Prof. (Dr.) Kamal Prakash Malla (1935-2018)
Some Reflections in Tribute
For those readers, who might not be aware of what were Dr. Malla's great contributions to our society spending major part of his life in Kathmandu, Nepal. I share here what little I could understand from the article Bhavana makhu shodhaya lindhasaay chwasu choyamha Kamalprakash written by Bijaykrishna Shrestha that appeared in the www.newaonlinenews.com recently. “There are many writers and critics like Ratnadhwaj Joshi, Janaklal Baidya, Thakurlal Manandhar, Maniklal Shrestha Ishwaranand Shresthacharya whose seminal works have put the Newar literature to a high pedestal but it was only Dr. Malla to take through his scholarly and academic works to the international level to be reckoned with. Sik:miya Swahane, Nepalbhashaya Dhwana Safuya Ghala: (List of published books in Newar Language), Nepalbhasha-Angreji Khangwa: Dhuku, Gopalraj Vanshawali are the immortal works that he shall ever be with us though physically he is no more amidst us. Litterateurs and linguists like Kavikeshari Chittadhar Hriday were of the opinion that Nepalbhasha was like Tamang language, an offshoot of the Indo-European language.Considering many Newar words based on Sanskrit, it is believed so. But Dr.Kamal Prakash Malla based on works after the Sugauli Treaty the Assistant Resident and after him Resident in Nepal Bryan Hudson's Eassay on Languages, Literature and Religion of Nepal and Tibet (1874) and Stein Kono's authentic book Linguistic Survey of India wrote proved that Nepalbhasha was a language of non-prominal group under the Tibeto-Himalayan language based on Tibeto-Burman within the Tibeto-Chinese languages.
Kamal Prakash-ju wrote, the article continues, “Dharmaditya-ju, after him Hriday-ju and all writers thereafter have been writing in our different articles, speeches, forewords, debates, discussions everywhere that Nepalbhasha is the oldest of the languages in Nepal. Really, how old is this language? If it is that old, is it in the shape of a lingua franca/common language or in the literature and some treatise. How old is this language and does it have archeaological support? It has never been found studied till this date. Until some serious study is done of our language, without any scientific research no justice would be done to its linguistics. Today's intelligentsia, close-fisted doing nothing, simply harping about our language to be the oldest would serve no purpose.” In such a scenario, the article mentions, Dr. Kamal Prakash Malla have gone working to a great extent. He has shown the path and paved the way the present day research workers could follow. This he has done not only to benefit the scholars and universities through his works in English but also placed well before his fellow Newar community by writing in Nepalbhasha so that he could be heard and understood well. His major work throwing light on the history of Nepal was Gopalraj Vanshawali brought out along with its translation in association with Dhanvajra Vajracharya. Similarly, his work on own clan Mallas have brought forward Pachali Bhairav as their ancestral lineage.
A Big Support
Dr. Kamal Prakash Malla is not much known figure to the Newars in Sikkim and this author had once the rare opportunity to be introduced to him one evening when I was with Natibajra Bajracharya at his Safu Dhuku, the popular haunt for books and magazines in Nepalbhasha and concerning the Newars while in Kathmandu. Thanks to our book Newa Varna, Lipi ra Bhasha Parichaya (1996 and 2001) that made us a known figure there in Nepal. Later while in the USA in 2010, we had launched www.karunaguthi.com under the auspices of the primordial World Newah Organization via teleconferencing on the Skype. Dr. Kamal Prakash was among many others to be informed about its first update thus -
“Sept 1, 2010
Jwajalappa ! Greetings!
We have just updated our website www.karunaguthi.com with announcements that you would be interested to see. This is a step towards our continued efforts to repay the society to which we belong and owe much too!
Enjoy but let us have your Feedback to improve and serve more and better.
Subhay! Thank you!
For Karuna Devi Smarak Dharmarth Guthi,
(Rajiva Shanker Shresta)
He was prompt and kind enough to respond on Thu, Sep 2, 2010, 9.30 PM
Thank you for kindly posting me an update on your guthi's webpage. It is very easy these days to launch one, but hard to sustain it with meaningful materials.”
Sept 2, 2010
Dear Bhaju Kamalju,
We thank you for the invaluable advice that make us inspired to work more dedicated to our efforts. In an effort to repay the society we belong to and owe much too, I share my views old and new. I do not know if they be of interest to my readers – topics I feel like dwell upon.
We are equally grateful to the fellow citizens here who have been kind enough to support our efforts. Struggling for their own survival in foreign soil taking their family all along, they have not forgotten their motherland and to take care of the need to protect, preserve and promote our culture and tradition, customs and rituals, language and literature, etc.
I do not know what an idea you could get about the Sikkim Newars as we have been passing through a worst phase like elsewhere there too. People entrusted with the task of carrying us forward have gone astray. Thus for nearly a decade whatever little was done earlier has gone waste and it may need some time to recover the irreparable damage done. Ultimately, we have been able to wrest back and restore its original name Sikkim Newa Guthi on way to regain the confidence and glory. You must have read about the story from Dr. Bal Gopal Shrestha's findings almost a decade back. We have been trying through an ad-hoc President Rohit Kumar Pradhan, who is to seek the mandate on 11th of this month. May Lord Ganesh be gracious enough and bless us on his Chaturthi day! Otherwise, things are not the way it should be. Maybe, our ancestors are not with us!
We should be able to learn from the NESOCA experience as it suddenly and abruptly, as if waylaid, disappeared hijacked, someone said. Painstaking efforts of Maheswor Shresthaju for nearly half a decade was gone. I have only pages from the history to share with as I could not contact him either....
We, have completed 100 days here with daughter Rachna and Jwaisaheb Vimal at Exton PA meeting relatives, visiting places and writing about them for my own pleasure. Now this www.karunaguthi.com help get me connected to the learned and wise fellow Newah fraternity like you. That makes me going with my works here.
Wish you a pleasant stay here.
My next email was as shown below:
Oct 4, 2010
Dear Bhaju Kamalju,
Thank you for your learned opinion in prompt response to what I tried to put across my fellow Newar brethren back home in Sikkim this morning.
I have received a few other comments as well on the issue that I would like share with you all posted on www.karunaguthi.com for more. I shall be grateful if you could kindly give your further opinion and advise us on the issue and whether we should follow or leave it up to individual themselves to decide.
I read just a while ago :
“To think creatively, we must be able to look afresh at what we normally take for granted.” - Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
Thank you once again.
On Tradition of Celebrating Mha Puja
October 4, 2010
An important and pertinent issue has been raised by Bhaju Suresh in www.nepalmandal.com (link in support also at www.karunaguthi.com) that needs to be reached to all there in Sikkim as well. I have tried to encapsulate taking just five lines from the page and attempted to put it what it means to those not familiar with our mother language. It says, “We need not have a sait ( a time auspicious - as such since the day and a festival is itself auspicious) not only for Kijapuja but also for Mohni (Dashain) to put or accept tika. Mhapuja has been a festival to all the Newars followed traditionally for ages together. Now we have accepted it as the Festival of the Newar Unity. Our Kijapuja is only on the third day (Nov 8, 2010) - two days later of Laxmi Puja (Nov 6, 2010) and a day after Mhapuja (Nov 7, 2010). There is no reason to have two minds about it”
"किजापुजा जक मखु, मोहनिया चालं कुन्हु नं झी साइत स्वयाः सिन्हः तीम्वाः । म्हपुजा धइगु सम्पूर्ण नेवाःतय्सं परम्परांनिसें हना वयाच्वंगु पर्व । आः वयाः थ्व पर्वयात नेवाःतय् एकताया पर्व धकाः नं स्वीकार यायेधुंकल । झीगु किजापुजा लक्ष्मीपुजायां कंस कुन्हु अले म्हपुजायां कन्हय् कुन्हु हे लाइ । उकी दोमन यानाच्वनेमाःगु कारण हे मदु ।"
Even for Mhapuja no sait is needed. We have to sit, like for Kijapuja, before a mandap and follow the tradition step by step that we have been doing it there too in Sikkim as well. Some years ago complimentary copies of the book Mha Puja by Bhaju Satya Mohan Joshi in Nepali and Newar have been distributed in Sikkim and Darjeeling courtesy Bhaju Indra Bhakta Shrestha of Kathmandu and it has helped us a lot to know more about the festival.
for KARUNA DEVI SMARAK DHARMARTH GUTHI,
RAJIVA SHANKER SHRESTA
Many thanks for your kind mail, purporting to clarify the tradition of celebrating Mhapuja among the Newar community.
Our tradition is based on the Hindu puranas. For example, the Vishunu Purana narrates an episode of how Vishnu banished the generous demon king Baliraja to Hell by taking the whole universe (the Sky and the Earth) in two steps, and the third step is placed on Bali's head. With that step Vishnu also banishes Bali to Hell. However, because of his renowned generosity he was allowed to celebrate three days in a year with lights and festivities. The first night of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Karttika is also known as Bali-pratipada and the preceding night is celebrated in festivities as "self-worship" as "Sukha-ratri" the night of happiness. It was the exceptional moment, when Lord Siva conceded to play a game of cowrie with Parvati.
This episode goes back to the Vedas (where Vishnu is already eulogized as the trivikrama), and it is elaborated and rendered in several variant versions in the Padma Purana, the Surya Puranaand , above all , in the Aditya Purana. Our local Svayambhu Purana also waxes eloquently on the merits of celebrating this night.
The worship of the Self, represented by the mandala symbolism decorated with five grains, five elements and serving a samaya consisting of five potent substances is an ougrowth of tantric tradition going back to the Nishpannayogavali of Advayavajra and his lineage ca. 11th century AD.
That the festival of lights goes back at least to a millennium and a half (ca 5th century AD) is beyond doubt. Its evidence is also provided by Nepalese art. There are two identical sculptures of the Baliraja episode, one in Tilaganga, Pashupati , dated AD 464 and another in Lazimpat now preserved in the National Museum, dated 3 years later.
I am afraid the festival has nothing to do with the founding of Nepala-samvat. The Newar community didn't invent it. If Satya Mohan Joshi and his acolytes think so they are misled by little knowledge they have of Astronomy and less of culture. I hope this is not yet another sad example of the lame man leading the blind!
Official lunar calender everywhere in the world is based on mathematical calculations of the ending moment of a tithi, the duration of a lunar "day". Its span varies from day to day. It does not coincide, like civil day, with sunrise to sunrise. Tithis may last more or less than a civil day, or they may be "lost" in adjustment with the solar calendar. Please go to http://www.calender converter. There are hundreds of software to check when does Karttika shukla pratipada begin and Aswina amavashya end this year or any year.
Do we follow the beginning , the duration, or the ending moment of a tithi ? Doesn't tithi matter at all in a lunar calendar which is the backbone of all our festivals, rites, and rituals?
Opinions among our Hindu/Buddhist ritual specialists depend upon the "school" of the pundit----whether he follows the Maithili, the Dravida, the Kaynakubja or the Gaudiya school. That in turn depends upon where his forefathers were from --the south, the north, the east and the west of the Aryavarta!
The textual sources such as the Nirnaya Sindhu are cited by them as "the Shastra"---as if there is only one. But the bad news is that there are more than 30 such divergent "authorities" on when to celebrate a festival or perform a ritual depending at times upon whether it is inauspicious or an auspicious one.
"Fools rush in where angels fear to tread," wrote Alexander Pope. Often I fail to understand when our "leaders" become so categorical on what every member of the community must do.
Kamal P. Malla
Issues and Opinions
I had forwarded him the link on news-report of Kashi Bahadur Shrestha Birth Centenary Celebrations and it was his greatness he kindly acknowledged thus on 2011/10/19
Many thanks for forwarding me the paper cuttings containing news/reports on the celebrations of Birth Centenary of Kashi Bahadur Shrestha. I will treasure the documents.
Kamal P. Malla
On December 18, 2010 we had shared first update from Kathmandu Nepal to www.karunaguthi.com in the eve of Happy Yomari Punhi with The Story of Bakhan Daboo and the Newa: Story-writers and New additions Nepal in Library page. In reply, Prof. Malla wrote,”Many thanks for kindly posting me the latest update for your web page. I have attached one that might interest you. I hope you will find it relevant . It was dated 20 December 2010 wherein he had attached me his latest Some Recent Publications on Newar Culture and Identity – Brief Reflections that I replied him the very day thus : So kind of you and I wish others too benefit of your webpage, hence this is included in our Feedback. An extract might be of interest here to share
"Although they are racially a mixed stock, several aspects of Newar social and cultural practices ultimately go back to “the great tradition” of Vedic-Hindu-Buddhist traditions. Their cherished institutions such as the guthi, agama, vihara, degu puja, phuki, shah, nani, twah , their arts, architecture, or their festivities and rituals are all inspired by the same common South Asian “great tradition”, with minor local modifications. Take their language, for instance. The Academy's Practical Nepalabhasa Dictionary gives a distorted picture of the Newah language as it has, unfortunately, a disproportionate (65 percent) Sanskrit, Hindi, and English words.
On Newah Vijanana
Our readers might be interested to know the correspondence we had regarding the Newah Vijanan and the Person behind it and his advice on the matter:
It was gratifying to read your personal essay on NV and the man behind it. Congratulations for this intimate piece.
Reading it I came to learn more about the journal and its editor's efforts in various fields, including Linguistics. I was, of course, familiar with some of his published work, including his Masters thesis and recent papers. What I liked about your essay is that it is about you and your social/family background as well as about the scope or the territory the journal covered in the last fourteen years.
Editing and publishing an academic journal on a limited specialization (such as Newar studies) is no small achievement, particularly in the USA where the standards as well as competition are both too high, certainly higher than in our part of the world.
As a well-wisher hoping for the continuity of the publication, I have some queries.
As I have some familiarity with the academic publishing (as Editor of TU Journal, Contributions to Nepalese Studies, and Kailash), I was wondering if you or Daya Ratna Shakya Bhaju can furnish me with some details. I am interested in knowing
1. the number of copies printed per issue
2. the cost of production of each issue
3. the total number of subscribers
4. Non-subscription sale per issue
5. Financial loss per issue , if any
6 Advertisements, Donations/Subsidies/grants from any donor or sources, Nepali or US, if any..
Apart from a regular flow of articles/papers/reviews of an acceptable standard and the time and energy to edit them and see through the actual printing process, the financial sustainability of a publication sets the last limits at the end of the day in the market economy.
I understand that from Nos 8 and 9 Daya Ratna Bhaju is handing over the editorial responsibilities to others. Has this move anything to do with the sustainability of the project?
Since an academic journal is a public domain I hope my curiosity, inspired by your essay, is not trespassing on any sensitive territory.
With kind personal greetings and best wishes,
In reply I wrote on Jan 31, 2011 thanking him for the comments feedback that was posted on the feedback page of karunaguthi.com. Since a copy of the letter also gone to Daya ju, who was in a better position and might respond to him.
His interest - an encouragement
First ever convention of the World Newah Organization was to be held in London in March and in my letter date 29 October 2011 I had expressed that it would have been a golden opportunity to present my book, a compilation of my writings dedicated to the Newar in English. He had enquired on 31 October 2011, “Was your book released at the convention?” I replied him, “Thanks for interest shown and this is an encouragement for me . The book is not yet ready. I did not attend the Convention. Best regards.” The book was ultimately released by his brother Malla K. Sunder and Dr. Arjun Kumar Karki, Nepalese Ambassador there four years later in March 2016 during the Second WNO Convention held at Baltimore, Maryland. The Newars World~Wide – Connecting the Dots : Sikkim was well received here in Sikkim as well as in Kathmandu Nepal besides there in the USA with the co-operation and support of the Nepa Pasa Pucha: Amerikaye and Newah Organization of America who were behind the successful Second WNO Convention and it would not have ever been possible to reach there without them.
“Former rector of Tribhuvan University Prof. Dr. Kamal Prakash Malla passed away today. He was 83. He had also served as the chief of the English Central Department of the University. Malla was a renowned linguist and writer and had published over two dozens of books in English and Nepal Bhasha (language). He was the expert of Newari history and language, including writing grammar of the Kathmandu dialect and served as editor-in-chief of a comprehensive dictionary of Classical Newari. He is survived by his wife, son and daughter. According to Malla’s brother Sundar K Malla, his last rites will be performed in the USA on Tuesday. (The Himalayan Times 18 November 2018).
Dr. Malla as its Chief Editor, “A Dictionary of Classical Newari - Compiled from Manuscript Sources” was published by the Nepal Bhasa Dictionary Committee of Cwasa Pasa, Kathmandu in 2000 after 20 years of its idea first conceived in 1980. It is “Dedicated to the Memory of Prem Bahadur Kansakar (1917-1991), the founder of the Pradipta Pustakalaya - the First Public Library in Nepal, Cwasa Pasa, the Nasah Khalah – a cultural organisation, the Asha Archives, a public archives and many social, educational, cultural, political organizations and movements in Nepal including this project, He being a true symbol of the modern language movement in Nepal Bhasa.” Raja Shakya speaking to Shanta Raj Shakya on Prof. Dr. Malla, who were together in the Asha Safu Kuthi for a long time, mentioned A Dictionary of Classical Newari as the best work from him as its chief editor over a long period of time when many joined and left the Committe. He has many outstanding well researched articles on history, culture, literature, heritage, etc. published and unpublished that needs to be compiled and brought out lest they are lost in oblivion.
Jankavi Durgalal Shrestha expressed his grief with welled-eyes in his poem Dr. Kamalprakash Malla manta dhaa:gu nyana:.
Dr. Bal Gopal Shrestha paid his tribute - Kamal Prakash Malla, Only in our memory! , an extract from the same is shared here:
“Extremely sad about the passing away of honourable Kamal Prakash Malla. We will be missing one of the greatest intellectuals of our time whose versatile writings inspired generations of Nepalese academia. It is an irreparable loss indeed.
“As amateur Nepalbhasa writers, we grew up reading his balanced, highly intellectual writings in Nepalbhasa. Later, I had the chance working almost two years for him as an editorial assistant for 'A Dictionary of Classical Newari: Compiled From Manuscript Sources' (Kamal P. Malla, Chief editor, 2000). It gave me the opportunity of dipping into the massive manuscript sources of classical Nepalbhasa literature, Newar history and heritage.”
Dr. Shrestha had interviewed Prof. Malla that elaborately covered major issues pertaining to the Newars in the article Harek thanse than manuta khulla duhan wayegu thaunya sthitita panema: (Today's trend of people pouring in freely from all the places should be stopped) that first appeared in in the Nepalbhasa weekly Inap 26 years ago in Nepal Sambat 1113. Finding it equally relevant even in present day context was also recently reproduced by www.jheegu.com on Facebook last April. Here it is known that Bhaju Malla did his graduation from Patna University in 1957 and M.A. in English Literature in 1959. In 1965 he did his B.A. Honours in English and in 1974 did PhD in English from the Leeds University. He started teaching and was Rector in Tribhuvan University from 1977-1979. He had been teaching in the English Department of Kirtipur Campus of the Tribhuvan University since 1962. During 1980-81, he was Visiting Professor in the California University at Berkley, USA.
Last rites of the mortal remains of Prof. Malla were performed and cremated at the South Care Cremation and Funeral Society at Alphaaretta in Atlanta, Georgia, USA last Tueday in presence of his family members and friends. We could further know that a condolence meeting in fond memory of Prof. Malla, who was the founder and former advisor of the Newah Dey Dabu, would take place on Saturday 24th November at 10 am at the residence of Malla K. Sundar, deceased's younger brother at Thayemaru, Kathmandu and all his well-wishers were invited to join the family on the occasion in offering prayers to the departed soul.
Today Prof. Malla is no more amidst us, but his memories would always be with us in the form of numerous remarkable books and rich scholarly works he has left behind. Our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family to bear this loss. It is indeed a great and irreparale loss not only to the family but to the society as well! May the departed soul rest in eternal peace in his heavenly abode. With heavy heart, we bid him adieu!
Disclaimer: This is author’s personal account of memories in tribute updated to cherish and treasure often on a detour here and there en route to share the joy of the journey called life. Some names, quotes, places and events mentioned are just to connect with and no malice whatsoever intended. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.