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Monday, September 11, 2017

Remembering Mahakavi Subramanya Barathiyar

Sept 11 and Dec 11 – are  to be eternally remembered for that iconoclastic freedom fighter - born in a small village called Ettayapuram on Dec 11' 1882 ~ and passed away on this day in 1921 -  the man who breathed freedom struggle.  He had a troubled existence, constantly chased by the British Govt,  was on the run – still his indomitable will and his concerted action mobilized masses, making them aware of the need for freedom in the Southern  India.




சுப்ரமணிய பாரதியார் ஒரு உன்னத பிறவி.   கவிதைகள் வாயிலாக மக்களின் மனதில் விடுதலை உணர்வை ஊட்டியவர். இவர் ஒரு கவிஞர் மட்டுமல்லாமல் ஒரு எழுத்தாளர்பத்திரிக்கை ஆசிரியர்சமூக சீர்திருத்தவாதி - தன்  காலத்துக்கு  மிகவும் பல்லாண்டுகள்  பிறகு நடக்க வல்லவை பற்றி  கூர் நோக்குடன் சிந்தித்தவர்.  குறைந்த காலமே வாழ்ந்தாலும் சாதனைகள் செய்தவர். இளமையிலேயே கவிபாடும் திறமை பெற்றிருந்த சுப்பிரமணியன்எட்டையபுர சமஸ்தானப் புலவர்கள் அவையில் பாரதி என்ற பட்டம் பெற்றார். அன்று முதல் இவர்சுப்பிரமணிய பாரதியார்என அழைக்கப்பெற்றார்.

Mahakavi Subramanya Barathi…. the greatest of modern poets  acclaimed that ‘writing poems is his profession’ – but lived the life of fighting for independence.  He was proficient in Sanskrit, Telugu, English, and French. He wrote with felicity in English. The poet was closely associated with many Swadeshi leaders in the south, including V.O. Chidambaram Pillai. When the British Raj clamped down on the Swadeshis, he took refuge in Pondicherry in 1908; Aurobindo and V.V.S. Iyer also sought shelter there later… .. he was to return to Madras and to Triplicane later,  his last years were tragic; he died in obscurity in September 1921.

Bharati was a handsome man, fair in complexion, a little taller than five foot six, his nose was particularly pretty, the nose was carved out becomingly on his face; the nose was not bent like that of Caesar or Rajagopalachari. Bharti’s eyes were red-lined like the lotus flower. The eyes that were the centre of the face flowed like to balls of fire. It never satiated one to look at them.  Though Bharati was handsome in appearance, he was not very strong in structure.

With due credit to Mandayam Srinivasachariyar and Thirumalachariar, “ India ” magazine resumed publication within a month of Bharati’s arrival in Pondicherry – imagine those days of Imperial rule and their harsh methods – yet the Mandayam brothers managed to disassemble, transport and set up their printint equipments enabling resumption of the magazine. “ India “ magazine carried the motto “ Liberte, egalite, fratenite, “ and appeared every Saturday from Etranger Street in Pondicherry.  “ India ” magazine became successful enough to claim a circulation of over 4,000 copies weekly, literally a feat for a vernacular newspaper in those days. The picture which “ India ” carried every week on its first page described metaphorically some important political event of the week.

Bharati’ strongly believed that propaganda was the best method to fight the British. He insisted on propaganda as a successful political method later in 1921, when one crore of rupees were collected for the freedom movement by Gandhi throughout the country. He asked the leaders to spend more money on propagating the ideals of Nationalism and the evils of the british rule in India.

Bharathiyar loved nature – at Pondy, amidst  the voices of crows, interrupting are the noises of parrots and doves, in the street the noise of a kavadi carrier, the sound of the temple-conch at a distance, the proud crowing of a cock in the street, infrequently the chatter of women walking down the road, the cries of children in neigh boring houses, a beggar’s voice calling out ‘Narryayana, Gopala’…. Bharati transformed all these noises into varied forms, in making his poetry, and was capable of preserving his inner harmony so that all these noises turned to become poetic elements, ceasing to be mere disturbances.

On November 22, 1916, Pondicherry was hit by a violet storm; there was a great loss of life and property throughout the city. In Muthialpet, the cocoanut grove of Krishnasamy Chettiar alone stood undestroyed by the violet winds. Bharti found in this an act of compassion on the part of God Vayu, as indeed it was a poet’s abode and property of a poor but good many.  

Bharati, by nature, was too impatient to wait for good things to happen or evil things to be destroyed in their own time. Great people’s personalities are impacted by the qualities of his ancestors too, his birth-place and the surroundings in which he is brought up. Bharathi was born in Ettayapuram, in South India, a place well-known for the great arts of poetry and music.  Bharati’s father, Chinnasamy Iyer, was an erudite Tamil Scholar and skilled in modern engineering and mathermatics. He had tremendous influence in the court of the Maharaja, and so Bharati was able to mingle with the scholars at the court. Bharati has described in his Chinna Sankaran Kathai, how he was influenced by the Ettayapuram court. Though Bharati was a born-poet and gifted with the qualities of a genius, he learnt the nuances of Tamil language and poetry through his association with Tamil scholars of the court of Ettayapuram. The title ‘Bharati’, a name of the Goddess of Knowledge, was conferred upon him at the age of eleven by the court, in approval of his ability to compose poems on any subject, at any moment. He surprised even older poets of his generation with his readiness to compose.

After living in exile, Bharathi came back to Madras vigorously determined to fight for India’s freedom.  Life and people perhaps were never kind to the sublime man.  It is sadly read that Bharati’s efforts at running magazines stopped before the year 1910 came to a close. The next five years were difficult years for the poet. He tried to publish his poems in book-form. He had published two volumes of his national songs earlier, one in 1908 (Swadesa Githangal ) and the other in 1909 (janma Boomi). Another collection of philosophical poems appeared in the year 1914 (Mada Mani Vachagam). Most of Bharati’s great works were written in 1912. The Tamil translation of the Bhagavad Gita, Kannan-Pattu, Kuyil-Pattu and Panchali sabatham were among his other works in this period. The first part of Panchali Sabatham was published that year. During these years poverty played a major role in Bharati’s life.

On August 4,1921, he wrote an article in “ Swadesamitran ” describing his Erode visit, and on the problem of conquering death and living in eternity. In a poem addressed to the god of death, Yama, (“Kalanukka Uraitah”) Bharati wrote that he would never let death come anywhere near him, and that he would kick death with his foot should death dare approach him.  History written by British has it that the elephant of Sri Parthasarathi temple trampled him to death ~ though an incident of elephant brushing Mahakavi Subramanya Barathiyar did occur, he lived for more than 6 months after that reported incident – and most probably died to failing health, derived from the boot blows and harsh treatment meted out in prison by British authorities – which is comfortably hidden in history. 

Sept. 11, is remembered World over for various reasons ! - I have been posting fervently on Mahakavi Subrahmaniya Barathi  – for some years now stating he  passed away on September 11, 1921, at the young age of 39. Perhaps it was on the night of 11th  and technically 12th  going by English calendar.  Remember seeing the plaque in front of the Bharathiyar Memorial at TP Kovi Street, Triplicane  also etched  as 11th Sept, 1921 – but a couple of years back   – it stands apparently altered as 12th Sept. 1921.!!!!

1882, டிசம்பர், 11ல் எட்டயபுரத்தில் பிறந்த மகாகவி பாரதி, 1921, செப்டம்பர், 11ல், சென்னையில் இறந்தார் என்பது வரலாறு. தமிழக, புதுச்சேரி அரசுகள், செப்டம்பர், 11ம் தேதியை, பாரதியின் நினைவு நாளாக அனுசரித்து வருகின்றன. சென்னை மாநகராட்சி பதிவேட்டில், செப்டம்பர், 12ல், இறந்தார் என, பதிவாகி உள்ளது, இந்த நிகழ்வை உறுதிப்படுத்தும் வகையில், தஞ்சைத் தமிழ்ப் பல்கலைக் கழகத்தின், பாரதி பாடல் ஆய்வுப் பதிப்பு நுாலிலும், 1921, செப்டம்பர் 12, 01:30 மணி என்றே குறிப்பிடப்பட்டுள்ளது.

மஹாகவி வாழ்ந்த மண்ணில் வாழ்வதை பெருமையாக கருதும் - பாரதியின் பற்றாளன்
திருவல்லிக்கேணி வாழ் ஸ்ரீனிவாசன் சம்பத்குமார்


Biblio : various sources specifically : www.mahakavibharathiyar.info/vijayabharathi

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