Nalini Bala Devi
Born23 March 1898
Guwahati, Assam
Died24 December 1977 (aged 79)
OccupationPoet, writer
Notable worksSondhiyara Sur
Notable awardsSahitya Akademi Award
Padma Shri
SpouseJibeswar Changkakoti

Nalini Bala Devi (23 March 1898– 24 December 1977) was an Indian writer and poet of Assamese literature,[1] known for nationalistic as well as mystical poetry.[2] She was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1957 for her contribution to literature, and 1968 she won the Sahitya Akademi Award given by Sahitya Akademi (India's National Academy of Letters) for her poetry collection Alakananda. She is the first woman Assamese poet to be awarded with Padma Shri and the first lady to the chair the Assam Sahitya Sabha.


She was born in Guwahati, Assam in 1898. Her father, Karmaveer Nabin Chandra Bordoloi (1875–1936), was an Assamese Indian freedom movement activist and writer. She wrote her first poem, Pita at age 10, and was married at age 12, but her husband, Jeeveshwar Changkakoti, died when she was 19. Two of her sons also died early in her life. She began writing poems, with emotion, tragedy, patriotism and devotion as central themes, which are still acclaimed in Assamese literature.[3][4]

Her first book of poems Sandhiyar Sur (Evening Melody),[5] published in 1928, was later adopted by Calcutta University and Guwahati University as a textbook in 1946 and 1951 respectively. Her other works include Alakananda, Sopunar Sur (Melody of Dreams), Porosh Moni, Yuga Devata (Hero of the Age), Shesh Puja (The last worship), Parijator Abhishek, Prahlad, Meghdut, Suravi, Rooprekha, Shantipath (Essay anthology), Sheshor Sur (The last Melody)m [4][5] Smritir Tirtha (Biography on her father), Biswadeepa (A collection of biographies of famous women), Eri oha Dinbur (The Days Passed, Autobiography), Sardar Vallavbhai Patel are some of her biographical works.[6] She had to her credit one drama titled Meerabai.

In 1950, she established Sadou Asom Parijat Kanan which later become famous as Moina Parijat, the children organisation in Assam. She was the president of 23rd Jorhat session of Assam Sahitya Sabha (Assam Literary Society) in 1955.[7]

She died on 24 December 1977, but is remembered in Assamese literature by the last four lines of her famous poem NaatGhar (The theatre)

....Kun Kar Jogotor / Kun Kar Moromor / Chokur Chinaki Dudinor // Sasimor Rooprekha /Asimot Bur Jabo / Khohi Gole Jori Moromor (Who's for whom in this world / Who's under whose care / Temporary acquaintances, eye-to-eye contacts these are with // Bounded facial outlines / That get dissolved in the infinite oblivion / If the thread of love that binds them snaps.)

The Cotton College, Guwahati named its girls hostel after her as 'Padmashree Nalini Bala Devi Girls' Hostel' in 1986.[8] The Sadou Asom Lekhika Samaroh Samiti literary organization has published Mahasweta, about her works.[9]


Statue at Paltan Bazar, Guwahati

Awards and recognition

She was awarded with Sahitya Akademi Award for her poetry anthology Alakananda in 1968[10] and conferred Padma Shri in 1957 by the Government of India.[11]


  1. ^ "An author & a trailblazer personality". The Telegraph. 9 February 2004. Archived from the original on 3 February 2013. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  2. ^ Das, p. 197
  3. ^ "Nalinibala Devi remembered". Assam Tribune. 1 January 2009. Archived from the original on 17 January 2013. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  4. ^ a b c Natrajan, p. 31
  5. ^ a b Barua, p. 15
  6. ^ Barua, p. 20
  7. ^ Presidents of Asam Sahitya Sabha since 1917 Archived 29 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine Asam_Sahitya_Sabha website.
  8. ^ Padmashree Nalini Bala Devi Girls’ Hostel Cotton College, Guwahati
  9. ^ "Celebrating womanhood". The Telegraph India. 19 October 2002. Retrieved 21 June 2021.
  10. ^ "Sahitya Akademi Award year wise". Official listings, Sahitya Akademi website. Archived from the original on 21 February 2014. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  11. ^ "Padma Awards Directory (1954–2009)" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 May 2013.

Further reading