Motiram Bhatta

Motiram Bhatta was born in 1866 on the festival day of Krishnastami. At the age of six, he left his birthplace, Kathmandu, to pursue studies in the Indian city of Benaras. After learning the classical Sanskrit language for eight years, he enrolled at a Pharasi school. He was married at the age of fifteen. At that time, he was receiving music lessons and became attracted to Nepalese folk songs and their rhythm.

One day, while attending a marriage ceremony of his friend, he was mesmerized by the Ramayan verses translated into Nepali by Bhanubhakta Acharya and resolved to find out more about this work.

It is due to Bhatta’s efforts that Bhanubhakta’s Ramayan received wide recognition. He edited the poet’s work and published it in 1887. He also wrote Bhanubhakta’s biography which was printed four years later. He and some colleagues formed a literary committee which opened a printing press. Motiram was chosen to become the manager. The press published the works of other Nepalese writers and poets to make the language popular. They also organized literary discussions and debates. During this time, the Nepali language had no set grammar rules.

Motiram’s own poetry attained such popularity that old men and women recited Pralhadbhakti every morning as a prayer and he was once summoned by the royal palace to translate the play Sakuntala into Nepali.

In time, Motiram became well versed in Urdu, Pharasi, Bengali, English, and Hindi. He gained fame as one of the most significant publishers, writers, poets, and biographers writing in the Nepalese language. Today, scholars and students remember him as a fine critic and language analyst. Without him, the Nepalese language would have floundered for a long time and probably would not have reached its present stage.

Coincidentally Motiram Bhatta died on the day of his birth. He was thirty years old when he died.