The gift of the West to India is Calcutta. Calcutta’s gift is the new element to Bengali literature, and particularly and indirectly to other modern literature of different regions of India
New education brought new ideas and the impact of the West was felt, first in Bengal and then in other parts of India. This influence came very late to Assam. In fact, English education in Assam actually began with the beginning of the 20th century. towards the end of the Victorian age, some adventurous young men from Assam had received western education in Calcutta, and through them mainly, modern Assamese literature received new blood. But by that time Bengali literature had advanced very far in assimilating Western influence.
Michael Madhusudan Dutt was the first romantic in India, for he not only introduced the sonnet and the blank verse, but also brought about revolutionary change in poetical ideals.
Bankim Chandra was a disciple of the French positivist Comte, and his writings introduced new ideas in our conception of God and man.
The writings of Rabindranath could not escape positivism. It permeates a good deal of his writings, in spite of his Upanishadic basis.
Positivism was very popular among the intellectuals of Calcutta during those days, and it was said that there were more positivists in Bengal than in the country of its origin.
Chandra Kumar Aggarwalla in one of his poems, absorbs the positivist doctrine, and that is the only instance of positivism among the early poets of modern Assamese literature. Aggarwalla was not romantic in the sense that Michael Madhusudan Dutt was.
Chandra Kumar Aggarwalla’s poem Bin Boragi bears the unmistakable influence of Walter Scott, who was a great favourite among the English syllabus-makers of those days.
I give below and English rendering of Aggarwalla’s poem Manob Bondona –
Hymn to Man
Individuals grow and weather, and grow again
The race never ends but continues forever
The human race is mysterious
Why call man mortal?
Devote yourself entirely to the service of man
Man must feel for man and love him
Love is the very soul of religion
We always move and live among men, our associates
He is greater than all
This earth of ours is the best of all places
Earth is man’s natural home
Man is God and worthy of adoration
There is nothing greater that man.
Worship him with votive offerings
All glory to man – The God.
Chandra Kumar was the only poet among the pioneers of modern Assamese literature to write in this vein.
Chandra Kumar Agarwala (1867–1938) was an eminent writer, poet, journalist from Assam. He is a pioneer people of Jonaki Era, the age of romanticism of Assamese literature. Agarwala was titled as Pratimar Khonikor in Assamese literature.A pioneer in the journalism movement of Assam, Chandra Kumar brought out an Assamese weekly called Asamiya from Dibrugarh in 1918 and later on shifted to Guwahati.