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Bhanujayanti: A tribute to Bhanubhakta from Nepal





Bhanubhakta's poetry in Nepali language largely sustains as household rhythm and slogans, Bhanubhakta commenced the literary democracy in Nepal. I feel blessed to write about Nepali literature legend Bhanubhakta today, the one who started to write poems in Nepali so that an average Nepali could also grasp the taste of words and literature. At that time poems and formal literature were in the Sanskrit language, in this sense there was a great need and importance of scholars who could understand and explain the Sanskrit language. It was difficult for the common people to understand literature and artistic expression in the simplest sense. Bhanubhakta simplified the words and meanings and made literature accessible to everyone, a common Nepali was able to grasp the literary sense in his own language so I refer this as a literary democracy.

On the occasion of this year's Bhanu Jayanti, we welcome all Nepali speakers and language lovers. On the day of Asar 29th, every year Bhanu Jayanti is celebrated. Bhanubhakta Acharya was born in 1871 BS in a place called Chundi Ramgha in present-day Tanahu district to a wealthy family. He lived for 54 years.

As a Brahmin family was born, the education and upbringing of Bhanubhakta was done accordingly in religious and cultural disciplines. The present-day Nepali language was then called "Khas" language and this language was limited to general expressions rather than written ones. With the defeat of the "Khas" kings in the 15th century, the "Khas" language was also gradually ignored. He was the first Nepali language poet to express the essence of emotion inside the alphabetic map of Nepali language and words. That is why Bhanubhakta is called Adikavi. Bhanubhakta has immortalized his name because of his good deeds and outstanding contribution to Nepali language. His father Dhananjaya Acharya was a government official, who worked for General Amar Singh Thapa. Later Bhanubhakta, the son of Dhanjaya Acharya became the first poet of Nepal to write in Nepali language.

Bhanubhakta then transcribed the entire Ramayana from Sanskrit into simple Nepali. Surprisingly, even though it was translated, the Ramayana of the Nepali version is divinely a combination of verse and emotion. To put it more broadly, Bhanubhakta can be said to have expanded the easy access of all Nepali by simplifying study and knowledge through language.

Bhanubhakta has learned from his society and environment, so his work is a confluence of society and practicality. In the life of a Bhanubhakta, a grass cutter has inspired him, simple grass cutter magnificently inspired Bhanubhakta and thus Bhanubhakta started to his pursuit of words and meanings. Even though the grass cutter is poor, the money earned by cutting the grass digs a well for drinking water for the society.

Even though Bhanubhakta is richer than Ghansi (Grasscutter), he feels remorse for not doing anything for the society. Assimilating the fact of contributing to society, Bhanubhakta starts to contribute in his way, through words, meanings, poetry, and Nepali simplification of complex Sanskrit creations. The stories and sub-stories of Balakanda, Aranyakanda, Sunderkanda, Yuddhakanda, etc. in the Ramayana have provided entertainment, social, moral, and character education to the Nepali readers.

Although Bhanubhakta created many other works besides "Ramayana", he has largely survived in the Nepali simple version of Ramayana. Listening to the Ramayana recited by the villagers together is more enjoyable than watching the current 3D or 4D movies. In this sense, Bhanubhakta's simple Ramayana is the starting point of today's Dohori and folk songs for Nepali society. Bhanubhakta introduced the excitement of rhythm and its usage in songs, dialect and lifestyles, Dohori is an example of this. Dohori is a typical dialogue based on certain context of rural life, love or issues where a male and female singer expresses their verdicts but in a rhythmic poetry form.


Here is the Ghansi poem, Bhanubhakta dedicated to his inspiration "Grass cutter"

भर् जन्म घाँस तिर मन् दिई धन कमायो
नाम क्यै रहोस् पछि भनेर कुवा खनायो
घाँसी दरिद्र घरको तर बुद्धि कस्तो
म भानुभक्त धनी भैकन किन यस्तो
मेरा ईनार न त सत्तल पाटिकै छन्
जे धन चीजहरु छन् घर भित्रनै छन्
त्यस घाँसीले कसरी आज दिए छ अर्ति
धिक्कार हो म कन बस्नु न राखि किर्ति

According to the context of the above words written by Bhanubhakta, he encountered a grass cutter who was saving a little bit of the money he made by selling the grass. This grass cutter wanted to build a drinking water well for the service of the public. When Bhanu heard the poor person’s determination, he realized that he hasn’t done anything for the public despite having a lot of wealth. Thus, he started writing Ramayan in Nepali from Sanskrit.

Bhanubhakta's rhythm is completely different, that rhythm is still in Nepali vernacular. Many other poets after him have used this rhythm to recite their poems even today.

In the memory of Bhanubaje i.e. Bhanubhakta, Bhanu Jayanti is celebrated in Nepal, Darjeeling, and other regions of India and all over the world with Nepali speaking society, be it Myanmar, Nepal, India, Bhutan or anywhere.
Bhanubhakta is not only a poet but also a master of Nepali language and the rhythm of Bhanubhakta is still alive in every Nepali tongue. Many things were written against and with baseless criticisms of Bhanubhakta's contribution. There were also naked arguments that confines Bhanubhakta just as a translator, but those things are unfair to him. Translating verses and expressions, maintaining and even enhancing them, being able to be used by the masses for centuries and giving realistic proverbs, sayings, and rhyming expressions and being able to institutionalize all aspects of the Nepali language is the full definition and identity of Adikavi Bhanubhakta. Adi means immortal and Kavi is poet, Bhanubhakta shall always remain in the Nepali language.

Today's society, which defines hollow literature by exposing love stories and superficial frustrations, needs to learn a lot from the depth and simplicity of Bhanubhakta. One thing is clear, we probably need to study and explore more about the life of the great Bhanubhakta and his work. Motiram Bhatt and Bhanubhakta are names that come together.

Yugakavi Moti Ram has published many other works of Bhanubhakta, while some even accuse him of writing most of the works of Bhanubhakta.

Although Motiram, who studied in India, had a special interest in Urdu, Persian, and other languages, his dedication to the Nepali language and especially to the works of Bhanubhakta, proclaimed the wide scope and Nepaliness of the Nepali language. Motiram Bhatt is a name not to be missed on Bhanu Jayanti. After Moti Ram's long biography of Bhanubhakta, published in 1941 BS, Bhanubhakta's multi-faceted works have come to the notice of the masses. Even in the Indian Encyclopedia, Bhanubhakta is openly explained.

The present generation needs to learn language from Bhanubhakta. In the memory of the great man who united the scattered languages, the great poets of Nepal, it is celebrated all over the world today. It is important to understand that Bhanubhakta is not an option but Bhanubhakta is the basis of our love and belongingness to the Nepali language.

The study, research, and development of the Nepali language will be the true homage to Adikavi.
New Nepali generation who can entirely recite Shakespeare's poems and English songs are seeking for an environment to know Bhanubhakta because Nepali first understand "Gai" and only connect the meaning of Nepali word "Gai" with the cow. It is important to understand "Ama" first, only "mum" or "mother".
Bhanubhakta and his words remain immortal.

Suyog Dhakal



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