Rajanikanta Bordoloi is one of the eminent writers in the field of Assamese literature. In reality, there are very less novelist who penned their novels, related to the subject matter of regional history, in Assamese literature and he is among them. This is also the reason why he is known as the Aupanyasik Samrat in the history of Assamese literature. Popular as a historical novelist Rjanikanta Bordoloi was born on 1867 (for some it is 1869) in Guwahati. Jonaki age novelist Bordoloi’s father’s name was Narakanta Bordoloi.
He doesn’t have a parallel competitor in the arena of writing novel. Apart from these, a student of Assamese literature is well aware of the fact that, Bordoloi’s genius hands didn’t remain confined only in writing novels. He has a great dominance over the other form of writing literature; like essay, short-story, poetry, textbooks and many satirical articles. It is also that, his other literary works are in no par with his novels, but his works towards the contemporary Assamese literature can never be underestimated.
Being an eternal personality in the domain of Assamese literature, he differ from the other prominent writers namely Padmanav Gohainboruah and Lakhminath Bezboruah only in the point that, the other two amazing personalities left writing novels very early and penned down other forms of literature, whereas Bordoloi laid a greater emphasis on writing novels throughout his life. And due to his efforts apart from others, a proper shape was laid for the writing of Assamese novels, and due to this novels became an integral part of Assamese literature.
Rajanikanta Bordoloi’s work
Rajanikanta Bordoloi’s brilliant writings can be arranged in the order of different literary divisions, which are as follows:
There have been no specific attempts made in order to keep an actual stock of Bordoloi’s work, so the exact no of his writings vary from critics to critics. As such many of his works were buried with him, they were either lost or destroyed. As such many of his works were buried with him, they were either lost or destroyed and were never found. Beyond these, the writer himself was not concerned about preserving his works, and this is the very reason that many of his writings are apprehended to be out of reckoning now.
Later with the help of many other sources (sources comprises Dr. Nagen Saikia’s Aupanyasik Rajanikanta Bordoloi, and Rajani Bordoloi Racanamala) a chronological study of Bordoloi’s writing was done. Some of them are as follows:
- a) Novels: Bordoloi was very fascinated about writing novels, but due to lack of proper way of storing it we now find only seven or eight of his novels. Some of them are; Miri Jiyari (1895), Manomati (1900), Danduwa Droh (1909), Nirmal Bhakat (1926), Rahdai Ligiri (1930), etc.
- b) Short stories: Only a few of his short stories were published and are thus found, they include; Ga dhan (1931), Premar Upasak (1932), Saundarya Upasak (1932).
- c) Satirical essays: Bordoloi has written few of these essays under the pen name of Bholai Sarma, they include; Mai swadhin ne (1934), Atma-binodak theatre dal (1909), Censor-peol (1909), Nagar-Sankirtan (1914), Bholai Sarmar bhav prabanata (1934).
Apart from these Bordoloialso composed one poem, named Manar prati-akramanar git. Beyond these, he wrote many textbooks, books for children, etc.
Novels are among the brilliant creations in this universe. The multifaced nature of people, in reality, were generally the subject matter of the novels. Life as an untold story, people pretending to be unknown, a life full of misery and problems and incidents captured in mind as a canvas, these all combine to take the form of a novel in those days and even today to an extent.
With the course of time, the change in the nature of people, the variations in their existence, the knowing unknowing reflexes of a character, and taking these all as topics the modern novels have created a great impact on the literature.
The novels of Bordoloi are mostly historical. His Miri Jiyari, Manomati, Danduwa Droh, Nirmal Bhakat, Rahdai Ligiri, Tameswarir Mandir and others, when studied quite vividly can give a lot of information about the social, political disputes, standards of living and the ferocious conditions which prevailed in the midst of the society. They also provide information regarding the progress, bravery of the then Assam along with the rules and regulations, religion and cultural norms.
In the very first sight, the character which attracts many people is that of the female characters and the unity of the other characters.
Miri Jiyari written in 1895 was the very first novel of Rajanikanta Bordoloi. Amongst all his other novels this is the only novel which subject matter is totally based on the social aspects. When Bordoloi was the sub-deputy collector in North-Lakhimpur, he happens to meet the Miri tribe there and came to know about their language and customs during his stay. This was the sole source from where he got to write the novel named Miri Jiyari.
Miri Jiyari is about two Miri lovers. The male protagonist is a Miri boy named Janki and the female protagonist, a Miri girl named Panei. The setting of the novel as mentioned is in North-Lakhimpur. One of the very famous river, Subansiri (famous for its gold producing sand). On both sides, Miri village grew up. On one such bank there unknowing grew up two lovers whose tragic love story is the central attraction of this novel.
During the festive seasons, what has been the attraction is dancing Bihu with the loved ones, so a strong connection of traditions and hold over culture is visible. In those days, in other parts of India, where the girls were restricted from going out of the house, there in North-Eastern states a different scenario prevailed. Girls and even married women came out to dance with their loved ones. A sense of holding the customs and traditions could be seen. An unbiased nature of the girls is visible, even in those days
The girls of that time were very bashful in nature. The way in which Panei talked initially with Janki gives it to reference. The love she had for Jnaki despite the fact that Janki couldn’t provide her with anything she would desire for still, she loved him. Human emotions are true when they come from the heart.
Having no obsessed with wealth and despite knowing one’s real condition if love increases, this is known as true love. The love which is not affected by anything has a lot of purity in it. The purity of their love was further described when she promised Janki by the name of their God Karsing- Kartan that she would marry him even though if her parents won’t allow her to do so, and would marry no one except Janki.
At such a tenant age the development of the thoughts of keeping love beyond wealth is well appreciated. She has little to care about Janki’s wealth and how would both of them survive. From the time of taking hold of hand during dancing Bihu to holding the same hands and taking ought, shows how mentally stable they were.
In the Indian society, parents have a great importance in their children life. And the customs of India says that the children are always loyal to their parents, their love, and respect for their elders is beyond measure, such is the case here too. Panei was an obedient child of Tamed and Nirma. Being the only child of the family, she was moved to the extreme by her parents.
Her mother Nirma was so concerned about her future life that they decided to get her married to the son of a wealthy father. But alas! mother Nirma didn’t think about her concerns and view of whom to marry. It was more like a force than being genuine. On one part it was like they cared for her and thus thought she would never complain of their decision, but on the other hand, she was never asked about her views, so it was likely that she would get offended by her parents’ decision.
A very versatile character named Dalimi was introduced who showed the nature of being compromising. The loyalty she showed towards Janki was beyond measurable, although she loved him, she sometimes thought to be selfish, but results out to help Janki. She cared for him and was genuine in her nature. The respect for one’s feelings was well expressed through her character in the novel.
Lastly, the social administration that prevailed in Assam at that time was well described. On one side where love was compared with money, materialistic nature of man ruled above humanity, where loves gave a second thought before falling in to love, where the thought was only this that will their family allow? and on the other side, there was a deciding committee, who would decide on its own. Modernisation was there in terms of rules and regulations but lack of matured thought was clearly visible at that point in time.
Manumati written in 1900 was the second novel of Bordoloi and the very first novel based on historical series. The substance of this novel comprises the background of third Burmese invasion to Assam.
Bordoloi in his novel very practically places the setting of any female character, who dominates the play most of the times. Their love, honesty, and sincerity add to their personality. They are not bothered about losing their life for their loved ones and can cross any limit for the safety and security of their lovers.
In the novel Manumati, we can see the bold character of a woman, named Podium. She has the unique capability to cross the adversities of her life quite easily. She has a strong patriotic feeling which helps her to save the life of many innocent people. She was never scared to death rather she would love to die for the good cause of her people. These attributes of her make her a truly adorable leader and a woman of great character and personality.
Pomila a woman with great virtues is also an important female character in his novel Manumati. A woman blessed not only with physic but also with a beautiful mind, intelligence, and courage. She was well aware of the fact that Manumati had some feeling towards the prince Lakshmikanta, tried her best to bring them closer. At the time of Burmese attack, she with her intelligence saved Chandi Boruah’s house.
Apart from this, she had such a bold character that she even saves guarded the chastity of Manumati and herself against the Burmese. Manumati being an adopted child of Chandi Boruah had to go through great misery in her life. She had to fight for attaining a position right from her childhood
In his novel Rahdoi Ligiri, he mentions how Rahdoi was least affected by the tempting offers which were made by king Chandrakanta in order to take her chastity. The love of Rahdoi towards her lover Dayaram was never affected by material possessions. The love she had for him and he had for her acted as a source of strength for both of them.
Similarly in Nirmal Bhakat, although Rupahi was forcefully set to marry Aniram, couldn’t love him, even though she being his wife. It was because she loved Nirmal and she could never give her soul to a person whom she didn’t love.
Bordoloi’s art of setting the female characters in his play efficiently performs their role and remains true to their character. The variations in the female character are worth mentioning. For some character, they dream to have a secluded place of their own, away from where they are and being in a place where they could build their own world of imagination, risking their own lives, away from their family, while some other display great sacrifice and humanity.
This eminent writer, who later became the president of Assam Sahitya Sabha in 1925, held at Nagaon, took his last breath on 25th March 1940 at the age of 72. His contributions in the field of Assamese literature will be remembered always. He was truly a genuine and true person. As a novelist who wrote with reference to historical events, very few will come up in comparison with him. He will, no doubt is occupying and will continue to occupy a great position in Assamese literature.
1) Bordoloi, Rajanikanta, Miri Jiyari, 1895.
2) Goswami, Mandira, Rajanikanta Bordoloi: Jibon aru Sahitya, 2005.
3) Sharma, Dr. Govind Prashad, Axomia Upanyakhr Etihakh, 2014.
4) Saikia, Dr. Nagen, Aupanyasik Rajanikanta Bordoloi.
Articles in Journals
1) Neog, Pulin Kumar, Rajanikanta Bordoloi: Jibon, Dristi aru Kriti, 2017.