Remembering Bharathiyar: When poetry met the common man’s fight for freedom

Subramania Bharathi
Bharathi died around 1 am on September 12. But people said he died on the night of September 11 as Tamilians believe that a new day starts only with dawn | Image - Eunice Dhivya

‘Ettaiyapurathil Oru Thaayin Karuppai
Eppadi Sumanthathu Indha Neruppai’

(How a mother’s womb in Ettaiyapuram had borne this fire)

This is how noted Tamil film lyricist and poet Vairamuthu describes Subramania Bharathi, more famous as ‘Mahakavi Bharathiyar’. Vairamuthu aptly captures the poignancy and grit of the 19th century poet and his work in Kavirajan Kathai, which rendered the life of Bharathi in verse.

That’s how Bharathi was, that’s how his work is taught in schools and debated in seminars — a firebrand poet.

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