Remembering Aroj Ali Matubbor - excerpts and quotes

Aparthib Zaman

From:  "Aparthib Zaman"
Date:  Thu Dec 18, 2003  1:47 am
Subject:  Remembering Aroj Ali Matubbor - excerpts and quotes

This Friday is the birthday of Aroj Ali Matubbor (3rd Poush,
according to the original Bengali calendar, the new revised
Bangla calendar by Bangla Academy changes all historical
Bangla dates. This discrepancy between WB/Bangla and BD
calendar is unfortunate. There should have been a unified
approach to such revision, IMHO), who has been honored with
the title "Mohaguru" (Great Guru) by Mukto-Mona as suggested
by Fatemolla.

Although I am not too thrilled at the idea of
celebrating birthday of adults just for the sake of it,
I have no problem using this occasion as an excuse to
quote from the great rationalist farmer of rural Bengal,
born in the year marking the beginning of a new century
(1900 AD), a century marked by astonishing progress
in science and technology. Readers can see Aroj
Matubbor's profile in Avijit's Mohaguru Site at:

I will cite from Matubbor's own quotes as well as bits
of interesting information as gleaned from the three
volume collected works of Aroj Ali Matubbor. Before I
present the quotes and informations, I just want to make
a comment on the three volume work. These are expensive
books, beyond the range of affordability for average
customers in Bangladesh. They seem to be ideally designed
to decorate the fancy bookshelfs in the living room of
the affluent, where countless books claiming religion
vindicates modern science are flooding the sidewalks,
selling at dirt cheap prices, less than one tenth the
price of a single volume of Matubbor's work. When Aroj
Ali during his life built his Aroj Manjeel library
for young underpriviledged readers, it is an irony that
after his death, his own works have been compiled and
only made available in a deluxe format priced
forbiddingly high, by Pathok Shomabesh publishers. It
is sad. Anyway let me get on with the excerpts from
Matubbor's collected works in Bangla, translating them
into English as accurately as I possibly can.

Page-135, Vol-1:

"This is the age of science and rationalism.
Science has established itself on earth by dint
of its own power and glory, not due to lobbying
or propaganda by anyone. Man is indebted to
science. But some folks wearing watches, glasses,
delivering speeches using mikes denigrate science
as materialism and scientists as materialists.
They don't realize that spiritualists(Bhabbabdi)
are dependents of the materialists. Science
sustains man. But religion does not sustain man.
Rather man sustains religion."

P-277, Vol-1: "Evolution is a proven fact"

P-294, Vol-2:

"Religion is faltering at each step with every
new discoveries of science. No religion today
can refute Darwin's theory of evolution, or the
social theory of Morgan, or the astronomy of
Copernicus-Galileo, or Newton's theory of
gravitation or Einsten's theory of relativity."

P-282,283, Vol-2:

"Exploitation free (Shoshonhin) society is not the
same as classless (Srenihin) society. Socialism
strives to achieve exploitation free society, not a
classless society."

"just as a human is not possible without its limbs,
so is the establishment of a classless society not

P-59, Vol-2:

"Some of the conclusions of science may appear as
bizarre and absurd to many. But none of the conclusions
of science is absurd, behind each conclusion lie
sufficient logic and evidence. There is no final
word in science. What is considered true today may
be falsified tomorrow, and what appears final today
may have to be revised tomorrow. Sciecne acknowledges
this possibility. This is the hallmark of science."

P-200, Vol-2:

"Mystical saints meditate with their eyes closed and
seated, in search of God for their own gratification,
not aware or concerned about the problems in the daily
lives of humans. But materialist scientists are not
just limited to their laboratories, thay are venturing
into outer space, under the earth, making observations
from the giant galaxies to the smallest atoms, all for
the welfare of humanity"

P-268, Vol-2:

"In a country where millions of children and women are
reduced to skeletons due to hunger, can't manage a morsel
of food in a day, what is the point of hajjis
(Muslim pilgrims) spending fortunes to go to pilgrimage
by air?

P-273, Vol-2: "A library is much better than a mosque, church or temple."

P-313, Vol-2:

"I hate doing things which I don't understand by following
others. To search for the truth is the passion of my life,
serving humanity is my mission. I hate blind belief and
superstition like I hate feces. I love humanism. I don't
wish to slumber in a boat anchored on the shore. I wish to
travel wide awake in a speeding boat. I praise innovations,
decry stagnation"

(Said while speaking at the sixth annual party of Aroj Monjeel

P-21, Vol-3:

"Kazi Shamsul Huda and us hadn't noticed yet, that in a
secular country how Hindus and Muslims are vying with each other
to prove who are more zealous in religion. That, competing with
the fanfare of Durga and Shwaroshshoti Puja, we have started
cleaning horse manure and cowdung from streets to erect canopies
for Quirat and Sirat sessions with even greater fanfare. Islamic
foundation has been established under Goverment's auspieces.
Our hearts trembled to see the new dimension added to secularism
by the proud presence of our national leader in the organization
of Islamic countries.

(He said this in the early 70's, during the reign of Sheikh
Mujib, when Mujib was attending the OIC summit)

P-19, Vol-3:

"The pir of Chormonai, who knew who Matubbor was and his
philosophy, nevertheless was very courteous towards him
and used to consult him for any problem with land

Comment: Amazing indeed. Such tolerance is now an alien
concept. Wonder where is the the then pir of Charmonai now.

P-25, Vol-3:

"Shafiqur Rahman wrote an essay on humanism while discussing
Aroj Ali matubbor, submitted it to Iconoclast magazine of USA.
Shafiq also had a sculptor build a torso of Matubbor."

Comment: Whatever happened to Shafiq? Who was the sculptor?

P-25, Vol-3:

"in 1975, the philosophy class of DU arranged a lecture
by Matubbor on life and soul arranged by Prof Dr. Nurul Islam.
The students were captivated by his lecture and by the
ease with which he answered their tough queations. They
profusely complimneted Matubbor after the lecture."

Comment: Echoes an era. Can we conceive of such a seminar

P-22, Vol-3:

"At this time the footsteps of famine could be heard. People
became more interested in food, rather than cleaning horse
manure and cow dung and Aroj Ali Matubbor was spared in this

Comment: The above was from the memoir of a close admirer of
Aroj Ali writing in the inroductory chapter (I forgot to include
his name when I wrote these notes, he is some professor at J.N.U
I don't have the book with me at this moment). It refers to time
of the great famine of 1973. The spectre of not just famine, but
of fundamentalism was already visible. What the author meant
above is that the specter of famine helped to divert the
attention of fanatics who had already eyed Matubbor for his
heretic ideas, and he was spared.

- Aparthib

  Replies Name/Email Date  
14146 Remembering Aroj Ali Matubbor - excerpts and quotes Belal Beg Thu  12/18/2003  
14147 Re: Remembering Aroj Ali Matubbor - excerpts and quotes fatemolla Thu  12/18/2003  

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