Xankardeb plays to go global in English

Next in line: Madhabdeb's works

By Rajiv Konwar in Guwahati
  • Published 22.01.16
(Right) Dayananda Pathak, translator of the plays, at the book launch in Guwahati on Thursday. Picture by UB Photos

Guwahati, Jan. 21: The effort of taking the works of Vaishnavite saint Srimanta Xankardeb to the world got a boost today with the publication of all his ankiya naat (one-act plays) in English.

Translator of the plays, Dayananda Pathak, a retired college teacher, said today that all plays of another Vaishnavite saint, Madhabdeb, a disciple of Xankardeb, would also be available in English within two months.

Written in Brajabuli but dotted with Sanskrit slokas, ankiya naat has playedan important role in Assamese society for centuries. Although several forums have been trying to propagate the ideals of Xankardeb across the world, non-availability of these works in English was a major hurdle. "Xankardeb's plays were still inaccessible to the world. The translation of his plays into English has been a long-felt necessity," Pathak said.

This dramatic innovation ( ankiya naat) worked out by Xankardeb was both for propagation of his ideals among the people and for the expression of his literary sensibilities.

The plots were drawn from the stories and legends of Bhagavadapurana.

Their central theme and motif rivet around the victory of truth over falsehood, humility over possessive pride, love and devotion over hatred and unconditional submission to Lord Krishna.

Six plays written by Xankardeb - Potni Proxad, Kalidomon, Keligopal, Rukmini Haran, Parijat Haran and Ram Bijoy - are available to the people. He is said to have authored two more plays - Kongxo Bodh and Jonmo Yatra - which are not available.

Pathak said despite being written centuries ago, Xankardeb's plays are modern. "It is often felt that the Xankari plays have a medieval ambience. This presents only half-truth. Our studies of his plays reveal that Xankari plays are still modern in terms of dramatic technique and the world should know about it," he said.

Karunasagar Das, a London resident who has been working to propagate the ideals of Xankardeb, said he would donate copies of the book to the British Library. The library was the place which had preserved the only available copy of the first Assamese book, Dharmapustak.

Former presidents of Asam Sahitya Sabha, Lakhinandan Bora and Kanaksen Deka, lauded the effort saying although translating the ankiya naat was a Herculean task because of its language, Pathak did it "efficiently".

"It will be a great leap in taking Xankardeb across the world," said Bora.