A man appears in a helpless condition
Eager to know existence
Takes a long march...
This is how Bhubaneswar Devkota’s title poem, ‘Destiny’ begins. It continues to outline a man’s life – his own, one assumes. He continues: The onlooker is overwhelmed / Seeing nature’s beauty in the wild / And forgets to remember destiny.
Bhubhaneswar Devkota (1937-2007) was a man of Gorkha, specifically of a village on the south slopes of Lig Lig mountain, on the west side of the district. It’s a place of considerable significance in Nepali history. An ancestor of Prithvi Narayan Shah, the founder of the Shah royal dynasty, subdued a local leader at Lig Lig centuries ago, then created the principality of Gorkha.
Devkota, the poet, was one of four sons of a noted guru and insightful pundit who brought the first Western style education to Gorkha and insisted that his sons study English as well as Nepali and Sanskrit. Ultimately, his sons went on to earn advanced degrees and became respected professionals in their respective fields.
There are several themes in Devkota’s collection of 108 poems. Some are philosophical musings on life and nature and the nation; others take on the special meaning of home and family.
On the 283rd anniversary of the unifier/founder of modern Nepal, Prithvi Narayan Shah of Gorkha, Devkota wrote ‘Birth of a Father’:
Mother Gorkha’s alluvial soil
Produced a paragon son.
Consulted citizens for generous contribution
Gave one rupee each on donation.
Genuinely used fund to purchase gun
And made tribal ruler son.
United tiny kingdoms to make greater Nepal
Found Kathmandu safe for capital.
People wanted him to honor
And was awarded the title of father.
At the same time, the poet insightfully warns in this snippet from ‘Creation’ that: A lone person / Does not make a nation / Unison is required for creation...
Many poems speak of family members, including the poet’s mother (‘Mother’s Love’), sister (‘Amal’), wife (‘Rama and Me’) and sons (admonishing readers of ‘Rama and Me’, in the last lines, to “Ask Salil and Bijaya about it...”). His granddaughter, Siksha, gets special attention in ‘To My Six Year Old Granddaughter’ (written in 2003) and ‘Sakshi’s Birthday Wishes’.
Conservation of nature is a constant theme. These two lines start a four-stanza poem entitled ‘Garden’: The earth is garden / The people its warden...
And consider this witty comparison of Americans and Nepalis in ‘Culture’:
Americans cut grass and put it in trash
Scrape snow in December and January
Goes morning walk with dog
Leash on right hand
Feces on the left
Cannot raise either hand
Greets passersby with Hello.
Nepalese cut grass for cow
Do not scrape snow
On morning walk
Raises hand to greet passersby:
Devkota’s birthplace under Lig Lig mountain, seems always in his mind. Here’s the start of ‘Lig Lig Again’: Lig Lig is a cradle of Nepal / A dwelling of people / Courageous and visionary; / God’s abode / And people’s paradise.
Bhubaneswar Devkota was a remarkable man whose talents encompassed science, agriculture and rural development well before he turned poetic. In 2007, his sons dedicated the Gorkha Foundation, a rural development NGO, to his memory, and have erected a commemorative plaque in Amp Pipal Community Hospital, located in the shadow of Lig Lig mountain.
In his ‘Epitaph for a Tired House Wife’, Devkota wrote what I take to be his own personal epitaph: Don’t mourn for me now / Don’t mourn for me ever.
The implication is to move on, do good works...
Published by the Gorkha Foundation (printed at Apollo Offset Press, Kathmandu), 2008, 120pp., Rs 200 or $10. ISBN 978-9937-2-1116-1. For copies contact email@example.com, or go to www.gorkhafoundation.org/why.html. Kathmandu
phone: 552.2695; USA phone: 703.318.8788.