Lil Bahadur Kshatri and His Novels: A Brief Introductory Note

Wed, Jun 19, 2019


Lil Bahadur Kshatri is a renowned literary figure, a legendary name in respect of the Nepali Language as a whole. He is the pride of Nepali people living all over the world. Born on 1st March 1933 at Police Reserve, Guwahati (Assam) Lil Bahadur got his primary and secondary level education in Shillong and Guwahati. He was graduated from Cotton College in 1956 and did his Masters in Economics from Guwahai University in 1958. Son of Prem Bahadur Kshatri and Pavitra Devi, Mr. Kshatri started his career at All India Radio and after rendering service for six years he joined Arya Vidyapith College, Guwahati as a lecturer in 1962. He was superannuated from the post of Head of the Department of Economics in the year 1994.
Lil Bahadur Kshatri is a multidimensional literary genius. He wrote great novels like Basain(1957), Atripta (1968), Brahmaputrako Chheuchhau (1986) and Pratidhwaniharu Vimsmritika (2004). In addition to these novels, there are collections of short-stories, essays and plays to his credit. For his immense contribution towards Nepali literature he has been honored, felicitated and awarded by many prestigious institutions including Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi. His masterpiece, Basain has been translated twice into English, and into some other languages and filmed as well. He was honoured with coveted Sahitya Akademi Award for his novel Brahmaputrako Chheuchhau in 1987.
Lil Bahadur Kshatri started his literary journey with a piece of poem named Shiva Stuti which was published Benaras in 1949.
Basain (migration)
Basain (1957) is the first novel of Lil Bahadur chhetri. According to some critics and research scholars it is the first Nepali novel from North-East India with its originality as well as modernity. Besides Assamese, Hindi and Chinese languages it is also translated into English by two writers in different titles. Larry Hartsell of Seattle (USA) translated it with title Towards Unknown Horizon and published by Aankura Prakashan, Gangtok in 1989. Dr. Michael J. Hutt, Professor of the School of Oriental and African Studies, London translated it under caption Mountains Painted with Turmeric.
The novel, Basain is based on social realism. It depicts the picture of the downtrodden people of the hilly areas of eastern Nepal and their economic hardship, customary rigidity, social bindings and above all exploitation and misrule of autocratic Rana Regime which compel them to leave their beloved birth place and migrate to unknown destination.
The main character of the novel is a poor peasant  named Dhan Bahadur Basnet (in short, Dhane). He lives in his ancestral home in a village with his beloved wife, Maina, a small son and his younger sister, Jhuma. Dhane and his family face calamities one after another. At the climax, a tragic incident totally ruins him. An unknown soldier, Rikute exploits Jhuma and abandons her in the state of pregnance. Dhane fails to fulfill the financial demands of the so called big men who control the village and eventually compelled to exile.
The author also depicts the warmth and intimacy of village society from which Dhane and his family are forcibly deprived. The sufferings endured by the poor peasants, the exploitation of the poor by the rich, the prejudices and social conservatism that punishes an innocent young girl who has been raped-----is the central theme of the novel.
Atripta (The unsatiated)
Unlike other two novels published earlier, the theme of this novel is not social realism. Atripta (1968), the second novel of the author is based on psychological aspect of human life. The author has attempted to depict internal conflict of a youth, his insatiate desire and attraction towards a lady resulting in his mental agony and frustration which led him towards aimless sordid life.
Noted critic, Dr. Iswar Baral has appreciated this novel and said that the diction of this novel is rich and ornamental.
Brahmaputrako Chheuchhau (Vicinities of the  Brahmaputra)
Brahmaputrako Chheuchhau is a notable modern Indian novel written in Nepali language based on social realism giving a message of unity in diversity in Indian context. It covers a period of three decades starting from the historical Quit India Movement of 1942.
The story of the novel centres round the life struggle of Gumansing, the hero of the novel. His parents--- Manbir and Jureli migrated to Assam in search of livelihood. Gumansing becomes orphan in his early boyhood but struggles hard and by dint of his perseverance and with the help of magnanimous Kakati Babu of Assamese community attains higher education. Kakati babu’s daughter, Malati falls in love of this enterprising Nepali youth. Later, Gumansing joins Indian Army, takes part in the Indo-Pak war and becomes handicapped while Malati eagerly waits for her lover’s return but forcibly married to a doctor who was impotent. The end of the novel is traumatic
The novel is rich in imagery and symbolism. The Brahmaputra is the symbol of boon and curse while Gumansing is the symbol of hard struggle. Diary Mahajan is the symbol of exploitation. Likewise, the love episode between Gumansing and Malati symbolizes the unity among different linguistic communities of the region.
The novel is replete with imagery. The atmosphere and characterization of the novel too, are well-planned. The villages of Assam, grazing reserves, cattle-farms and green pasturage are vividly depicted. In addition to that, historical, social, religious, cultural, political and ethnic diversity of the region is finely woven. The novel has become a remarkable creation with fictitious as well as real historical characters.
Pratidhwaniharu Bismritika ( Echos of  Amnesia)
Pratidhwaniharu Bismritika is the latest novel of Lil Bahadur Kshratri published by Anurag Prakashan, Guwahati. This novel is based on the life of his father and his childhood life. It depicts the urban life of Shillong and Guwahati in general and the life of Nepali speaking people in particular.
Prem Bahadur, bedridden after retirement tries to recollect his by gone days and narrates his story  before a reporter.
Prembahadur, at the age of 12 comes to Assam with a relative in search of fortune but meets with misfortune. He was made a servant in a widow’s house. He serves there as a cowherd for six years without wages. One day, he accompanied a marriage party and reached Guwahati. At a place, he saw several youths standing in a Queue. He asked someone and came to know that the youths were standing there for recruitment in Police. He too, joined in the Queue. He was selected and recruited in Assam Police. The boy who never stepped into the floor of school and had learnt only the alphabet of Devnagari script  became  a police man and by dint of his sincerity, hard work and perseverance rose higher and higher and after rendering 32 years service retired from the post of DSP of Assam Police. He also won the prestigious President’s Medal.
He recalls those days when he served at Guwahati. The places where huge building stand today were vacant lands and marshy ponds. People used boats to cross the Brahmaputra. Guwahati was mostly inhabited by the Nepali people. The name Paltan Bazar also indicates Nepali origin because the word Paltan is abrogated Nepali form of English word platoon.
Prembahadur also recalls the days when the devastating earth quack and continuous cutting of river bank by erosion. In upper Assam, many places of Sadia and Dibrugarh were swallowed while the areas of Palashbari, Chhaygaon, Boko of Kamrup district were badly affected. The Nepali people being graziers, who settled near river sides were the worst victims. Many of them were washed away and many more were rendered homeless.
The story goes on….with mention of world wars, Indo- China War, Indo-Pak war, Formation of Bangladesh and so on.
The novel contains elements of history and autobiography. The author has presented it as postmodern fiction.
Descriptive style is adopted in depicting the atmosphere and characterization in his novel. The author has picked up some real characters including his self and mixed them with fictitious ones.  Method of dialogue is also adopted. Use of colloquial and local Assamese language is a special feature of his novel.
Besides the above mentioned novels some other important works are noted below:
Tin Dasak- Bis Abhibyakti (1983) collection of short stories
Lil bahadur Chhetrika kathaharu (1993) collection of short stories
Kahile Naphukne Gantho (2014) collection of short stories
Chhariyeko Biskun (2016) collection of short stories
Asamma Nepali Bhasa ra Tyewsko Sarogaro (1961) long essay
Purbottar Nepali Katha Sahitya ra Patrakaritako Itibritta (1997)
Jyaure Partima Lagda (1999) collection of essays
Purbottar Bharatiya Nepali Sahitya ra Samajko Sangkshipta Aitihasik Digdarshan (2000)
Dobato (1967) play
Maag (1978) one act play
Suruko Suru (1987) one-act play
Poems of Lil bahadur Kshatri are published by Hamro Dhwani in its special issue in 2001


Area: 7096 Sq Km
Altitude: 5,840 ft
Population: 6.10 Lakhs
Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 ft. to over 28,509 ft above sea level
Summer: Max- 21°C ; Min – 13°C
Winter: Max -13°C ; Min – 0.48°C
Rainfall: 325 cm per annum
Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi