GUWAHATI, Jan 3 - The Department of Modern Indian Languages and Literary Studies, Gauhati University, in association with Asomiya Sahitya Sanmilani, organised a two-day national seminar titled ‘Literary Consciousness of Ambikagiri and His Contemporaries: 1900-1970’ on January 2 and 3.
The inaugural programme, held with Prof Mukul Chakravarty, Head, Dept of MIL&LS in the chair, was held in the department auditorium.
The two-day programme began with singing of the university anthem ‘Jilikabo Luitore Paar’. This was followed by lighting of the lamp and inaugural speech by GU Vice-Chancellor Dr Mridul Hazarika. The keynote address was delivered by Himadri Lahiri, retired professor of English, Burdwan University, West Bengal.
The focus of the national seminar was primarily to understand and explore the consciousness and thought processes of Ambikagiri Raichoudhury and his contemporaries across the nation as they stood witness to the whole theatre of events that unfolded before them. If on one hand, there were efforts to glorify and highlight the regional aspirations among these poets and writers, they on the other hand also collectively responded to the overwhelming call for national integration. How they negotiated with these apparently dialectical sets of ideas pertaining to national and regional identities, and how they were represented through their literary writings, were the major themes of discussion and deliberation at the seminar.
In his inaugural address, Dr Hazarika referred to the prevalence of nationalism as a ‘belief’ and ‘conviction’ that propelled litterateur-activists like Ambikagiri Raichoudhury to fashion a new nationalist consciousness among the people of the country.
Prof Lahiri, in his keynote address, referred to a sense of ‘belatedness’ characterising the reception of past figures like Ambikagiri Raichoudhury in the present-day socio-political situation. He also spoke at length on the subversive power within literature and hence the susceptibility of certain literary works to being proscribed or confiscated by the government. Ambikagiri Raichoudhury lived a long and eventful life of over eighty years, and his life was a constant struggle against the hegemonic forces of the society. Further, his work-life was witness to the gradual transformation of the Assamese (and Indian) society over three-quarters of the twentieth century.
The seminar included papers and discussions on contemporary litterateurs of Ambikagiri, namely, Munshi Premchand, Nazrul Islam, Mulk Raj Anand, Jyotiprasad Agarwalla, Bishnuprasad Rabha, Nalinibala Devi and Subramania Bharati.
A primary objective of the seminar was to place Amibikagiri Raichoudhury alongside such other personalities who were active in the Indian literary scenario between 1900 and 1970.