Ilasai Manian, who kindled interest in Bharathi’s works among many, dies

Manian had collected back volumes of India, a weekly magazine run by Bharathi, from National Archives of India in Kolkata and published a book, titled Bharathi Dharisanam, in two volumes in 1977

Manian's other books include Pension, a collection of Russian writer Maxim Gorky's short stories and Ettayapuram Varalaaru, which deals with the history of Ettayapuram. Photo: By special arrangement

Ramasubramaniam aka Ilasai Manian, a well-known researcher, who had conducted an extensive research on the works of Tamil poet Subramaniya Bharathi, passed away on Monday (July 13) at Ettayapuram in Thoothukkudi district. He was 78.

Born in 1942 in Ettayapuram — Bharathi’s hometown, Ramasubramaniam used to write under the pseudonym Ilasai Manian. He was a journalist, researcher and an archivist and has contributed to the Tamil literature in various forms such as literary critiques, short stories and translations.

Manian had collected back volumes of India, a weekly magazine run by Bharathi, from the National Archives of India in Kolkata and published a book, titled Bharathi Dharisanam, in two volumes in 1977. The book kindled the interest among many people to carry out research on Bharathi’s works.

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Bharathi founded India in 1906 and continued to run the magazine until it was banned by the British in 1909. “Volumes of the magazine were archived in microfilm format. Manian single-handedly did the work,” said Kadarkarai, another researcher who had undertaken research on Bharathi’s writings.

“If he had not published Bharathi Dharisanam, we would not have known the political ideas of Bharathi. Researchers who followed in the footsteps of Manian are both popular and wealthy. But Manian lived in poverty,” said Kadarkarai.

His other books include Pension, a collection of Russian writer Maxim Gorky’s short stories and Ettayapuram Varalaaru, which deals with the history of Ettayapuram. He also served as a guardian of Bharathi’s memorial in Thoothukkudi and ran a private library that helped many researchers to study the writings of Tho Mu Si Ragunathan, who translated a lot of works of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin.

Manian was recently admitted to the government hospital in Tirunelveli due to age-related ailments. He was survived by his son.

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