Tribute to a critic


M y writing is free from politics. In creation, politics doesn’t exist,” states noted Nepali scholar and literary critic Murari P Regmi. He has just finished writing a special Nepal chapter for Rutledge’s Encyclopedia on Adolescent Psychology and seems to be basking under the glow of being declared ‘Man of the Year 2005’ by the American Biographical Institute, North Carolina, US.

However, Regmi recalls how his first attempt to be an author decades ago was brutally thwarted by a Nepali literary critic. The first time when Regmi moved to Kathmandu from Terai to teach at the Tribhuwan University, he wrote an essay analysing the Nepali novel, Teen Ghumti. He had picked the novel randomly at a bookstore and wished to write a critical appraisal of the book. Regmi gave the piece to Bal Mukunda Pandey - the then famous editor of Rooprekha. Eagerly awaiting its publication the entire year, he got the piece back in the end, unpublished.

He forgot the incident, but later in his career Sajha published his psychoanalytical criticism in two groundbreaking volumes. “Later in my life I learnt the secret of the rejection of Teen Ghumti piece. It was the political image of BP Koirala that had hindered the publication of the essay in Rooprekha. I was absolutely unaware of this extra-literary dimension of writing and publishing in Nepal. Even today the Nepali people haven’t chosen the proper goal of polity. People do not know the meaning of democracy. Democracy is freedom to grow unhindered; it is development of personality in its totality. Can a Nepali writer write without barriers? Does he enjoy absolute liberty of self-expression? That’s what I mean when I say in creation politics doesn’t exist.”

Disgruntled with the petty politics of power-hungry Nepali literature, Regmi has moved away from the field of literary criticism. Much to our loss, he has chosen psychology as his prime area of research. On the present state of affairs in the Nepali literature scene, he believes that Nepali literature is full of ditches but there are no ponds or turquoise pools of creation. Nepali literature is as rich as any language in the subcontinent. It is as good, let’s say, as Bengali or Hindi. But when it comes to literature, he opines, not much has been written in Nepali literature.

According to him, writers here have not written spontaneously. Critics aren’t open-minded. There might be social realism but no actual expression in the literature. Nepali writers have to come out of the barriers. He stresses that they have walled themselves in. Detail in Nepali literature is missing. They are vomiting the contents in a haphazard way, not profusely and or in depth.

He admires Nepali poet Bhupi Sherchan in a big way and recalls the life he led with him. He adores Bhupi’s actual metaphors. Bhupi was Prometheus Unbound, he says ecstatically. He’s the real scholar of Nepal who gave actual account of the Nepali life - that’s why people admire him as demi-god. He fondly recalls his days with Dr Taranath Shrama and Vijaya Malla Taranath Sharma remained his chief influence in the early days.

“In the writings of a Nepali writer,” Regmi stresses, “Nepali people’s personality must be reflected.” Author of famous books, The Gurungs and The Himalayan Mind, Regmi is currently Nepal’s best-known Nepali psychologist known to the world outside. “I write criticism not for money, but for bliss, like joy of plantation or gardening.”

Recently retired from TU, Regmi is anguished by the way scholarship seems to be moving towards a very narrow core. TU is basically administration-oriented, not knowledge-cantered or discipline- cantered, he says. Narrow-minded people should not run it. They have been deputed there like pawns. There should be a dramatic change in the disciplines; we should be giving degrees in football or basketball. Degree should be allotted in yogic science. We should not forget once we were proud member’s ‘Aryavrata’. We craving for the Dollars of the West, China’s silk, blankets of Korea, fashion of Europe, but not for cotton of Mechi or other items of ‘Raithane,’ indigenous culture of Nepal. “All my life I’ve led the life of a teacher. Tribhuwan University doesn’t even have a tradition of keeping emeritus professors. Here teachers and scholars are not valued as important. At the age of 65 now I do not want any honour from my country. Nepalese people are very talented. Awards are given to those who lack motivation. I’m fountain of inspiration concrete ‘give and take’ has no meaning in a genuine Nepalese writer’s life,” remarks Regmi.

The writer can be reached at