May 19, 2013 | 08:46 AM (BD Time)
19 May, 2013 Sunday
Great Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam
(From previous issue)
Nazrul's poetry imbibed the passion and creativity of Shakti, which is identified as the Brahman, the personification of primordial energy. He wrote and composed many bhajans, shyamasangeet, agamanis and kirtans. He also composed large number of songs on invocation to Lord Shiva, Goddesses Lakshmi and Saraswati and on the theme of love of Radha and Krishna.
Nazrul assailed fanaticism in religion, denouncing it as evil and inherently irreligious. He devoted many works to expound upon the principle of human equality, exploring the Qur'an and the life of Islam's prophet Muhammad (Sm). Nazrul has been compared to William Butler Yeats for being the first Muslim poet to create imagery and symbolism of Muslim historical figures such as Hazrat Muhammad (Sm) Umar (Ra) Ali (Ra) Qasim and His vigorous assault on extremism and mistreatment of women provoked condemnation from Muslim and Hindu fundamentalists.
In 1920, Nazrul expressed his vision of religious harmony in an editorial in 'Joog Bani',
"Come brother Hindu! Come Musalman! Come Buddhist! Come Christian! Let us transcend all barriers, let us foresake forever all smallness, all lies, all selfishness and let us call brothers as brothers. We shall quarrel no more".
In 1933, Nazrul published a collection of essays titled "Modern World Literature", in which he analyses different styles and themes of literature. Between 1928 and 1935 he published 10 volumes containing 800 songs of which more than 600 were based on classical ragas. Almost 100 were folk tunes after kirtans and some 30 were patriotic songs. From the time of his return to Kolkata until he fell ill in 1941, Nazrul composed more than 2,600 songs, many of which have been lost. His songs based on baul, jhumur, Santhali folksongs, jhanpan or the folk songs of snake charmers, bhatiali and bhaoaia consist of tunes of folk-songs on the one hand and a refined lyric with poetic beauty on the other. Nazrul also wrote and published poems for children.
Nazrul's success soon brought him into Indian theatre and the then-nascent film industry. The first picture for which he worked was based on Girish Chandra Ghosh's story 'Bhokto Dhruva' in 1934. Nazrul acted in the role of Narada and directed the film. He also composed songs for it, directed the music and served as a playback singer. The film 'Vidyapati' ('Master of Knowledge') was produced based on his recorded play in 1936, and Nazrul served as the music director for the film adaptation of Tagore's novel Gora. Nazrul wrote songs and directed music for Sachin Sengupta's bioepic play 'Siraj-ud-Daula'. In 1939, Nazrul began working for Calcutta Radio, supervising the production and broadcasting of the station's musical programmes. He produced critical and analytic documentaries on music, such as 'Haramoni' and 'Navaraga-malika'. Nazrul also wrote a large variety of songs inspired by the Rago Bhairav. Nazrul sought to preserve his artistic integrity by condemning the adaptation of his songs to music composed by others and insisting on the use of tunes he composed himself.
Nazrul's wife Pramila Devi fell seriously ill in 1939 and was paralysed from waist down. To provide for his wife's medical treatment, he resorted to mortgaging the royalties of his gramophone records and literary works for 400 rupees. He returned to journalism in 1940 by working as chief editor for the daily newspaper 'Nabayug' ('New Age'), founded by the eminent Bengali politician Sher-e-Bangla A. K. Fazlul Huq.
Nazrul also was shaken by the death of Rabindranath Tagore on August 8, 1941. He spontaneously composed two poems in Tagore's memory, one of which, 'Rabihara' (loss of Rabi or without Rabi) was broadcast on the All India Radio. Within months, Nazrul himself fell seriously ill and gradually began losing his power of speech. His behaviour became erratic, and spending recklessly, he fell into financial difficulties. In spite of her own illness, his wife constantly cared for her husband. However, Nazrul's health seriously deteriorated and he grew increasingly depressed. He underwent medical treatment under homeopathy as well as Ayurveda, but little progress was achieved before mental dysfunction intensified and he was admitted to a mental asylum in 1942.
Spending four months there without making progress, Nazrul and his family began living a silent life in India. In 1952, he was transferred to a mental hospital in Ranchi. With the efforts of a large group of admirers who called themselves the 'Nazrul Treatment Society' as well as prominent supporters such as the Indian politician Syama Prasad Mookerjee, the treatment society sent Nazrul and Promila to London, then to Vienna for treatment. Examining doctors said he had received poor care, and Dr. Hans Hoff, a leading neurosurgeon in Vienna, diagnosed that Nazrul was suffering from Pick's disease. His condition judged to be incurable, Nazrul returned to Calcutta on 15 December 1953. On June 30, 1962 his wife Pramila died and Nazrul remained in intensive medical care.
In 1972, the newly independent nation of Bangladesh obtained permission from the Government of India to bring Nazrul to live in Dhaka and accorded him honorary citizenship.
Despite receiving treatment and attention, Nazrul's physical and mental health did not improve. In 1974, his youngest son, Kazi Aniruddha, an eminent guitarist died, and Nazrul soon succumbed to his long-standing ailments on August 29, 1976. In accordance with a wish he had expressed in one of his songs, he was buried beside the Mosque on the campus of the University of Dhaka.
Tens of thousands of people attended his funeral; Bangladesh observed two days of national mourning and the Indian Parliament observed a minute of silence in his honour.
Nazrul's poetry is characterised by an abundant use of rhetorical devices, which he employed to convey conviction and sens
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