Subramanya Bharathi – Poet of a Lifetime

Language and literature seem to be the worst hit casualties in the wave of globalisation. I am not just saying it – I believe it to be true. Guys, you can contradict or argue with me. That’s really what I want to see, healthy exchange of thought and eventually growth and evolution of thought.

In India, it has become very important to be educated and educated equates to ‘being proficient in English’. With the growth of call centres and our ongoing attempts to sound more ‘American’, ‘British’ or ‘Australian’ in an attempt to ‘serve’ customers better (and grow), we are losing touch with numerous languages – all with beautiful poetry and literature. I am not for a minute suggesting that we stop growing, stop making an impact on the global scene or that we become insular. What I am suggesting is that people take time out of their lives to stay in touch with their mother tongues at the very least. This I believe is not happening in a lot of cases. It has almost become fashionable to say ‘I can’t read or write Tamil’! I read in a blog recently that a journalist, a product of a posh private school in Chennai asked who Subramania Bharati was. Naturally, it breaks my heart. To me Bharati is a legend, a literary giant – someone we should all be celebrating but in current day Tamil Nadu, he is unimportant largely except in sparsely populated literary circles in obscure parts of town. Why?

He was a visionary, a pioneer of modern thought, everything that is relevant today he wrote about 100 years ago – he wrote about secularism, racial tolerance, eradication of the caste system and empowerment of women, topics that are so in vogue today but considered almost blasphemous in his day. He must have felt so isolated in his life because he would have been so different to the norm. I suspect his Nallador Veenai Seide is his inner grief conveyed in the form of poetry.

Nallador Veenai Seide Adai Nalam Keda Puzhudiyil Erivadundo

Solladi Sivashakthi Ennai Sudar migu arivudan padaithu vittaai

Vallamai taarayo inda maanilam payanura vazhvadarkke

Solladi Sivashakthi nila sumai ena vazhndida puriguvaiyo

Having crafted a beautiful Veena – is it fair the To let it perish in dust?

Oh Shivashakthi, you’ve blessed me with Intellect as bright as a beacon

Will you give me strength to Make myself useful to the world or

Will you condemn me To become a burden upon this land?

Most of his poems reflect his deepest emotions. He was a passionate man! In his day they didn’t give him the credit he was due because he was way ahead of his time! Today are we so apathetic that we don’t even spare some time to read his work. I thought it would be good to start reproducing his work here – all of us have read his poems but the way we react to a poem in student days is very different to the way we react later in life. I am hoping that we really read and take time to think about it this time. If ten people read this and enjoy it the way I have, I’ll feel happy about spreading the joy!

Bharati on Empowerment of Women

While he has written many songs on liberation of women this is very special to me!

Pennukku gnanathai vaithan – Puvi Peni valarthidum eesan

Mannukkulle sila moodar – nalla Maadar arivai keduthar

A woman was given high intellect by The God who created this world But some fools in this world Ruined the development of intellect in women.

Kangal irandinil ondrai – kuthi Kaatchi keduthidalamo?

Pengal arivai valarthal – vaiyyam Pedamaiyatridum kaaneer

By blinding one eye Will you not ruin perfect vision?

By encouraging a woman’s intellect Will the world not be a better place?

Bharati On Unity irrespective of Religion

Teeyinai kumbidum paarpar – nitham Dikkai vanangum turukkar Koyir siluvaiyin munne – nindru Kumbidum yesu madathar

Yaarum panindidum deivam – porul Yavinum nindridum deivam Paarukkulle deivam ondru – idir Par pala sandaigal vendam

Hindus who worship fire Muslims who worship facing the direction Christians who worship the Cross The Gods that all they worship And the philosophy that they believe in says There is but one God – so Don’t fight over religion!

Bharati On Discrimination based on Colour

Vellai nirathoru poonai – engal Veettil valarudu kandeer

Pillaigal petradu poonai – avai Perukku oru niramagum

Saambal niram oru kutti – karun Chaandu niram oru kutti

Paambu niram oru kutti – vellai

Paalin niram our kutti

Enda niram irundalum – avai Yaavum ore taram andro

Inda niram siridendrum – idu Etram endru sollalamo?

There was a white cat in my house It gave birth to kittens each a different colour They were all different shades of white brown and grey Irrespective of what colour they are aren’t they all the same kind Is it fair to say one colour is superior to the other?

Pure genius!  Wish he were alive today ….


11 thoughts on “Subramanya Bharathi – Poet of a Lifetime

  1. krishna November 10, 2009 / 8:59 pm

    you are rite, he is pure genius. His poems r always pleasant to read and hear….. But we did not honour him till now….

    • myanasworth November 10, 2009 / 10:29 pm

      You know what Krishna … even now we don’t honour him. We just use his name to convey progressive thought. Honouring him would mean reading him … not sure how many kids (or even adults) read his work and really think about it …

  2. Rajarajan December 11, 2011 / 5:33 am

    A nice post ! In my school days we used to learn quite a many Bharathiyar poems and essays. Looks like things have changed in Tamilnadu now. The scarcity of blogs/posts about him in the web indirectly says how much he is popular among the Tamil people !!

  3. theliteraryshack April 25, 2012 / 2:09 pm

    Excellent! Can you tell me where I can find his poetry collections?

    • myanasworth April 27, 2012 / 5:34 am

      Hi, I am sure you can find his works in any of the online book stores (based in India). I’ll try to dig out some links for you.

    • myanasworth April 27, 2012 / 5:36 am

      If you do read Tamil, here is an online link.

      • theliteraryshack April 28, 2012 / 12:56 pm

        I do read Tamil but I am not able to locate the link. Thanks.

  4. Nirmala February 21, 2013 / 1:47 pm

    This blog is a treasure.. –from sangam period tamil literature to …today..Wonderful -Thank you –

    • myanasworth February 22, 2013 / 5:09 am

      Thank you! I write as I learn 🙂

  5. Jai April 24, 2014 / 4:28 pm

    Wonderful article. I really appreciate your effort in consolidating great literature.

  6. Sivachandru L September 11, 2014 / 10:30 am

    to be very frank i search all the net for his “Vellai nirathoru poonai” but i could find only in your block , appreciate your efforts

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