Chinnaswami Subramania Bharati, also known as Bharathiyar was a Tamil writer, poet, journalist, Indian independence activist and a social reformer from Tamil Nadu. Popularly known as “Mahakavi Bharati”, he was a pioneer of modern Tamil poetry and is considered one of the greatest Tamil literary figures of all time. His numerous works included fiery songs kindling patriotism during the Indian Independence movement.
Born in Ettayapuram of Tirunelveli district (present day Thoothukudi) in 1882, Bharati had his early education in Tirunelveli and Varanasi and worked as a journalist with many newspapers, including The Hindu, Bala Bharata, Vijaya, Chakravarthini, the Swadesamitran and India.
In 1908, an arrest warrant was issued against Bharati by the government of British India for his revolutionary writings, forcing him to flee to Pondicherry (city), where he lived until 1918.
December 1905, he attended the All India Congress session held in Benaras. On his journey back home, he met Sister Nivedita, Swami Vivekananda’s spiritual heir. He considered Nivedita as his Guru, and penned verses in her praise.
Bharati participated in the historic Surat Congress in 1907. Bharati supported Tilak with V. O. Chidambaram Pillai and Kanchi Varathachariyar.
He is known to have said, “Even if Indians are divided, they are children of one Mother, where is the need for foreigners to interfere?” Bharati is considered the first to have advocated and campaigned for women’s participation in politics. He advocated greater rights for women and their education. He visualised a modern Indian woman at the vanguard of society.
The Government of India in 1987 instituted a highest National Subramanyam Bharti Award conferred along with with Ministry of Human Resource Development, annually confers on writers of outstanding works in Hindi literature.
In March 2013, SS Music and Ayngaran International noted British singer Adele’s song “Skyfall”‘s similarities to Bharati’s poem Achamillai Achamillai, which loosely translate “Skyfall”‘s lyrics, “Let the sky fall, when it crumbles, we will stand tall and face it all together.”