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From the Translators ...

Subramanya Bharathi is not only a national institution but also a universal symbol. He spoke for the freedom of the spirit of Man and establishment of the brotherhood of mankind in relation to the fatherhood of God. But he was not a simple propagandist poet, however noble has patriotic and humanist sentiments were. He was also a seeker of beauty and philosophic wisdom. As a national poet, as a poet with a universal vision and as a poet of beauty and truth, he is comparable to some of the great poets of the world. Hence his claim to a lofty place in the great galaxy of world poetry. His passionate poetry is the joyous song of the discovery of India in all its diversity but attesting a deeper unity.

In moonlit Sindhu
With damsels from the Chera Land
Singing songs in lovely Telugu
Sportfully we will row our boats.
In Bharathy’s grand vision of synthesis, we hear not only the harmonious orchestration of various parts of India but the coming together of the high and the low, the metaphysical and the physical. There is transcending of all dichotomies as in
With clarity
We shall scan the lunar planet
And learn the sastras
Of sweeping the street corner.

Here sweeping or physical labour becomes as holy as the science of lunar planet.
The Vaishnava tradtion has boldly declared that God has bound Himself to man and in that consists the greatest glory of human existence. In the spell of the wonderful rhythm of the finite, he fetters Himself at every step and thus gives his love out in music, in the most perfect lyrics of beauty.

But this god-man partnership in the making of life and history is meant to charge the human with the divine, ‘to seize life without fear to temper and transform it”. He asks for the wedding of the old and the new in a ceremony of Life. To him, man is the crown of life in the evolution from a cell of life and even if there be death, Man should “declare across all space and time “I am He.”.

Bharathi also speaks of god-man relationship as one of love and he also speaks of both as equal partners in the evolution of life. His songs on Kannan humanized God in a profound way and Kannan comes down to earth seeking the human lover. Kannan is said to be the comrade of the poor and he has burnt to ashes all the false scripts which divide men as high and low based on sheer appearance and birth. He also says, “Our ancestors said that all life is god. I accepted that statement as final truth. The great ones said that scholarly guru is Shiva and the Vedas say that the unlettered lowly is also the same.”

Both Bharathi and Shelley were soaring spirits and loved the sparrow and the skylark respectively as symbols of freedom. But Bharathi is not content with the mindless joy of the sparrow; he wants to fly in the sky like a bird so that he can see the endless hills, springs, rivers and the sea. But the human body does not give him full freedom and he also recognizes that the very growth of human civilization is a hindrance to experiencing the bliss of the bird. But he never wants to surrender his humanity. He is alive to the fact that in the world of the bird, there is no intellectual joy of man. Whereas Shelley is unwilling to return to the earth because of its sadness (our sincerest laughter with some pain is fraught), Bharathi’s sparrow asks man to give up not life but desire. Bharathi’s poetry is not an escape from but into life.

In short, Bharahi’s poetry is a hymn to the nations as Sakthi, which he saw with his visionary eyes in the sacred soil of the nation, the humble toilers of the land and the singing humanity, the entire cosmos, encompassing the crow and the sparrow as his kith and kin.

Thus this visionary poet is a world citizen and to his great memory this translation is a humble dedication on the occasion of the 125th year of the Mahakavi, which synchronises with the Silver Jubilee celebrations of the Bharathiar University, named after the Mahakavi. We appreciate the confidence reposed by the Vice Chancellor Professor Dr.G.Thiruvasagam and the other authorities of the University in involving us in this project.

Dr.K.Chellappan
Dr.N.Ramani
Dr.R.Saravanaselvan

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