(Backgrounder, in case I am losing someone on what I am talking about - Mahakavi Bharathiyar, popularly known as Bharathi, is one of the most talented poetic minds that Tamil Nadu has ever produced. Bharathiyar kavidaigal (poems of Bharathi) span a wide variety of topics and are especially famous for its spirit of freedom. Bharathi didn’t live long, but his poems continue to ring in our lives, in different forms.)
Tamil, as a language, is something I feel extremely passionate about. Well written Tamil pieces – essays or stories and poems, or for that matter, well written lyrics in movie songs, find a great fan in me. That way, Bharathi’s Tamil has been a source of inspiration, a wonderful means of relaxation for me and I possess this small book of Bharathiyar kavidaigal that I keep going back to, whenever I find the time.
Most of my exposure to his poems, have been through film songs. Nevertheless, I have heard many of his songs being sung by the all time great Carnatic singer, Late M.S. Subulakshmi. I haven’t read all of his works but certain lines amaze me because of their simple yet powerful construction.
Many of his poems carry a burning desire to see a free India, as in,
“Endru thaniyum indha sudhandhira dhaagam?
Endru madiyum engal adimayin mogam?”
Or cases where he would describe the pride of being an Indian, “Paarukulley nalla naadu, engal bharatha naadu”.Powerful words of his would inspire anybody to fight for what one truly deserved.
A set of Bharathi’s songs are entirely dedicated to Goddess Shakthi, on whom he bestows a beautiful form, completely through his poetic prowess. Shakthi for him is “Nitya Kalyani”, also the destroyer of evil, and one who could bless our lives with goodness – “Thunbamiladha nilaye Shakthi; thookam illa kan vizhipey Shakthi” and there are many, many more.
Bharathi was a visionary. He wanted a whole new, free world for women. “Pen Vidhuthalai vendum” he said years and years ago. “Manadhil Urudhi Vendum, Vakkiniley Inimai Vendum”, he wrote on the need for courage in one’s mind also emphasising that politeness should mark one’s speech. A brilliant piece and one of my personal favourites.
Bharati’s sense of romance is mind blowing. Kannama figures as the fictitious lover in many of his poems. The passion with which he describes Kannama and the love for her is exceptional in, “Suttum Vizhi chuddar thaan kannama, suriyar chandirano?”. If that sounded familiar, this is the song sung by Hariharan, in Kandukonden kandukonden. Again, one of my favourites. “Chinanjiru Kiliye Kannama..”, she is the little girl here. “..selva Kalanjiyame” talks about the sweet little darling that she is.
His poems also bear a testimony to the deep thinker that he was. “Nirpadhuvey, Nadapadhuvey, Parapadhuvey..Neengal ellam kanalin neero, pala thotra mayakangalo?” he questions the reality of what we see around us. Are they Maya, mere illusions? My third favourite piece, and it features as a song in the movie “Bharathi”, the song being sung by Harish Raghavendra.
And that just isn’t all about Bharathi. There is much more to him than what I know. As someone, who has begun reading and interpreting him more seriously, I recognize that his poems are a journey into realising certain truths of life. Bharathiyin thamizhil moozhguvadhai kaatilum perinbamum uundo? Reading and comprehending him is truly a matter of pleasure. He IS marvellous.
(if I sent people mad, with all those tamil quotes, am sorry, but if you could understand them, they are a real treat! I consciously refrained from translating them, because it would do utter damage to the beauty of his work.)