14 episodes

C. Subramania Bharati (1882-1921), also known to Tamil speakers as Mahakavi Bharathiyar, was an iconic Indian poet and visionary. "Mahakavi" means greatest of poets. Bharati's support for Indian freedom from British rule led to much of his writing being outlawed by the British, and the lasting effects of this government censorship have been felt until now. In our post-colonial era, at last, Bharati has a chance to reach the worldwide audience that he dreamed of, and deserves. Discover and explore Bharati's life and work with his great-granddaughter, Mira T. Sundara Rajan, a writer, musician, and Oxford-educated law professor. Bharati's prescient and passionate advocacy of freedom, equality, and human rights for all makes him profoundly relevant to the world today. All listeners are welcome.

C. Subramania Bharati: 100 Years of Revolution Mira T. Sundara Rajan

    • Books

C. Subramania Bharati (1882-1921), also known to Tamil speakers as Mahakavi Bharathiyar, was an iconic Indian poet and visionary. "Mahakavi" means greatest of poets. Bharati's support for Indian freedom from British rule led to much of his writing being outlawed by the British, and the lasting effects of this government censorship have been felt until now. In our post-colonial era, at last, Bharati has a chance to reach the worldwide audience that he dreamed of, and deserves. Discover and explore Bharati's life and work with his great-granddaughter, Mira T. Sundara Rajan, a writer, musician, and Oxford-educated law professor. Bharati's prescient and passionate advocacy of freedom, equality, and human rights for all makes him profoundly relevant to the world today. All listeners are welcome.

    The Magic of Translation (Part I): The International Booker Prize for a Hindi Novel

    The Magic of Translation (Part I): The International Booker Prize for a Hindi Novel

    The International Booker Prize is a prestigious award given to the author of a novel originally written in a language other than English and translated into English. It is a companion to the Booker prize for English-language novels. In 2022, the prize was awarded, for the first time, to a novel originally in an Indian language. The language was Hindi, and the novel was Tomb of Sand, written by Gitanjali Shree and translated by Daisy Rockwell. This episode examines the status of literature in India's national languages  over the past century, since Bharati's time,and considers the role that translation may play today in re-kindling international interest in Indian literature. This episode will be followed by a second episode on translation that will look specifically at translation from Tamil to English, consider Bharati's thoughts and words on this issue, and sample his own, exquisite translations of works from classic Tamil literature.
    Music Credits:
    Drums of India, Bickram Ghosh on Tabla and V. Suresh On Ghatam. Subscribe to Bickram Ghosh's youtube channel.
    *Please note: an earlier version of this file contained some technical errors which have now been fixed. Thank you for your patience!
     

    • 20 min
    The Siddha and the Superman

    The Siddha and the Superman

    Bharati was deeply troubled by the apparent disintegration of moral values that characterized his times, affecting both colonized and colonial societies. He found himself perpetually searching for alternative ideals - sources of integrity and optimism - within the Indian philosophical traditions that he studied so deeply, with their rich and long histories. The breadth and depth of his reading and research are reflected in the essay "The Siddha & the Superman," first published in 1915, which is discussed in this episode. Bharati had not only read Nietzsche, but he had also reflected deeply upon the social implications of the German writer's powerful and controversial work. Bharati explores the Nietzschean character of the "superman" as an archetype that reflects the "historic reminiscences and spiritual aspirations" of Europe - and he compares and contrasts the "superman" with an analogous archetype from Indian culture, that of the "siddha", which Bharati translates as "perfected man." By juxtaposing these two, fundamentally contrasting models of human development, Bharati argues for the adoption of ideals that will encourage humanity to aspire for a better future - above all, one free of violence.
    Music Credits:
    Richard Strauss, "Also sprach Zarathustra," Opus 30, performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with conductor Georg Solti.
    Drums of India, Bickram Ghosh on Tabla and V. Suresh On Ghatam. Subscribe to Bickram Ghosh's youtube channel.
     

    • 24 min
    Poet of Womankind

    Poet of Womankind

    Bharati is well-known as a champion of women's rights, but his impassioned advocacy for women's freedom transcends much of the usual discussion surrounding women's equality. Instead, Bharati saw women as the social superiors of men - engaged in the task of civilizing man through her masterful absorption and development of stories and symbols. "Where woman comes, comes Art," he writes, a stirring and provocative assertion that places him at odds with all those who have tried to minimize women's contributions to civilization or argued against women's capacity for artistic and intellectual life. His perspective on women shows him at his most creative and original. In honor of International Women's Day, this episode explores one of Bharati's most powerful essays on women, originally written in English, aptly entitled "The Place of Woman."

    • 16 min
    Bharati: India's National Bard

    Bharati: India's National Bard

    This episode continues the discussion of Bharati's biography from another angle - exploring how the poet is seen by Indians from other parts of the country, for whom access to Bharati's works in Tamil presents a fascinating challenge. Notwithstanding the language barrier, it is a triumph of Indian diversity that Bharati has come to be known as India's "National Bard." This delightful title was first proposed by Mohit Gupta when he organized the original presentation on which the episode is based on behalf of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. The presentation was part of the government's ongoing celebration of "Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav" – 75 years of India's freedom. 

    • 33 min
    Bharati's Life

    Bharati's Life

    December 11, 2021 was C. Subramania Bharati's 139th birth anniversary. On this occasion, I was interviewed by Storytrails, an Indian company interested in discovering, exploring, and sharing stories about India's culture and history. "India exists in her stories," they write. In this case, they wanted to know the story of Bharati's life - to trace the basic outlines of the poet's biography, attempt to separate fact from fiction, and celebrate the legacy of the great poet on his birthday. This will be the first in a series of podcast episodes dedicated to Bharati's biography this January, simultaneously allowing us to celebrate two more occasions: the Indian harvest festival known as "Pongal" to Tamils, and Canada's Tamil Heritage Month. Please join me on the podcast this month to explore the fascinating life of the man who has now become a Tamil and Indian legend.
    Heartfelt thanks to the Storytrails team, particularly host, Akila Raman and organizer, Lavanya Rajagopalan. For more information, please visit https://www.storytrails.in/ and www.youtube.com/c/ThreeMinuteStorytrails/. 
    Executive Producer and Host: Mira T. Sundara Rajan
    Engineer: Emma Markowitz
    Producer: Bradley W. Vines
    Musical Credits:
    Percussion by tabla maestro Bickram Ghosh and ghatam maestro V. Suresh in a spectacular "jugalbandhi" brings together North and South Indian classical traditions, symbolizing Indian cultural unity.
    The full performance is available here: Drums of India, Bickram Ghosh on Tabla and V. Suresh On Ghatam. Subscribe to Bickram Ghosh's youtube channel.

    • 53 min
    Unknown Warriors

    Unknown Warriors

    In his short life, Bharati had to live through the first great disaster of the twentieth century: World War I. This episode examines the complex emotions of Indians faced with this stunning development, just as the Independence movement was poised to take flight. Instead, Great Britain's attention turned to the battlefields of Europe. In a powerfully moving essay, entitled 
    "India and the War" - one of two English essays that he wrote on this subject - Bharati puts aside his passionate desire for India's immediate freedom, and instead, throws his support behind the British, approving India's "generous" and "magnanimous" contributions of "men and resources" to the War. This episode explores his reasons for doing so - and how they emerge from his belief in the "unity of the human race," his deep faith in the "Divine Will" that guides history, and his absolute commitment to doing what is right in the present moment, whatever may be the errors, sins, and cruelties of the past. Bharati's essay illustrates an exemplary Indian attitude towards the War. It reflects his immersion in Indian cultural values, and his words convey the selflessness, nobility, and love of freedom that he and other Indians of his generation embodied. The extent of Indians' contributions to the War are not always recognized by today's public worldwide - and the same may be said of the contributions of people from other European colonies to the struggle, as well. For this reason, this episode is dedicated to reminding the world of what they sacrificed through Bharati's contemporary words.
    This episode features a recording of the Funeral ceremony of the Burial of the Unknown Soldier, made at Westminster Abbey on November 11th, 1920. It appears in "About a Hundred Years: A History of Sound Recording," A Symposium to mark the Centenary of Commercial Recording in the United Kingdom, Symposium Records, 1997 (no. 1222) (CD); details are available in the accompanying booklet, which notes: ""Apparatus developed for detection of torpedoes and submarines was redeployed to record parts of the service of the burial of the unknown warrior. Although terribly primitive it is, de facto, the first electric recording."
    Percussion by tabla maestro Bickram Ghosh and ghatam maestro V. Suresh in a spectacular "jugalbandhi" brings together North and South Indian classical traditions, symbolizing Indian cultural unity.
    Executive Producer and Host: Mira T. Sundara Rajan
    Engineer: Emma Markowitz
    Producer: Bradley W. Vines
    Music Credits: Drums of India, Bickram Ghosh on Tabla and V. Suresh On Ghatam.
    Subscribe to Bickram Ghosh's youtube channel.

    • 20 min