known not only to the prominent Muslim intellectuals of the time, but was accepted by the Hindu literary establishment in Calcutta as well. In 1921, Nazrul went to Santiniketan to meet Rabindranath Tagore. Earlier in 1920, the publication of his essay, “Who is responsible for the murder of Muhajirin?” in the new evening daily Nabayug, jointly edited by Nazrul and Muzafar Ahmed, was an _expression of Nazrul’s new political consciousness and one that made him suspect in the eyes of the police. In 1921, Nazrul was engaged to be married to Nargis, the niece of a well-known Muslim publisher Ali Akbar Khan, in Daulatpur, Comilla, but on the day of the wedding (18th June, 1921) Nazrul suddenly left the place. This event remains shrouded in mystery. However, many songs and poems reveal the deep wound that this experience inflicted on the young Nazrul and his lingering love for Nargis. Interestingly, during the same trip, Nazrul met Pramila Devi in the house of one Birajasundari Devi in Comilla. Pramila later became his wife. On his way to Calcutta, Nazrul spent a fortnight in Comilla where he became involved in the non-co-operation movement against the British government. He composed and sang several memorable and inspiring patriotic songs; the amateur lyricist and composer had found a new voice to express his patriotic fervour. Later in Calcutta the same year (1921), an inspired Nazrul composed some of his greatest songs and poems of which “The Rebel” is perhaps the most well-known. The 22-year old poet became on overnight sensation, achieving a fame unparallel in the 1000-year history of Bengali literature. In 1922, Nazrul published a volume of short stories Byather Dan (The Gift of Sorrow), an anthology of poems Agnibeena, an anthology of essays Yugbani, and a bi-weekly magazine, Ohumketu. A political poem published in Ohumketu in September 1922 led to a police raid on the magazine’s office, a ban on his anthology Yugabani, and one year’s rigorous imprisonment for the poet himself. On April 14, 1923, when Nazrul lslam was transferred from the Alipore jail to the Hooghly jail, he began a fast to protest the mistreatment by a British jail-superintendent. Immediately, Rabindranath Tagore, who had dedicated his musical play, Basanta, to Nazrul, sent a telegram saying: “Give up hunger strike, our literature claims you”, but the telegram was sent back to the sender with the stamp “addressee not found.” Nazrul broke his fast more than a month later and was eventually released from prison in December 1923. A number of poems and songs were composed during the period of imprisonment. On 25th Apri11924, Kazi Nazrul lslam married Pramila Devi and set up household in Hooghly. The Brahma Samaj of which Pramila was a member, frowned upon this marriage and started a campaign to vilify Nazrul through a column in the monthly magazine, Prabasi. An anthology of poems ‘Bisher Banshi’ and an anthology of songs ‘Bhangar gan’ were published later this year and both volumes were seized by the government. Nazrul soon became actively involved in political activities (1925), joined rallies and meetings, and became a member of the Bengal Provincial Congress Committee. He also played an active role in the formation of a workers and peasants party. From 1926 when Nazrul settled in Krishnanagar, a new dimension was added to his music. His patriotic and nationalistic songs expanded in scope to articulate the aspirations of the downtrodden classes. His music became truly people-oriented in its appeal. Several songs composed in 1926 and 1927 celebrating fraternity between the Hindus and Muslims and the struggle of the masses, gave rise to what may be called “mass music”. Nazrul’s musical creativity established him not only as an egalitarian composer of “mass music”, but as the innovator of the Bengali Ghazal as well. The two forms, music for the masses and ghazal, exemplified the two aspects of the youthful poet: struggle and love. Nazrul injected a revivifying masculinity and youthfulness into Bengali music. Despite illness, poverty and other hardships Nazrul wrote and composed some of his best songs during his Krishnanagar period. While many others were singing and popularizing his songs in private musical soirees and functions and even making gramophone records, Nazrul himself had yet no direct connection with any gramophone company. Throughout 1927 Nazrul was assailed on the one hand by non-Muslim members of the Brahma Samaj, and by conservative Muslims on the other. A couple of progressive, secular magazines came to his defense. Nazrul even became involved in an acrimonious controversy with Tagore regarding the use of a Persian word in Bengali. The monthly Mohammadi also adopted an anti-Nazrul stance which was strongly countered by writers in the weekly Saogat, foremost amongst whom were Ismail Hossain Siraji and Abul Kalam Shamsuddin. The latter hailed Kazi Nazrul Islam as a pioneer, an epoch-making poet and the national poet in Bengal.
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