Mrityunjay: The first Assamese book to win the Jnanpith

During the Quit India Movement in 1942. There was socio-political unrest all over the country. The young generation of that era were confused whether they should stick to the non-violent principles of Mahatma Gandhi. The freedom struggle was in its last phase but a section of the youth had already lost its patience. A group of revolutionaries in Assam chalk out a master plan to derail a British military train in Panikhaiti, located in modern Kamrup district of Assam.

What followed next is the breathtakingly stunning visual description, with a graphic delineation of how the plan to derail a train carrying military officers can be executed in the sublime valley of the mighty Brahmaputra river. The characters and the scene come alive in the mind of the readers as one is drifted back to the days of independence struggle in Assam.

Birendra Kumar Bhattacharya (1924-1997) created his magnum opus Mrityunjay (Immortal) – one of the greatest books ever written in Assamese language.

Assamese literature has its own beauty and prominence in Indian literature.  Mrityunjay is definitely the best among the “great” books written in Assamese that can is equivalent to the standard of the some great books in the world. . This book helped Birendra Kumar Bhattacharya bagged him the prestigious Jnanpith award in 1979.  Till date, only two Assamese authors have won the Jnanpith award which is the most prestigious literary award in India. In 2000, Indira Goswami a.k.a Mamoni Roisom became the second Assamese author to win this award.

The author Birendra Kumar Bhattacharya himself had witnessed the Barapathar derailment that took place in 1942. This inspired him to carve out Mrityunjay – a fascinating tale of revolt against the British Raj. The book is said to be one of the few books which have romanticized the Indian freedom struggle in such an apt manner. Mrityunjay is often compared to Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyaya’s masterpiece Bengali novel Anandmath which is an extremely magnificent description of the Indian angst against the nineteenth century British Raj.

The English version of Mrityunjay is translated by D.N. Bezbaruah.

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