Motiram Bhatta: A Star of Brief Living

Gopal Prajuli

Seldom can a country ignore someone who worked for the country even if he or she died prematurely. Such a citizen becomes immortal because of great and  worthy deeds. Motiram Bhatta is one of such true sons of Mother Nepal, whom we remember as an immortal poet, though he died at an early age of 30.

Motiram Bhatta was born at Bhosiko Tole in Kathmandu in the month of Bhadra in 1866. His father’s name was Dayaram Bhatta and mother’s name Ripumardini Devi.

Motiram Bhatta started living with his father in Kashi, a holy city in northern India, when he was merely five years old. His education began there. He studied Nepali, Urdu, and Persian languages until he was fifteen. Her returned to Kathmandu in 1880, and got married the same year.

As morning shows the day, Motiram was quite promising, right from his early age. He came to know about Bhanubhakta, the poet who had composed beautiful poems, on hearing the recitation of Ramayana at his own marriage ceremony. His interest to devote his time and labor to literature grew more after he heard folk songs sung by Daaureni, a woman involved in the collection of firewood, and Ghaseni, a woman grass-cutter. He developed profound love for his mother-tongue. With these inspirations, he published an original book of poetry called Manodweg Prabah in Banaras in the year 1881.

Bhanubhakta was largely unknown to Nepali society, before the rise of Motiram Bhatta. Because of the efforts of Motiram, Nepali society came to know about Bhanubhakta. Motiram Bhatta published “Baal Kanda” the first section of the Ramayana in  1884, and the whole of the Ramayana in 1887.  Thus, he made it possible for Nepali people to enjoy the verses of the Ramayana.

Motiram Bhatta also wrote and published the biography of Bhanubhakta after conducting a research on the poet’s life for three years. After this, hidden Bhanubhakta came to light. Since then, Motiram Bhatta has occupied a prominent place in Nepali language and literature.

Poet Motiram passed his high schools from Calcutta in 1891. He appeared the F.A. exam, equivalent to Proficiency Certificate Level, but did not succeed. Collecting energy and enthusiasm to sit for the exam once again, he headed for Calcutta. He could not face the exam due to illness.  However, by that time, he had acquired a deep knowledge of Sanskrit, Persian, Urdu, Hindi, Bengali and English languages, with his own efforts and hard labor.

There was such a rare intelligence in Motiram Bhatta. Consequently, he became the first Nepali journalist. Establishing a press in 1887, he published the magazine Gorkha Bharat Jeevan. He came back to Kathmandu in the same year and opened a library in the name of Motikrishna Company to fulfill the need of public knowledge.

Motiram wrote poems and encouraged his friends to do so. His main works include Manodweg Prabah, Gajendra Moksha,  Prahlad Bhaktikatha, Shakuntala, Padmawati and Pikadoot.  This way, Motiram enriched Nepali language and literature with his beautiful poetry and ghazals, besides his research works and critical writings.

Motiram always told the truth. He never concealed anything from people in order to deceive them. He had a deep attachment with Nepali language and literature. He never developed a desire to earn fame. He was always conscious of morality, duty and responsibility.

Not only did Motiram Bhatta work for Nepali language and literature in just one aspect, he also wrote the biography of the first poet Bhanubhakta Acharya. He strengthened Nepali literature with the publication of his anthology Manodweg Prabah. He raised awareness among poets to write poem, and helped them with their subjects of versification. He attempted to enrich the store of Nepali language and literature with his many original and translated works. Besides, he wrote ghajals and poems of  Bhaktirasa and Hashayara—containing devotional and humorous ethos—respectively.

Motiram lived an extremely short life of 30 years only from Kushé Aushi, the last day of the dark fortnight of the of Bhadra, to the same day of Kushé Aushi thrirty years later.  Still, even in such a short span of living, he left incalculable credit to Nepali language and literature. He departed on the day of Kushé Aushi in 1896, but remained an immortal hero, because of his service to the nation.

He is honored as a poet par excellence and a hero of Nepali language and literature.