Hason Raja (Bengali: হাসন রাজা, literary meaning - Hason the King), also known as Dewan Hason Raja, was a Bengali poet, mystic philosopher and folksongs writer and composer. He gained international recognition few years after his death, when Nobel prize laureate, poet Rabindranath Tagore mentioned him in his lectures at Oxford University. Tagore said; “ We realise it through admiration and love, through hope that soars beyond the actual, beyond our own span of life into an endless time wherein we live of all men.” and “It is a village poet of East Bengal who preaches in a song the philosophical doctrine that the universe has its reality in its relation to the Person. ”
Hason Raja was the son of Dewan Ali Raja, who was a direct descendant of the Hindu king Raja Birendraram Singhdev (later converted to Islam and became known as Raja Babu Khan). Ali Raja’s fifth and last marriage in 1853 was with Hurmuth Jahan Bibi who was the mother of Dewan Hason Raja. Dewan Hason Raja Choudhury was born on 21 December 1854 in the village of Lakkansree, the part of which is now part of Sunamgonj Municipal town under Sylhet division. Since his childhood he used to live alongside his mother in Sunamganj when mother Humuth Jahan Bibi found her only one son to have had been overprotected within the net of her people serving her land-lordship. While Hason Raja was at the age of six/seven, his father Dewan Ali Raja started living away from his son and wife by staying at Rampasha of Bishwanath (to its southeast angle) 33 miles away from Sunamganj for seven to eight months a year in the aim to supervise and manage his paternal properties and the rest three to four months he used to live alongside them. The death of Hason's elder step-brother, Ubeydur Raja, followed by the death of his father Ali Raja (in about 40 days gap), put the power and responsibility of the whole family upon Hason at a very young age. This put a beginning to his religious pursuits and the life of an "Ascetic King".
Despite his financially privileged upbringing, Hason is credited with setting up a number of local schools and religious centres like mosques, temples and churches, and he is said to be widely engaged in charities within his immediate communities. Dewan Hason Raja donated a vast land properties for the well-being of the people. Hason Raja was more interested about well-being and protection of birds and animals life. So he spent a lot of his money in those lives. On 12 June 1897 one of the biggest earthquake happened to shake up Assam and Sylhet area. The largest known Indian interpolate earthquake at 8.8 Richter scale resulted in the destructions of structure over much of the Plateau and surrounding areas, and caused widespread liquefaction and flooding in the Brahmaputra and Sylhet floodplains. Hason Raja found out many of his kins and relatives as well as his people wounded and killed. His thatched house was fully damaged. At his age of forty three he lost many of his tamed birds and animals. The earthquake left a big impact on his mind, life, philosophy and his music. This made him looking at the short length of his life-time into a deeper realization.
“They say my home is no good
What home shall I make in the void?
In a better dwelling how long could I stay?
Into mirror I look my hair turned grey.
thus Hason Raja sets up no house and door
Rather cries of where Allah keeps him in lure
If Hason Raja been aware of where he would be living
He would make nice castle and building”
Hason Raja died in 1922, years before his contribution to the poetry of Bengal was mentioned in lectures at Oxford University by Nobel poet laureate Rabindranath Tagore 1930.
Two museums were established in his name in two places. One namely, Hason Raja Museum sponsored by "Hason Raja Museum Trust" at his birthpalce Lahhansree, Sunamganj displays a good number of his memorabilia to visitors on daily basis and another namely, Museum of Rajas' at Raja - Kunjo, Sylhet, Bangladesh; where many historical exhibits of Hason Raja, are displayed. The sponsor of this spectacular Museum of Rajas' is 'Educationist Dewan Talibur Raja Trust'.
Exploring his Brahma, the person, the man, Tagore happened to come across with Hason Raja in his writing and got astonished by the vastness of his thought. He translated in the following lines:
‘The sky and the earth are born of mine own eyes,
The hardness and softness,
the cold and the heat are the products
of mine own body,
The sweet smell and the bad are of my own nostrils.’
This poet sings of the Eternal Person within him, coming out and appearing before his eyes, just as the Vedic Rishi speaks of the Person, who is in him, dwelling also in the heart of the sun:
‘I have seen the vision,
the vision of mine own revealing itself,
coming out from within me’. ” (R Tagore 1930: 114,115)
Hason's poetry reflects his spiritual pursuits and the ever-changing nature of the world. Poet Rabindranath was overwhelmed with the depth of Hason Raja’s thought, the insight, the supreme truth and the ultimate goal.
Tagore found that individual in Hason Raja by saying that “The concrete form is a more perfect manifestation than the atom, and man is more perfect as a man than where he vanishes in an original indefiniteness. This is why the Ishopanishat says : "Truth is both finite and infinite at the same time, it moves and yet moves not, it is in the distant, also in the near, it is within all objects and without them." (R Tagore 1930: 115, 116)
In Popular Culture
It was reported, that the shootings another Bengali film "Hason Raja" for the second time, directed by Ruhul Amin has already started in 2008. Hason Raja is portrayed by an Indian actor, Mithun Chakraborty.
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