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A life devoted to poetry

Courtesy: The Sentinel

By Champalal Sinha

In the world of present Bishnupriya Manipuri literature, the man who first makes his imprint on our minds and reflects his image in our eyes, and the name that comes first while discussing the literature of the community is poet Brojendra Kumar Sinha. His fault-finders will, however, have a different view. His is a life totally devoted to poetry, and this is his first identity. It’s poet Brojendra Kumar Sinha who first introduced structural aspect, subject matter, mode of expression, appeal, soul (core), rhetoric and the like in a conscious way in Bishnupriya Manipuri literature in order to put it on a par with developed literatures in the world. And he has been successful in his relentless efforts towards that end. His poems have been translated and published in English, Bengali, Assamese, Nepali, Kokborok, Manipuri, Urdu and other languages, and received with applause. Talking straight, he is the architect of modern Bishnupriya Manipuri poetry. Paucity of metaphysics or ‘poetic substance’ was glaring in the poems of Bishnupriya Manipuri poets preceding poet Brojendra Kumar Sinha. We fail to feel the soul-stirring pulsation in the poems of his predecessors because of their sheer inept arrangement of words and improper prosody.

Apart from poetry, his is a skilled hand in all aspects of literature that he has tried his hand at. His dramas, essays, comedies, stories and criticism bear testimony to his success story. The type of write-ups that we get in his book, Journal, have also contributed much to the Bishnupriya Manipuri literature.

Without enriched translation works, no literature can grow on all fronts. Poet Brojendra Kumar Sinha translated and published poems from different languages and literatures into Bishnupriya Manipuri magazines from time to time. Anubadkalpa, a collection of translation by poet Sinha in two editions, has been released off late. This is indeed an asset for the budding Bishnupriya Manipuri poets.

Poet Sinha does inspire the upcoming poets and litterateurs by organizing kabi sanmelans and programmes for recitation of poems from time to time. Still now he is a source of inspiration for many as an upcoming poet. Born on February 12, 1938 at Pakaipar village in Cachar district, Sinha was meritorious as a student. Having his Master’s degree in Economics from Calcutta University in 1962, he started his professional life as a lecturer in SS College in Hailakandi. Later on, he became the principal of the college. He superannuated in 1999.

Poet Sinha was honoured with various awards by various organizations, including some international ones. Following is the brief interview of poet Brojendra Kumar Sinha with poet Champalal Sinha.

Champalal Sinha (CLS): When and where were you born?
Brojendra Kumar Sinha (BKS): On February 12, 1938 at village Pakaipar in Cachar district in Assam.
CLS: Names of parents?
BKS: Late Brajalal Sinha and late Neelamanjuri Devi.
CLS: Give a brief account on your educational life.
BKS: Nothing special. I had my education in Gauhati, Hailakandi, Silchar and Kolkata. I had Master’s degree in Economics in 1962 from Calcutta University.
CLS: How did you involve yourself in the field of literature? Inspiration from anyone?
BKS: My uncle Bihari Sinha used to write poems in Bengali. He has a book – Geetmanjuri – to his credit. The book – Rabindranath and Asom – had references of Geetmanjuri. However, I didn’t get inspiration of any sort on writing poems from my uncle. I started writing poems all of a sudden. One of my friends who did encourage me much to write poems is Pandit Rabindranath Bhattacharya, a Sanskrit teacher of Government School, Hailakandi. To begin with, I had written two poems in Bengali.
CLS: May I know the Bishnupriya Manipuri literary ambience at that time?
BKS: No, nothing true to the sense at that time. Poets like Madan Mohan Mukhupadhay and Senarup Sinha wrote poems for their self satisfaction. Prior to that, Amusena Sinha staged Ramayana solo and others too wrote poems in Bishnupriya Manipuri language, albeit separately on their own. Literary activities as a team work was a nonstarter till then. A matter of regret now is that the vast literary works of poet Senarup Sinha have been on the verge of extinction.
CLS: Any experience on the Bishnupriya Manipuri readers (audience) during your long literary life? What future awaits the Bishnupriya Manipuri literature?
BKS: I got encourage from our readers, and continue to get it. Real readers are a scarce in any community. I’m alive with the few real readers the Bishnupriya Manipuri community has. I’m grateful to them.
CLS: What is the most memorial incident or day in your life?
BKS: It’s the day when my book – Lehau Fulgare – hit the stand. Placing the book along with other books on the shelf I thought of: “We too have contributed a book to the world. That puffed out my chest with pride.”
CLS: A society of poets is coming up now in the Bishnupriya Manipuri community, and we can hope a lot from them. What’s your opinion?
BKS: There isn’t any notable poets in Bishnupriya Manipuri literature after Madan Mukherjee and Senarup Sinha. Others do write but fail to touch the very core (soul) of poems. Sometimes we get poems of very high standard from Champalal Sinha and Samarjit Sinha. Most of the other poets in the community are ignorant of what poems are exactly all about. They aren’t familiar with the techniques of poems. Theirs efforts can be called a futile exercise. Of late, we can keep our high hopes alive with the poems of Kanchan Baran.
CLS: Can we be proud of our poems? What message do you want to pass to the poets of GenNext on this matter?
BKS: We can be proud of our poems. The budding poets should keep trying to touch the very core (soul) of poems. They should also experiment of with the techniques of poems.
CLS: What’s your greatest poem? A number of books are there in the market to your credit, and of them, Chikonglei and Birohi Yakshar Elahan have an impact on me. Your opinion?
BKS: Still I like to read the poem ‘Matik Neyachhe Morang’ of Birohi Yakshar Elahan. I also like Birohi Yakshar Elahan and Chikonglei.
CLS: Please, give an account on translation literature.
BKS: Importance of translation works is always the more in any literature. A vast side of English literature and language is translation works. Through translation, we can make the world literature available before our readers. Poets too get a chance for experiment with translation works.
CLS: What could be the reason behind your so much emphasis on translation works?
BKS: In order to make the best literature of India and the world available before our readers. This can pave the way for our writers and readers to set a benchmark and determine our rating.
CLS: “Modern poems are bereft of any subject matter, appeal, and rhyme and rhythm” is a common accusation from most of the readers. Such poems, according to them, are a futile exercise. Your opinion?
BKS: How many of the Bishnupriya Manipuri poems enriched with subject matter, appeal and rhyme and rhythm have been read? They don’t read, and hence they don’t know. We do have a lot of poems with right rhymes. In fact, readers of modern poems is a scarce in all communities. The number of readers with the required ground work to know modern poems is very few.
CLS: How many books to your credit have hit the stand so far?
BKS: It’s around 41, including eight translation works, two books on stories, nineteen books of poems and others.
CLS: What honours have you got from the Bishnupriya Manipuri community?
BKS: The list has been given in my book Chikonglei. Mentioned may be made of Mohendra Memorial Trust Prize, Adikabi Naku Ojha–Funei Pandit Prize from Sahitya-Sanskriti Academy of Singla and a citation from Agartala Sahitya-Sanskriti Academy. This apart, I presided over the centenary celebration of Jibonananda of the Barak Upatyaka Bangasahitya-Sanskriti Sanmelan and the Bangasahitya Sanmelan at Haflong. I did take part as the president in many a poets’ meets. Giving the list in detail isn’t possible.
CLS: What are the languages in which your poems or books have been published?
BKS: There is no translation of any complete books as yet. However, my poems have been translated and published in Bengali, Assamese, Hindi, Nepali, English and other languages.
CLS: Do you have any hopes and aspirations, and planning with literature?
BKS: No hope and no planning. I keep myself busy with what I remember and like to do.
CLS: Thanks for your patient hearing and cooperation.
BKS: Thanks.

Comments

  1. Good reading, nungai lagil. It is an informative article with a message. I think we should have workshop on techniques of poems on regular interval with involvement of resource persons from other communities also. Ranjit/Ita

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  2. People say "I am proud of my son" and this is a rare case where being a son I can say "I am proud of my father." I am one of the biggest fans of my father, not because he is my father and I want to encourage him, but the mere fact that he is one of the greatest authors I have ever come across makes me honestly appreciate his works and in the process feel the pride of being a son to a great man. I have no poem or essay to my credit but I am an avid reader of poetry and literature. Thanks to baba, I had an abundance of world's best literary works in the shelves. Anyone who went to our home and entered baba's room can second that. Baba used to pick up books from the shelves and encourage me to read them. Never did he give me one of his books to read; I don't know why. But, I used to proof read the books being published and check against the manuscripts, and I thought to myself this is awesome and is at par with the books that he had offered me to read. I started with merak serak. I enjoyed reading the poems as much as I used to enjoy abol tabol by sukumar roy. I am not comparing him with sukumar roy but the standards are set through merak serak. Sukumar Roy, no doubt is one of the greatest but Bishnupriya manipuri literature has something to boast of in Children's literature - an art I believe is hard to adopt and excel. I read most other books by baba. His knowledge in literature is truly vast. He himself is one the biggest fans of Rabindranath Tagore. He never said this but I think he is his idol. He is so inspired by Rabindrantath's life and works. Ask him anything about western literature and he will tell you all about them. I like his bengali poems as well. His book Bhikhari Baloker gaan - a collection of poetry - has had its second edition published of late. I carry his books where ever I go and read them when I feel lonely. It gives a great feeling of calmness, an eternal bliss. Another aspect of my father is his recitation. His recitation is at par if not better with Shankha Ghosh and the likes. I am no one to give opinions but I do tell myself that a poet who cannot recite well cannot express himself - and poetry is all about expressions. He has been into literature and the title "A life devoted to poetry" fits him better than anything, but not at the cost of his professional life. He is an ideal teacher. His methods and techniques of teaching is something that most other teachers lack. They can't be expressed in words. One needs to be his student to know them. He is harsh talks straight and obviously some people might not like this attitude and think he is too proud of himself. Honestly, he is not proud. He is just honest about anything that he does and he talks straight on the face if he doesn't like something. On a second thought, if they think he is too proud, well he deserves to be proud and boast of himself if they think so.

    Thanks to Mr. Champalal Singha for this nice article and interview.

    -manirup

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  3. Manku it's very pleasing to read about sir's interview. He is the jewel of our community and you are the one closest. You should always try to get his wisdom...

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  4. Thanks for finally writing about >"A life devoted to poetry" <Liked it!

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