Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bhanu jayanti--Is BhanuBhakta getting deserved respect?

On this same day,198 years ago,in the village called Chundi Ramgha, Of Tanahu, a boy was born. Though he received Sanskrit education from his grandfather, He later went on to be the greatest and first poet In Nepali language. I am not sure, but people say that his father was a government officer who worked for General Amarsingh Thapa. Yes, you may already have guessed, probably because of the Public Holiday today, I am talking about Bhanu Bhakta Acharya(its 13th july or 29th Ashad).
From the fifth to the fifteenth century AD, the Khas civilization flourished from its roots in what is now far-west Nepal. Historical documents show that west Nepal, south-west Tibet, and Kumaon and Garhwal of India were united and the Khas language had great influence in these regions during the time of that civilization's rise. After the fall of the Khas Empire, its language, which evolved into present day Nepali, was considered bastardized and limited to speech. Sanskrit dominated most of the written texts of South Asia and its influence was particularly strong in Nepal.

He gives his life to cutting grass and earns little money,
he hopes to make a well for his people
so he will be remembered after death,
this high thinking grass cutter lives in poverty,
I have achieved nothing though I have much wealth.
I have neither made rest houses nor a well,
all my riches are inside my house.
This grass cutter has opened my eyes today,
my life is worthless if the memory of my existence fades away.(Ghasi kabita, translated)

Brahmins were the teachers, scholars, and priests of the society by virtue of their caste. Their education was Sanskrit oriented since most religious texts of the Hindu religion were in that language. Bhanubhakta Acharya, born to a Brahmin family in 1814 in Tanahu, received an excellent education with a strong leaning towards religion at home from his grandfather. He led an unremarkable life until he met a grass cutter who wanted to give something to the society so that he could be remembered after death. Bhanubhakta was young, and the grass cutter's words inspired him to write these words:
एक् मन् चित्त लगाइ चाकरि गर्याँ
खूसी भया छन् हरि।
मान्पाथी पनि भुक्तमान् थपिदिया
कैल्यै नछुट्न्या गरी।

रोज् रोज् दर्शन पाउँछू चरणको
ताप् छैन मन्मा कछू।
रात् भर् नाच् पनि हेर्छु खर्च नगरी
ठूला चयन्मा म छु।
लामखुट्टे उपियाँ उडुस् इ सँगि छन्
इन्कै लहड्मा बसी।
लाम्खुट्टेहरु गाउँछन् इ उपियाँ
नाच्छन् म हेर्छु बसी।

बिन्ती डिट्ठा विचारीसित म कति गरूँ
चुप् रहन्छन् नबोली
बोल्छन् ता ख्याल् गर्या झैं अनि पछि दिनदिन्
भन्दछन् भोलि भोली
की ता सक्तीन भन्नू कि तब छिनिदिनू
क्यान भन्छन् यि भोलि
भोली भोली हुँदैमा सब घर बितिगो
बक्सियोस् आज झोली
The grass cutter's wish to be remembered has been fulfilled: he is more romanticized than Adikabi Bhanubhakta, considered the first poet to write in the Khas, or now the Nepali language. While there were other verses written in the Khas language before Bhanubhakta's time, some of them were hard to identify as poetry - the quality is sketchy; many of the writers disappeared due lack of a forum where they could foster their talents (sadly the audience was just not there); many wrote poetry that was too heavily Sanskritized. Bhanubhakta was definitely "the" writer who gained the acceptance of a wide range of people and his creations played a key role in popularizing the written form of the Khas language.
Ghasi Kuwa
Bhanu Bhakta did not just translate the Sanskrit written Ramayan into Nepali, but also composed many poems in a beautiful and rhythemic patterns. His poems like Prashnottar, Kantipuri Nagari, etc. are also popular among the Nepali literateur.  The following is an English translated piece by Pallav Ranjan from Nepali Kantipuri Nagari:
After so many days I have seen the Balaju water gardens again
and I write that underneath earthly skies this is a Heaven.
All around me are birds that sit or swing upon vines,
maybe with soft voices they intend to steal my mind.
Bhanubhakta Acharya lived with a purpose and spent all his life serving Nepali literature. He was a poetic genius of his time. He played a crucial role to bring Nepali literature from obscurity to limelight. He was the father figure of Nepali literature who worked hard and uplifted Nepali literature to a respectable platform. His contribution to the genre is of supreme historical importance not only for his pioneering ability to make Nepali a living language but also the craft of prose-poetry writing with a degree of impeccable success.  The literature he produced was simply unsurpassable. In brief he is credited to bring Nepali literature from obscurity to limelight.

However, the bitter truth is that the celebration of Bhanubhakta Acharya's birth anniversary has been no more than just a routine formality. The programme is attended by VIPs who deliver floury speeches and eulogize Bhanubhakta and his great works. The audiences greet these VIPs with resounding clapping at the end of each speech. And in the end a flower garland is put on the bust of the poet. This way a job is done until the next anniversary. This is a common sight of Bhanubhakta's birth anniversary celebrated in many parts of the country.
How serious the government is to recognize national figures one like Bhanubhakta Acharya can only be realized after visiting his home in Bhanu VDC ward No 3, Chundi Ramgha, Tanahun. Looking at his home, it is hard to believe that this is really the house where Bhanubhakta Acharya had spent most of his childhood and adolescence. Deserted and neglected the house is in dilapidated condition. During the production the movie, ‘Adhikavi Bhanubhakta’ the producers rejuvinated the house a little bit, but its in ruins now. I took the luxary of adding photos from the facebook account of Shadana Sharma who took the photographs during their recent visit there.205726_1881921681275_1038309664_2178629_4495523_nBhanuBhakta ko Purkhyauli Ghar… in ruins!
Today when we are too busy changing nepali names to foreign ones and getting all kind of discounts for foreign language courses,and busy reading harry porters rather than karnali blues, shouldn’t we show little more respect to the father of our language. Arent we actually ignoring him and his contributions?
Or should we learn something from The Sikkim-ians and Darjeeling-ians,who celebrate this day as one of the greatest festival.
happy 198th Birthday… Adhikavi

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