Upholder of Subramanya Bharati’s legacy
We are deeply sorry to record that Prof.P.K.Sundar Rajan, husband of poet Subramanya Bharati’s grand-daughter, Dr.Vijaya Bharati passed away in Vancuar, Canada.
This is the day of Subramanya Bharati’s birth day. Ironically, this day comes with the news of the poet’s close family member passing away. This news is so terrible for us, the close family friends of late Prof. Sundar Rajan. In fact, it is difficult to bring ourselves to adjust with the reality that Prof.Sundar Rajan is no more. So sudden and so unexpected and it was just a few days before he left for Canada after a long recess in Chennai and the memories are so fresh, we visited each other so many times and so often during this recess the couple spent together in Chennai.
I met him once in Trichy, then he and Dr.Bharati came to visit us as guest in Coimbatore and then followed another visit by them to our home in Bangalore also. So the memories crowd my mind and the thoughts don’t fall into place and I am overwhelmed with deep grief. And yet I wanted to put it on record on this very day when the entire Tamil country is remembering the poet, articles written in newspapers, platform orations unfailingly refer to the poet and yet, ironically, there in no news or any mention of the fact that the poet’s close family member passed away in far off Canada!
That speaks volumes about the peculiar Tamil mindset and the Tamil culture, both at the elite level and at the popular level.
Prof.Sundar Rajan, when he suddenly passed away, was engaged along with his wife in bringing out a standard edition of Bharati’s entire works and the first volume was released just before they left for Canada for their annual routine visits.
We have reviewed the first volume in the School Journal and also the previously published standard biography of the poet by his daughter, Tangamma Bharati.
Both these reviews pleased Prof.Sundar Rajan and in him we found a highly gifted man, well-read and vastly travelled and had seen the wider world and therefore there was always this tiff, so to say, with the local Bharati scholars and others who made it their life time jobs of selling Bharati’s books and also thereby promoting the Bharati legacy.
Prof.Sundar Rajan felt bitter about the fact that the Tamil people, the state government and the Bharati scholars and the poet’s vast readers all used the poet’s books and poems blissfully unaware that the poet’s own family members were left high and dry, so to say, when it came to benefiting from the legacy of the poet, as it is their due under the civilised canons of conduct by any society and the government.
This legacy is their own under the standard conceptions of the intellectual property rights and the laws that govern them.
Prof.Sundar Rajan used to say and complain bitterly: “Look, there was this poet, a poor Brahmin and he died in poverty and his family suffered in pecuniary circumstances all their lives. Now, came the government, they, the original Congress government under Omandur Reddiar in the late Forties of the last century, they bought the rights from a private owner and they copyrights vested with the state. Then, the copyrights were lifted and it was bonanza time for the publishers. All sorts of publishers entered the Bharati literature industry, so to say, and made hay while the sun shined!”
What about Bharati’s heirs? Who cared for them and who cares them today? None!
Yet, Bharati is quoted day in and day out in Tamil Nadu and that too to approve of themselves in power to promote all kinds of bogus writings and literature and award themselves with huge prizes at public’s taxpayers’ money!
There are more literary prizes awarded in Tamil Nadu today than anywhere else in the world! But all these literatures are bogus, in the sense they are produced by the film industry men, the Dravidian propaganda makers, they write such cheap things, it is neither high class writing nor high minded themes.
Given the degenerate literary scene today, to talk of Bharati also sounds a bit ironical and very much alien, given the poet’s unalloyed love for Tamil and the Tamil soil and India’s nationalism and its freedoms.
So, Sundar Rajan didn’t leave things lying down, he took up the challenge and went ahead to bring out the desired international-level standard edition. In fact, I wrote the review for the first volume and compared it to what the Norton did for poet Shelley. Sundar Rajan became pleased with my review and also with my bold statement that the Central government and the state government must come forward to redress the grievance of the Bharati descendants as to the denial of the poet and his family the due compensation under the relevant intellectual property rights and the laws.
One silver lining in this time of the tragedy for the family is that Sundar Rajan leaves behind a worthy daughter, their only child, Meera. Meera Sundar Rajan, I am happy to mention, is a worthy heir to her father and also a worthy heir to the great poet. She is a D.Phil from Oxford in the subject of the intellectual property rights! So, I am confident she would take up the fight and in the lines of her eminent father carry on the fight so that the true inheritance of the Bharati legacy reaches the right inheritors, the Bharati descendants.
I am in near tears as I write for the memory of Sundar Rajan is so fresh and so tied up with my current mental frame that he is almost part of my day to day thinking and action.
He met me for the first time some half a century ago in Coimbatore where he and Dr.Bharati were working in the local colleges. There used to be days when we met almost daily. Every evening after their college work is over, the couple would come to visit me and discuss things, literary and other things.
So, we became so close and these years still remain fresh in my memory. One day Sundar Rajan visited my village, met my mother and many years later, recently he told me he wanted to write on my mother, his memories and what he remembered to be my mother’s qualities. This was published in the School journal and he was pleased with the outcome.
The Sundar Rajan couple, both highly educated and qualified and endowed with noble qualities and high sensitivity and care for others, is one of the few to appreciate and approve of what I was doing. The School journal is one activity that remained with me ever since I was running the rural school in the early Sixties of last century!
They approved of the value of an education journal in a country very much affected by the colonial oppression and suppression of the Indian psyche and so they shared with me the passion to recreate a new Indian education ethos.
So, I am deeply touched when they took steps to speak for the journal and for me and our activities to create a new climate of opinion for a new and assertive Indian ethos.
So, I feel now very lonely, my dear friend is no more and I am left to wade through the uncertain future. Long live, Prof.Sundar Rajan’s name and his resolve to stand for what he considered his rights to fight for Subramaniya Bharati’s rightful legacies.