Wednesday, November 30, 2011


By Gautam Prasad Baroowah ,
“Music is the highest art, and to those who understand, is the highest worship”
Swami Vivekananda

The departure of Bhupenda created a void in the world of music, culture and human warmth. But greatest loss would be to the value for which he strived most, the human brother hood and for a field of integration (Somonoyer Khetra). His all lyric, stories, personal essays and even music were to achieve this purpose of emotional integration amongst the humanity of the world. He traveled and traversed from Ottawa to Columbia, Brahmaputra to Volga ,Sunghphoo to Padma with only one intent in mind. Unification of human mind .He lead the life of a gypsy but embraced the entire world as his family. . It is almost impossible to bind Hazarika’s personality to any dogma. He is free as a bird yet he would always like to live amidst the humanity like Wordsworth’s Cuckoo. It is not important where he lives now. But for whom he stands today? The answer is simply he wants to live for the wellbeing of humanity.
In strict sense of the term he was not a family man. He had no fixed relatives but had only relations with humanity. In his broader vision, he had neither wife, nor son; not even his brothers and sisters. They were his friends along with the timing millions who lived in this world. Once in my Kolkata home, during the planning session of poetry recording in 1977 we were discussing mundane things as always and I suddenly asked him …

: Bhupenda, don’t you feel the absence of a family now?
: Not really! My family extends to my friends like you and beyond… to the struggling people in the field and plants.
: You are kidding Bhupenda, I replied
: No, I am not. I am a restless man, you know. I resigned my jobs at the university and Radio for my soul need to remain unbound.
: What about your relations with your parent?
: I greatly love my Mom! I dreamt her often. But I have been a worthless son, a worthless husband, a bad father too. I even could not play with my son during his formative period.
: But you have been a loving brother, by you own admission!
: Even I could not take care of them fully except for initial education for sometime. I could not help my father during his retired life. He did so much to settle me down. Actually, I am not really destined for a planned and bgugdmd/lifikwtyle. I am a roving minstrel ….. And Bhupenda suddenly started reciting aloud…..
“I am a gipsy
I scour the ends of the earth
But wouldn’t look for a home
From Luit to the Mississippi
I marveled at the Volga
From Ottawa through Austria
I made Paris my own.”
(Moi ek jajabar)

Many of his friends knew that Bhupenda was a great in recitation. He used to recite poem of joytiprasad “ JUGANTORER MOI , KALANTORER MOI” with his husky voice to a great effect . He however had not recorded too many recitation of poetry, either of his own or of others. In 1976 when Gramophone Company of India had cut the first ever poetry recitation record of Assamese poets, Bhupenda’s natural choice was the poem composed by Joytiprasad Aggarwala. Other declaimers like Ishan Barua, Manjumla Das, Amarjooyti Chowdhury and Arunima Saikia, who also participated in the recording, were thrilled to hear his recitation. It was an unique experience for them and his way of recitation brought out goose pimples on them .No sooner he finished recording, unknowingly all of them, including the sound recordist Mallabuzar Barua, clapped in unison. The name of the record was “Saptarshi”. The record was produced by me and music was scored by Dr. Bhupen Hazarika. The record is not easily available now. But some of the Assamese families have kept that record as their prized passion. I recommend to every admirer to listen to the recitation of the poem by Bhupen Da. It would be a unique experience. In fact this recitation could be reproduced and rerecorded by any of his admirer for the posterity, before the last copy is lost in oblivion“
Give me a white man whose blood is white
Give me a Black man whose blood is black
You would get whatever you want
If you can give me in return”
(Jonab Fakir of Bangladesh)
This song reverberated from the voice of Dr. Bhupen Hazarika of Assam long before Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated in America. Dr. Hazarika was a true disciple of the great Saint Sankardeva of Assam and was later influenced by the philosophy of the greatest cult singer Paul Robson of USA. He transcended the walls of his classroom at the University of Gauhati, India in fifties of the last century and took the high road to various corners of the world. He traveled the world from Arunachal to Chicago, from Ottawa to Austria. He spoke of Gorky while sitting at the grave of Mark Twain.


More than his life, he got tumultuous ovation on his death from common men of the street. People came from every walk of life to pay their homage to the soul of the man whom they loved from the core of their hearts. It was a unique scene. There were tremendous people on the street of Guwahati, at his residence, at judges field where his body was kept to enable his ardent admirers to pay respect and also during the cremation ceremony at Guwahati University campus. Altogether more than million persons physically paid homage to Bhupenda at Guwahati. I was in Los Angeles in 2009 and was witness to the human euphoria of mourning the death of Michel Jackson. I was in Kolkata when legendary Satayjit Ray died . There were seas of humanity in all these mourning. But love and affection for Bhupenda drew much bigger crowd at Guwahati. Approximately 1.5 million people came out to pay their last respect. It was a rare sight to find that many people kept on visiting the place of cremation even after a week. Incidentally, his first job was in the same campus. Here he wrote one of the finest songs of the century which was sung as chorus on the inaugural day of the university.
“The Banks of the Luit will brighten
Breaking the barrier of darkness
In Pragjoyotish flows
The fountains of light
Hundreds of light .
In a Depawali of wisdom
Will brighten the banks of Luit
The parchment will give us words
The siphung hope
And the Ranghar will open the doors
Society will embrace
Mighty humanity
And science will bring a tide.” (Jilekaba Luitore Par)

A cult figure to us:
I met Bhupen Dada, for the first time, in 1955 at Calcutta Movie tone Studio. He was in Calcutta those days to score the music of “Piyali Phookan”, a film directed by another giant Phani Sharma. I was brought to Calcutta by Lakshydhar Chowdhury to act in his film “Nimila Anka”. From that day onward I became a fan of Bhupenda and our association lasted till date. Like him I settled in Kolkata later in my life and we were neighbour when I started living at Thana House of Tollygung .
To many people in India he has been a great singer. To some people he was a wonderful film maker, to some he was an excellent lyricist. For some he was a dear and respected teacher. But to us he has been a cult figure who empowered our generation with his voice, deeds and writings. Whenever the country is in turmoil he has been there to raise his voice for the upliftment of the downtrodden. He is a humanist per excellence. The lyrics are his bullets and his voice is the machine gun. He has inspired several generations in India through his lyrics, songs, films and writings. His greatest weapon is his system of communication. He can communicate with everyone of every age and can persuade to his point of view at ease. The mother and the daughter, the father and the son are always competing with each other to have a share of Dr. Hazarika vocal tonic, companionship and friendship. Always Bhupen Hazarika had remained a youth full persona : an eternal Dada. He has retained the eternal youthful vigor. Even a child can communicate with him as Dada but we have became “grandfather”. Often we marveled at how he managed his time. He was sought after by the communists in West Bengal, the Congress always wanted him and the BJP asked him to come to their side. But Bhupenda always remained with the mass. No freshman social was a resounding success in Bengal with his participation. In Calcutta all the employees associations of merchant offices wanted Dr. Hazarika in their cultural shows. On many occasions I was approached by the McLeod Russell cultural association to put a word to Bhupenda so that he can accept the invitation to their cultural bash. Bhupenda always obliged.

Once in 1975 Bhupenda and I had to share a room at Kaziranga Tourist lodge. I was on my way to visit Jorhat and stayed back at the tourist lodge. In the evening when I returned back from the inner sanctuary then Tourist officer came and met me. He told me that Bhupenda is on his way to Guwahati and had to stay for the night and there was no room. Would I min if he share the room for the night. I told him that it would be pleasure to spend the night together. That night was a great night for we talked many things of his life.
: Bhupenda, you have been activist of IPTA. Some says you are communist. Is it true? I asked
: I am a Marxist. I read Marx and Angel and that inspired my mind to elevate downtrodden.
: But you have been visiting Kamakhya temple too. Are you a religious person?
: Yes I am religious. My religion is service to humanity. I do not worship God with flowers. My flowers are my lyrics. I believe in Divinity. To me, Religion is the expression of divinity in human being. You know my music is my offerings to God. I have no personal God. I worship with music to empower downtrodden, he replied.
:Do you feel elevated when you sing.
: I feel greatly happy when I compose a poem, a lyric and when I sing
: I have already written that my songs harbour no destructive vision. it envisages an unprecedented peace.
His songs empowered us to raise our voice. We were motivated to fight back against corruption, terrorism and social degeneration and poverty. For last few years, Dr. Hazarika was mostly in Bombay in the loving care of Kalpana Lazmi and his Doctors.. He felt reassured there. But his mind always travels to Assam. Physically he feels sometime very weak but mentally as strong as steel. Bhupenda is as iconic to Assam as Rabindranath is to Bengal and Robert Burns is to Scotland, Tolstoy to Russian and Mark Twain to America. He is a phenomenon which arrives once in a blue moon in a society. To me his most outstanding song is: “Bimurta Nishate”…
“This my ethereal Night
Is a blue scarf
Woven of silence
In its folds
Tender breathing
And live warmth”.
This is the song Bhupen Da also loves most. He loves all his creations. But this song appeals to him the most.

He was 85 years young man when he died. None of his blood relations were present, except “Toto”(Sanjib Hazarika) his favourite nephew, near his death bed. He however was surrounded by his soul mates of life. From Kalpana to Anuradha, Pradip to Manjula beside Manisha Hazarika (his
Sister in law) Rajshri and Baba were also present. Anuradha gave the vivid account of the last moments of Maestros life in the hospital at Bombay. …..(sADIN)
“When I reached his room in the hospital his eyes were closed. Kalpana whispered to the semi conscious Bhupenda “, look Bhup who has come! It is Anuradha from Guwahati”. There was no response for a while. A moment later his eyes opened up for a moment and closed down again! Jayashri( Marthi friend of Kalpana) shouted “ look he responded. .His sixth sense must have realized some one nearer to him has come”…. I knew that these were only expression of optimism. In fact I turned stone seeing his conditions with three pipes entering into his throat and host of monitors recording his physiological data. Bhupenda who always hated gadgets, even cell phones, is now struggling with such artificial help!
On 5th November Dr. Sailendra Goyal came to examine him. We all were outside his room only pradip and Baba were inside the cabin along with the Doctor. His blood count seemed ok but platelets was falling down. --- Those were the most of agonizing moment. Maha Mritunjoy Slokas were played for his wellbeing. I asked Joyoshri, why not his own songs? Doctors came next day, examined and told to stop these songs. This is the time to play Hazarika’s own creation. He would understand that better. Doctors kept on examining him. We were out side the room but his body monitors were visible to us.
It is around 11.30 am Dr. Goyal visited his chamber. Examined him for twenty minutes.
He came out, aftr examinations and told Kalpana his blood pressure is falling rapidly. It will be difficult to stimulate him any more. You may loose him sooner or later. We all felt depressed. Monitors in front of us were fluctuating rapidly.
Whenever blood pressure came up we hoped for good news. We could realise he was fighting. He was a great fighter always. Kalpana started her prayers aloud…. Suddenly we saw on the monitor blood pressure and pulse rate were loosing grip. It was falling rapidly. The curves on the monitor reflected the depression and right in front of our eyes the moving graphs on monitors became straight lines.. …. He was no more”
The news of his departure was conveyed to me immediately by a friend of mine. Anuradha flew back next day from Bombay via Kolkata. She gave me the full description. My mind filled with emotion and nostalgia of yester years. I remembered his lyric “When I’ll have gone from this life”……
When I‘ll have gone from this life
Breaking all tie and bonds
I hope by my pyre I‘ll find
Your solicitude.
I do not want memorial services
Nor false eulogies
A drop of tear from you
And I’ll have had my due. (Moi Jetia ei jivnor)

Kalpana is misunderstood by most, but is admired by Bhupen Dada. She has been a friend philosopher and companion all combined together to Bhupenda. Bhupenda was her guide. Let us accept the reality. Despite opposition of a section of well wisher Bhupenda admires her relations with him. That is the truth and whole truth. Let us honour his feelings and emotion, if we love him.

Bhupenda had gone but his values would always remain alive with timing millions. Building up of a memorial edifice does not always make a person immortal. It is the love of people which make a person everlasting. The culture of “ Bhupendra Sangeet”, if taught to our children, would perhaps be able to keep Bhupenda alive in the heart of timing millions even after hundreds of years, like Rabindra Nath was kept alive not by government but by the effort of his admirers. That would be a real tribute to Bhupenda ;s Legacy who made world his home. Let every district of Assam have an institute of Bhupendra Culture. Can this work be taken up by AASU with concurrent grant from Government of Assam? If one Million mourners who came to pay respect contribute Rs 100/- a person organizers would be able to gather Rs 5crore with matching grant from Govern met and NRI from Assam a good amount will be available to start the work. Would someone take the lead? Otherwise posterity would say Assamese is a race of “Memoriall Service Attendees” only (in the language of Homen Borgohain Soradh Khowa Jati: Amar Asom of 12th November).

Aftermath of demise of Bhupenda the responsibility of our society has increased by manifold. We must protect whatever values he has built up over the years. Mostly all the mourners of the country have shown commendable discipline while his body was lay in estate .Only sad incident which marred the cremation ceremony was uncivilized behavior of one of the well-known artist who, perhaps was considered by some ,as successor to Bhupenda . There were large scale condemnations of such behavior. Our society must be vigilant that such incident does not occur again for that would be an act of disrespect to the great soul whom everyone considers as an icon of love and tranquility. While he was alive he declared…
“Let my songs be
A profound assurance
Against the pervading lack of trust.
Let my songs be
A hymn to truth
Against false imaginings “