Tuesday, 23 April, 2024

Sama Lives Through His Dramas, Poetry


Pradipna Raj Panta


The month of Magh is considered a highly auspicious one in Nepal from the religious point of view. Most people take holy dips in rivers. It is believed that if a worshipper bath with full reverence, his or she will be absolved of all their sins. Also, it is believed that the people born in the month of Magh are highly intelligent. They also work hard; consequently, they attain a high level of recognition in society.
Bal Krishna Sam, the famous philosopher-poet, was also born in the month of Magh some 117 years ago on February 8. 1903.

Bal Krishna Sama was one of the greatest geniuses who gained mastery in many fields. He loved to act and was a theatre artist. There was no discipline or activity alien to him. He was a man of multidimensional personality in every sense. He was a great poet, novelist, dramatist, short story writer, educationist, social reformer, philosopher, and a critic of life and literature. But at his core, he was a philosopher. Most of his poems have influenced this writer and will continue to influence his whole life. Sama's genius can be discerned from his famous philosophical poem, Ichchha (Wish), in which he wrote,
Mahesh! I wish when my death-bed eventually burns
(When)My blood will dry up and I will panic in unknown
All that medicine should enter my mouth, which is made in Nepal itself.
In which the sweet and cold kisses of the mountain belong.
He showed early promise as a writer by writing several poems. In BS 1967, at the age of 7, he wrote the first of his poems.
You know (one day) this earth will become deluged (cataclysm).
All learned men should not forget to take Ram’s name.
In addition to the aforementioned stanza, Sama wrote a lot of poetry in his childhood. But his magnum opus, Chiso Chulho, is a highly acclaimed epic which exerted substantial influence on every writer.
Chiso Chulho (the Cold Oven) bears ample evidence of Sama’s wide range of literary talents: an extraordinary vocabulary, an accomplished sense of imagery, and the ability to both lampoon and philosophize.
In this poem, a higher caste woman Gauri falls in love with a lower caste person, Sante Damai. The love-affair becomes a meditation on the nature of beauty. Here, Sama compares higher caste and lower caste as a symbol of fire and water.
Both fire and water are essential for human existence but blazing fire is a sign of madness and excessive water destroys human existence. Soft fire is a symbol of passion and love, and warm water is serene and a symbol of peace. Sama tries to convey the message to his countrymen that, if the properties of both soft fire and warm water are incorporated in the daily chores, the human beings will be enlightened and life will become more meaningful.
During his lifetime, he wrote about twenty-six plays, nearly a half dozen books of verse, and two novels, short stories and essays. Later, he painted the logo of Nepal Bank Ltd.
He was not an ordinary writer. His write-up was a reflection of the inner self. His personal life was clean and noble as his works. He wrote about the problem of women in many of his works.
In Mutuko Byatha (The Agony of Heart), he describes love, passion, feeling and relationships which clash with the traditional Nepali society. After the publication of this drama in 1926, some critics find it hard to believe that the son of an oppressive high-class Rana ruler, with just a high school (SLC, 10 class) education, could have written such passionate and intellectual plays.
He was not formally enrolled in higher-level education, and, as a result, some of his contemporary poked fun at his lack of academic qualifications, which his critics treasured, for such qualification was only the entrance for government services. But he was the only Nepali who mastered true education. After obtaining a high school degree he studied science at Tri-Chandra College. But he was not working toward a college degree and later he was sent to Dehradun for getting military training. After that, he became a lieutenant. But his passion for literature did not subside.
Mukunda Indira is his next famous play that transferred elements of sorrow into narrative forms. The play addressed the nationalism and psychological question surrounding human sufferings. He introduced a very common protagonist, a common Nepali housewife Indira, however, enriched his tales with the addition of subplots. In the drama, Indira has a series of unpleasant encounters with Mukunda, who belongs to a proud and high-class family with whom she gradually develops her chemistry.
It possesses well-developed characters, clever and intellectual dialogues i.e. love to the nation and husband is forever. He thus wrote, “Desh bhakti ta mardaina chuthho desh bhaypani, pati bhakti ta mardaina papi pati bhaypani. In English, it can be translated as,
Love for the nation never dies, despite the country being a worthless one
Love for the husband never dies, despite him being immoral.
This play highlights the major problems of married women of the Nepali society and the importance of Sama’s philosophy of spiritual humanism and in the emancipation of women, which made Sama a multi-talented writer.
The writing was an act of faith, nor a trick of grammar for him. He wrote not for pleasure or profit but out of sheer joy, conscious that his genius was a gift from the divine, to be used in the service of men.

Sama’s influence
Sama was born in 1903 in Kathmandu. He belonged to a high-class Rana family and was later enrolled in the Durbar High School. Sama’s father contributed substantially to the son’s early education by providing their home with an extensive library and encouraging reading. In high school, he became a prominent student distinguishing himself as a prominent orator.
Different languages and cultures have different levels of politeness. English is either a very democratic or very rude language since it has only one honorific word, 'you,' whether you address a dog or a prime minister. But in Nepal, we use a host of honorific terms, words and expression to make our conversation polite.
Furthermore, we have some words and more precisely, as per the definition of Sama, feudal words such as bakshiyosh, khaishyosh, laishyosh etc used and practised mostly in the time of Rana regime. It was Sama who replaced the feudal and formal words including the use of Hajur and proposed the more equitable Tapain. Nowadays, Tapain is considered an appropriate and polite language of conversation while addressing the people in Nepal.
He lives today through our Nepali language, his drama and other works. His plots, characters, dialogues of his dramas continue to inspire many Nepalis as well as Nepali speaking communities all over the world.
By early 1970, Sama was regarded as one of Nepal's great dramatist poets, whose writing exerted substantial influence on other writers. For his contribution to the Nepali literature, he is regarded as the Shakespeare of Nepal. In his later years, Sama amassed many writing awards, including Prithvi Pragya Puraskar from Nepal Academy. He died in 1981.

(The author writes on literature and arts)