Bound together by poetry

Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina is an admirer of both Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam. Her visit to Santiniketan, Asansol bears testimony

By Syed Muazzem Ali

Given the best of relations between the two countries, it is indeed most befitting that both countries are now trying to nurture the age-old connection of culture between them. We share a common history, a common tradition and common cultural, language and ethnic links. Bangla, as a common language, has been the connecting link between us. We share between us Kabiguru Rabindranath Tagore and the rebel poet Kazi Nazrul Islam.

Tagore, indeed, stands as a bridge between India and Bangladesh. The Tagore family had a long association with Bangladesh and Tagore’s ideas and creations are part of the ethos of both countries. Tagore’s prolonged stay in Shelidah and Shahzadpur, in present-day Bangladesh, had exposed him to the majestic beauty of rural Bengal and its impact on the people, which in turn, shaped his views on the philosophy of life. On his return from East Bengal, Tagore had established Visva Bharati, which has been acting as a cultural link between our two countries.

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Father of the Nation of independent Bangladesh, shared Tagore’s liberal and humanist view of life. His choice of Amar sonar Bangla, ami tomay valobashi (My golden Bengal, I love you) as the national anthem of Bangladesh reflects his profound love and respect for Kabiguru Tagore. Bangabandhu was equally inspired by the great poet, popularly known as the “rebel poet” or bidrohi kabi, Kazi Nazrul Islam, who is also the national poet of Bangladesh.

Kazi Nazrul Islam, through his writings, fought against all odds and injustice. The same spirit was upheld by Bangabandhu throughout his political life. In fact, the name of Independent “Bangladesh” was taken from a poem of Nazrul, where he used it. His songs and writings had greatly inspired us during our Liberation War. If Tagore’s Amar sonar Bangla, ami tomay valobashi had inspired us to liberate the country, Kazi Nazrul Islam’s Karar oi louho kopat, venge fel korre lopat (Destroy those iron gates of prison) had inspired us tremendously to fight for our liberation. Bangabandhu’s able daughter, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has inherited the same adulation from her father and has been a great admirer of the life and works of both Kabiguru Tagore and Bidrohi Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam and this visit is a testimony to that end.

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