Saruj Kumari Padmapati
 
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SARUJKUMARI PADMAPATI

(1917-1983)

From the days of Jonaki until now the women writers who had contributed much to the treasurer of Assamese literature the name of Sarujkumari Padmapati was most notes worthy.

Originally Sarujkumari belonged to Nagaon but after her marriage she became a resident of Tezpur.

Sarujkumari was born on June (13th Ahar) 1917 at Nagaon. Among three daughters and two sons of their parents Sarujkumari was the second one. The name of her father was Basanta kumar Bhuyan and mother was Labainya Prava Bhuyan.

She got herself admitted to Nagaon Mission School and studied there up to class V1. Later she studied at home and since then her interest in literature grew up.

In 1935 she was married to a well-known government officer Kamakhya Kumar Padmapati of Tezpur. After her marriage she took ‘Bisarad’ degree in Hindi language.

Contributions towards literature: Her writings were published in many of the magazines and newspapers of that time. Two of her published books on poetry were ‘Nizoreni’ and ‘Kabita Saroj’. Two of her unpublished books were ‘Jagoronor Sur’, (novel) and ‘Adikabi Valmiki’ (an ancient drama). In a special column of a newspaper ‘Aidewor Sora’, many of her writings regarding interior decoration and cooking etc were published.

Two of her best poems were ‘Mritu Madhurotom’ and ‘Asamiya Nari’. Not only poems but she also composed a number of songs and literary articles.

In some of the poems of ‘Nizorini’ her feeling of patriotism and devotionals are expressed and in some traits of modernism can be seen. The same feelings of devotionals and urge for union with God which are seen in the poems of Dharmeswari Devi Baruani are also noticed in the poems of Saroj Kumari Padmapati which is clearly revealed in one stanza of her poem Nizoreni.

‘Eternal beauty, beauty

I am waiting for your coming

Lightening incense sticks and earthen lamps

I am waiting for you’

The Assamese version of the poem is

‘Siro sundor Sundor tumi Aheba buli

Asilu je roi

Dhop deep jail

Tumi aheba buli.’

Just like Sarujkumari Padmapati Dharmeswari Devi Baruani calls God with devotion.

‘Cleaning the door steps

I am waiting for your coming

In the inner of my heart

Has your unseen form

You will see there my beloved God

Dressed was beautifully as an image.’

The Assamese version of the poem is

‘Padulir mukh khoni sari musi loi

Aheba aheba buli asu bat sai

Achinta abayakta rup ase tur

Hiya manikut maje

Dekha pabi tate pranor deveta

Muhan muruli saje’.

Such kind feeling of union with God is also expressed in the poems of Nalinibala Devi. Nalinibala Devi is also described as mystic poet for her feeling of transcendentalism. Though such kinds of feelings are not found in the poems of Sarujkumari Padmapati, sound of devotionals and union with God can be heard. The same urge for union with God is also seen in the poems of the Hindi poet Mahadevi Verma.

Devotion to God and lust for earthly are also expressed in the poems of Padmapati. In the poems of Nalinibala Devi are also seen her feeling of devotion, God and a desire of union with him. But there was no instance of physical and family troubles that hampered Padmapati like Dharmeswari Devi Baruani and Nalinibala Davi. Perhaps it is for these reasons tune of spiritualism is not heard in the poems of Padmapati. Inspite of this in her thought and narration the echo of Indian philosophy is heard.

‘Throughout the world there is the existence of you

In the endless minute particles

You are beautiful in different forms

Eternal beauty

By what name shall I call the

The Assamese version of the poem is

‘Vyapi asa tumi ai aisya juri

Ananta ashim anu paramanutei

Asa nana rupe aprup tumi

Siro Sundor, Siro Monohar

Ki buli matim.’ (Saroj)

In her poem ‘Jagaran’ she dreams to see a green Assam and gives a call to the people of Assam to make her green as thus.

‘In a single thread

Are tied our hearts

Let us proceed forward

All youths of Assam’.

The Assamese version of the poem is as thus

Desh premor akete dulare

Bandha amar pran

Bala aguwai chenahe Asomar

Deka Gabhoruror dol’.

The language and expression of the poem ‘Bidai Khon’ have similarities with the poem ‘Bidai Porot’ of the romantic poet Sailyadhar Rajkhowa. The same picture of deep of love for the land of his birth of Sailydhar Rajkhowa is depicted in the poem of Padmawati.

In the anthology ‘Nizoreni’ the most notable narratives are the folk songs (Deh Besaror geet), romantic songs and dance dramas. She had also published a dance drama describing the beauty of nature in the spring season.

In her two of her anthologies of poems ‘Saroj’ and ‘Nizoreni’ she has described the natural scenery of six seasons, hopes and despairs of life. In one of her poems named ‘Rajani gandha’ she has beautifully drawn the picture of an imaginary story of a harlot who was much degraded in the society but still then she was initiated by Lord Buddha to Buddhism as thus.

‘With a spotless heart wants initiation

She the spotless, pious lady

Just like a rajani gandha’

The Assamese meaning of the stanza is

‘Amolin antorare magese saran,

Nirmal, pabitra kanya bilai subah

Jen apahe rajani gandha’

In the poem ‘Narir Prem’ the echo of greatness of women and their heart full of love and forgiveness can be guessed from these lines

‘What are not in women?

You are the great, you are the creator….

You give us love, tears of sorrow

And blessing of pleasure’

The Assamese version of the poem is

‘Ke nai Tumar Nari

Sristir Janani, Garimamoyee…. Diya kewal Shehanjali

Karunar Sikta Asrudhara

Anandaghon Ashish dhara.’ (Saroj)

In the poem ‘Mritu Madhurotom’ composed in 1979, she has described death which is inevitable and how the immortal soul leaves the human body. She with an urge to unite with God, five years before her death composed these lines.

‘River mingles with sea

Will the little life mingle with great life-be not afraid

Death is not terrible

Death is eternal and beautiful.’ (Saroj)_

The Assamese meaning is

‘Nadiye Milegoi Sagoror Bukut

Khudra pran Milim Janu Mahaparant- Nakoru bhoi

Nahoi mitru bhoiyankar

Mitru hobo Siro Sundor, madhur madhuratm

Considering from the expressions, softness f words and rhymes, the poems of Nizorini can better be termed as ballads. Few lines of such poems composed in 1944 are the following.

‘Forget beloved the dear flowers

Make a garland of pearl with sorrow and union

Scent dried, torn the garland’ (Nizorini)

The Assamese meaning is

‘Bhuli juya priya pritir phul

Biroh milonor gatha mukutar mala

Sukala surabhi, single dul’

This song was once sung by artist Tarikuddin Ahmed in All India Radio.

Some of the books of the writers are still unpublished. Among such unpublished books was a drama named ‘Adikabi Valmiki’ which was a mixture of ‘amitrakhar chanda’ and prose verse, among the 26 character of Mahakabi Valmiki. In very simple language the writer has described the early life of Valmiki as a dacoit killing and plundering people and how in his later life he became sage Valmiki with the blessings of Brahma and Narad. The songs, use of ‘amitrakhar chanda’, conversation in prose, presence of Gods like Brahma takes the drama to the line of ancient dramas. The scene of the presence of the gods and goddess at heaven at the time of conferring the title ‘Adikabi’ to Valmiki by goddess Saraswati at the instruction of Brahma after the completion of writing Ramayana by Valmiki is very amusing. The war technique of Rama, Laba and Kuch and miserable life of Sita is also described in the drama but the problem arises in the completion of the drama as there is no description of the story of the elopement of Sita.

The description of the ‘ashram’ of sage Valmiki, description of heaven and shrewdness of Narad is very fascinating. Through the mouth of Valmiki the writer says to Laba and Kuch.

‘Love both of them

Sita an ideal women

Hearing the story of Ram and Sita

Relieved from sin

Go and make arrangement for journey

Education is completed

Go and sing the songs of Ramayana in different countries’

The Assamese version of the conversation is

‘Bhal paba basa duyuke

Sita adarsha ramani

Sunile khandabo pap Ram Sitar kahani

Juwa duyu karagoi jatrar aujon

Sikha hol samapan deshe deshe

Sunuyagoi Ramayana gan.’

‘Jagoronor Sur’ is an ideal social novel composed by Saroj Kumari. In this novel is described the simple life of the people of a village, Jiyajuri, which is named after a river called Jiyajuri. The main character of the novel is Bhabananda, the head master of the village school. Bhabananda not only developed the school by dint of his hard labour and sacrifice but did a lot for the village health centre, water supply scheme, better living of the villagers through an organization named ‘Samajghor’. There is no main women character in the drama. But there are many minor women characters like Kamala, Nirmala, the daughter of Bhabananda, Tara, wife of Govind Deka, Mala, his sister and Sewali, the wife of Ananda. But importance is given only on the characters of Bhabananda and his assistant teacher Govind Deka.

Both the orphans Bhabananda and Govind were brought up at the care of an aunty of Govind. Both of them later became graduates. After her death of their aunty Bhabananda in consultation with Govind sold some of the landed property of their aunty and came to settle in the village Jiyajuri where majority of the people are illiterate and poverty stricken. In this village Bhabananda established a school. Through this school he not only tried to educate the children but made them interested in swimming, games and sports, boat playing, first aid training etc. the technique ado pled by Dhaneswar and Moneswar in giving training to such extra curricular activities are described nicely in the novel. After the death of Bhabananda, the responsibility of turning the dream of Bhabananda into reality fell upon Govind.

A traditional picture of the marriage between Mukut and Nirmala, daughter of Bhabananda and the marriage between Monir and Lutfa is also drawn. Through these marriages it is seen that there is no prevalence of caste system in the village and there was unity between the Hindus and Muslims. The writer also mentions that from this school many students in their later life became doctors, professors, pharmacists, teachers and social workers. In this novel through the mouth of Govind Deka the writer says______ ‘Jiyajuri is our mother. We, irrespective of caste and religion are the children of that mother. We all have in our hearts uniform tune and uniform pleasure. I can realize the real truth and the tune of the chorus through my eyes, ears and mind. I think Jiyajuri is getting life. Song of the progress of Jiyajuri………’

The language of the novel is very simple and the expression is very distinct. There are twenty small and big characters in the novel. Each character is elaborately described. Too much importance is given on ideals so in some cases new concept is lost. The conventional speech of the members of the Gaon Sabha and students through the institution ‘Samajghar’ lessens the beauty to the novel to an extent. As there are no evil characters in the novel so there is no inquisitiveness regarding mental stress, despair and romance just like other novels. The events of the novel run in a usual and simple way. There may have many flaws in the novel as it was the first novel of Saroj kumari but the novel can be considered as a best one as it contains high ideals like unity between the Hindus and Muslims.

Saroj Kumari Padmapati was closely associated with Sadau Asom Lekhika Samaroh Samiti. Her poems were published in ‘Lekhika’, the souvenir of that organization. She was once the advisor of ‘Asom Jyoti’ a children magazine edited by Tezpur Branch of Lekhika Samaroh Samiti. She, until her death was the president of the Tezpur Branch of Lekhika Samaroh Samiti. In this context it can be mentioned that in the biennial conference of Lekhika Samaroh Samiti held at Nagaon decisions were taken to open a column in the newspapers of Assam comprising the writings of women. So, Saroj kumari in 1978 took interest in opening a column of women writers in ‘Mahajati’ a local news paper published from Tezpur. At that time there was no office of Lekhika Samaroh Samiti so all the emergent meetings regarding ‘Mahila Chora’ were convened in the residence of Padmapati. Mrinali chetia, the writer of the biography of Padmapati was entrusted with the responsibility of conducting the ‘Mahila Chora’ with the consent of Dr. Sheilla Borthakur, the then secretary, Saroj kumari Padmapati and Padma Agarwalla the then president of Tezpur Branch of Lekhika Samaroh Samiti. In conducting this ‘Mahila Chora’ Padmapati helped much by giving valuable suggestions and writing articles and poems.

Saroj kumari Padmapati was an expert housewife. Her husband Kamakhya kumar Padmapati was retired government officer of high rank. Her two daughters were given to marriage to worthy persons and her three sons got married when she was alive. She was a very grave, noble, steady and kind hearted woman.

On 7th December, 1983, she breathed her last at the age of 66 due to a heart attack in ‘Remedy Nursing Home’ at Tezpur. At the time of her death she left behind her husband, sons and daughters and the bereaved family members.

If she had not met an immature death she would have contribute more to the literary field of Assam.

Paying respect to all the qualities and achievements of Padmapati the writer desires and prays to God ‘May her soul rest in peace.

 

 
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