GUWAHATI, May 19 - He is around 80, is suffering from a lot of ailments, including liver cirrhosis (non-alcoholic) and hence under constant medical supervision. But defying all these, he has completed translation of the 24,005 original Sanskrit slokas (verses), arranged in 8,594 four-line padas (stanzas) of the Ramayana penned by Valmiki, into Assamese verses. He is now focused on translating the original verses of the other Sanskrit epic the Mahabharata authored by Veda Vyasa, again into Assamese verses.
Each of the four-line padas of the Ramayana, numbering 8,594 in total, has been rendered into Assamese verses of as many numbers by this scholar, a celebrated name among the present day Vaishnavite saints of the State. He is Narayan Chandra Goswami, the sattradhikar (head) of the Natun Kamalabari Sattra of Majuli. Sattra is a Vaishnavite monastery initiated in Assam by the great saint Srimanta Sankaradeva in the AD 16th century.
The Kamalabari sattras � Uttar Kamalabari and Natun Kamalabari � are known for the special style of Sattriya dance and music, called the �Kamalabari Style.� Narayan Chandra Goswami is one of the authorities on Sattriya dance and music, besides being a scholar of Sanskrit and Brajabuli. Brajabuli is the language introduced by Srimanta Sankaradeva as the vehicle of his literary works.
The sattradhikar has also made some other remarkable contributions to Sankaradeva study with his books like the Brajabuli Bhasar Byakaran aru Abhidhan, Sattriya Sanskritir Swarnarekha, Sattriya Nrityar Byakaran, Bargeetor Swaralipi, Asamot Bhaonar Parampara, Kirtan-Ghosha-Naam-Ghoshar Tatvartha Samikshya and the three volumes of Sankardevar Sahityar Maulikotar Bir, among others.
In the preface to his translation of the Ramayana, titled Valmiki Ramayana, Narayan Goswami said there are at least 30 versions of the Ramayana. But in the Indian Vedic literature, Rama�s name was mentioned on one occasion only, that too, as the part of the thousand names of the Vishnu. However, Srimanta Sankaradeva and his apostle Madhavadeva have mentioned the name of Rama copiously in their writings.
The preface speaks volume about Narayan Chandra Goswami�s erudition. It also provides glimpses of his analytical approach towards the character of Rama and his modern outlook on the issues concerning the status of women and lower caste people in the Indian society.
This book was released by noted litterateur Prof Nagen Saikia at a function at Jorhat on February 28 last. The book has been published by Dibrugarh-based Kaustubh Prakashan.
It is worth mentioning here that the first attempt to write the Ramayana in Assamese was made by Madhava Kandali, the teacher of Srimanta Sankaradeva. Some scholars are of the opinion that Madhava Kandali, a revered scholar, wrote all the seven kandas (volumes) of the Ramayana. But, two of the volumes � the first and the seventh � he had written, were lost.
Later on, Srimanta Sankaradeva asked his apostle Madhavadeva to write the first volume, that is the Aadi Kanda, and he himself (Sankaradeva) undertook the venture to write the seventh volume, that is the Uttarakanda. Thus the seven volumes of the first Assamese Ramayana, writing of which started in the pre-Sankaradeva era, were completed in the Sankaradeva era with the involvement of three great scholars.