Bharathy

Subrahmanya Bharathy

” கவிதை எழுதுபவன் கவியன்று. கவிதையே வாழ்க்கையாக உடையோன், வாழ்க்கையே கவிதையாகச் செய்தோன், அவனே கவி” – பாரதி

“He who writes poetry is not a poet. He whose poetry has become his life, and who has made his life his poetry – it is he who is a poet.” – Bharathy

Subrahmanya Bharathy

bharathy

Bharathi died on 11 September 1921. In a relatively short life span of 39 years, Bharathi left an indelible mark as the poet of Tamil nationalism and Indian freedom.

Bharathi’s mother died in 1887 and two years later, his father also died. At the age of 11, in 1893 his prowess as a poet was recognised and he was accorded the title of ‘bharathi’. He was a student at Nellai Hindu School and in 1897 he married Sellamal. Thererafter, from 1898 to 1902, he lived in Kasi.

Bharathi worked as a school teacher and as a journal editor at various times in his life. As a Tamil poet he ranked with Ilanko, Thiruvalluvar and Kamban. His writings gave new life to the Tamil language – and to Tamil national consciousness. He involved himself actively in the Indian freedom struggle. It is sometimes said of Bharathi that he was first an Indian and then a Tamil. Perhaps, it would be more correct to say that he was a Tamil and because he was a Tamil he was also an Indian. For him it was not either or but both – it was not possible for him to be one without also being the other.

Bharathi often referred to Tamil as his ‘mother’. At the sametime, he was fluent in many languages including Bengali, Hindi, Sanskrit, Kuuch, and English and frequently translated works from other languages into Tamil. His

யாமறிந்த மொழிகளிலே தமிழ்மொழி போல்
இனிதாவது எங்கும் காணோம்

(among all the languages we know, we do not see anywhere, any as sweet as Tamil) was his moving tribute to his mother tongue. That many a Tamil web site carries the words of that song on its home page in cyber space today is a reflection of the hold that those words continue to have on Tamil minds and Tamil hearts.

His

செந்தமிழ் நாடெனும் போதினிலே –
இன்பத் தேன்வந்து பாயுது காதினிலே

was Bharathi’s salute to the Tamil nation and many a Tamil child has learnt and memorised those moving words from a very young age – and I count myself as one of them.

Bharathi was a Hindu. But his spirituality was not limited. He sang to the Hindu deities, and at the same time he wrote songs of devotion to Jesus Christ and Allah. Bharathi was a vigorous campaigner against casteism. He wrote in ‘Vande Matharam’ :

ஜாதி மதங்களைப் பாரோம் –
உயர் ஜன்மம்இத் தேசத்தில் எய்தின ராயின்
வேதிய ராயினும் ஒன்றே –
அன்றி வேறு குலத்தின ராயினும் ஒன்றே

We shall not look at caste or religion, All human beings in this land
– whether they be those who preach the vedas or who belong to other castes – are one.

Bharathi lived during an eventful period of Indian history. Gandhi, Tilak, Aurobindo and V.V.S.Aiyar were his contemporaries. He involved himself with passion in the Indian freedom struggle. His ‘Viduthalai, Viduthalai’ was not only a clarion call for freedom from alien rule but also addressed the need to unite a people across caste barriers –

விடுதலை! விடுதலை! விடுதலை!
பறைய ருக்கும் இங்கு தீயர்
புலைய ருக்கும் விடுதலை
பரவ ரோடு குறவருக்கும்
மறவ ருக்கும் விடுதலை!
திறமை கொண்டதீமை யற்ற
தொழில் புரங்ந்து யாவரும்
தேர்ந்த கல்வி ஞானம் எய்தி
வாழ்வம் இந்த நாட்டிலே.

He saw a great India. He saw an India of skilled workers and an educated people. He saw an India where women would be free. His பாருக்குள்ளே நல்ல நாடு – எங்கள் பாரத நாடு expressed the depth of his love and the breadth of his vision for India.

Bharathi served as Assistant Editor of the Swadeshamitran in 1904.He participated in the 1906 All India Congress meeting in Calcutta (chaired by Dadabhai Naoroji) where the demand for ‘Swaraj’ was raised for the first time. Bharathi supported the demand wholeheartedly and found himself in the militant wing of the Indian National Congress together with Tilak and Aurobindo. Aurobindo writing on the historic 1906 Congress had this to say:

“We were prepared to give the old weakness of the congress plenty of time to die out if we could get realities recognised. Only in one particular have we been disappointed and that is the President’s address. But even here the closing address with which Mr.Naoroji dissolved the Congress, has made amends for the deficiencies of his opening speech.

He once more declared Self-Government, Swaraj, as in an inspired moment he termed it, to be our one ideal and called upon the young men to achieve it. The work of the older men had been done in preparing a generation which were determined to have this great ideal and nothing else; the work of making the ideal a reality lies lies with us. We accept Mr. Naoroji’s call and to carry out his last injunctions will devote our lives and, if necessary, sacrifice them.(Bande Mataram, 31 December 1906)

Many Tamils will see the parallels with the Vaddukoddai Resolution of 1976 which proclaimed independence for the Tamils of Eelam – the work of older men determined to have ‘this great ideal and nothing else’ and the later determination of Tamil youth to devote their lives, and ‘if necessary sacrifice them’ to make that ideal a reality.

In April 1907, he became the editor of the Tamil weekly ‘India’. At the same time he also edited the English newspaper ‘Bala Bharatham’. He participated in the historic Surat Congress in 1907, which saw a sharpening of the divisions within the Indian National Congress between the militant wing led by Tilak and Aurobindo and the ‘moderates’. Subramanya Bharathi supported Tilak and Aurobindo together with ‘Kapal Otiya Thamilan’ V.O.Chidambarampillai and Kanchi Varathaachariyar. Tilak openly supported armed resistance and the Swadeshi movement.

These were the years when Bharathi immersed himself in writing and in political activity. In Madras, in 1908, he organised a mammoth public meeting to celebrate ‘Swaraj Day’. His poems ‘Vanthe Matharam‘, ‘Enthayum Thayum’, ‘Jaya Bharath‘ were printed and distributed free to the Tamil people.

In 1908, he gave evidence in the case which had been instituted by the British against ‘Kappal Otiya Thamizhan’, V.O.Chidambarampillai. In the same year, the proprietor of the ‘India’ was arrested in Madras. Faced with the prospect of arrest, Bharathi escaped to Pondicherry which was under French rule.

From there Bharathi edited and published the ‘India’ weekly. He also edited and published ‘Vijaya’, a Tamil daily, Bala Bharatha, an English monthly, and ‘Suryothayam’ a local weekly of Pondicherry. Under his leadership the Bala Bharatha Sangam was also started. The British waylaid and stopped remittances and letters to the papers. Both ‘India’ and ‘Vijaya’ were banned in British India in 1909.

The British suppression of the militancy was systematic and thorough. Tilak was exiled to Burma. Aurobindo escaped to Pondicherry in 1910. Bharathi met with Aurobindo in Pondicherry and the discussions often turned to religion and philosophy. He assisted Aurobindo in the ‘Arya’ journal and later ‘Karma Yogi’ in Pondicherry. In November 1910, Bharathi released an ‘Anthology of Poems’ which included ‘Kanavu‘.

V.V.S. Aiyar also arrived in Pondicherry in 1910 and the British Indian patriots, who were called ‘Swadeshis’ would meet often. They included Bharathi, Aurobindo and V.V.S.Aiyar. R.S.Padmanabhan in his Biography of V.V.S.Aiyar writes:

“All of them, whether there was any warrant against them or not, were constantly being watched by British agents in Pondicherry. Bharathi was a convinced believer in constitutional agitation. Aurobindo had given up politics altogether… and Aiyar had arrived in their midst with all the halo of a dedicated revolutionary who believed in the cult of the bomb and in individual terrorism.”

In 1912, Bharathy published his Commentaries on the Bhavad Gita in Tamil as well as Kannan Paatu, Kuyil Paatu and Panjali Sabatham.

After the end of World War I, Bharathi entered British India near Cuddalore in November 1918. He was arrested and imprisoned in the Central prison in Cuddalore in custody for three weeks – from 20 November  to 14 December.

He was released after he was prevailed upon to give an undertaking to the British India government that he would eschew all political activities. To those who had heard Bharathi’s song Acham Illai, Acham Enbathu Illaiye,  Bharathi’s letter of apology to Lord Pentland, Governor of Madras will surface Bharathi’s all too human frailty –


OM SAKTHI

District Jail, Cuddalore
28 November 1918.

To His Excellency Lord Pentland Governor, Fort St. George

The Humble petition of C. Subramania Bharathi.

May it please your excellency.

It has been more than a week now since I was arrested at Cuddalore on my way from Pondicheery to Tinnevelly which is my native district. After many loyal assurances on my part as your Execellency may well remember the Dy. I. G. (CID) was sent by your Excellency’s Government a few months back to interview me at Pondicherry. The Dy. I G after being thoroughly satisfied with my attitude towards the Government asked me if I would be willing to be kept interned purely as a war measure in any two districts of the Madras Presidency during the war.. I could not consent to that proposal, because having absolutley renounced politics I see no reason why any restraint should be placed on my movement even while the war lasted.

Now that the war is over and with such signal success to the Allies, I ventured to leave Pondicherry, honestly believing that there would be absolutely no difficulty whatsoever in the way of my settling in British India as a peaceful citizen.. Contrary to my expectations however I have been detained and placed in Cuddalore District Jail under conditions which I will not weary your Excellency by describing here at any length BUT which are altogether diasgreeable to a man of my birth and status and full of dangerous possibilities to my health.

I once again assure your Execellency that I have renounced every form of politics, I shall ever be loyal to british Government and law abiding.

I therefore beg of your Excellency to order my immediate release. May God grant your Excellency a long and happy life.

I beg to remain
Your Excellency’s most obedient servant.

C. Subramania Bharathi

These were years of hardship and poverty. (Eventually, the General Amnesty Order of 1920 removed all restrictions on his movement.

Bharathy met with Mahatma Gandhi in 1919 and in 1920, Bharathy resumed editorship of the Swadeshamitran in Madras. That was one year before his death in 1921. Today, more than 80 years later, Subaramanya Bharathy, despite his frailties,  stands as an undying symbol of Indian freedom and a vibrant Tamil nationalism.

bharathiar_statue

A statue of Subramania Bharati is unveiled by

President R. Venkataraman (right) with Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi (centre)

and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. G. Ramachandran in attendance.

************************************************

Professor C.R.Krishnamurthy in Thamizh Literature Through the Ages on SubramaNiya BhArathiyAr (சுப்பிரமணிய பாரதியர்) (1882-1921)

MahA Kavi SubramaNiya BhArathiyAr  (மகாகவி சுப்பிரமணிய பாரதி) in a short span of 39 years, contributed tremendously to the political emancipation of India, social reformation of the community and literary rejuvenation of Thamizh.

Born in a middle class Brahmin family in ettayapuram . (எட்டையபுரம்) in Thirun^elvEli district, SubramaNia BhArathiyAr worked for some time as a court poet of the local elite (ஜமீந்தார்). His given name was ChinnasAmi SubramaNiya iyer (சின்னசாமி சுப்பிரமணிய ஐயர்) and the nickname was ettayapuram SubbiAh. The title of BhArathi (பாரதி) , Goddess of Learning, was conferred upon him in 1893 in recognition of his poetic talents. Following his father’s death, he moved to Kasi to stay with his aunt. He returned to Madras in 1904 and joined the staff of the Thamizh magazine, SwedEsa Mitthiran (சுதேசமித்திரன்). His contacts with V.O.Chithambaram PiLLai (வ.உ.சி), a famous nationalist, kindled his natural patriotic fervour. From this point on, he got involved in active politics and had the opportunity to meet great political and social leaders of the time (Tilak, Aurobindo GhOsh, Lajpat ROy).

When there was a curb for the publication of some of his nationalistic and patriotic songs, he was placed under surveillance by the government. To avoid arrest by the British, he moved to Pondicherry (புதுச்சேரி) which was under the French colonial rule. His exile in Pondicherry proved to be the period of his prolific writings. Ultimately he got arrested and put in jail. Despite his literary genius, he lived in extreme poverty and met with a tragic death in 1922.

Like many other geniuses and martyrs of the world he was lonely in his death with only a handful of people at his funeral. At present, he is regarded as one of the most outstanding Thamizh poets, (மகாகவி), a person worthy of emulation not only by people within India but also by others for his courage and convictions, religious equanimity, social consciousness and, more relevantly, literary skills.

BhArathiyAr’s literary works include nationalistic poems, prayer songs, philosophical poems, didactic songs and minor poems related to social issues. His didactic poems are Murasu (முரசு), Puthiya AtthichUdi (புதிய ஆத்திசூடி) and PAppA PAttu (பாப்பாப்பாடல்கள்). He was the originator of the short and crisp style of poems (புதுக்கவிதை) which has now become very popular.

He studied Bhagavad Gita and rewrote the essentials in simple Thamizh using a prose-poetry format (வசனக்கவிதை). In addition he has written several novels in the prose style (ஐடவல்லவன், ஜெயலட்சுமி, நவநீதம், விஜயபாஸகரன் அல்லது ஒரு குற்றத்துக்கு ஒன்பது குற்றம் & ஷண்பகவிஜயம்). Instead of following the traditional literary style blindly, BhArathiyAr recognized that the folk type of poems written by ThAyumAnavar, rAmalinga atikaL and GOpAlaKrishNa BhArathiyAr were appropriate to convey the messages he desired. His experience as the editor and critic in SwedEsa mitthiran (சுதேசமித்திரன்) gave him the communicative skills to appeal to people.

Literary Policy of BhArathiyAr

Looking at his literary works in retrospect BhArathiyAr did appear to have had the vision of a prophet, the religious equanimity of a saint, the dreams of a patriot and the noble aspirations of a social reformer. Most of his predictions regarding his country and community and all his warnings regarding the malaise afflicting his society have materialized already. Others are gradually manifesting themselves overtly in recent years. He loved Thamizh and India with a passion and was proud of his cultural heritage. At the same time he was fully cognizant of the social repercussions of caste differences and how superstitions and blind faith in the old traditions have lead to stagnation.

More important is the fact that he had the courage and tenacity to stand up before a ruthless imperial power and was prepared to face all the personal consequences. The only weapon he had at his disposal to achieve his cherished goal was not wealth or physical ability but only his literary skill. Experience in other parts of the world has shown that the pen is mightier than the sword. Recognizing this, BhArathiyAr did exploit his literary capacity and communication skills to exhort people to become masters of their own destiny and expel the foreign rulers out of their soil. However he did not hesitate to point out the social evils which were gradually corroding the fabrics of the society.

Upto this point in the history of Thamizh literature, the language was used for moral, religious, philosophical or spiritual purposes, for praising the patrons for their gifts, and for sheer literary pleasure. All references to social problems were either secondary or indirect. Now for the first time, a Thamizh poet has taken it upon himself to use the language to free his people from the clutches of a foreign power and open the eyes of the people to the bad elements which were weakening their society. Thus he set in motion not only a new and diffferent literary style which is aptly described as the Thamizh renaissance but also used the medium of the language to crusade against the suppression and oppression of the weaker sections of the society, the poor, the untouchables and women.

The short, crisp but simple style of his poems, his easy flowing prose-poetry formats with a specific social theme and his ability to set up folk type music understandable by everyone made a tremendous impact on people. One can therefore appreciate the differences in the literary policy of SubramNiya BhArathi and that of other Thamizh scholars of the distant past.

Salient Features of SubramaNiya BhArathiyAr’s Works

The name SubramaNiya BhArathi is almost synonymous with nationalism and partriotism in the Indian context. In the following poem he says “we are proud of ‘our’ HimAlayAs, ‘our’ river Ganges and ‘our’ upanishads; there is no equal for our country.”

மன்னு மிமய மலையெங்கள் மலையே
மாநில மீதிது போற்பிறி திலையே
இன்னறு நீர்கங்கை யாறெங்களாறே
இங்கிதன் மாண்பிற் கெதிரெது வேறே
பன்னரு முபநிட நூலெங்கள் நூலே
பார்மிசை யேதொரு நூலிது போல
பொன்னொளிர் பாரத நாடெங்கள் நாடே
பொற்றுவ மி·தை யெமக்கிலை யீடே.

BhArathiyAr is not merely content to be proud of his country. He continues to outline his visions of a free India, not some wild dream of a poet living in his own imaginary world but the aspirations and hopes of a true patriot who has specific ideas of how different regions of the country can live happily, share the resources for their mutual benefits. His dreams are outlined in the following poem:

பாரத தேச மென்று பெயர்சொல்லுவார் – மிடிப்
பயங் கொல்லுவார் துயர்ப்பகை வெல்லுவார்.

கங்கை நதிப்புறத்துக் கோதுமைப் பண்டம்
காவிரி வெற்றிலைக்கு மாறு கொள்ளுவோம்
சிங்க மராட்டியர் தங் கவிதை கொண்டு
சேரத்துத் தந்தங்கள் பரிசளிப்போம்.

ஆயுதம் செய்வோம் நல்ல காகிதம் செய்வோம்
ஆலைகள் வைப்போம் கல்விச் சாலைகள் வைப்போம்
ஓயுதல் செய்யோம் தலை சாயுதல் செய்யோம்
உண்மைகள் சொல்வோம் பல வண்மைகள் செய்வோம்.

சாதி இரண்டொழிய வேறிலை யென்றே
தமிழ் மகள் சொல்லிய சொல் அமிழ்த மென்போம்
நீதி நெறியினின்று பிறர்க் குதவும்
நேர்மையர் மேலவர் கீழவர் மற்றோர்.

It is to be noted that he was a true patriot devoid of parochial tendencies. The last stanza represents the focus of his social reformation efforts. BhArathiyAr sincerely believed, as did ouvaiyAr (ஒளவையார்) a few centuries earlier, that the root cause of all our social problems was the caste difference. He reiterated that there were only two castes; people who are righteous and helpful to others are superior while the rest are inferior.

BhArarhiyAr is unparalled in proclaiming loud and clear the uniqueness and richness of the Thamizh language to the whole world. The following poem describes his tremendous linguistic pride:

யாமறிந்த மொழிகளிலே தமிழ்மொழிபோல்
இனிதாவ தெங்குங் காணோம்
பாமரராய், விலங்குகளாய், உலகனைத்தும்
இகழ்ச்சிசொலப் பான்மை கெட்டு
நாமமது தமிழரெனக் கொண்டிங்கு
வாழ்ந்திடுதல் நன்றோ? சொல்லீர்
தேமதுரத் தமிழோசை உலகமெலாம்
பரவும் வகை செய்தல் வேண்டும.
யாமறிந்த புலவரிலே கம்பனைப்போல்,
வாள்ளுவர்போல், இளங்கோவைப் போல்
பூமிதனில் யாங்கணுமே பிறந்ததில்லை
உண்மை, வெறும் புகழ்ச்சி யில்லை
ஊமையராய்ச் செவிடர்களாய்க் குருடர்களாய்
வாழ்கின்§ம், ஒருசொற் கேளீர்
சேமமுற வேண்டுமெனில் தெருவெல்லாம்
தமிழ் முழக்கம் செழிக்கச் செய்வீர்.

பிறநாட்டு நல்லறிஞர் சாத்திரங்கள்
தமிழ் மொழியிற் பெயர்த்தல் வேண்டும்
இறவாத புகழுடைய புதுநூல்கள்
தமிழ்மொழியில் இயற்றல்வேண்டும்
மறைவாக நமக்குள்ளே பழங்கதைகள்
சொல்லுவதிலோர் மகிமை யில்லை
திறமான புலமையெனில் வெளிநாட்டோர்
அதை வணக்கஞ் செய்தல் வேண்டும்.

The last few lines carry an important messsage to his and future generations emphasizing their responsibility to the growth of Thamizh. First he believed that there was no use of circulating our old ideas among us for ever and new concepts had to emerge. Secondly all the important works in foreign languages should be translated into Thamizh. Finally he has laid down his own criterion for the assessment of our linguistic efforts. He will be happy only if others studied our works and expressed their appreciation.

BhArathiyAr’s love and pride also extended to the Thamizh country. After all if one is not proud of one’s own heritage, who will?

செந்தமிழ் நாடெனும் போதினிலே – இன்பத்
தேன் வந்து பாயுது காதினிலே – எங்கள்
தந்¨தையார் நாடென்ற பேச்சினிலே – ஒரு
சக்தி பிறக்குது முச்சினிலே (செந்தமிழ்)

வேதம் நிறைந்த தமிழ் நாடு – உயர்
வீரம் செறிந்த தமிழ் நாடு – நல்ல
காதல் புரியும் அரம்பையர் போலிளங்
கன்னியர் சூழ்ந்த தமிழ் நாடு (செந்தமிழ்)

கல்வி சிறந்த தமிழ்நாடு – புகழ்க்
கம்பன் பிறந்த தமிழ் நாடு – நல்ல
பல்வித மாயின சாத்திரத்தின் மணம்
பாரெங்கும் வீசுந் தமிழ் நாடு (செந்தமிழ்)

வள்ளுவன் தன்னை உல கினுக்கே தந்து
வான்புகழ் கொண்ட தமிழ் நாடு – நெஞ்சை
அள்ளும் சிலப்பதி காரமென் றோர்மணி
யாரம் படைத்த தமிழ் நாடு (செந்தமிழ்)

In devotional songs it is customary that poets pray that they be blessed with health, wealth and prosperity. The spiritually more oriented may pray that they want to be one with the Supreme Being with an eternal bliss. Even here BhAathiyAr deviates from the standard and invites all his country men to do their humble mite to improve their lot. The following poem is addressed to Saraswathi, the Goddess of Learning:

வெள்ளைத் தாமரைப் பூ வி லிருப்பாள்
வீணை செய்யு மொலியி லிருப்பாள்…..
வீடுதோறுங் கலையின் விளக்கம்
வீதிதோறு மிரண்டொரு பள்ளி
நாடு முற்றிலு முள்ளன வூ ர்கள்
நகர்க ளெங்கும் பலபல பள்ளி
தேடு கல்வியி லாததொ ருரைத்
தீயினுக் கிரையாக மடுத்தல்
கேடு தீர்க்கு மமுதெமெ னன்னை
கேண்மை கொள்ள வழியிவை கண்டீர் (வெள்ளைத்)
நிதி மிகுத்தவர் பொற்குவை தாரீர்
நிதி குறைந்தவர் காசுகள் தாரீர
அதுவு மற்றவர் வாய்ச்சொ லருளீர்
ஆண்மையாள ருழைப்பினை நல்கீர்
மதுரத் தேமொழி மாதர்க ளெல்லாம்
வாணி பூசைக் குரியன பேசீர்
எதுவு நல்கியிங் கெவ்வகை யானும்
இப்பெருந் தொழில் நாட்டுதும் வாரீர்.

The importance of education cannot be emphasized any better than in the above lines. BharathiyAr goes to the extent of saying that, in the new India, all villages without school should be destroyed by fire ! The second poem is a humble appeal to all who can help, in whatever way they can help, with big donations or small pennies or at least with just a few encouraging words, to finish the job we have undertaken for the sake of education.

BhArathiyAr’s religious equanimity is well illustrated by the following two poems, one pertaining to Christianity and the other to islAm. More than telling something about the poet, it is deeply touching and indeed reassuring that it is possible to live in peaceful coexistence if one sets the mind to the concept.

ஈசன் வந்து சிலுவையில் மாண்டான்
எழுந் துயிர்த்தனன் நாள் ஒரு முன்றில்
நேச மா மரியா மக்தலேநா
நேரில் யிந்தச் செய்தியைக் கண்டாள்
தேசத்தீர், இதன் உட்பொருள் கேளீர்,
தேவர் வந்து நமக்குட் புகுந்தே
நாச மின்றி நமை நித்தங் காப்பார்
நம் அகந்தையை நாம் கொன்று விட்டால்.

அல்லா, அல்லா, அல்லா
பல்லாயிரம் பல்லாயிரங் கோடி யண்டங்கள்
எல்லாத் திசையினு மோர் எல்லை யில்லா வெளிவானிலே
நில்லாது சுழன்டே நியமஞ் செய்தருள் நாயகன்
சொல்லாலு மனத்தாலுந் தொட ரொணாத பெருஞ்சோதி (அல்லா)
ஏழைகட்குஞ் செல்வர்கட்கும் இரங்கி யருளும் ஓர் பிதா
கோழைகட்கும் வீரருக்குங் குறை தவிர்த்திடும் ஓர் குரு
ஊழியூ ழி அமரரா யிவ் வுலகின் மீதி லின்புற்றே
வாழ்குவீர் பயத்தை நீக்கி வாழ்த்துவீர் அவன் பெயர் (அல்லா)

It is surprising and indeed shameful that in a country where women were worshipped as the all powerful Sakthi (சக்தி), they were relegated to a lower status in social life. BhArathiyAr was one of the earliest champions of women’s cause in the Thamizh region. Thanks to his outbursts, there had been a social awakening on this issue, though much is yet to be done. In the following poem, BhArathiyAr employs the folk dance, kummi (கும்மி) and speaks out clearly the problems as he saw them:

ஏட்டையும் பெண்கள் தொடுவது தீமையென்
றெண்ணி யிருந்தவர் மாய்ந்து விட்டார்
வீட்டுக்குள்ளே பெண்ணைப் பூட்டி வைப்போ மென்ற
விந்தை மனிதர் தலை கவிழ்ந்தார் (கும்மியடி)
மாட்டை யடித்து வசக்கித் தொழுவினில்
மாட்டும் வழக்கத்தைக் கொண்டு வந்தே
வீட்டினி லெம்மிடங் காட்ட வந்தாரதை
வெட்டி விட்டோ மென்று கும்மியடி கும்மியடி
பட்டங்க ளாள்வதுஞ் சட்டங்கள் செய்வதும்
பாரினிற் பெண்கள் நடத்த வந்தோம்
எட்டு மறிவினி லாணுக்கிங்கே பெண்
இளைப் பில்லை காணென்று கும்மியடி (கும்மியடி)
காத லொருவனைக் கைப்பிடித்தே யவன்
காரியம் யாவினுங் கைகொடுத்து
மாதர றங்கள் பழமையைக் காட்டிலும்
மாட்சி பெறச்செய்து வாழ்வமடி (கும்மியடி)

Recognizing that the best way to introduce social changes was to plant the seeds of reforms in the minds of children who have not yet been corrupted by traditions and superstitions, Following the footsteps of ouvaiyAr, (ஓளவையார்) BhArathiyAr reiterated moral and ethical principles in a simple format appealing to young minds.

In Puthiya AtthichUdi (புதிய ஆத்திசூடி), for example, the invocation song stresses the equanimity of all religions. He specifically refers to various religious groups without any connotation of theological correctness or relative superiority of one religion over the other and most of all without any proselytizing motive. If this becomes the basis of different religious faiths, it would help minimize the religious tension prevailing in the world today.

புதிய ஆத்திசூடி
காப்பு
ஆத்தி சூடி யிளம்பிறை யணிந்து
மோனத் திருக்கு முழுவெண் மேனியான்
கருநிறங் கொண்டு பாற்கடல் மிசைக் கிடப்போன்,
மகமது நபிக்கு மறையருள் புரிந்தோன்,
ஏசுவின் தந்தை யெனப்பல மதத்தினர்
உருவகத் தாலே யுணர்ந்துண ராது
பலவகை யாகப் பரவிடும் பரம்பொருள்
ஒன்றே , அதனியல் ஒளியுறு மறிவாம்,
அதனிலை கண்டார் அல்லலை யகற்றினார்,
அதனருள் வாழ்த்தி யமரவாழ் வெய்துவோம்.

நூல்

அச்சந் தவிர்
ஆண்மை தவறேல்
இளைத்த லிகழ்ச்சி
ஈகை திறன்
உடலினை யுறுதிசெய்
ஊண்மிக விரும்பு
எண்ணுவ துயர்வு
ஏறுபோல் நட
ஐம்பொறி யாட்சிகொள்
ஒற்றுமை வலிமையாம்
ஓய்த லொழி
ஓளடதங் குறை கற்ற தொழுகு
கால மழியேல்
கிளைபல தாங்கேல்
கீழோர்க் கஞ்சேல்
குன்றென நிமிர்ந்துநில்
கூடித் தொழில்செய்
கெடுப்பது சோர்வு
கேட்டிலுந் துணிந்துநில்
கைத்தொழில் போற்று
கொடுமையை யெதிர்த்துநில்
கோல்கைக்கொண்டுவாழ்
கவ்வியதை விடேல்

A poem aimed directly at children telling them what to do and what not to do is called (பாப்பாப் பாட்டு). A few stanzas of this poem are given below to highlight the kind of messages given:

ஓடி விளையாடு பாப்பா – நீ
ஓய்ந்திருக்க லாகாது பாப்பா
கூடி விளையாடு பாப்பா – ஒரு
குழந்தையை வையாதே பாப்பா.
பொய் சொல்லக் கூடாது பாப்பா – என்றும்
புறஞ் சொல்ல லாகாது பாப்பா
தெய்வ நமக்குத் துணை பாப்பா – ஒரு
தீங்குவர மாட்டாது பாப்பா.
தமிழ்த் திரு நாடு தன்னைப் பெற்ற
தாயென்று கும்பிடடி பாப்பா
அமிழ்தி லினியதடி பாப்பா – எங்கள்
ஆன்§ர்கள் தேசமடி பாப்பா.
சாதிக ளில்லையடி பாப்பா – குலத்
தாழ்ச்சி யுயர்ச்சி சொல்லல் பாவம்
நீதி, உயர்ந்த மதி, கல்வி – அன்பு
நிறைய உடையவர்கள் மேலோர்.

One of the attributes of social reformers in all parts of the world is their comprehension of the weaknesses in their society and their courage in pointing out the problems.. In the following poem, BhArathiyAr expresses his frustrations at some of the deploring qualities of his country men which are responsible for their remaining as slaves despite all their resources and glorious past. These lamentations have been set to a very popular style of folk music, n^oNdic cinthu.(நொண்டிச்சிந்து)

நெஞ்சு பொறுக்குதில்லையே – இந்த
நிலைகெட்ட மனிதரை நினைந்துவிட்டால்
கொஞ்சமோ பிரிவினைகள் – ஒரு
கோடியென் றாலது பெரிதாமோ ?

அஞ்சுதலைப் பாம்பென்பான் – அப்பன்
ஆறுதலை யென்றுமகன் சொல்லிவிட்டால்
நெஞ்சு பிரிந்து விடுவார் – பின்பு
நெடுநா ளிருவரும் பகைத்திருப்பார் (நெஞ்சு)சாத்திரங்க ளொன்றும் காணார் – பொய்ச்

சாத்திரப் பேய்கள்சொலும் வார்த்தைநம்பியே
கோத்திரமொன் யிருந்தாலும் – ஒரு
கொள்கையிற் பிரிந்தவனைக் குலைத்திகழ்வார்
தோத்திரங்கள் சொல்லியவர்தாம் – தமைச்
சூதுசெயு நீசர்களைப் பணிந்திடுவார் – ஆனால்
ஆத்திரங் கொண்டே யிவன் சைவன் – இவன்
அரிபக்த னென்றுபெருஞ் சண்டையிடுவார் (நெஞ்சு) எண்ணிலா நோயுடையார் – இவர்

எழுந்து நடப்பதற்கும் வலிமையிலார்
கண்ணிலாக் குழந்தைகள்போல் – பிறர்
காட்டிய வழியிற் சென்று மாட்டிக் கொள்வார்
நண்ணிய பெருங்கலைகள் – பத்து
நாலாயிரங் கோடி நயந்து நின்ற
புண்ணிய நாட்டினிலே – இவர்
பொறியற்ற விலங்குகள் போல வாழ்வார் (நெஞ்சு)

In addition to the new style of poems (புதுக்கவிதைகள்)BhArathiyAr also introduced a new format of prose narrative, the novel (நாவல்) in which he used fictional characters to portray the real life trials and tribulations of ordinary families and specific minority groups in the society who have been tormented by a variety of prejudices and exploitations based on tradition, superstition and above all greed. The novel as well as the short story concept which ensued later, have since become very powerful tools for exposing the difficulties of people without being victimized. Authors like JeyaKAn^than (ஜெயகாந்தன்), rAmAmirtham (ராமாமிர்தம்)Pudumaip pitthan (புதுமைப்பித்தன்), Sivasankari (சிவசங்கரி) have exploited this technique successfully in recent years.

Conclusion

It is more than 75 years since this great poet died. History has showed us that a few of his dreams have been fulfilled thanks to the sacrifices of leaders like MahAtmA GAndhi and others. The achievement of political freedom from an almost insurmountable imperial power without blood shed is not a small task. Since independence, the advances made in various fields, especially science, technology and agriculture have been the envy of even the super powers who are now evincing great interest in trading with India. But some of BhArathi’s worst fears on social issues have come out true as well.

We have learnt that mere rules, laws and regulations are not adequate by themselves to overcome the social turmoils caused by religious intolerance and by exploitation under the name of caste, sex, greed, and political expediency. Under the guidance of BhArathiyAr and others, Thamizh literature has served as a tool to mobilize our energy to achieve political freedom; whether the same medium will be used for achieving social equity is yet to be seen.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: