Soujanyamayee Bhattachryya
 
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Soujanyamayee Battacharyya

Soujanyamayee Bhattacharyya occupies a distinct place in the history of Assamese literature, since she is one of the few women writers who have been writing since the 40’s of the bygone century. She is not only a novelist, a story teller, a poet, but also a writer of thought provoking articles. Besides literary talent, she was a singer, an actress a social worker. She worker, she taught the children was a singer, an actress a composing them. She tried her hand in writing plays also and one of her unpublished plays, ‘Keteki’ was staged by the ladies of Amolapatty, Nagaon.

Born in 1923 in a very culture family Soujanyamayee was the second daughter of Kumudeswar Borthakur and Puspalata Devi. Her grandfather was the town Mouzadar of Sivasagar. She received her grandfather was the town Mouzader of Sibsagar. She received her early education at Tezpur girls’ M.V School. Her father, who served as Inspector of schools, was transferred to Dibrugharh, and Soujyamayee got herself admitted to transfer to Dibrugharh and Soujyamayee got herself admitted to Victoria girls’ school, a Bengali medium institution. Even at a very tender age of four stood on the Tezpur strange and presented a song to the delight of the audience. Her father Kumudeswar Borthakur had considerable musical talent, and he taught his daughter to recite evening prayers, and even from her early childhood, she became interested in music.

Her father has been again transferred to Nagaon, and Soujanjamyyee was admitted to Nagaon, Mission School. While they were in admitted to Nagaon, they used to hold meetings on every Sunday, presided over by their father, in which they had to read out self composed essays. In her autobiography she mentioned how she wrote plays, how her brothers and sisters and sisters played different roles.

Soujayamoyee entered into wedlock with Promdram Bhattacharjee, a lawyer by profession, in 1936, while she was reading in class VIII, at Panbazar girls’ High School, Guwahati. Her husband settled permanently at Nagaon. After marriages, Soujanmayee had to keep herself busy performing different domestic chores, since theirs was a big joint family. Though she wanted to appear in the Matriculation Examination as a private candidate, she could not so due to domestic compulsion. But her literary pursuit remained unabated. She is proud mother of five sons and there daughters, all of whom are settled. Despite the fact that she had to keep herself busy in household affairs, Sonjayamoyee kept her urge alive. In this matter she gratefully recollects the inspiration give by her father-in-law Anandaram Bhattacharjee. At his initiative, a collection of short stories titled "Chaisuti" was published in 1948. It was followed by a dance- drama published in 1950. A prestigious published in 1950. A prestigious publishing hence ‘Lawyers" Book Stall" of Guwahati, published ‘Monjol’ a collection of stories meant for children.

Her son Tarakaram Bhattacharjee published her short story collection "Manare Dhou", in 1962. A novel based on the background of Chinese aggression of 1962, "Himachal Nirabe Kape" was published in ‘Nabajyoti’- a magazine published from Dhekaijuli. For a few years her main concern was to write books that will benefit the children. So she wrote novels, plays dance, drama – all meant for children. Her eldest son Tarakaram published them in a single volume under the title "Runjun Nupur Baje’. Her latest novel ‘Pratidan’ will soon sees the light of the day. Besides these she has been contributing articles, short stories, biographies, to newspapers and journals. A few other books, including plays await publication.

Soujanyamayee is also a poet of considerable talent. While she was only ten years old, she wrote a poem ‘Eti Kabita’ and it was reprinted in the Nagaon girl’s college magazine. One of her poems was included in an anthology of poems- written by women writers, published in 1985 and edited by Thaneswar Hazarika, a well known writer. Another poem was published in the Souvenir of Nagaon session of "Sodou Asom Lekhika Samaroh".

Besides being a writer, Soujanjanmayee is a social worker as well. Her activity took part in the famous Asom Movement against illegal immigrants. She presided over a meeting violating 144 imposed by the administration.

When the Nagaon branch of Sodou Asom Lekhika Samaroh Samity’ was founded in 1978, she was one of the founder members. Another organization came up at the initiative of a few social workers of Nagaon, under the name and style "Sevasram". The purpose of the group was to train up men and women for different vocations so that they may be economy self reliant. She is currently the president of this organization. Soujanmayee is a rare example of a person dedicating her self for the good of the society.

Literary achievement of Mrs. Bhattacharyya

One of the remarkable traits of short stories is the social awareness; ‘Charisuti’ a collection of the short stories of her early age was published by Tarak stories of Nagaon in 1948. In one of the stories of this collection ‘Mukuli Hridoy", she possibly looked back at her own life when she took up the theme of early marriage of girls prevalent in the Brahmin community. In this story she portrayed the character of Chandrabala to show women’s jealously. Though the social reality of her time, found adequate expression, yet it suffered from the lack of matured thinking.

‘Darpachurna’ is another story included in this collection, in which she depicts. The character of an artisan named ‘Lahoti’, who was adept in weaving and knitting, but was very poor. She was looked down upon by Aarti who belonged to a well to-do family, and was very proud of her aristocracy. But in the course of time misfortunate fell on the family, and the entire property had to be mortgaged. Arati had to take the help of Lahoti. Thus her pride was humbled. Hence the name of the story is ‘Darpachurna’. (Pride humbled)

Two other stories included in this collection- "Prarajoy" and ‘Satirtha’ - reflect the tears and laughter of human life. Mahichandra Bora, himself a prominent writer, spoke highly of her stories. In most of her stories, she exposed the social evils of her times and indirectly hinted at the necessity of liberal out look to replace conservative outlook.

‘Khetiokor Jivan’ – (Life of farmers) is a dance- drama having symbolic meaning. ‘Rangali’ a farmer symbolizes traditional outlook of a farmer while the children represent the modern outlook of a farmer while the children represent the modern outlook.

Soujayamoyee made significant contribution to children’s literature ‘Mougol’ (Honey Drops), a collection of stories meant for children is the third publication of the writer and appeared in 1955. When she was asked in an interview as to what was the source of the themes of the stories, she informed that she depended on ancient legends for her subject mater. The purpose of most of the stories was to teach the children- moral lessons. Late Ratna Kanta Borkakoti, a former President of Asom Sahitya Sabha’ the apex literary organization of the state concludes that the language of the stories is as sweet as the honey drops and is appropriate for children.

‘Manar Dhou’ – (The waves of mind) an anthology of seven short stories appeared in 1962. In these stories also human relationship in its various forms find expression. The writer is serious about the happenings in and around the society she lived in, but the lack of psychological insight robs the stories of depth one expects to find. The art of the short story is not easy to acquire, the writer is required to practice utmost economy in the use of words. But unfortunately Soujanyamoyee fails to avoid a description which does not contribute to the total effect of the story. Whatever may be her limitations to other genre of literature, it must be acknowledged that she had a talent for writing children’s literature. "Runjun Nupur Baje"- a collection of there plays and ‘Bandhir’- a short novel give simple evidence of this aspect of her talent.

Soujanayamayee occupies a distinct place in the area of poetry also. If her stories and novels reflect social problems and conflicts, her poems express personal joys and sorrows. One of her remarkable poems is ‘Bandisal’ (The Prison), which is an expression of her predicament. She imagines herself to be a prisoner of the world:

"Bandini mai!

Biswa Karagar as Bandini Mai,

‘Ki Dosat? Ki Aparadhat, Napare Manat,

Matho Jeinu Bandini Mai."

(I am a prisoner! Imprisoned in this the universal prison! I do not remember what my crime is! I only know that I am a prisoner).

Critical readers will not fail to notice a symbolic undercurrent in the poem— the prison she speaks of is the society which imposes so many restrictions and the prisoners are women in general. Another poem which bear the stamps of her poetic talent is ‘Dhanya Jivan’ (The Blessed Life), included in anthology ‘Asomoya Nari Kabi Kantha’ (voice of the women poets of Assam), edited by Thaneswer Hazarika, and published in 1985. If ‘Bandisal’ is symbolic, ‘Dhanya Jivan’ is philosophical. In the latter poem the poet feels the insignificance of her life, and compares herself to a weed in the garden which ‘Dhulikona Mai’ (I am a particle of dust) written by Chandradhar Baruah, a prominent poet, in which he feels himself to be a mere particle of dust having no significance at all.

"Eti Jilingani’ (A glimpse) included in the Souvenir published on the occasion of the annual session of the ‘Sodou Asom Lekhika Samaroh’ held at Nagaon in 1978, is philosophical poem. In this poem her tone is different from that of ‘Dhanya Jivan’ is in sharp contrast with the optimism of the poem under discussion. In this poem she expresses that however insignificant one’s life may be one may aspire to be through work, as she herself did.

It is clear from the above discussion that Soujanyamayee Bhattacharya is a leading writer among the senior writers of Assam.

In conclusion, if a few lines from the comment made by Biren Borkotoky, a literary critic and a former President of ‘Asom Sahitya Sabha’ are quoted, it would be sufficient to show what position Bhattacharya occupies in the areana of Assamese literature.

Soujanymayee Bhattacharya- writes Borkotoky "is a well known figure in the literary circle of Assam. A senior writer Mrs. Bhattacharya has been writing since her childhood and establishes herself as a writer of considerable merit. She has been sincerely dedicating herself to literary, culture and social activities. Though advanced in age she still continues to write--------- with a sense of social commitment. Soujanyamayee Bhattacharya reveals the inner working of her mind-a mind which sincerely seeks the well being of the society as a whole".

May God grant her a long life to enrich Assamese literature in the coming years?

 

 
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