Thursday, 30 December 2010

A peek into Bishnupriya Manipuri literature

By RK Rishikesh Sinha

There is only one literature of India though there are many languages. – Radhakrishnan

Just going through the BMBooks Gallery Online, it brings few of the details to us. The details may be correct or incorrect, since it doesn’t claim exclusivity to the complete Bishnupriya Manipuri literary output and literary scrutiny that is required. An example: Can we come to the conclusion that the year 1925 with the publication of Jagaran to be taken as the beginning of the Bishnupriya Manipuri literature? It may be ‘Yes’, according to the details in the book blog, or ‘No’.

Whatsoever, considering the year 1925* as the historical year to the enrichment of the Bishnupriya Manipuri literature, still we find in comparison to the history of Assamese literature, it is to be noted that ‘the literature of Assam [i.e. Assamese language] influenced in its own way the creative literature of most parts of northeast India’, the Bishnupriya Manipuri literature had an early and impressive beginning. Arunodoi (1846-1870) was the first Assamese news magazine published by the American Missionaries. Jonaki (1892*) is considered to be the renaissance in Assamese literature. Calculate the time gap.

* Wikipedia states the same: “The history of Manipuri literature began in 1925 with the literary magazine Jagaran”.
**According to Wikipedia, it is 1889

The eighties saw beginning of prolific Bishnupriya Manipuri literary activities with the release of 95 books, later 119 books in 1991-2000, and 117 books in 2001-2010 period. We see similar feverish activities in terms of ‘modern’ poetry who wrote poetry in the social and political crisis of that period in northeast India. In Manipur there were poets like Nilakanta, Somorendra, Sri Biren etc. who wrote experimental poetry. They were wide-awake to the violence and social unrest with increasing tension resulting from material culture, corruption and moral breakdown. This trend was evidenced also in Khasi and Tripura (Kokborok) poetry with the writings of K.N Nongkynrih (Khasi) and Chandra Kanta Murasingh (Kokborok).

With respect to Kokborok literature (the 80s saw similar literary activity), Wikipedia states, “In consequence of the education thrust by the 'Tripura Janasiksha Samiti' and the literary organisations many educated Tripuri's became aware of their social obligation, and there has been a speedy flow in Kokborok literary movement and Kokborok was on way to be recognised as having a developed language and literature.”

An English literature student in India is being taught that many of the poets in the northeast India are bi-lingual. They are proficient in English as well as in their mother tongue. And most of them have a Masters Degree in English. We find it probably holds true with Bishnupriya Manipuri authors and writers as well, DILS Lakshmindra Sinha* and Mansi Sinha** hold Masters Degree in English. Lack of data related to authors and writers’ education details hinder to come to any conclusion.

* Visit Writers’ Forum website, he has posted his biography.
** I know her personally.

In the present context, in order to have enriched Bishnupriya Manipuri literature for the future, Sahitya Sabha and recently formed Bishnupriya Manipuri Writers’ Forum and other literary organisations, have to come out with strategies to catch the imagination of Bishnupriya Manipuri people. Rest who knows, what future holds for us – to the Bishnupriya Manipuri literature. We may have celebrated author like Mamoni Raisom Goswami. [Do read her short story The Empty Chest (translated by Pradipta Borgohain)]

Fun element: To the survey that was related to the buying of a book worth Rs 300 related to Bishnupriya Manipuri topic that would be written by Bishnupriya Manipuri person. Only 3 persons: Bijit Sinha, Tridiv Sinha, Sanjiv Sinha (add me) have agreed to buy!
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