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Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Singing Superstar
Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Singing Superstar

’Rebel poet’ Kazi Nazrul

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Posted: 27 March 2006 at 9:50pm | IP Logged

 

 

Islam, Kazi Nazrul (1899-1976) national poet of Bangladesh, called the 'rebel poet' for his fierce resistance to all forms of repression. His poetry, with its vibrant rhythms and iconoclastic themes, forms a striking contrast to rabindranath tagore's poetry. Though he respected and admired the older poet, he wrote outside the sphere of Rabindranath's influence and paved the way for the modern Bangla poems of the post-thirties. Through literature, journalism and political activism, Nazrul fought against foreign rule, communalism, imperialism, colonialism, fundamentalism and exploitation. In response, the British colonial government proscribed his books and newspapers and put him behind bars. Through his written Rajbandir Jabanbandi (a political prisoner's deposition) and his 40-day hunger strike, Nazrul protested against the harassment. In support of him, Rabindranath dedicated one of his books to him.

Nazrul used subjects and vocabulary never used in Bangla poetry before. He became immensely popular for portraying in his poems contemporary political and social phenomenon. Some fundamental conflicts of human civilisation also formed the themes of his poems. Singularly non-communal, Nazrul drew upon his mixed Hindu and Muslim cultural traditions. He used Sanskrit and Arabic metres as easily as he did traditional Bangla ones. He referred to Persian archetypes with as much ease as he did ancient Hindu ones. He was aware of history, both ancient and contemporary, of his own country and of the world outside.

Nazrul nourished almost all the streams of Bangla songs and established them on the solid foundation of north Indian classical music. It was through the originality of his musical talent that the folk base of Bangla songs was linked to the subcontinental tradition of classical music. nazrul songs can be described as the quintessence of Bangla songs apart from their being the Bangla edition of north Indian classical music. Through a wide variety of themes and tunes Nazrul truly turned Bangla songs into modern music.

Nazrul was born on 24 May 1899 in the village of Churulia in Burdwan, west bengal. His father, Kazi Fakir Ahmed, was the imam of a mosque and the caretaker of a mausoleum. After his father's death in 1908, Nazrul took up his father's job as caretaker and also served as muazzin of the mosque to support his family. He passed the lower primary examination from his village maktab. Through the Islamic education he received in these early years, he became acquainted with the fundamentals of islam, reading the quran, prayers, fasting, hajj and zakat. In later life he drew upon this experience to translate Islamic traditions into his Bangla writings.

Nazrul was attracted to folk theatre, with its mixture of poetry, song and dance. He left his duties at the mazar and mosque, and joined a leto group. This was the beginning of Nazrul's life as a poet and artiste. He acted with the group and also learnt the art of composing poems and songs at short notice. Through his association with the leto group, he began to learn about the Hindu puranas. The young adolescent poet composed a number of folk plays for his leto group: Chasar San, Shakunibadh, Raja Yudhisthirer San, Data Karna, Akbar Badshah, Kavi Kalidas, Vidyabhutum, Rajputrer San, Buda Saliker Ghade Ron and Meghnad Badh.

In 1910 Nazrul returned to school. He studied for some time at the Raniganj Searsole Raj School and then at Mathrun High English School (subsequently, Nabinchandra Institution), where the poet kumudranjan mallik was headmaster. Unfortunately, Nazrul again had to leave school for financial reasons. After leaving Mathrun he is believed to have joined a group of kaviyals. He then worked as a cook at the house of a Christian railway guard and later at a tea stall at Asansol. Thus the young Nazrul, aptly nicknamed 'Dukhu Mia', experienced the harsh realities of life.

While working at the tea stall, Nazrul became acquainted with Rafizullah, a police inspector of Asansol, who succeeded in persuading the young man to return to school. In 1914 Nazrul got admitted to class VII of Darirampur School at Trishal in mymensingh. A year later he returned to his own village and in 1915 got admitted to class Vlll of Raniganj Searsole Raj School. Here he continued his studies up to class X. However, he did not sit for the pretest that would have qualified him to sit for the Entrance examination. Instead, towards the end of 1917, he joined the army. Nevertheless, during these formative years, he was influenced by at least four of his teachers at Searsole: Satishchandra Kanjilal in classical music, Nibaranchandra Ghatak in revolutionary ideas, Hafiz Nurunnabi in Persian literature and Nagendranath Bannerjee in literature.

Nazrul joined the 49 Bengal Regiment and was posted to Karachi. His life in the army lasted about two years and a half from the close of 1917 to March-April 1920. During this time, from an ordinary soldier he rose to havildar (battalion quartermaster). During his stay in the army, Nazrul learnt Persian from the regiment's Punjabi moulvi, practised music with other musical-minded soldiers to the accompaniment of local and foreign instruments and at the same time pursued literary activities in both prose and poetry. Nazrul's stories and poems written at Karachi cantonment were published in different journals: his first prose writing 'Baunduler Atmakahini' (saogat, May 1919), first published poem 'Mukti' (bangiya mussalman sahitya patrika, July 1919).

During his stay at Karachi, Nazrul subscribed to various literary journals published from Kolkata: Prabasi, Bharatbarsa, Bharati, Manasi, Marmavani, sabujpatra, Saogat and Bangiya Mussalman Sahitya Patrika. During his stay at Karachi, Nazrul had books by Rabindranath and sharat chandra chattopadhyay as well as writings of the Persian poet Hafiz. In fact, it was at Karachi cantonment that Nazrul's literary activities truly began.

At the end of the First World War, Nazrul returned to Bengal and began the career of a litterateur-journalist in Kolkata. His first accommodation was at the office of the bangiya mussalman sahitya samiti at 32 College Street, where he roomed with Muzaffar ahmed, an official of the organisation. People started becoming aware of a new talent in Bangla when journals like moslem bharat, Bangiya Mussalman Sahitya Patrika and Upasana published his novel Bandhan-hara and poems such as 'Bodhan', 'Shat-il-Arab', 'Badal Prater Sharab', 'Agamani', 'Kheya-parer Tarani', 'Korbani', 'Moharram' and 'Fateha-i-Doazdaham'. In a letter published in Moslem Bharat, the poet-critic mohitlal majumder profusely praised Nazrul's poems 'Kheya-parer Tarani' and 'Badal Prater Sharab' and welcomed him to the learned society of Bengal. At the office of the Bangia Mussalman Sahitya Samiti, Nazrul became close to quite a few contemporary Muslim litterateurs such as mohammad mozammel huq, Afzalul Huq, kazi abdul wadud and muhammad shahidullah. Nazrul also used to attend two other popular literary addas or talking clubs: 'Gajendar Adda' and 'Bharatiya Adda'. Here he came in close contact with top personalities of contemporary Bangla art, literature, music and theatre such as atulprasad sen, Dinendranath Thakur, abanindranath tagore, satyendranath dutta, Charuchandra Bannerjee, Ustad Karamatullah Khan, premankur atarthi, shishir kumar bhaduri, Hemendrakumar Roy, sharatchandra chattopadhyay, Nirmalendu Lahiri and dhurjatiprasad mukhopadhyay. In October 1921, Nazrul went to santiniketan with Muhammad Shahidullah and met Rabindranath. For the subsequent two decades, up to Rabindranath's death in 1941, these two important poets of Bengal maintained a close association.

Nazrul's life as a journalist began with the publication of the evening daily nabajug on 12 July 1920. Though ak fazlul huq (Sher-e-Bangla) was listed as editor, the work was mainly done by Nazrul. The political situation was volatile: the Non-Cooperation and Khilafat movements were in full swing. In this climate, Nazrul's fiery article, Muhajirin hatyar janya dayi ke? (Who is responsible for killing the refugees?) led to the forfeiture of the security deposit of the paper. A police watch was placed on Nazrul.

Along with carrying out his journalistic activities, writing about the socio-political aspects of the national and international developments, Nazrul was also attending various political meetings with Muzaffar Ahmed. At the same time, he participated in cultural activities, attending social gatherings and rendering songs. He was yet to compose tunes for his songs, but Mohini Sengupta, a musicologist and member of the Brahma Samaj, set a few of his songs to music and published the songs with their notations. Among these songs were 'Hayta tomar paba dekha' and 'Ore e kon sneha-suradhuni'. Nazrul's song 'Bajao prabhu bajao ghana' was first published in the Baishakh issue of Saogat in BS 1327 (1920 AD).

April-June 1921 marked an important change in Nazrul's life. He met the book publisher Ali Akbar Khan at the office of the Muslim Sahitya Samiti and accompanied him to Comilla. There he visited the house of Biroja Sundari Devi, where he met Promila, a young Hindu woman whom he would marry subsequently.

Nazrul accompanied Ali Akbar Khan to his village Daulatpur and stayed there for some time. Returning to Comilla on 19 June, he stayed there for 17 days. Comilla was in ferment on account of the non-cooperation movement. Nazrul joined many processions and meetings and sang his newly composed patriotic songs that he had set to music himself: E kon pagal pathik chhute elo bandini mar anginay (Who is this stranger rushing to the courtyard of the imprisoned mother?), Aji rakta-nishi bhore/ eki e shuni ore/ mukti-kolahal bandi-shrnkhle (On this blood-stained dawn why this clamour for freedom by prisoners in shackles?) Thus the amateur composer and singer of Kolkata turned into a political activist and composer of patriotic songs.

In November 1921 Nazrul went to Comilla again. An all-India strike had been called on the day. Nazrul joined the procession of the non-cooperationists and sang Bhiksa dao! Bhiksa dao! Phire chao ogo purabasi (Give alms, give alms, look back O townspeople.) Many Muslims of India, led by Maulana Mohammad Ali and Maulana Shawkat Ali, had joined in the khilafat movement to save Turkey's feudal regime. Nazrul had no faith in the philosophies of either Mahatma Gandhi's non-cooperation movement or the Khilafat movement. Instead he supported Mustafa Kamal Ataturk's new Turkish movement that had overthrown the sultanate and believed that only through armed revolution would India be liberated. Nevertheless, he joined those movements for the sake of a united anti-imperialist struggle.

After his return to Kolkata in December 1921, Nazrul composed two of his most famous revolutionary writings: 'Vidrohi' and 'Bhangar Gan'. These two compositions totally changed the tenor of Bangla poetry.

Towards the end of 1921 Nazrul composed another famous poem: 'Kamal Pasha'. This poem demonstrated Nazrul's sense of contemporary international history and the hollowness of the Indian Khilafat movement. Nazrul was most deeply influenced by the leadership of Mostafa Kamal Pasha, who had overthrown the feudal sultanate and turned Turkey into a secular and modern republic. Nazrul was particularly impressed by the way Kamal Pasha had removed fundamentalism from Turkish society as well as got women to give up their veils. He wondered why the reforms in Turkey could not be replicated in India and Bengal.

All his life Nazrul fought against fundamentalism, superstition and ritualistic social behaviour, especially among Muslims. The socialist revolution in Russia in 1917 also influenced Nazrul in many ways. This was borne out by the publication in langal and Ganavani of 'samyabadi' and 'sarbahara' poems and his translation of the 'Communist International' under the title 'Jago Anashana Bandi Utha Re Yata' (Wake up and rise all the prisoners of hunger).

Among Nazrul's literary works published in 1922 the most notable were Byathar Dan, a collection of short stories, Agni-vina, a collection of poems, and Yugavani, a collection of essays. Agni-vina, which included 'Pralayollas', 'Agamani', 'Kheya-parer Tarani', 'Shat-il-Arab', 'Vidrohi' and 'Kamal Pasha', created a stir in Bangla literature and proved to be a turning point in Bangla poetry. Its first edition was sold out soon after publication, and several editions in quick succession had to be printed.

On August 12 1922 Nazrul published the dhumketu, which played an important role in reviving the concept of armed revolution after the failure of the Non-cooperation and Khilafat movements. In a sense the Dhumketu became the mouthpiece of revolutionaries. The paper appeared, bearing on its mast these words of blessing from Rabindranath: Kazi Nazrul Islam kalyaniyesu, ay chale ayre dhumketu/ andhare bandh agnisetu, durdiner ei durgashire udiye de tor vijay ketan 'Dear Kazi Nazrul Islam, Come O comet come. Blaze in darkness the bridge of fire, hoist your flag of victory atop this fortress in distress'. After Nazrul's veiled political poem Anandamayir Agamane (on welcoming the arrival of the goddess Durga) appeared in the Dhumketu on 26 September 1922, the issue was proscribed. Nazrul's book of essays, Yugavani, was also proscribed on 23 November 1922. The same day the poet was arrested in Comilla and brought to Kolkata. On 7 January 1923, Nazrul, as an under-trial prisoner, gave a deposition in self-defence in the court of chief presidency magistrate Swinho. That deposition, 'Rajbandir Jabanbandi', has been acknowledged as a piece of literature. In the judgement delivered on January 16, Nazrul was sentenced to a year's rigorous imprisonment.

While Nazrul was serving his term in Alipore Central Jail, Rabindranath dedicated to him his musical play Basanta (22 January 1923). Nazrul celebrated the news by composing his poem about the ecstasy of poetic creation: 'Aj Srsti Sukher Ullase' (In the ecstasy of creation). On 14 April 1923, Nazrul was moved to Hughli Jail. The same day he began a hunger strike in protest against the ill treatment of political prisoners. Rabindranath sent Nazrul a telegram saying: 'Give up hunger-strike, our literature claims you'. The telegram was not delivered. Meanwhile, under the pressure of public opinion, the civilian jail inspector, Dr Abdullah Suhrawardy, visited the jail on 22 May 1923 and at his persuasion Nazrul broke his 40-day hunger strike. On 18 June, Nazrul was transferred to Behrampur jail. He was released on December 15, after suffering imprisonment for a year and three weeks. While in Hughli Jail Nazrul wrote his famous song, 'Ei shikal-para chhal moder e shikal-para chhal' (Chains cannot bind us) and in Behrampur jail he wrote another famous song 'Jater name bajjati sab jat-jaliyat khelchhe juya' (The communal cheats are gambling in the name of communities).

The first anthology of Nazrul's poems on love and nature, Dolan-Chanpa, was published in October 1923. Its long poem 'Pujarini' reveals Nazrul's multifaceted perception of romantic love. It was not surprising that Nazrul's thoughts at this time of political turmoil should have turned to thoughts of love. His acquaintance with Promila had ripened to love, and, despite the disapproval of many, Nazrul married Promila in Kolkata on 24 April 1924. Promila was from a Brahmo family and only her mother, Giribala Devi, accepted the marriage. Nazrul was also detached from his family. Nazrul and Promila set up home at Hughli.

Two collections of Nazrul's songs and poems were published that August: Biser Banshi and Bhangar Gan. Both the books were proscribed by the government in October and November. Meanwhile, Nazrul's songs were becoming popular. In 1925, His Master's Voice (HMV) produced the first gramophone record of Nazrul's songs. The record contained two of his songs, 'Jater name bajjati sab jat-jaliyat khelchhe juya' and 'Yak pude yak bidhir vidhan satya hok' sung by Harendranath Dutta.

Nazrul attended political meetings and functions of various parties and sang his songs calling upon his fellow countrymen to rise against foreign rule. In May 1925 at the Congress session at Faridpur, in the presence of Mahatma Gandhi and Deshbandhu chitta ranjan das, Nazrul sang 'Ghor re ghor re amar sadher charka ghor' (Whirl, O my dear spinning wheel, whirl).

Towards the end of 1925, Nazrul joined politics and attended political meetings at Comilla, Midnapore, Hughli, faridpur, Bankura and many other places. Apart from being a member of the bengal provincial congress, he played an active role in organising the Sramik-Praja-Swaraj Dal. On 16 December 1925, Nazrul started publishing the weekly Langal, with himself as chief editor. The Langal was the mouthpiece of the Sramik-Praja-Swaraj Dal, which aimed to eradicate class differences in society. The manifesto of the party, which was published in the paper, demand full independence for India. At this time Nazrul published his book Samyabadi O Sarbahara containing songs for workers and peasants. Among Nazrul's other publications in 1925 were an anthology of short stories, Rikter Bedan, and four anthologies of poems and songs: Chittanama, Chhayanat, Samyabadi and Puber Hawa. Chittanama was a collection of songs and poems that Nazrul had composed on the sudden death on 16 June 1925 of Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das, pioneer of the cause of Hindu-Muslim unity.

In 1926 Nazrul started living at Krishnanagar. In November 1926, Nazrul contested from East Bengal for a seat in the upper house of the central legislative council. In this connection he extensively toured East Bengal, especially Dhaka division. The knowledge that he had about this region from his early experience of school-life at Trishal-Darirampur and his marriage now became deeper. Meanwhile he continued to write songs. His patriotic songs no longer spoke of independence for India alone, but turned into songs for the downtrodden masses. In April 1927 Nazrul composed 'Jago Anashan Bandi', 'Raktapatakar Gan' (The song of the red flag), etc. On 12 August 1927 Ganavani and Langal were merged.

At Krishnanagar Nazrul also composed ghazals. Though these ghazals with their focus on love are very different from the patriotic songs that Nazrul was writing at this time with their focus on struggle and revolution, they are in fact two aspects of youth. atulprasad sen had earlier composed poems in this genre, but the Bangla ghazal is mainly the creation of Nazrul. Nazrul's ghazals are structured like Urdu ghazals and are sung with or without tal.

It was about this time that Nazrul started publishing his songs with notations. These songs clearly manifest that it was though his life at Krishnanagar was one of poverty and hardship, his musical talent blossomed there. Famous singers and musicologists such as dilip kumar roy and Shahana Devi presented and popularised Nazrul songs at different forums.

Nazrul attended the first annual conference of muslim sahitya samaj at Dhaka on 28 February 1927. He came to Dhaka again in the second week of February 1928 to attend its second annual conference. This time he became acquainted with quazi motahar husain, who was teaching at Dhaka University, as well as a number of university students: buddhadev bose, Ajit Dutta and Fazilatunnessa. He returned to Dhaka again in June and met Ranu Soam (Protiva Basu) and Uma Moitra (Loton) of Sangeet Charcha Kendra. Nazrul's three successive visits to Dhaka provided him an opportunity to become acquainted with the city's progressive groups of teachers, students and artistes.

However, while Nazrul was becoming popular, he was also becoming the target of conservative Muslims and Hindus. In 1927 Shanibarer chithi began printing parodies of Nazrul's writings. His writings were also criticised in mohammadi, Islam Darshan and Moslem Darpan. Progressive journals, however, such as Kallol and Kalikalam, came forward in defence of the poet. mohammad nasiruddin's Saogat also supported Nazrul. In an article in Saogat, abul kalam shamsuddin described Nazrul as an epoch-making poet and called him the national poet of Bengal. Nazrul joined Saogat to run an entertainment section. This year also saw the publication of an anthology of Nazrul's poems and songs, Fani-manasa, and an epistolary novel: Bandhan Hara.

In January 1929 Nazrul visited Chittagong, where he stayed with habibullah bahar chowdhury and his sister shamsunnahar mahmud. He also visited sandwip, the birthplace of his friend, Muzaffar Ahmed. Anthologies of Nazrul's poems and songs published in 1928-29 include Sindhu-Hindol (1928), Sanchita (1928), Bulbul (1928), Jinjir (1928) and Chakravak (1929). In 1929 the poet's third son Sabyasachi was born and in May that same year his four-year-old son Bulbul died of smallpox. Nazrul was terribly shocked by this death and in the view of many this marked a turning point in his life. Gradually he became an introvert and turned towards spiritualism. At Bulbul's sickbed Nazrul translated Hafiz's Rubaiyat. It was published as Rubaiyat-i-Hafiz.

Meanwhile, Nazrul had also become associated with HMV Gramophone Company. This association lasted from 1928 to 1932. The earliest of his songs produced as records from HMV were 'Bhuli kemane' and 'Eta jal o kajal chokhe', sung by Angurbala under his guidance. HMV also recorded Nazrul's recitation of his poem 'Nari'. Nazrul's first radio programme was broadcast from the Calcutta station of All India Radio in the evening of 12 November 1929. Nazrul also started composing songs for plays. In 1929 he composed songs and set them to music for sachindranath sengupta's play Raktakamal staged at Manomohan Theatre in Kolkata. Sachindranath dedicated the play to Nazrul. Nazrul also composed eight songs for manmatha roy's sensational play Karagar, staged in 1930. After running for 18 consecutive nights, the play was banned by the government. The banning did not lessen Nazrul's popularity.

On 10 December 1929 Nazrul Islam was accorded a reception at Albert Hall, Kolkata, on behalf of the people of Bengal. It was presided over by Acharya prafulla chandra ray, the felicitation was read by barrister S Wazed Ali, and addresses of good wishes were given by subhas chandra bose and Rai Bahadur jaladhar sen. The poet was presented a set of golden pen and inkpot. At the reception Prafulla Chandra Ray said, Amar bishvas, Narul Islamer kavita pathe amader bhabi bangshadharera ek ekti ati manuse parinata habe (It is my belief, by reading the poems of Nazrul Islam that each of our future children will become a superman.) Subhas Chandra Bose said, Amra yakhan yuddhaksetre yab takhan sekhane Nazruler yuddher gan gaoya habe! (When we go to war we shall sing Nazrul's war songs. When we go to prison, we shall still sing his songs.)

The books published in 1930 include a political novel, Mrttuksudha, an anthology of songs, Nazrul-Gitika, a play, Jhilimili, and two anthologies of poems and songs: Pralay-shikha and Chandravindu. Chandravindu was proscribed, and a case was instituted against Nazrul for Pralay-shikha. Nazrul was arrested. On 16 December 1930, he was found guilty and awarded six months' rigorous imprisonment. Nazrul petitioned the High Court and was set free on bail. Meanwhile, under the Gandhi-Irwin Pact, the case against Nazrul was dismissed and he did not have to suffer imprisonment.

Nazrul visited Darjeeling from the second week of June to the middle of July, 1931. Rabindranath was also then visiting Darjeeling and the two met. During this year, Nazrul's novel, Kuhelika, an anthology of short stories, Shiulimala, an anthology of his songs with notations, Nazrul-Swaralipi, and a musical play, Aleya, were published. Aleya was first staged at Natyaniketan, Kolkata (3 Paus 1338/ Dec 1931). It had 28 songs. That year Nazrul also composed the music for several plays, among them the dramatised version of Jotindramohan Singh's novel, Dhruvatara, Manmatha Roy's stage play, Savitri, and radio play, Mahuya, broadcast from Kolkata radio station in 1932.

In November 1932 Nazrul attended the Bangiya Mussalman Tarun Sammelan at sirajganj. On December 25 and 26, he attended the Bangiya Mussalman Sahitya Sammelan at Albert Hall, Kolkata, where he was garlanded by its president, the poet Kaikobad. Nazrul's publications in 1932 were anthologies of songs, such as Sur-Saki, Zulfikar and Bana-giti.

During 1932-33, Nazrul left HMV for the Megaphone Record Company. The first two Nazrul songs recorded here were 'Jay Vani Vidyadayini' and 'Laksmi Ma Tui', sung by Dhiren Das. In 1933 Nazrul returned to HMV as their exclusive composer. This was when many of his songs were recorded. In 1933 Nazrul completed three valuable translation works: Rubaiyat-i-Hafiz, Rubaiyat-i-Omar Khayyam and Kavya Ampara.

In 1934 Nazrul became associated with motion pictures. The first picture for which he worked was based on girish chandra ghosh's story Bhakta Dhruva (1934). Nazrul acted in the role of Narada, directed the film, composed songs for it, set them to music and directed them. He also did playback singing for four of Narada's songs. Of the 18 songs of the picture, Nazrul composed 17. He was also associated with other motion pictures such as Patalpuri (1935), Graher Pher (1937), Vidyapati (Bangla and Hindi, 1938), Gora (1938), Nandini (1945) and Abhinay Nay (1945). Nearly 50 Nazrul songs were used for different pictures up to 1945. During 1929 to 1941 Nazrul was associated with 20 stage plays in Kolkata including his own plays, Aleya and Madhumala. Some of the other plays were Raktakamal, Mahuya, Jahangir, Karagar, Sabitri, Aleya, Sarbahara, Sati, Sirajaddaula, Devidurga, Madhumala, Annapurna, Nandini, Haraparvati, Arjunvijay and Blackout. Altogether, these plays used 182 of Nazrul's songs.

All of Nazrul's publications during 1934 were related to songs, for instance, the song anthologies, Giti-Shatadal and Ganer Mala, and collections of notations, Suralipi and Suramukur.

Nazrul became formally associated with Kolkata radio station in October 1939. Many significant music programmes were broadcast under his direction, among them, 'Haramani', 'Mel-Milan', and 'Navaragamalika'. From 1939 to 1942, Nazrul, in association with the music maestro, Sureshchandra Chakravarty, broadcast from Kolkata station many raga-based music programmes of exceptional quality. This was regarded as the most significant phase of Nazrul's music life. Meanwhile, in addition to HMV and Megaphone, other gramophone companies, such as Twin, Colombia, Hindustan, Senola, Pioneer and Viellophone, were recording his songs. By 1950, HMV had issued 567 Nazrul records, Twin 280, Megaphone 91, Colombia 44, Hindustan 15, Senola 13, Pioneer 2, Viellophone 2 and Regan 1. In all, of the two thousand odd songs that Nazrul had composed, these companies produced over a thousand records.

On 7 August 1941, Rabindranath died. Nazrul spontaneously composed two poems-'Rabihara' (Without Rabi) and 'Salam Astarabi' (Farewell, Setting Sun) -and an elegy, 'Ghumaite Dao Shranta Rabire (Let the Tired Rabi Sleep). Nazrul himself recorded 'Rabihara' and recited it on radio.

Within a year of Rabindranath's death, Nazrul himself fell ill and gradually lost his voice and his memory. His treatment at home and abroad produced no results. For 34 long years, from July 1942 to August 1976, the poet suffered this unbearable life of silence.

With consent of the Indian government, Nazrul and his family were brought to independent Bangladesh on 24 May 1972. In recognition of his contribution to Bangla literature and culture, Dhaka University awarded the poet the honorary degree of DLitt at a special convocation on 9 December 1974. In January 1976, the Bangladesh government granted him citizenship of Bangladesh and on February 21 awarded him the 'Ekushey Padak'. On 29 August 1976 the poet died at the Institute of Post Graduate Medicine and Research (now BSMM University) in Dhaka.

The national poet of Bangladesh, Kazi Nazrul Islam was buried with state honour on Dhaka University campus, on the northern side of Dhaka University mosque.



Edited by Qwest - 28 March 2006 at 12:30am

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Posted: 27 March 2006 at 10:14pm | IP Logged
Any discussion on Bengali poetry must revolve around the names of Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam. While the former attained international recognition through his 1913 Nobel Prize for literature, the influence of Nazrul in the Bengali psyche is in many senses no less than that of Tagore.

Kazi Nazrul Islam (1899-1976) came to the literary spotlight at the age of 23 with his poem of the unstoppable rebel hero, Vidrohi (Rebel, 1922), which is the uplifting voice of the iconoclast. Set in a heroic meter and invoking images from both Hindu and Muslim mythological canons, the rebel is destructive, unrepentant, hard, but also unspeakably soft and gentle ("sleep smothered like the flute of Orpheus"):


I am unstoppable, irresponsible, brutal
I am Nataraja, I destroy the universe
     With my metered dance.
Like a cyclone, I blow fear into the hearts of men
I crush underfoot all rules and traditions
Fully laden boats I sink, a dark menace:
     A torpedo, a floating mine.
My hair dishevelled, I am the untimely storm
Unpredictable. I am the first raindrop
Tenderly I kiss the parched soil.
Rebel Incarnate I have come
     From the womb of Mother Universe.


Protest and Incarceration
Other poems in this angry rebellious vein, such as Pralayollas (Destructive Euphoria) and Kamal Pasha, found resonance in a land erupting under the oppression of British rule. His first book, the hugely popular Agniveena (Fiery lyre, 1922), led to the popular moniker "rebel poet" (Vidrohi Kabi). By the end of the year, however, Nazrul was arrested for writing a thinly veiled political allegory, and underwent imprisonment for one year.

Nazrul came of age under the shadow of Tagore, whom he admired, and who was fond of him as well. The morning after composing Vidrohi, he ran to Tagore's house and read the poem to the maestro. But Nazrul's is a forceful independent voice, sometimes the swaggering rebel, talking in military staccato, and sometimes the gentle creative poet, lilting cadences dancing through his song. In addition to his poetic corpus, Nazrul, who was a talented musician, also composed more than three thousand songs, which constitute a complete genre in Bengali music today, under the name of nazrul-geeti, and remains immensely popular, with a large number of artistes and an active recording industry, both in West Bengal and Bangladesh.

At the age of eighteen, Nazrul was a student of class ten in Raniganj (in today's West Bengal), when he came under the spell of the distant First World War. He joined the new Bengali regiment and was posted in Karachi. Although the regiment never faced battle, and was disbanded in 1920 after cessation of hostilities, the cadence of the soldier's parades and marches permeates much of his writing from this time.

Nazrul-Geeti: Oeuvre in Song
After the success of his early poetry, and his increasing stature in literary and political circles, in the late 1920's Nazrul started composing his songs to music. Some of this corpus, especially many love songs, are particularly notable, like this song which never fails to resonate with anyone who has experienced the monsoon breaking with its towering dark clouds:

In this dark cotton cloud rain
The forest has spread out green
Beyond its boundaries
O where are you
In this dark cotton cloud rain. . .


However, here too, his fiery patriotic songs are notable; the postage stamp pictured above contains the lyrics of his famous song, "chal-chal-chal":

Breaking down the doors of dawn
We shall bring the morning on
Shredding darkness with our song
    We shall overcome.

He became associated with the Kallol literary group and also continued his political activity, running for election in 1926. For a period, a large number of his writings were banned. Other notable books of poems and songs from this period include Dolonchampa(1923), Bisher Bansi (The poisonous flute, 1924), Bhangar Gan (Songs of break-up, 1924), Puber Haoya (The east wind 1925) and Bulbul(1928).

Nazrul lived in divisive times. Religious communalism was on the rise, possibly fuelled by elements in the British administration. Muslims felt disenfranchised and alienated in the majority Hindu culture. There were a number of Hindu-Muslim riots, culminating in reckless carnage during independence when the Empire was divided into three parts on religious lines. Through all this, Nazrul remained committedly non-communal, writing both Shyama-Sangeet in praise of Kali, as well as Pakistani style Hamd songs. He married Pramila Devi, a Hindu lady, and chose Sanskritic names for his sons. In later years, his liberal views on religion came under attack from the Muslim right.

Illness
In 1942, Nazrul fell seriously ill, and despite many attempts at treatment, he gradually lost his voice and memory. He entered a world of increasing isolation, untli 1972, when the newly formed nation of Bangladesh rediscovered him and he was honoured as the national poet. He passed away in 1976.

Today, Nazrul's legacy continues to energize the Bengali people, and his poems are part of the rites of passage for each generation of Bengali youth. Talk of Nazrul to a blue-blooded Bengali, and you will be invariably rewarded with a few lines from some favourite poem. Unfortunately, not enough talented translators have gathered to his cause, and Nazrul's reputation lives on only within the bounds of his language.

Yet there is a recklessness about him, both in life and in song, that never fails to attract the truant imagination that is the eternal hallmark of youth.

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Kazi Nazrul Islam is another great poet of Bengal. When still a school student in his teens Nazrul joined the newly recruited Bengali regiment (1916) and was sent to Mesopotamia some months before the armistice. The regiment was not given a chance to face battle but all the same Nazrul got his fill of the fighting gusto which later-found expression in poetic effusion and warmth. His first two significant poems , Pralayollas (Exhilaration at the Final Dissolution) and Vidroho (Rebellion) appeared early in 1922 and his first book of poems Agnivina (The lute of fire) was out before the year was over.The book was received with an enthusiasm never experienced in India before or since. After that he joined the Kollol group and wrote mostly deft and pungent verse and songs galore. He produced more than twenty books of poetry and songs and some fiction and plays. some of his later poems were good but the fire of agnivina was already quenched.

Nazrul was an emotional soul but his emotion was unstable and volatile. Those who came in personal contact with him were moved by his irresistible enthusiasm and sincerity. But his literary output falls far short of his merit , except the early poems in Agnivina. After Agnivina his best known books of poems and songs are Dolonchampa(1923) , Biser Bansi (The Poisonous Flute ,1924), Bhangar Gan (Songs of the Break-up, 1924), Puber Haoya (The East Wind, 1925) and Bulbul(1928).



Edited by Qwest - 27 March 2006 at 10:24pm
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Virtual Bangladesh : Literature: Poetry : Kazi Nazrul Islam

Kazi Nazrul Islam Kazi Nazrul Islam, popularly known asbidrohi kobi (Rebel poet) took the bengali literary world by storm by his poem, bidrohi or the Rebel. Probably no other single poem influenced the Bengali society and people so deeply, and this poem, alongwith many other patriotic poems and songs, inspired the freedom fighters during the struggle against the british, and also during the Bangladesh liberation war in 1971. Many regard him as the greatest poetic force in Bengali literature after world famous Rabindranath Tagore. Both Nazrul's poems and prose writing exuberate a certain force and energy, denouncing all social and religious bigotry and plurality, cultural differences and oppression as the principal reasons for national discord and disharmony. Many of his songs and poems were banned by the british administration in pre-partition India.

Nazrul also got equal prominence and popularity in writing songs, almost 3,000 of them, the largest by any Bengali poet and composing music. Many of his songs, particularly the love songs became instantly popular and are still revered. His songs are extremely romantic, lyric, appealing and rich in metaphors. All his works truthfully represent the life-style he led - the struggle of a poor childhood, his intense patriotism, and bohemian life as a poet.

His chief works are: Agnivina, Sanchita, Dolan Champa, Chayanat.

Learn more about Nazrul and his work from Nazrul.Org

 

 



Edited by Qwest - 28 March 2006 at 7:10am
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The Rebel (Bidrohi)
Kazi Nazrul Islam
Translation: Rezaul Karim Talukdar
=========================

Proclaim Hero-
Proclaim: My head is held towering
Bows down the Himalayan peak, that at looking.
Say Hero-
Say: Tearing the firmament of the universe
Outstripping the Moon, the Sun and the Stars
Piercing the Earth and the celestial spheres
Penetrating through the Almighty's sacred throne
Risen have I, the wonder eternal of the God's universe.
With the mark of majestic might
The angry God on my forehead blazing bright!
Say Hero-
Say: My head is held ever towering!

I am irrepressible, imperious and brutal
I am the dancing lord of the great upheaval.
I am the cyclone, the devastation tremendous
I am terrible fear and the curse of the universe
I am turbulent, I crash everything
Wild I am, I trample under my feet all rules and binding.
I obey no law, but mine
I cause the loaded boats to capsize
I am torpedo, I am the dreadful floating mine.
I am the God Dhurjati-
The ill timed hair disheveled typhoon of disaster,
I am The Rebel the rebellious son of the global mother.
Say Hero-
Ever towering is my head!

I am the hurricane, I am the whirlwind
I smash everything on my path and leave behind.
I am the dance-insane rhythm
I dance on, with my own beat
I am the heart liberated wit.
I am the different musical modes
I rock, I roll, on move I startle
I whistle and swing on sharp notes.
I do whatever this mind wants whenever
I embrace the enemy and fight the death as a warrior.
I am pestilence, the global terror
I am the death of the dictator
I am warm and restless forever.
Say Hero-
Ever high is my head!

I am wine intoxicating
The glass of my heart is ever filled
With the wine sparkling.
I am the flame of the sacrificial fire
I am the God of fire, who keeps it burning.
I am the sacrifice, I am the priest, I am the fire.
I am creation, I am devastation
I am habitation, I am the ground of cremation.
I am the son of Indrani - the queen of the heaven
The Moon on my arm and the Sun on my forehead have risen.
In one hand of mine is the flute tender
The war bugle I hold in the other.
I am the Black-throated
Having the poison churned up from the weeping sea
I am the lord Bomkesh
I hold the bridle of the Ganges-stream with me.
Say Hero-
Ever towering is my head!

I am a saint, a soldier of music
I am the prince in disguise
With the dress of a hermit-mystic.
I am a Bedouin, a Chengis the brute
It is none, but me, I salute.
I am thunder
From the God 'Iswan's pipe, I am the mystic 'Omker'
Alas! from the bugle of 'Israfil', I am the roar danger.
I am Bishyamitra's disciple, Durbasha the furious
I am the fury of forest fire
I will burn to ashes this universe.
I am the heart opening laughter
I am the great anti-creation terror
I am the Eclipse of the twelve Suns of the final disaster.
Seldom I am quiet
Seldom restless and wild, I am the blood-youth
I snatch the God's pride.
I am the breath of typhoon, the ocean's roaring rave
I am radiant and flashing
I am the murmur of stream, the swing of music of the wave.

I am the unbraided hair of a virgin
The flame of her arresting gaze
I am the tender heart's love of a lotus sixteen.
I am the unconcerned mind of the indifferent
I am the sigh in the widow's heart, rending constant.
I am the accumulated anguish of all the homeless sufferers
The agony of the humiliated hearts
I am the bitter sorrows of the estranged lovers.
I am the distressed cry of a heart rending
I am the first touch of a virgin trembling
I am the heart throb of a passionate kiss stolen
I am the secret lady-love's glance twinkle
Her bashful sidelong look
I am the love of a maiden fickle
Her bracelet's sweet jingle.
I am the eternal child, the everlasting youth
I am the scarf of a village maid, afraid of her budding youth.
I am the Northern breeze-
From the Malabar range the mode 'Purabi' unconcern
I am the deep notes from a bamboo flute of a poet pedestrian.
I am the great summer thirst, I am the blazing Sun's furies
I am the murmuring desert spring-
I am the chiaroscuro of an oasis.
I rush forth as a crazy with bursting laughter
Oh! I know myself today, all the barriers are broken forever.

I am the rise, I am the fall, I am the consciousness in the soul unconscious
I am the triumphal flag of humanity, over the arch of the universe.
I rush like the clapping storm, holding the heaven and earth in hands
The flying horse and the horse of 'Indra'-the King God are my mounts

I am the volcano in the bosom of earth, the submarine fire
The fire of the universal annihilation
I am the under-earth drunk on tumultuous sea of fire.
Riding on the lightning, I fly with the joy profound
I instill panic and cause sudden earthquake in the world around.

I catch hold the hood of 'Basuki' the snake-king
I clasp the heavenly angel Gabriel's fiery wing.

I am a heavenly child, I am restless, I am impudent
I tear with my teeth the Mother-earth's garment.
I am the flute of Orpheus
I cause the heaving sea sleepy
With a kiss of sleep, I send the world in drowse.
I am in bondage of the tune of flute
I am the God Krishna's flute.
When I fly across the space with great anger
The trembling seventh hell, extinguishes in fear
I carry the revolt in the world all over.

I am the monsoon rain-flood of erosion
Sometime I fill the earth with adoration
Sometime I cause the awful destruction.
I will snatch the twin girls
From the bosom of God 'Vishnu' who sustains the creation.
I am injustice, I am meteor, I am the Saturn
I am the burning Comet, the venomous hood of annihilation.
I am the goddess 'Chandi' with the severed head
I am the war-loving cause of the dead.
Sitting in the hell of fire
I smile the smile of a flower.



I am earthly, I am spiritual
I am ageless, undecaying and immortal.
I am the terror of men, Gods and monsters
I am the invincible power of this universe.
I am the lord of the lords, 'Vishnu' the Supreme Being.
Frantically I move around the heaven the hades and the earth churning.
[**Two lines here from the original Bangla text seems to have been omitted here in the translation by the translator.; i.e. "I am mad, I am mad !!! / I now know myself and all my shackles and constraints have evaporated !!"**]


I am the battleaxe of God 'Parshuram'
I shall exterminate the warriors
And bring the noble peace to this universe.
I am the plough on the shoulders of 'Balaram'
I shall uproot the subject-world with ease
In the new creation of joy and peace.
I the Great Rebel, shall be quiet on that day
When the oppressed people's wail on the sky and air will not resound
The tyrant's dreadful sword will not flash on the battle ground
I, the Rebel, tired of battle, shall be quiet on that day.
I am a Rebel 'Vrigu'-
I mark my footprint on the chest of the creator God
I shall cut open the heart of the grief inflicting whimsical lord.
I am the Hero, Rebel – eternal -
Rose above the universe alone
My head is ever Monumental.
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Rabindranath Tagore's Telegram to Nazrul

In 1922, Nazrul was imprisoned under the charge of sedition. While in prison, there were protests against abuse of the prisoners. At one point when the abuse reached an extreme level, Nazrul and other priosoners started a hunger strike which lasted for many days. "Many well-known personalities - Kobiguru Rabindranath, Deshbondhu Chittaronjon, Acharya Profullachandra Roy, Sharatchandra Chattapadhdhay - urged Nazrul to end this hunger strike. In the telegram sent by Rabindranath to him, one clearly finds his warm feeling toward Nazrul. When Nazrul was in Hooghly jail, Rabindranath sent a telegram,

"Give up hunger strike, our literature CLAIMS you."



Edited by Qwest - 27 March 2006 at 10:37pm
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Complete Works of Kazi Nazrul Islam

 

In the 1000 year history of Bengali music, Nazrul was perhaps the most original creative talent. By fusing the elements of north Indian classical music with a tradition whose basis was primarily folk and not merely because of the large number of songs that he wrote, Nazrul made Bengali music a part of the longer tradition of the music of the Indian sub-continent. His lyrics andmodern Bengali poetry,Nazrul was a pioneer in modern Bengalmusic a

Books by Kazi Nazrul Islam

This is a complete listing of the works by Kazi Nazrul Islam, in the Bengali language.

Poetry

    Sanchita (Collected poems), 1925 Phanimanasa (The Cactus), poems, 1927 Chakrabak (The Flamingo), poems, 1929 Satbhai Champa (The Seven Brothers of Champa), juvenile poems, 1933 Nirjhar (Fountain), poems, 1939 Natun Chand (The New Moon), poems, 1939 Marubhaskar (The Sun in the Desert), poems, 1951 Sanchayan (Collected Poems), 1955 Nazrul Islam: Islami Kobita (A Collection of Islamic Poems; Dhaka, Bangladesh: Islamic Foundation, 1982)
  • Agni Bina (The Fiery Lute), poems, 1992

Songs

    Bulbul (The Nightingle), songs, 1928 Sandya (Evening), songs, 1929 Chokher Chatak (Thirsty of Sight), songs, 1929 Nazrul Geetika, (Collected Nazrul Songs), 1930 Nazrul Swaralipi (The Notation of Nazrul Songs), 1931 Chandrabindu (Nasal Mark), songs, 1931 Banageeti (Wilderness Songs), 1931 Zulfiquar (The Sword of Ali), songs, 1931 Sursaki (The Serving maid of Melodies), songs, 1932 Gul Bagicha (Flower Garden), songs, 1933 Geeti Satadal (One Hundred Songs), 1934 Surmukur (Notations), 1934 Ganer Mala (Garland of Songs), 1934 Swaralipi (Notations), 1949 Bulbul Dwitiya Bhag (Bulbul, part Two), songs, 1952
  • Ranga Jaba (Red China Rose), songs on the goddess Kali, 1966

Poems and songs

    Dolan Champa (name of a faintly fragrant monsoon flower), poems and songs, 1923 Bisher Banshi (The Poison Flute), poems and songs, 1924 Bhangar Gan (The Song of Destruction), songs and poems, 1924 proscribe in 1924 Chhayanat (The Raga of Chhayanat), poems and songs, 1925 Chittanama (On Chittaranjan), poems and songs, 1925 Samyabadi (The Proclaimer of Equality), poems and songs, 1926 Puber Hawa (The Eastern Wind), poems and songs, 1926 Sarbahara (The Proletariat), poems and songs, 1926 Sindhu Hindol (The Undulation of the Sea), poems and songs, 1927 Jinjir (Chain), poems and songs, 1928 Pralaya Shikha (Doomsday Flame), poems and songs, 1930 proscribed in 1930
  • Shesh Saogat (The Last Offerings), poems and songs, 1958

Short stories

    Rikter Bedan (The Sorrows of Destitute), short stories, 1925 Shiulimala (Garland of Shiuli), stories, 1931
  • Byathar Dan (Offering of Pain), short stories, 1992

Novels

    Bandhan Hara (Free from Bonds), novel, 1927 Mrityukshuda (Hunger for Death), novel, 1930
  • Kuhelika (Mystery), novel, 1931

Plays and drama

    Jhilimili (Window Shutters), plays, 1930 Aleya (Mirage), song drama, 1931 Putuler Biye (Doll's Marriage), children's play, 1933 Madhumala (Garland of Honeysuckle) a musical play, 1960 Jhar (Storm), juvenile poems and play, 1960
  • Pile Patka Putuler Biye (Doll's Marriage), juvenile poems and play, 1964

Essays

    Jooga Bani (The Message of the Age), essays, 1926 Jhinge Phul (The Cucurbitaccus Flower), essays, 1926 Durdiner Jatri (The Traveller through Rough Times), essays, 1926 Rudra Mangal (The Violent Good), essays, 1927
  • Dhumketu (The Comet), essays, 1961

Miscellaneous

    "Rajbondir Jabanbandi" (Deposition of a political prisoner), an address, 1923 Rubaiyat-e-Hafiz (Rubaiyat-e-Hafiz), translation, 1930 Kabye Ampara (Verse Translation of the Ampara), 1933 Maktab Shahitya (A Textbook for maktab), 1935 Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, translation, 1958
  • Nazrul Rachanabali (Works of Nazrul), vols. 1-4, edited by Abdul Quadir, published by Bangla Academy, Bangladesh, 1993, (New *Edition, edited by Board of Editors : Chairman, Anisuzzaman; Members, Muhammad Abdul Qayyum, Rafiqul Islam, Mohammad *Mahfuzullah, Mohammad Moniruzzaman, Abdul Mannan Syed, Karunamay Goswami; Member-Secretary : Selina Hossain).

Courtesy: Nazrul Institute, Dhaka, Bangladesh




Edited by Qwest - 27 March 2006 at 11:42pm
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Originally posted by jayc1234

Any discussion on Bengali poetry must revolve around the names of Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam. While the former attained international recognition through his 1913 Nobel Prize for literature, the influence of Nazrul in the Bengali psyche is in many senses no less than that of Tagore.

Very true, jayc1234. Here is a snippet from www.virtualbangladesh.com:

"Nazrul also got equal prominence and popularity in writing songs, almost 3,000 of them, the largest by any Bengali poet and composing music. "

Thanks you very much Qwest for such a wonderful postClap.

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