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PIONEER OF KONKANI MOVEMENT

"Let us develop Konkani language in such a way that it should be understood in speech and literature at all levels. Let us not divide it into the speech of the higher classes and the speech of the lower classes, scholar's speech and the farmer's speech. Let us make a farmer a scholar and let us all become scholars and let us all enjoy the full independence of Konkani language." - SHENNOI GOEMBAB


Born on 23rd June 1877, Shennoi Goembab hailed from Bicholim Goa, a small town given to agriculture and commerce. Vaman learnt the fundamentals of Marathi from a farmer named Ram Gaonkar and alter from Vinayak Sakharam Barve. Later he studied Marathi in a school founded by Ramachandra dattaji Kulkarni. There he completed his sixth standard and joined the Portuguese Primary School, and instead of the normal three years, passed his "Primeiro Grau" (The First Degree Course) just in one year. He did his 'Segundo Grau" at Bastora and stood first in the whole of Bardez district. He could not afford to join Lyceum education in Panaji. He studied English and Sanskrit books at home. Later on his uncle impressed by his young nephew's zeal for learning took him aboard the steamer for Bombay to give him higher education. A friend on board the ship casually remarked, "I hear you are taking this Goembab with you to Bombay." "Yes, for his further education", Chintamanrao replied. Vaman understood the taunt because the word "Goembab" was obviously used as a derogatory term. At that instant, Vaman decided to add luster to the term and later proudly used "Shennoi Goembab" as his pen-name. After four years' schooling at Maratha High School, Girgaum, he passed his matriculation examination in 1898 with high score. He came back to Goa in 1899 and took up a job in an English medium school at Assagao. Later on he quit the job and proceeded to Karachi and found a job as a clerk in the Municipality. Later on he came back to Mumbai. He had already started writing in Konkani. Vamanrao got married and had a son. Later on he took up a job in the Italian consulate in Mumbai. In 1906, Vamanrao joined as stenographer in meister Lucius Bruening, a German commercial firm and within eight years was promoted to the post of "Head Accountant". From 1914 to 1919 that is the war period in Europe, Vamanrao managed the affairs of the firm with efficiency and honesty. In 1925, he resigned and started his research and Konkani writings full time. For two succeeding decades, (1926-1946) he contributed voluminous works. Vamanrao's wife Shantabai was not literate but she had a thorough knowledge of spoken language and had rich fund of Konkani folklore. Vamanrao made her talk and took down in his notebook all the valuable idioms, proverbs, folk-tales which were later on published.

Shenoi Goembab came as a tonic for the then confused Konkani minds. He offered his entire life for the cause of regeneration, rejuvenation and rehabilitation of Konkani after centuries of political suppression, popular neglect and social scorn. His prolific contribution is instrumental in the residence of our present identity consciousness as Goans and as Konkani people. His insight was both penetrating and scholarly. He laid down the foundation of the history of Konkani people after studying hundreds of books both ancient and modern. Goembab had a clear and unique vision, which ought to be imbibed upon the young Konkani students. Efforts are therefore aimed to translate the dreams of this great seer into reality. In this 125th Birth anniversary celebrations of this great man, it is time to awaken the masses once again and to set their Konkani hearts on fire, to make the spark ablaze by imbibing the values as enshrined by him.
The deep scholarliness and the research input rendered by Goembab amaze any student of Konkani literature. The power of the Konkani diction found in his stories and the music of Konkani language as seen in his translation of Bhagvad Geeta is just unparalleled. The range, perspective, spectrum, canvas of the usage of gurgling cascading words and idioms is fascinating. The student of linguistics is dumbstruck to see the mastery of this scholar over various dialects and their finer nuances.

Shenoi Goembab's eyes strove to see the larger interest of Konkani. The thorough study of his literature has the power of transforming the reader's life. His message was his life.  "Feel that you are shouldering the entire responsibility of this cosmos. Work and then you will perform at least a little achievement that will last forever." Working on this path can be the truest tributes to this great writer and pioneer of Konkani movement.
 
- MUKESH THALI.

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