Tuesday, December 11, 2012

130th Birth Anniversary of the Mahakavi

The daily sheet calendar had the image of the man with the white turban, bright eyes and a big moustache. Subramanya Bharathi, a phenomenon that changed Tamil literature was born on this day 130 years ago.I don't have enough mastery over the language be it English or Tamil to talk about Bharathi and his genius. However I couldn't resist writing about him today

I have never been to Ettayapuram but I have visualized it. There are several times I have woken up from a dream thinking I am in Ettayapuram. Maybe I will go there one day and visit the birth place of a genius who has ignored during his lifetime, who has maybe still not got the recognition he deserves but has left an everlasting impact on Tamil and Tamilians. Maybe he has become so much an integral part of Tamil and Tamilians that he doesn't need to be recognised separately?

There are poets who have sung about nature, those who wrote for social causes, people who specialized in writing about religion and those who wrote motivational and philosophical poems but Bharathi is one of the very few, if not the only one, who wrote poems on all of these. Poetry that is relevant even today, almost 100 years after they were written.

Bharathi laid the foundation for modern poetry, what is called Pudhu Kavidhai in Tamil. His hallmark was his choice of words and simplicity but then you can't brand him only as a Poet. He was a great patriot and Philosopher. His interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita brings out his deep understanding of hindu philosophy

Bharathi was a visionary who was well ahead of his time. He was born in a country which was lost in caste and cultural divides but he could see through those barriers and had a vision of a unified India. The multi faceted personality that he was - there are songs where he expresses his frustration and anger, while in some he portrays the homeland he envisioned. He wrote simple poems for children on the one side but also wrote deeper ones which were philosophical.

One could go on writing about his songs and fill up blogs but to talk of a few:

In "Aaduvome Pallu Paduvome" he could imagine an independent India and sing a song celebrating the independence which came almost 26 years later. His "Sindhu nadhiyin misai nilavinile" recognizes the speciality of every state and his view on how they could collaborate. Songs like "Mogathai Kondru vidu", "Nirpathuve Nadappathuve" bring out his philosophical side. "Acchamillai Achamillai" is a song that will motivate people forever while you can resort to something like "Nalladhor Veenai Seidhe" or "Ninnai Saranadainthen" when you are feeling low. In his Kannan Pattu collection, he imagines Kannan as god, as his lover, as his servant, as his employer and so on and each song is beautiful. And there are so many beautiful songs on love, those which highlight the pain of separation from the loved one.. "Aasai Mugam marandhu Poche" and all those songs on Kannamma, be it "Indha Kaatru veliyidai Kannamma" or "Theertha Karayinile".

The Carnatic music and Cine music platform did play a big role in giving his songs the much needed reach to a wider audience but I believe the popularity of his songs is because of the simplicity and the truthfulness in his words. Bharathi's poems have accompanied me like a friend all along. There is a never a situation in life where you cannot pull out one of his songs and realize their relevance.

I will borrow the great man's words to welcome the next Bharathi. Maybe he is just around the corner and will announce himself soon or maybe he is a 100 or 1000 years away. Who knows!

ஒளிப டைத்த கண்ணினாய் வா வா வா 
உறுதிகொண்ட நெஞ்சினாய் வா வா வா 
களிப டைத்த மொழியினாய் வா வா வா 
கடுமை கொண்ட தோளினாய் வா வா வா
தெளிவு பெற்ற மதியினாய் வா வா வா 
சிறுமை கண்டு பொங்குவாய் வா வா வா 
எளிமை கண்டு இரங்குவாய் வா வா வா 
ஏறு போல் நடையினாய் வா வா வா 

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