Bidrohi Kobi Kazi Nazrul Islam ( কাজী নজরুল ইসলাম )
Kazi Nazrul Islam ( কাজী নজরুল ইসলাম ) (25 May 1899 – 29 August 1976), sobriquet Bidrohi Kobi (Rebel Poet), known popularly as Nazrul, was a Bengali poet, musician and revolutionary who pioneered poetic works espousing intense spiritual rebellion against fascism and oppression. His poetry and nationalist activism earned him the popular title of "বিদ্রোহী কবি" Bidrohi Kobi (Rebel Poet). Accomplishing a large body of acclaimed works through his life, Nazrul is officially recognised as the national poet of Bangladesh and commemorated in India.
Kazi Nazrul Islam, the national and rebel poet of Bangladesh, is the name of a reverendpersonality in Bengali literature whose contribution to Bengali literature is unprecedented. Heenriched different wings of literature with his profound creations. He didn’t leave any genre of literature untouched. In addition, he was an exemplary political figure during his time and yettoday. He perceived our pathos, observed the irregularities existing in our society and tried todispel all ominous exercise out of our society. He also tried to reshape our so-called autocraticsystem and dreamt a utopian world. Throughout his life, he devoted himself to establish aworld free from all evils through his exploding writings and subsequently he became an idealperson in the political arena. Because of his very insurgent movement he was bestowed witha title ‘BIDROHI KOBI (The Rebel Poet). He composed a good number of poems, songs,essays, short stories, novels in his life. Most of his compositions are subjected to establish andretain due rights of proletariats, and reform the society.
Through his compositions, heencouraged destitute people to take active part in sweeping out misrules of then autocraticauthority and that’s why some of his poems, essays were banned by the then Britishauthority. Right then he was also sentenced to one year imprisonment. He created a recordnumber of songs and it’s said that only did Nazrul pioneer to add Ghazal (Love songs), a newgenre of music, to Bengali music. He was credited for creating a large number of love songs,patriotic songs, religious songs, etc.Born into a very poor family, Kazi Nazrul passed his early life through utter hardship. He wasborn on 24 May, 1899 (11 Jaishtha, 1306 Bengali year) at the village of Churulia in AsansulSub-division under the district of Bardwan, in West Bengal of India. His father was Kazi Fakir Ahmed and mother Zaheda Khatun. It’s known that his forefathers were come from Patna,capital of Bihar, a province of India and settled in Churulia. The title ‘Kazi’ means ‘judge of theMuslim’ and the Kazis used rule several parts of Muslim dwelled area in India. When Kazi Nazul was born the title ‘Kazi’ was retained but the remnant material properties were lost. OnMarch, 1908 Nazrul’s father passed away and the next year Nazrul accomplished his lowerprimary education from a Moktab, a lower Islamic primary school. After his father’s passingaway, the plight of his family turned into more aggravated and to maintain his family Nazrulcouldn’t continue his study and got involved in serving as a teacher and Muazzin, who calls forprayer, in the same Moktab wherein he used to read.
In 1911, joining the LETO group was a turning point of Nazrul’s life. LETO is stageperformance based on a poetic debate on a particular subjectmatter by two poets before an audience. It’s a folk musicalgroup. Kazi Bazle Karim, Nazrul’s uncle, was a leader of a Letogroup. He composed songs in Bengali as well as Urdu and setthem into tune. Young Nazrul followed his uncle with keenattention and soon knew how to compose songs, and settingthem into tunes. Observing his poetic talent, many a person atthat time encouraged him to compose songs for variouscontemporary Leto groups. It was very inspiring for Nazrul todevote to composing songs because it coincided with the verynature of his creative power which was poetic and musical at thesame time. Nazrul had the power of impromptu composition onthe topic of dissimilar subject matters. Thus the career of agreat ever poet commenced with folk musical group, Leto.Nazrul didn’t work with Leto for a very long time because thentoo he encountered financial crisis.In 1911, he took admission in class six, in Nabinchandra Institute at the village of Mathrun inBardwan district.
For the poverty-stricken fate, again he discontinued his study and next yearhe worked in a bakery shop, then in the house of a railway guard to accompany him. Duringthe year 1912-13, a police Sub-Inspector Kazi Rafizullah arranged free study for him atDarirampur High School in Mymensingh district, Bangladesh. After completing class VII hewent back to Churulia. Nazrul stayed at Mymensingh less than a year. After returning from Mymensingh, a distant relative of Nazrul Kazi Manjoor Hossain took Nazrul to Searsol, a place near Raniganj in Bardwan. There he got admitted himself into class VIII in Searsol Raj High School in 1915. Studying at Searsol put a significant impact onshaping the future course of Nazrul’s life. Satishchandra Kanjilal, a teacher of Searsol School,excelled in classical music, imparted Nazrul some lessons on classical music. That wasinspiring for Nazrul because he could then refurbish his musicaltalent and collect newer ones. Apart from musical aspects of things, the influence on Nazrul during the time of reading atSearsol was more significant and far reaching because the firstseed of politics was sown in the unblemished mind of youngNazrul there. It was that time when he was newly acquainted withpolitics and came close to revolutionary secret organizations, andwas highly impressed with their concept of armed struggle againstthe British colonial rulers. Nabinchandra Ghatak, a teacher of Searsol School, was an active member of such a revolutionarygroup, YUGANTAR. The objectives of this group were to compelthe British rulers to leave India through a violent way. Observingthe spirit of Nazrul, Nibaranchandra drew Nazrul close to himself and inculcated in him a patriotic feeling. The proximity to thispolitical figure left a deep mark in entire life of Nazrul.
He wrote anovel, KHUELIKA (The Misty), based on the backdrop of anti-movement against the British rulers and portrayed a character of a school teacher in his novelwhich shadowed Nibaranchandra, the person Nazrul loved best.In 1917, when the First World War was running, the then British authority created a DoubleCompany with the men from Bengal in its armed forces, requiring more men to fight fronts.Later this Double Company was renamed and became 49th Bengalee Regiment. To get armed training and with the great patriotic urge, Nazrul left his studies in final year of school coursein 1917 and enlisted himself in the Double Company. At first he was posted in Naushera andthen Karachi, the capital city of Pakistan. Staying with the 49th Bengali Regiment as aHavilder, a British-Indian commissioned officer, he spent most his barrack-life in Karachi. Hisstay there with Bengali Regiment is quite significant from the point of his literary as well asmusical perception. By the time he was enable to gather experiences on music and literature,which had gone a long way in shaping his life as a great builder of Bengali literature andmusic.Nazrul’s first story entitled BAUNDELER ATMA KAHINI (An Autobiography of a Vagabond) waspublished in SAOGAT (The Gift) edited by Mohammad Nasiruddin in its May-June issue, 1919.His first poem MUKTI (Emancipation) was also published in the same year in BANGIYA MUSLIM SAHITYA PATRIKA (Bengali Muslim Literary Magazine) in July-August issue. Nazrulconsidered BANGIYA MUSLIM SAHITYA PATRIKA as a strong platform for his writings.
Two of his short stories entitled HENA (a name) and BYATHAR DAN (Offerings out of pain) came outin the successive issue of it in the year 1919.The First World War came to a close by the middle of 1919. Nazrul’s regiment was abolishedearly in March 1920. After the regiment being demobilized, he returned to Calcutta withoutfurther delay with the hope of an opportunity to settle there. At first he stayed withShailajananda and then with Comrade Muzaffar Ahmad, who inculcated in him the doctrine of equality of man in respect of rights and duties as a born-free human being. In the beginningof 1920 when Nazrul came back to Calcutta from Karachi, he stood determined to stay on theside of masses, struggle for freedom and shape a literary career. During those days inCalcutta, he used to sing the songs of Rabindranath Tagore and it was really a matter of immense wonder that a good number of Tagor’s songs he got by heart. Though his musicalvoice was not so-called melodious but it was lively and with this voice he was able to establisha popular image of a singer by the time.
He was invited to sing in various family functions andfunctions arranged by students. This is how, it may be said here, his real active life began bythen in Calcutta at the age of 21. Nazrul could not earn his bread by writing alone. It wasdifficult in those days even today to survive by writing. Nazrul was looking for job and later hetook profession as a journalist and was appointed joint-editor with Comrade Muzaffar Ahmedof Daily NABAYUG (The Daily New Age) founded by Sher-E-Bangla A. K. Fazlul Haque, aveteran political leader of Bangladesh.In the office of Muslem Bharat (Muslim India) Nazrul met one Ali Akber Khan, a writer andpublisher of children’s text books, and author of some otherbooks. Gradually the intimate relation between Nazrul and Mr.Khan grew deeper and responding to an invitation of Mr. Khan hepaid a visit to the village home of Mr. Khan at Daulatpur inComilla. He stayed there at about two months. During that timehe fell in love with Sayeda Khatun, Mr. Khan’s niece. SayedaKhatun was also known as Nargis Asar Khanam in eloquentlanguage. He got married to Nargis in the middle of June 1921.For some unknown reason, not yet know clearly, Nazrul leftNargis in the very night of marriage. After then he never kept intouch with Nargis and didn’t accept her as his wife. Later on inseveral times Nargis tried to reinstate their lost relation throughwriting letters but Nazrul, on his part, showed reluctance torespond to the letters. Rather in 1937 only once he composed asong and urged the lady to forget him once for all. The songreads as follows:
Why remember him
Whom you couldn't give the garland of your love?
Forget me, forget me once for all.
I sing out of my sorrow
Why do you come to stand before me?
Don't invite me like an apparition
Into the darkness of night
Take pity on me, do take pity on me
Don't play with me the cruel game.
The auspicious hour will not return
Over limited lamentation.
I fare along the way not to grieve any one
Why do you stand with eyes of tearful request?
I have never stood at your door even by mistake.
Forget me, forget me once for all
The year 1921 was tumultuous in point of political agitations under the impact of KHILAFAT ANDOLAN (Non Co-operation Movement). That time the political unrest touched the peak andbecame stronger day by day. The then British Government took stern measures to quell theagitations, issuing arrest warrant against a large number of political leaders. It was thatpolitical situations which Kazi Nazrul Islam had to face after returning to Calcutta fromComilla. On December 10, 1921, Deshbandu Chittaranjan Das was arrested and put into jail,and his wife Basanti Debi sent a request to Nazrul to contribute to the weekly BANGLAR KATHA (The Voice of Bengal) run by Basanti Devi herself. Nazrul himself was an admirer of Deshbandhu and that’s why he accepted the request, and instantly, after having the message,he composed a historical songs for the weekly titled BANGAR GAAN (The song of destruction),which has immortalized him in the history of Bengali patriotic poetry. Few lines of the songsare as follows:
Break down the iron gate of prison
And break down into pieces
Stone-alter of the goddess of fetters.
O! Young God of Destruction
Play on your doomsday drum
Let the flag of destruction
Flutter on the wall of the East
It was the first patriotic song of Nazrul which stood for the spirit of the violent age.Composing a long grand poem titled 'The Rebel", Nazrul brought about a wonder in thehistory of Bengali Poetry. In the last week of December 1921 he wrote a poem. He was thenliving with Comrade Muzaffar Ahmed. Mr. Ahmed was maiden person who listened to therecitation of the poem "The Rebel" by the poet himself. Muzaffar Ahmed narrated thebackground of the creation of the poem. In the last week of December, 1921, Nazrul wrotedown the poem whole night till it was morning. In the morning of the next day, as soon asMuzaffar Ahmed woke up, Nazrul read the poem out to him.
'The Rebel' is long grand poemwritten in a kind of exploding language. It seldom happens in the history of literature thatonly one poem raises its composer to the pinnacle of glory and the poem 'The rebel' made ithappened. With the publication of this poem Nazrul became the Rebel Poet of Bengal. Thetime when the poem Bidrohi (The Rebel) was composed was the age of rebellion. By the endof 1921, he was with the working people devoid of their basic rights. He responded to therebellion tendencies most sensitively and the poem Bidrohi for which he is known as the RebelPoet was his patriotic response to the call of the age. Through the poem “The Rebel” hebecame the voice of Bengali people of those tumultuous days. If Rabindranath Tagore wasthe poet of Swadeshi Movement, Nazrul Islam was the poet of Bengal under the Khilafat Andolan (Non-cooperation Movement).He published his first story book BYATHAR DAN (Offerings of Pain) in 1922. On October 1922,his poetry book AGNIBEENA (The Fiery Lute) was published. In this year his first collection of essays titled YUGABANI (The Message of the Age) was published and proscribed immediatelyafter publication. For this book an arrest warrant was issued against him on the charge of sedition.
He started publishing his first Bi-Weekly magazine DHUMKETU (The Comet). AGNIBEENA is one of the most notable collections of verses by Nazrul and certainly asignificant poetry book in Bengali language because it’s the first book of poems of the rebelpoet including the historical poem BIDROHI itself. No less a man than Abanindranath Tagore,a renowned painter of India and a member of Tagore’s family, was the designer of the coverpage of this book.On November 1922 Nazrul was arrested from Comilla and put into Jail. A sentence of one yearrigorous imprisonment on the charge of sedition was passed against Nazrul. Prior to ThatNazrul read out a statement from the dock in the form of deposition that is said to be writtenin the Presidency Jail, Calcutta on January 7, 1923. He termed that statement as RAJBANDIR JABANDBANDI (Deposition of a Political Prisoner). This statement was entirely inspiring and ithas no parallel in the history of Bengali literature. After the announcement of verdict againstNazrul the whole nation protested it. Rabindranath Tagore dedicated his song-play BASANTA (The Spring) to Nazrul. Inside the Jail he went on 40-day long hunger strike in protest againstthe oppression with the political prisoners by the jail authority. Rabindranath Tagore sent atelegram from Shilong to Nazrul to give up the strike. Sharathchandra Chattapadhyay himself met Nazrul in the jail and requested him to leave the strike. So he gave it up at the request of the literary and political personalities of his time. The same year on December he wasreleased from jail.Nazrul Islam settled in Hoogly after being released from Jail. On April 25, 1924, he gotmarried to Ashalata Sengupta, daughter of Giribala Devi in Comilla. Ashalata was popularlyknown as Pramila.
Their first son Azad Kamal (also named Krishna Mohammad) was born butno longer had he survived.Two books of poems named BANGAR GAAN (The song of Destruction) and BISHER BANSHI(The Poisonous Flute) were published but proscribed instantly by the British authority. Theyear 1925 is more political than poetical to Nazrul. This year he met Mahatma Gandhi, wroteand announced the pamphlet of THE LABOUR SWARAJ PARTY OF THE INDIAN NATIONALCONGRES. His poem SAMYABADI (The Communist) on the theme of equality was published inthe party magazine named LANGAL (The Plough). In 1926 LANGAL was renamed and becameGANABANI (The Voice of Masses). His second son Arindam Khalid (Bulbul) was born. Thattime he composed a famous song titled KANDARI HUNSHIAR (Beware My Captain) markingthe inauguration ceremony of Krishnanagar Congress and the first Ghazal of Bengali Language “Bulbuli Tui Phool Shakhate Disne Aaji Dool (O nightingale, don’t swinging on the flower-ladenbranches today)”. His family was moved to Krishnanagar from Calcutta.During the year 1927, his family encountered serious financial problem, since he was beingcontinually deprived by the publishers who made huge money by selling his books. That timehe emerged as the best seller among the Bengali speaking people and amazingly enough, hestill retains his position among the poets. However, he attended the annual conference of MUSLIM SAHITYA SAMAJ (Muslim Literary Society) in Dhaka.
His friends around Saogat triedto help him financially considering his acute poverty and growing illness. He agreed to work with Saogat on salaried basis. In 1928, two separate editions of SANCHITA (Selected poems)were published. His friends and associates tried to make a trust fund. That year he lost hismother, too. Contrary to it, Nazrul was honoured form Rangpur, Rajshahi and other parts of the country. He wrote and sang two inaugural songs for NIKHIL BHARAT KRISHAK O SRAMIK DAL (All India Farmers and Workers Party) and All India Youth Congress, presided over byPandit Jawharlal Nehru, at Calcutta. In 1929 Nazrul was honoured by several organizations atChittagong during his journey visit to attend the inaugural session of MUSLIM SHIKSHMA SAMITI (Muslim Education Association). He was also honoured by BOGRA AKKELPUR YOUNGMEN’S SOCEITY.On December 1929, he was accorded a Grand National Civic Reception at Calcutta Albert Hallunder the chairmanship of Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray.
He was declared THE POET OFBENGALI NATION by Netajee Subash Chandra Bose, the Chief Guest. His son Kazi Sabyasachiwas born this year and Kazi Aniruddha the next year. In 1930, his two books titledPRALAYSHIKHA (The Doomsday Flame) and CHANDRABINDU (The last character of Bengali alphabet symbolizing a nasal mark), collection of songs and poems, were published and alsoproscribed.The year 1930 was one of the most tragic years of his life. His son Bulbul died of small pox onMay 7, and he was shattered violently. He did never get rid of the trauma he conceded for hisson’s death. This year was also significant forvarious aspects. He entered into various rolesincluding music composer, music director, filmdirector, actor in film and play, radioprogrammer and above all a regular artist of Garmophone Companies. Nazrul's successsoon brought him into Indian theater and thethen-nascent film industry. The first picturewith which he worked was based on GirishChandra Ghosh's story "Bhakta Dhruva" in1934. Nazrul acted in the role of ‘Narada’ anddirected the film also. He also composedsongs for it, directed the music and served as a playback singer. The film "Vidyapati" ("Masterof Knowledge") was produced based on his recorded play in 1936, and Nazrul served as themusic director for the film adaptation of Tagore's novel Gora. Nazrul wrote songs and directedmusic for Sachin Sengupta's bioepic play "Siraj-ud-Daula". He also gained profusely from theCompanies that gave him money, fame and immense popularity. Completely devoted tomusic, this time he developed close association with a host of noted musicians like UstadJamiruddin Khan, Kader Bukhs, Dabir Khan, Manju Shahib, Mastan Gama, PanditJnanendraprashad Goswami, Pandit Sursh Chakrawarty and many others.
Dilip Kumar Rayplayed key role to shape Nazrul’s musical career. In 1931 he met Rabindranath Tagore andaccompanied by Jahanara Chowdhury, editor of BARSHABANI (Message of year) he traveledto Darjiling. He wrote a series of poems eulogizing the lady. Those poems would soon comeout from Nazrul Institute placing original manuscript side by side with its printed text. Thenext few years he presided over several conferences at various parts of Bengal. Some of themwere SIRAJGANJ BANGIYA MUSLIM TARUN SOMMELAN (Sirajganj Bengali Muslim YouthConference, 1932), Faridpur Muslim Students Conference (1936), BANGIYA MUSALMANSAHITYA SAMMELAN (Bengali Muslim Literary Conference in Calcutta, 1938), etc.In 1938 a family disaster occurred and the lower part of Pramila’s body got paralyzed andNazrul fell in acute financial crisis again. NABAYUG (The New Age) was published in 1940 andhe was Chief Editor. This year he also attended the year-end ceremony of Dhaka Radio. In1941, the BANGAON LITERARY SOCIETY started its annual conference under his chairmanshipand he delivered the final address of his life on April 5-6, while presiding over the SilverJubilee Celebration of the BANGIYA MUSLIM SMAITI. The speech is known as ‘JADI AAR BANSHI NA BAJE (If the flute plays no more)”. On May 25, Nazurl’s birthday was celebrated inCalcutta, presided over by poet Jatindra Mohan Bagchi. On August 7, Rabindranath Tagorepassed away and he wrote a poem instantly titled “RABIHARA (Rabi is no more) on Tagore’sforever departure.
On July 10, 1942, Nazrul lost his voice at a time when he was conducting a Children’sprogramme in All India Radio. He was hospitalized within a week. Later he was admitted toLumbini Park Mental Hospital Calcutta, on October 7 and stayed there for six months. Thedoctors had earlier detected symptoms of mental insanity in him. 1n 1943, NAZRUL NIRAMAY SAMAITI (Nazrul Healing Committee) was formed. But there was no sign of recovery in himby any effort. Two year later, JAGATTARINI GOLD MEDAL was awarded to Nazrul in 1945 bythe Calcutta University. Nazrul stayed back in Calcutta despite the fact that India becameindependent in 1947 and the Easter part of Bengal (the Muslim dominated zone) joined thethen Pakistan as one of its provinces. On July 1952, both Nazrul and Pramila were sent toRanchi asylum for four months with no improvements. Afterwards, the Niramay Samiti sentthem first to London and then to Vienna in 1953 for medical treatment but there was also noimprovement.
The year 1960 was one of the most coveted for Nazrul since he was decorated withPADMABHUSHAN, the highest literary award conferred by theIndian government. Two years later, Pramila died on June 30,1962 and was buried at Churulia, the place where the poethimself was supposed to be buried after his demise. On may24, 1972, Kazi Nazrul Islam was brought to the IndependentBangladesh that wrested its freedom in a blood-smeared fightagainst the non-colonial Pakistani forces. The struggle of freedom was conducted under the leadership of BangabandhuSheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Father of the nation. It’s alsobecause of Bangladeshi’s personal initiative that Nazrul came toBangladesh. The poet was allotted a suitable house inDhanmandi, Road 28 Old (House 330B), now converted intoNazrul Museum under the guidance of the Nazrul Institute, theofficial organization established by the government of Bangladesh to study and conduct research on the life, worksand related issues of the poet. In 1974, he was made Guest of Honour at the International Conference of Writers held in Bangla Academy. He was then onlya silent walker.
This year Kazi Aniruddha died. In 1975, Dhaka University conferred anHonourary D. Lit. on him. In 1976, he was conferred Citizenship of Bangladesh. He was alsoawarded Ekushey Padak by the government of Bangladesh.The same year (1976) on August 29, Sunday, 10 A.M. Nazrul breathed his last in the PGHospital at Dhaka. According to his desire [He expressed his intention through one of his mostpopular Islami Song “Masjider-e Pashe Amay Kabar Dio Bhai (Bury me beside a mosque)] hewas finally placed in eternal rest beside Dhaka University Mosque.