Born on 1 March 1935 in Nagaon in Assam, Shri Birendranath Datta is a leading figure in the fields of education, art
and culture in Assam as well as North-eastern India. Formerly a Professor at Gauhati University and Tezpur
University, Shri Datta has immersed himself in the folklore of the region. He enjoys widespread reputation and
respect both as a scholar and a performer of music. Shri Datta received his training in the music of Assam from
Dayal Chandra Sutradhar and later Gandharam Bayan. Later, he learnt Rabindrasangeet at Santiniketan. He is a
well-known singer of Bargit, songs of Sankaradeva, Jyoti-sangeet, songs of Jyotiprasad Agarwala, and
Rabindrasangeet, besides being a committed folklorist involved with North-eastern India.
A PhD of Gauhati University, Shri Birendranath Datta has authored and edited more than twenty books on the arts and culture of the North-east both in Assamese and English. His major English publications include Focus on Folklore of North-east India; Traditional Performing Arts of North-east India; Folksongs of the Misings; Ram-katha in the Tribal and Folk Traditions of India; A Study of the Folk Culture of the Goalpara Region; Puppetry in Assam: Past and Present; Historiography and Folklore; A Handbook of Popular Folklore Material of North-east India; Jyotiprasad Agarwala; Folk Painting in Assam; and Cultural Contours of North-east India. He has also published several books in Assamese for children. He has a number of records, cassettes, and CDs to his credit, and has performed widely within the country and abroad.
Shri Datta has researched extensively on the cultural heritage of Assam and the North-east, with special focus on their art forms, both visual and performing. He has played a significant role as a teacher, and has trained a large number of students during his tenures in academic institutions. He is a former president of Assam Sahitya Sabha, the premier literary organization of Assam. He is the recipient of several honours including the Padma Shri.
Shri Birendranath Datta is elected Tagore Fellow of Sangeet Natak Akademi for his contribution to scholarship in the performing arts.