Bharati’s “Vision” – Part 2: The Wind

Bharati’s vision was a vision of Maha Shakti, one of the two-fold powers of Creation –
Shakti in Nature, in the body of the world. He praised the various forms of Shakti in Tamil mantras, the most powerful poetry of a unique style and unparalleled diction.

The following continues from “Vision” (1):

A canopy is raised over the porch of a house, with a (thatch) roof made of coconut palm fronds.
Seven or eight bamboo sticks are placed across  and attached to each other with strings, on which a thatch is constructed by laying the fronds of the coconut tree.
At the edge of a bamboo stick, hangs a little string.
The cord is about the length of a chann (the length between the thumb
and the middle finger of the hand when spread).

One particular day, the string is swinging gaily with apparent enjoyment. It doesn’t seem to have any worries, not even the slightest.
At times, it would hang very quietly with no movement. It wouldn’t respond even if you called.
Today, it is not like that; it is in a joyful mood.

We were friends; we often make conversation with each other.
“If you talk to a string, will it answer?”
Just try talking to it; you will see whether or not you get an answer.
But you would have to talk to it when it is in a happy mood. Otherwise, it would simply not be responsive – with a long face, like women.
Be that as it may, this string will talk; there is no doubt about it.

…Did I say it was a single string? There were two strings.
One was of the measurement of a chann; the other was of a three-quarter chann.
One was a male, the other was a female; they were husband and wife.
They were in a joyful mood – exchanging passionate glances, smiling and amusing themselves with fun-talk.
I arrived there at that time.
‘Kandan,’ was the name of the male.
‘Valli Ammai’, was the name of the female.
(We can name pieces of string, like we do humans).

Kandan approached Valli to put his hand on her; she moved back a little. At that very moment, I reached them.
I asked, “How are you Kanda? Are you doing well? Perhaps I have come at the wrong time? Should I go away and come back again?”
“Oh, you old-fashioned man! Would I be embarrassed even in front of you? Why, Valli, are you angry that Iyer saw us both flirting with each other?”
“ Ok, ok. Don’t ask me anything,” said Valliyammai.
Kandan laughed, clapping his hands, jumped and embraced Valliyammai – even when I was beside them.

Valliyammai started shrieking, but she was happy in her heart. Don’t we feel happy when other people see our enjoyment?
It was satisfactory for me, too, to watch this “fun.” What is wrong with telling the truth? Isn’t it a great joy to look at the enjoyment of youth?
As Valliyammai screeched more, Kandan left her alone.
After a few moments, he went back and embraced her again,
Again screeching, again leaving; again embracing, again screeching; it went on like this for a while.
I said, “Why, Kanda, you are not even saying a word to me? I will come back some other time; shall I go?”
“Oh, you old-fashioned man! You are just watching “fun.” Just stand here a little while longer. I just have to settle certain matters with her. After that, I am thinking of talking a few things over with you. Don’t go away, stay.”
I stood and watched them some more.
After a little while, the woman, forgetting that I was standing there, in her state of enchantment, left her embarrassment.

Immediately, there was singing; beautiful thukkadas; one mettu for one line.
A couple of sangathis. Then another song.
When Kandan finished singing, Valli would start. One after the other – Kolahalam! (a great happy occasion!)
They would be singing for a while, without touching each other; then, Valliyammai would go and touch Kandan. Kandan would approach to embrace Valli; she would run away from him. Kolahalam!
After a long time, Valliammai was intoxicated.
I left the place to drink a sip of water in the next house.
Both of them didn’t notice it.
When I came back, Valliyammai was sleeping.
Kandan was expecting for me.
As soon as he saw me, he asked, “Where have you gone, old man? You didn’t even tell me.”
“It looks like Amma is in good sleep?”

Aha! At that time, the string exploded and there emerged a Divine figure; how could I ever describe the magnificence of the Deva?
There! the Divine Wind appeared!
I thought his body would be huge and broad (vimmi visalamaga);
it was like a diamond needle, in the form of light!

“Namaste Vayo, thwameva Pratyaksham Brahmasi.”

Oh, Wind! I Salute thee! Thou art the Brahma which appears before the human eye!

When he appeared, the entire sky was filled with the heat of a burning life-force (praana-shakti), and its combustion was blowing everywhere.

I prostrated, falling under his feet a thousand times.

The Deva said:
“Oh, Son! What did you ask me? Are you asking whether the small string was sleeping? No.
It is dead.
I am the praana-shakti.
The body that is associated with me is active; without my touch, it is a mere corpse.
I am the Life (praana). The small string has lived and enjoyed because of me.
When it became tired a little, I let it sleep – die.
Sleep is Death. Death is also sleep.
When I am present, neither one exists.
I will come back and blow in the evening, and it will come back to life.
I am the one who awakens and moves the string.
I am the Son of Shakti. Worship me and remain alive!

“Namaste Vayo, Thvameva Pratyaksham Brahmasi.
Thvameva Pratyaksham Brahma Vadhishyami.”

It is impossible to praise the Wind.
His glory is unending.
The sages glorify him in words: “Pratyaksham brahma.”

We worship praana-shakti; let him save us.
We worship apaanan; may he save us.
We worship vyaanan; may he save us.
We worship udhaanan; may he save us.
We worship samaanan; may he save us.
We praise all the doings of the Wind.
We pray to him.
Glory to him!

(A Translation from Bharati’s “Vision” – Katchi: Wind)

The Spirit Moves . . .

September 11 (1921 – 2015)

Dear Grandfather!

It has been almost a century since you passed away. In the 39 years that you lived, you dedicated your life to our country and to our people. You opened their eyes, showed them the light of knowledge, and set a new path for a great future for the land. What were your goals? What were your dreams for the country? What were the principles that you lived by? What were your ideals, that you set for our people? What was the culture that you cherished and taught to the men and women of this country?

THE SPIRIT MOVES . . . It has been moving through TIME all these nearly-hundred years .   .   . watching the Earth, and especially, watching his Ancient Land with unbounded love and compassion.

THE SPIRIT MOVES . . .  to his birth place, where a mature woman, looking at the sky, is talking to him.

THE SPIRIT WONDERS .   .   . “What does this mean? Was I not clear enough in explaining all these issues when I wrote about them? . . . Did I neglect my country? Did I leave my country and the world in too much haste?”

HE PONDERS . . .

“ ‘Revolution of tenderness’ – A voice is heard from the final mass in Cuba in the City of Santiago. The Pope’s call to the people.”

“Thousands of people are moving across Southern Europe as they flee war and persecution in Africa and the Middle East.”

.  .  . There are still people who do not have a land for themselves; there is still poverty, hatred, sickness, and death . . .

More . . . and .  .  . more. . .

“Yes, I still have much more work to do.”

The Spirit comes down to Earth, to the village of Ettayapuram, to communicate to the woman who is his own flesh and blood – desperately talking to the poet.

Suddenly . . .

Lightning flashes . . . Dark clouds gather, and the deafening noise of the thunder rolling above is heard.

Rain pours down on the dry land of the village of Ettayapuram.

The woman’s heart is filled with wonder, with a beautiful feeling that she has never before.

Grandfather! Is this you? Are you trying to communicate with me?

“Is Poetry a powerful enough tool to accomplish my goals?”

The Sprit’s moving finger begins to write . . .

Bharati’s Poetry in 4 Volumes

Mahakavi Bharatiyar Kavithaigal

Edited by S. Vijaya Bharati, Bharati’s granddaughter.

All 4 Volumes of Mahakavi Bharati’s poems have now been published! You can buy them from amazon.com

by clicking on the following links:

VOLUME 1 – DESIYAM (National Poems):

http://www.amazon.com/Mahakavi-Bharatiyar-Kavithaigal-Desiyam-Tamil/dp/1508658404/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1436580228&sr=8-1&keywords=mahakavi+bharati

“His powerful words kindled passion and patriotism in the hearts of the Tamils.”

Bharati was an ardent Indian nationalist, an impassioned advocate of social reform, and a pioneer of the Freedom movement in early twentieth-century South India. He belonged to the extremist party of the Indian National Congress, and worked alongside the great leaders of the Freedom movement, including Tilak, Lajpat Roy, Bipin Chandra Paul, and Sri Aurobindo, from the North; and G. Subramania Iyer, V.O. Chidambaram Pillai, Subramania Siva, and Surendranath Arya in the South. Bharati’s contribution was unique – as a journalist and writer, his powerful words kindled passion and patriotism in the hearts of the Tamils. A true visionary, he anticipated freedom and independence for the three hundred million Indians of his day, at a time when the entire world was dominated by British Imperial force and a decline in British power seemed unthinkable. For Bharati, freedom meant freedom at every level – political, social, and personal – and for every individual, irrespective of caste, colour, gender, or religion.

VOLUME 2 – DEIVAM – THATHUVAM (Devotional and Philosophical Poems):

http://www.amazon.com/Mahakavi-Bharatiyar-Kavithaigal-Deivam-Thathuvam-Tamil/dp/1511584432/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1436580228&sr=8-3&keywords=mahakavi+bharati

“Ekam Sat: Truth is one.”

Bharati’s Devotional and Philosophical poems sing of the various aspects of God by different names: Vinayagar (Moolam, the source of Creation), Murugan (Light and Beauty), Lakshmi (Wealth), Saraswati (Knowledge, Wisdom, and Inspiration), Shakti (Energy) – Brahma (the Creator), Vishnu (the Preserver) and Rudra, Siva (the Destroyer), and so on.

Bharati’s philosophy of life was drawn from the findings of the Vedic Seers: Ekam Sat (“Truth is one.”). This principle was the basis of the Hindu philosophy of Advaita, founded by Adi Sankaracharya. The Vedic Seers’ concept of God (Paramporul) was two-fold: Being (Siva) and Energy (Shakti) – Man and Woman – Absolute and Relative; the rishis saw the various aspects of God even in the infinitesimal forms of Nature, and worshipped them.

On the basis of the Advaitic principle, that all is one, Bharati aspired to establish a Kruta Yuga, a new era, in which the equality of all beings is recognized – the animate, and even inanimate, objects of Creation. This is the state of Immortality, the life of a Deva – a life in which there is no death, sickness, or inequality, and there is freedom and happiness for all.

VOLUME 3 – KANNAN PATTU – PANCHALI SABATHAM – KUYIL PATTU

http://www.amazon.com/Mahakavi-Bharatiyar-Kavithaigal-Pattu-Panchali-Sabatham-Kuyil/dp/1511709715/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1436580228&sr=8-4&keywords=mahakavi+bharati

This volume includes 3 of Bharati’s major works, treasures of poetry and philosophy that deserve a place among the classics of world literature. Panchali Sabatham has long been known as a modern Tamil epic, in the millennia-long tradition of classical Tamil literature, and the unforgettable Kannan and Kuyil poems are poetical narratives of sparkling fantasy, engaging humour, and divine insight.

Kannan Pattu (Songs of Kannan):

“These are more than mere ideas…”

“Preoccupied from the earliest times with divine knowledge and religious aspirations, the Indian mind has turned all forms of human life and emotion[,] and all [the] phenomena of the universe, into symbols and means, by which[,] the embodied soul may strive after and grasp the Supreme.”

“These are more than mere ideas,” says Bharati, and he has carried this experience of life to the “extreme possibilities.” In his Kannan Songs, dedicated to Krishna, Bharati’s devotion has “especially seized upon the most intimate human relations.” These relations are not just “symbolic” to Bharati. He has experienced them, in a real and advaitic sense, as he saw his own ‘self,’as well as all other forms of creation, as manifestations of God.

Panchali Sabatham (The Vow of Panchali):

“. . . an epic which revives and gives new life to Tamil language.”

The story of Panchali Sabatham was selected from the great Indian epic, Mahabharata. The war between the Pandavas and the Kauvaras described in this epic was the theme of the Bhagavad Gita, the core of Hindu scripture. And Panchali, the heroine of this “modern Tamil epic,” was Bharati’s own vision of a new woman (pudumai penn) who embodied his ideal of free womanhood and her place in Indian culture.

Kuyil Pattu (The Song of the Kuyil):

“ . . . discover, if you can, the hidden meaning of this fantasy,”

As the poet tells it, as he was sitting under a tree in a mango-grove in Pondicherry one day, when he fell into a dream…Kuyil Pattu was the result. It is the work of the poet’s imagination, a “fantasy.” The story is extraordinary enough for legend – the tale of a damsel, and her two lives, first, as the daughter of a hunter, and, second, as a beautiful little bird, the kuyil – which is known, like its Western counterpart the nightingale, for its lovely song.

The theme of the story is eternal Love. At the end, Bharati concludes by writing that the story may have some philosophical implications, and invites the Tamil pandits to discover what might be the hidden meaning of this fantasy.

VOLUME 4 – BHARATI VAZHKKAIYUM PIRA PADALGALUM (Bharati’s Autobiographical and Other Poems)

http://www.amazon.com/Mahakavi-Bharatiyar-Kavithaigal-Vazhkkaiyum-Padalgalum/dp/1511916311/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1436580228&sr=8-2&keywords=mahakavi+bharati

“You are Rati, the Goddess of Love! I surrender myself to you . . .”

What better source than Bharati’s own, autobiographical poems, Kanavu (Dream) and Bharati Arubattaru (66 stanzas in Bharati’s life), to tell us truthfully about the poet’s life?

This 4th Volume is a collection of autobiographical poems, as well as other poems on several themes, including Love, Nature, and Greetings to the great people of his times. Of these, the poems that he wrote on his wife, Chellamma, form an important part, as they depict the special contribution made by the poet’s wife to his life and work. She was beautiful, understanding, and totally dedicated to her husband; she managed the poet’s difficulties and transformed his life into the life of a deva.

Katchi (Vision) was formerly published as Vachana Kavithai (Prose Poem), and is a work of monumental literary and spiritual significance. Katchi may be considered modern Veda Mantras that Bharati wrote in Tamil. The language and content of these mantras are new creations in form, style, and imagination, unique in the history of Tamil literature.

The books are also available on Amazon’s websites all over the world. Just go to your national Amazon sites:

Amazon UK: amazon.co.uk

Amazon India: amazon.in

Amazon France, amazon.fr

Amazon Germany, amazon.de

and search for “Mahakavi Bharati.” You can pay in your local currency, and may receive the books even sooner.

These four Volumes of Bharati’s poetry, edited and published by the Mahakavi’s granddaughter, fill a vacuum in Bharati studies by providing the first-ever Standard Edition of C. Subramania Bharati’s Works. It is a primary work of its kind, and supercedes all publication of the poet’s works to-date.

More Good News!

Blog Editor Mira T. Sundara Rajan writes:

The Standard Edition is now complete!

All 4 Volumes of Mahakavi Bharati’s poems have now been published! The books are available on Amazon. You can buy them from amazon.com by clicking on the following links.

Volume 1 – Desiyam:

http://www.amazon.com/Mahakavi-Bharatiyar-Kavithaigal-Desiyam-Tamil/dp/1508658404/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1436580228&sr=8-1&keywords=mahakavi+bharati

Volume 2 – Deivam – Thathuvam:

http://www.amazon.com/Mahakavi-Bharatiyar-Kavithaigal-Deivam-Thathuvam-Tamil/dp/1511584432/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1436580228&sr=8-3&keywords=mahakavi+bharati

Volume 3 – Kannan Pattu – Panchali Sabatham – Kuyil Pattu

http://www.amazon.com/Mahakavi-Bharatiyar-Kavithaigal-Pattu-Panchali-Sabatham-Kuyil/dp/1511709715/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1436580228&sr=8-4&keywords=mahakavi+bharati

Volume 4 – Bharati Vazhkkaiyum Pira Padalgalum

http://www.amazon.com/Mahakavi-Bharatiyar-Kavithaigal-Vazhkkaiyum-Padalgalum/dp/1511916311/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1436580228&sr=8-2&keywords=mahakavi+bharati

The books are also available on Amazon’s websites all over the world. Just go to your national Amazon site (Amazon UK, amazon.co.uk; Amazon India, amazon.in; Amazon France, amazon.fr; Amazon Germany, amazon.de…) and search for “Mahakavi Bharati.” You can pay in your local currency, and may receive the books even sooner.

A summary of each volume follows:

Mahakavi Bharatiyar Kavithaigal (4 Volumes)

Edited by S. Vijaya Bharati, Bharati’s granddaughter.

Volume 1: Desiyam (National Poems)

“His powerful words kindled passion and patriotism in the hearts of the Tamils.”

Bharati was an ardent Indian nationalist, an impassioned advocate of social reform, and a pioneer of the Freedom movement in early twentieth-century South India. He belonged to the extremist party of the Indian National Congress, and worked alongside the great leaders of the Freedom movement, including Tilak, Lajpat Roy, Bipin Chandra Paul, and Sri Aurobindo, from the North; and G. Subramania Iyer, V.O. Chidambaram Pillai, Subramania Siva, and Surendranath Arya in the South. Bharati’s contribution was unique – as a journalist and writer, his powerful words kindled passion and patriotism in the hearts of the Tamils. A true visionary, he anticipated freedom and independence for the three hundred million Indians of his day, at a time when the entire world was dominated by British Imperial force and a decline in British power seemed unthinkable. For Bharati, freedom meant freedom at every level – political, social, and personal – and for every individual, irrespective of caste, colour, gender, or religion. Almost a century later, has modern India fully caught up to his ideals?

Volume 2: Deivam-Thathuvam (Devotional and Philosophical Poems)

“Ekam Sat: Truth is one.”

Bharati’s Devotional and Philosophical poems sing of the various aspects of God by different names: Vinayagar (Moolam, the source of Creation), Murugan (Light and Beauty), Lakshmi (Wealth), Saraswati (Knowledge, Wisdom, and Inspiration), Shakti (Energy) – Brahma (the Creator), Vishnu (the Preserver) and Rudra, Siva (the Destroyer), and so on.

Bharati’s philosophy of life was drawn from the findings of the Vedic Seers: Ekam Sat (“Truth is one.”). This principle was the basis of the Hindu philosophy of Advaita, founded by Adi Sankaracharya. The Vedic Seers’ concept of God (Paramporul) was two-fold: Being (Siva) and Energy (Shakti) – Man and Woman – Absolute and Relative; the rishis saw the various aspects of God even in the infinitesimal forms of Nature, and worshipped them.

On the basis of the Advaitic principle, that all is one, Bharati aspired to establish a Kruta Yuga, a new era, in which the equality of all beings is recognized – the animate, and even inanimate, objects of Creation. This is the state of Immortality, the life of a Deva – a life in which there is no death, sickness, or inequality, and there is freedom and happiness for all.

Volume 3: Kannan Pattu, Panchali Sabatham, Kuyil Pattu

This volume includes 3 of Bharati’s major works, treasures of poetry and philosophy that deserve a place among the classics of world literature. Panchali Sabatham has long been known as a modern Tamil epic, in the millennia-long tradition of classical Tamil literature, and the unforgettable Kannan and Kuyil poems are poetical narratives of sparkling fantasy, engaging humour, and divine insight.

Kannan Pattu (Songs of Kannan):

“These are more than mere ideas…”

“Preoccupied from the earliest times with divine knowledge and religious aspirations, the Indian mind has turned all forms of human life and emotion[,] and all [the] phenomena of the universe, into symbols and means, by which[,] the embodied soul may strive after and grasp the Supreme.”

“These are more than mere ideas,” says Bharati, and he has carried this experience of life to the “extreme possibilities.” In his Kannan Songs, dedicated to Krishna, Bharati’s devotion has “especially seized upon the most intimate human relations.” These relations are not just “symbolic” to Bharati. He has experienced them, in a real and advaitic sense, as he saw his own ‘self,’as well as all other forms of creation, as manifestations of God.

Panchali Sabatham (The Vow of Panchali):

“. . . an epic which revives and gives new life to Tamil language.”

The story of Panchali Sabatham was selected from the great Indian epic, Mahabharata. The war between the Pandavas and the Kauvaras described in this epic was the theme of the Bhagavad Gita, the core of Hindu scripture. And Panchali, the heroine of this “modern Tamil epic,” was Bharati’s own vision of a new woman (pudumai penn) who embodied his ideal of free womanhood and her place in Indian culture.

Kuyil Pattu:

“ . . . discover, if you can, the hidden meaning of this fantasy,”

As the poet tells it, as he was sitting under a tree in a mango-grove in Pondicherry one day, when he fell into a dream…Kuyil Pattu was the result. It is the work of the poet’s imagination, a “fantasy.” The story is extraordinary enough for legend – the tale of a damsel, and her two lives, first, as the daughter of a hunter, and, second, as a beautiful little bird, the kuyil – which is known, like its Western counterpart the nightingale, for its lovely song.

The theme of the story is eternal Love. At the end, Bharati concludes by writing that the story may have some philosophical implications, and invites the Tamil pandits to discover what might be the hidden meaning of this fantasy.

Volume 4: Bharati’s Autobiographical and Other Poems

“You are Rati, the Goddess of Love! I surrender myself to you . . .”

What better source than Bharati’s own, autobiographical poems, Kanavu (Dream) and Bharati Arubattaru (66 stanzas in Bharati’s life), to tell us truthfully about the poet’s life?

This 4th Volume is a collection of autobiographical poems, as well as other poems on several themes, including Love, Nature, and Greetings to the great people of his times. Of these, the poems that he wrote on his wife, Chellamma, form an important part, as they depict the special contribution made by the poet’s wife to his life and work. She was beautiful, understanding, and totally dedicated to her husband; she managed the poet’s difficulties and transformed his life into the life of a deva.

Katchi (Vision) was formerly published as Vachana Kavithai (Prose Poem), and is a work of monumental literary and spiritual significance. Katchi may be considered modern Veda Mantras that Bharati wrote in Tamil. The language and content of these mantras are new creations in form, style, and imagination, unique in the history of Tamil literature.

These four Volumes of Bharati’s poetry, edited and published by the Mahakavi’s granddaughter, fill a vacuum in Bharati studies by providing the first-ever Standard Edition of C. Subramania Bharati’s Works. It is a primary work of its kind, and supercedes all publication of the poet’s works to-date.

 

Good News!

Blog Editor Mira T. Sundara Rajan writes:

This week is a historic week in Bharati studies. For the first time, an authoritative, STANDARD EDITION of the poet’s works is available to his readers. S. Vijaya Bharati, the poet’s granddaughter and leading Bharati scholar, has just published Mahakavi Bharatiyar Kavithaigal: Volume 1 – Desiyam, with extensive notes and commentary on the poet’s life and works. It is now available for purchase directly from Amazon’s website. Here is the link for the book (from Amazon.com):

http://www.amazon.com/Mahakavi-Bharatiyar-Kavithaigal-Desiyam-Tamil/dp/1508658404/ref=sr_1_1/177-4324746-9482759?ie=UTF8&qid=1428266801&sr=8-1&keywords=mahakavi+bharati

The poet, himself, has been waiting for this day since 1921! Vijaya Bharati, and her husband P.K. Sundara Rajan, have been working towards the publication of this standard edition for the past ten years.

The STANDARD EDITION of Bharati’s poems includes:

Volume 1: Desiyam (National)

Volume 2: Deivam-Thathuvam (Devotional and Philosophical)

Volume 3: Kannan Pattu, Panchali Sabatham , Kuyil Pattu

Volume 4:   Bharati’s Autobiographical and Other Poems including Katchi (Vision)

Availability of Volumes 2, 3, and 4 is pending, and will be announced with blog updates in the coming days.

The description of the book follows (and a short version also appears on Amazon):

“His powerful words kindled passion and patriotism in the hearts of the Tamils.”

This book is a work of historic importance: the first volume in a new, four-volume STANDARD EDITION of Mahakavi C. Subramania Bharati’s poems. Edited by his granddaughter and leading Bharati scholar, S. Vijaya Bharati, this Standard Edition represents the first authoritative publication of Bharati’s works since the poet’s death in 1921. Bharati’s poems are published in comprehensive and error-free form, organized according to the various themes addressed in his writing, and presented to the reader as the poet meant for them to be read. The Editor has meticulously prepared these volumes in authentic and modern Tamil spelling that accurately conveys the rhythm of Bharati’s poetry, while remaining easy of access to the modern reader. These volumes include invaluable and authoritative commentary on the poet’s life and analysis of his work, and they reproduce key historical documents that reflect the history of Bharati’s writings. As such, they are suitable for all Bharati-lovers – from the general reader interested in Bharati’s poetry, to scholars in search of an authentic, reliable, and authoritative text.

C SUBRAMANIA BHARATI (1882-1921) was the most important writer and thinker of the twentieth century in the Tamil language. Now known as an Indian National Poet, Bharati holds the unique title of Mahakavi, the greatest of poets. His importance for the Tamil language and literature today can only be compared to that of Shakespeare in the English-speaking world. Bharati’s writings sparked a renaissance in Tamil literature. While he drew his inspiration from ancient sources of literature, in both the Tamil and Sanskrit traditions, his works were truly innovative, and, in form and expression, established a new modernity.

At the time of Bharati’s premature death in 1921, when the poet was 38 years old, much of his work remained unpublished. For the works that had been published, the poet himself had no opportunity to edit or publish them in a standard edition as he wished to do. His attempts to raise support for the publication of his works fell afoul of the British government of the day, and were largely unsuccessful.

After Bharati’s death, his family members made several attempts to publish his works. Notably, Chellamma Bharati, the poet’s wife, was keenly interested in bringing out her husband’s writings, and published two volumes of his work under the name Bharati Ashramam; but she was greatly hampered in her efforts by poverty and the difficulties faced by women, and widows, in her time. Later attempts were made by Bharati’s half-brother Viswanatha Iyer (Bharati Prachuralayam) and the Government of Madras. In 1954, the government “gave” the poet’s works to the people of India. Since that time, numerous commercial publishers have taken advantage of the opportunity to publish the works of this well-known and important writer. The result has been a proliferation of books filled with errors, many of which present works that were never actually written by Bharati at all.

Most of these publications violate the moral rights of the poet. The poet’s great granddaughter, Mira T. Sundara Rajan, is an expert on copyright matters, and she has emphasized the value of the author’s moral rights of “attribution” and “integrity” in protecting our literary heritage. She noted the injustices done in the handling of Bharati’s works in a scholarly article on this subject, published in 2001. The principle of respect for the poet’s moral rights has provided the fundamental basis on which the STANDARD EDITION has been prepared, and is now offered to the public.

The role of Bharati’s family in preserving this important national literature should be recognized. The poet established a family oral tradition surrounding his own work, teaching his poems to his wife and two daughters, who subsequently taught the poems to their own children. S. Vijaya Bharati is not only a Bharati scholar with some four decades of experience in research; she was also raised by the poet’s wife, Chellamma, and his daughter, Thangammal, giving her privileged access to information and knowledge that can help to establish the authenticity of the poems by tracing their origin to the poet, himself.

Highlights include:

  • The painstaking selection of poems offered, which eliminates the questionable selections in unauthorized versions, respecting the poet’s own rights to attribution, integrity, and the disclosure of his works.
  • A detailed list of unauthorized poems is provided to assist readers with tracing the publication history of Bharati’s works.
  • The poems are categorized and assembled in a new and useful system of organization.
  • Previous changes to titles, words, lines, or personal names (such as the elimination of Chellamma’s name from the so-called Kannamma love poems) have been restored to the poet’s original versions.
  • Footnotes provide additional information relating to the poems, the circumstances and events surrounding their composition, and their historic significance.

        The four Volumes of Bharati’s poetry, edited and published by the Mahakavi’s granddaughter, fill a vacuum in Bharati studies by providing the first-ever Standard Edition of C. Subramania Bharati’s Works. It is a primary work of its kind, and supercedes all publication of the poet’s works to-date.

 Volume 1: Desiyam (National Poems)

Bharati was an ardent Indian nationalist, an impassioned advocate of social reform, and a pioneer of the Freedom movement in early twentieth-century South India. He belonged to the extremist party of the Indian National Congress, and worked alongside the great leaders of the Freedom movement, including Tilak, Lajpat Roy, Bipin Chandra Paul, and Sri Aurobindo, from the North; and G. Subramania Iyer, V.O. Chidambaram Pillai, Subramania Siva, and Surendranath Arya in the South. Bharati’s contribution was unique – as a journalist and writer, his powerful words kindled passion and patriotism in the hearts of the Tamils. A true visionary, he anticipated freedom and independence for the three hundred million Indians of his day, at a time when the entire world was dominated by British Imperial force and a decline in British power seemed unthinkable. For Bharati, freedom meant freedom at every level – political, social, and personal – and for every individual, irrespective of caste, colour, gender, or religion. Almost a century later, has modern India fully caught up to his ideals?

Scenes from Bharati’s “Vision” (Kātchi)

 

1. Shakti

Bharati’s “Vision” is a picture gallery of the Universe. They are portraits of the cosmic objects (Jagat Chitram). The picture gallery consists of the two worlds, the Earth and the Heavens; they display the “Joys” of the Earth and the “Divinity” of the Heavens. They are vignettes of the Joys and Divinity. They are manifestations of the infinitesimal aspects of Shakti. Bharati realized that the powers of the Divine can be achieved by the human – the light (wisdom) of the Sun, the strength and knowledge (arivu) of Indra, the energy and vigor of the Agni, the life-force of Vayu (kārru), the truth, clarity and purity of Saraswati – all these powers can be captured in the human body and mind.

The Joys:

“The World is Sweet.The Firmament in this world, the Wind, the Fire, the Water, and the Earth are Sweet.

The Sun, the Moon and the Stars in the sky are all sweet.

The Rain, the Lightining, and the Thunder are Sweet.

The Sea, the Mountain, and the Forest are sweet.

The Rivers are Sweet.

The metal, the tree, the plant, the vine, the flower, the ripe and the

un-ripe fruits – are all sweet.

The Birds, the Moving objects, all the Animals and the aquatic organisms are also good.

Men are very sweet.

The Male is good, the Female is sweet, and the Child is joy.

Youth is sweet and the Old is good.

Life (uyir) is good and the Death is sweet.”[1]

The Divinity:       

Prakriti (Shakti) is the form of Nature; the world that we see is the body of Vishnu. The soul that permeates through the body is Vishnu. . . The Vedic seers directly perceived and worshipped Vishnu, Indra, Suryan, and Rudhra. As the World is the body of Vishnu, they worshipped the World. . . The Within and the Without are One (and the same).”

As the Rishis of the Vedic period discerned the objects of Nature as their inner self, they were not afraid to confront the forces of Nature:

“A violent storm hit the Earth; the Seers stood in front them. A thousand lightning struck (the Earth) like swords; the world shook; there was a deafening noise like the planets broke into pieces. The Rishis fearlessly chanted mantras. Isn’t Nature the body of the Rudhra?”[2]

Shakti is Infinite – limitless, endless.

It shows movement in immobility.”

“சக்தி அநந்தம் – எல்லையற்றது, முடிவற்றது.
அசையாமையில் அசைவு காட்டுவது .”[3]

“However you look at it, it is a wonderful entity which has no beginning or end. It is (capable) of breaking thousands of crores of planets with a little nose.It is so fine and minute as to paint colors, patterns, and designs in the petals of a small flower; it has the determination, strength and patience (neLNeh;ik) to wait for many, many thousands of years to originate a little flower.”

“எப்படிப் பார்த்தாலும் ஆரம்பமில்லாமலும், எப்படிப் பார்த்தாலும்
முடிவில்லாமலும் இருக்கும் அற்புத வஸ்து.
கோடானுகோடி அண்டங்களை ஒரு சிறு மூக்கினால் உடைப்பது .
ஒரு சிறிய மலரின் இதழிலே வர்ணம் தீட்டுவதற்குப் பல்லாயிர
வருடங்கள் இருந்து பழகும் நெடுநேர்மை கொண்டது ;
பெரிதும் சிறிதுமாகிய முதற்பொருள்; பராசக்தி.”[4]

The Vignettes:

“The snake charmer plays the flute.

We have heard that ‘sweet music is sorrowful’.

But, although the music of the snake charmer is sweet,

it is devoid of sorrow.

This music sounds like a scholar arguing (about something).

An eloquent speaker (nāvalan) building meaningful small words, one on top of the other.

What is this snake charmer arguing about?

“Thāna-thanda thāna-thanda thā – thana

Thāna -thandana thāna -thandana thā –

Than-danathana than-danathana thā”

He plays like this – changing it in many different ways – in winding, continuous spirals.

What is the meaning of this?

A child began to explain the meaning as follows:

‘I adorned Kali with flowers

And, a donkey has come to eat it.’

I built this body for Parashakti.

And, the disease, a consequence of sin (pāvam) has come to eat it.

I surrendered (under the feet of) Parashakti.

The disease has disappeared.

Parashakti has begun to exist in my heart as the form of light.

Hail to Her! (vāzhga!)” [5]

“The snake charmer plays the flute.

Did the music originate from the flute? Did it originate from the holes (of he flute)?

Did it initiate from the breath of the snake charmer?

It originated from his heart. It exited through the flute.

The heart doesn’t sound by itself. The flute doesn’t create music.

The heart doesn’t adhere to the flute.

The heart adheres to the breath. The breath adheres to the flute.

The flute sings.

This is Shakti’s Play (Lila).

She sings in the heart. That sounds through the holes of the flute.

Attaching the un-related objects and creating music in it – is Shakti.

The begging children make a loud cry for food.

Who tuned the flute of the snake charmer and the voice of the begging children into harmony (sruti)? – Shakti.

A man asking for jarigai (gold thread woven at the border of old silk saris) shouting and passing by, in the same sruti.

Ah! I found the (underlying) meaning (of all this)!

The same Shakti plays in the life-breadth of the snake charmer, begging children, and the Jarigai man.

 

The instrument(s) are many. The musician is one.

The forms are many. The Shakti is one.

Hail to Her!  (vāzhga!)” [6]

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Bharati — Katchi: Branch 1 –“Joy”

[2] Bharati: The Poetry of the Vedic Rishis – Maruthu (The Storm) — Epilogue

[3] Katchi (Vision): 2. Shakti (1)

[4] Bharati: Articles: Philosophy — Navarathri

[5] Katchi (Vision): 2. Shakti (6)

[6] Katchi (Vision): 2. Shakti (7)

 

Bharati – Gnāna Guru

A Prayer on His Birth Anniversary (December 11, 1882)

“An offering to Grace

A Temple of Love

The Sun that dispels the darkness in my heart

Rain to the fields of our great country

Wealth to the destitute who know not how to acquire wealth

Fire to base slavery”

– Bharati’s Poems: Nivedita Devi

I fall at your feet on your birth anniversary

– To attain Freedom from the tangles in the forest of my heart,

I pray that you show me the Light of knowledge and wisdom.

S. Vijaya Bharati

Nivedita

 

 

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