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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Monday, May 26, 2008
OP-ED

The rebel poet

IT is our privilege that Kazi Nazrul Islam was made the national poet of the People's Republic of Bangladesh. Nazrul's song Chal-Chal-Chal Urdo Gogoney Bajey Madol was adopted as the national military song of Bangladesh.

On December 15, 1929, Kazi Nazrul Islam was given a rousing reception led by the noted Bengali scientist Acharya Profulla Chandra Ray, an eminent litterateur S. Wazed Ali, and the legendary commander-in-chief of the Indian National Army, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose at Calcutta Albert Hall, and was declared as our "National Poet." That was the time when the people of India were struggling for independence from imperialist ruler. Nazrul was fighting against the rulers vehemently through his rebellious poems and songs, but he always professed humanism against tyranny and misrule.

In 1971, our patriotic freedom-fighters were inspired and invigorated by Nazrul's rebellious poems and songs during the war of liberation. Nazrul's inspiring patriotic poems and songs speak up against all sorts of tyrants and exploiters of the people.

After the independence of Bangladesh, most governments came to power with the solemn promise to give succor to the impoverished and war-torn people of Bangladesh, and to root out all evils in society to make it a corruption-free and exploitation-free state.

But people's sufferings increased to a great extent. Those people in power could hardly check the temptation of receiving kickbacks from different sources, whereas the people suffered in all respects. Bangladesh topped the list in the state of corruption as well as being a least developed country.

Kazi Nazrul Islam had lashed those impostors long ago in his poem Raja-Proja (king and subjects):

"Friends, this is what happens.
The people fought the enemies and came out victorious
But the victory was declared in the name of the king!
The people used to procure provisions, remunerations and uniforms
For government employees
But they are not the employees of the people,
They are the employees of the king!
Oh what a farce of justice!
We have to salute our paid servants!
Oh look here, look here at the face of "The Public Servants!"
Turn the wheel of the time,
One and a half crore thieves
ride on the shoulders of one and a half crore human beings! ..."

But Nazrul never gave up hope. He said:
"Not to be disappointed, yet we are hoping for the day that is not so far away when the voice of the king would let us hear the victory of the subjects!"

(Sarbohara, Raja-Proja,p.19, 3rd edition, Calcutta.)

Of course, this poem was composed to portray the behaviour of the alien British Raj and its government servants.

Till now, in political processions, Nazrul's voice is echoed in chorus. Every citizen of a sovereign country must have his/her social, political as well as economic rights. The people without human rights are said to be no less than slaves. Nazrul raised his mighty voice against such slavery. He dreamt of free Bangladesh. While appreciating the freedom fighters he said: "Till today the sons of Bengal are sacrificing their lives for freedom with extreme courage and determination that would be written in history in golden letters." And he advised us: "Teach these ideals to the Bengalis and their children:

"Ours is sacred Bangladesh -- this is for the Bengalis. We will beat down and expel all the alien thieves and robbers, we don't fear ..." (Navayoug, 3 Baisakh, 1349BS).

Moreover, Nazrul wanted those dedicated patriotic souls to engage themselves in building the nation, with dignity of labour and justice and fair-play, and to be above all temptation and allurement.

"Those people whose entire hearts and souls are wetted with love of the soil,
The rudder of the vessel of this earth would remain under their control."
We should always remember our national poet who prayed:
"Give us strength and courage and tolerance
And give us heart, O God!
Give life to the dead, put infinite strength and courage
In those fearing hearts,
O God, the Omnipotent.
Give us health, give us longevity
With ever fresh light and air,
And make our free mind, and give us accurate knowledge,
O God, the Omnipotent.
Give us divine grace in our body,
Give us bliss, and peace at home always,
Give us virtue of sacred love
And welfare-oriented devotion
So that we can keep our head aloft
And remain straight beyond any fear of proscription.
Whatever we want, we must earn it by our labour
But not by drawing gifts or begging alms from anywhere,
O God, the Omnipotnet."

Thus, our national poet Nazrul became the symbol of love, beauty, truth and welfare of all. He had given us proper way to come forward towards working for the benefit of the people, where the each individual must have his/her due share.

One must not get involved in any activity that is detrimental to the national cause. Rather anything that goes against the interests of the country must be removed to improve the state of a nation.We must pay proper respect to our national poet Kazi Nazrul Islam. His words are beneficial to our national cause and must be given due value.

A nation that does not pay proper respect to its national poet must fail to achieve its ends. So, against the backdrop of social, political and economic perspective of Bangladesh the importance of the national poet Kazi Nazrul Islam is immense.

Not fear or frustration, but the practice of love and amity between people is much more effective. The principles of justice and fair-play would do a lot to eradicate the root cause of corruption from the body of the nation which is affected thoroughly.

Our national poet, who taught us ideals akin to ideals of Islamic equality, seems to be the panacea.

"None is high or low, all men (and women) are equal,
And none is either king or subject of anyone.
We all share happiness and sorrow equally. None
Has the right to hoard. Would some shed tears
To put light on to another's room to enlighten the fate
Of the few keeping the millions remained ill-fated?
It is not the law of Islam."

Nazrul had his humanity in the light of Islamic liberalism. He had profound faith in Islam. "Love for humans is the best prayer of Allah." He said: "When you do not expect sorrow, pain, torment and indignity for yourself, you must not wish them for your brothers. Do not take your meal keeping your neighbours starving."

We cannot avoid our duty and responsibility by only observing the birth and death anniversaries of our national poet, because we cannot evaluate him this way. He must be brought to the fore of the national importance in social, political and economic perspectives, so that in words and deeds every individual of the nation becomes inspired with his ideals. In memory of the poet, let our all welfare-oriented works speed up.

"I sing of equlity-that there is no great and magnanimous thing than the human.
Irrespective of countries, nations, and faiths,
He exists as the relative of the human beings in each and every abode
For all times for all countries ..."

This '"He" is the great creator of all in this universe. He is never anyone's monopoly.

"He" is divine truth and beauty of Nazrul. The poet was confident in the divinity of the existence of this beauty in himself. Our every movement is fulfilled with the existence of that divine beautiful relative Person. Therefore, we should not fall in the trap of the devil Satan.

Nazrul did never believe in distinctions between human beings on the perception based on different faiths. That is why the language of his poems and songs of equality speak of humanity.

"I sing of equality,
Where every barrier has been shattered and converged in oneness.
Where Hindu-Buddhis-Muslim-Christian converged in oneness.
O stupid, O foolish and weak-minded person,
Learn truth which is greater than scriptures.
Nothing sort of Kaba-Mandeer is better than this (Human) heart ..."

In the poem "God" Nazrul said:
"He is revealed in everything everywhere among everyone
Having seen me I came to know of my Creator."

For Khaled of Islam, Nazrul composed the poem "Khaled" in which he reproached the bigots who stand on the way to progress.

"When the world is on the progressive way,
We are sitting still researching
The Feka and the Hadith for edict
Of divorcing wife."

From this it is evident that where hypocrisy prevailed in the name of religion, falsehood raises its head against truth and beauty. Nazrul is there in his rebellious mood to stamp out the liars and hypocritic bigots in order to save the nation. He sang for everyone's welfare for waking up the people with rejuvenation, expecting great and prosperous future for coming generations.

"Let's have victory to peace, victory to equality,
Victory to truth -- let's have that victory.
Let all evils, all torments, all disturbances,
All persecutions, all cowardliness, falsehood
And frustrations wipe out. Let all wants,
Diseases, sorrows and unnecessary hatred go.
Let's win victory over death gaining immortality.
Let the weak become strong and fearless.
There shall not be any disorder in this orderly life.
Let the prison be shattered, let's cross the persecuted
World of desert barriers, and let this world become sweet
And fully of love. Let's have victory, victory and victory only."

And with this end in view let us have our Bangladesh free from all evils like corruption, falsehood, hypocrisy, and superstition, and let us win the victory for the well-being and happiness of the people of Bangladesh by implementing the ideals of Nazrul, appreciating him truly as our beloved national poet.

M. Mizanur Rahman is Vice-President, Nazrul Academy.
(Poems and prose from Nazrul as quoted above are translated from Bengali into English by the author of this article).

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