THE PEOPLE of Madras were shocked to hear the death of their great poet, patriot and humanitarian. The newspapers expressed public grief at the untimely death. Numerous letters from the poet’s admirers appeared in the columns of the “ Swadesamitran ”.

The fiftieth death anniversary of the great poet was celebrated throughout Tamil Nadu not very long ago on September 11, 1971. These fifty years had seen tremendous changes in the history of the Indian people, both politically and culturally. India had finally tasted of freedom and democratic government for twenty five years out of this half a century.

In the ever-changing, fast-moving history of India, Bharati’s name is imprinted as a national poet, and a devoted son of Mother India. During the fifty years after his death Bharati’s name has been heard the world over, and his poetry has com to be treanslated in many languages, such as English, French, German, Russian and the Czech, besides begin translated in most Indian languages. There are numerous cultural associations and clubs named after him in most parts of the world. In 1948, a memorial building in the name of Bharati and a bust were installed in Ettayapuram solely on public contributions from the people of Madras. Bharati has been honored by the Government of India with a memorial postage stamp.

Bharati’s works have a long and complicated publishing history. His wife, Chellammal, and her brother, Appadurai, with the help of public donations, established “Bharati-Ashram” and published some of his works, the two parts of Desiya Githangal, Kuyil Pattu, KannanPattu and Bhaarati Arubattaru in 1922. The sale of these publications, it must be noted, was far from encouraging. Chellammal Bharati had commitments in life, the younger daughter Sakuntala to be married and the problems of day-to-day living which surrounded even a poet’s widow. In 1924, while the copyright of Bharati’s works was still with Chllammal, Bharati’s brother, Viswantahn, Garihara Shama and Nataraajan, Sakuntala’s Husband, stated publishing Bharati’s works by establishing a new firm called “ Bharati Prachuralayam ”. Later, in 1931, the copyright of Bharati’s works was sold to “Bharati Prachuralayam” for the astoundingly small sum of Rs. 4,000. Most of the money went to clearing the family’s debts to which Chellammal had committed herself for her daughter’s marriage. “ Bharati Prachuralayam ” published almost all of Bharati’s works-his Desiya Githangal. Vinayagar Nanmanimalai in 1929, Devotional and Philosophical Songs in 1930, collections of all his poetry and prose and his English writings in 1937. Later in 1941, the complete rights of Bharati’s works passed into the hands of Viswanathan as the other two partners of “ Bharati Prachuralayam ” withdrew from the venture. The Government of Madras bough the copyright of Bharati’s works in 1949 from Viswanathan, and Bharati’s wife and the two daughters were given Rs. 5,000 each in settlement of copyright. The Government under-took the publication of Bharati’s works in 1954, and the copyright has since become the property of the people of Tamil Nadu.

In the world of Tamil literary tradition, Bharati-literature has been a turning point in launching a new era of style in though and expression. Though Bharati belongs to the age-long tradition of Tamil literature, and limits himself in some places to the conventional banks, his poetry flows with a racing vigour of contemporaneity, gushing with new ideas and emotions. The course of its flow, its speed and manner, its transgressions and its light are totally new, and original in the finest sense of the word. Its impact on modern Tamil literature has been tremendous as it has given life and form to present day writing in Tamil. Particularly, the style of prose and poetry, and the way of thinking and feeling of the present literature in Tamil completely and totally belongs to the Bharati-tradition. Bharati is thus a revolutionary in Tamil literature, as he bought new imagination, new techniques in poetry and new ideals in thought.

Numerous scholarly articles, and poems in adoration have been written on Bharati; about a hundred books have been published on his life and works; he has been the subject of scholarly research for the M.Litt., and Ph.D. degree in universities.

Popular interest has been rousd in Bharati’s works, and his life. There has developed almost a sense of devotion towards him, elevating him to godly heights. As the poet’s grand-daughter, I myself have heard numerous stories, true and false, but imaginative, from all kinds of people, both educated and uneducated, all stories displaying great affection and devotion to their subject.

For Bharati, life and literature were not separate entities. Poetry was the very essence of life to him, and life, poetry itself. It is rarely that one sees a poet so steeped in the principles of poetry that for him life and poetry merge in a common identity. Bharati considered life a rasa. According to him all worldly experiences-emotional, intellectual or spiritual-became various rasa, and thus, enjoyable. In one of his essays, Bharati rfers to the division of the worldly experiences into nine varied rasas which are the products of one rasa only, ‘the form of Shakti’ or ‘joy’. To him all of life’s experiences were desirable experiences.

This world is sweet; sweet is the sky and the wind.

The fire, the water and the land are sweet.

Youth and senility are sweet.

Saving is sweet; and so is being saved.

Destruction id sweet; and so is being destroyed.

Consumption is good; and so is being consumed.

Rasa is well; life is well….well….well.

Bharati’s poetry is an example of this rasa of happiness. His work also reflects other rasas that are the variations of this rasa of happiness. Such emotions as fear, sorrow and anger appear in his poetry as the variations of the same rasa of happiness. Nowhere do we find in Bharati’s works an immersion in the shallowness of the other rasas themselves.

Bharati’s attitude towards life was optimistic. He was idealistic. Bharati should be studied though his poetry a well as biography. P.Sri. a prominent Tamil commentator, states how one can get details of Bharati’s life from his poetry:

For the pot, the inner life is more important than the external life. This inner life is expressed by a poet only in his poetry. We get a complete picture of Bharati though his poetry alone. When the poet forgets himself and sings in a state of ecstasy, the revealing poetry provides the essence of all his experiences of life. Here and there, we find valuable historical information, particularly many facts concerning his inner life scattered throughout his poetry.



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