Nirmal Prava Bordoloi
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Nirmal Prabha Bardoloi

Multifaceted genius, former President of Assam Sahitya Sabha, a notable poet, lyricist and writer Nirmal Prabha Bardoloi was a person of very high repute. She was the pioneer in the field of Assamese Literature and her notable contributions in the field of literature made her the recipient of several awards, including the most prestigious Sahitya Academy Award and brought her immense fame. She was not only a writer, but also an actress, a singer and a great musician or actor and expert in Playing musical instruments. The lyrics written by her have always created an everlasting impression on the audience. They are full of imagination and have a deep outlook of life.

Nirmal Prabha Bordoloi was born in a family of strong moral values on 20th June, 1933 in Sibsagar. Arjum Sarma, a supreme cosmic personality came from Konauj to Assam and foretold the future of Gadadhar Singha. When Gadhadhar became the king, he gave him the title 'Bardoloi' of Bokakhat. Kalindi Devi of that family was a great devotee of Maa Mahamaya. After the death her seven sons one night Kalindi Devi dreamt a dream that she had to leave Bokakhat and came to well being of his only (then remaining) son, Dharmeswar Bardoloi and accordingly, she left Bokakhat for Sibsagar. As the years passed, Dharmeswar Sarma Bardoloi developed a profound interest in literature, though he did not become a 'Pandit'. He married Muktabala, the elder daughter of Late Nilakanta Bardaloj and Ghanakanti Devi for the second time. His married life seemed unhappy at first because his wife remained childless for many years. After a lot of hard effort, Dhrmeswar's wife was holding a little angel in her arms on 20th June, 1933 and she was named Nirmal Prabha. Nirmal Prabha remained in her mother's womb for seven months only. Obviously, her father did not want to lose her at any cost and the fear of losing his only child compelled Dharmeswar Bardoloi to seek the help of great astrologer, Jmanath Chang Kakati. At this very first glance on Nirmal Prabha's 'Sourani', Umanath reveals, 'Tomar Yadi Ei Santanar Mrityu Hai, Moi Tomak Un Eti Santan Sonere Garhai Dim/ Chowalijanir Suorani Ati Uttarm (Astrologer said that the horoscope of Nirmal Prabha was very nice). As it was expected, the astrologer's prediction proved right, because Nirmal Prabha has remained a very prominent personality, not only of Assam, but also of the whole world.

Right from her childhood, Nirmal Prabha Proved herself to be a very intelligent and talented girl. She excelled in almost everything. She always came out first in her class and passed out M.E. examination securing first position with scholarship. She was also good at handiworks and could easily made hand-woven cloths. At her seven years, Nirmal Prabha completed reading a Bengali Homeopathy Book and dared to perform her experimentation by treating sick people at the absence of her father. And most interestingly, the self experimentation done by the child homeopathy has occasionally proven useful for Nirmal Prabha's sister-in-law who had been suffering from diarrhea for so long. Nirmal Prabha has described about her childhood as such- 'I was very sensitive.'


           The societal customs that was prevailing during her time, made it mandatory for girls to get married before attaining puberty and Nirmal Prabha's father was also not an exception in this regard. Like all other girls of her age, Nirmal Prabha had to marry at an early age of eleven years on 13th Dec. 1943. At her thirteen, she became the mother of a girl child. But Nirmal Prabha was not willing to leave her education half done at any cost and when her in - laws didn't permit her to have her higher education, she left her husband's home with her little daughter forever. This step was revolutionary because during that time, a woman had to live according to the expectations of the society. As such, Nirmal Prabha had to live her life devoid of her husbands' love and support but even then, her plight could not change her determination, rather she took an oath in her mind to begin life a new and do something extraordinary. Nirmal Prabha's father could understand very well the demands of the new society. He welcomed his daughter back to his home and made arrangement for her further studies. He said in this regard as such

Mor chowalik rnoi siksha diksha di biswat thiya

kararn, Mor chowalik Sorojini Naidu kari garhim'

(I shall make my girl famous in the world and I shall mould

her like Sarojini Naidu)

Nirmal Prabha was an extremely prolific person. She attended Handique Girls' College and Gauhati University where she completed her graduation and post- graduation respectively, obtaining her B.A. and M.A. in Assamese. After completing her M.A., She started working in B. Barooah College. For a brief period, Nirmal Prabha served as the member of Sahitya Academy, Co-ordinator of Sahitya Academy Regional Board, member of Eastern Zone Cultural Committee, Instructor of University Trust Commission and also the professor of Gauhati University. As a cultural ambassador, Nirmal Prabha had represented India in many International conferences. Along with that, she also worked as a composer and singer at times, creating time is music for Assamese audience like 'Subhabarta', 'Prarthana', 'Stuti' .

Nirmal Prabha Bardoloi was at the same time a great dramatist, poet, scholar, lyricist and a teacher. But she began her writing career as a lyricist. It is indeed true that the humiliation to which she was subjected to, after her marriage, broke her apart from inside, but that gave her the strength to begin her life anew and to manifest those sufferings into her writings. Her songs are the sufficient probe of a suffering heart and they do reflect the physical desire of a woman earning for her husband's love:-

"Shyam Shyam buli Radha birahe akul

Barase garaje megha, milan atur

 Radhar aji 'ulahat nebaje nupur."

Then again-

“Eman Nibir                Ernan Madir

Ei sundar nisha

Abbimana kari             nathakiba priya

chakut chakuti thoa.

"The difficult moment for a girl is the time when she needs to leave behind everything of hers at her mothers house and become part of an unknown family and it is reflected well in her evergreen song-

"Sonar Kharu           nalage Mok

 Biyar Babe aai

Cheneh Jan              Toi diya mok

Hatate shuai"

Society has made her liffe miserable, but Nirmal Prabha has always lived her life according to the societal norms. Most importantly,she loves people and always wants to be surrounded by people which provides her with many more experiences which in turn become the subject of many of her songs. Sometimes, her lyrics reveal her loneliness. But Unlike Jatin Duwara, Nirmal Prabha is always optimistic.

Nirmal Prabha was a part of the whole called by us as 'nature' and the objects of nature like the Sky, trees- leaves, the sun, the moon and. all such things found a reflection in her writings. Moreover the settings of many of her songs are rural landscapes and the simple life styles of rustics.

Nirmal Prabha Shares the feeling of oneness with the Assamese women and this is reflected in many of her songs. In particulars, she is sensitive to Assamese 'woman's dressing sense and habits. Nirmal Prabha is essentially a poet of love and in most of her writings, she expresses the vehemence of women's emotions. Love occupies a very important place in her writings and constitutes its central motivating force.

Nirmal Prabha's fame, her writing skills as a lyricist influenced Purushottam Das, the renowned music director, song writer, composer, artist of AIR, Guwahati. it was Das who inspired her to write songs for Akashbani, Guwahati. Other than songs, Nirmal Prabha's Nabin Chandra Bardoloi, 'Chandra Kumar Agarwala,''Axomar Janajatiya Geet Maat', 'Majuli', 'Aai' and the like were also broadcasted regularly in the Akashhani during that time. Late Brajen Baruah requested her to write songs for Assamese Films and she did it accordingly. As a lyricist, Nirmal Prabha was known for poetic compositions and parables which touched on themes ranging from romance to social commentary, from nature to communal amity, Universal Justice and empathy.

Nirmal Prabha as a poet:

Nirmal Prabha Bardoloi was a creative genius and she had infused her poetry with her own unique creative spirit. Her profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse, accompanied with consummate skill, her own Assamese words, has made her poetry extraordinary. In 'Natun Bowari', She captured the picture of a newly widowed young girl. Nirmal Prabha always made an in-depth and elaborate study of everything: She had planned to write hut she never displayed that in her writings; instead the world around her, vibrant with untold miseries seemed to provide the inspiration for most of her poetries. Indeed, these are some of the expressions and image born of the imagination of the poetess which forces her readers to feel imbibed by a divine elation. 

Her poetry is an outstanding contribution to Assamese literature for its rich variety of moods, evocative imagery, its robust optimism and affirmation of human values. 'Jetuli Poka', 'moU', 'miribuliya'  xumathira', Xakhini rati', 'kukuha', luturi puturi' are some of them.

Her collection of poems like 'Ban faringar rang', 'xomipesu', 'Antaranga', 'Dinar pisot din', 'Sudirgha nii aru ritu', 'sabdar epare sabdar sipare' etc. brought her immense fame. 'Sudirgha Din Aru Ritu' fetched her the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award in 1983. Before this 'Dinar Pisot Din' was recognised as an outstanding contribution in the genre of poetry by Axom Sahitya Sabha and it had won the award of best book. In her own language- 'There is no greater poem than life itself. Life is an endless poem- a poem of understanding and non- understanding, of moonlight, of storm, of non fulfillment, of loss after fulfillment, of softness of hardness of darkness, of beauty, of helplessness, of distress... etc.

The central theme of most of the poems of Nirmal Prahha is the emotional crisis which the poetess underwent at the different stages of her life. Love has come into her life so sudden like that of the waves of the river but then at the next moment, She has lost everything. Quest for love is the central theme of Nirmal Prabha’s poetry. Love is a mere dream to be sought for in the world of fantasy and poetry. In the poem "Sunya Lagno' the poetic persona has begged love and due considerations from her lover like beggar. In this way, the poetess has voiced in her poems the hurts and her inner frustrations, she received in a largely man- made world. Like Jatin Duwara (Kanown as 'Banaphul' poet in Assamese literature), most of Nirmal Prahha's poem deal with the theme of unfulfilled love and yearning for love. In songya prem', Premor Songya', Nirmal Prabha has written extensively on love and passion or an erotic sensations.

Renowned critic Jnyananda Sarma Pathak has found some sort of similarity between the poems of Nirmal Prabha and Nilamani Phukan.But Sarma has also revealed that he does not know whether Nirmal Prahha or Nilamani Phukan has written first.

Like Jatin Duwara, Nirmal Frabha does not went to forget her past, instead 'memory' of her past days has remained the chief source of her poetry.

The six seasons and the shift in time, thought and scene tempted Nirmal Prabha for poetic delving and writing after writings, she pours her heart- deep in to the straight forward descriptions of the seasons. In her works, she has always used the traditional hymn, wherein words come out from the depth of truth. Towards, the later part of her writing carrier, Nirmal Prabha has also tried to bring in some Sanskrit words in to her verses.

The explicit emphasis on ornament, particularly alliteration adds an extraordinary tone in her poetry-

'Kapour Runat Ra Lagi Mor Lorali/ Mor Youvan'.

As a modern poet, Nirmal Prabha dared to break the usual rhyme scheme followed by classical poet and that was indeed ground breaking during her time. But her inner thoughts could easily attract her audience (readers)

The creative source of'Sudirgha Din Aaru Ritu' a collection of poems containing 104 poems, is life itself. In her own language, life is at the same time personal, societal, visible, invisible, realisation, feeling, of cries of ferment and tears.

The central theme of most of the poems of Nirmal Prabha is the emotional crisis which the poetess underwent at the different stages of her life. Her poetry is often marked by her Stringent protest against social ills and the establishment. A sad note always remains woven around the main texture of her poetry. But She vows to find fulfillment through her imprisonment, as if she is not alone. She is optimistic and responsible to society. She also sought to bring the unity of nature in to her poetry. She remains stuck to Indian theme and love for the nation played vital role in the poetic literature of Nirmal Prahha. She was emotionally involved in Assam's agitation for identity, foreign invasion all such found an ample expression in her poetry. Throughout Nirmal Prabha's poetry,We can find a strong mystical element. It is worth nothing that Nirmal Prabha has in some of her poetry referred directly to God and expressed a desire to mingle with the Almighty in poems like "AAKAR NIJARE" Like Nalinibala Devi, Nirmal Prabha may have wanted to leave behind her physical world to be one with the Eternal.Likewise Ambikagiri Rai Choudhury- Tandra Bhagil Ranik Aagat Palo Ear Othat Nahay Padat Amar Sudha Pilo".Starting from the simple day to day experiences to that of communal amity, empathy, Nirmal Prabha Captures everything in her poetry. Jyanpith Award winner Amrita Pritam has praised Nirmal Prabha, recognising her literary talents in creating 'Banforingor Rang''Somipesu', Antaranga', Dinar Pisot Din, Sudirgha Din aru Ritu, Amitav Sabda, Sabdar epare xipare', etc.

Nirmal Prahha has significant contribution in the genre of Assamese Children Literature. Taking a child's mind and with a detailed study of child psychology, Nirmal Prabha has excited children in ideas, imaginary worlds and contemporary ideas through her stories, poems, dramas and the like. She has thoroughly involved with the News paper, 'Natun Axomya' wherein she used a pseudonym as 'Nila Baidew' while trying to foster a love of reading and creativity in children. Moreover, 'Chil Chil Bagi Chilmilai', "Axomiva Omola Geet', Katha Sarit Sagar', Shishu Geetinatya Sankalon', 'Mon Uraviya', Suriyamat' are some of her contribution in the field of children literature. Chil Chil Chila' brought her the President's Award. Children Usually makes fantasy about the world of moon and it finds expression in Nirmal Prabha's song.

Along with children literature Nirmal Prabha has also made her emergence as a researcher. At one point, she thought that her research work would put an end to her poems, songs but her elaborate study, and a firm belief in her own self, made her mark in the field of research. The imperial mind in her starts questing right from her college days and during that time she took part. She took part in various Indian National Sanmilan. Actually she thought that without research work education is incomplete, So, she became engaged in research work. First, she started her research on Khasi language. The research was sought to be done under the guidance of Dr. Birinchi Kumar Baruah but unfortunately, the news of her father's untimely death put an end to her research work. Afterwards, she changed the subject matter of her thesis. And finally she earned her doctoral degree on her thesis "Treatment of Nature in Assamese Poetry' under the guidance of Dr. Satyendra Nath Sarma. K.K. Khuller regards her as 'A Nightingale from Assam', She is also known as 'Darling India' in the west.

As a folklorist, Nirmal Prahha was greatly influenced by Dr. Birinchi Kumar Baruah. In 1972 she wrote 'Axomor Loko Sanskriti'.In this book, Nirmal Prabha has provided insight into popular Culture regarding the norms of conduct in women, prevailing during her time.She has also translated various writings into Assamese. Among them,'.Tulsidas','Meera Bai','Bindu Aaru Sindhu', 'Amar Lagatial Gas Gasoni','Asiar Sadhu Katha', 'Orissar Loka Sanskriti', 'Russiar Kahita', 'Dakghar' etc. are noteworthy.

Apart from poetry, thought provoking essay, juvenile literature, songs, Nirmal Prabha has made an elaborate study of the source- materials, connected with Tantrik Sadhana of Assarn, Coupled with field studies of the temples connected with 'Shakti' Worship of Assam like Kamakhya, Bhubaneswari, Mangalchandi, Dirgheswari, Dimasa Devi, Heremoti and the like. And the result is her monumental work 'Devi'. It has received wide acclaim. Axom Sahitya Sabha recognised the book as an outstanding contribution in the field of original research and presented her an award. She was also conferred the title 'Saraswati' for this work Prof. Dr. Satyendra Nath Sarma has praised 'Devi' very much. Then again Dr. Narendra Nath Bhattacharya writes praising the book. For all her verbal power, for all her profile output, Nirmal Prabha has retained a dexterous command of the plain, pithy utterance. Widely read and widely anthologized, Nirmal Prabha has stood for decades, among the most influential writers and one of the best known Assamese public intellectuals. Staring from Padmabati Devi Phukanani up to the most recent women writers of the time, Nirmal Prabha has remained a poet of towering reputation and her works distinguished by an unswerving progressive vision and a dazzling, empathic ferocity will always continue to inspire the writers of all ages to continue their creative journey.



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