Posts Tagged The Sentinel – melange
Lovely verses flowed through his pen
When he stayed in an inspection bungalow
Thirty three years back on July ten.
His artistic insight captured the beauty
Of meandering Kopili gushing down the hills,
Her changing moods, her fascinating youth,
Immortal lyrics composed with finest skills.
His inspiring rendition enthralled Umrongso,
Each and everyone that loved his golden voice,
With a heavy heart Kopili today pays her tribute
And she shall ever cherish the song and rejoice.
[Published in ‘melange’, the Sunday supplement of ‘The Sentinel’ on 13 November 2011]
Short note: On 10th July 1978, Dr Bhupen Hazarika came to Umrongso in Assam for a performance and during his stay in the NEEPCO I.B. of Kopili Hydro Electric Project, he composed the lyrics of the Assamese song ‘Kopili Kopili Rangdhali Suwali’. The river Kopili is a tributary of the mighty river Brahmaputra but through the artistic eyes of the legend, the enchanting river has been personified as a lively girl whose mood changes as the monsoon arrives. She remains restless but her beauty lies in her fascinating youth and she appears bright having the shine of numerous suns. Dr Hazarika’s song has inspired all and this piece is a tribute to his immortal contribution. I, on behalf of the people of Kopili Project in Umrongso, pray to God for the eternal peace of the noble soul.
Dr Maheswar Neog was an illustrious scholar and he dedicated his life towards enrichment of Assamese culture. A versatile genius, his work covered most of the branches of Indian studies – literature, language, philosophy, religion, history, historiography, hagiography, orthography, lexicography, ethnography, epigraphy, folklore, music, dance, drama, fine arts, paintings, architecture and sculpture.
Dr Neog was born in Kamarphadiya village, situated on the bank of Dikhow River in Sibsagar, on September 7, 1915. His first teacher was his father, who however, did not have a formal education. Dimbeswar Neog, the distinguished scholar was his elder brother and he received much guidance from him to hone his skills.
From a tender age Maheswar Neog displayed his brilliance and he composed his first poem while he was a student of Class III. He was rewarded every year for his splendid performance and the Inspector of Schools noticed his proficiency. He wrote an article on Assamese marriage songs when he was a graduate and it got published in The Indian Review, the research journal in 1939.
An intelligent student of Modern Indian Languages, Neog secured first class first in MA from Calcutta University. His PhD thesis was Sankaradeva and His Times: Early History of the Vaishnava Faith and Movement in Assam and his research received great commendations from both India and abroad.
Dr Neog first started his career as a school teacher. On December 1, 1948, he joined Gauhati University as the founder teacher in the Post-graduate Department of Assamese.
Dr Neog’s efforts along with Madhav Chandra Bezbarua, Gopinath Bordoloi and Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed towards the development of the University were immense. He joined the trust board and contributed much in both academic and administrative fields. Hence, he was rightly considered as one of the architects of the University. In 1978, he retired from Gauhati University as Jawaharlal Nehru Professor and then served Punjabi University, Patiala as Saint Sankaradeva Professor till 1983.
Placing Sattriya dance at par with Indian Indian classical dances,
namely Bharat Natyam, Kathak, Kathakali and Manipuri etc. was one of the great
contributions of Dr Neog. In National Dance Seminar organized by Sangeet Natak
Akademi at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi in 1958, Dr Neog exposed Sattriya dance of
Assam for the first time on a national level. Sattriya and Ojapali, both the
dances were presented before the connoisseur, performed by late Maniram Dutta
Muktiyar of Kamalabari Satra and Lalit Chandra Nath of Mangaldai and group.
During the display, Dr Neog explained the dance forms with complete details and
referred to the records in history about the dances in ancient Kamrup. There
was huge applause from the audience as his talk and the demonstration was
widely appreciated. Later, an expert committee was formed and being one of its
members, he strongly placed the view that Sattriya dance of Assam should be
recognized as a classical dance of India. In 1995, Sangeet Natak Akademi
bestowed on him ‘Elected Fellow’, the prestigious award, in recognition to his
Well known as a biographer, Dr Neog penned his first biographical work Sri Sri Sankaradeva in 1948. Jivanar Digh Aru Vani was his voluminous autobiographical work. He was also a creative writer and published five volumes of poetry in Assamese including Under One Sky in English. Besides, he wrote short plays in Assamese, essays and other prose pieces.
Dr Neog was a multilingual scholar and he published more than hundred books in Assamese, English and Sanskrit. He dealt on a wide variety of subjects and contributed around five hundred articles and research papers to various periodicals and journals. Some of his remarkable research works were Asamiya Sahityar Ruprekha, Guru-Charit-Katha, Prachya-Sasanavali, Arunodai, Religions of the North-East, Tradition and Style, The Art of Painting in Assam, etc. Moreover, he edited many ancient and medieval texts in Sanskrit and Assamese. Editing the old treatise on dance, Sri Hasta-muktavali by Subhankara was a notable contribution of Dr Neog.
A great exponent of the Bhakti movement in Assam, Dr Neog brought forth various aspects of Neo-Vaishnavism in his literary work. His contributions towards Sankaradeva studies were Swararekhat Bargeet (1958), Rhythm in the Vaishnava Music of Assam (1962), Sattriya Dance and Their Rhythms (1973), The Bhakti-ratnakara of Sankaradeva, History of the Concept of Bhakti, etc.
Dr Neog also presented papers and delivered academic discourses in several occasions. Some major events were Technical Sciences and Fine Arts Section of All India Oriental Conference, Indian School of Drama and Asian Theatre Centre, History and Culture Section of International Congress of Orientalists, Manipur State Kala Akademi, etc. In 1970, he was deputed by the Indian Government as a representative of Indo-Foreign Cultural Exchange Programme to visit the East European countries of Hungary, Romania etc. He went on a lecture tour for fifty days acting as a member of the Indian National Commission for co-operating with UNESCO.
Dr Neog was an active member of Asam Sahitya Sabha. He served the organization as general secretary, vice-president and later as president in 1974. His long-drawn efforts led to the construction of the Sabha’s two-storied Bhagavatiprasad Barua Bhavan in Guwahati.
On September 13, 1995, Dr Neog breathed his last. His passing away was a great loss to the state as his vision was to uplift the glory of Assam and enrich the cultural heritage. An erudite scholar, he worked with great dedication and devotion due to his love towards his motherland. He shall always be remembered for his untiring efforts and immense contributions.
[Published in ‘melange’, the Sunday supplement of ‘The Sentinel’ on 18 September 2011]
Whoever he may be,
Tom, Dick or Harry,
Wretched poverty stares,
Sternly at his face,
Compelling him to toil,
With exertion and foil,
Losing childhood joy,
Discarding shame and coy,
Deprived of learning,
In course of earning,
To contribute for the family
And get rid of scarcity.
Little did he know,
The world thinks for him so,
Dedicating a day every year,
As World Day Against Child Labour,
Observing it on June 12,
By creating awareness and a wave,
To ban child labour
And protecting him forever.
[Published in the following:
(1) ‘The Assam Tribune’ on 11 June 2011
(2) ‘The Sentinel’ on 26 June 2011 ]
The words shattered
His countless dreams
And he could imagine
His sand castles being
Knocked down by waves.
Remaining days could be
Counted on his fingers…
Alas! So much left undone.
Being stable was
His sole shield.
Wise proverbs instilled hope
To his flickering mind –
‘A friend in need
Is a friend indeed’
And amazing indeed!
His friend stood beside,
With smiles of gratitude,
To donate an organ,
To shower love and charity,
To a helpful soul-mate,
Whom he owed his life,
His humble effort,
To save his friend,
To save a precious life.
[Published in ‘melange’, the Sunday supplement of ‘The Sentinel’ on 15 May 2011]
She appears bright as ever
At the onset of night,
Steadily wades across the canopy
Amidst the twinkling stars.
Her phases attract the star-gazers
And elegance fascinates the composers,
I stare at her mesmerized,
Admire her queenly grace.
She reigns in the dark hours,
Sprinkles silvery light around…
But her shine fades down
As her benefactor arises –
Majestically from the eastern horizon
To sustain life all around.
She’s no match with the reverend,
But in shape and shine during the nights,
Oh! She has some moments though
To outshine and prove her might.
She shuns her majesty’s brilliance,
Casts a shadow to form a night,
Displays her feat to myriad spectators
Watching the eclipse, a celestial sight.
[Published in ‘melange’, the Sunday supplement of ‘The Sentinel’ on 12 December 2010]
Can I not sing a song
In appreciation for ‘Melange’?
My journey started
With the magnificent magazine –
The issue on every Sunday,
On one fine day,
When I picked up the weekly,
Browsed the pages that
My eyes fell upon,
Read quite a few features,
Admired the beautiful compositions,
Usage of English language
And began to learn…
Facts about our motherland –
Culture, communities, civilization,
Little things about little ones,
Informative titbits, counselling tips,
Contributions of illustrious personalities,
Significance of festive proceedings.
My experience…’twas truly inspiring.
So, can I not sing a song
In praise of ‘Melange’?
[Published in ‘melange’, the Sunday supplement of ‘The Sentinel’ on 7 November 2010]
Judgement day arrived to
Determine success and failure.
Festivity and celebration
Ruled the institutions…
Sense of pride glowed
In the faces of those
Who had expectations,
Glorious smile shone
On the cheeks of those
Who burnt midnight’s oil;
Except for the bulk
Who remained unsuccessful…
Depression, fear, shame
Reigned the pale young faces,
Feelings of guilt reflected
In the eyes of those
Who whiled away time.
But, my heart pained
For those unfortunate innocents –
Who just recovered from
Encephalitis or glaucoma,
And those puppets of fate
Who tried to cope with the loss
Of a parent or sibling.
Questions whirl in my mind
And I do wonder…
Can three hours judge the
Performance of tender brains –
Their intelligence, their brilliance?
The silent sufferers,
Tagged as failures,
Shed tears in solitude,
Their dreams being eclipsed –
Stare towards a bleak future.
[Published in ‘melange’, the Sunday supplement of ‘The Sentinel’ on 31 October 2010]