Readings from visionary Indian National Poet, C. Subramania Bharati (1882-1921) -- on women’s rights, equality, diversity, freedom, and peace.

Event date: Saturday, August 6, 2022, 9:00 pm (Virtual event)
Mira Sundara Rajan
Literary Reading or Event

Paradoxically, in a world that is desperately in need of new ideas - where the failures of colonialism are increasingly apparent in the inherited crises confronting humanity today - the answers may lie in a reappraisal of the past.

The Coming Age is a new Penguin Modern Classics book that commemorates the 100th anniversary of the death of one of India's most versatile and imaginative writers: Indian National Poet C. Subramania Bharati, a visionary whose ideas on women's freedom, equality, and social justice were far ahead of his time.

Bharati's primary language was Tamil, an ancient literary language to which he made foundational contributions, becoming the foremost Tamil poet and writer of the 20th century. However, he was a polyglot who also wrote in a number of other languages, including English. This book presents Bharati's English writings in a new edition prepared by his Canadian great-granddaughter, Mira T. Sundara Rajan.

Mira will provide a brief background of Bharati's life and times, and she will then read from her great-grandfather's writings. Selections will highlight:

  • Bharati's first-hand experiences of British imperial rule
  • his passionate advocacy of women's rights
  • his uncompromising belief in equality and human freedom
  • his philosophical insights on Indian culture and traditions.

Those who are new to Bharati's work will encounter an inspiring new voice; those who know him already will find new dimensions of their beloved poet revealed.

"Decolonizing the curriculum": Rediscovering Bharati's writing is part of a wider, ongoing process of postcolonial reckoning, and important writers from formerly colonized areas must be accorded their rightful place on the world stage today. Bharati is foremost among them.

During Bharati's lifetime, his work was proscribed by the British imperial government. After his death, his wife, Chellamma and daughter Thangammal struggled to preserve his literary legacy in an oppressive and harshly misogynistic environment. Bharati's work was eventually taken over by the government of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, which hoped to disseminate his writing as part of the larger project of postcolonial nation-building in newly independent India. But, in 1954 – as Chellamma herself had intended to do upon her death – the government gave Bharati's work to the public as a gift.

The reading will be followed by a live Q & A session with Mira.

The event is free, but registration at the following link is required: 

This event is generously made possible by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Writers’ Union of Canada as part of their National Public Readings program. Mira most gratefully acknowledges their support.

The program is dedicated to the poet's distinguished granddaughter, Dr. S. Vijaya Bharati, PhD, who completed the first literary doctorate focusing on Bharati's works in 1966, thereby inaugurating the field of literary criticism of Bharati's works. Her books include C. Subramania Bharati: Personality and Poetry (New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1975) and her Standard Edition of Bharati's Tamil poetry, published in 4 volumes in 2015. Her total immersion in Bharati's works was an inspiration to all who knew her. July 30th, 2022 would have been her 83rd birthday. Guru sakshat para brahma.