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Sitanath Brahmachoudhury

by Abhijit Bora

Here is a man who can be termed as a ‘multifaceted’ personality in the true sense of the term. His calibre ranged from being a literature of class – more so a poet of repute, a socio-political activist, a teacher, organiser and what not. A few of his achievements include leading the Asom Sahitya Sabha as the president for two consecutive terms – a rare honour, membership of the first ever Parliament of independent India. Not only these, he also played a leading and deciding role in keeping the erstwhile greater Goalpara area with Assam despite a considerable conspiracy to attach the area with West Bengal, establishment of Bongaigaon College etc. We are talking of none else than Kamalkalir Kabi Singhapurush Sitanath Brahmachoudhury whose life is an important chapter in the socio-economic, literary and political history of Assam.

Born on October 8, 1908 in a royal family of Bhalukmari – a very interior area in those days near Kokrajhar, he was one among five siblings of the family. Late Brahmachoudhury was basically brought up by his sisters as he lost his mother at the tender age of four. After completing MV school winning a scholarship in 1923, he passed matriculation in 1930 from Sivasagar High School in first division. This was followed by BA in 1936. Though he enrolled for LLB in the Earl Law College he could not complete it for family problems. In the meantime the gene of a poet in Brahmachoudhury started to show its presence right from his lower school days on the banks of the Longai river which gradually developed to a mature status. Significantly, Longai river had an indelible impression on his poetic talents and worked as a catalyst in this regard.

After graduation, Brahmachoudhury settled in Bongaigaon and felt the acute need for setting up of a high school there as a large area in the periphery did not have an educational institution. And despite a lot of constraints and opposition from several quarters this foresighted personality with his hard labour and determination managed to set up Birjhora High School in 1939. The Singhapurush got an opportunity to hone his skills in public service by being elected the vice-chairman of the Dhubri Local Board in 1946. He vowed to go ahead with his whole-hearted aim of setting up of Assamese medium schools in the Dhubri subdivision instead of Bengali medium ones. He visited almost every village of the subdivision and saw to it that Assamese medium replaced Bengali in the primary schools there. He was also instrumental in setting up of the Bijni Vidyapeeth in 1957.

Prior to this period he penned a highly-acclaimed book on grassroot organisational aspects titled Gaon Sangathan. It needs mention here that he had already published his famous poetry collection Kamalkali in 1925 which even managed to impress Ananda Chandra Agarwala who could forsee a good future for the budding poet. In all, he wrote six books which include poetry, organisational activities, biography and a collection of his literary works which are invaluable property of Assamese literature.

Taking the plunge in active politics he was elected with ease to the first ever Parliament of independent India in 1952 from the Goalpara-Garo Hills Parliamentary Constituency. This has brought in much more responsibilities to this great personality. When the States’ recognisation issue came up he found out a unique way of impressing upon the Central Delegation deputed to visit Assam. This was done by having a human chain of lakhs of women wearing traditional dresses right from Bongaigaon to Dhubri as the three-member delegation went by the highway. Even though there was some amount of unrest over the issue later on, yet this unusual show of strength and solidarity was quite enough to impress the delegation. And it titled the decision of letting the then Goalpara district stay with Assam and not attaching it with West Bengal.

However, the litterateur in him could not tolerate the petty politickings of the politicians both inside and outside Parliament. And, as a result he resigned from the post and delved into social activities for the overall development of the society around him along with literary pursuits. Keeping up the spirit of philanthropy as the first priority, Brahmachoudhury’s tireless and bold efforts saw the establishment of the sole institution of higher education in the greater Bongaigaon area – the Bongaigaon College in 1964.

Literature used to be the prime obsession of this great personality. He earnestly and rightly believed that a higher mental status, strength, culture and the influence of all these aspects necessarily grow out of the literature of individual nations. He also professed that the litterateurs must be ever ready to create world standard literary works as well as adequately contribute towards the struggle for life of the nations. His opinion was that literature can’t be devoid of any objective. So he stressed a lot upon creation of literature for developing the inter-racial and community relationship and harmony in the State.

He was associated with Asam Sahitya Sabha from an early age. This lifelong and meaningful relationship with this pioneer organisation of the State began with a poem recited by him at a tender age of 18 at the Dhubri session of ASS in 1926, just after Kamalkali was published. And this association started to grow from strength to strength. This ranged from inaugurating the second Dhubri session of ASS wayback in 1956. In 1975, he was given a sort of due recognition of his literary efforts when he was awarded the ‘literary pension’ by the State government.

He was elected president of the Tinsukia session of the Sabha in 1981. And it was a rare honour for the right person when he was elected for holding the rudder of this august organisation for the second consecutive time for the 1982 Diphu session of the Sabha.

After assuming the major responsibility of presidentship of ASS, Brahmachoudhury carried out quite a few of his plans for making the body active. But, falling health prevented him from implementing many of his ambitious plans. And following his return from treatment outside the State he left for the heavenly abode on November 23, 1982. His demise leaves behind a big void in the literary and socio-political field of the State which has been quite hard to fill up.

Judging by all standards and aspects, the literary and socio-philanthropic contributions of this great personality are invaluable treasures for the Assamese nation which need to be preserved as well as publicised for a better understanding of his achievements. Specially – the success in making Assamese, the major language of the schools in the undivided Goalpara district reflects a rare and unique foresight wayback in the early 1950s.

Courtesy: The Assam Tribune (October 2007)

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