Arakani King a Lover or a Murderer of the Suja Family

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Dr.Abid Bahar
   Arakani King: A Lover or a Murderer of the Suja Family? Abid Bahar Rabindra Nath Tagore's short story Dalia is about the story of Shah Suja's daugher Amina andthe king of Arakan. Shah Suja and his family were given the promise of asylum in Arakan by theKing and were also promised to be sent to Mecca. Thus, Suja began his unfortunate journey fromChittagong through the now called Shah Suja Road. As they arrived in Arakan, Suja's daughter  Amina was asked to give marrage to the King. When refused, the entire family was massacred atthe order of the King. All of Suja's children were brutally killed by axe. Bhattacharya says, She[Amena] was forced to eat ngapi, a strong flavoured [smelly] fish paste, which she apparently didnot like (Sen, 1930, 504-505). The news of the death of the family and the subsequent lamentation by the people of Bengal was widely spread among the rural population of presentBangladesh. The omnipresence of words like Magh and Barma and so forth in Chittagong folkpoems, and indeed across entire Bengal, may be seen as another indication of the central role of  Arakan in the construction of Bengali identity. The consequence of the event led the Moghul determination to free Chittagong from Mogh piracy.In 1666 Shaista Khan, the Uncle of Shah Suja, defeated the Moghs in Fotee Ga,(the villagewhere a war was won) now known as Potenga in Chittagong. Ironically, Suja's unfortunate deathbrought the end of Mogh lawlessness in lower Bengal. In 1784 Burma finally occupied the tinykingdom survived on piracy and made it into a province of Burma. Tagore interpreting the usual story of Suja's murder by the Arakanese king, into a love story of an unprecedented character remained largely incomprehensible. Bhattacharya comments InTagore's yet another work Mukut (Crown) the strong message of the Arakanese pride has beenupheld. If we see the mind of Tagore, the Brahmo, and his paradigm, we see Tagore's devil inthe detail. After reading Dhalia, I personally wondered why did a Bengali Indian poet known to be secular ,'humanist and progressive also known as a poet of humanity turns a brutal murderer into alover? The King was not even an Indian for him to twist the story. The answer to the Tagore-lovers on this matter could not be hypothetical but apparent. It is all in his paradigm. It wasTagore's Indian Buddhist connection. It is clear, Tagore as a culturally religious Brahmo, was abeliever of Hindu- Buddhist civilization. Surprisingly to Tagore, it was as if the Buddhist kingwas a nonviolent Buddhist not a brutal murderer of the Suja family. “In reality, the King was aTheraveda Buddhist, a follower of the fundamentalist political sect of Buddhism. The ballad SujaTanayar Vilapa - i.e. lamentations of Suja's daughter – for generations these ballads were sung inthe remotest villages of Eastern Bengal. Swapna Bhattacharya (Chakraborti) says, One of theintensions of his [Tagore's] visits to countries like Siam, Burma, Island Southeast Asia, Japan andChina was to bind those countries deeper with India where Buddhism could be the torchbearer. The historical reality is that after the Buddhist emperor Asokh's death, there was the rise of Hindufundamentalism in India against Buddhism, and Buddhists enmass were expelled from India.Historically speaking, during the British period, we see the penetration of Hindu influence inBurma for a Hindu-Buddhist alliance against Muslims resulting from mid 1930s there appeared tobe a succinct polarization between Buddhists and Muslims of Burma, ... U Ottama, the leadingPongyi activist and friend of India who led the entire Pongyi movement during 1920s, becametwice the President of Hindu Mahasabha in 1930s. Swapna says, “We should however restrainourselves to stamp out this revolutionary monk as orthodox and anti-Muslim. He demanded a closer cooperation between Hindus and Buddhists. U Ottama was from Arakan. Here also in thepretensions of being progressive the Hindu fundamentalist influence is apparent. From here wecan see Tagore's Brahmo paradigm is increasingly becoming intelligible. Surprisingly, Aung SanSuu ki who studied in Delhi during the 60's also believes in the paradigm of a Hindu-Buddhistcivilization. Today, Muslims in Burma are only 4% of the population but are considered as the #1enemy. Could it be a result of Brahmo influence in Burma? We know that the Hindu extremist  Tilok was exiled in Burma by the British. Further research should be done to find the sources of Hindu fundamentalism and the anti-Muslim influence in Burma.In British India, in the Hindu conceptualization of a Nehru's, and Patel's Akhanda Bharata,Muslims were uneasily felt and Hindu Mohashova even didn't want not tolerate them. But manyMuslim philosophers and leaders like Iqbal even sang the famous song of Hindustan hamara…were for a Hindu- Muslim civilization. Iqbal remained committed to the idea until the 40th's. Thedisillusioned poet later on became the dreamer of Pakistan. Tagore by the way wrote Amer Sonar Bangla... song during the early 20th century to the tune of Swadeshi's anti-partitionmovement. The song was adopted in the 70's as the national anthem of Bangladesh. During the30's Tagore composed the song “Gono Mono Jona... to be the national anthem of India. His wasfor a Hindu civilization. Is his paradigm any different from today's so-called progressive minded Bangladeshi Hindu-Buddhist- Christian Oiko Parished's that is alligned with India?Unlike the other chauvinistic Brahmos, fortunately Tagore felt Muslim presence in India andtolerated them. In his short story namaj, he beautifully described the Muslim peasant praying onthe boat in the Padma. The peasant was his description of the beautiful nature of the PadmaRiver.REFERENCESTagore, Rabindranath. 1988. Dalia. In Rabindra Rachanavali , Govt. of West Bengal PublicationTarling. Nicholas. 1992. The Cambridge History of Southeast Asia. Cambridge:CambridgeUniversity Press ( 2 volumes)Swapna Bhattacharya (Chakraborti), Islam in Arakan: An interpretation from the Indianperspective: History and the Present, 2006.Sen, Dinesh Chandra. 1986. History of Bengali Language and Literature. Delhi: Gian PublishingHouseStuart, J. 1919. Arakan Eighty Years Ago. 1919. Vol. 9, in Journal of Burma Research Society:27-31 KHRG (Karen Human Rights group) website: in its” Background on Burma. (Talks about Burmanidentification of Muslims as the enemy #1),June23, 2007.
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