Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

3 - Serving the Vernacular in a Foreign Land: Life Writing of Ram Mani Acharya Dixit

Saturday, July 7
2:40 PM - 4:10 PM
Location: Jacaranda I, First Floor

This paper focuses on two volumes of Ram Mani Acharya Dixit’s (1883-1972) autobiography, entitled Purana samjhana (Old Memories, 1972) and Prachin samsmaran (Old Memoir, 2014), as well as a collection of travel essays, entitled Yatra samsmaran (A Travelogue, 1989). Dixit was a writer, publisher, language activist, critic, and made a significant contribution to promoting and standardizing the Nepali language.  Born in an educated Brahmin family, Dixit received Sanskrit education in Varanasi, where he participated in the Nepali language movement, ran a family publication house, published a prose focused Nepali journal, wrote and published under a pseudonym, and campaigned for Nepali to be given educational status. Despite writing under a pseudonym, he was identified by the Nepal government and called back to Nepal for his intolerable activities in a foreign land. This paper explores Dixit’s contribution to the development of Nepali language in Varanasi. What was the motivation that inspired him to publish and write in the Nepali language?  Was he influenced by the Hindi language movement that was at its peak in north India? How influential was Dixit’s role in standardizing Nepali prose? The paper argues that Dixit’s trans-border activities were critical to his definitions of and relationships among selfhood, nation, homeland, and the divine mother-tongue.

Alaka Atreya Chudal

University of Vienna, Austria

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