He loves to tell his childhood stories to an interested listener, and one of those stories he enjoys telling is about an old ‘oak tree’ of his village which he used to climb, because from its top, he believed, it was possible to touch the sky. Although a successful man he is, it does not require a long conversation for anyone to find out that he still is a humble man who is intrigued by simple things in life. And simply observing things from a distance is probably his best pastime.
Krishnahari Baral was born in a middle-class family on 4th January, 1954 in Hatpate, Sindhuli a beautiful village in a small Asian country, Nepal. He spent most of his early childhood in the same village. Those days, as he confesses, nature was his playground and nature was his toy. He grew up in an environment where his Grandmother was putting her own words in local folk tunes and singing them unprofessionally, while his Grandfather was regularly reciting verses from Hindu epics. His father, Khadananda Baral is a farmer and his mother Late Padma Kumari Baral was departed early in his childhood. He was the eldest among a brother, a sister, and two half-brothers. Although no one had achieved formal education in his family before, he was admitted to a local school where he completed his Lower Secondary education. As he still recalls, it was in Class 5 that he wrote his first lyrical poem. Unfortunately, there were no publications of any kind in the village at the time. Also, there was no High School in the area. So, he moved alone to Janakpur in 1967 AD and joined Shri Saraswati Multi Purpose High School.
Moving to Janakpur was a milestone in his career. It was a city much larger, much developed and much different from his village. Here, he was exposed to Hindi movies, which usually contained excellent songs with melodious tunes and great lyrics. In addition, the comprehensive content of the ‘Compulsory English’ of the High School, which he describes as 'tough' and which included poems and essays by internationally renowned poets and writers, impressed him deeply. He successfully completed High School and obtained his School Leaving Certificate in 1969 AD. He then completed his Diploma in 1973 AD with Nepali, Psychology and Economics as major subjects from the RR College of Janakpur itself. In the same year, he published his two lyrics for the first time in Usha magazine. From the same college in Janakpur, he received his Bachelor’s degree in 1976 AD, and this time his major subject was Nepali.
After that, in 1977 AD he moved to Kathmandu, which is the capital of the country. Obviously his dreams were big, so was his determination. That year, his lyrics ‘Ma Bhakta Hu Yo Desko (I am a devotee of this nation)' was sung and recorded for the first time in Radio Nepal , the only radio station of the country at the time. He got married in 1981 AD to Sushma Baskota, who is now a successful advocate and a writer. His wife gave birth to their first child, a daughter in 1982 AD, followed by another daughter in 1986 AD and a son in 1987 AD.In 1988 AD, he received his Masters Degree in Nepali from Central Department of Nepali, Tribhuwan University (TU). He worked as Nepali teacher in various schools and colleges until he finally became a lecturer in Central Department of Nepali, TU in 1993 AD . In 2007 AD, he finally did his PhD on ‘Ghazal history’ which is based on extensive research and study.
He has written books about linguistics, lyrics collections, literary critiques and is continually writing new ones as well. He has co-written course books on Nepali from Class 1 up to Masters Level also. He published most of his books after 1994 AD, which include 'Bhasa Bigyan Ra Nepali Bhasa (Linguistics and Nepali Language)' in 1994 AD, followed by 'Sandristi (Critique Collection)' and, 'Upanyas Sidhdhanta ra Nepali Upanyas (Theory of Novel and Nepali Novels)' in 1999 AD, 'Kabi Bhupi: Bishleshan ra Mulyankan (Poet Bhupi: Analysis and Evaluation)' in 2001 AD, 'Geet Sidhdhanta Ra Itihas (Theory and History of Lyrics)' in 2004 AD, and 'Bastuparak Samalochana (Objective Critique)' in 2005 AD. His lyrics collections are 'Ek Phool, Anek Patra (Single Flower, Myriad Mails)'published in 1995 AD and 'Geetkar Krishnahari Baral: Srijana ra Samalochana (Lyricist Krishnahari Baral: Creation and Critique)' published in 2002 AD. The latest among his books is 'Ghazal: Sidhdanta Ra Parampara (Ghazal: Theory and Chronicle)', published in 2008.
Talking about his career as lyricist, it all began when he used to be fascinated by a radio program and its hosts (Devi Sharma and Pandav Sunuwar) in his youth. He even wrote a letter to the program which was broadcasted on air. Later in a meeting, it was them who suggested to him that he should write lyrics. He did so and there was no looking back. Until now, he has written many lyrics and almost 300 of those have been recorded. He has 9 solo albums, numerous published songs, and two song collections to be proud of. Some critics have even called him ‘magician of words’ and ‘lyricist of lyricists’. Not surprisingly, he has received most of the nation’s big awards for his contribution in writing lyrics, which include the ‘Chhinnalata Musical Award (2000 AD)’, the ‘Nai Kalanidhi Musical Award (1999 AD)’ and many other awards. Recently, by Kantipur FM, a leading FM station, he was named to be the lyricist whose songs were aired the most throughout a year.
What is more, he is as successful as a literary critic as he is as a lyricist. His critiques on songs, novels, dramas, poems and various other subjects are considered to be neutral and very significant. Dr. Baral is recognized as a brilliant critique by the respected academicians and the recognized writers of the country. He has published his criticism in many magazines as well as in his books. He is the first and only person to write a book about song criticism in Nepali. Other than that, he has written books on criticism of novels, and dramas as well. His PhD thesis itself was a research paper about criticism of ghazal (a kind of lyrical poem). Not to forget that he is a highly esteemed lecturer of Nepali. He is very serious about the things that he gives to the students and researching the subject matter that he teaches is his trademark. Also, he is an amateur but a dedicated honeybee keeper, so much so that he sometimes forgets other things while spending time with the bees.
Dr. Krishnahari Baral is always finding something in everything to smile about, something to look at and ponder, and something to be curious about. As stated earlier, observing the life is his nature and observing the nature is his life. More than an open book, his life is like a clear sky; without any hidden side, without anything to hide. When I think of it, maybe that is how he stands out among everyone.
By Darshan Baral