Laxmi Prasad Devkota: – Nepali society seeks personalities, symbols, monuments and events that unite us as a nation. One of these iconic personalities of the earth is the poet and writer Laxmi Prasad Devkota.. Laxmi Prasad Devkota was a Nepalese poet. It could be said that he is the best writer of the Nepalese language. In the Nepali language, he has written great poems and books.
Laxmi Prasad Devkota is known among Nepalese as Mahakabi or the great Poet, the title granted by the state for his supreme contribution to Nepali literature. He deserves that title, as he had done so much in this field through his writing genre that he has won great honor and respect in the heart of the Nepalese-speaking population, both in his country and abroad.
Laxmi Prasad Devkota was born in a family of middle-class Brahmins in Dhobi Dhara in 1909 on the auspicious day of Laxmi Puja, when Laxmi, the goddess of wealth, is worshipped. That is why he was named Laxmi Prasad Devkota. Although his name “Laxmi” means wealth, he remained a poor throughout his life.
Instead, Goddess Saraswati (a deity of wisdom) blessed him and became known as Mahakabi, the great poet. His parents considered his birth as a gift from the goddess and named him as Laxmi Prasad. However, it turned out to be the gift of Saraswati, the Goddess of Knowledge. ”
When Devkota was born in 1909, the country was ruled by the Rana regime. Rana’s administration was against mass education, so Devkota’s family had many problems enrolling him in Durbar School, the only school in the Kathmandu Valley.
His father Tilmadhav Devkota was a scholar in the Sanskrit language. Laxmi Prasad Devkota obtained his basic education at home in the custodianship of his father. He was from a middle class family and the family’s financial status was not very strong. He completed a degree in liberal arts and law. But his desire to complete the master’s degree could not be achieved in the absence of a solid financial position of the family.
Educational career and later life
In school, Devkota was a brilliant student and did well in exams. He was good in both Nepali and English and could write in both languages. From an early age, he was interested in Nepali literature.
At the young age of ten, he wrote a poem when he was studying at Drubar High School. It is said that he used to recite his poems to his friends and teachers. The school established for the education of Rana’s children. Ordinary people had to seek special permission to study at this school. Devkota wrote his first poem in this school.
Laxmi Prasad Devkota’s father also had to flee the column and the post to ensure his son’s admission to Durbar High School. Many times his friends did not believe he had written such excellent poems, but all his teachers were very impressed with the young prodigy.
Laxmi Prasad Devkota was primarily a humanist who occasionally also wrote from an atheist point of view. Some critics have confused their intellectual questions with atheism and have tried to align it with Marxism or other similar politically leftist ideologies.
That is why critics were surprised when he dictated one of his last poems to a friend, “Aakhir Shree Krishna rahecha eka” (“in the end, Lord Krishna turns out to be the only truth”).
He proved to be an excellent student and married at the age of fifteen in school.
After graduating from high-grade school, Devkota enrolled in the science program at Tri Chandra College in 1925. He completed his Bachelor of Science degree and switched to arts to read English poetry. The writers of the romantic era were a particularly strong influence on Devkota and he incorporated some of his subjects into his work.
Devkota completed his Intermediate Science degree and switched to arts. He received his bachelor of arts degree in 1929 and went to Patna, India, in 1931, in 1931 with a scholarship hoping to study English for his master’s degree. But seats were not available, so he studied to get a law degree. He was impressed by the libraries he saw there. Devkota and his friends were interested in raising awareness among people and educating them.
To create awareness among people, they decided to establish a library. Then, he and his friends wrote a letter to the Rana prime minister requesting permission to open a library in Kathmandu. Since the administration had a vague vision of providing uncensored information, Devkota and his friends were jailed. They were released after paying heavy fines.
After receiving the title, he returned home and felt the first poverty shocks that would worry him for the rest of his life. Despite the tutorials to complement his gain, sometimes for fourteen hours a day, financial problems never left him. Muna Madan was among the creations of this era.
The book challenged the Sanskrit scholars who dominated the Nepalese literary scene. While these scholars determined good poetry as those who followed the Sanskrit form, Muna Madan was based on the popular jhaurey melody. The book received recognition from the Ranas and a significant purse of Rs. 100
After receiving the title, he returned home and felt a series of crashes, one after another. His mother, father and two-month-old daughter died in two years. Those tragic events completely shattered him and he became a heavy smoker.
In later years, with the premature death of his two young children, Prakash Devkota and Krishna Devkota, Laxmi collapsed completely.He was extremely nervous and began to complain that everything hurt. His brothers were worried enough to put him in a psychiatric hospital in Ranchi, India, for five months in 1939.
In 1943, Devkota was selected to represent writers in Nepal Bhasanuwad Parishad, a state organization that acted as a censorship board. He wrote a lot during this time and was a tutor for long hours. He complained that people were asking for a thirty-two hour day.
In the time period of three months, he wrote his first epic, Shakuntala,. It is said that Puskar Shumshere Rana challenged him to write another epic in thirty days and Devkota responded by giving him the manuscript of his second epic, Sulochana, in ten days.
Both epics are considered among the best works of Nepali literature. Most of his work was unconventional. He had a habit of inventing new words to meet his poetic needs. Sometimes, his more conservative colleagues were bothered to take so many liberties with language.
Devkota became a professor at Tri-Chandra College in 1946. He left Nepal for no obvious reason and worked in exile in Benaras, India. He was editor of Yugbani, an opposition newspaper. He also wrote Pahadi Pukar, a book that addressed the poverty of people in Nepal. The book was banned in Nepal.
The Ranas invited him back to the country. After the democratic movement succeeded, he helped publish Indreni, a bilingual magazine, and was part of the influential Royal Academy of Nepal. Financial problems followed him throughout these years.
Right after graduating from college, he began working as a personal tutor and there, he used to teach more than 13 hours in a day. In order to support his family, he had to work hard. The country had been under Rana’s dictatorial regime during that time.
Young Devkota knew the importance of education and promised to do something to help educate the masses; the idea was not well received by the then rulers of Rana.
After returning to Kathmandu, he wrote Muna Madan, an epic poem based on popular verses. Although, Devkota has written many books that include some of his masterpieces, he loved Muna Madan the best. It is said that Devkota, when he was on the deathbed, had asked his friends and relatives to preserve Muna Madan even if all other works were burned.
Devkota’s contribution in Nepali literature
Devkota has contributed to Nepali literature by bringing Sanskrit tradition to its peak and by initiating the modern romantic movement in the country. Devkota was the first to begin writing epics in Nepali literature and his great work “Muna-Madan” remains a bestseller even fifty years after his death.
He is recognized as one of the best Nepali writers and his work is at the same level of level as any of the greats of literature in any language. I could also recite and translate poems simultaneously between Nepali, English and Newari. Devkota attended literary conferences throughout Asia and Europe, and is even said to have composed in Chinese, Russian and Italian.
Nepalese poetry rose to new heights with Devkota’s innovative poetry. A long narrative poem in popular meters that is Muna Madan, begins the end of the Sanskrit tradition in Nepali literature. The another pioneering works of his is Pagal, which was translated into English as “The Lunatic”.
Muna Madan is perhaps the most popular of all Devkota’s works. The simplicity of language, popular and lyric verses and rhythmic expression made this book popular with everyone, including ordinary people. The popularity of Muna Madan also caused Ranas to appoint Devkota a member of Nepal Bhasanuwad Parishad. Both Shakuntal and Sulochana are Devkota’s masterpieces.
Although during the period of Rana Regime, Laxmi Prasad began writing when free thinking and creative writing used to be discouraged, it broke the traditional and conventional style and introduced a new genre and approach to writing poems and other forms of literature.
Devkota is a versatile writer and has written pomes, epics, prose, essays, games and fictions. But he is basically a poet. He was influenced by poets of the western countries like John Keats, William Wordsworth and PB Shelley. As a nature lover and the romantic poet, we find Wordsworth, Shelley and Keats in Devkota’s poetic works.
The way that Charu of Devkotas and Lucy Gray of Wordsworth seem similar in expression and subject, it is said that Devkota wrote Charu as a dedication to Wordsworth.
What spiritualism is for Lekhanath, nature is for Devkota. Nature and human sensitivity, feelings and love are the theme of much of his works. In this way, in the Nepali literature, Devkota is a master in romantic poetic work. Although the romantic era in writing began during the Motiram Bhatta period, it was still immature and imperfect.
Devkota is the one who professed and practiced and gave a new dimension to romantic poetic works in Nepal. While Motiram fantasized romantic style with a conservative tone, Devkota unified it with meaning and reality.
Devkota had a deep passion for nature and has practiced it perfectly through his aesthetic use of the image of nature in his poetic works. Try to instill the beauty and fragrance of nature in his poems through his trade of words and sentences and eloquent expression.
In 1934, Nepal suffered the great earthquake accompanied by a great loss of life and property, and in the next two years, both Devkota parents died. In 1935, the Gorkhapatra newspaper published some of his poems, and one of them, dedicated to “The poor”, was also published in a new magazine called Sharda. From then on, he regularly composed poems, novels, stories, essays and plays and, at the same time, began to learn the Tamang and Tibetan languages.
When his health deteriorated, some thought he was a mental patient, so he was sent to India for treatment. Upon returning to Nepal he began to travel within the country. In 1942 Devkota published his first book and in 1945 he published the great epic Shakuntala, an important composition of 557 pages.
His most popular long poem is Muna Madan, in which the central character goes to Lhasa to trade, falls ill and is arrested while recovering. When he returns to Nepal, he finds that his beloved wife has died.
As it breaks paths in Nepalese literature in general and in poetic works in particular, Devkota is an atheist and an egalitarian radical. He challenged the tradition of attributing everything to the will of God. If there is, at all, any God, it is within the human being and the best way to reach godliness is to serve other less privileged human beings.
Therefore, he has expressed this feeling firmly and explicitly in his highly acclaimed poem “Yatri” (Traveler or Pilgrim), has opined that God dwells within a human and not in any temple and has asked the pilgrims not to walk around seeking God, but return home and dedicate yourself to the service of humanity, the oppressed who have suffered sufferings.
However, towards the end of his life, he suddenly became religious, so he wrote “Akhir Shri Krishna Rahechha Eka (After all, there is God – Lord Krishna)
Simplicity, lucidity and honesty are some of the characteristics of Devkota’s poetic works. In Devkota’s poems, we can find spontaneous expression and there is no artificial sense. He had a habit of not revising his writings. Once written, it was final. It has given less prominence to grammar. His poems are like flowers grown and flowered in the woods.
That’s the reason why the language in poems and prose of Devkota’s is rough and less polished. Like most geniuses, Devkota also had eccentricities that sometimes frustrated Baishnav. For example, Devkota was really careless with the mucus dripping from his nose or the drool from his mouth, which would drip in his writing and erase the words.
In many of his poems, humanitarian feelings are well rooted through which the poet has advocated for an egalitarian society free of poverty, hunger, class and creed. For him, there is no other class than the human being and no creed other than serving the human being. In Muna Madan, he has said: “Manis Thulo Dilale Huncha Jatale Hudaina” (a man reaches greatness not by caste but by his heart or his feelings).
Although he had financial concerns, he was received a great appreciation and, in 1957, he had become a minister of education, although he was an active politician. At this time he suffered from what doctors initially thought was a gastric ulcer.
By 1958, cancer was diagnosed and since Devkota did not have enough money (his salary was withheld by the Royal Academy of Nepal for visiting the former USSR as a representative of the writers without informing the king), King Mahendra gave him Rs. 5,000 after complaints in local newspapers and the Indian Embassy provided him with air transportation to go to India for treatment.
Laxmi Prasad was addicted to smoking, and friends remember that he could smoke 12 packages per day. Since his low income was still mainly tutoring, he suffered serious financial problems.
After 1950, Devkota began to help establish several organizations dedicated to language and literature. He was, for example, one of the first members of the Royal Academy of Nepal. By then, he was composing in Sanskrit, Nepali, Hindi, Newari, Urdu and English and (as his friends claim) even in German and French.
Devkota knew before his death that the end was approaching and he stayed up late at night to continue writing. He wrote to a friend while he was in the hospital of Santa Bhawan: “Death is before me. I look for constellations in the sky but I can’t find any. I can’t give myself peace. If I could get up, I would kill myself and my children. ”
There was a lot of pain towards the end of his life and perhaps this explains his bitterness. That was how, although everyone appreciated him, Devkota died with grief, thinking that he had achieved nothing. He asked that even if all his others works faded away, Muna Madan be preserved. The most popular Nepalese work today is Muna Mudan and, although Devkota felt beggar towards the end of his life, he is revered by people of Nepal as a god of Nepalese literature.
In the late 1930s, Devkota suffered nervous breakdowns, probably due to the death of his mother, father and two-month-old daughter. Finally, in 1939, he was admitted to the Rachi Mental Asylum, India, for five months. He became indebted later in life to finance the gifts and weddings of his daughters, it is said that he told his wife: “Tonight, let us abandon children to the care of society and young people and renounce this world at the time going to bed and I take potassium cyanide or morphine or something like that. ”
Later years and death.
Laxmi Prasad Devkota was a heavy smoker throughout his life. You are supposed to forget about smoking the cigarette that was lit while writing. After a long battle with cancer, Devkota died on September 14, 1959 in the ghat of the Bagmati River in the Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu.
Family of Devkota
Laxmi Prasad’s son, Padma Devkota, is also a poet and writer, and worked for many years as a professor in the Department of English, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu. Devkota’s youngest son lives in New Zealand, while his eldest son and 4 daughters still live in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Devkota was a versatile and voluminous writer, who left no branch of literature intact in his brief career. He has numerous epics, long narrative poems, essays, stories, plays, novels, songs, critics and short poems in his literature stock. At the same time, he was a great prose writer and is considered the founder of modern prose style.
In addition, he was the first to begin writing epics in Nepali literature and his great work “Muna-Madan” remains the best-selling book in the history of Nepal. There are several famous lines in “Muna-Madan”, which have become fashionable phrases in the literary world. For example, “A man is great for his heart, not for his caste.” Today, many years after he said this, the truth of these words cannot be denied.
Devkota had the ability to write poems very quickly: he wrote the Shakuntal in three months, the epic of Sulochana in 10 days and Kunjini in a single day. Nepalese poetry rose to new heights with Devkota’s innovative poetry. He had command of the Nepalese, Sanskrit, Hindi and English languages and the volumes of Devkota’s poems are written in sophisticated language, which accurately describes the various moods of life.
Often, to give life to his poetry, he didn’t even care to borrow words from other languages, including Sanskrit and Hindi. It is said that Devkota’s poetry is a torrent of emotions that does not rain, but spills.
Devkota has also written essays, plays and plays and novels. Devkota is the first modern essayist in Nepal. Laxmi Nibanda Sangraha (Collection of essays by Laxmi Prasad Devkota) is the example of modern essays in the Nepalese language, which have a clear meaning, expressed in feelings and eloquent in terms of language.
Devkota broke the traditional style of writing of essay and popularized the expressive and personal style of writing of essay instead of the descriptive and narrative approach. The Laxmi Nibanda Sangraha is perhaps the most brilliant essay book ever produced in Nepali literature.
As a versatile and multidimensional writer, Devkota has contributed in the field of plays, fiction and stories. Sabitri Satyaban is the acclaimed work of Devkota, which has gained equally high fame for Devkota. Champa is the only fiction that Devkota has written.
Devkota’s contribution to Nepali literature is as follows:
Plays: Sabitri Satyaban, Rajpur Ramani, Basanti, Maina and Krishibala and Bharatmilap. Laxmi Katha Sangraha (Anthology of Devkota Tales)
Devkota translated the work of William Shakespeare Macbeth into Nepali.
Numerous presentations, technical discussions and informal conversations on contemporary issues begin by citing Devkota. A conference about porters and their difficult situation in Nepal once began these lines:
This great human being at the foot of the Himal.
The conqueror of nature who possesses pearls of sweat on his forehead.
It only has the starry night sky as its roof.
And his true wealth is his deep sleep.
There is no way to capture the full emotions of Devkota’s Nepalese words in the translation. It is better to recite them in the original Nepali and discuss them with those who understand and can feel their power.
One of Devkota’s interesting essays is titled “Is Nepal Really Small?” He described Nepal as “Sunder, Santa, Bishal” (beautiful, peaceful and great). In this essay, he asks each of us to consider why he described Nepal as “not small.”
Diamonds are small, pearls are small, the heart is small, he said, but each one is large in its own right. Similarly, the winds of the mountains, the blue color of the distant hills and the endless crops make Nepal great. Although small in the area compared to other places, home is always excellent..
Despite occupying some important and high-ranking positions, his financial status was always precarious and he had to fight hard to survive. But the difficulties he suffered never prevented him from writing and making contributions to Nepali literature.
The contribution that Devkota made to enrich Nepali literature would always be written with a gold letter. Without the great poet Laxmi Prasad Devkota, we cannot imagine the state of Nepali literature. Therefore, Laxmi Prasad Devkota has earned great respect in the hearts of the Nepalese, both in Nepal and abroad.
Political life of Laxmi Prasad Devkota
Laxmi Prasad Devkota did not actively participate in any well-established political party, but his poetry constantly embodies an attitude of rebellion against the Rana dynasty. During his self-exile in Varanasi, he began working as editor of the Yugvani newspaper of the Nepalese Congress party, which led to the confiscation of all his property from Nepal by the Rana Government.
After the introduction of democracy through the 1951 Revolution, Devkota was named a member of Nepal Shalakar Samiti in 1952 by King Tribhuvan. Later, in 1957, he was appointed Minister of Education and Autonomous Government under the presidency of Kunwar Inderjit Singh.
Once, Devkota was invited to a party he was dressed informally. The door guard did not let him in because he was not dressed according to the dress code. Devkota returned home and returned dressed in a suit. This time, he was allowed to enter.
After Devkota entered, he began serving his drink and food throughout the coat he was wearing. The surprised guests asked him what the problem was. Devkota responded that if he was allowed to enter only with the suit filed, the claim should have been invited to the party and not him.
It was snowing in Kathmandu and Baishnav, assistant was with Devkota at the latter’s residence in Maitidevi. The two were having a good time, sitting next to the makal, an improvised and portable fireplace, which was placed on Devkota’s bedroom.
They were discussing poetry. A great burn had already spread through Devkota’s mattress and sheet, but they were wonderfully unconscious, deeply immersed in the conversation. When they found out, Devkota, true to his stoic nature, showed no reaction. “The only thing that mattered to him was the discussion about poetry.
Devkota likes this often. Devkota was fond of gambling and often lost everything he had. Once, he surrendered the fountain pen with which he used to write.
Recognizing his unprecedented contribution in the field of literature, he was honored as a life member of the Academy of Nepal. Devkota was also conferred with the title of Mahakabi (Poet the Great). With his disappearance, Nepal lost a bright icon of Nepali literature. However, it is said that if his works had been translated into English, he could have received the Nobel Prize for literature.
But, ironically, the true spirit of his poetry has often expressed little in contemporary Nepal. A great poem in itself is not great. It owes its brilliant prominence to the greatness of the personality, which gave it life; because what we call a great poem is just the concrete cadence of his heart in the form of a verse. Therefore, we have to know his poems as an offering and value the socioeconomic metaphors he portrays for the way forward.
In remeberance to the Laxmi Prasad, The nation observes birthday of one of the nation’s most noted litterateur Mahakabi Laxmi Prasad Devkota for his outstanding and invaluable contribution to Nepali literature with different programmes.
I am Jitendra Sahayogee, a writer of 12 Nepali literature books, film director of Maithili film & Nepali short movies, photographer, founder of the media house, designer of some websites and writer & editor of some blogs, has expert knowledge & experiences of Nepalese society, culture, tourist places, travels, business, literature, movies, festivals, celebrations.