“His powerful words kindled passion and patriotism in the hearts of the Tamils.” This book is a work of historic importance: the first volume in a new, four-volume STANDARD EDITION of Mahakavi C. Subramania Bharati’s poems. Edited by his granddaughter and leading Bharati scholar, S. Vijaya Bharati, this Standard Edition represents the first authoritative publication of Bharati’s works since the poet’s death in 1921. Bharati’s poems are published in comprehensive and error-free form, organized according to the various themes addressed in his writing, and presented to the reader as the poet meant for them to be read. The Editor has meticulously prepared these volumes in authentic and modern Tamil spelling that accurately conveys the rhythm of Bharati’s poetry, while remaining easy of access to the modern reader. These volumes include invaluable commentary on the poet’s life and analysis of his work, and they reproduce key historical documents that reflect the history of Bharati’s writings. As such, they are suitable for all Bharati-lovers – from the general reader interested in Bharati’s poetry, to scholars in search of an authentic, reliable, and authoritative text. C. SUBRAMANIA BHARATI (1882-1921) was the most important writer and thinker of the twentieth century in the Tamil language. Now known as an Indian National Poet, Bharati holds the unique title of Mahakavi, the greatest of poets. Bharati’s writings sparked a renaissance in Tamil literature, and his importance for the Tamil language and literature today can only be compared to that of Shakespeare in the English-speaking world. At the time of Bharati’s premature death in 1921, when the poet was 38 years old, much of his work remained unpublished. After his death, Chellamma Bharati, the poet’s wife, was keenly interested in publishing her husband’s writings, and brought out two volumes of his work through Bharati Ashramam; but she was prevented from continuing with her efforts by poverty and the difficulties of her position as a woman, and a widow, at that time. Later attempts were made by Bharati’s half-brother Viswanatha Iyer (Bharati Prachuralayam) and the Government of Madras. In 1954, the government “gave” the poet’s works to the people of India. Since that time, numerous commercial publishers have taken advantage of the opportunity to publish the works of this well-known and important writer. The result has been a proliferation of books filled with errors, including the publication of works that were never actually written by Bharati at all. The poet’s great granddaughter, Mira T. Sundara Rajan, has noted that these problems violate the poet’s moral rights of attribution and integrity. The principle of respect for the poet’s moral rights is the fundamental basis on which the STANDARD EDITION has been prepared, and is now offered to the public. Volume 1: National Poems (Desiyam) Bharati was an ardent Indian nationalist, an impassioned advocate of social reform, and a pioneer of the Freedom movement in early twentieth-century South India. He belonged to the extremist party of the Indian National Congress, and worked alongside the great leaders of the Freedom movement, including Tilak, Lajpat Roy, Bipin Chandra Pal, and Sri Aurobindo from the North; and G. Subramania Iyer, V.O. Chidambaram Pillai, Subramania Siva, and Surendranath Arya in the South. Bharati’s contribution was unique – as a journalist and writer, his powerful words kindled passion and patriotism in the hearts of the Tamils. A true visionary, he anticipated freedom and independence for the three hundred million Indians of his day, at a time when the entire world was dominated by British Imperial force and a decline in British power seemed unthinkable. For Bharati, freedom meant freedom at every level – political, social, and personal – and for every individual, irrespective of caste, color, gender, or religion. Almost a century later, has modern India fully caught up to his ideals?
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Dr. S. Vijaya Bharati is a granddaughter of Mahakavi C. Subramania Bharati. She holds a Ph.D. from Annamalai University, where she carried out seminal research on Bharati. Her thesis, A Critical Study of Bharati’s Works, was the first doctoral thesis to focus on Bharati. She continued her research in the UK, at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and in Canada, at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Vijaya Bharati is the author of 15 books, including two pioneering English-language works: Bharati: Poetry & Personality and C. Subramania Bharati, an English-language biography published by the Government of India Publications Division. Her recent publications include Amaran Kathai, a fictionalized biography of Bharati, Bharatiyar Charithram, a new edition of Bharati’s first biography, written by his wife, Chellamma, and an edition of works by Bharati’s elder daughter, Thangammal Bharati’s Works, including her memoirs of her father. Vijaya Bharati has been involved in research and writing on Bharati over more than four decades. She has travelled widely – in Canada, the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Mauritius, and has spoken on Bharati, his life and works. She has appeared regularly in interviews and programs on radio and television networks in India, the UK, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore. Vijaya Bharati was brought up by her grandmother Chellamma, and has been trained in the oral tradition of Bharati’s poems by Chellamma, and by her mother, Thangammal.
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