Ranjan Kumar Padmapati
(The writer can be reached at email@example.com)
We come across two Karmabirs among the Congress workers of freedom movement of 1921, one was Karmabir Nabin Chandra Bordoloi and the second one was Karmabir Chandranath Sarmah of Tezpur. Chandranath was born to Dandinath and Koushalya on 9th of December 1889 at Mekorchuk in Bihoguri Mouza . Chandranath is equal in stature along with Karmabir Nabin Chandra Bordoloi, Deshabhakta Tarun Ram Phukan, and Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi.
Chandranath completed his primary education at Bihoguri and entered into the Sadar Middle Vernacular School, Tezpur in 1901, secured a scholarship in the primary examination. Then he enrolled his name in the Tezpur Government High School in 1904. From his childhood Chandranath showed brilliant academic records and could draw the attention of his teachers . Throughout his career in school Chandranah stood first and received prizes. Litterateur Padmanath Gohaibaruah mentioned Chandranath in his book 'Mor Jibon Soworon' as his "most favorite" student. He studied books covering different topics that included "Chintanol', 'Jiwonadorsa' in Assamese , 'Desher Kotha", "Tiloker Mokkordoma" in Bengali and 'Ancient Civilization of India' by Ramesh Dutta in English. He also read lectures delivered by eminent personalities like Dadabhai Naoroji, Gokhale, and Keshab Sen. He showed much interest in literature since his schooldays. Chandranath and Captain Hem Chandra Baruah jointly published two issues of the handwritten magazine 'Chetana" in high school, but could not continue as the school's headmaster Keshab Nath Phukan opposed it. The headmaster imposed fines on the editors and copyist Basanta Baruah, Annada Kumar Padmapati and Kali Charan Bhattacharjee. Chandranath's mentor was Lambodor Bora in literary activities.
Chandranath passed the matriculation examination in the first division in 1910 and entered into the Cotton College, passed Intermediate in 1912 in the first division occupying high position, received a monthly scholarship of Rs 20 and this amount eased his financial hardship. After meeting his personal expenses he helped poor students with this meagre money. In the Cotton College he first became assistant editor of handwritten magazine 'Seuti' in the Intermediate phase and became editor in the BA third year. He had started writing in the newspapers like 'Usha' and 'Asam Bilasini' current in those days . He passed the BA exam in 1914. In 1918, passed BL from the Earl Law College . He wrote four books, namely, 'Bidyasagar', 'Bosha Phul', 'Bosha Phulor Saneki' and 'Matriculation, Translation and Composition'.
He was inspired by the ideals of Haliram Dhekial Phukan and Peoli Phukan from early school days . The Jallianwala Bagh massacre and Rowlatt Act hurt his nationalist sentiment. He was the pioneer in steering the non-cooperation movement in Assam under the banner of the Assam Association (established in 1903) in the capacity of assistant secretary. Later on, the Assam Association merged with the Assam Provincial Congress in 1921. He became a true disciple of Mahatma Gandhi. He dressed in a simple fashion, clad in dhoti-banyan-kamij and sandal. After becoming a Purna Asohojogi, he walked in bare feet. Chandranath was the first to boycott the legal profession in Assam, and then persons like Gopinath Bordoloi, Nabin Chandra Bordoloi, Kuladhar Chaliha and Tarun Ram Phukan followed suit. For his simple living and ethics, people termed him as 'Asomiya Gandhi'.
According to his close litterateur friend Dandinath Kalita, Chandranath was the key person to conceive the idea of formation of the Axam Xahitya Xabha in line with the Uttar Bonga Sahitya Sanmilon held in Gouripur. Chandranath Sarma was closely connected with the Asom Ekota Sobha . In a meeting of the Assam Association and Ekota Sobha, the 'Asomiya Chatraor Sahitya Sanmilon' was established on 25th December,1916 . But at the instance of the president Lakshminath Bezbaroa, the name was changed to 'Asom Chatra Sanmnilon'. This necessitated establishment of a separate another literary body for which an executive working committee was formed to chalk out the modalities in Guwahati . Accordingly, Chandranath Sarmah wrote to the office-bearers of the Sibsagar Chatra Sanmilon. But people at Sibsagar independently held Sahitya and Chatra Sanmilon together. That was the humble beginning of the Axam Xahitya Xabha . Chandranath jointly published 'Chetona' with Ambikagiri Rai Choudhury in 1919 from Guwahati .
Chandranath Sarmah was born in a humble family with extreme poverty. To ease the financial hardship Chandranath married a daughter of Annada Kumar Baruah of Ujanbajar on insistence of his mother and brothers while he was still a student in the Cotton College . Then he started living with his father-in-law, but for ideological differences, moved to a rented house later on .
Chandranath shifted permanently to Tezpur in August, 1920. He became the district president of the Congress. Chandranath attended the Congress session in Mumbai in 1921 along with Nabin Chandra Bordoloi. He was successful in bringing Mahatma Gandhi to Assam for the first time. Accordingly, th Mahatma arrived in Guwahati on 18th August, 1921 . Gandhi reached Tezpur on 21st August, 1921. Gandhi stayed at 'Pakee Ghar'. Chandranath was always with Gandhiji at Tezpur but could not accompany the latter to Jorhat because of illness.
The Karmabir's loyality towards motherland could be understood from the following two examples as noted by Dandinath Kalita. On 27th December, 1919 when the Assam Association meeting proceedings were in full swing , he received a telegram that his wife was dangerously sick and his presence was urgent at native place. Chandranath replied in the negative and said, " I cannot leave the meeting premises, I leave my wife to God's mercy". On another occasion, during the Axam Xahitya Xabha's Barpeta session, his only daughter was extremely ill but he went to attend the conference . He was an out-and-out workaholic . People most appropriately called him Karmabir. He was pivotal in sending two representatives - Nabin Chandra Bordoloi and Prasanna Baruah - from the Assam Association to London to include Assam in the proposed Montague-Chelmsford Reforms (1919) for which he raised a fund of Rs 4,000.
The Karmabir died at an early age of 32 years on July 20, 1922.