Thursday, December 1, 2011

Siddhidas Amatya


Razen M
Poverty makes poerty. This line of goes truly with legendary poet of Nepalbhsaha, Siddhidas Mahaju, one of the pioneers of the Renaissance of Nepalbhasha literature.

He was born in 1867 (NS 978 Yanlaga) Keltole, near Indrachok, Kathmandu. His great grandfather was from Sukuldhoka, Bhaktapur but his grandfather moved to Kathmandu do to businees. His father’s name is Laxmi Narayan Amatya and mother was Shri Harsha Laxmi.

As it took place with every boy in those days, he went through the traditional way of schooling – learning Chanakyaneeti, mulitiplication tables, Muhurtachintamani and so on. It continued till he was 16 years old. His marriage also took place quite early. Then he was sent to Thapathali (the present Nepal Rasthra Bank) to learn government accounting system. And thus started his professional life.
Travelling to Hindu pilgrimage sites, Kashi and Jagannath, in around 1883 provided him an opportunity to b roadhen his horizon of learning. Having accqainted with many scholars there, his rough paper, composing verse and prose in Nepalbhasha. A significant outcome of this period is his “Siddhi Byakaran”. His dedication for literature of his mother language impressed students of those times – Thakurlal Manandhar, PB Manav and Siddhicharan. They became humble disciples of the poet Shiddicharan.

He was at the age of 62. He still had to work, to solve hand-to-mouth problem of his family, which never could give him peace of mind. One day, he decided to live at the home of his sister Lilabati. It was a strange request in Newar culture, but she accepted because she was aware of the condition of his family. After several days, his health worsened and he finally took last breath at Pashupati Ghat in 1929 (NS 1050 Kachhala ga 13).

We have lots of things to glorify his life as a Mahakavi. But only a few books have been published out of 44 books. Whereabouts of many of his manuscripts also is not known. He published only one book in his life time in past one century, merely 14 books are published.

quest for knowledge even deepened. He determined to continue study and bought several books there. Then he moved to Calcutta and make relation with other scholars. He even learned book-binding at that time.

Coming back to Kathmandu, he joined the government office. But soon after that, in 1885, the prime minister Ranoddip Singh was assassinated and succeeded his brother Bir Sumsher. most of the hop-level officers of the former prime minister were expelled and he lost his job in this political change. It was like liberty from the bondage for him.

A friend of him Motilal, a draper at Janabahal, who owned a classic Hindi book “Prem Sagar”. It attracted him very much and his social responsibility to his community urged him to translate it into Nepalbhasha, his mother language.

Siddhidas’ father opened a drapery hofr him. It was a time when the Prime Minister Bir Shamsher was influenced by the cotton revolution and was promoting use of cotton for the people. The demand of cotton clothes was high. And he, taking the opportunity, designed his kind of manual spinning mill. And he made several other experiments too, to increase productivity and to make use of his creativity. He was a born writer; he could not devote himself to commerce and naturally, could not make sufficient profit though it was the time of cotton marketing. Instead he used to go to Calcutta to order thing for his shop. Even this was his pretext to go there and buy some useful books.
In 1905, he was attracted by Arya Samaji movement. But he was not included in the list of the “rebels” like Yogbir Singh, because he was not that active in the movement.

In 1906, he fell ill for six months and discontiued his affiliation with the Calcuttan scholars. Instead he spent more time in his shop. He started composing couplets and Pandit Chakrapani Chalise suggested him to try composing in Barnik style of verse. One fine morning, he started composing verse out of a scene he saw in his dream. And thus his journey to poetry started. He started translating Ramayan into Nepalbhasha and he gave it his name “Siddhi Ramayan”.

He had married Shri Ganga Devi when he wasquite young. But passed away leaving a daughter Sumeru Laxmi behind her. And he married another woman but he was miles away from happiness. Similarly, his father also had married twice after demise of his mother and the family was quite big. As it had to be, the death of his father in 1911 left alone to carry the burden of his big family, including his step brothers. The worldly needs and his quest for sublime Nepalbhasha literature only deteriorated his health day by day.

Frustrated, he left for Birgunj and started small business there. He lived there for around six or seven years – around from 1919 to 1923. It is not quite sure if he made prosperous business there but he came back with genuine Nepalbhasha creations – “Sakata Maa”, “Sajjan Hridayabharan” and “Shuk Rambha Sambad”.


By the year 1926, he was back to Kathmandu and started working in the traditional medicine shop of Bhudharananda Baidhya as an assistant. This shows that his financial conditions have changed a lot but he could not change himself. Even in that shop, he kept himself busy with tiny pencil and

Published in Newarland 2011 12 01

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