Notable Alumni

Prof Krishna Kanta Handique

Prof Krishna Kanta Handiqui (1898 - 1982)


Professor Krishna Handiqui was the founder Vice Chancellor of Gauhati University from 1948 to 1957. He was a great Sanskriti scholar and was one of the greatest Indologists of the World. From 1930 to 1948, Prof Handiqui served as the founder Principal of the Jagannath Baruah College, Jorhat, which was the first non-government degree college of the entire North-East region of India. He donated his massive personal library to Gauhati University, making available to the public rare and valuable books in 11 languages of the world.

Born in Jorhat in July 20, 1898, he was the eldest son of the illustrious Raibahadur Radha Kanta Handiqui, a reputed tea planter and philanthropist of Assam. His mother Narayani Aideo was a sister of another illustrious son of Assam, Padmanath Gohain Baruah, a notable writer of modern Assamese literature. Handiqui had his early education at Jorhat Govt High School and then at Cotton College, Guwahati. He got a First Class in BA Honours in Sanskrit, securing Prasanna Kummar Sarbadhikari Gold medal as a student of Calcutta Sanskrit College in 1917 at the age of nineteen. During his college days, he contributed regularly to Assamese magazine Banhi edited by Sahityarathi Lakshminath Bezbaruah. Handiqui got a First Class in MA Sanskrit of Calcutta University in 1919 with special papers on Vedic literature. Handiqui went to England in 1920 and did his MA from Oxford University with honours in Modern History in 1923. During his seven years sojourn in Europe, Handiqui spent four years in France and Germany, where he studied and learnt many languages like Latin, Greek, French, German, Russain, Italian, and Spanish. His love for learing languages was well known and he had the distinction of knowing as many as thirteen languages including his mother tongue.

In 1952 Handiqui was elected the President of the Inter-University Board of India. He presided over the Vice-Chancellors’ conference at Madras University and the annual conference of the Board at Waltair, Andhra in the same year.  In 1927 Handique came back to Assam with a huge personal collection of books purchased during his stay in Europe. He then got married with Hemolota Aideo, the eldest daughter of U N Buragohain of Nowgong. For three years, Handiqui looked after the management of the family Tea Estate located at Tirual near Jorhat. His well kept personal library at Jorhat contains ten thousand rare and valuable books in eleven languages of the world.

Prof Krishna Kanta Handiqui passed away on June 7, 1982.

Awards and Honours
  • President of Asom Sahitya Sabha in 1937
  • President of Classical Sanskrit Section, XVI All India Oriental Conference, Locknow in 1951
  • General President of the Srinagar session of All India Oriental Conference in 1961
  • Padmashree in 1955
  • Padmabhushan in 1967
  • Honourary fellowship of Deccan College, Poona in 1968
  • Honourary D Litt Degree from Gauhati University in 1968
  • Honourary D Litt Degree from Dibrugarh University in 1972
  • Sahitya Academy Award was presented to Prof Handiqui posthumously in 1984 for the volume comprising his literary works in Assamese KrishnaKanta Handikai Rachana Sambhar, compiled by Prof  J N Goswami
  • First Sadasya Mahiyan of the Asom Sahitya Sabha, the highest honour conferred on scholars of exceptional merit
  • Issue of commemorative stamp by Indian Posts and Telegraphs Department in honour of Prof Handiqui on October 7, 1983
Selected Literary Works
  • Naisadhacarita of Sriharsa, 1934
  • Yasastilika and Indian Culture, 1949
  • Pravarasena's Setubandha, 1976

Commemorative Postal Stamp issued in the honour of Prof Handiqui (left) and Prof Handiqui at the 1st Convocation of Gauhati University with Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the first Vice President of India in 1949 (left)

Dr Banikanta Kakati

Dr Banikanta Kakati (1894 - 1952)


Banikanta Kakati was born in 1894 at Barpeta of Assam. He was the second son of his parents Lalitram Kakati and Lahobala. Kakati showed sign of his genius from his early childhood. In his school days he obtained 105 marks out of 100 in his Sanskrit answer book. It is also said that he could memorize the whole of Pāṇini in his school days. Kakati secured the highest position in English in Assam in his matriculation under the Calcutta University in 1913, and he stood first amongst all the candidates in the intermediate from Cotton College, Guwahati under the Calcutta University. He took first MA degree in English Literature from Presidency College, Calcutta in 1918. Later on he secured the first class first position in MA in English Language group in 1923 from Calcutta University. Kakati joined Cotton College in 1918 as a professor of English until he became the principal of the College in 1947.

He joined in Gauhati University in 1948 as the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Head of the Department of Assamese. Kakati's health broke after the demise of his beloved wife Kanaklata in 1952 and died in the same year, on 15 November, the date of his birth. (Courtesy : Wikipedia)
Literary Career

After joining Cotton College as a lecturer in 1918, Banikanta Kakati took up the study of Srimanta Sankardeva and old Assamese literature. Soon, he was drawn into a controversy between two rival schools of Assam Vaishnavism. His erudite exposition of scriptural lore in the various issues of the Banhi under the pseudonym of Babananda Pathak, in defence of the values represented by the teachings of Sankardeva still makes fruitful reading. While studying MA examination in English, he obtained his doctorate for his thesis – Assamese : Its Formation and Development in 1935. The publication of the thesis in 1941 was a god-send for the Assamese people who had been frantically struggling to establish the identity and provenance of their mother tongue. Kakati had to work far from the great centres of learning, in a place where even Leonard Bloomfields’ Language (1833) could not be made available. Yet the work was acclaimed by no lesser an authority than Dr Emeneau who found it ‘ground-breaking in many ways.’ His interest in language proliferated over the years, but meanwhile, his mind started straying into other fields and pastures new. He made an intensive study of the Kalita caste and incorporated his findings in Kalita Jatir Itibritta (1941), Mother Goddess Kamakhya (1948) deals with socio-religious issues prevalent in Ancient Kamarupa. Finally he turned his attention to Indian mythology and his Vaishnavite Myths and Legends has been acclaimed as 'one of the very few studies of the religious scene in India, produced by our scholars, that deserve reading and pondering over.' Dr Kakati was one of the greatest critics that the country has produced. His Purani Asomiya Sahitya provides the axes for the appreciation of Vaishnavite literature of medieval Assam. He was certainly the most capable interpreter of religious mysticism in the poetry of the Nam Ghosha. He also raised the perennial issue of a possible tension between poetry and belief. Himself a scion of the Romantic age, Kakati sketched the critical background for the twentieth century Assamese romantics. The post-war decade in Assam is a decade of disenchantment. In this decade he also wrote on the contemporary situation which seemed to show that a great age was over and another was yet to be born. He died too early to see the achievements of the ensuing age.  (Courtesy : Wikipedia)
Prof Moheshwar Neog

Prof Maheswar Neog (1915 - 1995)


"A great son of an indispensable part of India -- the chronological details of his life point out how the person was looking at his own soil, his roots and the world around him. I believe him to be the last generation of the renaissance in this age of specialization. Dr Neog had a holistic vision, whether it was English, Assamese or Sanskrit, he moved up step by step with precision like threading a needle. Anything he does is skilful and exacting." - as quoted by the eminent Indologist and scholar Dr Kapila Vatsayan

Professor Maheswar Neog was born on September 7, 1915 in Sivsagar, Assam to Manik Chandra Neog and Chandra Probha Neog.  He did his BA from Cotton college with Assamese honours in 1939 and MA in Modern Indian Language from Kolkata in 1947. Professor Maheswar Neog was a versatile scholar and original thinker who left his scholarly marks in all disciplines of Indian studies, language and literary history, lexicography and orthography, epigraphy and ethnography, historiography and hagiography, fine arts and paintings, music, dance, drama, religion and folklore. He was also one of the prominent persons whose untiring effort has culminated in establishing this historic university in 1948.
His life in Gauhati University began In the year 1948, when he joined Gauhati University as a teacher. Before joining as a reader of Assamese department in Gauhati University he served as deputy director of literary workshop of Santi Niketan in the year 1954. He was Jawaharlal Nehru Professor of  Gauhati University from 1966 to 1978. From 1978-1984 he was Sankardev Professor of Patiala University of Punjab. From 1974 to 1977 he was Dean of Faculty of Arts of Gauhati University.

Prof Maheswar Neog died on 13 September, 1995.
Awards and Honours
  • Padma Shri in 1974
  • President, Assam Sahitya Sabha, 1974
  • Sangeet Natak Academy Fellowship, 1994
More to Read
  • Wikipedia Go
  • Assam Info Go
  • Dr Maheswar Neog: a profile and short bibliography by Mukunda Madhava Sharma and Satyanarayana Ratha  Go
  • From Bipuljyoti Saikia's page  Go