Mahakavi Subrahmanya Bharathi,The Great Tamil Poet Recognised As National Poet: A Brief Introduction

Mahakavi Subhramania Bharathi (11.12.82-11.9.21)or simply Bharathi was a modern Tamil poet recognised as National poet of India. He recognised Sister Nivedita, disciple of Swami Vivekananda as his mentor. He was a contemporary to Bengali poet Rabindra Nath Tagore. He had great reverence towards Madame Annie Besant and follower of Bala Ganghadhar Thilak. He worked along with extreme group members like V.O.Chidambaram Pillai and Subramaniyam Siva. He was living alternatively in Tamilnadu and Pondicherry. His poems are broadly classified as 1. Devotional songs 2. Patriotic songs 3. Biographical songs 4.Short narrations and 5. General songs. This article is a modest attempt to introduce this great poet to the readers who wish to know more about him.

Mahakavi Subramanya Bharathi, as a worshipper of UNIVERSAL ENERGY.

“I saw a tiny spark and kept it safe in a tree hole in a dense forest,
LO! The entire forest was reduced to ashes.
Is there any difference in fire as a new born or old?
Thaththarikita thaththarikita thaththom”

– Thus dances poet Subhramania Bharathi, in praise of Agni (fire) one of the five elements of the Universe He has sung in praise of several Hindu Gods in a way unique to him. Nowadays in almost all the school prayers, his songs on Gods are rendered to invoke blessings of the Almighty.

Bharathi found a special awe and respect for fire in his poems even in his worship of the Almighty. Though he wrote poems on Hindu male Gods like Krishna and Muruga, his description of Goddess of Power is unique.

He visualised Goddess Shakthi as the ultimate cosmic energy. He often used to dance in mirth praising the cosmic energy as:
“Let us praise the Mahasakthi (Cosmic energy) who has created the entire Universe,
She is hidden in the great five elements which constitute the EARTH,
She is the source behind all movements, speed
And all attractive forces on Earth,
She is the force of our lives and she is the food which men take to live
“Wherever you see, merges and finally collapses into Shakthi only”
which concept resembles the concept of ‘singularity’ in Science.

In addition to Hindu deities, he sang in praise of Jesus Christ, Islam also in his usual way. He was a lover of the Universe with special reference to the motherland Bharath in which he was living. He called her Bharathamatha (mother Bharath) and sang ‘vandhe madharam’ (Praise to my motherland). The phrase Vandhe Madharam had a magical effect on Indians fighting for freedom and several freedom fighters sacrificed their lives holding tricolor, close to their chests and raising this magical slogan till their last breath while being attacked by British soldiers. Alas! modern Indian youth are to be reminded of the supreme sacrifice made by young freedom fighters of those days to get freedom from foreign rule.

Patriotic songs:

Poet Bharathi always liked to compare Indian freedom struggle to the war of Mahabharath, the great Indian epic. For him, the British rulers were Kauravas and Indian freedom fighters were Pandavas. He had liking for extreme approach whereas Gandhians preferred to go by passive non-violence. Hence we could see his forthright disapproval of non-violent struggle in his songs. He said:

“My heart Does not tolerate these baseless people who are afraid of everything” in a melancholic mood as a direct reference to moderates and those who were indifferent to the violent struggle. However his reverence to Mahatma Gandhi, the advocate of passive non-violence was unique. He equated him with God and says,

“Mahatmaji, you are the saviour of Bharath, which was under the grip of poverty, ignorance and so lying low and so was a ruined country. You came as the saviour of this country Long life to thee, Mahatma Ji!”

He was deeply in favour of armed struggle for getting freedom and his leaders were Bal Gangadhara Thilak, Guru Gobindsingh, Dadabhai naoroji, Lala Lajpath Rai, V.O.Chidambaram Pillai who were all favouring armed struggle.

Bharathi was deeply impressed by leaders from abroad too. He was taking vow to get freedom for India in the name of Mazzini, founder leader of YOUNG ITALY.

He sang an elegy on the fall of BELGIUM in the first world war.

But what brought him fame in the international arena was his song on Russian revolution.

“Mahakali (The Goddess of power and cosmic energy) put her eyesight on Russia,
The revolution had its overwhelming upraise for ages to come!
The tyrant of Russia fell down.”

He compared the tyrant to the puranic monster Hiranyan and revolution to Goddess of Power. Goddess Power conquered him and reduced him to ashes

‘Bharath’ of Bharathi’s dreams:

“We shall walk along the peaks of silvery hills
We shall send our ships to deep western seas,
We shall construct schools in all temples and
We will proudly say we are Bharathiyans (Indians).
We shall construct bridge across the sea to Srilanka (Ceylon)
We shall connect both by broad roads,
By using the flooded waters of Eastern rivers
We shall irrigate in Central plateau
We will have our own weapons, produce papers,
We shall develop Industries develop education
We shall never rest, nor bow down our head
We shall uphold Truth and show our mite.”

Poets are of various types. Some write poems for money. Some poets write poems out of their immense love for the motherland and magnificent Nature and the Almighty. Such poets who write appreciating Nature have a Natural foresight and what they write in advance will come as true in later years.

We can see whatever Bharathi wrote in the above poem hundred years ago has become reality now. India has shown progress in all fronts especially in Science and Space Technology that India has already sent its satellite which landed on moon and the second is to land on Moon in the next six months.

His views on Woman Liberation:

He has got a special place in the role of Honour for great poets while considering woman His views on conjugal fidelity is very famous and quoted everywhere when the subject matter is discussed:
“When the question of sexual morality arises let us keep it common to both the sex” he declared when women were treated like slaves. His view on woman education also are noteworthy.

Walk with upright poser, look with straight eyes,
Don’t be afraid of anybody on Earth because of Morality,
Superiority because of flawless knowledge,
All these are possession of Modern woman”

Such women are known as Bharathi’s woman of New Age.

Bharathi’s poems are like an ocean. One can not go through the entire content in a short time. At least a glassful of his poetry has been given as above. If it kindles the interest in readers’ mind to go through the entire writing, the purpose of this article is achieved.