Shenoi Goembab

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Waman Raghunath Shennoi Varde Valaulikar (23 June 1877 – 9 April 1946), known popularly as Shenoi Goembab, was a noted Konkani writer and activist.[1]

Education[edit]

He was born on 23 June 1877 at Bicholim, Goa. He attended primary school in Marathi till 6th standard and then joined a Portuguese primary school, where he completed "Segundo Grau" (roughly 4th grade). After discontinuing studies due to financial constraints he taught himself Sanskrit and English at home. He went to Mumbai in 1893 and continued with his studies there, completing High School in 1898.[1]

Family[edit]

Waman Shenoi was married to Shantabai in Mumbai and had two sons and two daughters.

Career[edit]

He returned to Goa in 1899 and took up a job as a teacher in a school, but left it since he wasn't satisfied. He went to Karachi and worked there for some time as a clerk in the Lahore Municipality. He returned to Mumbai where he got married and later got a job with the Italian Consulate. Later he joined a German company, Meister Lucius & Bruening, as a stenographer.[2]

Due to World War I, the Germans had to leave and Waman was left in charge of the company. He managed the company well in the absence of its management and on their return, he earned their praise. Later he was promoted to the post of a Secretary of the company. However, due to some disgruntled employees he was accused of mismanagement and left the company.[1] After this he dedicated his life to revitalising Konkani.

Nickname[edit]

It is believed that he earned the nickname "Goembab" when he was going along with his uncle Chintamanrao to Mumbai aboard a steamer. A friend on board the ship remarked to his uncle "I hear you are taking this Goembab (Gentleman from Goa) with you to Mumbai." The person may have meant it as a teaser or as a derogatory term but the young and idealistic Waman took it in his stride and later used "Shennoi Goembab" as his pen-name.

Writer[edit]

Waman had started writing in Konkani at the time he was working in Mumbai. His wife was illiterate but had a very good knowledge of Konkani language and folklore. He made her recite the tales and proverbs and put them in writing which were published later.

"Goenkaaranchi Goianbhaili Vosnook" (Goan migrants outside Goa) was a series of history lectures given by Shenoi Goembab at the Saraswat Brahman Samaj, Mumbai, in 1927.

Another historical book he wrote was "Albuquerquan Goen Koshem Jiklem" (How Albuquerque Won Goa).

"Mhoji Baa Khuin Gelli?" is regarded as the first modern Konkani short-story. It was published in "Gomantopnishat", which is a two-volume collection of fiction and non-fiction. The second volume contained "Sonvsar Budti" (The drowning of the world). It used the story of the Great Flood to discuss various philosophies and includes parts from various religious works such as the Upanishads, Bible, Qur'an and Talmud.

He believed that Konkani language was awaiting a revolution and it could only be brought about by its youth. This was revealed in his essays "Amrutacho Pavs" (The Rain of Nectar) and "Konkani Vidyarthiank" (For Konkani Students)

One of his major contribution was towards children's literature. "Bhurgianche Vyakran" (Children's Grammar) was written in a series of question-answers that he used to teach his son and "Bhurgianlo Ishtt" was a collection of short stories.

He also translated many works into Konkani the chief among them being Molière's Le Médecin malgré lui, which he translated as "Mogachen Logn" (Love Marriage) and Shakespeare's Othello, Hamlet and King Lear.

He is most remembered for his translation of the Bhagavad Gita into Konkani: "Bhagwantalem Geet".[2]

Konkani Activist[edit]

He had observed how Konkani had diminished in status among Goans and Marathi and Portuguese had taken the place of respect among the educated, upper class Hindus and Christians respectively. Konkani was used only to communicate with their employees, the poor and downtrodden castes. The favourable status accorded to Christians versus others in Goa by the Portuguese rulers had further caused a communal divide.

He believed that no matter how many languages a person could communicate in to earn a living, he was lost if he could not communicate in his mother tongue, the "language of your soul" as he called it.[1] "We have been shining under others' lamps", observed Shenoi Goembab.[1]

He began telling Konkanis about the sweetness of their mother tongue and of its rich past. He started writing books to propagate his views.[1] Not only did he see the Konkani language as an inseparable part of every Goan's and Konkani's identity. He also saw it as a movement against Portuguese rule in Goa.

Shenoi Goembab wrote 7 books in the Latin script and 22 in Devanagari. This included short stories, dramas novels, poetry, essays, linguistics, philosophy history.[1]

Perhaps, ahead of his time, Shenoi Goembab stressed on the need to eliminate caste barriers and get the lower castes educated. He said "lets make Pandits (scholars) out of Gawdes (farmers)" The alienation of the lower castes was one of the reasons why many of them switched over to Marathi.

In a communally divided linguistic community Waman Shenoi spread the message of peace and unity without rejecting religion. He equated Santeri (a Goddess popular among Goans) with the Virgin Mary to get the Goan Catholics and Hindus, two major communities of Goa, to join hands for Konkani. He would chant "Om Santeri Have Mercy on Us! Holy virgin Mother Bless Our Way!"

Demise[edit]

He died on 9 April 1946 in Mumbai.

Recognition[edit]

His death anniversary, 9 April, is observed as Vishwa Konkani Dis (World Konkani Day).[3]

Shenoi Goembab was posthumously awarded the Konkani Person of the Millennium award by Mandd Sobhann (a Mangalore based Konkani organisation), on his 54th death anniversary(9 April 2000).[3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]