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Kazi Nazrul Islam(1898-1976):Poet-icon of Bangladesh
Kazi Nazrul Islam was born on the 25th May 1898 at Churulia in the district of Burdwan, West Bengal, India.
This partiot, poet, composer writer, political figure or the myriad minded man edited a politico-cultural magazine "Dhumketu".
The poet died at Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh as National poet on the 29th August 1976. Nazrul Institute, an institution works for research and propagating the poets life, works and ideals, is situated in Dhaka with several branches in divisional towns. Bangla Academy has published collected works of the poet to celebrate the poets birth centenary in the year(1999).
The rebel poet Kazi Nazrul Islam was crowned in 1972 as the national poet of Bangladesh. He was living a seclusive life with no care in a shabby, nasty and crowded cottage in Calcutta. West Bengal government did not even arrange a bed in any convalescent home for the poet who was suffering from irreversible brain-damage and living nearly a vegetative life.
Under the auspicious of Bangladesh government of Sheik Mujibur Rahman, the poet was moved to Dhaka, capital of newly liberated Bangladesh situated 125 km west of Trishal a small township in Mymensingh district where Kazi Nazrul Islam spent several years during his boyhood.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman arranged round the clock nursing, physiotherapy since his arrival in Dhaka. The picture used in this page is from 1972 taken on his birthday. Firoza Begum, the famous Nazrulgeeti-singer in Bangladesh, who was acquainted with the poet during her youth, had the opportunity to sing infront of him on his birthday or popularly called Nazrul jayanti in 1972.The ailing poet being able neither to speak nor to hear became overwhelmed with joy which radiated from his face, this rare moment of the poet's life was camera freezed by my friend, an ametaur photographer and now a physician in Dhaka, Mamunar Rashid (Madan) , he even arranged my entrance at Nazrul' s residence at Dhanmondi at the outskirt of Dhaka at the same occasion.
Bangladesh postal authority issued a set of 2 postal stamps on the occasion of the first death anniversary of the national poet of Bangladesh.
Indian government issued a stamp on the centenary birth anniversary of this great man in 1999.
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Professor Rafiqul Islam speaks on
The revolutionary and secular Nazrul
Kazi Nazrul Islam
Kazi Nazrul Islam, whose birthday we celebrate on May 25, came to the literary spotlight in 1921 with his iconoclastic poem of the unstoppable rebel hero, 'Vidrohi'. Set in a heroic metre and invoking images from both Hindu and Muslim mythology, the poem epitomizes the rebellious side of the poet as well as the romantic, gentle aspect. Apart from poems, however, Kazi Nazrul Islam also wrote editorials, essays, short stories, novels and plays. Professor Rafiqul Islam, at present Pro-Vice Chancellor University of Liberal Arts and one of the foremost authorities on Kazi Nazrul Islam, speaks to Robab Rosan about our national poet
Professor Rafiqul Islam is one of the foremost authorities on Kazi Nazrul Islam in Bangladesh. His debut publication on Nazrul was Nazrul Nirdeshika, a bibliography of the poet, which, apart from publications, also lists Nazrul's recorded songs. Professor Islam's second book on Nazrul was his 1972 biography of the poet, perhaps the first comprehensive biography of Nazrul. This was followed by Kazi Nazrul Islam: Jiban O Kabita (1977), based on his doctoral thesis. The book includes a short biography of the poet as well as a brief discussion of some selected poems.
In 1990, an expanded edition of Professor Islam's Kazi Nazrul Islam: Jibon O Sahitya was published from Kolkata. In this book Professor Islam included a discussion of the poet's novels, stories, essays and plays besides poetry. A subsequent edition of this book, published under the title Kazi Nazrul Islam: Jibon O Srishti, also included discussions of Nazrul's music. Professor Islam's various articles on Nazrul, published in dailies, literary magazines, periodicals and journals, have been anthologized in Nazrul Prasanga, published by the Nazrul Institute.
Professor Islam is at present revising his biography of the poet to cover the last years of the poet's life.
Professor Islam regrets the lack of interest in Nazrul. He points out that much more work should have been done on Nazrul. 'While it is true that during the centennial celebrations in 1999, a number of books were published from Dhaka and Kolkata—many of them providing much new information on the poet—no remarkable work on the poet has been done subsequently.'
About some of his findings, Professor Islam says, 'It was generally accepted that. "Jodi ar banshi na baje" was Nazrul's last lecture, I have discovered that there were two other important essays written by the poet after this one. Nazrul wrote a long poem on the communal riot in Dhaka. I had got one page of the poem, but was later able to get the entire piece.'
'We do not have complete information about his music. We do not know how many songs Nazrul wrote nor do we know all the changes that were made in them, when they were recorded or printed. The poet himself often changed the lines of some of his poems, when he compiled them for books. Changes made by his disciples after his illness amounts to distortion.'
'I have been able to gather much information from both Dhaka and Kolkata for my revised biography of Nazrul. Unfortunately, I have not been able to collect all copies of the newspaper Nava Yug, with which Nazrul was associated. In 1941, Nazrul was the chief editor of the paper. Apart from poems he had also written editorials for the paper. However, we have the complete files of Dhumketu, Langal, and Ganovani.'
About the songs of Nazrul, Professor Islam said that it is not possible to identify all the lyrics of Nazrul, as many of them have been passed off as the work of others. 'However, we have got a lot of information on Nazrul's lyrics and their tunes. A Kolkata scholar, Brahmamohan Thakur, has worked on this subject very seriously and carefully. I should also add that a few songs were considered to be by Nazrul, but aren't. We have identified these lyrics and corrected the misinformation.'
'Many songs of Nazrul have been lost, particularly, the tunes. If we have collected about two and a half thousand lyrics, we have been able to collect at the most a little over fifteen hundred tunes. The tunes of Nazrul's songs collected from the recording companies are authentic as long as Nazrul was well during the recording. In Dhaka, the noted music director Sudhin Das has worked to make notations of Nazrul Sangeet listening to the original records.'
Professor Islam noted that during Nazrul's birth centenary, the Nazrul Institute had published many books, including poetry, novels, essays and notations, as well as a collection of Nazrul's poems in English translation. In Kolkata, the Bangla Academy published Nazrul's works and a biography. In Dhaka, we were unable to publish a complete biography of Nazrul.'
According to Professor Islam, the perspective of West Bengal scholars differs from ours. 'The frame of reference of the biography published from Kolkata is Rabindranath Tagore. Yet I appreciate their work. They have used much information taken from research done in Bangladesh. Unfortunately, in many places they have not acknowledged the researchers.'
'However, they published a biography during the centennial, which we could not. I was chairman of the Nazrul Institute at the time, but was very busy arranging the programmes. I was also associated with the celebration committees in India, particularly with the Bangla Academy and the Sahitya Academy in Kolkata, Vishwabharati in Santiniketan, the conference in Delhi, the North America Nazrul Festival in Florida and the Nazrul centenary celebrations in East London. During this time a Nazrul Centre was set up in East London. With all these commitments I did not have time to work on the biography.'
Professor Rafiqul Islam described Nazrul as the great revolutionary and secular poet of this region who fought with his writings against both colonialism and communalism. 'Nazrul is the greatest non-communal poet in the Bangla language. He wrote for all communities, for Muslims as well as Hindus. Unfortunately, people who profess to be non-communal tend to be silent about Nazrul. If we want to be vocal against communalism or fundamentalism, Nazrul is the most powerful inspiration.'
Professor Islam regretted that Nazrul was being politicised. 'Another tragedy is that we have declared Nazrul our national poet. We have thus made him a poet of the government, a poet of a political party, a poet of bureaucrats. Instead of poets and writers, bureaucrats preside over the functions on Nazrul only because of the positions they occupy not because of the regard they have for the poet. Nazrul always fought against the establishment but now he has been made a poet of the establishment, which is very unfortunate.'
'We had plans to build a mausoleum on the tomb of Nazrul, but we did not do this. In 1929, Nazrul was honoured with a national reception at which the top social and political leaders of both the Hindu and Muslim communities were present. Nazrul was declared the National Poet of the Bengalis. So, Nazrul is not only the National Poet of Bangladesh, he is the National Poet of all Bengalis. All Bengalis should therefore work on the poet. We should not wait for grants from the government.'
Professor Islam noted that as Bangla is limited to the Bengali community, the study of Nazrul is limited – as is the study of Tagore. However, Tagore has benefited by English translations. 'Similarly, good translations can play an important role in promoting Nazrul's literature. But we do not have good translators.' On an optimistic note, Professor Islam added, that some of Nazrul's poems have been translated into several Indian languages, including Hindi, Urdu, Tamil, Oriya, Malayalam, and Assamese. Nazrul has also been translated into Japanese and Russian. Some of his works have also been translated into French and Spanish in Bangladesh.
Professor Islam praised the quality of Nazrul's prose writings. 'Though Nazrul's stories are few, they are powerful and socially relevant. His novels too are well worth studying. Nazrul's essays are powerful critiques of imperialism and communalism. Nazrul's views on politics, social stratification, and human relations are manifested in his essays.'
Professor Islam was critical of the neglect of Nazrul's original plays. 'To mark the anniversaries of Nazrul, the satellite television channels adapt Nazrul's stories into plays. However, they are not producing the original plays written by the poet such as Putuler Biye, Madhumala, Shilpi, Aleya and others. They should first produce the original plays, then the adaptations from stories and novels.' He regretted that while we possess almost all of Nazrul's, plays, a play that Nazrul wrote while jailed in Behrampur, is missing.
The British government kept a close watch on writers – as well as revolutionaries. 'Nazrul's police files were perhaps thicker than those on any other writer in undivided India. Shishir Kar, a researcher based in Kolkata collected the police reports related to Nazrul from the police archives and has written a book, under the title Nishiddha Nazrul. Unfortunately, another book of his, "The British Raj and The Rebel Poet of Bengal,'' was not published by the Nazrul Institute.'
Commenting on the present condition of Nazrul scholarship in Bangladesh, Professor Rafiqul Islam noted that our attitude is revealed by the way we have allowed the houses associated with Nazrul to fall into disuse. The house in Comilla where Nazrul used to live has been demolished. 'Apart from Darirampur, the other places have not been preserved. However, in West Bengal, the places associated with Kazi Nazrul Islam have been preserved. The jail cells where Nazrul stayed have been turned into museums.'
'It is a matter of great satisfaction that a number of young scholars have done important research on Nazrul and obtained M.Phil and Ph.D degrees,' Professor Islam concluded.
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When some one talks about Bangla literature, first of all two names come in front of us, Rabindranath and Nazrul. Kazi Nazrul Islam is popularly known as rebel poet (Vidrohi Kabi). He was an exceptional talented person in bangla literature.
When still a school student in his teens Nazrul joined the newly recruited Bengali regiment (1916) and sent to Mesopotamia some months before the armistice. The resiment 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 Vidrohi (Rebellion)appared early in 1922 and his furst book of poem Agnibina (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 he joined the Kollol group and wrote mostly deft and pungent verse and songs galore.
Nazrul Islam wrote a good numbers of valuable poems, songs, novels, dramas. He had a good command on classic indian song. He could sing, recite and act with considerable proficiency.
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 enthuasiasm and sincerity. But his literary output falls far short of his merit, except the early poems in Agnibina. After Agnibina his best known books of poems and songs are Dolonchampa(1923), Biser Bansi (The poisonous flute, 1924), Bhangar Gan (Songs of break-up, 1924), Puber Haoya (The east wind 1925) and Bulbul(1928).
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Rabindranath Tagore's dedication to Nazrul
and recognition of him as a "POET"
Studying Nazrul's life one finds that just like Nazrul revered Rabindranath as the "master-poet", Rabindranath also unreservedly reciprocated by recognizing and blessing Nazrul's poetic talent. Rabindranath sent a statement of blessing when "Dhumketu" started publishing, he was very anxious when Nazrul was on hunger strike, and he honored Nazrul by dedicating his drama "Boshonto" to him.
Upon request from Rabindranath, Pabitra Gangopadhdhay went to personally deliver a copy of Boshonto to Nazrul at Alipur central jail. In this context what Rabindranath conveyed to Pabitro G. reveals his high thought about Nazrul's creative works. Pabitro G. wrote:
"Nazrul was imprisoned at Alipur Centra Jail at that time. I used to visit him every week. Somehow Rabindranath must have known about it, otherwise he would not have instructed me to see him at Jorashako. He said: 'Nazrul has ushered in Boshonto (Spring) in the life of the nation. That's why I have dedicated my recently published "Boshonto" drama to him. I would have been very happy if I could deliver this to him personally, but since I am not able to do it, please deliver this book to him on my behalf. ...
I have dedicated "Boshonto" to Nazrul and in my dedication I have addressed him as "Poet". [note: Rabindranath did not recognize many others by addressing them as "poet". This meant something very special.] I know that some of you might not approve of it. I believe that they hold such attitude without reading Nazrul's poems. And, even if they have read, they did not do so in search of beauty and creativity, rather they looked down upon him. ... Also many of you insist that there should not be noises of swords in poetry. But when the whole nation's heart is tuned to this etho, when the sound of sword creates jhangkar and a feeling of unison is observed, it is naturally expected to find expression in poetry. IF I WERE YOUNG TODAY, MY PEN WOULD HAVE PLAYED SIMILAR TUNE...'
Someone brought two copies of "Boshonto" to the poet. He signed one copy and gave it to me saying, 'Please tell him, he should not feel sad that I was not able to deliver this to him personally. Wholeheartedly, I am blessing him without reservation. Also tell him, he must not stop writing poetry under any circumstances. Soldiers are always available, but we also need poets to inspire them."
... Due to his personality traits, Rabindranath used to call him "Uddam
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(Kazi Nazrul Islam
Kazi Nazrul Islam (1899-1976), known as the 'Rebel' poet in Bengali literature and the 'Bulbul' or Nightingale of Bengali music, was one of the most colorful personalities of undivided Bengal between 1920 and 1930. His role in freeing modern Bengali poetry from poor and unsuccessful imitations of Rabindranath Tagore was significant. He may be considered a pioneer of post Tagore modernity in Bengali poetry. The new kind of poetry that he wrote made possible the emergence of modernity in Bengali poetry during the 1920s and 1930s. His poems, songs, novels, short stories, plays and political activities expressed strong protest against various forms of oppression slavery, communalism, feudalism and colonialism and forced the British government not only to ban many of his books but also to put him in prison. While in prison, Kazi Nazrul Islam once fasted for forty days to register his protest against the tyranny of the government.
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 and melody freed Bengali music from its earlier medieval mould. Like modern Bengali poetry, Nazrul was a pioneer in modern Bengali music as well.
Kazi Nazrul Islam was born on May 24, 1899/11th Jaishthya 1306(Bengali era) in Churulia village, Bardhawan in West Bengal, India. The second of three sons and one daughter, Nazrul lost his father Kazi Fakir Ahmed in 1980 when he was only nine year old. Nazrul's nickname was "Dukhu" (sorrow) Mia, a name that aptly reflects the hardships and misery of his early years. His father's premature death forced him, at the age of ten, to take up teaching at the village school and become the muazzin of the local mosque. This early exposure to the principles and practices of Islam was to have a significant impact on his later literary endeavors. Later, Nazrul joined a folk-opera group inspired by this uncle Bazle Karim who himself was well known for his skill in composing songs in Arabic, Persian and Urdu. As a member of this folk-opera group, the young Nazrul was not only a performer, but began composing poems and songs himself. Nazrul's involvement with the group was an important formative influence in his literary career.
In 1910, at the age of 11, Nazrul returned to his student life enrolling in class six. The Headmaster of the school remembers him in the following words: "He was a small, good-looking boy, always the first to greet me. I used to smile at him and pat him on the back. He was very shy. "Again, financial difficulties compelled him to leave school after class six, and after a couple of months, Dukhu Mia ended up in a bakery and tea-shop in Asansole. Nazrul submitted to the hard life with characteristic courage. In 1914, Nazrul escaped from the rigors of the teashop to re-enter a school in Darirampur village, Trishal in Mymensingh district. Although Nazrul had to change schools two or three more times, he managed to continue up to class ten, and in 1917 he joined the Indian Army when boys of his age were busy preparing for the matriculation pre-test examination. For almost three years, up to March-April 1920, Nazrul served in the army and was promoted to the rank of Battalion Quarter Master Havildar. Even as a soldier, he continued his literary and musical activities, publishing his first piece "The Autobiography of a Delinquent" (Saogat, May 1919) and his first poem, "Freedom" Bangiya Musalman. Sahitya-patrika, (July 1919), in addition to other works composed when he was posted in the Karachi cantonment. What is remarkable is that even when he was in Karachi, he subscribed regularly to the leading contemporary literary periodicals that were published from Calcutta like, Parbasi, Bharatbarsha Bharati, Saogat and others. Nazrul's literary career can be said to have taken off from the barracks of Karachi.
When after the 1st World War in 1920 the 49th Bengal Regiment was disbanded Nazrul returned to Calcutta to begin his journalistic and literary life. His poems, essays and novels began to appear regularly in a number of periodicals and within a year or so he became well known not only to the prominent Muslim intellectuals of the time, but was accepted by the Hindu literary establishment in Calcutta as well. In 1921, Nazrul went to Santiniketan to meet Rabindranath Tagore. Earlier in 1920, the publication of his essay, "Who is responsible for the murder of Muhajirin?" in the new evening daily Nabayug, jointly edited by Nazrul and Muzafar Ahmed, was an expression of Nazrul's new political consciousness and one that made him suspect in the eyes of the police. In 1921, Nazrul was engaged to be married to Nargis, the niece of a well known Muslim publisher Ali Akbar Khan, in Daulatpur, Comilla, but on the day of the wedding (18th June, 1921) Nazrul suddenly left the place. This event remains shrouded in mystery. However, many songs and poems reveal the deep wound that this experience inflicted on the young Nazrul and his lingering love for Nargis. Interestingly, during the same trip, Nazrul met Pramila Devi in the house of one 'Birajasundari Devi in Comilla. Pramila later became his wife.
On his way to Calcutta, Nazrul spent a fortnight in Comilla where he became involved in the non co-operation movement against the British government. He composed and sang several memorable and inspiring patriotic songs; the amateur lyricist and composer had found a new voice to express his patriotic fervor. Later in Calcutta the same year (1921), an inspired Nazrul composed some of his greatest songs and poems of which "The Rebel" is perhaps the most well known. The 22-year old poet became on overnight sensation, achieving fame unparallel in the 1000-year history of Bengali literature.
In 1922, Nazrul published a volume of short stories "Byather Dan" (The Gift of Sorrow) an anthology of poems Agnibeena, an anthology of essays Yugbani, and a bi-weekly magazine, Dhumketu. A political poem published in Dhumketu in September 1922 led to a police raid on the magazine's office, a ban on his anthology Yugabani, and one year's rigorous imprisonment for the post himself. On April 14, 1923, when Nazrul Islam was transferred from the Alipore jail to the Hooghly jail, he began a fast to protest the mistreatment by a British jail-super-intendent. Immediately, Rabindranath Tagore, who had dedicated his musical play, Basanta, to Nazrul, sent a telegram saying : "Give up hunger strike, our literature climes you", but the telegram was sent back to the sender with the stamp "address not found." Nazrul broke his fast more than a month later and was eventually released from prison in December 1923. A number of poems and songs were composed during the period of imprisonment.
On 25th April 1924, Kazi Nazrul Islam married Pramila Devi and set up household in Hooghly. The Brahma Samaj of which Pramila was a member, frowned upon this marriage and started a campaign to vilify Nazrul through a column in the monthly magazine, Prabasi. An anthology of poems 'Bisher Banshi' and an anthology of songs 'Bhangar gan' were published later this year and the government seized both volumes. Nazrul soon became actively involved in political activities (1925), joined rallies and meetings, and became a member of the Bengal Provincial Congress Committee. He also played an active role in the formation of a workers and peasants party.
From 1926 when Nazrul settled in Krishnanagar, a new dimension was added to his music. His patriotic and nationalistic songs expanded in scope to articulate the aspirations of the downtrodden class. His music became truly people-oriented in its appeal. Several songs composed in 1926 and 1927 celebrating fraternity between the Hindus and Muslims and the struggle of the masses, gave rise to what may be called "mass music". Nazrul's musical creativity established him not only as an egalitarian composer of "mass music", but as the innovator of the Bengali Ghazal as well. The two forms, music for the masses and ghazal, exemplified the two aspects of the youthful poet : struggle and love. Nazrul injected a revivifying masculinity and youthfulness into Bengali music. Despite illness, poverty and other hardships Nazrul wrote and composed some of his best songs during his Krishnanagar period. While many others were singing and popularizing his songs in private musical soirees and functions and even making gramophone records, Nazrul himself had yet no direct connection with any gramophone company.
Source: Nazrul Institute, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Visit: Picture Gallery for related pictures.
And Music page to listen to music written by Nazrul Islam.
by Nazrul Islam
Say: High is my head!
Looking at my head
Is cast down the great Himalayan peak!
Say: Ripping apart the wide sky of the universe,
Leaving behind the moon, the sun, the planets and the stars
Piercing the earth and the heavens,
Pushing through Almighty's sacred seat
Have I risen,
I, the perennial wonder of mother-earth!
The angry God shines on my forehead
Like some royal victory's gorgeous emblem..
(Signature of Nazrul Islam in Bengali script)
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Thanks you so much I am going to try to find few of poetry and song if you have any article or picture please feel free to post.
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