Lekhnath Paudyal (Nepali: लेखनाथ पौडेल; 1885–1966) regarded as the founding father of modern Nepali poetry literature (Kabi Shiromani) in twentieth-century. His most important contribution is believed to enrichment and refinement of its language rather than to its philosophical breadth. The best of Lekhnath’s poems adhered to the old-fashioned conventions of Sanskrit poetics (kavya ). Lekhnath, the first modern Nepali poet, wrote most valuable classical style of Nepali Poems. His poems possessed a formal dignity that had been lacking in most earlier works in Nepali; many of them conformed in their outlook with the philosophy of orthodox Vedanta, although others were essentially original in their tone and inspiration. His poems are very much popular until today which often mentioned contemporary social and political issues as well. It is believed there were the first glimmerings of the poetic spirit that was to come after him.
He received his first lessons from his father. Around the turn of the century, he was sent to the Capital to attend a Sanskrit school and thence to the holy city of Banaras, as was customary, to continue his higher education to learn the classics of Sanskrit literature, from which he drew great inspiration.
Titles and honours
In 1951, Lekhnath was invested by King Tribhuvan with the title of kavi shiromani , which literally means “crest-jewel poet” but is generally translated as “poet laureate.”. Since his death in 1966, no other poet has been similarly honored, so the title would seem to be his in perpetuity.
Lekhnath was honored by the Nepali literary world on his seventieth birthday in 1955 when he became the focal point of a procession around the streets of Kathmandu. The procession was probably modeled on the old-age initiation ceremony practiced by the Newars of Kathmandu Valley. The old poet was seated in a ceremonial carriage and paraded through the city, pulled by most of the better known poets of the time and even by the prime minister. In 1957, he was awarded membership in the newly founded Royal Nepal Academy, and in 1969 he was honored posthumously with the prestigious Tribhuvan Puraskar prize. These honors are a mark of the peculiar reverence felt by members of the cultural establishment of Nepal for the man whose poems represent the “classical” aspect of their modern literature. He can no longer escape the scorn of the young, however, and he is rarely imitated by aspiring poets.
In an essay published in 1945,Devkota defended the “laureate” from his critics.
Initially during his stay in India, his young wife died and he been penniless. Penniless, he embarked on a search for his father’s old estate in the Nepalese lowlands, which was ultimately fruitless, and he therefore spent the next few years of his life seeking work in India. During that time, he achieved little academic success. In 1909 he returned to Kathmandu, where he entered the employ of Bhim Shamsher, an important member of the ruling Rana family, as priest and tutor. He retained this post for twenty-five years.
During his stay in Kathmandu, he used to teach children’s of scholarly RamMani Dixit’s family. Because of similar literature interest and scholarly works he became good friend of Sardar Ram Mani Dixit (a renowned scholar and important advisor of then Rana regime), Dixit supported Paudyal in his hard times.
One of Lekhnath’s most popular poems, “A Parrot in a Cage” (Pinjarako Suga ) is usually interpreted as an allegory with a dual meaning: on one level of interpretation, it describes the condition of the soul trapped in the body, a common theme in Hindu devotional verse, but it also bewails the poet’s lot as an employee of Bhim Shamsher. Here the parrot, which has to make profound utterances according to its master’s whim, is actually the poet himself. This particular poem is extremely famous in Nepal because it is one of the earliest examples of a writer criticizing the Rana families who ruled the country at the time. During that time, It was the topic of bravery to write against cruel Ranas. So, he initially hesitated to publish the poem being afraid of autocratic Rana regime, he was enlivened by Sardar RamMani Dixit to bring out his works and promised him his literary success if he keeps on writing. He laments derogatory remarks from then Rana ruler and in other hand encouragement from RamMani in one of stanza from Pinjada ko suga “A Parrot in a Cage” in following way:
एउटा भन्छ यो हो पाजी ।
“One says (Rana ruler) , “It is a stupid ass!”
अर्को भन्दछ यो छ बिराजी ।
Another says, “See, it just sits idol!”
भन्दछ तेस्रो आत्माराम पढो पढोजी राखो नाम ।
A third AatmaRam(Rammani)says “Read and Speak it will keep your name”.
Most of Lekhnath Paudyal’s short poems are collected in Lalitya (Delicacy), published in two volumes in 1967 and 1968. In all of his creations, his primary concern was to create “sweetness” in the language of his poems, and many were rewritten several times before the poet was content with them. The primary inspiration for this work was probably ‘The Chain of the Seasons’ (Ritu-Samhara ) by the great fifth-century Sanskrit poet Kalidasa.
His devotional poems are more formal and are admired for their beauty and for the sincerity of the emotions they express. “Remembering Saraswati” (Saraswati-Smriti ) is the prime illustration of this feature of Lekhnath’s poetry.
His first composition after 1950 was a long poem entitled “Remembering the Truth of Undying Light” (Amar Jyotiko Satya-Smriti ), which expressed grief over the death of Mahatma Gandhi. Lekhnath did not develop the great promise of these early episodic poems further until much later in his life, but a large number of his shorter poems continued to appear in a variety of literary journals in both India and Nepal. Many poems were probably never published and may now be lost. A two-volume collection, Delicacy (Lalitya ) was published in 1967–1968 and contained one hundred poems. Lekhnath’s shorter works covered a wide variety of topics and conveyed all of the nine rasa . Although many are plainly moralistic, some have a whimsical charm and are often couched in uncharacteristically simple language. One such is “The Chirruping of a Swallow” (Gaunthaliko Chiribiri ), first published in 1935, in which a swallow explains the transient nature of existence to the poet:
You say this house is yours, I say that it is mine, To whom in fact does it belong? Turn your mind to that! His longer works – khanda-kavya and mahakavya – are (with dates of first publication):
|Year||Creations||English name||Original name in Devanagari|
|1909||Varsha Vichara||Reflections on the Rains||(वर्षा विचार)|
|1916||Ritu Vichara||Contemplation of the Seasons||(ऋतु विचार)|
|1916||Buddhi Vinoda||Enjoyments of Wisdom||(बुदॄि विवेक)|
|1919||Satya-Kali-Samvada||A Dialogue Between the Degenerate Age and the Age of Truth||(सत्य कालि संवाद)|
|1935||Arunodaya||Dawn||( अरूणोदय )|
|1951||Amar Jyotiko Satya-Smriti||Remembering the Truth of Undying Light||(अमर ज्योतिको सत्य स्मृति)|
|1953||Taruna Tapasi||The Young Ascetic||(तरूण तपस्वि)|
|1954||Mero Rama||My God||(मेरो राम)|
(Collection of short poems)
|Delicacy||( लालित्य )|
|N/A||Ganga Gauri||Goddess of the Ganges||(गंगा गौरी)|