Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University (JKKNIU) is the first and only public university established in Bangladesh in memory of this country's national poet - Kazi Nazrul Islam.
Kazi Nazrul Islam (24 May 1899–29 August 1976), sobriquet Bidrohi Kobi (Rebel Poet), was a Bengali poet, musician and revolutionary who pioneered poetic works espousing intense spiritual rebellion against fascism and oppression. His poetry and nationalist activism earned him the popular title of Bidrohi Kobi (Rebel Poet). Accomplishing a large body of acclaimed works through his life, Nazrul is officially recognised as the national poet of Bangladesh and commemorated in India.
Born into a Muslim quazi (justice) family in India, Nazrul received religious education and worked as a muezzin at a local mosque. He learned of poetry, drama, and literature while working with theatrical groups. After serving in the British Indian Army, Nazrul established himself as a journalist in Kolkata (then Calcutta). He assailed the British Raj in India and preached revolution through his poetic works, such as "Bidrohi" ("The Rebel") and "Bhangar Gaan" ("The Song of Destruction"), as well as his publication "Dhumketu" ("The Comet"). His impassioned activism in the Indian independence movement often led to his imprisonment by British authorities. While in prison, Nazrul wrote the "Rajbandir Jabanbandi" ("Deposition of a Political Prisoner"). Exploring the life and conditions of the downtrodden masses of India, Nazrul worked for their emancipation.
Nazrul's writings explore themes such as love, freedom, and revolution; he opposed all bigotry, including religious and gender. Throughout his career, Nazrul wrote short stories, novels, and essays but is best known for his poems, in which he pioneered new forms such as Bengali ghazals. Nazrul wrote and composed music for his nearly 4,000 songs (including gramophone records), collectively known as Nazrul geeti (Nazrul songs), which are widely popular today. At the age of 43 (in 1942) he began suffering from an unknown disease, losing his voice and memory. It is often said, the reason was slow poisoning by British Government. It caused Nazrul's health to decline steadily and forced him to live in isolation for many years. Invited by the Government of Bangladesh, Nazrul and his family moved to Dhaka in 1972, where he died four years later.
Nazrul reached the peak of fame with the publication of "Bidrohi" in 1922, which remains his most famous work, winning admiration of India's literary classes by his description of the rebel whose impact is fierce and ruthless even as its spirit is deep:.
- I am the unutterable grief,
- I am the trembling first touch of the virgin,
- I am the throbbing tenderness of her first stolen kiss.
- I am the fleeting glance of the veiled beloved,
- I am her constant surreptitious gaze...
- I am the burning volcano in the bosom of the earth,
- I am the wild fire of the woods,
- I am Hell's mad terrific sea of wrath!
- I ride on the wings of lightning with joy and profundity,
- I scatter misery and fear all around,
- I bring earth-quakes on this world! “(8th stanza)” I am the rebel eternal,
- I raise my head beyond this world,
- High, ever erect and alone! “(Last stanza)” (English translation by Kabir Choudhary)