Friday, April 3, 2009

Dhumketu : An Unexposed Giant of Maithili Literature

Life: -
On 25th January 1932,Bholanath Jha ”Dhumketu” was born in an elite family of village Koilakh; then this village was the part of Raj Darbhanga. His forefathers were the resident of Ujjan village, but due to a matrimonial tie in the family of eminent scholar Umapati Upadhayaya, they were inhabited in Koilakh.Being born in an influential family, he got comfortable upbringing, but never distracted through the feudal manners. Although that phase of his village life provided him chances to enter in the arena of letters and traditional knowledge.
Due to feudal leaning of his family he used to have chances to visit and spent times at various Zamindari of Mithilanchal, but all such experiences could not altered his revolutionary and defying attitude towards the spoiling feudal order.

Indeed, he was a man of uncompromising nature….he kept it throughout his life. His transformation from Bholanath Jha to Dhumketu was an initiation of his revolutionary journey and his consistent switching in his material life. That even later caused for his pauper material condition and premature death, which remained the ultimate revelation of his struggle. Despite his nurtured family belongings, he was not a man of destiny. When he reached the age of institutional learning, he could not get proper backing from his conflict ridden family.

He earned his education through hard means .He got first class in his Matriculation exam in 1949, in 1951 he earned second class in his intermediate exam from Madhubani; this falling academic performance was caused by his active involvement in progressive activism and extremely resonant association with local communist leaders.

He further proceeded to prestigious Patna University for pursuing his higher studies, where he qualified B.A (1953) and M.A (1955) in Economics. After completion of his studies, he started working in Aryavarta press in Patna where he kept working from 1955 to 1957.But he found the stint unsatisfactory because it was not justifiable to his intellect.
So, finally he got away from his short tenure in Journalism and moved to a new voyage in academics. He joined R.R Campus (Janakpur, Nepal) as a lecturer of Economics in 1957, and kept working for a considerable phase, which ended in only in 1973. Meanwhile he got struck through a major blow with the untimely demise of his wife in 1965; in 1968 he remarried.

Like Rajkamal Chaudhary, he was also a man of contradiction, which is evident from his family life and creative productions where a lot of gap could be found between his revolutionary belief and its pragmatic action.
Though he spent a remarkable time of his academic working life in Nepal, but after the break of his stint in Janakpur (Nepal) due to his resistance against the discriminatory Panchayati System introduced in Nepal; he moved to his native place in Madhubani where he did two remarkable work by founding the two colleges in nearby areas, despite this he remained unmindful for a stable career.

In 1980, he moved again to Tribhuvan University (Kathmandu, Nepal) as an Associate Professor of Economics where he continued working till 1984 .He again got back to his home in 1984 because of personnel reasons, afterwards kept himself aloof from any institutional profile until 1997, when he again joined Tribhuvan University as Professor Emeritus where he keep working until close to his death on 6th August year 2000.
Once he quoted saying of famous philosopher T.S Elliot about the life”Where is the life, we are lost in living”, absolutely he refrained himself from absorbing in narrow aims of pleasure instead he lived in universal frame and remained a universal seekers for understanding the true meaning of life. Undoubtedly he was an alluring adventurist.

Literary Journey: -
Dhumketu was a gifted story teller; he was endowed with the great lingual skills with his wide range of studies in different languages including the world classics and humanities, which immensely contributed the development of Maithili language. Since initiation, he was oriented towards prose. His first published story in Maithili was Didi(sister,1952),which got high acclaim in literary circles that further encouraged him for more literary productions. Though he was inclined towards the prose but later he had also found taste to pen some great poetry in Maithili like “Dak Peen (Postmen, 1956)” and “Ek Ber Pher Rajdhani Main (Once again in the capital, 1977); which deserves better attention.
Dhumketu had enormous impact of Freudian Psychology like his contemporary great writer Rajkamal Chaudhary; they had many similarities in their ideology. Both defied the orthodox patterns of Maithil society and tried to penetrate in very complex corner of human mind.

Dhumketu believed story as a struggle between ID and EGO, so inner conflicts of mind canopied every theme of his literary stuffs. Once he wrote that I have no commitment to languages or literature only I am committed for peoples; who are real cause of my creative engagement. He remained a people’s oriented writer throughout his life.

He has written two memoirs in fond memory of his contemporary Rajkamal Chaudhary. First,”Vishwasht Avishwashniya (Confident Incredulous) and second, Suryapatan (Sunset).-both were published in Mithila Mihir just after the premature demise of his contemporary friend. Even his two obscure articles posses all the qualities to be called a master craft.

It was quite unfortunate for a great writer like him to see only one published collection of stories (Agurban, 1980) in his life time, even though he masterly written more than forty stories, two novels and dozens of poems besides some memoir, travelogues and articles .One among his novel “Sannipat” serially published in an obscure magazine,”Bharti Mandan”, and his second novel “Mor Par (On Turning, year2000) could be published only after his death.

Two more works of him was published posthumously “Udyast (collection of stories2002-03) and second one was “Nav Kavitak Navinta (Novelity of New Poems); though it could be a matter of solace for him but definitely he deserved more credit for his lifelong contribution in literature.

For proper evaluation of his Maithili stories, we will have to back for a while to see his work in a new light. Because like Baidyanath Mishra” Yatri (Nagarjun, popularly known in Hindi literary world) and Rajkamal Chaudhary, he had also shown immense effort to cultivate the old orthodox plot of Maithili Society. His every work has binding with the lower strata of society and their daily struggle for existence besides this he also exposed the pseudo moral constraint of authoritative class.
His three stories, “Manukhak Devta (Men’s God), Kulta (Characterless) and “Bihairi (Storms) are genuinely deserves to be ties with ‘Yatri’s Paro (A short novel) and Rajkamal Chaudhary’s ”Sugna Sagun Bichare”.

A very minute depiction of relationships which is often crossed the socially approved threshold are unique characteristics of these stories. Dhumketu made utmost efforts to unleash the ugly orthodox norms of Maithil society, sometime even he sounded overtly too much vocal and impatient about the existing deformities.
Two other less known story “Hamara Aaur (We People)”and “Shivir (Camp)” present a very candid delineation of deteriorating morale.
There is a wide range of diversity in his creative plot, which being unleashed from reading his some more stories. Like, “Dansh” presents a very complex relationship in a long span of time frame from Childhood to Young hood within a set of desire between its male and female protagonist.

“Sanbandh Bodh” and “Manukhak Devta” presents two very different and unusual attitudes towards relationship; “Sambandh Bodh” visualises lost relationship to an extreme level. On the other end”Manukhak Devta (Mens God)” narrates an awkward relationship between a maritally disturbed daughter and an aged widower father.
The story constructed around the very close social fabrics but demonstrate very hard and unpleasant transaction of conditions; this is an extremely serious work of Dhumketu, by which he tried to assault on the discriminatory matrimonial structure of Mithila. It’s ended with many question marks on social institutions. His, another story “Pita” focused a very alluring relationship between father and son, in which father ethically superseded and formatted a fine balance in family order.

In my views three of his stories deserve lot of accolades for its relentless sensible pursuits of throughout the theme. First,” Bauasin (Daughter in law)” shows an acute picture of falling feudal structure in which its lone survivor represents a metaphor of its demise. Second “Vightan (Separation)”lucidly visualises the child psychology and its articulation on religious occasions, which ended with the honest confessions from its every prime characters.
Third,”Udyast” establishes a micro observation of disabled and downtrodden people’s life, which are generally overlooked from social inclusion. Indeed, Dhumketu proved his commitment towards people’s aspirations, which assisted him to broaden his horizons and set out his desired creative world.

Dhumketu, reached to the zenith of his creativity by writing most comprehensive and detailed novel in Maithili language “Mor Par (On Turning, year 2000)” which is based on time frame between 1945-1970, though also consists some pictures of 1942 movements as well.

The novel emerges from the transformational phase of independence and in later course with the development of happenings; it raises questions on relevance of Indian Independence. Like all the previous works, Dhumketu reset the landscape of falling feudal order in which he analyzed the post independent rural India through creating a family construct inside.

The protagonists ‘Sadashiv Jha (Sada Bhai)’and Guna, illustrates a complex set of relationship between them. Guna being the cousin, daughter of Daijee and widow of fellow comrade Dukhran; impulses Sada Bhai to share in her misfortune and tries best for her emancipation, but as the novel ended with the suicide of Guna, his efforts turn into void. Before such outcome, Dhumketu very carefully dealt the class separation rather relying on cast or religious parameter in Zamindari of Lal Bachha and his successor Bhaiya Jee.

Yashodar, father of sada presents typical position of a close confident under the limit of relationship, a class divides frequently occurs during entire novel. On the other hand, second mother of Sadasiv represents unique woman character of Maithili society, because of her ethical and affectionate character and with no worldly lust.

Dhoomketu also successfully had shown the contradictory characters of revolutionary by comparing Suri Bhai and Dukhran. Breakthrough of opportunities and defeat of sacrifice superbly produced by comparing these two phase of communist movement. Indeed, his novel “Mor Par”is a masterpiece in Maithili language, which authoritatively characterised the subtle incidents of contemporary Maithili society in a very responsive manners.

No doubts he heightened the limit of literature in judging the social and individual ills. Dhumketu, like his name secured his position in Maithili literature and awoken the mass people for their upliftment from impractical social and moral constraints. He dreamt for a tolerant and egalitarian society, for which he remained incessantly aspired throughout his life. A man can only perform his duty; it is up to successive generation how they rate the works done in back…literary contribution of Dhumketu deserves a fresh look from literary commoners and luminaries!
Atul Kumar Thakur
New Delhi, April 3rd, 2009


  1. great, thanks for providing handy information about Dhumketu.

  2. शुक्रिया अतुल,धूमकेतु के बारे में विस्तृत जानकारी मुहैया कराने के लिए। और एक गुजारिश है कि आप कांमेट करने वालों के लिए वर्ड वेरिफिकेशन समाप्त कर दें ताकि हम जम कर टिप्पणी टिपिया सकें।

    ऑल द बेस्ट फॉर गुड वर्क।

  3. Atul,
    I liked both your posts on shunning politics and more particularly about Dhumketu,the wonderful poet.
    How's life?
    Amitav Thakur(IPS),Monday April 6th2009

  4. I enjoyed the blog on the great Maithili writer-there is such a strong Bihar/Nepal connection,the Buddha,BP Koirala and you own subject...
    Ramchandra Guha
    Friday,April 3rd 2009.