(Last Updated on : 14/01/2013)
Dak Mahapurusa is best known for his collection of aphorisms and sayings in Assamese literature
. Though Dak Mahapurusa has been often claimed to be a native of Lehidangra near Barpeta, Kamrup, nothing is known for sure about this half-legendary popular poet of great wit and wisdom. His origin remains veiled in mystery. It has also often been assumed that no such personality called Dak actually existed. It may be that popularly Dak came to be a symbol of wisdom to which all popular sayings and utterances of wit and wisdom were ascribed. While there is no definite proof about where exactly he was born, what further complicates the problem is that the aphorisms of Dak exist in more than one language without any tangible variation. It is probably due either to the homogeneity in the fundamentals of culture connecting adjoining regions in the past or to the fact that these popular poets wandered about as minstrels singing the songs they had composed. In the process of wandering they must have left behind them portions, if not all, of their compositions which with certain local modulation or without it went into the cultural fabric of different regions. Whatever it may be, there had grown a body of didactic literature the authorship of which is ascribed to Dak Mahapurusa.
The aphorisms of Dak Mahapurusa are known to be the earliest collection of popular literature in Assamese. The date of this literature has not yet been finally fixed. The particular form of language used by him indicates that it belonged to a time prior to that of Sankardeva
, the father of Assamese literature. Scholars, however, differ in their opinion about it. The occasional interpolations of words of Arabic and Persian origin in Dak's Vachanawalis, sayings and aphorisms, naturally lead scholars to conclude that Dak Mahapurusa belonged to a much later date.
The aphorisms of Dak Mahapurusa constitute the earliest existing didactic compositions in Assamese literature. These wise maxims are mostly in verse-form. They tell peasants and people how to conduct themselves and when to perform certain rites, tasks relating to agriculture, marriage, social relations, etc. These compositions are significant for the account they give of customs, beliefs and rules of conduct prevailing in the regions concerned from early times. In brief, they throw a flood of light on the socio-economic and intellectual structures of ancient society and its standard of attainments. The aphorisms of Dak Mahapurusa reflect the spirit of the age, the principle of Buddhist ethics and morality. Though it is true that when Buddhism
came to Assam, it was already in its declining phases, nevertheless, its impact on Assamese life and literature, from the point of history, is not without significance. There are allusions in the aphorisms of Dak Mahapurusa to the Buddhist doctrine of Dharma, the cardinal principle of life, of providing wells and tanks by solitary roadsides for travellers.
Thus, the wise sayings of Dak Mahapurusa have lived on through the ages on the tongues of men. They have gone deep into man's imagination, for they serve the needs of peasant society as compass of daily life. Though generally breezy and devoid of much poetic quality, these aphorisms are genuinely original in content and utilitarian in purpose.