‘Lakshyaheera’- the word itself speaks in volumes. And so apt is the name for a diversely talented Dr. Lakshyaheera Das whose multi faceted personality draws comparison to none. Every single time I avail an opportunity to meet and talk with her, I’m left with even greater admiration for her. Such is her down to earth humility that in her company, I get completely lost and never have I felt a tinge of hint of her celebrated public persona. I can never have enough of her words. And in those precious moments I often wish if only time could stand still. So much to discuss and so little time! Conversations with her range from music, poetry, life work and so much more. That day too wasn’t an exception. She discussed various aspects of life and her words bore a deep sense of hope and optimism- which highly justifies ‘Mor kobitai prithibik dibo abhinobo subha sangbad. Mor geetorai ekajoli rode anibo suprobhat’
Lakshyaheera was born in Sualkuchi on 2nd February, 1933 to Chandra Baishya Saud and Mother Dharjyobala. Her father, being a magistrate was posted to various parts of the state and so young Lakshyaheera along with her family travelled around places.
Lakshyaheera in the world of music
In her own words- ‘A subtle moment when encountered upon would swiftly get captivated in my mind. And at that moment when I would reflect upon in my tranquility, the lines of a premature song would hit me almost spontaneously. And the lyrics would so effortlessly take to the tunes that I found it hard to resist humming it. Many of those unsung tunes have been lost too. The music to those words rendered spontaneously would create a hubbub within itself. I just had to lend my voice to express it. And I would wander in an altogether different world of words and music! I experience the world with my music in my own unique way. I would feel and touch the unfathomable deep of happiness and sorrow like a child in all its tenderness amid the pristine ambience of words and sounds. I never took lessons on music and never understood it. But music had its own way of catching up with me. It was as if everyday brought me the colors and happiness of this wonderful life in the form of music. It was as if my mind and soul voiced-
‘Ganor Bhashare Likhi Jaam
Ei Jibon Itihash
Suror Bolere Hridoy Juram
Eye Mor Abhilash’
Thus this way Lakshyaheera earned her nicknames ‘Sanu’, ‘Posaki’ etc. In the wonderful environment of Sualkuchi Lakshyaheera grew up. She spent her childhood in the centre of vaishnavite culture and tradition at Barpeta and the cultural capital of Assam- Tezpur. She fondly remembers her childhood years. While at Tezpur, young Lakshyaheera had had the opportunity to meet the three stalwarts of assamese art and culture- Bishnu Prasad Rabha, Jyoti Prasad Agarwala and Phani Sharma. She says- ‘At that time I was unaware about them. When I performed at various school level functions such as ‘Mou Mel’ I met them. Their blessings and valuable suggestions always inspire me’.
Lakshyaheera said- ‘having a favorable atmosphere of music and culture, not only in the surrounding where I grew up but also within my family greatly inspired me. My father Lalit Chandra Baishya Saud was a core lover of music. He had a beautiful voice too. Every morning I used to wake up listening him sing. Brings back memories of our ‘Nam Ghar’ where the entire family would pray in the mornings and evenings. And father would tell us, in his simple language that music is a part of meditation. He also explained us that every word bore a soul with its intrinsic energy and so the lyrics should be pronounced correctly. Music would soon be a second identity for me- a source of inspiration and fulfillment. Today music has leveled all that is- happiness and sorrow, victory and defeat.
Apart from that the gramophone bought by her father helped her cross regional frontiers of music and listening to the likes of Saigal, Kananbala, Kostramini, Angoorbala etc influenced her.
Also known as a poet, Lakshyaheera’s first poem was published in 1943 in ‘Jagaran’, the hand written magazine of Tezpur Girls High School. The poem was titled ‘Prabhati’. Many of her poems have been translated into different regional language including Oriya, Gujrati, Bengali, Punjabi, Tamil etc apart from Hindi and English. ‘Between Births’ was published in the year 1990. The various anthologies of Lakshyaheera published till date include ‘Pran ganga’, ‘Bhaskar lagna’, ‘Priya prithibir babe’, ‘Desh bideshor kabita’ etc. In ‘Desh bideshor kabita’, there is gtranslated works of 63 poets from 44 different countries. ‘Nirbachita bharatiya kabita’ is her latest published book of poems.
Apart from deeply involved in music and poetry since childhood, she also had a bright academic career which is exemplary and inspiring. She stood second among all female candidates of the 1946 secondary school batch of Assam and graduated with flying colours. She secured highest marks in three of the subjects. She fondly recalls those moments- ‘I shall remember the day our results were out. My teachers at Jorhat Government Girls High School were so happy. It is because of their continuous support and motivation along with my family that helped me in all my endeavors.’
‘In that very year of my matriculation, the music school was set up at Jorhat. It was headed by Darpanath Sharma. My father enrolled me in vocal and sitar classes. I was among the first few student of the school. Late Gopal Sharma gave us lessons on sitar and Darpanath Sharma would take classes of classical vocals. On the foundation day ceremony one of my compositions was selected by Darpanath Sharma who composed the music for it. The song was ‘Aji bone upobone/Phul koto Phul…’ This song being based on classical raga, was widely appreciated by the audience and I received many positive feedback. Although I had composed other songs, this incidentally was the first one to be performed for a broader audience’- remarked Dr. Lakshyaheera on her first song to be performed on stage.
It was music which inspired and motivated Lakshyaheera in her academic career too. Like music, she devoted herself to education. And following her previous glittering success, she passed her Intermediate exams from Jaganath Barooah College under Gauhati University and stood sixth in 1948. In order to pursue higher education, she enrolled herself in Cotton College and in 1950 she passed B.A examinations with distinctions. She secured third position with highest marks in two subjects. In the year 1953, she completed her MA with honors in Education from Gauhati University. And in 1973, she attained her doctorate in Education from Gauhati University. It is worth mentioning that she earned a fellowship from the Ministry of Education for her research on teachers’ training and she successfully submitted her report to the Ministry in 1958.
Professional life: Teaching
As a teacher Lakshyaheera’s career is similarly noteworthy. She started her career as a lecturer. She was among the founding members of the Department of Education at Cotton College in 1959. She was the first to start research in Psychology at Cotton College and at college level this was the first of its kind research facility in Psychology. In 1977 she joined the Department of Education in Gauhati University and became the Head of the Department in 1986. She retired from Gauhati University in the year 1993 as the Head of the Department.
Dr. Lakshyaheera Das has authored many books in the field of Education. Some of which include- ‘Elements of Education’, ‘Sampurna Siksha’, ‘Education in Assam’, ‘Agragati’, ‘Some great educators’, ‘Adult continuing education’, ‘Ucchatar Madhyamik Siksha’, ‘Educational Society’ etc. During her tenure at the university he had represented Assam at various national conferences in Education held throughout the country and also participated at various international conferences held outside India. She had also mentored many successful PhD students under her. Indeed her quest for knowledge is an inspiration for us.
Music and Lakshyaheera
In the year 1948, young Lakshyaheera having passed her intermediate exams joined Cotton College for higher studies. In the same year Aakashbani Guwahati Centre was established. Lakshyaheera would soon be a rising star at Aakashbani. She recalls- ‘Scouting for talents in the lengths and breadths of Assam at that time were the farsighted and visionary trio of Purushottam Das, Rabindra Nath Phukan and Syed Abdul Malik Sir. They gave me the opportunity to auditon at the studios of Aakashbani. Under their guidance, I picked up the microphone and sang two songs. I was really nervous. One was a modern song and the other was ‘Borgeet’. Prior to that, I had sung at functions and gatherings but never with a microphone. Well after that voice test, I was presented with refreshments outside the studio and Malik Sir (who taught me at J.B College) exclaimed- ‘First Class! You have passed the voice test and now you are a radio artist. And from now on you have to regularly sing for radio’. Before I could even hold myself together, Purushottam Das made me sign the contract. And my program on modern song was just after a week as I was informed. I was confused and uncertain at that time as I would need songs to sing. Also I was new to Guwahati and was unsure about a lot of things. So I openly discussed this with Malik Sir. He said- ‘Since you have the experience of composing songs, you should sing your own compositions. Even Biren Phukan Sir told me the same. Thus this way, with their support and blessings, four of my songs were broadcasted in Aakashbani which were composed and sung by me. They were- ‘Aandhar jugor deepsikha moi’, ‘Udayar pathat ringiai mate’, ‘Bijan porot geet gaam moi’ and ‘Tumi kun sagoror modhu…’ This was a new beginning for me. After the program, I was awarded a cheque of Rs. 15 which I very carefully preserved’.
Noted dramatist, actor and director Sarbeshwar Chakravarty urged Lakshyaheera to publish her first collection of songs by the name ‘Prathama’ and it was because of him that Prathama was finally released. About this Lakshyaheera says- ‘My first anthology by the name ‘Prathama’ is very close to my heart. I remember those tears of joy as it was like a first child for me. Immediately after its publication, the book was so well received that it took me by surprise. It was like- ‘I wake up one morning and found myself famous!’ It was all happening very quick. Moreover I had studies to concentrate upon. However, I managed everything smoothly.’
Some other anthologies of Dr. Lakshyaheera Das are- ‘Sur setu’, ‘Gitartha’, ‘Mayur Pankhi’, ‘Antargata Nadi’, ‘O mor sikunir desh’, ‘Lakshyaheera-r geet’ etc.
Lakshyaheers is one of the few singer-composers of Assam whose contribution to the field of music after the establishment of Aakashbani Guwahati centre is noteworthy. She composed her song, rendered music to it and performed it. She is the first assamese women who holds this distinction. She has composed more than 2000 songs till date. As a playback singer in films her first song was- ‘Alokar parabare matise doorot mok/ eri dia priya moi jao’ featured in ‘Sarapat’. Apart from that, she also lent her voice in films like ‘Lachit Barphukan’ (song: ‘Jonowali rati’, ‘Ei matite moru jodi’ and ‘Upaja sonar mati o’), ‘Saknoya’ and ‘Natun prithibi’.
Her songs, by its essence of subject diversity have touched many hearts. Some of her most popular songs with Dr. Bhupen Hazarika include- ‘Harit banar sinaki subashe’, ‘Aguji duguji khoj’, ‘De udongai de’, ‘Ei bate moi’, ‘Gaon-re majore’, ‘He provu nondo dulal’, ‘Moi tohotot keteki’, ‘Sesh nai sesh nai’, ‘Alokar parabare’, ‘Ethengia bogoli hoi nache’, ‘Dhol bai kot’, ‘Phul sichi dia’, ‘Aji bhokoti ajoli’, ‘Ei poth houk bohu door’, ‘Dalim oi dalim’, ‘Jibanare phul bohu rongi’, ‘Aai tor pujate’ etc. Many different singers have sung to Dr. Lakshyaheera’s compositions like- ‘Rati je nibir hol’ sung by Dr. Bhupen Hazarika, ‘Mon daponot’ sung by Biren Dutta, ‘Anurage rongito mon’ sung by Gunada Das Kaur, ‘Eipare moi’, ‘Akashot jonakor jui’, ‘Gaanor bhashare likhi jam moi’, ‘Mayurpankhi ja’ sung by Jyotirmoy Talukdar are worth mentioning.
In 1965, Calcutta’s Gramophone Company recorded four of Dr. Lakshyaheera’s compositions. Then four other songs directed by Jiten Deb were recorded through HMV. They are- ‘Kun duronir pokhi ti’, ‘Emuthi rodali’, ‘Hiya bhangi thoi’, ‘Sure sure aji’. Also recorded in HMV were two ‘Borgeet’ directed by Dayal Chandra Suthadhar. They were- ‘Oison mohan bal gopal’, ‘Jay jay……’ and folk songs ‘Moi tumar lobono nakhao’ and ‘Ohe jokhoa mai’. Other songs recorded by HMV are ‘Phule phule rang kiman’, ‘Tumi kio gola madhu bhora geetali’, ‘Amar maina daangor hol’ etc.
Inspired by Hemanta Mukherjee’s music, Lakshyaheera composed ‘Mori kalangare par’, ‘Siyali nahibi rati’. These two songs with music by Brajen Barua were quite popular among the Aakashbani audience.
Dr. Lakshyaheera’s music career spanned a wide variety of compositions. Few noteworthy in her career include recording Ambikagiri Raichoudhury’s ‘Agnibeena-r taan’ produced by Sutirtha Productions, Umesh Chandra Choudhury’s ‘Jinibi jeevan pon’, Nalinibala Devi’s ‘Maheshweta’ etc.
Dr. Lakshyaheera Das has also contributed to children literature. Some of her books for children include- ‘Akanir sadhu’, ‘Kazarangat Saat Bihu’, ‘Akashi kunwar-r sadhu’, ‘Mou mitha maat’, ‘Desh bideshor sishu galpa sangrah’, ‘Surya aaru saagoro sahdu’, ‘Umala ghoror padya’, ‘Mukutamala’ etc. Her literary works including fiction and prose are- ‘Tapashi’, ‘Aadarsha nari’ etc. Her translated works include- ‘Oscar Wilde-r galpa’ (translated fiction), ‘Aparichita prem’ (translated novel), ‘Ramanujacharya’ (translated biography), ‘Silpir prithibi aaru sangsayar nicha’ (translated novel), ‘Doriyan Gray-r sobi’ (novel), ‘Desh bideshor kobita’ (Anthology) etc.
Dr. Lakshyaheera Das’ husband Ramcharan Das who headed the Department of Anthropology at Arya Bidyapeeth College has been a constant support for her throughout her married life and in all her endeavors. He helped her in every step and that in turn let her prosper and move ahead.
Various awards and recognitions of Lakshyaheera Das
Since 1948 she has been Aakashbani recognized singer-songwriter.
1968- Best playback singer award.
In Assam Sahitya Sabha’s Sualkuchi meeting, she was elected as the president.
1995- Assam Sahitya Sabha’s ‘Basanti Bordoloi Award’ for best female writer in Assamese.
1995- Assam Government’s Artist Pension Award.
1995- Conferred ‘Sangeetacharya’, ‘Sangeet Deepika’ titles. Also best composer award.
2003- Assam Government’s ‘Artist Award.’
2004- Best Children Literature Award by All Assam Women Writers Association.
2005- ‘Radhagovinda Baruah Lifetime Award’.
2006- ‘Naamnai’s’ Lifetime Achievement Award
2009- ‘Pragyanshree’ title conferred by All Assam Women Writers Association
2010- Prabina Saikia Literary Award
2012- ‘Sailadhar Rajkhowa Award’ by Assam Sahitya Sabha.
2012- Assam Government’s ‘Amalprabha Das Award’.
Behind all of Dr. Lakshyaheera Das’ success and recognition is her indomitable spirit and sheer talent. Her hard work, integrity and ingenuity have crafted her way to the top. Her simplicity would forever shine on. She says- ‘I may be a singer, songwriter, and teacher and so on, but I am woman- a mother and a wife to my family. After fulfilling my duties and commitment towards my home and family I’m a singer, songwriter, and teacher for others.’
Lakshyaheera is still influenced and inspired by music. She indeed is a complete artist in the sense of the term. She is such an inspiration to the young generation.
Translation by: Arunabh Sharma, enajori.com ©Project Lipyontor