Back to Bharati

I was listening to ‘Navarathiri Nayakiar’ – a programme hosted by ‘Podhigai’ TV (Tamil Doordarshan) and Jaya TV in Tamil Nadu. The programmes feature South Indian classical music singers singing kritis (songs) on Devi/Sakthi and her various manifestations. Some singers sung ‘நெஞ்சுக்கு நீதியும் தோளுக்கு வாளும்’ (a song by Subramanya Bharati). Here is that piece. Sung well. The late M. S. Subbalakshmi had sung this beautifully.

The last stanza moved me tremendously. I was chewing on the lines below rather than the food as I sat down to have my lunch today and tears started rolling off my eyes spontaneously.

What a poet! Immense purpose, focus and extraordinary intensity. At one level, it is an enormous tragedy for us that he died young. At another level, it is not surprising. He always prayed for a purposeful and intense life. I think his prayers were answered. He experienced everything that we would never get to do so even if we live for 100 years. He had lived a packed and full life. That is why God took him back early.

Or, as some of my friends would say, his was a soul that had already attained ‘Mukti’ and had come back to the earth voluntarily only to help others and that is why he returned to his original abode quickly, once his purpose was achieved.

The last stanza (from line 2) and my attempt at translating them:

தெள்ளு கலைத்தமிழ் வாணி நினக்கொரு விண்ணப்பம் செய்திடுவேன்
எள்ளத்தனைப்பொழுதும் பயனின்றி இராதென்றன் நாவினிலே
வெள்ளமெனப்பொழிவாய் சக்தி வேல் சக்தி வேல் சக்தி வேல்

To the beautiful Goddess of Tamil (or, Saraswati), I have a plea: pl. flood my tongue so that I do not live a useless life even for a speck of a moment. Sakthi Vel, Sakthi Vel (pray to Murugan).

I wonder if the last line too should be சக்தி ஓம் சக்தி ஓம் சக்தி ஓம் instead of சக்தி வேல் சக்தி வேல் சக்தி வேல். Can any one shed light on this?

Singers sing only stanzas 1, 3 and 5 of this beautiful and powerful (very few of Bharati’s poems are not powerful) poem. Do not know why.

2 thoughts on “Back to Bharati

  1. I have also enjoyed Bharathi Songs with swelling eyes.
    > As you know Shakti worship was called Kottravai worship in ancient Tamil
    > nadu.Details of this is available in Tholkappiam.she was considered as the
    > deity of Desert.
    > SevvaeL or Murugan worship was also widely prevalent and the mythological
    > story is Vel was given by Shakti to Karthikeya for destroying the demon
    > Soorapaduman.
    > And historically people used Vel as the symbol of Victory over enemies and
    > wherever people congregated to discuss on driving out Vellaikaran they ended
    > with shouting Vetrivel, Veeravel and that is why Bharathi would have ended
    > the song with Vel.
    > I do not know whether this is correct.
    > However all his words remain true to the last byte whether it is about
    > Shakti, Viduthalai,Gandhi or Allah and Bharathi songs stand testimony to his
    > own words ‘Ullathil Unmai Oli Undaiyin, Vaakinile Oli Undagum ” .

  2. Ananth,
    I can’t agree with you more. Bharathiyar moves me immensely and it is impossible not to dissolve in tears at the felicity of expression, the simplicity and the profundity of thought.

    My humble attempt at answering your question about the inclusion of Vel at the end of the poem:

    Vel is a metaphor for action, purposeful action. He needs that to lead a purposeful life. While Shakti is strength/ energy/ drive, one also needs a tool to translate it into action.


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