101 Biographies Of First Nepali Women

Gandhi Raj Kafle

“First Nepali Women”, the title of the freshly unveiled edition of the book by Nirmal Kumar Acharya, tells a lot about women. In our country, which is believed to be built and grown with patriarchal values, woman trail-blazers of society either go unnoticed or they only get less proportionate credit for their work. The good feature about this book is the author is with proof for showing merits of work performed by such women, who showed all the talent and audacity defying ill-attitude towards them while working things of merit for the first time in different periods of the history of our country. Certainly, it is an inspiring and curiosity raiser piece in the genre of biography.
We can see galaxies of Nepali women in this under review book. The pieces are well-sized with simple and sweet language. There is fact-based information and the researcher has sweetened his expression also with literary flavour. Moreover, author Acharya has also raised issues in favour of women from different valuable fields of work and he has inquisitively made a research to collect information about illustrious women for writing this book.
The first woman is Sita herself, the Tretayuga daughter of Nepal. The author has very briefly mentioned what myths are there about the birth of Sita and what are reasons to mention her name as the first Nepali woman. Sita’s is a par excellence example of the name of a woman for purity of character. The author has mentioned sage Balmiki’s words for it where the sage says, ‘I have spent one thousand years in meditation, but if Sita is impure, I am ready even to disown all of my power of meditation as punishment’. Sita, an incarnation of Devi Laxmi, was sacred and exemplary.
The second Nepali woman in this book is Gargi in this book. This is also a name, which often appears when an example of appropriate woman scholars is required. The author has quoted Yogi Narahari Nath for the fact of Gargi’s birthplace which according to him is Gargakuta in Jumla District of Nepal. Scholar Gargi was a Nepali woman of the Upanishad period, which means there is no certainty of the date of her birth. The author has elaborated this aspect with the help of different Vedic scriptures only to widen the curiosity of researchers for further study to conclude Gargi’s date of birth.
Then, gradually the other names of illustrious women – Vrikuti (BS 680), Queen Rajendra Laxmi (BS 1810), revolutionary poetess Yogamaya Neupane (BS 1924), Chandrakanta Devi Malla (BS 1955) and Melawa Devi Gurung (BS 1959) – appear in the book.
If we see the name list of the First Nepali Women in the book, we find the author is particularly interested to collect and write about prominent women of the society of recent past or present times. This research mindset of Acharya is praiseworthy from the point of view of new times because it is often called an era of women and for it, inspiring women of the modern generation have been nicely highlighted in this book.
Acharya in his preface writes that he had presented 57 biographies of such women in the first edition, but now in its revised and updated edition, the number of women personalities has reached 101. Thus, this research work is timely and is meaningfully diverse in approach to fulfil the aim of the author to bring more and more prominent women of different fields into the limelight.
Our country has gone through phenomenal changes in terms of social outlook and national mindset on matters of women. Women have been highly competitive to achieve successes in life. They have made their parents proud. Even the discriminative thought between boys and girls is decreasing in recent times. The surprising point to note in the backdrop of the under review book “First Nepali Women” is that women have proved their talent and ability even in the traditionally male-dominated fields of work in Nepal. From this national perspective, we can imagine this book will be fattened with the entry of more and more enterprising women, who will surely act excellently in numerous new fields of work becoming the first women in the country in future.
Therefore, to talk about the issue directly, Acharya’s this book is important both theoretically and practically. To give regard to women power and their talent is a much-noticed thing of merit in our religious scriptures. We are liberally sacred when the name of Sita comes in the context of the ideal rule of the Rama Rajya and our heart automatically broadens when we remember the name of woman scholar Gargi, who is believed to have made even sage Yagyabalka speechless in scholars’ meeting, then. Therefore, the problem is not there in theories, it is in practice.
Conclusively, to show this unbalanced social and cultural view and to correct it for the betterment of society, this book will be fact-checking publication in favour of women. It seems the ‘first women’ is a symbol concept. Thus, it can’t be limited. We notice author Acharya has shown a devotional effort to enlarge this symbol concept of ‘first women’ making it a publication of 101 biographies about the first women of Nepal for the new edition. The researcher’s strenuous creative work must be praised.