Subramaniya Bharathiyar life history (1882 – 1921)
He was from Tamil Nadu and was a poet, freedom fighter and social reformer. He was referred to as Mahakavi Bharathiyar.
Mahakavi means a great poet. His patriotic songs inspired people to participate in the freedom movement in Tamil Nadu.
Bharathiyar : A poet and a Nationalist
He composed songs that are classified as short lyrical on patriotism, devotional and mystic. Bharathiyar basically a lyrical poet.
Bharathiyar’s writings are “Kannan Pattu”, “Nilavum Vanminum Katrum”, “Panchali Sabatam”, “Kuyil Pattu”.
He was considered a national poet as he composed a lot of songs on the Indian freedom movement, patriotism, nationalism etc. He also outlined his vision for free India in his songs.
He published astonishing “Sudesa Geethangal” in 1908. Bharathiyar’s work Panchali Sabatham depicted India as Draupadi, the British as Kauravas and the freedom fighters as Pandavas.
In Panchali Sabatham, Draupadi is portrayed as Mother India struggling under English rule.
He organised a huge public meeting in Madras in 1908 to celebrate ‘Swaraj Day’ and distributed free prints of his poem named ‘Vande Mataram’, ‘Enthayum Thayum’, ‘Jaya Bharath’.
Bharathi as a Journalist
He spent most of his life in journalism. He began his career as a sub-editor in Swadesamitran in November 1904. A newspaper named “India”, in May 1906 declared three slogans of the French Revolution -Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.
This ignited Tamil Journalism. Inspired by the French revolution, Bharathi printed in Red Paper weekly. “India” was the first paper in Tamilnadu to publish political cartoons. A Tamil daily named Vijaya was also edited and published by Bharathi.
He also published an English monthly named Bala Bharatha and a local weekly of Pondicherry name Suryothayam. The police issued an arrest warrant against Bharathi for his work in “India”.
Bharathiyar escaped to Pondicherry, a French territory to stay underground and publish the “India”.In Pondicherry, he met Sister Nivedita, a Disciple of Swami Vivekananda, there he added Women’s rights in his policies along with several social issues.
There he took the Symbolism of Shakthi as the image of modern women who is powerful, strong, independent and also equal to men.
Early Days of Bharathiyar
He was born on 11th December 1882 in Ettayapuram in Tirunelveli. His childhood name was Subbiah. His father’s name was Chinnaswamy and his mother’s name was Lakshmi Ammal.
He started writing Tamil poems at the age of 7. At the age of 11, he won a debate competition where the ruler of Ettayapuram was present. This was a memorable moment in his life. Thereafter, he was referred to as “Ettayapuram Subbiah” to Bharathi.
Afterwards, he was respectfully referred to as Bharathiyar by Nationalist and Tamil lovers. At the age of fifteen, in 1897, Bharathi was married to Chellammal. Bharathi then left to Benaras also known as Kashi Varanasi.
He then spent two years with his aunt Kuppammal and her husband Krishna Sivan. There he learnt Sanskrit, Hindi and English, and also passed the Entrance examination of Allahabad University.
The Banaras stay changed Bharathi’s personality, where he changed his appearance with Sikh turban and acquired a bold swing in his walk.
Bharathi During Exile
During his exile, he met many leaders such as Aurobindo, Lajpat Rai and V.V.Subramaniam who of them also sought asylum in Pondicherry. The good years of Bharathi’s life were the ten years he spent in Pondicherry.
From Pondicherry, he guided several Tamil youths to the path of Nationalism. This created anger of the British towards Bharathi’s writings.
Bharathi After Exile
He met Gandhi at Rajaji’s home at Madras in 1919. Bharathi entered British India near Cuddalore in November 1918 and he was arrested. In prison, he wrote poems on freedom, nationalism and countries’ welfare.
In his youth day, he had good friendships with V.O.Chidambaram, Subramanya Siva, Mandayam Thirumalachariar and Srinivasachari. They used to discuss the problem faced by the country because of British rule.
He used to attend the Annual session of the Indian National Congress and discuss national issues with extremist leaders like Bipin Chandra Pal, B.G. Tilak and V.V.Subramaniam.His role in the Benaras Session in 1905 and the Surat Session in 1907 of INC impressed many national leaders.
Thus Bharati played an important role in the freedom struggle.
Bharathiyar as a social reformer
He was against the caste system and declared there were only two castes, one is men and the other is women. He himself removed his Sacred thread (“poonool” in Tamil). Bharathiyar also adorned many Scheduled caste people with Poonool.
He consumed tea sold in Muslim tea shops. He along with his family attended Church at all festivals. He also fought for Temple entry for Dalits. For all these activities he faced a backlash from his community and neighbours.
Bharathi had a clear India until Indians unite as children of Mother India, they will not achieve freedom. He also believed in women’s rights, gender equality. He believed in women’s emancipation. He opposed child marriage, supported widow remarriage.
He opposed the dowry system.
Bharathiyar – A Visionary
His dream of independent India came true two and a half-decade after his death. His vision of the post-Independence era is taking its shape. Bharathi never thought of himself, he always thought of people and country.
That’s why he was referred to as Bharathiyar. Bharathiyar stands as a symbol of freedom and nationalism. He passed away on 11th September 1921, only 14 people attended his funeral due to caste expel from a community and fear of government.
This article is written for Tnpsc Exam for the topic “Bharathiyar”, alias “Subramania Bharati”. He was a Tamil writer, poet, journalist, social reformer, women rights activist and Indian freedom activist. His poems on nationalism and freedom inspired masses to support the Indian independence movement across Tamil Nadu.