Friday, June 3, 2011

Burhi Aair Sadhu and the passage of 100 years

- Diganta Oza

It has been 100 years since Burhi Aair Sadhu took the centre stage in the Assamese society (particularly in the field of literature ). It is not an ordinary thing to consider as Burhi Aair Sadhu can’t be regarded only as an ordinary compilation of stories meant for children .In fact, this book of Sahityorothi Laxminath Bezbaruah has paved the way for each literate Assamese to acknowledge the sweet and sophisticated mother tongue; even after 100 years since its first publication, this book has been influencing the masses. That is why, this invaluable creation of Bezbaruah has become one of the bestsellers. Its language, the way of portraying Assam’s social life, societal kindness are some of the prominent features, which have contributed to the splendour of Burhi Aair Sadhu.
Bezbaruah’s splendid creation Burhi Aair Sadhu was first published as a book in October or November ,1911. That period was the time of embellishment of the Assamese language. Bezbaruah had become Sahityorothi by engaging himself to this cause, putting his heart and soul- he also concentrated on the literature for children from this point of view. Burhi aair Sadhu is the result of that effort, it is not only restricted to children, even though it was meant for that purpose- it eventually became an enjoyable book for the children and old alike. It has been 100 years from 1911-2011, but the old lady who was introduced by Dr. Bezbzruah to tell stories is immortal and timeless as ever. There will not be even one literate Assamese to be singled out during the span of 100 years, who has not read Burhi Aair Sadhu or has not been mesmerized in the language of this book. In other words, the way in which Bezbaruah has portrayed the sophistication of the Assamese language with the help of 30 stories is astonishing in the real sense. The glimpse of the Assamese society can be obtained through Tula and Teja, Tikhor and Sutibai, Paneshoi etc. from Burhi Aair Sadhu; on the other hand ,stories like Tejimola, Chawmpawati give an insight to the status of women in the society .In Paneshoi women’s right to selection in the course of marriage has been recognized, but in the changing societal construct that right is suppressed under the male dominated structure or patriarchy. Likewise in Champawati, we can recognize the co-existence of human and evil nature- along with that Bezbaruah has put forwarded the eternal truth: woman is the enemy of another woman, but it is sacrifice and love which make women great. In the story of TAWOIYEK, the solid bondness of friendship and responsibility has been depicted. Despite the description of the existing social structure in the form of stories, Bezbaruah had tried to sensitize the children against superstitions and blind beliefs. In these hundred years old stories, there have been descriptions about foxes,monkeys,tortoises etc. but at the same time Mr. KNOW –ALL of Burhi Aair Xadhu does not have spiritual power- rather Bezbaruah shows that the task of fortune telling is actually not logical, but those incidents which happen by chance. In “Tula And Teja” Mongoloti baai becomes an effective fortune-teller by taking bribe, again in “the story of the king Jordgov” the priest’s predictions and proscriptions of luck has been a result of mischief only. So, it was an efficient effort of developing a scientific thinking in the minds of children. At the same time, he concentrated on the societal co-existence, the society will become prosperous only when everyone belonging to it perform their duties effectively and with responsibility ;whereas adherence to the age old traditions is what to be forbidden .In the story “ A gardener and a flower tree” , this notion is illucidated by Bezbaruah, which influences the children even during this span of 100 years. On the other hand, any work can be fulfilled by presence of mind, but self- praise becomes a destroying factor in one’s life – it was warned by Bezbaruah through the story “Gongatop” in 1911.
It can be regarded as an excellent portrayal of the emergence of some people who like to beat their own trumpets in modern day politics and social life; but even after reading Burhi aair xadhu continuously for last 100 years, the Assamese society still has been unable to learn a valuable lesson from that.

( Diganta Oza, Executive Editor, Satsori, Guwahati; email: )

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