Kazi Nazrul Islam (1899-1976) national poet of Bangladesh, called the ‘rebel poet’ for his brave 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 had great regard and admiration for the older poets and writers, he did not imitate any poet or writer, even not Rabindranath, though it was a fashion of the day.
[ Biography of Rebel Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam, The National Poet of Bangladesh ]
Through literature, journalism and political activism, Nazrul fought against foreign rule, communalis, imperialism, colonialis, 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 abginay (Who is this stranger rushing to the courtyard of the imprisoned mother?), Aji rakta-nishi bhore/ eki e shuni ore/ mukti-kolahal bandi-shrbkhle (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 ‘Bhabgar 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 m o der 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 Brahma 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 Bhabgar 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 Labgal, 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), Savchita (1928), Bulbul (1928), Jivjir (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, Mrityuksudha, 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. [Rafiqul Islam]