From the Translators ...
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
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
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
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
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