Hemchandra Barua

Hemchandra Barua (1836 – 1897) was an eminent Assamese lexicographer, writer and social reformer. He created Hemkosh – the first Assamese dictionary. Hemchandra Barua was born in 1836 at Dergaon in Sibsagar district of Assam. His father was Muktaram Barua. Having lost his father at an early age, Hemchandra Barua was brought up by his uncle.

Contributions to Assamese Language and Literature:

Hem Chandra Barua was one of those few Assamese who fought for the reinstatement of Assamese as official language of Assam during the dark age of Assamese language. Through his writings, Barua proved that Assamese is an unique language, independent of Bengali. Hem Chandra Barua made several contributions to Orunodoi, the first Assamese journal. He published Asomiya Byakaran (Assamese Grammar) in 1859 and Asomiya Lorar Byakaran (Assamese student’s Grammar) in 1886. He compiled Hemkosh, the first Assamese dictionary. The Anglo-Assamese dictionary got published posthumously in 1900. But unlike the Baptist Missionaries, who used a simplified version of Assamese for printing and writing, Barua followed his own way to polish Assamese spelling system as per Sanskrit.

Hemchandra Barua was the first Assamese writer to utilise satire as the medium of expression. Two of his major satirical works are Kaniyar Kirtan (1861) and Bahire Rongchong, Bhitore Kuabhaturi (Outwardly beautiful, but inwardly bitter) (1876). Kaniyar Kirtan was a drama which depicted the bad effects of Opium. The Bahire Rongchong, Bhitore Kuabhaturi is a novel, which criticizes rigid social customs and religious practices. Other literary works of Hemchandra Barua include: Adipath (1873), Pathmala (1882), Porhasolia Abhidhan (1892), Assamese Marriage System etc.

Newspaper and Social works:

From 1882 to 1885, Hem Chandra Barua edited a newspaper named “Assam News”. It was the first Assamese bi-lingual newspaper, published in both Assamese and English language.

Barua promoted leadership building among the educated Assamese youth. He opposed the religious restrictions on widow remarriage. He questioned if a man can remarry after death of his wife, why can’t a woman do that same after demise of her husband? He even wrote an article entitled “Anek Bia Kora Ajugut” (It Is Wrong to Marry Many) in April, 1856 issue of Orunodoi journal. Hemchandra Barua refused to marry a second time after the death of his wife.


Hem Chandra Barua shaped Assamese language and promoted Assamese literature. His grammatical works and dictionary started a new age in Assamese education and literature. Hemchandra Barua passed away in 1897.

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