In focus: Yogmaya, who gave her life fighting Rana atrocities

- Post Report, KATHMANDU

May 2, 2011-

In an effort to discuss the contributions made in Nepali society by Yogmaya Neupane, a spiritual leader and poet who committed suicide in 1941, a public lecture is being organised in the Capital on Monday by Social Science Baha.

Neupane and her 68 disciples had killed themselves en masse by jumping into the Arun river as a protest against women’s oppression by the then Rana regime.

Prof Michael Hutt will be speaking at the programme titled “The iconisation of Yogmaya Neupane”.

“This lecture will try to establish the facts of Neupane’s life and discuss a selection of verses from Sarvartha Yogabani, the text that is held to preserve her utterances,” read a statement issued by Baha. “The lecture-interaction will also analyse attempts that have been made by various activists and scholars to construct her as a feminist rebel, a social reformer, and a progressive poet.”

Neupane is believed to be the founder of the first organisation of Nepali women, Nari Samiti, in 1918. Within a few years of its activity, Nari Samiti, backed by 2,000 supporters, submitted a 24-point demand, which is believed to have played an important role in the abolition of Sati tradition (in which a woman burned herself alive on the funeral pyre prepared for her dead husband) in 1920, to Rana Prime Minister Chandra Shumsher.

However, after Chandra Shumsher’s successor Juddha Shumsher refused to establish the rights of women, and rather suppressed the social movements carried out by her Samiti, Neupane, her elder brother, his wife, daughter and 68 disciples committed jal-samaadhi­ by jumping into the Arun river.

On March 8, to mark International Women’s Day, a statue of Neupane was unveiled in Bhojpur, the district where she was based.

Published: 02-05-2011 08:54

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