Rama Setu: and Bharati, the national poet

Rama Setu: and Bharati, the national poet

The national poet Mahakavi Bharati sang:

Singalatteevinikkor paalam amaippom

Setuvai medurutti veedi samaippom…

Let us set up a bridge to Srilanka, let us build a highway elevating the Setu…

Eternal flame of nationalism nay, rather universalism

V Sundaram | Tue, 11 Dec, 2007 , 04:01 PM

Today (11 December 2007) the World is celebrating the 125th Birth Anniversary of the great bard of Tamil Renaissance and Indian Nationalism. ‘Mahakavi’ Bharathi was a peerless, poet of Tamil Renaissance during the early face of our struggle for freedom. 

Even as Mahatma Gandhi gave moral grandeur and greatness to our struggle for freedom, ‘Mahakavi’ Bharathi added poetry and grace to it and so much so that his songs were on the lips of every revolutionary and freedom fighter in this part of the country during those exciting and soul-stirring  times.

A wise man once wrote for all time when he said ‘Let me write the songs of a nation and I care not who makes its laws’. For, the songs of today lay down the laws of tomorrow and that is why the great English Poet P.B. Shelley (1792-1822) said that “The poets are indeed the unacknowledged legislators of the world”. The poet blazes the trail, which the politicians follow, plodding along.


In India’s struggle for independence, the banner of freedom was gloriously held aloft by a gallant galaxy of poet – patriots, two of whom stand foremost, Tagore and   Bharathi. Shelley also said that poets learn in suffering what they teach in song. The patriot in Bharathi writhed in agony, under the oppressive yoke of foreign rule and the poet in him, burst out in song, that was at once a call and a challenge. His words were power and his songs were fire; his music moved the people to mutiny and roused them to revolt.

His famous song “as a heart cannot bear”


is a scathing indictment of the slavish life to which the people of his time had got themselves  reconciled to in a spirit of helpless resignation .  Mahakavi Bharathi lamented  in sorrow “Obsessed with fear, and laden with sorrows, they (our common people) had fallen prey to a thousand superstitions. They shuddered at the very sight of a sepoy and skulked away when someone carrying a pistol passed by.

In docile servility and cowardly sycophancy, they meekly got up to pay dutiful homage to anyone who dressed with flambpyance and walked with a swagger. The heart cannot bear to see these great people torn by strife and disunity, petty differences and squeamish disputes setting even the son against the father and sowing the seeds of a feud, that was to cast its shadow for generations to come.”

His poem titled “Poli Swadeshigal” on the pretentious patriots and presumptuous heroes, rings with biting denunciation of deceit and revels in the exposure of hypocrisy. The dumb driven masses who had sold themselves to slavery, the false crowd that indulged in facile talk and heroic fibs to cover and camouflage their cowardice, the crowd that talked when it should have toiled, that feared where it should have fought and sighed where it should have struggled, the crowd that grovelled in the dust and revelled in its own impotence, that was the crowd that Bharathi singed with his sarcasm and scorched with his scorn through his immortal poems. He called upon the people to shed fear and fight falsehood. “Even were the skies to fall on your head, have no fear”


was the message of courage, this Crusadar against injustice put in his song, which was also the saga of sacrifice.  Even as Mahakavi Bharathi struggled to destroy the false values that had corroded society and corrupted men’s minds, hearts and souls, he sought to build up new values, to forge and fashion new bonds of sympathy, understanding and love.  He was a poet with a hate of hate, scorn of scorn and love of love. 

Through his great poetry Mahakavi Bharathi made it clear that when we drink deep at this fountain of love, that we feel that, out of clay we have been made into men and from men we have risen with gods.  According to Mahakavi Bharathi it is this gospel of love that binds the highest with the humblest, the lowest with the loftiest and creates a common comradeship that can be strengthened by common endeavour and unity of purpose.  It is in the raptures of this love that Mahakavi Bharathi sings of the oneness of all, that all are one kin and all one kind, all the people of this great and ancient land. 

He pleaded for a Society that will rise above its class, that will refuse to demean itself into divisions of caste, that will respect the tiller and the toiler and will no longer burn incense to the idle rich, a society where virtue shall be strength and earnest endeavour seek to promote the abiding good—this is the new order of which Mahakavi Bharathi dreamt, for which he worked and prayed. 

The India of his dreams would have its roots in the past, in the rich culture and noble traditions that had sustained the country for thousands of years.  In one of his poems, Mahakavi Bharathi declared: “This was the land where our forefathers lived a happy, purposeful life and thought a thousand thoughts, fertile in their imagination, rich in their idealism and faithful in their realism.

Shy and bashful maidens have revelled in the cheering coolness of the rivers of this land, and the benign moon beamed with joy at their virgin delights. These damsels had ripened into womanhood to fulfil themselves as mothers and with the sweet words; they spoke, fed their babies with the wisdom of our land. This was the land studded with temples that rose high, offering unto the Gods the humble gratitude of men for the life of fullness and fulfilment that they lived here.”

To quote the beautiful words of K. Diraviam “But Bharathi was no poet of the past; he was indeed a poet of the future and heralded an era where, enriched with our experiences, we should march forward towards fresh advances in every sphere of life. Love of ancient culture and the yearning for modern progress met and mingled in Bharathi’s melody. “There was no use”, he counselled, “in secretly regaling ourselves with


colourful tales of the prosperous past.” 

We should catch up with the most progressive advances in arts and sciences, in thought and literature. Our past shall equip us, not envelop us; it shall inspire us, but not imprison   us. If Bharathi was an idealist dreamer, he was also a practical planner. He was not like the nightingale that sat in the darkness and sang to cheer its own solitude with sweet songs. His songs were not mere invitations to romance and rhapsody. They were also the blue prints for progress.”

Let us now hear the bracing words of Mahakavi Bharathi  in one of his immortal poems: “Let us  walk amidst the silver snowclad mountains, while our ships sail all the western seas. Let us bridge the gaping gulfs and harness the turbulent waters of Bengal to nourish our crops. We shall delve deep into the land and coax the hidden treasures of the earth to bring us prosperity. We shall dive deep in the Southern seas and fish for pearls as bright as wisdom.

Let us exchange the tasty wheat grown on the banks of the Ganges for the tender betel leaves of the banks of the Cauveri. We will reward the melodies of the Marathas with the soft, shining ivories of Kerala. We will pay tribute to the glory of the Rajaput heroes, with Mysore Gold. We will have wealth from cotton and silk, and make earth heave with the fulsome weight of the fruits of our labour. We will span the seas and scan the skies; we will watch the stars and probe the Mars. We will cherish the truth and nourish the arts and sing in ecstacy of Bharath, the land of our birth.” In Bharathi’s poetry, we can find post-Independent India’s Five Year Plans, set to music.

This patriot who spanned our wide country with the poet’s metre and measure, who had his feet play with the waters of the seas that met at Kanyakumari, and held his head high amidst the snow-clad Himalayas, swelled with abounding pride and abiding love for the language that lured him to poetry—Tamil. Mahakavi Bharathi is an illustrious example of a nationalist who did not love his country less, but loved his mother tongue Tamil more. Let us say and sing along with him “The mention of Tamilnadu fills our ears with sweet honey.

The very name of our forefathers breathes into us, a new power. Tamil Nadu, rich in valour and full


with the Vedas, where labour and learning unite at the altar of love—this was the land that produced Valluvar and presented him to the world; this, the language that sang of living truths in lilting music; this the people who matched the mountains with their mighty valour, who roamed the seas and planted little Tamil Nadu in lands far far-away, at the back of the beyond.” BHARATHI WAS A TRUE TAMIL AND THEREFORE, A GREAT INDIAN.


Maalaiccudar Tamil evening daily (Dec. 11, 2007)




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