Bangladesh’s National Anthem: Amar Shonar Bangla


We all know that the national anthem of Bangladesh, Amar Shonar Bangla, is written by Rabindranath Tagore. Now, Tagore may be associated more with India than with Bangladesh, but, then, that is why his song becoming the national anthem of Bangladesh says something about the spirit of the Bangla nationhood. Interesting post on this story is here. An excerpt:

In early 1971, radical students chose Amar Shonar Bangla as Free Bengal’s national anthem, and when the war ended, the new republic’s leaders endorsed it. Why did they choose the song? For that matter, why did they choose the red and green flag?

From all accounts, the song was chosen because of its evocation of the rural landscape — mango groves and paddy fields, perennial features of Mother Bengal. And that’s what the green in the flag meant to the more radical students, though for others green symbolised Islam. But it was stressed that everyone was very conscious about choosing inclusive icons.

This contrasts sharply with Bangladesh’s neighbours. The Pakistan Movement adopted the crescent, unsurprisingly alienating all non-Muslims in the lands that became Pakistan. Indian nationalism claimed to be inclusive, espousing secularism as a fundamental value. But Gandhi’s Ram Rajya did not appeal to Muslims, nor did the spinning wheel, which everyone thought symbolised eternal — that is, pre-Islamic — India (quite ironic, really, as according to Irfan Habib, the earliest known reference to the spinning wheel in South Asia is a 1350 polemic urging Raziya Sultana to give up Delhi’s masnad and take up spinning, the ‘inescapable inference’ being the device having a Muslim provenance).

So, Bangladesh made a conscious effort of being inclusive at its foundation. Something to celebrate on its 40th birthday, surely?

Yes, it is, but…

One response »


    Rabindranath Tagore was the greatest of all great Bengali writers. But it is sad to note that the learned Bengali readers and writers kept many facts about Tagore’s winning of Nobel Prize in 1913 are kept secret. Some such facts are given below:

    A. Rabindranath Tagore was more than many Nobel Laureates. But his winning of the Nobel Prize was a political consolation for the Hindu terrorist movements launched in Bengal in the early days of the 20th century.

    B. Rabindranth Tagore was not the recommendation of the Nobel Committee. The Nobel Committee named somebody else. The name of Rabindranath Tagore was not even in the short list of the Nobel Committee.

    C. Rabindranth Tagore was awarded the Nobel Prize neither as a Bengalee nor as an Indian. He was awarded the prize as an “Anglo-Indian”.

    D. Rabindranth Tagore never made any so-called prize receiving speech.

    E. Rabindranth Tagore only sent a two line prize acceptance message.

    F. The prize was accepted by the British Ambassador and it was delivered to the poet in Calcutta.

    G. It appears from the information, now available, that Rabindranath Tagore was awarded Nobel Prize in consideration of his successful attempt to intermingle the Western Christian-Hindu philosophy.

    I shall very much welcome exact and objective reply from the esteemed readers of this Group.

    I have been planning to publish a very small book on the subject: Nobel Prize for Rabindranath Tagore in 1913: some untold stories. All the points raised in my message are based on facts. But I would like to get more information on the subject. Help from others will greatly help in the publication of the book with more information.

    However, for the information of all concerned, I would like to point out that Rabindranath was a Brahmo ( a reformed group of Brahmins of the so-called Hindu community of India).

    The word ‘Hindu’ never existed to identify any religion before the emergence of the British Raj in India. It was invented by Raja Ram Mohan Roy in collaboration with the British colonial rulers. This the Britishers did with a view to getting the united massive force together against the defeated Muslim rulers of the then India.

    As such, until the early last century, we find that 99% civil servants, lawyers, judges, engineers, doctors, professors etc. under the British Raj in India were from the Hindu community only. The fourth class employees like peons, messengers, bearers or guards are not included.

    Brahmos allowed the conversion of even the low caste Sudras. But in fact, all Brahmos were Hindus. This was well understood by the British Rulers of India.

    Rabindranath Tagore was not very vast in literary productions in the first decade of the last century. In fact, excepting the limited 250-copy English edition of Gitanjali, hardly there was any English version of Rabindranath Tagore’s other books. Not to speak of any Asian, until 1913 even any American was not awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

    Rabindranath Tagore was in the spiritual lineage of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Swami Vivekananda, Ramakrishna and others. In the lyrical lineage he was obviously reflecting D.L. Roy, Lalon Fakir, Atul Prasad Sen and others.

    Rabindranath Tagore was a pro-British wealthy successor to the vast property left by his grand father Dwarakanath Tagore. In the first decade of the 20th Century he was the leading-most Bengalee intellectual friend of the British Rulers in India.

    During the last decades of the 19th century and in the early 20th century there were popular uprisings, known as the ‘Terroist Movement’ in Bengal. Khudiram Bose was young recruit by such leaders of ‘Terroist Movement’ in Bengal. The British Rulers were very much disturbed by the widespread activities of the volunteers of ‘Terroist Movement’. They needed to pacify the Bengalees. Nobel Prize for Rabindranath Tagore was an attempt in that direction.

    Rabindranath Tagore was not known to the West in the first decade of the 20thth century; hardly any body could have had access to his English edition of Gitanjali; this is obvious from the fact that Rabindranath Tagore was named in the short list of the Nobel Committee for the award of the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913. It was said that Rabindranath Tagore was knwn to the Swidish Academy as an ‘Anglo-Indian poet’ and not either as an Indian or as a Bengalee.

    In addition, Rabindranath Tagore did not visit Sweden or Norway before or after being awarded the Nobel Prize. The British Ambassador received the prize for and on behalf of Rabindranath Tagore and it was confidentially delivered to Rabindranath Tagore at his Jorasanko residence in Calcutta.
    Had there been no Khudiram Bose or ‘Terrorist Movement’, perhaps there would have been no Nobel Prize for Rabindranath Tagore. Even hundreds of Gitanjali could never open the passage of Nobel Prize for Rabindranath Tagore for Literature in 1913.

    Of course, the high diplomatic circles and political decision makers in London did not like to take any risk and responsibilities and they decided, more or less during the same period, to shift the capital of the British Raj from Calcutta to New Delhi in 1911.

    A.B.M. Shamsud Doulah
    (Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh &
    formerly Assistant Professor of English in
    Jagannath College, Dhaka)
    P.O. 351, Dhaka-1000


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