Nazrul validated the concept of humanism in poetry31 October 2021
Prof. Dr. Mustofa Munir :
In this century what the world needs most is the unfeigned humanity to relieve sufferings and establish human dignity. The distinct approach of humanism is evolved from Poet Nazrul's vibrant poetic works that carry the pain of struggling people of the world. One hundred years ago Kazi Nazrul Islam was a young poet in India. The young Nazrul witnessed the exploitative and racist British colonial rule in India; its 'divide and rule' policy prevented the people from being united as a whole nation, that pursuing tactic prevailed till the end of its reign.
The pain of oppression and sufferings of the ordinary people in India overwhelmed poet's soft heart. Poet Nazrul's humanistic philosophy is not limited to one continent or land but to the whole world where the people have lost their freedom to speak the truth; they lost freedom to live in the society with their own culture and religion.
Nazrul's candid poetic works, novels, dramas, and articles have transmitted the ethos of human values, social equality, justice and fellowship to all humankind. The values are the integral force for any soul and body of life. He tried relentlessly to establish a strong human bond on the basis of equality and justice that can transcend any limit of languages, colors, culture, and religions. The various regions of the planet earth are now infested with systemic and institutional racism, unsound justice system, Islamophobia, home grown hate, far right extremist ideologies, neo-Nazism and religious fanatism (Hindutva). Carrying all those rotten wounds and aberrations on her bosom the planet earth demands the revival of Poet Nazrul's poetic messages of humanism once again. Poet Nazrul has created a complete oeuvre of the vast literature - a magnum opus, not just from his poetic imageries but from the true emotion and cruel reality of life.
Poet Nazrul's candid vision on humanism can be categorized into following virtuous excellences:
Equality and humanity
Nazrul wrote the poem 'The Song of Equality I sing' (Shammyabadi) where henarratedhisvision of equality in humankind. He hoped that the people of different faiths could blend themselves together without differences and obstacles. So, he felt to sing the song of equality.
"The song of equality I sing - where
All obstacles and differences are merged together,
Where all Hindus-Buddhists-Muslims and Christians are
Blended with each other!
The song of equality I sing!"
Poet Nazrul asserted that no creation in the earth is greater and nobler than mankind. An untainted universal message he delivered in his poem:
"The song of equality I sing-
Nothing's nobler and greater than mankind;
No difference exists in time, place and person;
Indistinguishable are the religion and nation;"
In his poem 'The Mankind' (Manush), PoetNazrul upheld the humanity as a great virtue of mankind. Here in this poem, he created a poetic drama that emanates a true conceptionof humanity.When a hungry wayfarer knocks a temple door-
"O priest, open the door! The god of hunger
Knocks thy door!
Clad in torn rag the sickly wayfarer
said feebly," I have not eaten for days!"
Abruptly the priest shut the temple door on his face!"
Centuries ago, men and women were not treated equally in Indian society. This unequal treatment of men with women was the norm of the societies all over the world. And it still exists. Nazrul felt that men and women should be treated equally in the society. It is an unjustified advantage of men over the women by depriving them of theirrights. In his poem 'The woman'(Nari) he preserved the dignity of women and elevated them in the society by saying:
"The song of equality I sing -
See I not any difference between men and women!
All deeds great and e'er-beneficial were done
In this world, half of them was accomplish'd by woman,
The rest half by the man."
A deep sense of equality has been emanated from his poem 'Kooli-mojur':
"Let all human beings of all ages, of all countries stand
At one confluence to hearken
The melody of flute of one union!
With pain if one is inflict'd - equally it
Spreads o'er everybody's heart!
Showing disrespect to one is the humiliation to all,
Shame to the mankind whole!"
Poet Nazrul was always against the class system that prevails still in the society of the human-world. It violates the human rights. It divides the people of the society they live in.
"To serve you they become laborers,
Coolis and porters,
Besmear'd with dust your burdens
They carry, they're the human beings,"
Freedom of speech
The subjugated people of India had lost their freedom of speech. Poet Nazrul expressed his sheer despair in the poem "A woman prisoner in an Island"-
"O the worshipper, offerings you give to which
Deity? In India the goddess of speech
Is not free, the law is not the ruler here,
If truth I speak ever
I'll be imprison'd and oppress'd, no right
Have I to oppose oppression! Like incarcerated
Shita the goddess of speech takes the floggings of injustice!"
Poet Nazrul was arrested by the British colonial government in India for writing a poem and imprisoned for one year.Heread hiswritten deposition in the court and senta powerful message not only to the British ruler but to the whole tainted justice systems of the world.
A few of those great lines are quoted from the text of 'The deposition of a political prisoner'below:
"I have been charged with treason, convicted for treachery against the king, and sentenced to serve as a prisoner of the king. I find that there are two sides: on one side is the king's crown; on the other side is the blazing comet of God. One is the king with a kingly scepter in his hand, and the Other one (The God) holds the scepter of justice and truth in Hishand... Nobody appointed my judge…but in His eyes all are equal. His law is for the justice and truth…"
Here, the truth is the God and His Justice. Nazrul represented the truth-the truth was his freedom of speech, the truth was the justice he wanted, the truth was his rights as human being.
Nazrul deeply felt that all religious and spiritual purity lie within a heart.
In the poem 'The Song of Equality I sing' (Shammyabadi) he wrote:
"This heart is the Nilachal, Kashi, Mathura, Brindaban,
'Tis Buddha-Gaya, Jerusalem, Medina,
Mosque, Temple, Church and Ka'aba!"
Nazrul vowed to unite the religiously divided people and reminded them that bigotry demeans the value of humanity.
In his chorus poem 'Beware, O The Helmsman' [Kandarihooshiar]
"Are they Hindus or Muslims?' Who asketh that?
Helmsman! Say, 'Human beings are drowning in water,
They're the progenies of my mother!"
Equal status of colors and race
Supremacy of one race above another is a great menace to the human society. It is the Racism that jeopardizes the progress of humanity. Poet Nazrul felt it deeply, in his poem 'The complaint to God' (Fariad) he pointed out that God never saysthe sun and moon would only rise in the white's island and it is not the God's law that only the white will show supremacy over another groups.
"Yellow, black and white mankind Thou hast creat'd-
'Twas Thy wish! Black we're, Thou knowest,
Fault is not ours! Thou sayest not -
Only in white's island the sun
And the moon will shine!
Supremacy will be shown o'er others bythe white!
Thy law 'tis not."
A few lines are quoted below from his article'The inauguration of the ignored strength' (Upekshitashaktirudbodhan).There he wrote-
"Embrace those fallen, untouchableoutcastes in the society as your brothers; wear their humble clothes and instill life in their hearts, then stand on the land holding your head high. You will see the world willbe venerating you. Come, let us hold the hands of those who are abandonedand stand on the altar of India to blow the flute with inaugural melodies."
In his lyrical book ' SuroSaki' Poet Nazrul expressed his utter resentment in one of his lyrics for the degraded humanityin the British ruled India. He compared the whole India with a crematorium. When thereis no humanity, there is no life. He wrote:
"O God, give us humanity in this crematorium-India,
A land without humanity!"
(ÒgvbeZvnxb fviZ-k¥kv‡b `vI gvbeZv ‡n ci‡gk!Ó)
When the agonies, despair and miseries ripped the Rudra Vina in India, the enraged voice of the oppressedjingled outinstead of music. The melody stopped there; human anguish surged up in spiral flames. From then on, Nazrul's vision of humanism has chosen the road that meets the common man's road.
1. Nazrul Rachanaboli Vol.1, Bangla Academy, Dhaka, 2006, 'RajbondirJabanbondi'.
2. Nazrul Rachanaboli Vol.1, Bangla Academy, Dhaka, 2006, ' Jugobani': 'UpekshitaShoktirUdbodhan'.
3. Sanchita-the selected poems and lyrics of Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam. Dr.Mustofa Munir, Outskirts Press Inc.USA 2015
(Dr. Mustofa Munir is a Nazrul expert
currently living in USA).