Kalaguru Bishnu Prasad Rabha, Cultural Doyen of Assam: Tributes on Death Anniversary as ‘Bishnu Rabha Divash’

On 20 June 1969, a great human being, patriot also an artist, actor, painter, music composer, poet and writer of Assam left for heavenly abode, who is popularly known as Kalaguru Bishnu Prasad Rabha. He passed away at the age of 60 years at Tezpur, Assam, the Date (20 June) presently celebrated in Assam as ‘Bishnu Rabha Divash (meaning day)’.  Kalaguru (meaning master of the arts) was born on 31 January 1909 in ST family in Dhaka (now in Bangladesh), then Bengal Presidency of British India.

Bishnu Rabha’s schooling started at Tezpur Government High School, Assam and later on he went to Calcutta now Kolkata for perusing higher education. He was a great patriot and from young age, he was in freedom movement and was influenced by leftist ideology so ardent supporter of the Communist Party of India. However, when Germany attacked Soviet Union during Second World War, the leaders of Indian communists decided to support the British Government which antagonised a section of the communist leaders and subsequently they formed the Revolutionary Communist Party of India (RCPI) in 1945 where he joined.    

     Anyway Kalaguru was a genius in creative activities. His work Bano Kobang depicts the life of various indigenous Assamese communities. His other works inter alia are Missing Coneng, Sonpahi, Axomiya Kristir Hamuh Abhakh, and Atit Axom. Bishnu Rabha was a great poet also and composed many songs which are known as ‘Rabha Sangeet’. He had given music to most of his songs. He was a visionary, and through music, dance, acting, writing, etc., he endeavoured to realize his dream of a greater, prosperous Assamese society with every ethnic group as equal partners. He acted in a mobile theatre group of that time named ‘Ban Theatre’. He directed an Assamese film ‘Siraj’, where he also composed the music. Further, he acted in the movie ‘Era Baator Xur’. It is pertinent to mention that he was awarded the title ‘Kalaguru’ by Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan at Varanasi for his enthralling ‘dance of Lord Shiva’. Bishnu Rabha worked towards popularizing Vaishnavism initiated by Srimanata Sankardev (Saint and scholar) in Assam in 15th century. He painted portraits of both Sankardev and Madhavdev with water colours, awesome creation. He was a great human being also and always had feelings for the underprivileged and poor echelons of the society.  He donated about 2500 bighas (1 bigha is approximately equal to 0.40 acres) of land received from the British Government to the peasants. His slogan was “Haal Jaar Maati Taar” means “those who cultivate, should own the land”.

He has passed away although on 20 June 1969 but he will be in the heart of millions for his genius activities.

The Following websites have been consulted while writing the paper:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bishnu_Prasad_Rabha
  2. http://onlinesivasagar.com/music/bishnu-rabha.html
  3. http://www.researchgate.net/publication/315476566_Bishnuprasad_Rabha_as_Cultural_Icon_of_Assam_The_Process_of_Meaning_Making
  4. https://web.archive.org/web/20070928043723/http://www.assamtribune.com

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1 reply

  1. Comment of an Associate Professor from Assam

    Sir, your write-up on Kalaguru Bisnu Prasad Rabha is very informative and inspiring. He was a great patriot, his contribution to Assamese litarature cannot be overemphasized. A Befitting Tribute to him. Regards.
    Dr. Gautam Purkayastha Margherita College. Assam.

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