Published:  12:01 AM, 17 May 2020

An intellectual with cult status in Bangladesh's intellectual firmament

An intellectual with cult status in Bangladesh's intellectual firmament Prof Dr Anisuzzaman


With his passing on 14 May, 2020, the beacon light Prof Dr Anisuzzaman, once a living legend of Bangladesh pulls-out.The Bengali legendsuccumbs to deadly Coronavirus maladyat the age of 83.

He was as humble as he was generous, tireless and talented. He is credited with being the teacher of living legend before his death. It was one of my better ideas but good ideas are not that hard. Bringing him to fruition is hard. Living legends would not be what it is without Anisuzzaman Sir.

Famous teacher and also the nation's conscience Prof Dr Anisuzzaman, fondly known as Anisuzzaman Sir.

Newspapers report say that, "It is with deep sadness that we announce to you the loss of Anisuzzaman Sir.

'Born in 1937 in Kolkata, Prof Anisuzzaman was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Chicago (1964-65), a Commonwealth Academic Staff Fellow at the University of London (1974-75), and was associated with research projects of the United Nations University (1978-83).

A Professor Emeritus at the Dhaka University, Dr Anisuzzaman taught Bangla literature both at the Dhaka University (1959-69 and 1985-2003) and Chittagong University (1969-85).

He was a Visiting Fellow at the University of Paris (1994) and the North Carolina State University (1995) and a Visiting Professor at the Viswa Bharati (2008-09).

Dr Anisuzzaman participated in the Language Movement, the 1969 Mass Upsurge and the Liberation War. After the country's independence, he became a member of the National Education Commission with Kudrat-E-Khuda as its chief.

He authored many books in Bangla and English, including Muslim Manas O Bangla Sahitya (Dhaka 1964), Swaruper Sandhane (Dhaka 1975), Purono Bangla Gadya (Dhaka 1984), Factory Correspondence and other Bangla documents in the India Office Library and Records (London 1981), Creativity, Reality and Identity (Dhaka 1993), Cultural Pluralism (Calcutta 1993) and Identity, Religion and Recent History (Calcutta 1995).

Dr Anisuzzaman had conducted outstanding research on the history of Bangla literature and won many international awards in recognition of his contributions to literature.

He was a recipient of the Bangla Academy award for research (1970) and the Ekushe Padak, an award given by the State, for his contribution to education (1983). The Rabindra Bharati conferred upon him an honorary D Litt (2005) and the University of Calcutta the Sarojini Basu Medal (2008).

He was a member of the Planning Commission to the government of Bangladesh during the Liberation War and the President of the Bangla Academy afterwards. He was elected a Fellow of the Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.'

His death has been met by sadness from intellectual circles and his lovers, especially his fans, who hailed him as a great human who left a huge legacy behind for Bangladesh.

His legacy should be an inspiration to the upcoming generation in Bangladesh. He is a real inspiration and influence who young people can learn a lot from him.

We are so obsessed with young culture or new talents that we forget to celebrate our legends like Anisuzzaman, one of the pioneers of Bangladesh's intellectual class who believed in the expression of Bengali culture. We need to celebrate them more while they are still alive.

Many of his fans worldwide took to social media to express their condolences as they mourned their idol's death.

When we examine the importance of myths and legends we are not merely interested in how they make people or students historically and culturally conscious but also how they develop their literacy abilities, mental capacities and imagination. Thus the evaluation of the relevance of myths and legends in students' literature is premised against two issues. The first which recognizes the folkloricity of myths and legends justifies their relevance against the general reason why folk literature is of value in contemporary students' literature.

The second justification drawn from specific reference to myths and legends foregrounds benefits students accrue from reading the selected historicizing and culturalising stories. It should be pointed out from the outset that such captivating and intriguing stories as myths and legends are not only relevant to students' literature now.

Throughout the course of human history, the stories were at the centre of every society's worldview. In spite of the advancement and accumulation of scientific knowledge regarding the nature of the universe, the value of these traditional tales to contemporary students' literature and society at large remains critical and cannot be over-emphasized.

The story of Prof Anisuzzaman is important to contemporary students and intellectuals in a number of ways. First, the legend of Sir is largely an embodiment of Bangladesh's pre-colonial history. It helps in the development of them historical consciousness. Without the narrative of Bengali culture and history is dull, incomplete and uncarbonated. He should be commended for this realisation and for his decision to retell the legend in a manner students and new generation intellectuals can comprehend.

Second, every nation expects its people to be patriotic and to learn to love their country right from infancy. Children are the leaders of tomorrow; they are the rightful inheritors of their nations. They, therefore, ought to learn to love their country from a tender age. The inspirational story of Alimuzzaman imparts children with an awareness of the distinctiveness of their nation among others in terms of its historical and cultural identity and destiny, thus inculcating patriotism and a spirit of nationalism in them.

Through the courage, determination and selflessness epitomized in the person of Prof Dr Anisuzzaman, children are inspired to do the same in order to serve their people and nation's interests. In the writer's words Sir is "is an inspiration to the young, for his determination and his love for his country.

Third, the Anisuzzaman narrative is also an inspiration to the girl child. In many cultures of the world, women have been considered non-achievers, inferior to men and incapable to taking challenging responsibilities in society. A young girl who reads the story of Sir is motivated to succeed and to have confidence in them as women. Indeed, the powerful leverage of the influence of the Anisuzzaman legend on Bangladesh's society has been evident throughout history.

Today Prof Anisuzzaman remains an icon and cultural hero inspiring both young men and women in their endeavours. Equally children become conscious of their cultural identity through reading this heroic narrative punctuated as it does with rituals and religious shrines. Generally, many children are born within a particular cultural milieu which they inherit from their ancestors. It is the culture which they claim as theirs and which gives them a cultural identity.

Despite the phenomenon of globalization in which some cultures are gradually being effaced by Bengali cultural processes children still need to know their cultural identity before they know and begin to appreciate those of others.

They have a right to know about their cultural identity. Children's books containing stories of the heroes and heroines of their cultures can play a critical role in teaching children about their ancestral origin and cultural identity.

We can emphasize that legend like him as both stories in history and stories in contemporary Bangladesh's history are relevant for children's cultural, historical and moral consciousness.

The stories promote patriotism and inspire children to serve the cause of their nations and communities. Furthermore, they provide children with a framework to comprehend the historical contradictions in their society and how to come to terms with them. They also motivate children to engage in cross-cultural analysis thereby understanding and appreciating other cultures and their historical and cultural experiences.  

He is a philosophical epic on convictions in times of crisis in our glorious Liberation War of 1971 to establish Bangladesh and thereafter, our nation's Founding Father - Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's brutal murder on 15 August, 1975.

In a career spanning above eight decades, the legend has never altered his focus on serving Bengalis.He did not worry about crossover. Just super served, super served, super served. Anything that affects the Bengalis and Bangladesh, that's what he always did. Just worried about connecting to people and their needs.

He did not worry about crossover. Just super served, super served, super served. Anything that affects the Bengalis and Bangladesh, that's what he always did. Just worried about connecting to people and their needs.

He is no more with us, but his soul remains in the intellectual circles and through his immense commendable jobs of Bangladesh as a legend.

Our conscience idol what a tragedy! May he rest in peace in heaven.


The writer is an independent political observer who writes on politics, political and human-centered figures, current and international affairs.


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