Life and Works
Dimbeswar Neog is one of the most illustrious and outstanding personality of modern Assamese literature and language. He was the author of about 98 books covering verse, story, novel, drama, history of literature and criticism and language, religious and cultural history, folk-literature, address and school books. His contribution to the various fields of Assamese literature is unique and well-mentioned. He was mainly interested to the study of the history of Assamese literature, and language and in many cases he was a path finder His deep-rooted analysis of the work and activities of Sankaradeva to Assamese literature, art and culture and religion of devotion and establishment of a new social order has unique value The most noted feature of Neog’s contribution in the field of Assamese literature and history and specially in the study of Sankaradeva was his deep love for his own language, art and culture and his deep love for his own native land. His poem ”Mor Gaon” gives us a lucid description of Neog’s irresistible love for his birth place through which he could depict a penetrating picture of the whole universe.
Born in 1821 saka (1899 A. D.) in a typical assamese village Kamarfadia which he likened ”my village kamarfadia is a small village but is an epitome of the universe”, of Sibsagar district, he spent his childhood days amidst the colourful glee of nature fragrant with mystic beauties. His father was Manik chandra Neog. From his childhood Dimbeswar was a typical boy, lover of solitude, a grave boy talking less, For his gravity and nature many used to address him as ”Sagara” (sea). His early education began at Kamarfadia Primary School and in 1909, he passed the primary Examination securing Competitive Scholarship. In January 1910, he was admitted in Sibsagar English school and in 1919 he passed Matric from that school in first division. Then ‘he went to Guwahati and got admitted in the first year I.sc. Class of Cotton College. In 1921 he passed I. Sc. in First Division. From the same College he passed B. Sc. in 1924. In the same year he was admitted in the newly opened M. A. Class in English and passed B. A. in 1925. He completed M. A. English study on 10 April 1926 but he could not take the degree then. He look his M. A. Degree in Assamese in 1940 from Calcutta University.
Dimbeswar Neog’s life began as a teacher. After taking B. Sc degree and completing M. A. English classes on 10 April 1926, he got appointment as a Teacher of government school on 19 April 1926, though he was not very happy with the job. He termed his teaching life as an unfortunate ill-luck but inspite of that he worked as teacher with success for about 32 years and at last retired as principal of Jorhat Normal school. Though teaching life was not likable in the beginning, his most of the literary works were done during that period.
While in Cotton College, Dimbeswar came into contact with the famous romantic poet Chandrakumar Agarwalla who wanted to take Neog as partner in his Assam Printers and Publications. But Neog politely refused that offer as his mind was occupied with high aspiration of offering services to the motherland in the field of literature, art and culture. That was the time when Neog had youthful vigour and high ideal with strong pen in his hand. Moreover he had a call from Assam Chatra Sanmelan (Student Association) So, instead of going to the path of business venture, he selected the other path and shoulderd the burden of General Secretary of Assam Chatra Sanmelan and remained there from 1921 to 1924. During that period he edited the mouthpiece of Chatra Sanmelan ”Janmabhumi” and ”Milan.”
D imbeswar Neog begins his literary career while he was a school student in 1914. A poem ”Abhasa” was given place in their school magazine ”Bhumuki” and lateron it was included in his book ”Malati”. Thus he began his literary life as a poet and from his pen poured books with sweet melodious songs–lyrical in character. His poetry books Malika, Safura, Thupitora, Matali Indradhanu, Mukuta, Manuha, Meghadoot, Asoma, Bichitra, Suwanee, Bhogjora, are most popular. The poems of “Indradhanu” are so charming and sweet and thought-provoking, that he came to be known as Indradhanu Poet.
Dimbeswar Neog wrote most of his books while he was working as a teacher. ‘Mallika’ is his first verse book, where he has expressed his bereavement at the death of one of his friends. ”Swdhidan” is his another verse book, published in 1951. The book consists of five long poems-”Marur Nijara (Spring in Desert), ”Saundarya Sadhaka” (Accomplished Devotional Man of Beauty), ”Prathama Prayasa (First Dilligence), ”Banhir Amiya (Sweetness of Flute), and ”Omar Darsan” (Philosophy of Omar). Swahidan is an excellent book of verse full of sweetness and lyrical sounds. His works have been praised from different corners. His poetry book ”Thupitara” (A cluster of Stars) published in 1924, could get him praise from (Dr.) Banikanta Kakati. Under the caption ‘Book Review’ Dr. Kakati. wrote ”Thupitora (A cluster of stars) is the fourth volume of small poems of Sjt. D. Neog, B.Sc., a student of Post-Graduate English class of our college. The rapidity with which the several volumes have been brought out during five years of college life testifies to his remarkable felicity of composition. All the poems were noted for choice of dictum, felicity of expression and smooth flow of verse.”
Dimbeswar Neog also touched folk literature and had deep knowledge about folk-tales and songs. His folk-writing worked as a path-finder to the Assamese readers and attracted their minds to this most valuable section of literature. Assam is very rich in folk-literature-folk songs, folk tales, folk dances, baramahi geet et. Dimbeswar Neog has to his credit 14 books on folk literature. ”Akul Pathika” (Confounded Wayfarer), ”Bhogjora”-Collection of ‘Ainam’ and children play songs, ”Dohali”- a collection of ”yojanas” (proverbs) are three important books. Another book on folk-literature is ”Banabenu” (Flute of Forest), a collection of three books ”Akul Pathika”, ”Phagunee” and ”Bihuwati.” The collection of all his folk-songs, typical assamese version, with sweet melodious words, gives them a music of their own and it is surprising or rather it is a pity that these books have lost their identity in the present day of the society.
Dimbeswar wrote and published only one novel ”Gaone-Nagare”-a social novel published in 1960. ”Sisuleela,” ”Kundila Nagara”, ”Kamrupa” are his dramas and ”Deepawali” is his only story book.
But the most important contributions of Dimbeswar Neog were in the field of Assamere Language and Literature, History of Literature and Sankaradeva and Vaisnavism. He thought of writing a book on History of Assamese Literature while he was a college student. In 1919, when he was a student of Cotton College, he wrote on article on ”A Light coming through wall of Assamese Literature– Kirtan Ghosa” for the Literary Association of Cotton College Assamese students. Taking this article as a base, he wrote a number of articles on criticisms for ”Chetana”. He also wrote some articles for ‘Banhi’ on folk literature. The collection of these articles was his first book on the history of Assamese literature –”Light on Assamese Literature”. During the period 1933 to 1951, three books ”Kavya Prativa,” ”Katha- Prativa” and ”Modern History of Assamese Literature” were published. During the later part of his life- the three most important books were published; such as ”Studies on Assamese Literature”, ”A View of Literature” and ”New Light on the History of Assamese Literature”. Regarding his book ”New Light on the History of Assamese Literature” Dr. S.K. Bhuyan gave a valuable remark that –”This book contains mass of the Assamese literature from the author’s life-long labours in the study of Assamese literature, the result of which he has already embodied in seven valuable publication written in Assamese”. High regard was also forwarded by Dr. Suniti Kumar Chatterjee to Dimbeswar Neog through his expression thus -“His (Neog’s) Comprehensive History of Assamese literature, which I had the privilege of looking into was a very valuable work. But unfortunately he did not succeed in getting his Doctorate on this. He was one of the finest scholars of Assamese, as he was one of the best poet and creative writer.”
Dimbeswar Neog was also a linguist. His books “Assamya Bhasa Aru Lipir Kahini” (Story of Assamese language and letters), ”Sudh Assamiya” (Pure Assamese), ”Assamiya Bhasatatvar Natun Bicar” (New Study on the Principles of Assamese Language) show his deep study and earnest zeal to give a new look to the Assamese language. He also contributed many important articles in different journal such as, ”Assamese as dependent of Indo-Aryan”, ”Assamese in Relation to Prakrits”, ”Growth of Assamese Language”, ”Is the language of Krisna Kirtana Bengali ?”– which show his scolastic urge to give an independent colour to Assamese language and grammar.
Dimbeswar Neog is best known as a scholar of Assamese Vaisnavism. He wanted to give a new name to Sankaradeva’s religion of devotion. Through his book “Mahapurusiasm–a Universal Religion” he emphasised on the establishment of a new creed of eka-sarana-dharma. He has outlined the main principles of Religion of Devotion, Mahapurusiya dharma, as propounded by Sankaradeva, in his most important and valuable book ”Yuga-Nayaka Sankaradeva”. He could analyse the whole work of Sankaradeva, his religion, art and culture, drama and literature. Dimbeswar Neog’s scholastic merit can be judged from his books such as, (a) Vaisnava Dharmara Atiguri (Origin of Vaisnavism). (b) Vaisnava Dharmara Kramavikasa (Gradual Development of Vaisnavism), (c) Vaisnava Dharmara Bhaktitatva (Devotional Trait of Vaisnavism), (d) Naradiya Bhoktisutra and (e) Mahapurusiasm– a Universal Religion.
Indradhanu Poet Dimbeswar Neog was born in 1899. So it is his Centennary Yeur. Dimbeswar Neog was a simple man but had independent spirit .He was all along a lover of Assam and Assamese . He had his own view of life. The pen that he took in his hand at his early age, that remained intact and did not stop. At his later stage of life he was more active in writing . He was not tired of continuing writing different books and articles for abont 50(fifty) years of his life. He was very powerful writer and could write freely . He had very dynamic spirit. He had inborn talent. In his later life, he was the General Secretary of Assam Sahitya Sabha (Assam literary Association) and for some years he was the Editor of the Assam Sahitya Sabha Patrika. He was elected President of Assam Sahitya Sabha’s Annual Conference of 1965 held at Nalbari
Dimbeswar Neog gave his last advice to Dr. Maheswar Neog, his brother, when he was at his death bed. The last Advice was “Follow the intellect, but do not go in front even of the dull. Happy in life I am that, I did not have to bow down to any one showing lowliness.” He died in 1966.
(The author Late Bhabananda Deka was a leading economist and Sankari scholar of Assam with more than 40 books to his credit. He was the first Assamese to hold a senior officer’s post in the UPSC, New Delhi, in the late sixties. Prof. Deka is also a former Principal of Pragjyotish College, Guwahati and Bapujee College, Sarthebari. Presently, he is a senior Vice President of the world body – Srimanta Sankardev International Foundation. Prof. Deka was a close associate of Late Dimbeswar Neog during his lifetime.)