Kalaguru Bishnu Prasad Rabha


Kalaguru Bishnu Prasad Rabha, a revolutionary figure, a poet, a writer and a great classical icon of Assam. He was born on 31st January 1909 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He was a multifaceted artist and revolutionary singer of Assam. He is popularly known as Kalaguru means Guru of Arts. From an early stage, he played an active role in Indian independence. He came to be influenced by left wing ideas and came close to the Communist Party of India. However, when Germany attacked Soviet Union during Second World War and the Indian communists decided to work with the British government, a section of the party favoured a different approach to oppose British imperialism and Fascism simultaneously. So a split happened in the communist party and in 1945 he finally joined the Revolutionary Communist Party of India. In 1951, after the death of Jyoti Prasad Agarwala he became the president of the Assam branch of Indian People's Theatre Association.

Apart from being a revolutionary he was also a brilliant academician and researcher. Due to participation in freedom struggle he was forced by the British Govt to leave Rippon College at Calcutta and transferred to Victoria College at Coch Behar. He was not able to continue his formal studies even there due to frequent raid of British forces in his hostel and was compelled to give up his formal educational career for ever.

Bishnu Prasad Rabha was an eminent freedom fighter. His meaning of freedom however is not simply freedom from British rule. But it meant freedom from capitalism, freedom from wage slavery, freedom from poverty and all social evils. In his own words, "I am fighting for a revolution from the realm of necessity to the realm of freedom". He dedicated his entire life for this freedom movement. He donated an ancestral estate of 2500 bigha land received from the British government in favour of the peasants. His slogan was "Haal Jaar Maati Taar" means "those who cultivate should own the land". The present day Tezpur University stands upon the land donated by him. His entire life was characterized by a restlessness to work for the people and he kept on moving around like a nomad. He was also an excellent mass mobiliser. His speeches and lectures could touch the heart of the masses. However, his political struggle was never pregnant with individual power seeking motive. It was only give power at the hands of the masses. He even said that the independence achieved in 1947 was simply a farce. It is because in spite of the freedom the poor and weaker sections of the society remained the same. According to him, the real struggle begins after 1947. 

His work Bano Kobang is a masterpiece which portrays the life worlds of the ethnic groups of Axom. His other works include Mising Coneng, Sonpahi, Axomiya Kristir Samuh Abhash, and Atit Axom. His interest for the upliftment and liberation of the weaker section of society is visible in his works. But these works did not get much accolade as his other works received. 

Bishnu Prasad was an established singer. The level of influence exerted by the Kola Guru can be observed through the fact that most cultural music competitions of Assam feature a segment called Bishnu Rabha Sangeet related to his compositions, lyrics and verse. He had learnt Borgeet of Shrimanta Shankar Deva and gave the genre a new significance for the modern times. There are more than hundred songs composed by him. His songs are collectively called as Bishnu Rabha Sangeet. This was a new genre of Assamese. In his songs one can see diverse themes like tributes to the Mother Nature, the exploitation of the peasant masses by the colonial rulers, the revolts of the workers at tea industries etc. His songs also reflect his revolutionary ideal and the country’s struggle for real freedom. Some of his songs are popular among children even today and will be, for all times to come. Some leading numbers include Xurore Deulore, Bilote Halise,etc. 

His evergreen compositions includes song like Para jonomor khubho logonor, logon ukali gol, roi roi keteki, tilai tilai, kurua botah and many more to mention. He was a great actor. He used to perform dramas at Bann theatre of tezpur which is regarded to be one of the oldest cultural activity centers of Assam. He also translated the famous song of revolution "internationale" by Eugène Pottier into Assamese. His paintings are still preserved in his residence at Tezpur. Many of his art works are considered to be remarkable, as it were worked on with such a great perfection even at that time. 

Kalaguru died in 20th June 1969 in Tezpur, Assam. His death anniversary is observed as Rabha Divas in Assam. 


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