(Last Updated on : 27/09/2012)
Subramaniam Bharati lived in the early 19th century, wrote numerous poems in Tamil and ushered in a new era with progressive themes like freedom and feminism. He also wrote commentaries, editorials, novels etc. In his short span of 39 years he contributed tremendously to political emancipation of India and reformation of society.
Looking at his literary works in retrospect, Bharati did appear to have had the vision of a prophet, the religious equanimity of a saint, the dreams of a patriot and the noble aspirations of a social reformer. Most of his predictions regarding his country and community and all his warnings regarding the malaise afflicting his society have materialized already. Others are gradually manifesting themselves overtly in recent years. He loved Thamizh (Tamil) and India with a passion and was proud of his cultural heritage. At the same time he was fully cognizant of the social repercussions of caste differences and how superstitions and blind faith in the old traditions have lead to stagnation.
More important is the fact that he had the courage and tenacity to stand up before a ruthless imperial power and was prepared to face all the personal consequences. The only weapon he had at his disposal to achieve his cherished goal was not wealth or physical ability but only his literary skill. Experience in other parts of the world has shown that the pen is mightier than the sword. Recognizing this, Bharati did exploit his literary capacity and communication skills to exhort people to become masters of their own destiny and expel the foreign rulers out of their soil. However, he did not hesitate to point out the social evils, which were gradually corroding the fabrics of the society. Upto this point in the history of Thamizh literature, the language was used for moral, religious, philosophical or spiritual purposes, for praising the patrons for their gifts, and for sheer literary pleasure. All references to social problems were either secondary or indirect.
Now for the first time, a Thamizh poet has taken it upon himself to use the language to free his people from the clutches of a foreign power and open the eyes of the people to the bad elements, which were weakening their society. Thus he set in motion not only a new and different literary style which is aptly described as the Thamizh renaissance but also used the medium of the language to crusade against the suppression and oppression of the weaker sections of the society, the poor, the untouchables and women.
The short, crisp but simple style of his poems, his easy flowing prose-poetry formats with a specific social theme and his ability to set up folk type music understandable by everyone made a tremendous impact on people. One can therefore appreciate the differences in the literary policy of Subramaniam Bharati and that of other Thamizh scholars of the distant past. Under the guidance of Bharati and others, Thamizh literature has served as a tool to mobilize the energy of people to achieve political freedom.