C.SUBRAMANIA BHARATI
(S.VIJAYA BHARATI)

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A YOUNG PATRIOT

A GREAT many years o Bharati’s life were spent in the field of journalism – now experimenting and now adventuring. Bharati began his career as a journalist, as sub-editor in “Swadesamitran” in November 1904. He began his work primarily as a translator, rather than as a creative writer. The translations that Bharati did from English to Tamil made him proficient in both the languages and enabled him in addition to form a unique style of his own in Tamil. A study of the development of Bharati’s prose will never be complete without a close study and detailed analysis of his translated work from English to Tamil in various journals.

Though the job of a sub-editor helped Bharati become aware of the richness of the Tamil language, he was not completely satisfied with it, since he was never allowed to write an editorial of the newspaper or essays of his own, due chiefly to his pronounced anth-British feeling. Simultaneously, however, he was editor of the monthly “ Chakravartini ” published by the “Swadesamitran” office, where some scope existed for writing on everyday politics.

During this period, Bharati lived in Thambu Chetty streer in Madras, and had an office in Armenian Street. He had many good friends at this time; to name a few, S.Duraisamy Iyer, V.Chakkarai Chettiar, Paul, Jayaram Naidu and C.S.Rangunatha Rao. All his friends met regularly in the High Court beach, and threashed our various problems then facing the country.

During this time, Bharti was very much involved in politics, and wrote proliferously. He composed and sang a poem, praising Bengal in a beach meeting, and published the same in “ Swadesamitran ” on September 15, 1905 (In the year 1905, Bengal was partitioned, and this affected the Indian National Congress very badly. Bharati went to Varanasi to the Congress meeting in 1905 In his way back to Madras, he passed through Calcutta, where he met Sister Nivedita, the disciple of Vivekananda, in Dum Dum.

Bharati dedicated his national poems later to Sister Nivedita whom he considered his gure. His meeting with her brought about many changes in his personality. He was greatly attracted to her rare vigour, force of love and strength of wisdom. Her very appearance reflected her inner light. ‘Bhrati sings in adoration of Sister Nivedita:

An offering to grace, a temple of love

As a sun that dispels the darkness in my heart

As benevolent rain to my thirsty land,

As unbounded wealth to the destitute,

As a burning flame to the bondage of slavery,

Exists Mother Nevedita, at whose feet,

I bow in adoration.

She was the artistic spirit unifying Bharati’s exernal appearance was a true reflection of her inner harmony. Her soul, full of the sparks of a raging fire, was capable of stringing Bharati’s emotions into a thread of unity and order. The power of her love attracted the being coming into contact with it, ultimately transforming it into Love itself. The great wave of love in Sister Nivedita’s heart, without need for words or long association, filled Bharati’s heart as an instrument of great power. As hearts came near, the one put order into other’s inner faculties. The spirit of love concealed within was kindled into a raging flame. Bharati speaks of this unusual experience in his dedicatory lines to Nevedita:

As Lord Krishna revealed his mighty form to Arjuna and explained the state of Atman, the Guru howed me the form of Bharata Devi in its completeness and taught me to love my country. I dedicate this slender volume at the flowery feet of my guru.

I dedicate this book to Srimath Nivedit Devi, the spiritual offspring of Bhagawas Vevekananda, the most excellent of all spiritual teachers. She taught me the nature of true service to the Mother, and the greatness of asceticism-all this through unspoken wisdom.

Bharati refers to a vission of the complete form of Bharata Devi, Mother India, saying that the clarity of the heart endowed upon him by Nivedita presented this happy vision. The sequence of time in which the vision revealed itself is brief. And this is why, leaving aside the powerful influences of Tillak and many other political personalities, Bharati regards Nivedita his preceptor; hence the dedication.

Bharati compares his vision of Mother India to the mighty form of Lord Krishna revealed to Arjuna. Krishna’s form makes Arjuna realized his own self. Nivedita’s presentation of the vision of Mother India reveals the mighty form of the Mother of Bharati. He realizes the nature of true service and the glory of the ascetic way of life. In his national songs, we find this picture of the Mother imprinted firmly on the emotional screen of the poet’s personality, presented from a variety of angles.

Nivedita’s teaching of Bharati by silence is comparable in our legends only to the silent teaching of Lord Dakshinamurthy, the silent preceptor,. Bharati visualizes Mother India as Mother Shakti. His experience of Mother Shakti is fascinating. The vision is the same; but the experience of it varies. The completeness of this vision had earned for his national poems the reputed title, “ Desopanishad ”, comparing the poems with the Upanishadic wisdom of ancient India.

Bharati’s meeting with Nivedita also influenced him to fight later for the freedom and equality of women of our country. Bharati’s idea of freedom for women is born on the basis of a spiritual realization:

Freedom for women is based on a realisation of the self. Men and women are equal and as long as they do not harm each other they have the liberty to act according to their will and pleasure.

Bharati says that man’s duty in society is to protect the woman and to act as a hedge around her. His ten commandments about the freedom of women are as follows:

1. Girls must not be married of before attaining the age of puberty.

2. They must not be compelled to marry a man whom they don’t fancy.

3. Even after marriage she should have the freedom to live apart from her husband; she shall not be put to shame on this score.

4. Girls must get an equal share in ancestral property

5. After the husband’s death women must be allowed to remarry.

6. Women who would prefer to remain spinsters must be allowed to do so, provided they are able to earn a living by business of handicraft, independently.

7. The condition laid on women that they must not speak to or associate with men other than their husbands must be removed, as this is born out of fear and jealousy.

8. Women like men, must be allowed the advantages of higher education in all the branches of knowledge.

9. If they are qualified to employ themselves in any government jobs, this must not be prevented by law.

10. There is now no use to plead for women’s rights in the government as even men in the country do not have it. However, if the country were to become independent soon women must be given a share in the government as men.

Bharathi came back to Madras vigorously determined to fight for India’s freedom. To add to his enthusiasm. A weekly magazine “ India” had been started by Thirumalachariar. This was the beginning of an era of originality, individuality, experimentation and novelty for the journalist Bharati. “ India “ magazine was published from 34, Broadway, Madras, till September 1908, when, due to governmental interference, ceased. The legal editor of “ India “ , M. Srinivasan was arrested ad imprisoned for five years, and Bharati escaped to the French territory of Pondicherry. “ India “ magazine was resumed for October 20 of the same year, from Pondicherry. Though Bharati was the editor of “ India “, he continued as sub-editor of “ Swadesamitran ” and many of his poems and essays appeared in “ Swadesamitran ” during the same period as his editorial work for the “India” magazine.

An important event in the history of the Indian freedom movement was the meeting of the Congress in Surat. In the Congress held in 1906 at Calcutta, many differences existed between the moderates and the extremists. Dadabhai Naoroji managed to control the situation but the following year, when the Congress met again in Surat, the extremists decided to take over. Bharati patronized the extremists, and planned to lead the extremist delegates from Madras. He gave notice to the Congress nationalist delegates who wished to attend the Congress, announcing the dates of departure of the two groups, leaving Madras for Surat. V.O. Chidambaram Pillai and Mandaym Srinivasachariar came to his assistance and the young extremists went to Surat to attend the congress. The congress ended in disarray, when Rash Bihari Gosh of the Old Party was nominated for presidency and Tilak, the extremist leader, objected to it.

After his participation in the Surat congress, Bharati was fascinated by Lokamanya Tilak’s heroic appearance and striking eloquence. He expressed the burning passion in his partriotic heart by translating a lecture of Lokamanya tilak, entitled The Tenets of the New Party (published 1908) and a pamphlet of his own experiences in Surat Congress entitled Our Congress Tour.

Bharti said of Tilak:

Those who are determined to serve this land until death speak the name of Tilak as the Saivites speak the name of Namasivaaya.

He thought that Tilak dispelled the darkness of ignorance and blew on the conch of learning to kindle the flames of patriotism:

He built a fortress strong with learning

And fortified it with ideas, as impassable depths of water,
He built therein the temple of clear words,
And hoisted the flag of liberty,
May Tilak’s name be blessed.

Bharati never much liked the Old Party, and expressed his feelings about them in his satirical poems. He was against Dadabhai Naoroji who belieed in writing appeals to the Parliament, and officials of the Government, but getting nothing out of them. Later, in 1917, Bharati wrote in “ Swadesamitran ” about Dadabhai Noroji, when he died at the age 92, praising him for his strength of will and faith in God. He praised him in a poem on his 80th birthday (1905 though he disbelieved in his methods of achieving freedom for India.

You possess knowledge of learning and likewise kindliness.
And equal to kindliness,
You possess an uncommon creativity and heroism.
Still instead of fighting with arms
You battle with words, as a true sage who has dedicated
Himself to the cause of others.

Every small event in the political history of India during the freedom struggle came to Bharati’s notice, and he wrote his own commentary about it in “ Swadesamitran ” or “ India ”. The partition of Bengal, the differences between the two parties, the visit of the Prince of Wales to India in the year 1906, swami Abhedanada’s visit to Madras and Lajpat Rak’s exile from India are some of the events on which Bharati published poems and articles in his magazines.

While bharati was so very much involved in politics, his poetic talent improved as well. He began publishing his poetry in1904. His poems were of unusual poetic quality and full of patriotic fervour. He published three of his poems as a pamphlet with V. Krishnasami Iyer’s help. In 1907, Krishnasami Iyer sent all of the fifteen thousand copies as free gifts to schools and institutions in the Presidency of Madras.

Bharati wrote an appeal to Tamil scholar through “Swadesamitran” asking them to find out poems from Tamil literature which praised India or to send their own poems about India. He intended to publish poems with national fervour written in different times both in English and Tamil by different scholars. He was disappointed when he could not get hold of any poetry of this description. Then he began writing his own songs, and published them in book form in 1908 entitled, Swadesha Githangal. Gnana Ratham, an example of Bharti’s wonderful prose, was published in “ India” magazine every week, as a serial fiction.

In the meantime, the control of the British Government over Indian political leaders became unbearable, In 1908, Tilak was sent to Mandalay, imprisoned for six years. V.O. Chidambaram Pillai, who stared a national navigation company in South India, was arrested when he went to see collector Which of the Tirunelveli district; he was sentenced to forty years ‘imprisonment and Subramanya Siva who was a young extremist was imprisoned for ten years. Bharati wrote two poems in which the conversation between collector Wynch and V.O. Chidambaram Pillai is described in beautiful clarity.

It is not surprising therefore that soon a warrant was waiting at the door of the “India” office for the arrest of the editor of the magazine. The legal editor, M.Srinivasan, was arrested and sentenced to five yours in prison. It was because of this worsening of situation that Bharati decided to go away to Pondicherry, a French territory at the time, and continue to publish the “India” magazine.

The most profitable years of Bharati’s life were the ten years he spent in Pondicheery. Bharati, the poet and philosopher, flourished through the most difficult but wonderful years in Pondicherry,. In Pondicherry’s then foreign soil this Indian national poet, so it seems, blossomed into a philosopher and a saint.


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