Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lalit: Man of Change in Maithili Literature

Lalit, like his name came out with novelty in Maithili literary scene in 1950’s through his sensible mass concern. Officially, Lalitesh Mishra or affectionately “Bachha” was born on April6, 1932 in a village of scholars, “Chanpura” that despite falling in the catchments region of Adhwara river group has unique distinction of intellectual contribution. Geographically it is situated in the western side of Benipatti Sub-division (Madhubani district), which once known as “Masco of Mithila” for strong communist base and extensive land reform. Father Chandrasekhar Mishra was a teacher and an avid learner who left deep influence over his son for the quest of knowledge.

After his initial education from village and Darbhanga, he moved to prestigious Vidyasagar College of Calcutta University in pursuits of higher education in 1949 albeit he could not accommodate himself with the life of Calcutta and returned to home. Next year, he chosen Arts for B.A in Chandradhari Mithila College {Darbhanga, then under Bihar University}, here he intertwined to literature with sturdy enrapture and published his first story in Maithili, “Kabula” {Vaidehi, 1950}. This phase was of solemn importance for his creative genesis though he was carrying deep responsibilities for his family as hailing from a humble background made it imperative for him to dwell early with the material life.

Further, in 1953, under unavoidable compulsions, he joined M.L.Akedemi School {Laheriyasarai} as a Science teacher…in the same year; he married with Moti Mishra in village Bhoj Paraul. Despite forging of all bonds, he kept aspiring for a better life, which he attained eventually in 1957, by qualifying for Deputy-Collectorship. At least for a decade, he kept himself committed for the literary productions but after the surmounting of administrative burden, and stout spiritual leaning grossly diverted his attention from the world of words. Leading Maithili literaturer, Taranand Viyogi cited his deep spiritual inclination as major hindrance for slowing down on literary front; for him, it was not pleasant to observe such transition from a man of high potential.

Moreover, on family front too, he remained very much consumed but never on the cost of his people centric commitments. He had a son, Padmakar Mishra and seven daughters-all were groomed in finest humanist family environment; Lalit was a natural austere with ultimate human concern and even his acts in practical affairs used to resemble it. On March22, 1972, his father passed away and six years later, he revered from his loving mother on October15, 1978; certainly, these setbacks had affected his sensitive mind.

Despite sporadic contribution, his works have substantial worth in reckoning the Maithili literature from the angle of change. Without ever ingrouping, he truly appeared like a mast for the transient Maithili literature-his inception of story writing marked the end of fabrication and upheaveling of modern ideas in the forefront of literary writing.

There are many hurdles to delve deeper about the works of Lalit, majors among them are lacking of proper documentation and non-availability of older issues of contemporary Maithili magazines where he had written initially. In his total forty-seven published stories, only twelve could be assembled in his lone story collection (Pratinidhi Kahani, Maithili Art Press, Navkiran Prakashan, Calcutta, 1964). Among his two novels, only “Prithviputra” was published from Maithili Academy (1984), before that it was appeared serially in a prominent contemporary Magazine, “Mithila Mihir” (from 10/05/1960-5/7/1964).

Apart from that, about a dozen of his essays transfixed the enthusiasts of his generation and added new paradigm within existing literary space. Lucidness of social analysis drew him closer to Anton Chekhov and Guy De Maupassant-his remarkable stories depicts the sound socio-cultural intricacies within even the humble canvass. Without making his narration complex, he had vision to entangle with very serious existential issues.

In “Pratinidhi”, antagonisms of political stands have beautifully coincided with the changing social and ethical morals; “Kanchaniya” explored the many facades of survival issues. In “Do Chitra”, he minutely focused on the contemporary Maithil rural society under the wave of radicalism but not without acknowledging the stout social bonds that ultimately holds the life at equilibrium among feudal and have-nots. “Overload” presents a Sub Inspector’s introspection and dilemmas of family life through his revealing soul; fluctuations are quite noticeable from the inescapable familiar duties to spellbounding realities of life.

“Udaan” poignantly highlights the issues of void obligations of middle class and its unusual intellectualism; “Prasnachinha” led to different terrain, with high moral stands he tried to show the persistence of quest for philanthropism despite stucking through adverseness from many sides. “Ek-Prisht” is a home tutor’s tell that frequently unleashes the crisis of value in education, “Ramjani” revolves around the life of Tonga pullers with intricate angles of religion, labourers fraternity, presence of change and ultimately through attitude shaping. “Mukti” is persuasively the most acclaimed story of Lalit-this story marked the shift in Maithili literature towards a new dynamicism, and changing realities.

Choice of independence from crumbling conjugal life earmarked the bigger picture of women’s empowerment here. “Ladai Par” visualised the scene of a humble rural family while departing their lone young scion for warfront-no moral dilemmas, only some genuine affinity and insecurity placed in this story. “Nav-Puran” dealt with the life of automobile community and their plights in day-to-day affair…this is unusual in its own sort.

Lalit had ingenuity for tracing and being back on key issues of his time though he had tenuous hold on his life like every mortal. Merely at the age of fifty-one, he passed away on April14, 1983 by battling with Lyver Syrosis in Betia district. Weekly Mithila Mihir’s (29th May 1983) Lalit special had awoken the sleeping consine of entire Maithil society for the illustrating works of this great man. Lalit was second traumatic casualty in the Maithili literature after the untimely demise of Rajkamal Chaudhary-departures of both badly shocked the pace of literary development for a long time.

They both were remained very closer and heralded a new chapter in literature-Lalit has translated Rajkamal’s epic story “Phulparas Wali” into Maithili and later written “Mukti” which stands opposite and more radical then the women protagonist of Rajkamal who shows stout moral imperative in her action. Lalit remained humble in his relationship with old friends and literary companions of his time, he on several occasion stressed that Rajkamal‘s “Kankavati” as last word of modern Hindi poetry.

PRITHVIPUTRA-His Master Piece:-

“Prithviputra” appeared first in Mithila Mihir in 1965 and stormed the literary world with its underneath subjectivism. Though the works were quite analomous from Lalit as he had already crossed a long stretch convincing peoples towards new way of approaches to see the social change in new light. Not for a while, Lalit let him frittered away in his convictions, instead he chosen ubiquitous way of reawakening amidst a tense plot of land conflict. He largely succeeded to oversight the frills in the delineation of characters demeanour; infusion of progressive perspectives is the soul of this novel, which keep it vibrant until the end.

The plots were woven in Farbisganj (Kosi belt)-novel starts with the impact of social changes on the conventional social system, immediately after the independence of India. Consequences of land reform widely taken place in entire theme, Dusadhtoli (lower caste abode) in village Baburbanna too seemed transient through these changes and escalation of violence following the nasty tracts of diminishing feudals. Once notified criminal though a changed man now, Bishekhi’s family-his wife, Genma (elder son), Sarupa (younger and radical son), Bijli (daughter), and Beni (daughter-in-law) are the catalysts of the theme-side characters, like Kalpnath Mishra (Bijli’s lover) and Hiralal (Bijli’s estranged husband, a railway Patman)too accounts for a lot of micro and macro coherence in the events.

Genma’s death while struggling for his land and Contractor Durjodhan Singh‘s murder in course of his wrong doing weaves the novel in very intricate manners. “Prithviputra” manifests the arrival of new age in modern India; though it’s based upon the circumstances of Mithila but its crux is universally relevant. Noted literaturer, Bibhuti Anand who has written a monograph on Lalit (Sahitya Academy, 2004) also emphasizes about his second novel (Karmanya Wadhikareste, unpublished), whose publication would indeed make fresh impacts in revisiting his works in new light.

Today Lalit’s contribution is largely unknown among the young generation of Mithila and outside of it…proper documentation and translation of his works in other Indian languages would give a new lease to his prolific conceptions. Those initiatives must be start now as any delay may permanently fixed Maithili literary enthusiasts into “Principled forgetter”…a dooming zone where creative things ceases to exists!

Atul Kumar Thakur
July 29th2010, Thursday, New Delhi


  1. Oh!great gift for me..atleast I was not awared about his work,so being possesive.Will spent more time on reading the stuffs in my mothertongue,Maithili-thanks a lot.

  2. I became very delighted to see the stuffs on Lalit,remarkably in english.Enjoyed it a lot-thanks for your conern.
    Rohit Verma,New Delhi

  3. Liked it very's a superb work which I think probably a lone effort in english over the great Lalit-Ashutosh Thakur,New Delhi

  4. I saw your writings on Lalit today only. It is certainly a good informative text - very logically and neatly presented.

  5. It's appeared before me very fresh and sensitizing to go deeper to the diverse world of Maithili Literature.Way of presentation marks the hard homework behind..thanks a lot for this insightful article.
    Dinanath Jha,Kathmandu{Nepal}

  6. Absolutely Lalit was a man of change in Maithili literature but don't you think his sluggishness of writing is a major hindarence in his true evaluation.As a writer,would like to know your opinion on that?
    Shantanu Mishra

  7. Thanks for writing...
    With aggregation of lucid facts and new styly of presentation,Lalit marked a new era in Maithili literary writing.Yes,slow pace of his writing,especially after the mid sixties hampered his potential,sometimes forming judgement indeed appears complex albeit his representative work "Prithviputra"is alone suffice for his true evaluation...
    Founder-Editor,Standpoint blog