The Jnanpith Award, sponsored by the cultural institution known as "Bharatiya Jnanpith," is the greatest honor presented to literary giants each year for their contributions to the field of creative literary writing. The language used must be any one of the 22 "scheduled languages" approved by the Indian Constitution. Each recipient of a Jnanpith Award receives a monetary prize, a certificate, and a bronze statue of Vagdevi (Saraswati).
Assam has had a lot of talented writers to date. Yet, only three writers have been honored with the great Jnanpith Award.
The latest Assamese person to receive this award was Mr. Nilmoni Phookan Jr. He is an Assamese writer, poet, freedom fighter and a politician.
At the time of receiving the award, Nilmoni Phookan Jr was around 88 years old. The award ceremony was also organized in Assam to make it convenient for him to attend it. His notable works include: 'Gulapi Jamur Lagna', 'Selected Poems of Nilamani Phookan', 'Manas-pratima', among others. He has also won the Padma Shri Award in 1990 and the Sahitya Akademi fellowship in 2002.
Pratibha Ray, chair of the Jnanpith Selection Board, and Chief Minister of Assam Himanta Biswa Sarma presented Phookan with the trophy, the cheque, and other awards. The famous poet is renowned for his writings that support human rights.
Mr. Himanta Biswa Sarma said,
“Most of the poems of the poet Nilmani Phookan, who created a new era of modern Assamese poetry, are rich in quality and have a beautiful picture of nature... Through poetry, he explores life, youth, love, joy, the world’s most common mysteries, nature and many other subjects,”
Women's issues and Assamese society's political and cultural framework have been two of Goswami's key literary themes. She created one of the finest male characters Indranath in Datal Hatir Une Khowa Howda (The Moth Eaten Howdah of a Tusker). She wrote Une Khowa Howda in Kamrupiya dialect of Assamese, where she tells the story of a young Brahmin widow named Giribala who, after her husband's passing, has only eaten rice and boiled pulses, and who suddenly shocks society by eating meat covertly.
After moving to Delhi to take the position of Head of the Assamese Department at the University of Delhi, she entered the most illustrious phase of her life. She wrote Hridoy, Nangoth Sohor, and Borofor Rani. She also completed two of her classics, The Moth Eaten Howdah of a Tusker and Pages Stained With Blood. She also completed Ahiron, The Rusted Sword, Uday Bhanu, Dasharathi's Steps, and The Man from Chinnamasta while residing in Delhi.
She is the recipient of numerous honorary doctorates as well as the Sahitya Akademi, Jnanpith, Padma Shri (which Mamoni Raisom Goswami declined), Asom Ratna, Katha National Award, Prince Claus Award from the Netherlands, and many more. Her power was so great that she even acted as a go-between for the ULFA and the government.
Birendra Kumar Bhattacharyya (1924–1997) is a well-known Assamese novelist and short story writer. He is regarded as one of the founding figures of contemporary Assamese literature. He was the first writer from Assam to ever get the Jnanpith Award(1979) for the book "Mritunjay," which focused on the struggles of the Assamese people prior to independence
He was one of the best writers of social realism and was among the most popular writers of the Second World War. In 1957, he published "Rajpahte Ringiai," his debut book, which is based on a single day's worth of events. Political and social analyses served as its foundation. "Mritunjay," one of his novels, had the most impact on his writing career. The struggle of the Assamese people prior to independence is the basis for the book. The book earned Assam its first Jnanpith honor.
Indian literature's greatest work is the novel "Iyaruingom," winner of the Sahitya Akademi Award. The book was released in 1960. The novel was based on the struggles of the Manipur-based Tankhrool Naga tribes during the Fizo separatist movement. Another well-known book by the Jnanpith prize winner is "Aai." In 1958, it was published. The book "Shataghni," which is based on China's war on India, was published in 1964. His best-known books are "Pratipad," "Ranga Megh," "Daaini," "Ballari," and others.
He was also a master of short stories, including "Satsori" and "Kolong Aajiu Boi." The magazine "Jayanti" published the majority of his poems. "Love in the moment of Insurgency," a translation published by Katha Books, was made available in 2005. He passed away in 1997 at the age of 83.