Tamil Nadu

‘Bharathidasan favoured celebrating Bharathiar’s birth anniversary’

Whether to celebrate the birth anniversary of national poet Subramania Bharathiar or observe his death anniversary has always been a subject of debate in Tamil Nadu.

Well known Tamil poet Bharathidasan, a disciple of Bharathiar, had strongly argued in favour of celebrating his birth anniversary. A letter written by him reiterates the point.

“Subramania Bharathi is a world-class poet. His birth anniversary should be celebrated every year and all Tamils should become poets,” he said in a handwritten letter, which has been traced by Tamil writer Kadarkarai.

Bharathidasan, who was living on Raman Street in T. Nagar, had agreed to record his views on the issue when approached by members of the Bharathi Youth Association in 1962.

“The handwritten letter was in the possession of Ramamurthy, president of the Youth Association, for two decades and he published it in Tamil magazine Kalki in 1982, when Bharathiar’s birth centenary was celebrated. I found a copy in the archives,” said Kadarkarai, who writes and lectures on Bharathiar.

Old debate

Tamil Nadu has always debated the issue. In the 1940s, Congress leader and Tamil scholar Thiru. Vi. Ka. in his magazine Navasakthi supported the idea of observing the death anniversary on the ground that a person’s greatness was not proved on the day of his birth.

Kadarkarai said that in another article Valikaati Yaar? (Who is the guide?), penned by Bharathidasan in another Tamil magazine Kumudham in 1961, he had explained how his meeting with Bharathiar totally changed the subject matter and the style of his poetry.

“I have written thousands of poems. They are not simple when it comes to style. There is no trace of patriotism in them,” Bharathidasan had said in the magazine.

Bharathidasan had met Bharathiar through his physical trainer Venu, who was also a bodyguard of Bharathiar. Bharathidasan presented a vocal performance on the wedding day of Venu and rendered the song Thondu Nikalntha. “It was appreciated by freedom fighters V.V.S. Iyer and Srinivasachari. Even then I had not met Bharathiar. Bharathiar had listened to my song and wanted to make me his friend,” Bharathidasan further explained.

Subsequently he met Bharathiar. “I moved with him. I moved more with what he had written. After that my poems never remained the same. He taught me the art of writing in a simple style,” Bharathidasan recalled.

Kadarkarai said Bharathidasan’s aim was to make a film on Bharathiar, but he died before realising it. “His wife Pazhaniammal had said in an interview to Dinamani Kadir that he spent 60 days for completing the script and it had taken a heavy toll on his health,” Kadarkarai explained.

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Printable version | Sep 30, 2020 8:54:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/bharathidasan-favoured-celebrating-bharathiars-birth-anniversary/article32199259.ece

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