The great poet Laxmi Prasad Devkota
Laxmi Prasad Devkota was born in 1909 at Dillibazar, Kathmandu on the auspicious day of Laxmi Puja, the day when the goddess of wealth is worshipped in every household. His parents named him Laxmi Prasad. Although his name means the blessing of the goddess of wealth, he was poor all his life. Instead, he was blessed by goddess Saraswati (a deity of knowledge and learning). He became Mahakabi (the great poet) of Nepal and earned the love and respect of the people.
He was born in a middle class family. At the time he was born, Nepal was ruled by the Ranas who were against educating the common people. His family had to go through a lot of trouble to get him admitted at Durbar School, which was the only school in the whole of Kathmandu Valley. He got married at the age of fifteen, while still in school.
He wrote his first poems at school. He was quiet and always a good student who loved reading and writing. It is said that he used to recite his poems in front of his class and his friends did not believe that he wrote them himself because they were very good. His teachers, however, were impressed by his talent.
He finished school with good grades and went to Trichandra College in 1925 to study science. He got his B.A. in arts in 1929 and went to India in 1931 on a scholarship to continue his studies. He was impressed by the libraries he saw in India, and he and his friends wrote to the Rana Prime Minister asking for permission to open a library in Kathmandu. They were put in prison for this and had to pay heavy fines.
When he came back from India after finishing his studies, he had to work really hard to earn a living. His popular book Muna Madan was written during this time. All the poets of the time wrote using the old Sanskrit forms. Muna Madan was written in the jhyaure folklore style. This was completely new and it received recognition. It is still a best seller even after more than seven decades of its publication.
Soon afterwards, he lost both his parents and an infant daughter within two years. This shattered Devkota completely. It was at this point that he wrote Pagal which is one of the best written poems in Nepali.
He had the command of Nepali, Sanskrit, Hindi, and English languages and he could write poetry very quickly. He wrote his first epic Shakuntala in three months. He wrote his other epic Sulochana in ten days and Kunjini in a single day. He was a versatile writer and wrote many essays, plays, stories, novels, criticism and innumerable poems along with the epics. His essays are much admired for their style and content. He took Nepali literature to new heights. He has influenced generations of Nepali writers and many have tried to emulate him.
Devkota worked hard all his life. He became a professor at Trichandra College in 1946. Later, in 1957, he became Nepal’s Education Minister.
He was also a very generous man. He gave all he had to anyone in need. One winter morning, he saw a beggar shivering in the street and gave him the coat he was wearing.
In 1958, he was diagnosed with cancer and he passed away in 1959 aged 50.
Although he is no more with us, his writing will always keep him alive in the hearts of the people who love Nepali literature.
Other Nepali poets:
Aadikabi Laxmi Prasad Devkota
Mahakabi Siddhi Charan Shrestha
Yugkabi Bhanu Bhakta Acharya
Yuvakabi Moti Ram Bhatta