An 80-year-old aerospace scientist was working on his book on the galaxies. One day, he went to his library to pick two books for research. As he was turning back to his desk, a Tamil book caught his attention. It was poet Sirpi Balasubramaniam's Poojyangalin Sangili.

“The book seemed to say ‘take me…take me…'” recalled former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on the final day of poet Sirpi Balasubramaniam's 75th birthday celebrations. “A gnani and his disciple appear all through the book,” said Mr. Kalam. “Through his sweet Tamil, Sirpi explains the philosophy of origin, the basis of the galaxies. Poet Sirpi proves to us that there are no distances that Tamil has not touched.”

“Sirpi Balasubramaniam is a Sahitya Akademi Award winning poet. He has won the award not once but twice. The first award came to him for a collection of poems and the second was for his translation work,” said Mr. Kalam.

His talk, ‘Let us create a prosperous India through poetry', had a good dose of Sirpi's poetry delivered in lilting Tamil. “Nirangal is my favourite poem in Sirpi's Moodupani, a collection of poems. In it, we can see how he poetically depicts the various facets of India using colours. The Indian culture of observing unity in diversity reflects in his poetry. This culture should be inscribed in the hearts of our youngsters

“If this is done, problems between neighbouring States will be resolved smoothly without being blown up. The welfare of the people will be placed ahead of political gain. For such a change, there should be an exchange of literary works among the various States, ” Mr. Kalam said and compared Sirpi to the ‘Mundasu Kavignar' Bharathiyar. “Only, he (Sirpi) doesn't have the mundasu (turban).”

“It is my dream that Sirpi pens a poetry epic ‘Valarndha Tamil Nadu, Valarndha India' in 2020. I believe that he will make me realise this dream. How Panjali Sabatham was for Bharathi, so shall be this epic for Sirpi — it shall be translated in to every Indian language.”

A visibly moved Sirpi recalled his first meeting with Mr. Kalam at a time when the latter was the Principal Scientific Adviser for the Prime Minister. “I had gone to his office with a few friends. At tea, he asked us who is responsible for the development of today's generation. We did not have an answer. He then brought a book from his library and read out my poem Pallikoodam. ‘The answer is teachers', he said, ‘according to the poem.' I was pleasantly surprised.”

B.K. Krishnaraj Vanavarayar, actor R. Sivakumar, Mylswamy Annadurai, Project Director of Chandrayaan, Indian Space Research Organisation and C. Subramaniam, former Vice-Chancellor of Tamil University, also felicitated Sirpi.

The poet is now working on an epic on saint Ramanujar. Speaking to The Hindu, he said, “It has long been my ambition to write a historical epic on Ramanujar. I hope to complete it in a year.”

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