Three Bengali saints made our world possible, and Bangabandhu was the most special of them all
The three great Bengali personalities of the contemporary era have enthralled the psyche, emotions, heritage, culture, and the destiny of the people of the sub-continent -- their impact has surged through many a land beyond, destroying the core concept of imperialism and revamping the very essence of human history and civilization.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das, and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose have left individual legacies uniquely reflecting their vision, virtues, and values. Every member of the Bengali race would hold the ultimate admiration for these three personalities of the Bengali geo-political renaissance, observed centuries after the decline of Shashanka, regarded as the first independent ruler of Bengal in the 5th century and the Pala dynasty in the 12th century.
It is said that Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das’s political career, though short, was meteoric. He accomplished fame through his darning patriotism, sterling sincerity, and great oratorical powers. Deshbandhu Chittaranjan made his mark of greatness during the ascendancy of Gandhi, succeeding in making a distinctive contribution with originality and great courage of conviction.
Deshbandhu, during his political journey, pioneered the Trade Union movement in India and became a true and robust advocate of the world- proletariat class. He was regarded, in the real sense, a nationalist seer and an eloquent exponent of the Bengali heritage and culture.
In the watershed between the 19th and 20th centuries, the world order in geo-politics, science, public health, and in all other spheres was changing rapidly and this change was happening in every part of the known world. In the changing environment against the mighty British Raj, Deshbandhu was able to guide his people with religious harmony, liberal ideology, and progressive philosophy.
He favoured India’s active role as a member of the Great Asiatic Federation, the concept of a Commonwealth of Nations, and that conception is a reality today -- a testament of Deshbandhu’s political far-sightedness.
Subhash Chandra Bose was initially a political disciple of Deshbandhu and rose to become one of the most dynamic leaders of India’s struggle for independence.
Popularly known as Netaji, his memory of scholarly brilliance, unparalleled heroism, uncompromising patriotic stance, a daring escapade from the clutches of the British Raj, his diplomatic and military exploits in the world stage and particularly in Europe and Asia, and the riddle, mystery, secrecy, and perplexity shrouding his disappearance invokes respect for the great work and ideals he stood for, and continues to inspire many generations now and in the future to come.
The Father of the Nation
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, from the role of a political activist, turned into a magical and spiritual phenomenon that changed the history of human civilization. The virtues of the two Bengali leaders Das and Bose during the colonial reign of India seem to fit in effortlessly with Bangabandhu.
He was a natural admirer of his two predecessors and the virtues of both the Bengali great souls flowed, and was reflected in, every niche and recess of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s heart and then escalated exponentially, ascending into a unique horizon not perceived before.
Bangabandhu not only did achieve his predecessors’ standard, but he also surpassed them in all dimensions and by several expanses. All the virtues of his two heroes in each category were heightened, glorified, and perfected in Bangabandhu’s character. Bangabandhu’s concept of Bengali nationalism was unique.
It had broken out of the rigid and narrow confinement of traditional nationalism into the transformational and inspiring lead role of the Bengali race within the community of human species ordained by equality, free to follow whatever religion they chose to practice. His nationalistic fervour gained him the deity status in his own race who dubbed him “Friend of Bengal, Bangabandhu,” “Father of the Nation,” and “The greatest Bengali of all time.”
He has been revered by the rest of humanity as the champion of the oppressed and compared by world leaders such as Castro with the Himalayas. He was sincere to a fault to his cause in service to his people. He would easily and anytime bargain his life, limb, comfort, and his family if required, to serve his nation.
He had no hesitation in becoming a captive in the hands of a genocidal, occupying army with the hope, however faint, that his people would be spared, knowing fully and with the conviction that he would be murdered. Sheikh Mujib’s oratory was phenomenally inspirational and flawless, strategically sound, and diplomatically robust and timely.
His speech on March 7, 1971, attended by 2 million, is one of the 301 documentary heritage items listed in the “Memory of the World Register.” Bangabandhu’s post-liberation role on the world stage as one of the effective leaders with the vision for a distinct stream of nations, based on social justice, honour, fellowship, and self-dignity, away from the ruthless and often violent monstrosity of capitalism and communism, would probably have become the chosen way of humanity’s travel through Earth, had it not been shattered by the unfortunate, untimely, and brutal early demise of this superhuman.
Deshbandhu’s advocacy and support for the deprived majority of humanity became a self-generated commission of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who dreamt of conquering through guidance, persuasion, and effective leadership, and establishing a fairer and freer human society.
The three Bengali saints are comparable to the three major rivers of Bengal -- Bangladesh sits almost entirely on their delta, creating the world’s largest fertile land that abounds in the richest accumulation of silt, blessed with the most fertile nutrient-rich agricultural and ecologically diverse eco-system.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is the heart and soul of that delta.
Raqibul Mohammad Anwar is Specialist Surgeon and Global Health Policy and Planning Expert, and Retired Colonel, Royal Army Medical Corps, UK Armed Forces.