept in writing short stories, novel and essay since her childhood she has been more attractive towards poetry. The soft flow of the rhymes, the diction, the beauty of the sound of words and gravity of the ideas in poetry exhilarate her mind and that is why Monorama Bhattacherjee loves to express her emotions and feelings through poetry.

Monodrama Bhattacherjee was the daughter of Kabiraj Padma Chandra Goswami, the then Satradhikar of ancient Kulbil Satra which was within Drarampur Mauza of undivided Kamrup district. The Satra consisted of several beautiful villages. In November 1914, Manorama Bhattacherjee was born in one such villages of the Satra. The scenic beauty of the village inspired her to compose poems from her very childhood. Manorama's mother Late Uttam Kumari Devi was very shrewd and talented. Because of her vast knowledge on Sanskrit language the scholars of that period conferred on her the title of ‘Bidya Bharti’. There was no other woman during that time attaining such a praiseworthy title. From her husband she acquired knowledge on Ayurveda science. Her father also earned reputation by prescribing medicine on typhoid all over the North East India. Though her parents followed ancient traditions yet their minds were far more advanced than time.

Unfortunately the Kabiraj couple was not blessed with a male child. They had only two daughters- Kumdini Devi and Monorama Bhattacherjee respectively. During that dark period the girls were not allowed to take education. They were confined to the four walls of the house. It was a matter of shame for the girls to go to school along with boys and to learn English. Withstanding all these obstacles their parents made arrangements for their two daughters to learn Assamese, Bengali, Sanskrit and English at home and for this they had to face criticism from society. But their mother was very brave and she knew it well that women are the backbone of a society. The vast personality and determination of their parents inspired them and they become interest in education. Monorama still remembers with gratitude her parents for whom she can now introduce herself as a poet.

During their childhood, mother was their teacher. When they grew up their parents engaged for them a private tutor named Radhakanta Sarma. From her childhood, Monorama was good in studies and she even got scholarship in L.P Examination. After that she got herself admitted in Samata M.E School which was near to their house. She read few classes in that school.

In 1925, when Monorama was eleven years old she was married to Madhav Chandra Bhattacherjee who belonged to the famous family of Mahahupaydya Dhireswar Bhattachrjyy of Athghari village of Borbhog region of undivided Kamrup. Manorama, a daughter from a cultured family again found a suitable atmosphere to enrich her mind. All the members of her husband’s family were very much attracted by the multifaceted qualities of Manorama.

Manorama was pious, generous, industrious and expert in affording hospitality to guests and friends. If anybody ever attained her hospitality he or she could not forget her. Manorama’s husband was a Ranger. Because of the inspiration got from her husband she in 1935 passed the matriculation examination privately from Calcutta University securing letter marks in three subjects. Her only son Deva Kumar Bhattaccharjee (Noni) was once a renowned lawyer of Guwahati High court. Besides Deva Kumar, she had another four daughters. As Manorama’s husband was a busy government officer he could not make time to look after his children. So, Manorama had to keep strict eyes on her children and she made all of them highly educated. Her two daughters are lecturers in well known colleges of Guwahati. Her eldest daughter though not engage herself in Government job was equally educated like her other three sisters. Bhava Devsarma, the eldest son-in-law of Monarama had retired from service as one of the chief engineers of P.W.D of Assam. Her second son-in-law, Dr. Anandeswar Borthakur, earned reputation as one of the renowned doctors of Northern India. Her third son-in-law was Bhaskar Barah and he still serving as one of the I.A.S officers in Assam Government. Her fourth son-in-law Madan Bezbaruah is serving as senior administrative officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, London. It is matter of pride that an Assamese had attained such a dignified post. The names of the daughters of Monorama were Sabita Sarma, Subject Borthakur, Krishna Baruah and Anuradha Bezbaruah. Monorama’s only daughter-in-law passed L.L.B. after her marriage only with the inspiration of her and she also served as a lawyer in Guwahati High Court along with her husband.

Monorama and her sisters were interested in literature from their student life. Their mother created the habit of reading in them from their very childhood. Mother gave her daughters to read Bengali books of Nobin Chandra Sen, Jogendranath Basu, Bangkim Chandra, Robindra nath, Swarna Kumari Devi etc. Besides these, Manorama also read famous Assamese books. She also took interest in ancient Assamese literature. Monodrama later on was very much interested in composing Assamese poems. The beauty of nature created endless imagination in her mind and she wanted to express her feelings by composing some poems.

Her first poem ‘Sabitri’ was published in ‘Ghar Jeuti’, a women magazine. After this, two of her short stories were published in the magazines ‘Awahan’. She also wrote beautiful stories of the Vedas and published many articles in different magazines and newspapers.

‘Mon Brindaban’ was the first published poetry book of Manorama Bhattacherjee. She also translated some of the poems of Rabindra Nath Tagore into Assamese and published them under the caption ‘Hridoy Yamuna’. Her another book on famous women characters of the Vedic literature captioned ‘Mohiyaski Gariwasi’ was about to publish. She also kept ready another book for publication written on Assamese folk songs like Gosain Nam, Ainam and Biyanam. She had also her desire to publish her poems and articles distributed in different magazines and newspapers.

Though Manorama started writing poems from her student life, she published them in the form of a book in her later life due to heavy pressure from others. Monorama, who did not want any kind of self publicity, was just like a scented flower that blooms in silence. Though her published poems are few but if judge from the side of quality and language these are very much standard. This is clearly depicted in every page of ‘Brindavan’.

Nilima Dutta, one of the famous literatures of Assam comments on ‘Mon Brindavan’ ‘It is realized that a special spiritual thought enriches every poem.’ The poetical feelings lying hidden in the interior of her mind finds expression and creates a Brindavan where ‘Kanu goes slowly across the Jamuna playing flute (Nupur) accompanied with tunes’ and keeps the poet happy amidst the sorrows and pleasures of life. The Assamese version is

‘Jamunar Tire Tire Jai Kanu Dhire Dhire

Sure Talenupur Bojai’

The poet again sings that

‘Kanu is playing flute sitting across the Jamuna whose tune attracts my mind.

The Jamuna does not flow and remains still and takes its reverse course’.

The Assamese version is

‘Naboi Jamuna Nai

Thomoki Thakli Roi

Phiri path Dharile lijan’

The poet wants to sacrifice with supreme devotion all the aspiration of her life in the glazing light of the love of the Brindavan Dham.

‘The winter river flows slowly

Give energy and hope to unite with the beloved will get aspired resource and will enlighten the depressed mind

Flows calmly aiming at seas’

The Assamese version is

‘Sitor Bidirna Noi/ Khin Goli Ase Boi

Sakoti Jugai/ Priya Milan Asai

Pabo Akangkhit Dhan/ Dipta Hobo Rikta Mon/

Ratnor Sambad Jen Dile Kunubai

Dhir Chite Agragati Samudra Dhiwai’.

It seems that the trend of her poems spreads spontaneously to vast seas. She does not decorate or want to decorate her poems with modern dresses. Yet she can express the beauty of her poems in origin and for this her poetry book ‘Mon Brindaban’ becomes very heart touching.

Some of the own words of the poet are expressed as such- ‘From my childhood my attraction for poems is indomitable- poet Jatindra Nath Duwarah, Dimbeswar Neog and Ratnakanta Borkakoti are my favorite poets- the favorite poems of them are in my memory.’

Even after marriage my habit of reading and writing are not completely lost. For this I got inspiration from my husband Late Madhav Chandra Bhattacherjee.

Family problems and obstacles of life cannot destroy my urge for writing but destroyed the desire for publication. The different situations and circumstances, sorrows and pleasures, aspirations and despairs, getting and not getting and different emotional pictures are kept preserved in the pages of her poems. Many of the poems and write up are lost for not keeping carefully. Again, after long years my poems are published by Sadau Asom Lekhika Samaroh Samiti in seminars, Poetic meet and in different magazines and souvenirs.’

The life of Monorama Bhattacherjee is influenced by Indian philosophy. In the midst of the ideas of personal life there is the tune of sorrow and despair.

‘Pranote Lukai/ Pranor Bedona

Monote Morohe / Monor Basana

Tothapito Kare. / Asai Saona

Nirasai Parihah

Kabita Nahoi Mur Jibonar / Asofol Abhilah’

The English meaning is ‘Sorrows of heart hide in heart

Hopes of mind dry up in mind

Yet the hopes disturb me/ despairs leave me aside/

Poem is not my desire for unsuccessful hope’.

Love for own life and others are reflected through her poems

"Taktu Aru Nai Mur Proyujan

Moiu Hoitu Nohow Aru Tar Sage Apunjon

Tathapitu Asolere Jukari Tar Dhuli

Moromere Kulat Lolu Tuli’.

The English meaning is ‘I am in no need of him/ perhaps I am not his beloved/ yet rinsing the dust with ends of my chadar/ Take him in my lap with love.’

The sweet tune that sounds in the mind of Monorama is the tune of spiritualism. She can understand the principles of Indian philosophy by diving deep into the milky ocean of Vedic literature. Besides this, she is also a good singer. She always sings herself composed songs while praying in ‘Namghars’ along with her companions. While visiting the different pilgrimages of India she sings those songs and realizes the existence of souls. Her ultimate desire is to get the touch of that ever peaceful one by devoting herself whole heartedly in ‘Sanatana Dharma’. So the poet expressed her feelings as thus-

‘Nai Mur Punyafal/ Nai Mur Monubol

Nai Mur Akuwai Nai/

Asha Tumi/ Bol Tumi/ Raj Rajeswar Swami

Dukhitor Tumiea Sahai/

Ashar Prodip jail Rolu/ Moi Bat Sai

Sunu Moi Murulir Tan

Nayan Mudile Moi Dekhu Jen Hridoyat/

Shyam Rup Noyana Bhiram’

The English meaning is ‘No pious results of my work/ No mental strength of mine/ No I have none/ You that ever peaceful one) are my hope/ my strength/ my husband/ you are the help of the poor lighting a light of hope I am waiting for you/ as if I hear the tune of ‘Muruli (flute)/ I see in my mind your beautiful appearance.

In her poems the vivid description of the universe is also reflected as thus-

‘Nirmal Akashkhoni ujail Nilim/ Hahi Hahi, purna Sashi Sanghaibihin/

Bhahi Ahe Duronir Sangitor Mridu Gunjan/ Kusume Pallabe Mili Aprup Khela/

Subahe Adhir Kare Kare Rajonir Dhir Samiran/ Banoir Kuhumit/

Tarur Sakhat/ pakhi Sajisa Nir Nobin Ashat/

Pokhir Kakoli Kare/ Srabonot Mou Borisan’.

The English meaning is ‘The clear sky bright and blue

The full moon laughs without fear,

Vibrating from distance the slow sound of music

Flowers are blooming all over the earth.

A beautiful game of flowers and wind

Morning air is scented by these

The birds build their nest in trees with great hope

The sweet chirruping of birds distributes honey all around’.

In Assam agitation also this old lady played the role of a heroine by taking part in all the programmers. She made a call all through her poem as thus-

Otitor Gaurov suwari/Sapun Bilash Parihari/

Yoganya parishay diya Asomar Nari,

Muha Mugdhapati putra bhatra Sakolok/

Satya path/Dharma path/Diya Dekhuwai

Jogamaya rup Dhari tumi Nojogale

Jogauta aru Kunu Nai’

The English meaning is – ‘Remembering the glorious past/Leaving aside luxury and dream Assamese woman, give your own identity/Show the right and true path to your husbands, sons and brothers. If you do not awake them taking the form of jogamaya there is nobody to awake them’.

One of the main characteristics of Monorama Bhattacherjee’s writing is her clear conception regarding the value of life, knowledge of healthy life and experience. Feeling of the universe that echoed in her mind makes her writings more standard. Because of having knowledge on Sanskrit literature, she had many stock of words which can be clearly understood from her writings. One example of her excellent prose composition is- ‘Seeing the morning dressed as planets the Moon God covered with light emerges in the sky. Sita, time comes for you to unite with your husband. Therefore you now proceed near to Ramachandra. It is sure that Raghunandan is waiting for you.’

Monodrama Bhattacherjee presents me a value able poem named ‘Kunja Kannan’- the name which is given in accordance to the name of our residential home. How many can present such a valuable gift as Monorama has given me. This is really her identification as a poet.

Though Monorama Bhattacherjee was associated with social works, she did not want any publicity for them. She devoted herself silently in social works. She also took delight in spinning thread and distributing these among the widow and poor women. She even taught knitting, sewing and different types of cooking to the students of Uttam Sundari Balika Vidyalaya, established in the name of her mother in their own village, Kulbil Satra. Manorama’s mother was also an expert weaver and Manorama learnt weaving from her mother. Manorama’s mother even presented a self women ‘churia’ to Mahatma Gandhi. Monorama could also weave beautiful clothes of different designs.

Manorama was also interested in music. She not only sang Rabindra Sangeet and ‘Bhajan’ but also knew to play an as Raj. She also made her children interested in music. Private music teachers were engaged to teach them singing and playing violin.

To tell the truth this gifted lady kept herself aloof from the eyes of the general public. If she would have got proper field, scope and publicity her fame would have been spread far and wide.

It is hoped that the light of this cultured, active and ideal woman will enlighten the other woman. It is also hoped that Monorama Bhattachrjee may live long with a good health.

 

 
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