Nepal Bhasa literature

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
King Mahindra Malla (reigned 1560–1574) is regarded as the first Nepal Bhasa poet.
Siddhidas Mahaju (1867–1929)

Nepal Bhasa literature refers to literature in Nepal Bhasa. The language has the fourth oldest literature among the Sino-Tibetan languages (the first, second and third being Chinese, Tibetan and Burmese respectively).

The earliest known document in Nepal Bhasa is called "The Palmleaf from Uku Bahal" which dates from 1114 AD during the Thakuri period.[1] The earliest dated stone inscription in Nepal Bhasa is dated Nepal Sambat 293 (1173 AD).[2] From the 14th century onwards, an overwhelming number of stone inscriptions in the Kathmandu Valley, where they are an ubiquitous element at heritage sites, are in Nepal Bhasa.[3]

The first books appeared in the 14th century.

  • Haremakhala (Devanagari: हरेमखला), a medical manual written in 1374
  • Naradsmriti (नारदस्म्रिति) a law book written in 1380
  • Amarkosh (अमरकोश), a Sanskrit-Nepal Bhasa dictionary written in 1381
  • Gopalraj Vamshavali (गोपालराज वंशावली), a history of Nepal written in 1389[4] [5]

The first story book is Tantrakhyan (1518), and the first one-act play is Ekadashi Brata (1633) written by King Sidhhi Narsingh Malla.

Nepal Bhasa literature can be broadly divided into four periods.

  • Classical Period (1505–1847)
  • Dark Period (1847–1909)
  • Renaissance Period (1909–1941)
  • Modern Period (1941 onwards)

Classical Period[edit]

This was a golden age of cultural development and art and architecture in Nepal Mandala besides being a prolific period for Nepal Bhasa literature.[6] The literary genres prevalent during this era consist of chronicles, epics, stories, scientific manuals mainly dealing with astrology and medicine, didactic poems and drama.[7] [8]

The kings and queens of the Malla dynasty were keen lyricists and playwrights. Dance dramas written at the time continue to be performed during annual festivals. King Mahindra Malla (reigned 1560–1574) is regarded as the first Nepal Bhasa poet.[9] Other notable poets among the Malla kings include Siddhi Narsingh Malla (1619-1669), Pratap Malla, Ranjit Malla and Jaya Prakash Malla. Siddhi Narsingh Malla was the first Nepal Bhasa playwright. He wrote a one-act play entitled Ekadashibrata in 1633 based on a Hindu story. His most famous work is Katti Pyakhan (1641) which is shown annually at Patan Durbar Square.

The queens Riddhi Laxmi (1680–1687), considered to be Nepal's first woman poet, Jaya Laxmi and Bhuvan Laxmi were also prominent songwriters. Among the public, Jagat Keshari (1678) of Banepa in the east of the Kathmandu Valley is celebrated for a hymn dedicated to Goddess Chandeswari.

In the later part of the Classical Period, Rajendra Bikram among the Shah kings is famed for writing Mahasatwa Pakhyan (1831), a play based on a Buddhist story. Pundit Sundarananda (circa 1793–1833) is known for his epics while Amritananda, besides composing poetry, wrote a grammar of Nepal Bhasa (1831).

Dark Period[edit]

After the Gorkha conquest of Nepal in 1768 and the advent of the Shah dynasty, the Nepali language, formerly known as Khaskura or Gorkhali, began edging out Nepal Bhasa.[10] [11]

Overt suppression was started by the Rana dynasty (1846–1951).[12] In 1906, official documents written in Nepal Bhasa were declared illegal. The use of the language for business and literary purposes was forbidden.[13] Books were confiscated and writers were jailed.[14] As a result, not only literary creations but also writing for general purposes almost ceased; and the distance between the spoken and the written language began to widen.[15]

A small number of hymns and religious stories were produced during this period. Notable writers of the era were Swami Abhayananda (younger brother of famed prime minister Bhimsen Thapa), Hari Bhakta Mathema, Man Bahadur Joshi and Bir Bahadur Malla.

Renaissance Period[edit]

Cover of a book about Dipankar Buddha published in 1917 (Nepal Sambat 1037).
The first magazine in Nepal Bhasa was published from Kolkata, India in 1925.
Chittadhar Hridaya
Amritananda Mahasthavir
Satya Mohan Joshi
Girija Prasad Joshi

During this period, a new generation of writers emerged who asserted themselves by producing literary works defying government restrictions. The renaissance aimed to restore Nepal Bhasa's lost glory and stimulate creative literature. The activities of this period laid the foundation for the future course of the language. The Nepal Bhasa movement dates from this period.

The renaissance also marked the advent of private printing presses and the end of handwritten books. In 1909, Nisthananda Bajracharya published the first printed book in Nepal Bhasa, Ek Bishanti Prajnaparamita, a Buddhist text. Another major change was the adoption of Devanagari script to write the language instead of Nepal alphabets because of the availability of Devanagari printing type. In 1913, Siddhidas Mahaju composed Siddhi Ramayana, a Nepal Bhasa version of the Hindu epic.

Jagat Sundar Malla worked to promote education. In 1925, Dharmaditya Dharmacharya published Buddha Dharma wa Nepal Bhasa, the first ever magazine in Nepal Bhasa, from Kolkata, India. Authors also worked to standardize the grammar and spelling, and new literary styles and genres were embraced. A grammar of the language, the first in modern times, was published in 1928.

The most important figures of this era were:

These writers spearheaded the revival of the language.[16] Among the leaders of the renaissance, Bajracharya, Mahaju, Malla and Kansakar are honored as the Four Pillars of Nepal Bhasa.[17]

Modern Period[edit]

The 1940s marked the beginning of the modern period in Nepal Bhasa literature. During this period, new genres like short stories, poems, essays, novels and plays also emerged.[18]

The jail years[edit]

The years 1941–1945 are known as the jail years for the large number of authors who were imprisoned for their literary or political activities. They were a productive period and resulted in an outpouring of works.

Chittadhar Hridaya, Siddhicharan Shrestha and Phatte Bahadur Singh were among the prominent writers of the period who were jailed for their writings. While in prison, Hridaya produced his greatest work Sugata Saurabha,[19] an epic poem on the life of the Buddha.[20] Shrestha wrote a collection of poems entitled Seeswan ("Wax Flower", published in 1948) among other works.

Singh (1902-1983) was sentenced to life imprisonment for editing and publishing an anthology of poems by various poets entitled Nepali Bihar.[21] He had the book printed in Bettiah, India in 1939 and shipped to Nepal. After half of the print run had been sold, the rest of the copies were confiscated; and the contributors along with Singh were put in prison.[22] Singh is best known as the founder of Nepal Bhasa Patrika, the first daily newspaper in Nepal Bhasa which began publication in Kathmandu in 1955. He was the editor and publisher.[23]

Poets like Kedar Man Vyathit and Dharma Ratna Yami, who had been jailed on political charges, began writing in Nepal Bhasa too during their time in prison.

Revival of Theravada[edit]

Theravada Buddhist monks were especially influential in developing Nepal Bhasa literature. The resurgence of Nepal Bhasa coincided with the revival of Theravada Buddhism in Nepal, which the rulers disliked equally. From 1930, when the first yellow-robed monks appeared on the streets of Kathmandu since the 14th century, the number of their followers rapidly swelled, and books began to be published to educate them.[24]

Braving official harassment, the monks produced a steady stream of books on Buddhism from India and greatly enriched the corpus of religious literature. Among the prominent authors of this period were Bauddha Rishi Mahapragya, Amritananda Mahasthavir, Dhammalok Mahasthavir, Pragyananda Mahasthavir and Aniruddha Mahathera.

In 1944, the Ranas exiled eight monks for refusing to stop teaching Buddhism and writing in Nepal Bhasa. They went to Sarnath, India and formed an organization named Dharmodaya Sabha.[25] In 1947, the association launched a monthly magazine titled Dharmodaya from Kalimpong. Besides providing an opportunity for the growing number of writers, it had a major effect on standardizing the language.[26] [27] In 1946, the monks were allowed to return, and religious writing in Nepal Bhasa was permitted to be published after being censored.[28] [29] [30]

Post democracy[edit]

The overthrow of the Ranas in 1951[31] and move towards democracy brought a freer environment to writers. The 1950s saw a surge in literary activity and the appearance of new authors.

Baikuntha Prasad Lacoul belongs to the end of the renaissance and the beginning of the modern period. He is credited with introducing Western romanticism in Nepal Bhasa poetry.

Moti Laxmi Upasika (1909–1997) was the first poetess and short story writer in the modern period.

Satya Mohan Joshi (born 1920) is a poet, historian and cultural expert. The epic Jaya Prakash (published in 1955) about the last Malla king of Kathmandu, and Aranikoya Swet Chaitya (published in 1984) about the Nepalese artist Araniko who went to China in the 13th century, are two of his many notable works.[32]

Ramapati Raj Sharma (born 1931) is a poet whose works draw inspiration from nature.

Madan Mohan Mishra (1931–2013) is known for his epic poetry and satire. His Gajiguluya Mhagasay Pashupatinath (गजिगुलुया म्हगसय् पशुपतिनाथ, "Pashupatinath in the Dreams of a Marijuana Smoker"), published in 1975, is one of his most loved works.

R. R. N. "Syasya" (1932–2002) was the pen name of Rebati Ramanananda Shrestha Vaidya. Syasya belongs to the young generation of writers that emerged in the 1950s. His early works include Malakha ("Dragon", a collection of poems, published in 1955), Kapan ("Rainbow", short stories, 1956) and Uphoswan ("Blue Lotus", story, 1956).

Narayan Devi (born 1935) is a poetess whose poetry deals with women's empowerment and social discrimination.

Durga Lal Shrestha (born 1937) is a prolific, versatile and popular poet and songwriter. His works range from a collection of children's poems and songs entitled Chiniyamha Kisicha ("Sugar Elephant") to romantic and progressive compositions that have earned him the epithet of People's Poet.[33]

Girija Prasad Joshi (1939–1987) was a poet whose works encompass romantic to progressive poetry.

Panchayat era[edit]

In 1960, parliament was abolished and the Panchayat system was established. Under the system'e one-language policy, Nepal Bhasa suffered another period of suppression.[34] In 1965, the language was banned from being broadcast over Radio Nepal. The removal of Nepal Bhasa from Nepal's only radio station sparked a protest movement which became known as the Movement of 1965 ("Bais Salya Andolan").[35]

As part of the protests, weekly literary meets were held at street squares and public courtyards for more than a year. Inspired by the literary activity, a host of new and young writers emerged. Poets Buddha Sayami, Nati Bajra Bajracharya, Shree Krishna Anu and Janak Newa and novelist Ratna Bahadur Sayami are some of the figures brought up by the protests. They introduced fresh literary styles and extended the bounds of Nepal Bhasa literature. The 1965 Movement was thus a very productive period.[36]

Birat Nepal Bhasa Sahitya Sammelan Guthi (Grand Nepal Bhasa Literary Conference Trust), formed in 1962 in Bhaktapur, and Nepal Bhasa Manka Khala, founded in 1979 in Kathmandu, are some of the prominent organizations that emerged during this period to promote literature and struggle for language rights.

Today[edit]

Nepal Bhasa literature has a niche readership. Poetry, short stories, essays, novels, travelogues, biographies and religious discourses are the popular genres. A number of literary magazines are published. Translations of Nepal Bhasa literature in English and Nepali appear frequently. Literary organizations hold regular public recitals.[37]

Outside Nepal Mandala[edit]

Poets based outside Nepal Mandala have also promoted Nepal Bhasa. Among them, Ganesh Lal Shrestha of Hetauda composed songs and gave music recitals during festivals in the 1940s and 1950s.[38] In Pokhara, the first Grand Nepal Bhasa Literary Conference was held from 17-18 December 1975.[39]

Literary genres[edit]

  • Dramas are traditionally performed on open "dabu" (platform) built at temple squares and major intersections. Most of the traditional dramas are related to deities and demons. Masked characters are central to such dramas. Music forms an important part of drama. Most of them are narrated with the help of songs sung at intervals. The theme of most dramas is to create social well-being with morals illustrating the rise, turbulence and fall of evil. There are fixed dates in the Nepal Sambat (Nepal Era) calendar for performance of specific plays. Most dramas are performed by specific Guthis.
  • Poetry writing constituted a pompous part of medieval Malla aristocracy. Many of the kings were well renowned poets. Epic poetry is very popular. Sitala Maju, which describes the expulsion of children from Kathmandu in the early 19th century, Ji Waya La Lachhi Maduni, about a luckless Tibet trader, and Silu, about an ill-fated pilgrimage to Gosaikunda, are among the well-known ballads. Siddhidas Mahaju and Chittadhar Hridaya are two great poets of the modern period.
  • Stories ranging from the origin of the Kathmandu Valley to its temples and important monuments have been passed down verbally in Nepal Bhasa. Very few of them were in written form initially. However, with an increase in literacy rate and an awareness amongst the people, those stories have been penned down. Stories on other topics have also taken root.
  • Novel writing has increased with the progressive increase in literacy after the modernization of Nepal. Restriction of the knowledge of alphabets to a certain caste of society during the medieval era reduced the viability of leisure reading among the masses.
  • History literature in Nepal Bhasa dates from the Malla era. Stone inscriptions were placed in important places to commemorate important events. Mention of family lines of the person instilling the inscription is also found in many cases.
  • Philosophy is one of the subjects of Siddhidas Mahaju's writings who has produced a number of works related to the norms of society.
  • Legal literature formulated during the reign of Jayastithi Malla formulated a major part of the norm of Newar society.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Malla, Kamal P. "The Earliest Dated Document in Newari: The Palmleaf from Uku Bahah NS 234/AD 1114". Kailash. Retrieved 27 January 2012.  Pages 15–25.
  2. ^ Malla, KP. "Classical Newari Literature". p. 1. Retrieved 19 March 2014. 
  3. ^ Gutschow, Niels (1997). The Nepalese Caitya: 1500 Years of Buddhist Votive Architecture in the Kathmandu Valley. Edition Axel Menges. p. 25. ISBN 9783930698752. Retrieved 26 March 2014. 
  4. ^ Tuladhar, Prem Shanti (2000). Nepal Bhasa Sahityaya Itihas: History of Nepalbhasa Literature. Kathmandu: Nepal Bhasa Academy. ISBN 99933-56-00-X. Pages 20, 25.
  5. ^ Lienhard, Siegfried (1992). Songs of Nepal: An Anthology of Nevar Folksongs and Hymns. New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas. ISBN 81-208-0963-7. Page 1.
  6. ^ Tuladhar, Prem Shanti (2000). Nepal Bhasa Sahityaya Itihas: History of Nepalbhasa Literature. Kathmandu: Nepal Bhasa Academy. ISBN 99933-56-00-X. Page 37.
  7. ^ Lienhard, Siegfried (1992). Songs of Nepal: An Anthology of Nevar Folksongs and Hymns. New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas. ISBN 81-208-0963-7. Page 3.
  8. ^ "Classical Newari Literature". Retrieved 10 January 2012.  Page 2.
  9. ^ Vaidya, Janak Lal (2002) Nepal Bhasaya Prachin Kavya Sirjana. Kathmandu: Royal Nepal Academy. ISBN 99933-50-32-X. Page 17.
  10. ^ Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Pal, Pratapaditya (1985) Art of Nepal: A Catalogue of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art Collection. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-05407-3. Page 19.
  11. ^ Clark, T.W. (December 1969). "Nepali and Pahari". Current Trends in Linguistics (The Hague: Mouton).  Page 262.
  12. ^ Hutt, Michael (December 1986). "Diversity and Change in the Languages". CNAS Journal (Tribhuvan University). Retrieved 20 March 2011.  Page 10.
  13. ^ Lienhard, Siegfried (1992). Songs of Nepal: An Anthology of Nevar Folksongs and Hymns. New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas. ISBN 81-208-0963-7. Page 4.
  14. ^ Singh, Phatte Bahadur (September 1979). "Nepali Biharya Aitihasik Pristabhumi ("Historical Background of Nepali Bihar")". Jaa (Kathmandu: Nepal Bhasa Sahitya Pala, Tri-Chandra Campus).  Page 186.
  15. ^ Malla, Kamal P. (1979). The Road to Nowhere. Kathmandu: The Sajha Publication. Page 134.
  16. ^ Hoek, Bert van den and Shrestha, Balgopal (January 1995). "Education in the Mother Tongue: The Case of Nepal Bhasa (Newari)". CNAS Journal. Retrieved 12 January 2012.  Page 74.
  17. ^ Shrestha, Bal Gopal (January 1999). "The Newars: The Indigenous Population of the Kathmandu Valley in the Modern State of Nepal)". CNAS Journal. Retrieved 23 March 2012.  Page 87.
  18. ^ Lienhard, Siegfried (1992). Songs of Nepal: An Anthology of Nevar Folksongs and Hymns. New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas. ISBN 81-208-0963-7. Page 4.
  19. ^ "Sugata Saurabha: An Epic Poem from Nepal on the Life of the Buddha by Chittadhar Hridaya". Oxford Scholarship Online. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  20. ^ Lienhard, Siegfried (1992). Songs of Nepal: An Anthology of Nevar Folksongs and Hymns. New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas. ISBN 81-208-0963-7. Page 4.
  21. ^ Shrestha, Siddhicharan (1992). Siddhicharanya Nibandha ("Siddhicharan's Essays"). Kathmandu: Phalcha Pithana. Page 73.
  22. ^ Tuladhar, Prem Shanti (2000). Nepal Bhasa Sahityaya Itihas: The History of Nepalbhasa Literature. Kathmandu: Nepal Bhasa Academy. ISBN 99933-56-00-X. Page 105.
  23. ^ "History of Nepali Journalism". Nepal Press Institute. 15 February 2010. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  24. ^ LeVine, Sarah and Gellner, David N. (2005). Rebuilding Buddhism: The Theravada Movement in Twentieth-Century Nepal. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-01908-3, 9780674019089. Page 45.
  25. ^ Mahasthavir, Bhikkhu Dharmaloka (1999). A Pilgrimage in China. Kathmandu: Bhikkhu Aniruddha Mahasthavir. Pages 124–125.
  26. ^ LeVine, Sarah and Gellner, David N. (2005) Rebuilding Buddhism: The Theravada Movement in Twentieth-Century Nepal. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674019089. Pages 121–122. Retrieved 13 May 2012.
  27. ^ "Ven. Bhikkhu Aniruddha: Patriarch of Nepal". Lumbini Nepalese Buddha Dharma Society (UK). 2008. Retrieved 13 May 2012. 
  28. ^ LeVine, Sarah and Gellner, David N. (2005). Rebuilding Buddhism: The Theravada Movement in Twentieth-Century Nepal. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-01908-3, ISBN 978-0-674-01908-9. Pages 48–49.
  29. ^ Kloppenborg, Ria. "Theravada Buddhism in Nepal". Kailash. Retrieved 19 January 2012.  Page 306.
  30. ^ Tewari, Ramesh Chandra (1983). "Socio-Cultural Aspects of Theravada Buddhism in Nepal". The Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies. Retrieved 19 April 2012.  Pages 89-90.
  31. ^ Brown, T. Louise (1996). The Challenge to Democracy in Nepal: A Political History. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-08576-4, ISBN 978-0-415-08576-2. Page 21.
  32. ^ Sada, Ivan (December 2005). "Interview: Satya Mohan Joshi". ECS Nepal. Retrieved 23 January 2012. 
  33. ^ "The South Asian Literary Recording Project". Library of Congress New Delhi Office. 6 October 2010. Retrieved 27 January 2012. 
  34. ^ Shrestha, Bal Gopal (January 1999). "The Newars: The Indigenous Population of the Kathmandu Valley in the Modern State of Nepal)". CNAS Journal. Retrieved 22 April 2012.  Page 91.
  35. ^ Maharjan, Basanta (2008). "Linguistic Movement of 2022 BS: A Case Study of the Newars in Kathmandu Valley". Retrieved 25 April 2012.  Page 19.
  36. ^ Tuladhar, Prem Shanti (2000). Nepal Bhasa Sahityaya Itihas: History of Nepalbhasa Literature. Kathmandu: Nepal Bhasa Academy. ISBN 99933-56-00-X. Page 118.
  37. ^ Chene, Mary Des; Gautam, Bhaskar (December 1999). "Nepali and Nepal Bhasa Literature in English Translation: A Reference Bibliography". Studies in Nepali History and Society 4 (2): 383–430. Retrieved 26 March 2014. 
  38. ^ Bajracharya, Phanindra Ratna (2003). Who's Who in Nepal Bhasha. Kathmandu: Nepal Bhasa Academy. ISBN 99933-560-0-X. Page 225.
  39. ^ Jhee (Hem Bajra Bajracharya). December 1975.