Kazi Nazrul Islam

(24 May 1899 - 29 August 1976 / Bardhaman / India)

Human Being - Poem by Kazi Nazrul Islam

I sing of equality.
There's nothing greater than a human being,
nothing nobler!
Caste, creed, religion-there's no difference.
Throughout all ages, all places,
we're all a manifestation
of our common humanity.

'O Priest, please open the door!
A hungry god is at your doorstep
it's time for worship.'
Awakened by this dream
the priest rushes to open the temple door
with eager anticipation: His day might have
finally arrive! ! to get rich as a king
from the blessings that this god may bestow upon him.
Instead, there's this traveler-clad in rags, thin,
with a feeble voice, saying: 'Please,
open the door, Father-1 haven't eaten anything
for seven days! '

The priest slams the door on his face!
Turning around to continue on his journey
through the dark night
the hungry traveler says: 'This temple
belongs to the priest, 0 God, not to you! '
At the mosque, the mollah is overjoyed,
by the huge amount of leftovers of,meat and bread
from yesterday's offerings.

Just then a sickly traveler arrives at the door,
saying: 'Father, I have been hungry
for the last seven days! '
The mollah reacts: 'What a botheration!
You're starving? -Just go and dropp dead
in some cattle graveyard!
Besides-do you say your prayers? '
'No, Father,' replied the hungry man.
'That does it-out! ' shouts the mollah
shutting the door on his face,
holding on to the meat and bread.

The hungry man continues on his journey,
saying: 'I have lived for eighty years
without saying a prayer, yet you've never
deprived me of my food. But the mosques
and temples, O Lord-human beings have
no claim on them. Mollahs and priests
have locked all their doors! '

Where are you Chengis, Ghazni Mahmood, Kalapahar?
Smash the locked doors of these houses of worship!
Who dares shutting\the doors of the house of God,
who dares to put locks on them?
Open those doors-strike with your hammers & crowbars!
Oh, the house of worship-selfish, hypocrites
occupy their towers! -

Who are they-hating human beings
yet kissing the Quran, the Vedas, the Bible?
Snatch away those books from them.
The hypocrites pretend worshipping those books
by killing the human beings who have, in fact,
brought those books into existence.

Listen, you ignorants: Human beings
have brought the books,
the books never brought human beings!
Adam, David, Isiah, Moses, Abraham, Mohammad,
Krishna, Buddha, Nanak, Kabir-the treasures
of the world-they are our ancestors.
It's their blood that runs through our veins.
We're their children, kin-we're of the same body.
Who can tell? -Someone among us
may turn out to be like one of them.

Don't laugh, my friend-the self within us
is fathomless and infinite.
Do I-does anyone-know what greatness
may lie within that self?
Perhaps in me lies the Kalki,
and in you, Mehdi or Isiah.
Who knows what is one's limit or the origin!
Who finds what path to follow?
Whom do you hate, brother, whom do you kick?
Perhaps within his heart
resides the ever-awakened God!
Or pernaps he's nobody that important,
great, or of high esteem-but just someone
who's covered with filth, badly wounded and battered,
and burning with sorrow.

Yet, all the holy scriptures and houses of worship
are not as sacred as that one tiny human body!
Perhaps he'll father-in his house will be born
someone yet unmatched in the history of the world,
who'll deliver a message never heard before,
whose great power the world has yet to witness!

Who's he? An untouchable?
Why do you startle? He's not to be despised!
He may turn out to be Harishchandra or Lord Shiva.
Today an untouchable-tomorrow he may become
a supremely revered yogi-emperor.
You'll come to him with offerings, sing his eulogy.
Why do you look down upon a shepherd?
Perhaps he's Krishna in shepherd's disguise!
Don't hate him for being a peasant
he maybe Lord Balaram!
They're all bearers of eternal messages.
Everyday begging men and women
are turned away from the door.
How would I recognize
if Lord Bholanath and Girijaya were among them?

Just to avoid sharing a little of your sumptuous meal
with a beggar, you resort to your doorman-beating up
and chasing away a god!
But all that gets recorded-who knows if you're
ever forgiven by the humiliated goddess.
Friend, you're full of greed
with a blinder of selfishness over your eyes.
Otherwise you'd recognize the god
serving you as a coolie.

You, beast! To appease your hunger, do you want
to go on plundering the god within the human heart,
the nectar churned out of human pain?
Your evil gorge knows what appeases your hunger,
where in your palace is concealed your death-arrow.
Through the ages, your own desires
have dragged you into your death-holes.

[Translation: Sajed Kamal]


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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Poem Edited: Tuesday, May 29, 2012


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