As the Europeans arrived in India, a clear distinction differentiated them between religion and science. At one level, they believed in the beginning (Original Sin) and the end of history (Apocalypse) while on a different level, they believed in scientific evidence. The pre-scientific European accepted whatever the priests preached on the pulpit. The post-scientific European demanded evidence for everything. Both the pre-scientific and the post-scientific European era rejected sacred stories of other parts of the world. European science started exploring psychology only in the 18th century, and realized there is more to the mind than what religious authorities and ancient philosophers spoke of ably guided by the works of Freud and Jung in the 20th century, another branch called psycho-analysis came forth with studies on stories and dreams, which greatly valued epics and stories. There arose the importance of philosophy to answer the queries where science ended its journey.
Philosophical Writings in Assamese Literature
The most outstanding is Radha Phukan(1875-1964). His writings establish a fact that knowledge at the highest level is indivisible and cannot be categorised. Phukan has combined metaphysics with precise reasoning. His books include Samkhya Darshan (1949), Vedanta darshan (1951), Kathare Upanishad (1954) and Janmantar rahasya (1957) and so on. However his style is devoid of literary grace. Nevertheless his books lift the lofty thoughts of man as for example the concept of cosmic dissolution, birth, rebirth etc.
Manoranjan Sastri's Asom Vaishnav darshanar ruprekha (1954) is a scholarly study of ethical system. This study is an intellectual departure. His prose combines naturalness with flexibility and grace with force. His approach is interpretative. Sarat Goswami's Socrates, Plato and Aristotle (1952), Confucius (1956) and Manobijnan (1958) are some of the philosophical works in Assamese literature. His style is neither heavy nor complex; it is direct. Maulana Tayebulla's Unmul Koran (1959) is another noteworthy book of religious interpretation. Alimunnisa Piar's Poharar Path (1963) is also a religious philosophical interpretation done in a style that is like an autumn brook.
Scientific Writings in Assamese Literature
Literary journals, newspapers and periodicals have come to exercise a great influence on modern trends in Assamese literature, and some of the different literary epochs have been named after leading journals like Arunoday, Jonaki, Bahi and Awahan. Each new journal is the rallying point of writers of a new school of thought, and in successive monthly issues their views and literary ideals are enunciated, expressed and practised. These journals thus define the age and give it its name. Mention has already been made of Arunoday -the earliest of the modern monthly periodicals, published by Christian Missionaries from Sibsagar.
Each new journal is the rallying point of writers of a new school of thought, and in successive monthly issues their views and literary ideals are enunciated, expressed and practised. These journals thus define the age and give it its name. Mention has already been made of Arunoday -the earliest of the modern monthly periodicals, published by Christian Missionaries from Sibsagar. The Assamese Arunoday, like its Bengali and Oriya counterparts, not only published current news but also contained material of varied interest-educational, cultural, literary. In addition to news items it also published stories from far and near and matters of general information, scientific knowledge, and useful knowledge of everyday life.
It is in the pages of Arunoday that we find the first florescence of modern Assamese literature. The magazine gave literary status and dignity to the spoken language of the people in both poetry and prose, and, broadly speaking, the language thus evolved continues to be the standard language of Assamese literature even today. The next major literary journal was the famous Jonaki (Moonlight, 1889), with which were associated stalwarts like Chandra Kumar Agarwalla, Lakshminath Bezbarua, Hem Chandra Goswami, Kanaklal Barua, and others. Through this journal, the writers spread in Assamese the ideas of the English romantic poets. Usa (Dawn, 1907) appeared under the editorship of Padmanath Gohain Barua, while the Bahi (Flute, 1909) was edited by Lakshminath Bezbarua. These two literary magazines with different ideals ran parallel and were frequently engaged in long drawn polemics on literary and sometimes social problems. But such controversies under the stewardship of two great masters contributed in no small measure to the enrichment of Assamese literature. Prose, poetry, the short story, the historical dissertation, the essay-all the types were cultivated in their pages.
Dr. H. N. Sarma Bardoloi's various articles on psychoanalysis published in different journals are the best so far written in Assamese language. He writes a controlled critical prose. Devidas Neog's articles are similarly deep and revealing. Nilima Datta (Sisu vikash, 1955), Anandi Konwar (Sishu Monovijnan, 1949) and Lakshyahira Das have contributed to writings on child psychology. However scientific literature is poor as such articles in Assamese are almost non existent excepting what appears as "science news" in journals. Prof. Saroj Datta writes on science in Assamese journals today as Dr. R. K. Barua used to write in Awahon. Some of the other noteworthy contributions are Dr. R. K. Barua's Vijnanar sadhu (1943), Md. Kudrat-i-Khuda's Vijnanar vichitrakahini (1951), Dipen Sarma's Vijnanar vishmoy batari (1956), M. N. Mahanta's Albert Einstein aru apekshikalavad (1956) and Prof. B. K. Tamuli's Visharahasya (1960).
As an Indian identity of the north-eastern region cannot be traced in the national capital's background, the search for an Assamese identity in the background of mainland Assam is ambiguous too. The fact remains that in both cases, though a desire for colonial dominance still exists, deep down in the consciousness of the people there lies an urge and need to establish an identity and this identity is at once created by the scientific learning, reasoning and philosophical enlightenment.