Padmanath Gohain Baruah
26th July 2011
Padmanath Gohain Baruah was born in 1871 at Nakari village in North Lakhimpur. The school education of Padmanath started in a Bengali medium school at his birthplace Nakari. Padmanath was one of the brightest students who went to Kolkata in the last part of the 19th century to pursue higher study. There he became an active member of Asomiya Bhasar Unnati Sadhini Sabha, set up by a number of Assamese students for the uplift of Assamese language and literature. Due to his ill luck he could not complete his BA examination but there he learnt the lesson of nationalism. Returning home, he dedicated himself for the uplift of his mother tongue and wrote a number of books in various styles and forms.
Padmanath Gohain Baruah was the first president of Axom Xahitya Xabha and a prominent name in the early part of modern Assamese literature. Considering his towering personality and profound knowledge, he is regarded as the Pitamaha (great grandfather) in Assamese literary world. In recognition of his outstanding contributions to the Assamese literature and society, the British government gave him Raibahadur title, a rare honour conferred for the first time to an Assamese person. He was also the first literary pensioner of Assam.
He was a novelist, poet, dramatist of excellence, analyst and a though provoking writer. Padmanath Gohain Baruah was contemporary of the group of people connected with ‘Jonaki’ and Asomiya bhasa unnati Sadhini Sabha that later gave birth to Asom Sahitya Sabha. He was closely associated with a number of Assamese journals and magazines. He had brought out an Assamese monthly called Bijulee. He had also published a weekly called Asom Banti from Tezpur. In 1906 he published a monthly called Usha in which many authors like Hemchandra Goswami, Satyanath Bora and Sarat Chandra Goswami regularly wrote.
The most famous though provoking book of Padmanath Gohain Baruah is ‘Sri Krishna’. In this book, for the first time in Assam he tried to develop the character of Sri Krishna as a worldly, historical person with super personality of God.
He is also revered as a founder of modern Assamese novel. His novel Lahori, published in 1892 is the first Assamese novel. From literary point of view it is regarded as the first Assamese novel. His other novel is Bhanumoti. First published serially in Bijulee, a monthly magazine edited by Krishnaprasad Duwara. He also proved his dexterity as a poet and Lila kabya, Jurani, Phular Saneki bore testimony to his caliber. His memorable collection of poem is ‘Fulor Chaneki’.
As a playwright, Padmanath was comparable to none in Assamese drama and theatre. He wrote a number of dramas on local plots and events. Picking up a number of glorious chapters from Assam history, he wrote historical dramas like Joymoti, Gadadhar, Lachit Borphukan and Sadhani. On the basis of the legendary love story of Usha and Aniruddha he wrote a mythological drama called Ban Raja. In his social drama Gaonburha he neatly described the economic condition of Assamese people under the British rule. His comedy Teton Tamuli and Bhoot Ne Bhram created spontaneous overflow of laughter among the readers and audiences.