Bharathiyar-Epitome of Tamil Literature

Rowthiram Pazhagu

Mahakavi Barathi

Subramanian Bharathi also known as Bharathiyar (11 December 1882 – 11 September 1921), was a Tamil writer, poet, journalist, Indian independence activist, social reformer and polyglot. Popularly known as “Mahakavi Bharathi” (“Great Poet Bharathi”), he was a pioneer of modern Tamil poetry and is considered one of the greatest Tamil literary figures of all time. His numerous works included fiery songs kindling patriotism during the Indian Independence movement.

Born in Ettayapuram of Tirunelveli district (present day Thoothukudi) in 1882, Bharathi had his early education in Tirunelveli and Varanasi and worked as a journalist with many newspapers, including The Hindu, Bala Bharata, Vijaya, Chakravarthini, the Swadesamitran and India. In 1908, an arrest warrant was issued against Bharati by the government of British India lived until 1918.

After his father’s demise with help from his relatives, he went to Varanasi or Kasi to learn about the religious customs. There he was educated in all areas of Hindu spirituality and gained the reputation of being a rebel. Once his education was over, Bharathiyar came back to Ettayapuram to continue his life with his wife. He abandoned many of the customs specific to his community. He cut his hair short, wore a turban or Mundasu, and refused to wear the Punool a white thread across his chest. His actions of not abiding by community rules caused a lot of protests from people from his community. Some close to him even regarded him as losing his mind. Though he criticized customs, he was a staunch devotee of Kalli Devi.

After a few years, he moved to Chennai and continued to work in a magazine and wrote against the British. His health saw no signs of recovery and slipped into more distress. One day while feeding the temple elephant of Triplicane temple, the elephant pushed him away. He fell on the ground and sustained head injury. His weak health status and head injury combined made him bedridden. And he passed away peacefully.

His words are way ahead of his time, and he is a strong supporter of violence if needed. He attended meetings organized by V.O.C.People used to gather in his session to hear his passionate speech and his attacks on the British. He participated at the Surat congress conference, where he met Bala Gangadhar Tilak.

Bharathiyar started to work in a newspaper published from Pondicherry and distributed across Tamilnadu, which carried the seeds of freedom and sometimes violence. His health was also deteriorating during this period and his earnings too. During his stay in Pondicherry, he met many of the extremists who were taken up weapons to bring down British rule in India. One of the crucial people was Savarkar, who was one of the accused in the collector Ashe murder case. Bharathiyar wanted to learn a sword fight, but his health was not in good shape to accommodate it. He coined the famous phrase.