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A portrait of Bhanubhakta Acharya
|Native name||श्री आदिकवि भानुभक्त आचार्य|
1814 (1871 B.S.)|
Chundi Ramgha,GhasikuwaTanahun District, Nepal
1868 (aged 53–54) (1925 B.S.)|
Setighat, Tanahun District
Bhanubhakta Acharya (Nepali: भानुभक्त आचार्य; 1814 – 1868) was a Nepalese poet and writer who translated the great epic Ramayana from Sanskrit to Khas language. Born in 1814 A.D. in Chundi Ramgha, Tanahun District, he was educated at home with a strong leaning towards religion from his grandfather. He was born to a Brahmin family, and is the first person to have translated the epic Ramayana from Sanskrit. Besides having other contemporary poets in the country during his times, he is honoured with the title of Adikavi (First poet) of Nepal.
Bhanubhakta Acharya was born on 29 Ashar, 1871 B.S. (July 13, 1814) in Tanahu district of Nepal. Acharya was born to a brahmin family and received education at home with a strong leaning towards religion from his grandfather. He is honored with the title Adikabi for the contributions he has made in the field of poetry and Khas literature. Every year his birthday is celebrated as Bhanu Jayanti(13 July) when various literary festivals are organized to honour him through programs of recitations, art, academic and poetic importance. Motiram Bhatta, first referred to him as Adikabi while writing Acharya’s biography in 1981. He clarifies that Acharya is not called Adikabi because he was the first poet in Nepal but he deserved the title as he was the first poet who wrote with an understanding of the marma (inner essence) of the poetry.
South Asian languages including Nepali was limited mostly to oral medium of language dissemination at the time with little written context and literature influence. As most of the written texts of South Asia were dominated by Sanskrit it was mostly inaccessible to the general populace. As the Brahmins were the class who excelled as teachers, scholars and priests the access to all religious scriptures and other literary works was only limited to them and few who also could receive education and understand Sanskrit. Many poets had written poems in Sanskrit while Acharya started to write in Nepali language which not only popularized the language but also gained him acceptance from the Rana Rulers. Acharya's benevolence towards Ram’s heroic exploits brought in him an urgency to make his tale accessible to the people who spoke Nepali. Since, most of the people did not understood Sanskrit language, he translated the epic into Nepali language. Preserving the lyrical narration style of Ramayana his translations are believed by scholars to carry the same lyrical essence "Bhava and Marma" that rather than sounding like a poem sounded more like a song without distorting the regional influence or the inner meaning of the Ramayana.
He did not received any western education nor was familiar to foreign literature which kept his work and experiential journey original to the vernacular literary system and brought strong Nepali flavor to his works. The key features of his writings were simple yet strong with a sense of religion, sense of simplicity and the warmth of his country that not many of other poets had been able to be compare to. Belonging to a wealthy family, he never had any financial trouble and had an unremarkable life until he met a grass cutter who wanted to give something to the society so he could be remembered after death too. The grass cutters words were what inspired him to do something that would leave a mark in the society. He wrote two masterpieces in his life among which, one is the Bhanubhaktey Ramayan and the other is a letter he wrote in verse form to the Prime Minister while he was in prison. He was made a scapegoat and sent to prison due to some misunderstanding in signing the papers. In prison, his health became bad and he was given false hopes of being set free but his case was not even heard. So, he wrote a petition to the Prime Minister requesting his freedom, which later became his one of his great works.
He not only won his freedom with his poem but was also given a bag of money (He wrote in the same language the then prime minister want to force the public to use). When he died in 1868, he did not know he would one day be one of the most revered poets of Nepal. It’s just him and Laxmi Prasad Devkota who are known as the literary gods in the country. The only difference between them is that the works of Devkota are celebrated as much as the poet is while Acharya’s fame overshadows his writings. His creation, however, was not published and he died without receiving credit for his contribution. His works were published by Moti Ram Bhatta in 1887 after he found the manuscript and took it to Benaras, Indiafor printing. One of the Acharya’s works is well known for its colorful, flowing praise of Kathmandu valley and its inhabitants. Although he is one of the most celebrated and revered poets of Nepal, his works are not as famous as other poets in the history of Nepali literature.
Bhanu Jayanti is an annually celebrated cultural festival, prevalent among the Nepalese around the world in the remembrance of Bhanubhakta Acharya's birthday anniversary. It is generally celebrated in the 13th of July or the 29th day of the Nepali month of Ashadh.
Every year Bhanu Jayanti is celebrated as a mega event with literary seminars, and programs and amid a remarkable presence of Nepalese writers, novelists, and other literary figures/enthusiasts.
Statue of Bhanubhakta Acharya at darjeeling
- Ācārya, Naranātha; Śivarāja Ācārya; Sāmbkslo thiyoarāja Ācārya & Jayaraj Acharya (1979). Ādikavi Bhānubhakta Ācāryako saccā jı̄vanacarittra. Tanuṅa: Naranātha Ācārya. OCLC 10023122.
- Books about Bhānubhakta, in Nepalese
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