NIDHI LEVI FARWELL (d. 1873) was a prolific Assamese writer of the mid-19th century. He was one of the first to use prose for modern forms like essay, biography, history, sermon, travelogue and obituary. The first little candle of hope for the Assamese language was lit by him.
Farwell's contribution to the completion of a simple and idiomatic translation of the Bible and his renderings of the psalms into Assamese are gratefully cherished by the Christians of Assam.
MAHESWAR NEOG (b.1918) is himself a prolific writer, both in Assamese and English, and has numerous publications to his credit, including Asamiya Sahityar Ruparekha and Adhunik Asamiya Sahitya in Assamese, and Sankaradeva and His Times in English.
In this monograph, Maheswar Neog evaluates the contribution of Nidhi Levi Farwell to the Assamese literature, mainly for the benefit of non-Assamese readers.
Of the few Christian writers in Assamese, and of all the Baptists who clustered around the nineteenth century monthly journal, The Orunodoi (l846-1854),1 Nidhi Levi Farwell is the most prominent. True, he can in no way be called a Michael Madhusudan Dutt of Assam. Michael was a native Christian writer, who rose to epic eminence in his mother tongue, Bengali, particularly in poetry, writing as he did on classical Indian or Hindu subjects but with a remarkably new outlook and in a new form of verse as well. Nidhi, however, confined himself mostly to Christian topics and was confined almost always to The Orunodoi, which was chiefly a Christian news magazine. The appeal of his Christian writings was confined to the few neophytes who belonged to the lower orders of society. When he took up Hindu matter, there was always a touch of bitterness in it, which might possibly be due to the social segregation that he experienced as a child from one of the so-called low castes and later as a native Christian. All the same, he commanded a high position among Christians, both Indian and foreign, as he rose to be a First Class Preacher, and was very popular among them, being endearingly called "Nidhi Babu" by all.
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