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Balkrishna Sama (1903-1981) Lekhnath Paudyal, Balkrishna Sama, and Lakshrmprasad Devkota were the three most important Nepali writers of the first half of this century, and their influence is still felt today. Lekhnath strove for classical precision in traditional poetic genres; Devkota's effusive and emotional works provoked a redefinition of the art of poetic composition in Nepali. In contrast to both of these, Balkrishna Sama was essentially an intellectual whose personal values and knowledge of world culture brought austerity and eclecticism to his work. He was also regarded highly for his efforts to simplify and colloquiali/.e the language of Nepali verse. Sama was born Balkrishna Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana in 1903. As a member of the ruling family, he naturally enjoyed many privileges: his formative years were spent in sumptuous surroundings, and he received the best education available in Nepal at that time. In 1923 he became a high-ranking army officer, as was customary for the sons of Rana families, but from 1933 onward he was able to dedicate himself wholly to literature because he was made chair of the kingdom's main publishing body, the Nepali Language PublicationCommittee. He changed his name to Sama, "equal," in 1948 after spending several months in prison for his association with political forces inimical to his family's regime. It is by this pseudonym that he is now usually known. Sama is universally regarded as the greatest Nepali playwright, and it was primarily to drama that he devoted his efforts during the first half of his life. In recognition of his enormous contribution to the enrichment of Nepali literature, he was made a member of the Royal Nepal Academy in 1957, its vice-chancellor in 1968, arid a life member after his retirement in 1971. The young Balkrishnaseems to have been unusually gifted because 31 32 THE POK'I'S OF NEPAL he began to compose metrical verses before he was eight years old, imitating those of his father and his tutor, the father of LakshmTprasad Devkota. Balkrishna conceived an affection for music and art and developed a sense of reverence for sacrecl literature, particularly the Ramayana of Bhanubhakta: "Up until then, it had never occurred to me that the Ramayana was the work of a human being. When I watched my sister bowing down before the book, I thought it had been created by one of the gods!" (Sama 1966, 14). At school, he read William Wordsworth and other English poets and even translated the poem "Lucy Gray" into Nepali in 19f4. He was also impressed by Lekhnath Paudyal's "Ritu Vichdra," and Lekhnath's influence is clearly discernible in Balkrishna's earliest compositions. His first play, Tdnsenkojhan (Rain at Tanscn), which he wrote in 192f, used the classical anushtup meter, and he wrote most subsequent dramas in verse forms. These included the classicworks of Nepali theater: Mutuko Vyathd (Heart's Anguish, 1929), Mukunda-lndird (Mukunda and Indira, 1937), and Prahldd (1938). Sama was undoubtedly influenced by Shakespeare's use of verse in drama and experimented with unorthodox metrical combinations , showing scant regard for the rules of Sanskrit prosody. Sama was also an accomplished painter and story writer, as well as the author of a speculative philosophical treatise, Regulated Randomness (Niyamit Akasamikta). His poetry represented the second facet of his literary personality, although it was certainlyno less important to him than his plays. All of his poems were published as a single collection in 1981, with the exception of two long works that appeared separately. It is clear from this volume that Sama produced far more poetry in his later years than in his youth: less than forty poems were published before 1950, but more than one hundred and fifty appeared between 1950 and 1979. T. Sharrna (1982, 92) believes that Sama's poems fall into four categories. The earliest were fairly conventional compositions in Sanskrit meters and were followed by the many songlike poems that are sprinkled throughout Sama's first verse dramas. After 1950, he produced poems that dealt with philosophical themes in ancient Vedic meters, as well as thernatically similar poems written in free verse. 1'he earlier compositions were more formulaic than later works, although Sama's interest in experimentation was clearly evident at an early stage. In "Broken Vase" (Phuteko Phulddn, 1935), for instance, the opening verse issymbolically shattered and fragmented: oh the vase . . . from my hand . . . slipped . . . fell to the door . . . broke with a crack . . . water spilled . . . flowers, too, . . . smashed . . . to smithereens! His...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780520910263
Related ISBN
9780520070486
MARC Record
OCLC
43476642
Pages
280
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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