Family first, thereafter what immediately came to my mind was the Newah Vijnana and the person behind it. Known for over a decade by his this Journal of Newah Studies from Portland Oregon since its inception, I had been longing to see him in person! It was, therefore, but natural for me to be eager to meet this man. He has been doing good work for quite some time promoting the Newar language, culture and tradition thus helping its preservation. It was not difficult for many of the Newar, who made this land of opportunity their home and now with third generation born and brought up here, to forget these particularly the language like those of us in Sikkim immediate neighboring Nepal. It was dedicated efforts of those few amongst them who had the vision to foresee the eminent likelihood and this danger lurking in our society. Struggling for their own survival in this foreign soil, they took the cudgels also to think of and spare a while for preserving and promoting our language and literature, art and culture, etc. nay the Newar ethos. Among such rare breeds belong this gem amongst us, Daya Ratna Shakya!
It was not very difficult either to find him out on landing here. I was invited to be the Special Guest in the 9th General Meeting and Convention of the Newah Organization of America (NOA) being held at Potomac Community Center in Maryland on May 30, 2010 and to speak on the Newars of Sikkim. Daya's e-mail was there inviting me to be with his World Newah Organization (WNO) friends in the dinner night before at Tribhuvan Tuladhar's place in nearby Hay Market. This made my sister Nivedita and Jwaisaheb with Bhanij Vidit fetch me to Woodbridge in Virginia the previous evening. Regretted for not making it but the first thing next morning, courtesy my Jwaisaheb Bipin Karki, saw me there teleconferencing together with Bal Gopal Shrestha at the Oxford University in the United Kingdom. After sumptuous brunch with hospitality of Rashami Tuladhar, Tribhuvan was kind enough to drop me back enlightening me of the strides made by the NOA since its inception and his days as its president on the way.
For Daya I had brought the circa-2006 news-paper cutting with that carried an article Rahasyako Kuro Ek : Sandarbha – Gorkhe Khabar Kagat by Jaibir Khulal (Himalayan Darpan, Siliguri dated March 20, 2006) about his literary writings published as Sandarbha Sahitya : Kalimpong (1983 Upashak Prakashan Kalimpong). Daya is reported to have reproduced two articles from the Gorkhe Khabar Kagat Issue dated October 1, 1926. One of them was a gajal by Prashman Pradhan written on October 1, 1916 and another a Press Release dated August 27, 1926 issued for the Gorkha League, Dehra Dun by its Secretary J. B. Khatri. Tracing the history of Nepali news-paper publishing, he credited Motiram Bhatt being the first for his paper brought out in 1886 but there being no record in proof to this effect the Gorkhe Khaba Kagat published by the Christian Missionaries from the printing unit set up by them should be the first. Followed by Sudhasagar of 1899 (BS 1955 Sawan) said to be the first from Nepal mentioned in Nepali Sahityako Sankchipt Itihas by Dayaco-authored with Prof. Mohan Raj Sharma placing the Gorkhe Khaba Kagat in the fourth place was not correct as it was senior by 154 days to the Gorkhapatra published by the Nepal Government only from Jeth 3, BS 1958. Khulal also narrated that there was a sort of war of words between the two doyens of the the Nepali literary world when Paras Mani Pradhan started his Chandrika in 1918. The language used in it was found to be different from the one being used by Father Ganga Prasad Pradhan, who termed it as the 'Kashibashe Boli'' – Kashi or Benaras-based language. This should be the mother of present day Nepali language as it was based on Sanskrit instead. Paras Mani Pradhan's own brother Shesh Mani Pradhan praised Gorkhe Khabar Kagat in the Adarsh (January 1930) edited by him. The Gorkha Sevak published from Shillong in 1935 urged the two warring stalwarts not to wash their dirty linen in public. Khulal wished Dr. Daya Ratna Shakya settled in the USA since long, Nepali Sahitya Adhyayan Samiti or Upashak Brothers to clarify the source that would help unveil the mystery and intention so as to know the exact number of Gorkhe Khabar Kagat published till date as Kamal Mani Dixit later claimed to have obtained its 17 issues altogether for his Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya. The material reproduced by him was not from within the issues available. Some more issues could, therefore, be there than the available unless some motive otherwise in not disclosing it. My tribute to those warring Pradhans for making the history – we Newars still have the trait sometimes fighting ourselves or our own people but excel in our respective fields contributing to the cause wherever we are and in whatever capacity!