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
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.
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:
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
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
They must not be compelled to marry a man whom they don’t
Even after marriage she should have the freedom to live
apart from her husband; she shall not be put to shame
on this score.
Girls must get an equal share in ancestral property
After the husband’s death women must be allowed to remarry.
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.
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.
Women like men, must be allowed the advantages of higher
education in all the branches of knowledge.
If they are qualified to employ themselves in any government
jobs, this must not be prevented by law.
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
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
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
He thought that Tilak dispelled the darkness of ignorance
and blew on the conch of learning to kindle the flames
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.