Kazi Nazrul Islam (1899-1976), was the rebel poet of Bengal and the national poet of Bangladesh. He is well known as a great poet of interfaith harmony. Nazrul emerged as the rising sun at a time when class division, religious separatism, and communal antagonism were at their peak in India. He played a significant role in promoting communal harmony in Bengal. He appeared as an enlightened poet in a dark society and was very angry and upset.
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Fought against communalism:
In the mid-1926s, the political environment of Bengal changed dramatically. The Hindu-Muslim riots started. The explosion of communal violence spread across Kolkata. It even affects remote rural areas. Seeing the oppression, suppression, and cruelty of man due to social injustice Nazrul hurt deeply. He thinks he has to do something for his countrymen. from this thinking he composed the poem “Kandari Hushiar” (Beware My Captain) known as a patriotic song. In the poem, he calls upon the young generation to save the nation from danger forgetting the Hindu-Muslim.
He realized that communalism must be eradicated to establish true freedom and humanist ideals in India. He felt that it is impossible to be free from British rule without solving Hindu-Muslim communal hostility. So, he called all the people and native leaders of India to work together to regain their previous prestige and freedom. Accordingly, he composed inspiring poems and songs about Hindu-Muslim unity. He used Allah, God, mosque, temple, and church side by side in his songs and poems to promote harmony between Hindus and Muslims. He also presented Mohammad, Krishna, Khaled, and Arjun in his literary work. Practically he fought against communalism. He was always against communalism and was an ardent and vocal campaigner against it. His secular and humanist spirit was a driving force in his literary work from the beginning. His non-sectarian, voice is evident in the following lines from “Communist”.
“Of equality and that happy land,
Where all artificial differences are resolved Where Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, and Christians
Are brought together in loving unity.”
here the poet speaks of the human being where there is no discrimination between man and man in the measure of race, color, religion, and ethnicity City.
In the quest for truth, Nazrul attached more importance to humanistic values than to visits to mosques and temples. Nazrul said that the human heart is the seat of God and the source of all the holy scripture. He believes that there is no value in visiting mosques and temples if people cannot rise to the high ideals of humanism. The poet says,
“Thine heart is the shrine of all gods.
Why then dost thou wander
In search of hermits and sages, Or pour over the carcass of dead scriptures?
From His quiet seat in thy heart
He smiles serenely.
Here Nazrul places the human heart above all else. According to him, the sense of equality in human society arises from humanistic beliefs which only originate from the heart.
“Man above everything, nothing above man” – This universal humanism of the medieval poet Chandidas is strongly expressed in Nazrul’s poem Man. Nazrul says:
“Of equality, I sing Man comes first
And there is nothing nobler than him
Differences of caste or creed, Of age or countries
Matter little.”-“Manush” (Man)
Here Nazrul talks about human beings and demands that man is above all in the world. The position of people above all races, castes, and religions.
Hindu-Muslim traditions harmonized:
Nazrul in his “Agnibina” (Fire and Lute) asserts that he is neither a Hindu nor a Muslim; He was for all people and all religions. In his poetry, the Hindu-Muslim traditions are so harmonious that it is difficult to distinguish one from the other. Many, both Hindu and Muslim, resented him bitterly. In the Indian subcontinent, Nazrul introduced the ideals of equality and fraternity when sectarian hostility arose due to Hindu-Muslim differences in scriptures. Therefore, Nazrul as a symbol of interfaith harmony wants to establish a society where equality justice and humanity are guaranteed. Thus, Nazrul has become a symbol of inter-religious harmony.
Finally, we can say that Nazrul is a symbol of interfaith harmony, a humanistic patriotic, non-communal poet who wishes to cross not only religious boundaries but also social and economic barriers. He dreams of the day when all discrimination, shortness, and communalism among men will disappear.
For more notes of poetry: click here