Saturday, January 22, 2022

Remembering the philosophical guide, Subramania Bharati on his centenary death anniversary

“The great Tamil poet, philosopher, and optimistic Subramania Bharati wrote that India will not only emerge as a great nation but also inspire others. India will show the whole world a way to get rid of all kinds of bondage”
-PM Narendra Modi on the legendary Subramania Bharati

Subramania Bharati, a name that will always be remembered in the history of India for inspiring people in the fight against the Britishers. He has left his legacy in Tamil Literature. He was not only a poet but a patriot, journalist, philosopher, reformer, and freedom fighter during the pre-independence era.

Bharati’s writings were the medium of his expression. As much as he used the English language, it brought him closer to his native language, Tamil. However, he also used his adeptness at poetry to the best of his ability to coax the masses in the south to join the great Indian struggle for independence.

PM Modi pays respect

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has time and again quoted the veteran poet. On the occasion of his 100th death anniversary and at the time when the country celebrates Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, PM Narendra Modi also remembered the patriot who ignited the spirit of freedom in his ways.

In his honour, the PM also announced the setting up of the Subramania Bharati Chair of Tamil studies at BHU, Kashi.

This is not the first time though, that PM Modi has remembered the late poet. During the International Bharati Festival 2020 address, PM Modi reminded the world how Bharati never knew of fear. He shed light on how Bharatiyar believed in a healthy mix between the ancient and the modern.

Bharati’s stayed true to his roots while also looking towards the future. He considered Tamil language and motherland India as his two eyes. He sang songs of the greatness of ancient India, the greatness of the Vedas and Upanishads, our culture, tradition, and our glorious past. But at the same time, he also warned us that simply living in the past glory is not enough. One needs to develop a scientific temper, a spirit of inquiry, and march towards progress.

PM Modi also mentioned Bharatiyar during the Ekta Diwas Celebrations in 2020 at Kevadia, Gujarat by mentioning one of his poems praising India.

Early Life

Son of Chinnasamy Iyer and Lakshmi Ammal, Subramania Bharati was born on December 11, 1882, in Ettayapuram, South India. He lost his father when he was only 16.

Bharati found his mentor and inspiration in Bal Gangadhar. He exhibited a knack for writing poetry at a very young age. He started composing poems at the age of 8.

Later in his life, he got married to Chellammal and had two daughters, Thangammal and Sakunthala. He was the unofficial editor at India Weekly according to the book Subramania Bharati: A unique biography by VaRa translated in English by Amshan Kumar. 

Mahakavi Bharathiyar

Also referred to by the name of Mahakavi Bharathiyar, meaning Great Poet of Tamil, Bharati’s name is counted amongst the most celebrated poets of the country. He was an expert at both prose and poetry writing.

Subramania Bharati mostly indulged in secular, political, and spiritual writings. He was also the first Asian poet to sing the glory of the Bolshevik revolution.

His poems not only are an ode to nature but contain a child-like innocence. His first poem, a sonnet was published in 1904. His collection of work has been published in 16 volumes.

Bharati: The literary giant

Subramania Bharati is the epitome of how to use one’s voice and abilities for the right reasons. He strongly advocated for the liberation of women, which was far ahead of his time. His patriotic poems aroused the spirit of unity among the people during the British raj. His writings are considered a pioneer in Tamil journalism and literature.

Tamil cinema often uses the songs and poems composed by Bharati. It has become a staple in the literary and musical repertoire of Tamil artists throughout the world. He also paved way for modern blank verse. His love for Tamil is obvious through the many writing describing how Tamil is beautiful.

The Journalist

The British government was looking for the editor of India weekly for publishing articles that were contempt in nature. Subramania Bharati had to flee to Puducherry (a french colony then) in 1908 to avoid arrest by the British government. It was here that he produced his masterworks Kuyil, Kannan Pattu, and Panchali Sabatham.

He worked as the assistant editor in Swadesamitran newspaper in 1920. As a journalist, he risked his life to take chances.

From Prasar Bharati Archives

In a timeless conversation on the late poet, Dr. Kailash shares how the late Tamil literary giant, Subramania Bharati reminds him of Kabir, the saint. He says, Subramania Bharati is a mixture of Kabir, Nirala, Meera, and Panth. In the conversation, he talks about Bharati’s writing style at length and his love and devotion to Lord Krishna.

Watch the complete episode on Subramania Bharati from the archives of Prasar Bharati. Click here

Also, check the following links from All India Radio YouTube playlist of compositions of Subramania Bharati

Respects & Recognition

The Government of India in 1987 instituted the highest National Subramania Bharati Award conferred along with the Ministry of Human Resource Development (now Education), annually conferred on writers of outstanding works in Hindi literature.

Bharathiar University, a state university has been named after the poet in Coimbatore. Subramania Bharati’s commemorative stamp was also issued by the Indian Post in his respect.

Va.Ra wrote a classic Tamil biography on the greatest poet of all time, “Mahakavi Bharatiyar”. It was first serialized in ‘Gandhi’ magazine in 1933-1934 and subsequently revised and published as a book by Sakthi Karyalayam in 1944.

Bharati breathed his last in 1921, in Chennai at the mere age of 38. In the words of PM Modi, in such a short span, he gave so much that today his writings are a guiding light to us towards a glorious future.

Leaders pouring in their respect

Check our leaders paying respect to the great Mahakavi on his death anniversary.

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