Bangabandhu's Thoughts on Bangla Language & Literature

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Published on June 15, 2021
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The young Sheikh Mujibur Rahman 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 skills are unmatched. The books 'Unfinished Memories' (2012), 'The Prison Diaries' (2017) and 'Amar Dekha Nayachin' (2020) are mainly the products of author Bangabandhu. He had a deep love for Bangladesh, the Bengali nation, the Bangla language and literature.

Bangabandhu's various speeches also give an idea of his philosophy, language and literary thought. His speech at the biennial session of the Awami League on 18 January 1974 gives an extract of his thoughts on Bengali language, literature and culture. On that day, he said, “We are Bengalis. We believe in nationalism. If I forget that I am Bengali, that day I will be finished. I am Bengali, Bangla is my language, Bengal 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 mine.”

Speaking at the inaugural function of the language movement commemoration week organized by Bangla Academy on 15 February 1971, he said, "Language develops in an open environment. Language cannot be changed at home.”

Bangabandhu loved to speak in Bangla. He used to speak in Bangla out of respect and love for the 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 made speeches in Bangla.

After independence, on 25 September 1974, Bangabandhu addressed the UN General Assembly in Bangla language.

Bangabandhu wanted to introduce the mother language as the medium of the highest education. On 1 August 1969, on the occasion of the release of the East Pakistan Awami Muslim League draft manifesto, Bangabandhu's thought about language was clearly expressed in his speech. Speaking on the occasion, he said, "Mother language should be adopted as the medium of instruction in all parts of Pakistan. Bangla language should be introduced as a medium of instruction in all levels of education in East Pakistan as soon as possible, and we have to try for the spread of Bangla in all government and non-government organizations and businesses."

Shortly after independence, Bangabandhu had strict instructions to compose a constitution in Bangla. Bangabandhu also directed to write the court verdict in Bangla.

Bangabandhu had a deep affection not only for Bangla but also for Bengali literature. Bangabandhu thought that great literature could never be written while being isolated from the people. Speaking as the chief guest at the National Literary Conference organized by Bangla Academy in 1974, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman said, “Today when the country has become independent, my expectations from writers and artists are even higher. Those who are pursuing literature, practising art, 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 must be reflected in our literature and art.”

After being acquitted of the Agartala conspiracy case on 22 February 1969, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was given the title of Bangabandhu at Suhrawardy Udyan in Dhaka the next day (23 February). At the reception on that day, Bangabandhu said about, "We read Mirza Ghalib, Socrates, Shakespeare, Aristotle, Dante, Lenin, Mao to learn. And the (intellectually) bankrupt government has banned our reading of the writings of Rabindranath, who is a Bengali poet and who has become the poet of the world by writing poems in Bangla. 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” as the national anthem of Bangladesh.

In his inaugural address at the Bangla Academy's programme remembering language movement on 15 February 1971, he said, “Paying homage to the martyrs of the language movement, I declare that my party will introduce Bangla in all government offices, courts and other spheres of national life from the day it takes power.”

Bangabandhu kept his promise to seven crore Bengalis. Shortly after the independence of the country, Bangabandhu recognized Bangla as the state language in Article 3 of the 1972 Constitution.