The great architect of Bangladesh’s independence, Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is known worldwide as a freedom fighter and great politician. He is a man of politics; politics is the meditation-knowledge of his life. He is the best nationalist leader of the Bengali nation. The political entity is Bangabandhu’s biggest identity. But not just political and economic emancipation; Bangabandhu has also played an important role as one of the leaders in the liberation struggle of the language, tradition and culture of Bangladesh. It is through his pursuit that the complete foundation of Bengali nationalism centered on language, tradition and culture has been laid.
Bangabandhu is still stirring in this Bengal, shining like the sun in the life of the nation. In his long political life, he has moved forward step by step by integrating goals, ideals and objectives. No matter what the path, the ups and downs, the friend – has trampled on both feet. In the face of all obstacles, he has gone ahead as a dauntless leader. He was uncompromising on the question of ideals and goals. Predecessors Rabindranath, Gandhi, Subhash Bose, Nazrul, Deshbandhu, Suhrawardy, and Sher-e-Bangla have gone ahead and built their new paths by assimilating the path and methods. He has left the signature of progress on the way. With the ultimate goal of victory in mind.
Time and time again he came back to this Bengal – sometimes not only in poetry, sometimes in songs-stories, rhymes-novels-essays, but the daily life including education and initiation of Bengalis. He has nourished the soil of Bengal and the water of Bengal. The pursuit of light. He wanted to put a smile on people’s faces of hungriness people. The cherished tradition and culture of the Bengalis that he has nurtured in his own life has spread to the people. He fought till the end of his life to protect the dignity of the Bengali language.
Bangabandhu’s various speeches also give an idea of his philosophy, language and literary thought. From his speech given at the biennial session of the Awami League on 18 January 1974, one can get a glimpse of Bangabandhu’s thoughts on the Bengali language, literature and culture. On that day, he said, “We are Bengalis. We believe in nationalism. If I forget that I am Bengali, then I will be finished. I am Bengali, Bengali is my language, Bengali is my country, Bengal is the soil, the soil of my soul, I will die in the soil of Bengal, the culture of Bengal, the civilization of Bengal is my culture and civilization. ‘
The young Sheikh Mujibur Rahman also played a historic role during the state language movement. He is the founder of language, culture and state-based Bengali nationalism in the modern world. However, as a writer, his pair matched the burden. The books Unfinished Autobiography’ (2012), ‘Prison Diary’ (2017) and ‘Amar Dekha Nayachin’ (2020) are mainly the product of Bangabandhu’s writing. Bangabandhu had a deep love for Bangladesh, the Bengali nation, the Bengali language and Bengali literature.
Bangabandhu assumed the field of development and development of the Bengali language like a linguist. Speaking at the inaugural function of the language movement commemoration week organized by Bangla Academy on February 15, 1972, he said, “Language develops in an open environment. Language cannot be changed at home. It is modified through use. The speed of a language is like the current of a river. Language itself composes its course.
No one can stop its speed. In this open environment, the intellectuals should forget their past role, be inspired by the sense of nationalism and develop Bengali as a people-oriented language. Literature is for the people. In the struggle to establish the rights of the people of this country, come forward fearlessly in your writing and create literature about the struggle of the miserable people. No one will dare to stop you. ‘
Bangabandhu loved to speak in Bengali. He used to speak in Bengali out of respect and love for the Bengali language. During his visit to China in October 1952, Bangabandhu attended a peace conference of representatives of Southeast Asia and the Pacific held in Beijing. There he also spoke in Bengali; which was translated into English, Chinese, Russian and Spanish and read to the delegates present. The students of our country gave their lives for their mother tongue. I have rarely seen an educated person who does not know the poet Rabindranath Tagore in China or any other country in the world. I can speak English. Yet I have to speak in my mother tongue. ‘
After independence, on 25 September 1974, Bangabandhu addressed the UN General Assembly in his favorite Bengali language. Not only that, Bangabandhu wanted the introduction of the mother tongue as the medium of higher education. On 1 August 1969, on the occasion of the release of the draft manifesto of the Awami League, Bangabandhu’s language thinking was clearly expressed in his speech. Speaking on the occasion, he said, “Mother tongue should be adopted as the medium of instruction in all parts of Pakistan.” The Bengali language should be introduced as a medium of instruction in all levels of education in East Pakistan as soon as possible and efforts should be made to spread the Bengali language widely in all government and non-government organizations and business and commercial life in Pakistan. Effective encouragement should be given for the improvement and development of the Bengali language, literature, culture, and art and all necessary measures should be taken. ‘
Shortly after independence, Bangabandhu had strict instructions to compose a constitution in Bengali. Bangabandhu was also directed to write the verdict in Bengali. Realizing that the lack of proper terminology could lead to problems in the use of the Bangla language in all parts of the state, Bangabandhu said on the premises of Bangla Academy on 15 February 1972, that Bengali language scholars will create terminology, then the Bengali language will be introduced, it will not be. As much as the terminologists do their research, we will introduce the Bangla language as soon as we take power. If that Bengali is wrong, then the mistake will be introduced, then it will be corrected. ‘
Bangabandhu had a deep affection not only for his mother tongue Bengali but also for Bengali literature. Bangabandhu used to recite the poems of Rabindranath and Nazrul in his speeches. Through literature, he thought of the betterment of the masses and called upon the writers to come down to the ranks of the common people. Bangabandhu thought that great literature could never be written apart from the people. Bangabandhu has said that not only cities but also rural life and villages can be enhanced through literature. Speaking as the chief guest at the National Literary Conference organized by Bangla Academy in 1974, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman said in the context of literature, ‘Today when the country has become independent; At that time, I had higher expectations from writers, artists and patronizers of culture. Those who are pursuing literature, practicing art and serving tradition and culture, must move forward by maintaining a deep connection with the people of the country. The thoughts, joys and sorrows of the people of the country and their way of life in the overall information must be reflected in our literature and art.
He further said, ‘Literary art should be used for people’s welfare. Unmask the corruption that has pervaded our society today through your writings; Help the government eradicate corruption. I am not a writer, I am not an artist, but I believe that people are the source of all literature and art. No great literature or work of art can ever be created apart from the people. ‘
Even after the acquittal of the Agartala conspiracy case on 22 February 1969, the next day 23 February at the Suhrawardy Maidan in Dhaka, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the supreme leader of the Bengalis, was conferred the title of Bangabandhu. At the reception on that day, Bangabandhu said about Bengali culture, “We read Mirza Ghalib, Socrates, Shakespeare, Aristotle, Dante, Lenin, Mao to learn.” The bankrupt government has banned our reading of the writings of Rabindranath, who is a Bengali poet and who has become a world poet by writing poetry in Bengali. We will read Rabindranath’s books, we will sing Rabindra Sangeet and Rabindra Sangeet will be sung in this country. ‘After independence, Bangabandhu chose Rabindranath’s song’ Amar Sonar Bangla I Love You ‘as the national anthem of Bangladesh.
Even though Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was a politician by heart, he had a deep philosophy about language, literature and culture. The various statements that came out. He did not just become a poet of politics. His writings and speeches also show the wonderful success of the use of folk and regional languages. The best example of this is the historic speech of March 7, 1971.
In the general election of 1970, the Awami League under the leadership of Bangabandhu won by a huge margin. In the Central Legislative Assembly (National Assembly), the Awami League won 167 out of 313 seats and secured an absolute majority. Immediately after the election, Bangabandhu called upon the Bengali poets and writers to devote themselves to the development of the Bengali language and culture.
He said at a function at Hotel Purbani in Dhaka on 31 December 1970, on the occasion of the sixth founding anniversary of the then culture and film weekly Purbani: I assure them that I and my team will resist any obstacle to the creative development of artists, poets and writers. Today there is no conspiracy in front of our culture, no barrier of rule or control. Artists and writers will no longer practice culture for a handful of privileged individuals. I call upon the artists and literary culture to make the common people of the country, who are still miserable, who are still struggling to survive, their laughter, tears, happiness and sorrow subservient to the art and literary culture.
On the occasion of the 23rd founding anniversary of the Chhatra League on January 4, 1973, Bangabandhu said angrily, ‘In the past, there has been a well-planned attempt to distort the glorious history of Bangladesh. Attempts have been made to destroy the Bengali language, culture and tradition. Attempts have been made to snatch the language out of my mouth. We have stopped it by movement. Apart from Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam, one cannot think of Bengali language and literature. But it has been repeatedly attacked. It is surprising to think that the words of Kazi Nazrul’s poem have been changed. The lyrics have been changed and sung on the radio. ‘
Bangabandhu not only called for the self-employment of Bengali poets and writers in the development of the Bengali language and culture but also announced that he would introduce the Bangla language in government office courts from the day he assumed power. In his inaugural address at the Bangla Academy’s Ekushey program on 15 February 1972, he said, “Paying homage to the martyrs of the language movement, I declare that my party will introduce Bengali in all government offices, courts and other spheres of national life from the day it takes power.” We will not wait for the creation of terminology in this regard. Because then it will never be possible to introduce Bangla in all cases. Something will go wrong in this situation, but it doesn’t matter. That’s the way to go. “
The speeches of Bangabandhu opened the door for the awakening of Bengali nationalism. For liberating people every word, every sentence and every comment was able to connect quickly. The beauty of Bangabandhu’s language and use of language was that it contained the perception of the masses. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib has set a unique example in the development of a nation, its language and culture through his practice.Bangabandhu kept his promise to 70 million Bengalis. Shortly after the independence of the country, Bangabandhu recognized Bengali as the state language in Article 3 of the 1972 Constitution.