Motiram Bhatta - Legend of Nepali Literature

Motiram Bhatta is one of the initial personalities in Nepali literature. His contribution to Nepali literature is incomparable. He himself

 stood as an era of Nepali Literature. It was Motiram Bhatta who published and promoted those Bhanubhatkta’s Ramayan, and spread all over Nepal, and started a new era in Nepali language and literature.

Motiram Bhatta was born in Kathmandu in 1866 AD (Bikram Sambat 1923) at Vosiko Tole as the second child of Pandit Daya Ram Bhatta and Ripumardini Devi Bhatta.  He was born on Kushe Ausi. 

Motiram Bhatta was born on Kuse Aushi of BS 1923 and died on the same day on Kuse Aushi in B.S 1953.

Motiram Bhatta had to move to Varanasi, India, at the age of six with his family. He had his Sanskrit education in Varanasi. His interest was in Nepali and always wanted to work for it. He was fond of languages and literature so he enrolled at a Persian school for learning Persian and Urdu. 

मोति राम भट्ट

About at the age of 15, Motiram returned to Kathmandu from Varanasi and joined Durbar High School. After his schooling he went to Calcutta for higher study and there he finished his Masters’ Degree. 

Motiram Bhatta had knowledge of several languages including Sanskrit,  Hindi, Nepali, Urdu and Persian. He was a learner, he learnt music too. His life was full of learning new things. He was a singer too. He was interested in gazals. He wrote and sang many gazals in Nepali. Motiram was the first to write and sing gazal in Nepali. He is the the one who popularized gazal in Nepal. 

He is been artist all the time and exploring Nepali culture and arts. He loved Nepali folk song. In a wedding event of a friend, he got chance to listen to rhythmic recitation of Bhanubhakta Acharya’s Ramayana. He was enthralled by the Ramayana verses recited rhythmically. He was so attracted towards the Bhanubhaktiya Ramayan, he thought of  conducting more research on Ramayan and Bhanubhakta Acharya. This incident changed whole Nepali literature world for years to come. 

Motiram started his research in Bahnubhakta, this inspired him to write poems, and more gazals. Bhanubhakta and Moti Ram became supplementary to each other. Bhanubhakta inspired Motiram’s success, and Motiram presented Bhanu to Nepali Literature world. Bhanubhakta’s works made Motiram Bhatta a poet, writer, critics, biographers and publisher; whereas it was Motiram who published Bhanubhakta’s works and popularized them. Had Motiram not taken the initiative, many of the Bhanubhakta’s works may not have been preserved and popularized as they are today. The names of Bhanubhakta and Motiram, thus, come together in Nepali  literature, although their period was far different. 

Motiram started publishing Nepali literary magazine and published many books in Nepali language including Bhanubhakta’s Ramayana and other works in Varanasi. During this period, Motiram formed a literary group called ‘Mitramandali’  and this group helped Motiram in writing and  publishing books and other stuffs in Nepali. After coming back to Kathmandu, he established a library through which he continued his literary career.

Motiram wrote Bhanubhakta’s biography, which was printed in B.S 1988. 

He with some of his colleagues formed a literary committee, which established a printing press in Nepal. It is one more important milestone in Nepal’s printing history. Motiram was chosen to become the manager of the press where he devoted more time to writing and researching on Bhanubhakta’s works. The printing press gave opportunity for other Nepali writers and poets to publish their works that made the Nepali language popular. Motiram Bhatta also used to organize scholarly discourse on various aspects of Nepali language and literature that gave yet another dimension to Nepali literature and also encouraged other aspirant writers to make contribution to Nepali language and literature. 

Motiram is the one who established first library in Nepal. The library became a forum for generating awareness and a center for study and discourse. 

In number counts his literature is not more. That does not hold any meaning to count his work, he started Nepali literature publication, and other poets follow his path. He is the one who put the foundation for Nepali literature and language. Physically he served Nepali literature for 15 years and serving till the time. He wrote and edited about 25 books. Those were the starting.

Motiram was a revolutionary writer. Prior to him, poets and writers used classical style of writing. Motiram broke this tradition and started writing in a language which is understandable to all. Meter and rhythm are something like standard formula for Motiram’s poems. This made Motiram much popular all the time. 

The verses of some of Motiram’s books and poems mainly the Pralhadbhakti were recited in every household like morning and evening prayers. As his poems and books gained high popularity among the general public in Nepal, the then rulers of Nepal summoned Motiram to the Palace and asked him to translate the Sakuntala, a popular epic written by Kalidas in Sanskrit, into Nepali. 

Motiram is a legend of Nepal, who brought revolution in Nepali Literature. He was a multi-dimensional personality. He was poet, publisher, critic, researcher, promoter, patron, organizer, musician, music composer, signer, drama director and performer. His contribution to generate literary and intellectual awareness among the Nepalese people is very important and unforgettable.  Rammani Risal, a critic, says Motiram is one who promoted Nepali literature, and also used his pen to generate awareness against superstitions and social aberrations in the society. This can be clearly seen in the books “Panchakprapancha” and “Gafastak”. 

Motiram Bhatta’s works are: Manodweg Prabaha, Gajendramokchha, Panchakprapancha, Gafastak, Pralahad Bhaktikatha,, Priyadarsika, Sangit Chandrodaya,, Ushacharitra, Pikdoot, Kamal Bramar Sambad, Bibliography of Bhanubhakta, Bhanubhaktiya Ramayana. 

According to Ghataraj Bhattarai, there could be many books and material that were written by Motiram Bhatta but we were not able to preserve them. 

His work to Nepali literature is of immense value and he is always remembered as the pioneer of Nepali literature and Nepali language world.

कहाँ जन्म पाएँ, कहाँ आज आएँ
दुखीमा म पैला भनी चाल पाएँ
हरे कर्म मेरो पनि के रहेछ
विधाता ममाथि बिरानै भएछ
यीजस्ता अह्राई म बस्ने उसोरी
यिनैको हुकुंमा छुँ ऐले कसोरी
विवेक् छैन कत्ती पनी दैवलाई
न मेरै दोष् के भनूँ एसलाई

We all remember and salute him always and especially in his birthday.

Amurt - अमूर्त

Moti Jayanti
Bhadra 12