Subramanya Bharati, popularly known as ‘Mahakavi Bharathiar’, is one of the greatest Tamil poets, who through his poems encouraged patriotism among people at the time of Indian Freedom Struggle.
Leading Literary Figure
Considered one of the leading figures in Tamil literature, Subramanya Bharati’s works mainly ranged in social, religious and patriotic arena.
Subramanya Bharati, affectionately called Bharathiar was born in Ettyapuram on December 11th, 1882. He completed his education in Tirunelveli and Varanasi.
Birth Place of Bharathiar
Taking part in Freedom struggle
He joined the Indian National Congress and carried out revolutionary activities against the British rule, an aspect of which was his stirring poetry through which he kindled nationalism in people.
He also wrote articles for newspapers such as Swadeshamitra and India.
A National Poet
Mahatma Gandhi called him a national poet.
Poems on Women Emancipation
Among his poems were also many songs for women’s emancipation with the title of Kannama.
Coming to Pondicherry
The British police issued a warrant against him in 1908 for carrying out revolutionary activities. Bharathiar then went to Pondicherry, a French colony and lived there for the next 10 years. Here, he translated the Bhagavad Gita into Tamil.
Friendship with V O Chidambaram Pillai
Bharathiar was a close friend of V O Chidambaram Pillai, the other great freedom fighter who started the Swadeshi Shipping Company, forcibly closed by the British, as they perceived it as a threat to British interests.
V O Chidambaram Pillai Swadeshi Shipping Company
Bharathiar’s end came when he was shoved aside by an elephant in mast, at the Parthasarathy Temple in Triplicane, Madras. His condition deteriorated rapidly and he passed away on 11th September, 1921.
Parthasarathy Temple, Thiruvallikeni
Among his great grandchildren, Rajkumar Bharati is carrying forward his legacy.
The home where he spent the last few years of his life in Triplicane, also called Thiruvallikeni, has been named Bharathiar Illam, which stands adjacent to the Parthasarathy Temple.
In Tamil Films
The songs of Bharathiar have been used in the Tamil films and Carnatic Music, for the past many decades.
Feature Film – Bharathi
Bharathi, a film on the life of Bharathiar was released in the year 2000. This film won the National Film Award for best Tamil Feature Film, for the year 2000.
Bharathi Film on Bharathiar’s life
Streets, Associations and University in name
Almost every town of Tamil Nadu has a Bharathiar street. Tamil associations in different cities of the world have been named after him. There is a University in his name at Coimbatore. Such are his literary achievements.
Bharathiar University, Coimbatore
Stamps in name
There are also stamps and coins released in his name by the government of India.
Stamp on Bharathiar
Statues and Idols
Many statues have been erected for Bharatiyar all over Tamil Nadu. There are also some temples where his idol can be found. One such place is in Madhya Kailash temple in Adayar, Chennai, which has an idol for Bharathiar.
Statue of Bharathiar, Chennai Statue of Bharathiar, Pondicherry
All these speak of the immense popularity and wide acceptance of this Mahakavi.
Jatindranath Mukherjee is one of the main Indian revolutionaries from Bengal, who fought against the British Rule.
Leader of Yugantar Party
He was the leader of the Yugantar party that carried out freedom related activities, against the British. He was actually at the helm of the party at a very young age.
Bagha Jatin – A Tiger
He was nicknamed Bagha Jatin, Bagha meaning tiger, for the great courage he showed at a tender age, in revolting against the British.
Young Bagha Jatin
Indoctrinating Indian Soldiers
One of the main contributions of Bagha Jatin was that he and his party inculcated cognitive strategies and revolutionary spirit in Indian soldiers, for an uprising against the British.
His famous slogan was, “Amra Morbo, Jagat Jagbe”, meaning “We shall die to awaken the nation”.
‘A divine personality’
Gandhiji was so impressed by this revolutionary youth that he referred to Bagha Jatin as ‘a divine personality’.
Mahatma Gandhi and Bagha Jatin
Loved by Englishmen
Irrespective of Bagha Jatin’s revolutionary activities, he was also loved by many Englishmen. Charles Augustus Tegart, a colonial police officer had once remarked that if Bagha Jatin was born in England, then probably a statue would have been built for him and placed next to Nelson’s at Trafalgar Square. What he meant to say was that the great personality that Bagha Jatin was would have been highly revered in England.
Charles Augustus Tegart
Hard and Soft
The impeccable character of Bagha Jatin was both hard and soft. He had a soft corner for those suffering and a charitable nature. At the same time, he demonstrated great physical bravery and prowess while fighting the colonial rulers.
Above caste and religion
Another striking quality in Bagha Jatin was that he was beyond the narrow confines of caste and religion. He even financially helped a Muslim women by sending her money every month.
Brave End and appreciation in death
Bagha Jatin’s revolt against the British led to a backlash from the colonial rulers. Bagha Jatin was mortally wounded by the British police and passed away on 10th September, 1915.
Bagha Jatin during his last moments
Even at his death, there was a word of appreciation from the opponent forces. Charles Tegart, the colonial office who was part of the police squad that killed Bagha Jatin said, “Even though I had a duty to perform, I had a great admiration for Bagha Jatin. He died in an open fight.”
Today, his statue stands tall at the Victoria memorial in Kolkata.
Bagha Jatin statue at Victoria Memorial, Kolkata
Institutions, places in name
Many institutions and places in Bengal have been named after this great freedom fighter.
Bagha Jatin Railway Station, Kolkata
Bagha Jatin Passenger
Bagha Jatin Hospital, Kolkata
Amar Chitra Katha
Amar Chitra Katha paid a fitting tribute to Bagha Jatin by bringing out his story.
It is due to the sacrifices of such freedom fighters that finally led to the British vacating India in 1947.
– Sandeep Singh, Business Consultant, Writer, Friend of Bharath Gyan
The syllable ‘gu’ means shadows
The syllable ‘ru’, means he who disperses them.
Because of the power to disperse darkness the guru is thus named.
— Aaradvayatka Upanishad 14—18, verse 5
There is an unfortunate artificial darkness created around Teachers Day and Guru Utsav. I tried to understand the darkness and learned quit a bit about Teacher, Guru, Teachers Day, World Teachers Day, Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, and Guru Purnima. I am sharing the same.
Sanskrit has got four words Sikshak, Adhyapak, Acharya and Guru which are often used as synonym. Each of these words can be broadly understood as:
Teacher being equivalent to Sikshak
Professor being equivalent to Adhyapak
Principle being equivalent to Acharya
Guru doesn’t have an equivalent word in English. Hence it is used as Guru in all the languages.
Teacher gives the basic education.
Guru is a word much bigger than Teacher. As a noun the word means the imparter of knowledge. As an adjective, it means ‘heavy,’ or ‘weighty,’ in the sense of “heavy with spiritual wisdom”. Guru is one’s spiritual guide on earth. One is considered ‘orphan’ without a Guru.
In fact a Tamil saying describes the word “Guru” beautifully:
“Guru illaakru vidhaiyum illai, mudhal illaarku labamum illai” i.e. This saying in Tamil means The Person who has no guru has no skill; just like a business without principle makes no profit.
Teachers’ day is celebrated in many countries but date varies from country to country.
World Teachers’ Day is distinct from Teachers’ days, and is officially celebrated across the world on October 5.
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan’s birthday, is celebrated as Teachers Day on 5th September from 1962 in India. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was born in a Telugu family at a village near Thiruttani , in Tamil Nadu near the border of Andhra Pradesh. His thesis for the M.A. degree was “The Ethics of the Vedanta and its Metaphysical Presuppositions”. His philosophy professor, Dr. Alfred George Hogg commended that Radhakrishnan has done most excellent work. Radhakrishnan’s thesis was published when he was only 20.
According to Radhakrishnan himself, the criticism by Hogg and other Christian teachers of Indian culture “disturbed my faith and shook the traditional props on which I leaned.” Radhakrishnan himself describes how, as a student, “The challenge of Christian critics impelled me to make a study of Hinduism and find out what is living and what is dead in it. My pride as a Hindu, roused by the enterprise and eloquence of Swami Vivekananda, was deeply hurt by the treatment accorded to Hinduism in missionary institutions.” This led him to his critical study of Indian philosophy and religion, and a lifelong defence of Hinduism against “uninformed Western criticism”.
For his services to education he was knighted by George V in 1931. He stopped use of the title after India became independent. He preferred to use his academic title of ‘Doctor’. In 1939 Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya invited him to succeed him as the Vice-Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University (BHU). He served as its Vice-Chancellor till January 1948. His political career started after BHU.
Radhakrishnan did not have a background in the Congress Party. His motivation lay in his pride of Hindu culture, and according to Brown, “He had always defended Hindu culture against uninformed Western criticism and had symbolized the pride of Indians in their own intellectual traditions.”
Gurupurnima falls on the day of, Purnima (full moon), in the month of Ashadh (June–July) of the Shaka Samvat (Gregorian calendar). Gurupurnima is as old as civilisation and is celebrated by all spiritual religions of India. Indian from all the fields, ranging from music to dance, academic to sports etc. celebrate this day by thanking their teachers as well as remembering past teachers and scholars.
Looking at above facts, it makes perfect sense to observe Radhakrishnan’s birthday as Guruutsav rather than as Teachers Day. Radhakrishnan was beyond “direction or language” division. Infact efforts should be made to celebrate his birthday as International Guruutsav Day. The world will be happy to accept it.
Paul Artur Schillp has said “….nor would it be possible to find a more excellent example of a living “bridge” between the East and the West than Professor Radhakrishnan.” While Michael Hawley said “Radhakrishnan’s concern for experience and his extensive knowledge of the Western philosophical and literary traditions has earned him the reputation of being a bridge-builder between India and the West.”
Last but not the least, Modern English, which includes the works of William Shakespeare and the King James Version of the Bible, is generally dated from about 1550. And only after the United Kingdom became a colonial power, English spread outside England. To top it more than 65% of English words are actually taken from other languages including from India. It will also be important to mention that the word Guru is more English than the modern day apologists of English and as old as English itself. The word Guru was first used in English in the year 1613.