Guwahati: It is difficult to point out the specific time of birth of a language and literature. But we can look back to the history to find out evidence and specimen of important data related to the literature and language. An Indo-Aryan language, which is spoken by 13 million people of North-East India, Assamese has been estimated to be over hundreds of hundred-year-old. History of Assamese literature can largely be classified into three periods, including Early Assamese period (6th to 15th century A.D.), Middle Assamese period (17th to 19th Century A.D.) and, Modern Assamese (late 19th century onwards). After 14th century the period is named as Pre- Vaishnavite era which covers a period of about 200 years. The importance of this era in Assamese literature cannot be denied. So, here we list out the names of prominent figures from this Pre- Vaishnavite period who gave the initial strong base to Assamese Literature.
- Hema Saraswati
Mostly known for his poem, Prahlada Charita, Hema Saraswati was amongst the earliest known Assamese writers. He is earliest known poetic work in The Assamese language. He was court poet under the patronage of Kamtapur’s King Durlabh Narayan of Kamata Kingdom, who also provided patronage to his contemporary, Harivara Vipra. Based on a story found in Vayu Purana and Har-Gauri-Saambad, a version of Kumarasambhava by Kalida he wrote Prahlada Charita.
- Madhava Kandali
Kaviraja Madhava Kandali (14th century) was an Assamese poet of India, notable for the earliest rendering of the Valmiki Ramayana into Assamese verse which is known as Saptakanda Ramayana. Another significant work of his is the narrative poem Devajit, which is about the superiority of Krishna over the other avatars of Vishnu. Kandali’s patron was the Kachari King Mahamanikya (Mahamanikpha, 1330-1370), whose kingdom was located in what is present-day Nagaon.
- Harivara Bipra
Horibor Bipro (Harivara Vipra), who composed Babrubahanar Yudha of Asyamedha Parya taken from Jyimiyanas hamedh, is amongst the earliest known Assamese writers. He was patronaged by Kamatapur’s king Durlava Narayan (14th Century). His writing style, simple interpretation and use of ornamental words are counted after his concurrent Madhava Kandali’s.
- Rudra Kandali
Rudra Kandali (B. 1200’s) was litterateur from Kamrup. He was a well-known poet of 12th century and contemporary of likes of Haribara Vipra and Hema Saraswati. He wrote short narrative poems based on the episodes of Mahabharata. He translated an episode of Drona Parva of Mahabharata relating to powers of Satyaki, son of Siva of Yadu race which (translation) is faithful, homely similes and metaphors are frequently used.