Thakur, Haru

Thakur, Haru (d. 1824) kaviyal (Bard), was born in a Brahmin family in Kolkata and was named Harekrishna Dighari. He came to be known as Haru Thakur after he made his mark as a singer. As his family was poor, he did not receive any formal education. But this instinctive poet was able to write lyrics and compose them from his boyhood. His guru was Raghunath Das. He worked as a dohar (refrain-man) in the band of his guru and later formed a band of his own.

He did not charge for his performance at the beginning of his career; but later he became a singer-poet professional and made a big fortune. He used to perform at the homes of wealthy people of Kolkata, Burdwan, Krishnanagar, Vishnupur, etc. He enjoyed a good standing in society after being patronised by Raja Nabakrishna of Shobhabazar in Kolkata and after becoming one of his courtiers. He had disciples like bhola moira, Bhabani Bene, Nilu Thakur etc. When his disciples formed their own bands later, he used to help them with his lyrics and tunes. He even pitted himself against some of them on stage. These contests between the teacher and the students took place mainly at the compound of Nabakrishna's house. He was skilled in improvising verses in question-answer sessions, one of the important elements of kavigan.

Haru Thakur was noted for his performance in bijaya, sakhisangbad (accounts of friends), biraha (bereavement), kheud (scurrilous songs) and lahar (contest of improvisation), etc. He earned laurels for himself by singing songs of sakhisangbad and biraha, but was also accused of composing vulgar numbers for kheud and lahar. He could captivate his audience with his appeal in his songs on Bhabani and the love affair between radha and krishna. Shocked at the death of Raja Nabakrishna, Haru Thakur gradually dissociated himself from music and stopped performing. [Wakil Ahmed]