Yuba Kavi Motiram Bhatta

July 25, 2022

Motiram Bhatta was a Nepali poet, singer, essayist, publisher, literary critic and biographer, born on 8 September 1866 in Kathmandu. He is considered the first biographer and literary critic of Nepali literature. He started the first private printing press in Nepal. He also introduced the Ghazal style of poetry and singing in Nepal. Bhatta was a polyglot and alongside Nepali, he had studied in Sanskrit, Persian, English and was also proficient in Bengali, Urdu and Nepal Bhasa.

At the age of six Bhatta left his birthplace, Kathmandu, with his mother to receive education in Benaras, India. He was admitted to a Persian language school, where he learnt Farsi and Urdu. He became acquinted to Bharatendu Harishchandra in Benaras and studied under him. He started writing and singing ghazals at this period. He also started learning music and played Sitar. He learnt Sitar from Pannalal, a famous Sitar player in Benaras. He wrote around 400 Shayaris when he was in Benaras.

He returned to Kathmandu in 1937 BS at the age of 15 and got married. After marriage, he stayed in Kathmandu for a some time. He returned to Benaras with his wife in December 1881 (Poush 1938 BS). He started studying English in Harischandra school in Benaras.

After around seven years of living in Benaras, he returned to Kathmandu in 1945 BS (1888-1889). After returning, Bhatta with the help of his maternal uncles Pt. Nara Dev Pandey and Krishna Dev Pandey started Motikrishna Company in 1945 BS (1888-1889) in Thahiti, Kathmandu. At the same time, he opened a library which is considered the first library in Nepal. The company later opened a press known as Pashupat press.

Bhatta studied in Durbar High School in Kathmandu. He was friends with Chandra Shumsher JBR and Dev Shumsher JBR at school. The liberal views of Dev Shumsher is said to be influenced by Bhatta. For his higher education, he decided to go to Calcutta.

Motiram Bhatta wrote “Kabi Bhanubhakta Ko Jivan Charitra— the biography of Bhanubhakta Acharya”, which played an significant role in establishing Acharya as the first poet (Aadi Kabi) of Nepali language. He is considered one of the 17 national heroes (Rastriya Bibhuti) of Nepal and was given the title Yuba Kabi (Young Poet). The 1883 to 1919 period of Nepali literature is known as Motiram Era.

Bhatta became ill and bedridden for seven months and died in 1896 (1953 BS) at the age of 30.