Birthday: May 24, 1899
Died At Age: 77
Sun Sign: Gemini
Also Known As: Bidrohi Kobi, Mr. Sad Man, Nazrul, Rebel Poet
Born Country: India
Born in: Churulia
Famous as: National Poet of Bangladesh
Spouse/Ex-: Pramila Devi
father: Kazi Faqeer Ahmed
mother: Zahida Khatun
siblings: Kazi Ali Hussain, Kazi Saahibjaan
children: Bulbul, Krishna Mohammad, Savyasachi and Aniruddha
Died on: August 29, 1976
place of death: Dhaka
Who was Kazi Nazrul Islam?
Kazi Nazrul Islam is the ‘National Poet of Bangladesh’. He was an immensely talented person, a gifted literary genius in the field of writing poems and composing songs. He started working quite early in his life to financially support his family which also affected his education. He did numerous jobs in his childhood and later joined the armed forces after matriculation. While serving in the army, he started his literary career, most of which revolved around poetry. Initially he received appreciation and praise for his poetic collections but later the British Empire sensed a bit of hostility and rebellion in his poems and imprisoned him for over a year. During his years in prison, his rebellious and fierce attitude grew deeper and he wrote many such works. After coming out of prison, he encouraged people to fight for independence and also wrote about the weaker classes of the society. Later his focus shifted towards religion due to some personal life incidents. He faced constant struggle in his personal life due to poverty, his wife’s illness, his mental health and the death of his loved ones. Despite all difficulties he emerged out as a revolutionary who managed to leave his imprint in the spheres of music, poetry and writing.
Childhood & Early Life
He was born on May 24, 1899 in Churulia village in the Burdwan district of West Bengal to Kazi Fakir Ahmed, the caretaker of the local mosque and mausoleum, and his wife, Zahida Khatun. He was the second of their four children.
After his father’s untimely death, he was nicknamed 'Dukhu Mia' by the villagers because of the hardships he faced in his early life. When he was ten, he started working in his father's place as a caretaker to support his family, as well as assisting teachers in school.
In 1910, he attended the Searsole Raj High School in Raniganj and then the Mathrun High English School. But soon he abandoned his studies due to financial crisis and started working as a cook. Later, he took up a job at a bakery and tea shop in Asansole.
In 1914, he resumed his studies and studied up to Class X. He studied Bengali, Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian literature and Hindustani classical music.
In 1917, he joined the Indian Army as a soldier and served there for three years, rising to the rank of Battalion Quarter Master (Havildar). In 1919, he published his first piece, 'The Autobiography of a Delinquent' or ‘Saogat’, while serving in the army.
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In 1920, he left the army and joined the 'Bangiya Mussalman Sahiya Samiti' where he wrote his first poem 'Bandhan-hara' or 'Freedom from bondage'.
In 1922, he wrote his poem titled 'Bidrohi' which was published in 'Bijli' (Thunder) magazine. The poem described a rebel passionate about his cause and received praises from people belonging to different classes of the society.
In 1922 again, his political poem ‘Anondomoyeer Agomone’ appeared in the magazine ‘Dhumketu’ which he had started publishing. This led to his arrest during a police raid at the magazine’s office. While imprisoned, he composed a large number of poems and songs until his release in December 1923.
Eventually, he became a critic of the "Khilafat" struggle and the Indian National Congress for not bargaining political independence from the British Empire. He also motivated people to fight against the British and organized the 'Sramik Praja Swaraj Dal'.
From 1926 onwards he started writing poetry and songs for the weaker sections of the society. Later in life, his works shifted from rebellion to religion. He explored 'namaz' (prayer), 'roza' (fasting) and 'hajj' (pilgrimage). He devoted works to 'Qu'ran' and the life of Islam's prophet 'Muhammad'.
In 1933, he published a collection of essays entitled 'Modern World Literature' which had different themes and styles of literature. He also published 800 songs based on classical ragas, kirtans and patriotic songs in 10 volumes.
In 1934, he got involved in the Indian theatre and motion pictures, and debuted in a movie based on Girish Chandra's story called 'Bhakta Dhruva'.
In 1939, he started working for the Calcutta radio and produced music such as 'Haramoni' and 'Navaraga-malika'. In 1940, he started working as a chief editor for 'Nabayug', founded by A.K. Fazlul Huq.
His most notable works were his rebellious poems such as 'Bodhan', Shat-il-Arab', 'Kheya-parer Tarani' and 'Badal Prater Sharab' etc. which received critical appreciation from all over.
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In 1926, he wrote one of his most famous poems titled 'Daridro' ('Pain or Poverty') which received appreciation from the classes and the masses.
In 1928, he became a lyricist, composer and music director for 'His Master's Voice Gramophone Company'. One of his biggest works in the industry was writing songs and directing music for a bioepic play named 'Siraj-ud-Daula'.
Awards & Achievements
In 1945, he received the Jagattarini Gold Medal from the University of Calcutta for his work in Bengali Literature.
In 1960, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan, one of the highest civilian honors of the Republic of India.
He was conferred the title of 'national poet' and awarded the 'Ekushey Padak' by the Government of Bangladesh.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1921, he got engaged to Nargis, the niece of a well-known Muslim publisher, Ali Akbar Khan, in Daulatpur. On the day of wedding, he walked away from the ceremony upon hearing an unreasonable condition of Ali Akbar Khan.
In 1921, he met a young Hindu woman, Pramila Devi on his visit to Comilla. They fell in love and later got married in 1924.
His first son, Krishna Mohammad, died prematurely while his second son, Bulbul, died of smallpox. He had two more sons, Savyasachi and Aniruddha. In 1939, his wife fell ill and was paralyzed from waist down.
In 1941, he was shaken by the death of Rabindranath Tagore. Within months, he himself fell seriously ill and gradually began losing his power of speech. Eventually, his mental dysfunction intensified and he was admitted to a mental asylum in 1942.
In 1952, he was transferred to a mental hospital in Ranchi and then to Vienna for treatment where he was diagnosed with Pick's disease. He returned to India in 1953 and in 1962 his wife died while he remained in intensive medical care.
On August 29, 1976, he died in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He was buried beside a mosque on the campus of the University of Dhaka.