Sure, my friend, insane I am
Such is my plight.
I visualize words
but hear the visible.
fragrance I taste
and the ethereal is palpable to me.
The things I touch–
the world denies their existence
nor knows their shape
Laxmi Prasad Devkota was a legendary poet who made creative use of the Nepali language to forever change literature in Nepal. He is the greatest poet of Nepali history for his contributions are matched by none. I chose him as my eminent person for 2019 because of this, and also for the fact that I share my last name with him.
He was born on Laxmi Puja, the day where Nepali people celebrate the goddess of wealth. He was named Laxmi Prasad (which means, a blessing from the goddess of wealth), however, he was poor all his life. His family was a middle-class family; however, their financial status was not very stable. During this time, the Ranas were ruling Nepal. They were known as “iron-fisted” rulers who thought that common people should not be educated. So, his father was the one who taught him basic education. His father was a scholar as well as a priest. After much struggle, his family got him admitted to the only school in Kathmandu Valley where he studies English and Sanskrit. He was only admitted because of his family’s high rank in the caste system. The discrimination of people due to caste was often a topic Devkota addressed in his epics, poems, and other works. These kinds of works often got him in trouble with the Ranas and is part of the reason why he is seen as the hero of the people. Another time, when he was 22, he and a couple of his friends tried to open a library in Kathmandu, after seeing some in India. He was in India because of a scholarship to continue his studies after he got his Bachelor of Arts. He was amazed that the common people had access to libraries in India and wanted the same for Nepal. When his group of friends sent a letter to the Rana prime minister asking for permission to open a library, they were sent to jail. Events like these occurring in his and other people’s lives allowed him to protest against the Ranas in the form of writing. His poetry and stories often reflected the issues that were prevalent in the country at the time, a topic others were afraid to address. Issues like poverty which he faced himself as well. Because he had little money, after his schoolwork, he tutored others and sold his poetry for money. One of his greatest works, Muna Madan, is a story about someone who gets saved by someone who is poor and of low caste. The main character learns that “a man is said to be great not by caste or race but by a heart full of love and humanity” (Muna Madan). Works like these made him famous as time went on. He used the Nepali language in an innovative style and his works were usually compiled in short lengths of time which was one of his strengths. For example, his first epic, Shakuntala, was made in a mere three months. Others after that, like Sulochana, was written in ten days. In the 1930s, Devkota went through a series of events that made him mentally sick. The death of his father, mother, and two-month-old daughter over the years made him go crazy. He was admitted into a mental asylum in India where he tried to recover. Not all was doom and gloom though, as he was also inspired by his “crazy” phase and composed many poems about it.
Laxmi Prasad Devkota is an inspiration for me and all Nepali people. Even though our societies we live in differ, I can still try to see from his perspective and empathize. This will probably be the biggest barrier between us, the things we were allowed to do simply because of those who governed us. Below I have listed some similarities as well as differences.
|Laxmi Prasad Devkota||Prabigya Devkota|
|Born and raised in Nepal||Born in Nepal, raised in Canada|
|Love of poetry and literature||Likes poetry and loves to read|
|Cares not about the appearance, or social standing in society, or anything that’s out of their control but the nature of people and what comes from within||Yes|
|Believes in equality||Believes in equality|
|Scholar||Will graduate high school and is planning to go to university|
|Traumatic experiences that changed his life||Is living a happy-go-lucky like with no traumatic experiences|
|Chain-smoker||Will never smoke|
After a long battle against cancer, Laxmi Prasad Devkota died in 1959, however, the fire that he lit for Nepali literature and the good of Nepal will not fade for years to come.