Name of the Poet : Subramania Bharati
Date of Birth & Place : December 11, 1882 Ettayapuram
Date of Death & Place : September 11, 1921 - Chennai
Period of Stay in Pondicherry : 10 years (1908 – 1918)
Pondicherry, after the liberation from the French rule, has become a constituent of the Indian Sub-Continent as seen today. Though it is a reputed place for many things, it has the right to boast to be the holy soil in which the great Poet Bharati once lived.
Pondicherry, as detailed in Bharati’s Kuyil Pattu, is a fertile land to all those who come and stay there. It is a place which has been elated by virtue of various sages, saints and scholars who lived there. Pondicherry has also been a safe and secured place for numerous freedom fighters of the mainland who had sacrificed everything for the sake of the nation and who took refuge in this former French colony.
In Tamil Nadu, when Bharati was about to be arrested by the English, he thought that it won’t benefit the countrymen if he was shut up as a jail bird. So he made up his mind to act swiftly and had chosen Pondicherry as the seat of his sacrificial Yagna for the freedom of the country. Oh! The ten years, that is, from 1908 to 1918 Pondicherry had the opportunity of hosting and protecting the poet as its own eyes. No other street has such a fame than the ‘Eswaran Dharmaraja Koil street’ where like many other scholars Bharati also lived. Though he had lived in various places, only this small house in that street bearing door No. 20 has occupied a prominent place in his writings.
Even after a lapse of eighty six years, since Bharati left this place, this house stands aright today to re-tell his memoirs. Though the house is small in size, it has been a bastion of freedom fighters during those days. To-day it appears as an immortal memorial to the great poet. In a way it was a centre of deliberations aiming at attaining the freedom to the country.
The house where the poet’s kuyil once sounded its melody, has been acquired by the Govt. of Pondicherry in the year 1972. On 16th December of that year it was opened to the public by the then Lt. Governor H. E. Cheddilal under the Chairmanship of Hon’ble Chief Minister Thiru. M. O. H. Farook. From 1984 it has been functioning as a Memorial Museum-cum-Research Centre, in order to know and understand by the present and future generations ‘Who was Bharati?’ All the photographs concerning Bharati, his manuscripts, books, the journals he edited – are all displayed in the Museum section.
The house at Ettayapuram where Bharati was born, the house at Pondicherry where he lived in asylum, the house of his father-in-law at Kadayam, the house at Triplicane where the great soul left the mortal remains and entered into the eternal living – all those photographs are arranged in an eye-catching manner. There is also a chart showing the family-tree of the poet. And more so, the photographs of his family, that is, his wife Chellamma, daughters Thangamma and Sagunthala, brother Viswanathan and other family members are placed prominently.
The Photographs of his political and literary associates like Va.ve.Su. Iyer, Shri Aurobindo, Bharathidasan, Subramania Siva, V.O.C., Nellaiyappar, Kuvalai Kannan, Neelakanda Brahmachari, Arumugam Chettair, Ponnu Murugesam Pillai – all these pictures are the testimony of Bharati’s immense political and literary concern.
Some of Bharati’s handwritten letters also are displayed. The letters in a poetic form written to Ettayapuram Raja, the letter addressed to Kanagaraja requesting him to send Kullachamy to Chennai, the letter written to Tllak about the political situation in the South, letter written to wife Chellama – all these writings attract our attention.
The periodicals published from Pondicherry and Chennai like India, Vijaya, Karmayogi, Chakravatri which were edited by Bharati, all the books published since 1908 till date, in particular the new editions of old books brought out by Bharati are to be seen among the collections. All articles, book-reviews on Bharati’s works have also been complied.
The Memorial Centre is kept open to the public from 9:40 a.m. to 5:20 p.m. with lunch break from 1 to 2 p.m. all days of the week, except Monday being holiday. School boys and girls in large numbers visit the centre get acquainted themselves with Bharati’s life and work. None of the tourists misses the memorial in their itinerary. The Research Center attracts very much the foreign tourists too.
Under Bharati Research Scheme, financial assistance has been extended to interested students and scholars, that is, every two years the selected students are given monthly scholarship at Rs. 1,800/- and annual lumpsum grant of Rs. 5000/-
This memorial house is proposed to be expanded in order to bring it to its original shape as was in occupation by Bharati; necessary steps have been taken by Govt. in this regard.
A staunch freedom fighter and a national poet – Bharati is an invaluable asset not only to Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu but for the entire country too. It is our duty to keep in reverence and safety all the rare papers, books and other materials of Bharati, apart from the house where he lived. The house of Bharati who attained everlasting name and fame is, of course, a historical treasure adding further glory to Pondicherry.
Hail Bharati! Long live his glory!