Kazi Nazrul Islam

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

The Egalitarian - Poem by Kazi Nazrul Islam

I sing the song
Of equality,
Where all status and class
Become triviality.
The Rendezvous of Hindu, Buddhist,
Muslim or those of Christianity,
I sing the song
Of equality!

Who are you? Persian? Jain?
Shaotal, Til, Garo? Jew?
Confucian? Charvaka-disciple?
Anything else; something new?

My friend!
Be whatever you are,
Or, whatever book or scroll you carry
in your head or on your shoulder.

Vedas, Tripitak,
Or Quran - Puran,
Avesta or another,
read as much as you like or can.

But why this foolhardiness
Whacking your head with all your power,
Why so much haggling in the market,
When at your roadside blooms fresh beautiful flower?

Right in you resides
The essence of all books, of all time,
In every scripture you will find this,
My friend, if you just open your heart sublime.

Your heart hosts faith's essence
And of all that you deem holy,
Your heart is the world-altar
representing all the divine, wholly.

Why do you seek the holy or divine
in the skeletons of scrolls dead?
He smiles behind the curtain
right in your soul-bed.

My friend, believe me
I am not lying,
To bow in your adoration,
All the crowns are dying.

This heart is Kaashi, Mathura,
Brindaban or holy Nile flowing,
It is Buddha's Goya, Jerusalem
Madina, or where Kaba is glowing.

Real mosque, temple, church -
are not distant from this heart,
Sitting here Jesus and Moses
found their awakening to the truth start.

In world's arena Bhagavad-Gita,
Played eternal youth's tune,
In this same field the sheep-grazing prophets'
chord with God was hewn.

Meditating in this cave of the heart
Great Buddha the saint,
Gave up the kingdom
Hearing humanity's pangs go faint.

At this altar the desert's prince
Used to hear the divine call,
From this throne, he also sang
Quran's message of equality of all.

My brother, yes, O my brother,
Wrong I haven't heard,
There isn't any temple or mosque
greater than this heart.

[Original: Shammyobadi (bengali)
Translation by: Mohammad Omar Farooq]

Poet's Notes about The Poem

Translator's Note: The original Bangla title was Shammobadi. The common dictionary meaning of this word from Bangla to English is 'communist.' Of course, Kazi Nazrul Islam was not a communist. Thus, I have translated the title in a way that conveys his theme that he believed in the universal equality of all as human beings and that is the message of this poem.

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Poem Edited: Tuesday, May 29, 2012

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