TEZPUR, Nov 28 � The first president of the premier literary body, Asam Sahitya Sabha, Padmanath Gohain Baruah was remembered on his 143rd birth anniversary on Wednesday.
Padmanath Gohain Baruah, born in 1871 at Nakari village in North Lakhimpur, was a prominent name in the early part of the modern Assamese literary age. A novelist, poet, dramatist, analyst and writer, he was regarded as the �Pitamaha� (great grandfather) of the Assamese literary world for his towering personality and profound knowledge. Rich tributes were paid by different organisations including the Tezpur Sahitya Sabha to the great litterateur.
In the programme organised by the Tezpur Sahitya Sabha, after paying of floral tributes on the statue of the literary icon, the vice president of the Tezpur Sahitya Sabha, Hemanta Baruah said that Padmanath Gohain Baruah worked selflessly to build Tezpur as a unique city during his presidentship of the Tezpur Municipal Board. �Padmanath Gohain Baruah had an unmatched contribution towards Assamese literature. In Calcutta, he came into contact with the stalwarts of Assamese literature like Gunabhiram Baruah, Hemchandra Goswami, his senior fellow student Lakshminath Bezbaroa and others. Moreover, it was in Calcutta that he was inspired with a sense of duty towards his nation.� Hemanta Baruah rued that though the Assam Publication Limited was to publish Bargohain�s Asom Banti in 1977, it has not been published till date. It is unfortunate that the manuscript of the book has also been lost.
It may be mentioned that Padmanath Gohain Baruah, along with his friend Panindranath Gogoi, wrote a number of textbooks in the Assamese language. But the untimely death of Panindranath led Padmanath to complete the mission alone. To meet the necessities of Assamese students and teachers, he wrote a number of textbooks on History, Geography, Moral Science, teachers� handbooks and a book on physical exercise including the lives and works of many stalwarts of the Assamese society. He also edited Jivani Sangrah, a rare book in Assamese literature. He is also revered as a founder of the modern Assamese novel. His novel, Bhanumoti, published in 1890, is the first Assamese novel. From the literary point of view, it is regarded as the first Assamese novel. His other novel is Lahori. Moreover, as a playwright, Padmanath was without comparison in Assamese drama and theatre. He wrote a number of plays on indigenous plots and events. Picking up a number of glorious chapters from the Assam history, he wrote historical plays like Joymoti, Gadadhar, Lachit Borphukan and Sadhani. On the basis of the legendary love story of Usha and Aniruddha, he wrote a mythological play called Ban Raja. In his social play, Gaonburha, he neatly described the economic condition of the Assamese people under the British rule, while his comedy, Teton Tamuli and Bhoot Ne Bhram created a spontaneous overflow of laughter among the readers and audiences.
He is also credited with a monumental work, Sri Krishna. He has presented Lord Krishna as a multifaceted personality. Gohain Baruah was also a poet. His poetry works include Jurani (contains 22 sonnets), Leela and Fulor Chaneki. The skilful poetical descriptions of landscapes in Leela are very much beautiful, touchy and sober. A flag-bearer of journalism in Assam, Gohain Baruah was closely associated with a number of Assamese journals and magazines. While studying in Kolkata, he, along with Krishnaprasad Duwara, brought out an Assamese monthly called Bijulee. Later, he became its editor and ran it for more than three years. In 1901, he and Mathura Mahan Baruah published a weekly called Asom Banti from Tezpur. At a most critical period, Asom Banti played a leading role in Assamese language and literature. Acting as a mouthpiece of the Assamese society, it brought to focus many important issues before the British government. In 1906, Gohain Baruah published a monthly called Usha. Many stalwarts like Hemchandra Goswami, Satyanath Bora, Sarat Chandra Goswami and others regularly wrote in the magazine that heralded a new era in Assamese literature.
Attending the event, the granddaughter of the literary icon, Mrinalini Chetia recalled Gohain Baruah�s contribution towards Assamese society and literature. The daylong programme was marked with banti prajalan, symposium on the topic, �Literary talent of Padmanath Gohain Baruah and organisational activities in the society.�
Speaking on the subject, the principal of Tezpur College, Dr (Professor) Saru Saharia Nath said that Padmanath Gohain Baruah loved the Assamese language so much that while serving as a teacher in Nagaland, he used to teach Assamese to Naga students and the latter accepted him as a loving teacher.