Indian National Poet Maha Kavi Bharathiar. Tamil Speech by S.V.Ramani.
Subramaya Bharathi was born to Chinnasami Subramanya Iyer and Elakkumi (Lakshmi) Ammaal as “Subbayya” on December 11, 1882 in the Tamil village of Ettayapuram. He was educated at a local high school called “The M.D.T. Hindu College”. From a very young age he learnt music and at 11, he was invited to a conference of Ettayapuram court poets and musicians for composing poems and songs. It was here that he was conferred the title of “Bharathi” Bharathi lost his mother at the age of 5 and his father at the age of 16., When Bharathi was 14 year old he married Chellamal.
After this early marriage, Bharathi, curious to see the outside world, left for Benares in 1898. The next four years of his life served as a passage of discovery. During this time he discovered a country in tumult outside his small hamlet. Bharathi worked as a teacher in Madurai Sethupathy High School (now a higher secondary school) and as a journal editor at various times in his life.
Bharathi joined as Assistant Editor of the Swadeshamitran, a Tamil daily in 1904. By April 1907, he started editing the Tamil weekly India and the English newspaper Bala Bharatham with M.P.T. Acharya. Bharathi started to publish his poems regularly in these editions. Bharathi participated in the historic Surat Congress in 1907, which deepened the divisions within the Indian National Congress between the militant wing led by Tilak and Aurobindo and the moderate wing. Bharathi supported Tilak and Aurobindo together with V. O. Chidambaram Pillai and Kanchi Varathaachariyar. Tilak openly supported armed resistance against the British.
In 1908, he gave evidence in the case which had been instituted by the British against V.O. Chidambaram Pillai. In the same year, the proprietor of the journal India was arrested in Madras. Faced with the prospect of arrest, Bharathi escaped to Pondicherry which was under French rule. From there he edited and published the weekly journal India, Vijaya, a Tamil daily, Bala Bharatha, an English monthly, and Suryothayam, a local weekly of Pondicherry. The British tried to suppress Bharathi’s output by stopping remittances and letters to the papers. Both India and Vijaya were banned in British India in 1909.
Bharathi entered British India near Cuddalore in November 1918 and was promptly arrested. He was imprisoned in the Central prison in Cuddalore in custody for three weeks from 20 November to 14 December. The following year Bharathi met with Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.
.Bharathi’s health was badly affected by the imprisonments and by 1920, when a General Amnesty Order finally removed restrictions on his movements, Bharathi was already struggling. He was struck by an elephant at Parthasarathy temple, Thiruvallikeni, Chennai, whom he used to feed regularly. Although he survived the incident, a few months later his health deteriorated and he died on September 11, 1921. Though Bharathi was a people’s poet there were only fourteen people to attend his funeral.
The last years of his life were spent in a house in Triplicane, Chennai This house was bought and renovated by the Government of Tamil Nadu in 1993 and named ‘Bharathiyar ‘illam ‘ (Home of Bharathiyar).
Let us remember Barathi’s word that we will never rest, nor sleep and we will be truthful to our Mother country.