Harinath, Kangal

Harinath, Kangal (1833-1896) journalist, poet and singer of baul songs, was born in 1833 in the village of kumarkhali in kushtia district. His real name was Harinath Majumdar, but he was better known as Kangal Harinath. He was also known as Kangal Fikir Chand or Fikir Chand Baul.

Harinath went to the local English medium school but could not continue because of poverty. In 1855 he set up a vernacular school in his village with the help of his friends and taught there. A year later a girls' school was established at Kumarkhali at Kangal Harinath's initiative.

Harinath struggled all his life for the welfare of the common people and to protect them from oppression. He took up journalism to promote the cause of oppressed and helpless farmers. He started writing in the sangbad prabhakar and in 1863 started publishing a monthly journal, grambarta prakashika. The journal, later published as a fortnightly and still later as a weekly, was priced at one paisa and came out for 18 years with the financial support of Rani swarna kumari devi of rajshahi. It used to publish news about the oppression of farmers by indigo cultivators and zamindars, and earned considerable fame because of its bold journalism. It also used to carry articles on literature, philosophy and science. Harinath set up a printing press in 1873 for convenience in printing his journal, which, however, eventually folded for lack of finance and because of the strict printing regulations of the government.

A disciple of lalon shah, Harinath started a Baul group in 1880 and named it 'Kabgal Fikir Chander Dal'. He is particularly remembered for the large number and popularity of the Baul songs that he composed. His lyrics and tunes were very simple but his thoughts were profound. In his songs Harinath introduced himself as kangal (fakir or beggar) and the word became part of his name. One of his famous songs is 'Hari din to gelo sandhya halo, par karo amare' (O Lord, the day is done, evening has come, help me across safely). Between 1883 to 1893, he published his Baul songs in 16 volumes under the title Kangal Fikirchand Fakirer Gitavali. Harinath's disciples included akshay kumar maitreya, Dinendranath Roy and Jaladhar Sen.

Harinath wrote 18 books, among them, Vijaybasanta (1859), Charucharitra (1863), Kavitakaumudi (1866), Vijaya (1869), Kavikalpa (1870), Akrur Sangbad (1873), Sabitri Natika (1874), Chittachapala (1876), Kangaler Brahmandaved (1887-95) and Matrmahima (1896).

Harinath died on 16 April 1896. His complete writings were published posthumously, in 1901, as Harinath Granthavali. [Shipra Dastider]