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Gopal Prasad Rimal is a noted poet and playwright who ushered in a new era in Nepali literature. His role and contribution in prose poetry and dramas have earned a high respect and reputation in Nepal literary spectrum.
Gopal Prasad Rimal was born in Lagan, Kathmandu in 1918 AD as the eldest son of Umakanta Rimal and Aditya Kumari. He attained his education in Kathmandu, Nepal. He was a brilliant student and topped the School Leaving Certificate (SLC) examination in 1992 BS. He completed intermediate level of education from Tri-Chandra College. He dropped study after intermediate level because of his unstable state of mind.
After giving up formal education, he started teaching at Juddhodhaya High School—the school Rimal also helped to establish. But he could not remain for a long time in the school and quit the job of teaching in three months. He later went to Bardiya as a government surveyor. This period was the height of Rana’s authoritarian regime and its atrocities. When Rimal was in Bardiya, the 1997 BS infamous episode took place in which four brave sons of Nepal namely Sukra Raj Shastri, Ganga Lal, Dasharath Chand and Dharma Bhakta Mathema were executed by Rana rulers and several others were imprisoned by confiscating their property for their involvement in the democratic movement. When Rimal heard this incident, he was severely shocked and immediately quit the government job.
Shocked and disturbed by the 1997 BS incident, he became a spiritual person. This is the period when he started writing poems and devoted to literature. In 2003 BS, he worked as a translator in the Nepali Language Translation Council for nine months. Later, he worked as an editor of Sharada literary magazine but was fired soon because of his radical editorials.
After being ousted from the Sharada magazine, he established ‘Gaurishankar Natya Samudaya’ (Gaurishankar Drama Group) in which Bal Krishna Sama was the chairperson while Bijaya Bahadur Malla, Govinda Gothale and Krishna Prasad Rimal were the members. Gopal Prasad Rimal was its manager.
Already shocked and haunted by the cruel killing of martyrs in 1941 (1997 BS), his association with some young revolutionaries made him a radical political activist. He then secretly got involved in political activities to overthrow the Ranas and establish a democratic set up in Nepal. With this purpose in mind, he, along with some other revolutionary people, also formed a political group whose objective was to establish democratic political system in Nepal in which all people would be treated equally and all people would enjoy their rights and freedom. He had adopted twin approaches to attain his goal of political freedom and prosperous country. Secretly, he used to organize people through his political organization and the literature was his open front to educate the people and generate awareness against the Ranas.
He wrote several revolutionary and patriotic poems during this period. Of them two poems were and are most popular. ‘A day comes once in an era and brings about a great upheaval’ and ‘Rato Chandra Surya Jangi Nisan Hamro’ were the two poems that created stir in the mind of people who started singing these poems in public gathering, religious shrine and social functions. Upon hearing this, the Ranas felt threatened and immediately put Rimal behind bars on charge of sedition. He was later released but he never compromised his ideology and commitment. He kept his revolutionary zeal alive in political activities and through literature. Rimal played an important role in generating political awareness through poems, dramas and political mobilization, which ultimately helped bring about the political change of 1950/51.
The political change of 1951 that overthrew the Rana’s autocratic rule and ushered in a democratic era in Nepal thrilled Rimal. But he soon got disappointed as he could not find the change he had expected even in the new political set up. The players changed but the political game remained unchanged. The exploitation, suppression, discrimination, backwardness, poverty, inequality that Rimal used to hate continued to exist. This further frustrated him so much that he even lost his mental balance.
He found the politics filthy and deceitful. Rimal then concentrated in writing expressing his revolutionary and radical ideas and feelings through poems and plays. Frustrated from the same old mentality of politicians and political parties and their dirty fight for power, he often described the 1951 political change as an incomplete revolution. He kept on awakening people to come forward for a complete revolution—a revolution that would usher in an era in which there would be freedom, equality and justice and people would be free from exploitation, discrimination and economic deprivation.
Dissatisfied with the 1951 political change, he has written: I have already saluted to the revolution but the revolution is yet to reciprocate to me".
Rimal is known as a political thinker, organizer and mobiliser. In literature, he is a successful poet, playwright and editor. In terms of quantity, he has written only two plays— Masan (Graveyard) and ‘Yo Prem’ (This Love) and one collection of poems—Ama Ko Sapana (Mother’s Dream). All these books are so powerful in terms of patriotic views and revolutionary feelings that they are equally relevant and popular even today. Rimal began his literary career as a poet in 1930s. In the beginning, he wrote poems, most of which are radical and revolutionary. Prior to Rimal, most poets wrote metrical poems. Although Laxmi Prasad Devkota, Lekhnath Poudyal, Bhimnidhi Tiwari and some others had started writing prose poems, the prose poems were not the mainstream of writing during that period. It was Gopal Prasad Rimal who ushered in an era of prose poems in Nepal. His prose poems are so powerful that other writers including his seniors also started following Rimal’s path. In other words, Rimal is the leader and pioneer in writing prose poems in Nepal. His poems carry a strong patriotic and political message for change—a better and radical change. Bhupi Sherchan later strictly followed his path in the collection of poem "Gumne Mechmathi Andho Manche" ( A Blind Man on a revolving Chair). The poem "Rato Chandra Surya…", describes the anatomy of Nepal’s national flag which instilled strong patriotic feelings in every one’s mind. Not only this, Rimal’s all poems have this quality of stirring patriotism and revolutionary, which is the unique and the strongest part of Rimal’s personality. In his poem, he has fired salvo against political oppression, and economic exploitation and fervently ridiculed social and cultural stigma. His poems are simple in language yet strong and powerful in meaning and message. Apart from the patriotic and revolutionary aspect, Rimal is also a romantic and naturalist poet who has given enough space in his poetic works for the praise of nature and natural beauty. At the same time, Rimal has also exhibited a great craftsmanship of satire and symbolism. According to Tara Nath Sharma, Rimal’s poems are symbolic but simple and rhythmic but progressive.
The equally important and successful aspect of Rimal’s personality is the drama writing. In Nepali drama, Bal Krishna Sama is the master playwright. But Rimal has carried the Nepali drama to a newer height by introducing a new approach and style and popularize drama. ‘ Masan" and Yo Prem" are the two dramas that have given a unique identity to Gopal Prasad Rimal in Nepali literature. Both these dramas were written before the 1951 political change and represent the situation during the Rana period. They are realist, patriotic, progressive, social, humorist and humanist, which have dissected the existing social and cultural reality of the country and strongly depict human sentiments and feelings that had remained hidden and subdued in the literature. As a vocal existentialist and radical writer, Rimal has exposed the social and cultural contradictions and analyzed psycho-mental conflict of his characters that represent the contemporary society. Influenced and inspired by Norwegian existentialist playwright Henrik Ibsen, Russian dramatist Anton Chekhov, Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw and Lebanese American protest poet Khalil Gibran, Rimal has kick-started the campaign for social and cultural change and reforms in the society and spoken the conscience of the nation. Although Hridaya Chadra Singh Pradhan, Bisheswar Prasad Koirala, and Pushkar Sumsher had started the practice of writing social and cultural distortions, they are not as vocal and powerful as Rimal’s works. In ‘Masan’, Rimal has dealt with individual psychology and human feelings, family conflict and intrigue which normally exist in the feudal society. During his time, women were socially and culturally exploited and discriminated. Their voices were never heard. In " Masan" Rimal has explained how a man can deceive and exploit a woman for his petty interest and women are forced to tolerate in the name of family prestige and values. Finally, the woman comes out boldly and expresses her feelings openly and revolts. This is how Rimal has given the message of revolt against exploitation. In the drama ‘Yo Prem’, he has artistically presented the social and cultural conditions of the contemporary Nepali society. This drama deals with love, sex and social attitude towards women. Rimal has presented skillfully how the men exploit women in the name of love and make them machine for sexual satisfaction. Although such plots and themes are common in the present day, it was indeed a revolutionary and radical drama during Rimal’s time. In this way, he has experimented a new theme in his drama and provided a new taste to the readers. In a way, Rimal has advocated the right to revolt against injustice, exploitation and discrimination.
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