|SNIPPETS OF INFORMATION |
PERSONALITIES - Nationalist and Poet - Mahakavi Bharathiar
11 Sep 2021
Tamil Nadu chief minister M K Stalin made an announcement to
commemorate poet Subramania Bharati’s 100th death anniversary. The government
will observe the centenary that falls on Sept 11 as "Mahakavi Day."
C. Subramania Bharati was born in Ettayapuram, South India, in 1882, and
died in Madras, in 1921. Deceased at the early age of thirty-eight,
Bharati left behind a remarkable legacy of poetry and prose writings. Bharati’s writings sparked a
Renaissance in Tamil literature. While Bharati drew his inspiration from
ancient sources of Indian culture, his works were truly innovative in
both form and expression.
Bharati was an ardent Indian nationalist, an impassioned advocate of
social reform, a visionary poet, and a mystic. He visualized the
imminent liberation of Indians that would free them both from imperial
rule by the British – at a time when Britain was the most powerful
nation on earth – and from oppressive social customs in India.
Unfortunately, Bharati was persecuted for his convictions both by the
British and by the orthodox elements of his own society, who treated him
as an outcast. He was exiled from British India in 1908 and went to
live in Pondicherry, a French colony in South India. He spent ten years
in exile there and eventually returned to Madras, where he died.
After Indian independence, Bharati’s contribution to Indian culture was
widely recognized. There is no major city in India that does not have a
street named after him, or a statue erected in his honour. Though much
remains to be done in the area of translation, a sample f Bharati’s
works has been translated into every major Indian language, as well as
European languages including English, French, German, Russian, and
Czech. A postage stamp has been issued in his honour.
In recognition of Bharati’s exceptional contribution to Indian culture,
the government of India ultimately conferred upon him the title of
Indian “National Poet.”
Source: professormira.com (Mira is the great-granddaughter of C.
Subramania Bharati. Her mother is Dr. S. Vijaya Bharati, daughter of
Thangammal Bharati, the elder of the poet’s two daughters)
Excerpts from an annotated biography of Bharati, available at subramaniabharati.com,
a blog maintained by Dr. S. Vijaya Bharati, a granddaughter of Mahakavi
Bharati; she is a daughter of Thangammal Bharati, Bharati’s eldest
(PDF file available for download)
In 1893, at the age of eleven, the title “Bharati” was
conferred upon him at the Court of the Maharajah of Ettayapuram. He
started reading Tamil literature from young age, wrote
poetry at the age of seven. As a young boy, he would discuss Tamil
literature with the elderly scholars of the Samastana, challenge in
writing poetry, as and when requested by the scholars.
In 1897, married to Chellamma from the village of Kadayam,
Tirunelveli Dist. Bharati was 14 and Chellamma was 7. Bharati writes
about this “child” marriage in his autobiogrohical poem called Kanavu
(Dream). He was against the marriage, but could not do anything to stop
it. In any case, he was happy to participate in the function and enjoyed
it, says Chellamma in her book, Bharatiyar Charitiram (Biography of
When the Maharajah of Ettayapuram visited Benares, on his way back from
the Delhi Durbar (conducted by Lord Curzon) he invited Bharati to come
back to Ettayapuram and work for him in his Samastana. Bharati agreed
and came to his birth place to work for the Maharajah. His job was to
read newspapers, magazines, and poetry and to spend time with the
Maharajah. Eventually, he was displeased with the “authoritative”
environment at the palace, had a disagreement with the Maharajah, and
left the Samastana.
Bharati joined Swadesamitran, as its sub-editor. G. Subramania Iyer, a
staunch member of the Indian national Congress, published Swadesamitran
from Chennai. He was a founder of “The Hindu,” the English newspaper in
When P. Vaidyanatha Iyer asked Bharati to join Chakravartini, a Tamil
monthly as its editor, Bharati was holding a job as Sub-Editor of
Swadesamitran; in spite of that he decided to join Chakravartini as he
thought that he could handle both
magazines at the same time. The magzine was dedicated to women especially, and
Bharati announced in his magazine that the goal of Chakravartini was to
“improve” the situation of women in Tamilnadu. He wrote a two-line poem
(Kural) under the
title of the magazine: “when knowledge of women is raised, womanhood
becomes great; when this happens, the country becomes great”.
Bharati quit both Swadesamitran and Chakravartini in order to join India as its Editor.
1906 - Editor (unnamed) “India”
1908 - Tamil weekly, Chennai
1906 - Editor: The Bala Bharat, English weekly
Bala-Bharata (or)Young India, Editor (?), English monthly, Chennai
1905 - Bharati attended Congress at Benares
1906 - Attended Calcutta Congress; met Nivedita Devi who taught him the
nature of dedication and service to this Bharata-Shakti through the
medium of “silence,” as he puts it in his poem Nivedita Devi Thudi.
Bharati called Nivedita as his Gurumani, and dedicated his Swadesa
Githangal to her. “Like Sri Krishna showed his Visva Rupa to Arjuna,
the guru has showed me the sampurna rupa of Bharata-Shakti, and taught
me the nature of swadesa bhakti; I dedicate this book to Nivedita’s
Bharati’s 3 national poems were first published by V.Krishnasamy Iyer,
the leader of the Moderate Party in the province of Madras.
Bharati published a collection of his National songs, Swadesa Githangal.
In the southeast part of Tamil Nadu, in Tuticorin, V.O.C., started
the business of running ships between Tuticorin and Ceylon (Sri Lanka),
against the British. Bharati helped V.O.C. in fund-raising for this
great project. V.O.C. and his friend Subramania Siva were arrested for
“sedition” for delivering speeches on the beaches of Tuticorin. Bharati
was invited as a character witness in this case.
The India magazine in Chennai was stopped by the British Government and
the legal editor M. Srinivasan was arrested. As the result of M.
Srinivasan’s arrest, Bharati decided to move to Pondicherry, the then
territory of the French.
Bharati and his friends realized that under these circumstances, it
would be impossible to publish India from Chennai, and therefore they
took the magazine to
When Bharati was in Pondicherry, his second daughter Shakuntala was born
Janma Boomi (Swadesa Githangal - 2nd part) was published.
Bharati became the editor (unnamed) of India magazine (Tamil weekly)
again, in Pondicherry. Also, he became the editor for the daily
newspaper Vijaya, in Pondicherry.
Bharati dasan (Kanaga Subburathinam), the great Tamil poet met Bharati.
Editor for Karma Yogi, a Tamil monthly. This was Bharati’s own journal.
Proscription in British India for India and Vijaya.
Both India and Vijaya stopped publication from Pondicherry.
Bharati and Sri Aurobindo became good friends. They read Hindu
scriptures together and did an extensive research on the “more than two
and half millennia-old” Vedas.
Kanavu (Dream), Bharati’s autobiographical poem, was published. It was
proscribed later in 1911, with his short story called Aril Oru Pangu.
Panchali Sabatham - Part 1, Bharati’s epic poem, was published.
Bharati performed the “sacred thread” ceremony to a harijan boy, named
Kanakalingam. Bharati was determined to abolish the caste system in
He selected an untouchable boy, to prove his principle of “equality” to the society.
Maada Manivachagam, a collection of Bharati’s poems, was published in Durban, South Africa by Saraswati Printing Press.
Kannan Pattu 1st edition was published by Parali Su. Nellaiyappar, a friend of Bharati, Editor of Lokopakari.
Nattuppattu 1st edition was published by Parali Su. Nellaiyappar.
Bharati left Pondicherry, was arrested in Cuddalore, the Indian
territory, and imprisoned. He was released from Cuddalore jail after
twenty days, with the help of his friends. He went directly to the
village of Kadayam, Tirunelveli Dist., the birth place of his wife
Kannan Pattu 2nd edition was published by Parali Su. Nellaiyappar.
Bharati’s meeting with Mahatma Gandhi in Chennai.
He wrote two poems called, Chittukkavigal and sent them to the
Maharajah, Ettayapuram. Chittukkavi is a traditional form of poetry in
Tamil in which the poet addresses the king. He praises the king first,
and explains the quality and greatness of his own poetry, then, asks him
Sub-Editor of “Swadesamitran,”Chennai. 1921 Bharati was living in
Tripplicane, at Thulasinga Perumal Koil Street, near Parthasarathy
temple. The temple elephant was disoriented and Bharati was hurt while
trying to feed bananas to the elephant as was his custom.
Bharati was affected by a stomach ailment; he refused to take any
medicine. Eventually, he became very weak and his bodily existence came
to an end on Sep 11, 1921.