Sonaram Chutia- a person whose life was tougher than what we could ever imagine.
After successfully completing his schooling form Jorhat Government Higher Secondary school, young Sonaram Chutia went to Guwahati to do higher studies. He joined the Cotton collage. However, his studying in the Cotton collage and staying in the collage hostel was not a smooth run.
During that time, in India, the hold of caste system in the society was very strong. People blindly followed the caste system. The caste system was a system of division of labour and power in human society. In fact, even today, it is a system of social stratification although it is no longer powerful as it was in the past. Historically, it defined communities into thousands of endogamous hereditary groups called jatis. The jatis were grouped by the Brahminical texts under four well-known caste categories – Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and the Shudras. The caste system stamped an individual as upper caste, lower caste or untouchable from birth. The people who belong to upper caste, like the Brahmins, were considered as sacred, and those who belong to the lower caste were considered as impure and were hated by the upper caste people. Certain lower caste people were excluded altogether, ostracized by all other casts and treated as untouchables. The people belonging to the lower caste had limited mobility, or none; limited choice of occupation; restrictions on dietary and social interactions that defined who could consume what and accept from whom and so on. The people belonging to the lower caste had limitations on movement and access, including to religious and educational areas and to basic facilities such as supplies of water. The lower caste people were deprived of their rights by the upper caste people. Thus, the practice of the evil caste system isolated people, infused a sense of inferiority into lower caste individuals, and divided humanity. The caste system was not merely a social problem but it traumatized people, and prevented the people from developing.
Sonaram Chutia also belong to a lower caste family, thus, his admission in the Cotton collage raised a wave of protest among the upper caste students. Many questions arise in the minds of the Brahmin students like – how can we study with a lower caste boy in our college, how can we stay in the same hostel, and many more. In the midst of such a negative situation, with the grace of the Almighty Hari, Sonaram Chutia got the admission in the college and also, this time, he was permitted to stay in the collage hostel. However, the problem did not end. During his stay in the college hostel, Sonaram Chutia faced a lot of trouble, humiliation and harassment from the upper caste boys. One day, in the dining hall of the hostel, one of the upper caste boy threw a left-over piece of fish in the plate of Sonaram Chutia and said “look! These lower caste people have survived only by eating the left-over food of the Brahmins. But see how this lower caste is coming to study with us….”. In this way, Sonaram Chutia was insulted and humiliated in every step and in every possible way by the upper caste boys. Later with the grace of the Almighty Hari and with the effort made by Prof. Divakar Goswami, superintendent of the New Hostel, the cold war of caste discrimination came to an end in the college hostel.
Now the question comes- how much and for how long a young boy who have being facing hardship and discouragement could tolerate and hang on? Being discouraged and hurt in every step of life, many times, young Sonaram Chutia felt as if there is no hope. Since his childhood, Sonaram Chutia has been facing caste discrimination, humiliation and injustice. There was no such day when Sonaram Chutia lived peacefully. Generally, in such a situation a person loses hope and gives up. Once, Sonaram Chutia, being harassed by the evil practices of the society, had even decided to join Christianity leaving Hindusim. Sonaram Chutia was hurt deep inside, which nobody could express in words. He never had a playful and happy childhood like most of us had, he never had a colorful, exciting and enjoyable collage life like us. All that he got was harassment, hardship, and discouragement. And instead of enjoying the student life, Sonaram Chutia spent his student life fighting against caste discrimination, social injustice, and at the same time continuing with his studies. However, Sonaram Chutia never gave up. He never accepted defeat. No matter how much trouble he faced, he kept doing his duties (the duty of a student is to keep on learning). Sonaram Chutia ignored all the hardship and problems that he was facing and continued his study with strong determination and sincerity. He kept working hard. Finally, after giving a tough fight to all the obstacles and to the evils of society, Sonaram Chutia successfully completed his graduation in Science stream with distinction in the year of 1939.
After successfully completing his graduation, Sonaram Chutia decided to do MSc. But during that time there was no university in Assam. Thus, to do higher education one had to go to Calcutta, now in West Bengal. Sonaram Chutia packed up his luggage to go to Calcutta for higher education. Unfortunately, at the same time in September 1939, the World War II started. And due to the war there was an atmosphere of panic and unrest in India. And being afraid and worried, Mr. Jagiram Chutia, father of Sonaram Chutia stopped young Sonaram from going to Calcutta. And thus, the study life of Sonaram Chutia ended.
Thus we can say that-
A winner is not the one who merely succeeds,
A true winner is the one who stands up after every defeat.
No matter how hard the situation is, one must always continue doing his/her duty with determination and sincerity. Work hard but never desire for the fruit of your action. There is no need to do something big. Do something small, but do it by all your heart, then a small work done by us could be of great importance and value. When we feel that the light is gone, have faith, have patience and never give up because after the night is passed there comes a new beautiful morning.
(NOTE- In this part we have tried to throw little light on the college life of the Late Vaishnava Pandit Sonaram Chutia. A few more parts would be published shortly.)