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Nazrul, Bangabandhu and Bangladesh

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25th-Aug-2017       
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Prof Dr Anwarul Karim :
The Great Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam together with the members of his family was brought to Bangladesh from India by   Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of   Bangladesh on May 24, 1972. It was a strange coincidence that Nazrul dreamt of a country free and independent as of Bangladesh during the British India when India and United Bengal were fighting with the British for independence. India and Bengal were divided on the basis of ‘Two Nation Theory.’ H S Suhrawardy, Sarat Chandra Bose, A K Fazlul Haq proposed for a United Bengal which the British and a section of Indian leaders did not agree. Bangabandhu was then a student leader of Muslim League and a close associate of H S Suhrawardy, the Chief Minister of Bengal fighting with him  for the United Bangla, because they thought ,this could stop communal violence   which  was spread out in Bengal and elsewhere in the country.
Nazrul  was then one of the  protagonists against communal violence and  performed publicly singing his songs for communal peace. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was also then in Kolkata helping Suhrawardy in combating communal violence. Nazrul was also then a part of United India - Bengal movement.
It was during the ‘Quit India movement,’ Nazrul composed the following poem in which he used the name of Bangladesh that stood for an undivided Bengal for its freedom against the British domination. Below is the poem:
“Let every Bangalee teach their sons and daughters one ‘montro’
This sacred Bangladesh
Is ours and it belongs to all Bangalee
We shall drive them (the British) out
by giving them a good beating ‘prohareno dhononjoy’ in Bangla.
 We are fearless and brave against those outsiders
who came to suck our blood as robbers
Bangla will belong to Bangalees
We pray Bangla will come out victorious  
And victory to Bangalee.”
It is also a matter of strange coincidence  that Bangabandhu  also made such kind of triumphant  utterance shouting  Joi Bangla He might be foreseeing an united Bengal which his leader H S Suhrawardy, Sher-e-Bangla AK Fazlul Haq, Sree Sarat Chandra Bose and many others during British India had  well thought of. Bangabandhu did a great job when he brought Kazi Nazrul Islam to Bangladesh and accepted him as the ‘National Poet’ of Bangladesh. The University of Dhaka honored him with honorary Degree of D.Litt. He was awarded with Ekushe Padak by the government. It was the initiative of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who, as the founding father of Bangladesh, did a great job honoring a poet, like Kazi Nazrul Islam, who fought against all odds and injustice, upheld the non-communal and secular culture of Bangladesh. Such an action by the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu angered a section of the elites who intended to wipe out his name from India. I was tremendously shocked when I attended an international seminar at the University of Kolkata; I found no name and picture of Nazrul in the banner or anywhere in the programme. The programme was about Bengali literature. Names of Rabindranath, Bankim Chandra, Madhusudan Dutta, Sarat Chandra, Manik Bandhopaddhaya, Jibanananda Das, Begum Rokeya, Shamsur Rahman and others were there except Nazrul! It is quite surprising and strange that Calcutta University honored the poet Nazrul by making a selection of one of his poems, Daridrya, (Poverty) in the Bengali Text of the University.  In fact, Kazi Nazrul Islam was ignored by his own men he loved and fought for Hindu-Muslim brotherhood. Bangabandhu, when he was a student of Islamia College in the 40’s loved the songs and poetry of Kazi Nazrul Islam as did Netaji Subhash Bose who was a friend to Nazrul in his days. It is indeed thus very shocking that at this stage when we look for communal harmony, a section of educated people would be nurturing such kind of communal feeling about a poet who sacrificed his life for the cause of non-communal spirit and harmony.  We thank our luck that Kazi  Nazrul Islam, by being deaf and dumb, did not experience such kind of meanness by his next generations. This was the tragic part of his life and it is also very much embarrassing for the members of his family who are still alive. We owe our deep indebtedness to Bangabandhu for all his initiative, immediately after his return from Pakistani prison  to his free Bangladesh bringing in the poet - he loved and admired and  who was a source of inspiration to him  all through his life, and making him the 'National Poet'  of his Bangladesh.   
 Bangabandhu paid glowing tributes to Nazrul and took all arrangement for his treatment. Unfortunately, he was killed by his own men and it was the darkest chapter in the history of Bangladesh, nay, the world. Bangabandhu died on August 15, 1975 and Nazrul also died one year after in 1976 on August 29. It is true that both Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Kazi Nazrul Islam are physically no more with us, yet the two great men are still alive to us spiritually by their acts and deeds, inspiring people from the grave. Nazrul shall never die as his works shall continue living as long as the Bangla literature exists. I draw the kind attention of the Honourable Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina who herself  was a student of Bangla in the University of Dhaka and has tremendous love  for  Kazi Nazrul Islam as her Great father, Bangabandhu Sheikh  Mujibur Rahman had for him,  to kindly  promote Nazrul and his works  in both home and abroad. Bangladesh Embassy abroad can play a great role popularizing translated works of Kazi Nazrul Islam in the international universities. Nazrul Institute has been playing its part in publishing books and organizing programmes. We appreciate the Institute for its effort in promoting Nazrul and his works; this is, however, not enough. There should be international seminars at least once a year. As the founding Director of Lalon Academy, I did it promoting Lalon Fakir internationally when I was with the Academy in the past. Harvard University invited me as a Visiting Scholar and there I talked on Lalon Fakir and the Bauls. Japan, Philippines, Iraq and India also invited me to talk on Lalon Fakir and the Bauls. Now the world is coming to Kushtia and various international universities engaged their students for PhD and research work. The present Government established a unique complex at Lalon Academy with my support.  Many opposed the Government initiative and I supported the government as its founder Director. We can develop Nazrul Institue as an international one, making collaboration with international universities. We should go for setting up Nazrul Chair in all our universities, both public and private. Bangla Academy and Shilpakala Academy may chalk out plans and programme to highlight Nazrul among the youths of the country. Nazrul Academy has been contributing to Nazrul research and publication. In fact, the Academy as a private organization has been playing a pioneering role in promoting Nazrul but it has limited resources. The government, more particularly the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, should come forward in providing necessary fund to both private and public organizations to   undertake various kinds of activities on our National Poet.
We express our heartfelt gratitude to Muhammad Nasiruddin, the Editor of 'Saogat' and some literary, cultural and political leaders in Bengal who accorded Kazi  Nazrul Islam with a big public reception at the Albert Hall in Kolkata. The program was chaired by a no less personality than Acharya Profulla Chandra Roy and was attended among others by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose as the chief guest. Nazrul was honored as the Poet of Bengali Nation. In his lecture, Netaji Subhash Bose declared in the reception meeting that the song Kandari Hushiar of Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam had the quality of becoming the National Anthem of Bangla. Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das was one of the admirers of Nazrul’s songs and poetry.
He occasionally wept when he heard the songs of Nazrul performing by poet himself and Netaji Subhash Bose accompanied him. The popularity of Nazrul was all time on top even when Rabindranath Tagore had lived. In fact, Rabindrnath himself admired him and held him in high esteem. He appreciated him and called him as the savior of the oppressed and the downtrodden when he wrote the Preface of his journal, Dhumketu and eulogized him for his revolutionary spirit. He offered his notable romantic play, Basanta to him. Tagore went forward to tell him that he (Nazrul) should give up hunger strike for life as the nation and Bengali literature needed him. Nazrul all through his life admired Tagore and took him as his mentor, a Guru and a guiding force.
Nazrul earned name and fame for writing an all time revolutionary poem, Bidrohi, ‘the Rebel’ and Bisher Banshi. (Poisonous flute) which caught the attention of the British as seditious  works of anti state activity   A section of Muslims and Hindus condemned the poet for they said,  using anti religious words in the poem, Bidrohi, the Rebel.
In fact, these people failed to understand him totally -a great Poet's universal and time -conquering revolution, its aim and message! These exposed their follies. The poem, the Rebel was directed towards the British and the Rich who were anti people and became the ‘Lord’ or ‘Master’ at the cost of the suffering humanity. The British government considered this poem as highly seditious. Nazrul was jailed for a number of times for his publication of several anti British writings. His Rajbondir Jobanbondi or the ‘Deposition of a political prisoner’ was the most impassioned and epoch making speeech and is treated as unrival and unparallel in the history, not only of Bengali literature but as of other literature also. This he wrote when he was a political prisoner and his imprisonment caused unprecedented protest throughout Bengal and India.
    Contd on Page 9

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