The humanist bard1 min read . Updated: 06 Nov 2011, 04:04 PM IST
The humanist bard
The humanist bard
One of Bhupen Hazarika’s most beautiful Assamese songs is a homage to the wanderer- the jajabor, who has no address. He often wrote his songs in the first person and this song, composed in the 1970s, urges his listener to sympathize with the man who travels from Chicago to Hastinapur, Ottawa to Austria, to the banks of the Mississipi, for whom a geographical address is anathema. This man, Hazarika sings, discovers that home is where kindred minds are. Sung in his rich, deep voice, the song is an anthem of love, and a meditation on the possibilities of human goodness.
Some of his fans will remember him as the eternal jajabor. He gave Assam a voice, but never made it his only home.
Few artists have written on such a gamut of themes as Hazarika has. He was born in 1926 in Sadiya, in upper Assam near Dibrugarh district, to a musically-inclined family. His elder brother, Jayanta Hazarika, was another popular singer of Assam. While Jayanta engaged with lost love and loneliness, Bhupen was more concerned with the larger world.
In the late 1970s and1980s, Hazarika expressed his open support for the All Assam Students’ Movement---from songs of that period it is obvious that he was consumed by idea that the youth can transform society. In the 1990s, he had found another home in Mumbai. He often said that disillusionment with the state’s failure to engage with problems of the common Assamese was a reason he kept away.
His political career was chequered. Hazarika contested elections from Lakhimpur district as an independent candidate and was an MLA for three years. He was away from active politics for many years, during which he composed songs for Hindi films and in 2004, he returned to Assam for contesting parliamentary elections from Guwahati as a BJP candidate. The people of Guwahati gave him a rousing welcome, but did not give him the electoral mandate.
He led best with his songs -- those of us who grew up in Assam between 1960s and 1980s, knew his songs by heart. His music was inspiration as well as entertainment.