Tamils - a Trans State Nation..

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Truth never sleeps...
Remembering July 1983

உயிர்வாழ விரும்பினால் - நீ உனக்கென ஒருதேசம்
சமைத்திடு என்று
உறைப்பாக உணர்த்தியது
எண்பத்து முன்று..

Remembering Chenmanni
Urgent Letter from Beyond
Chandrika & the Tamils
Entru emathu innalkal theernthu poyyaakum?
ChemmaNiyin Sethi KeLir
KaLaiyum Payirum
Theelepan Lives
The Lesson of Kosovo, June 1999
On Mother's Day, 1999
Protest against Vallikamam Colonisation
Puthukudyirupu Massacre
Madhu Matha
PongAyo Thamizha?
The Rape of Saratha
Children of Our Soil
Suran Por

Tamil National Forum

Selected Writings & Poems
Raj Swarnan

Some Reflections

Nadesan Satyendra, 10 May 2000

A struggle for freedom is no afternoon tea party. The struggle of the people of  Tamil Eelam for freedom has brought with it death, pain and suffering - at the same time the struggle is a witness to singular displays of courage and expresses the steadfast determination of a people.

It is the thiyagam of those who have who have given of themselves so that their brothers and sisters, their udan pirapukal, may live in equality and in freedom, which has evoked an answering response from Tamils who may not be directly involved in the armed conflict. It is a response which has found expression in literature, paintings, dramas and poems.

Tamils have sought, through the medium of art, to give expression to their pain, their insecurity, their aspirations in the social milieu in which they find themselves - and to identify themselves with, and contribute to, the growing togetherness of a people to whom they belong.

And, here, Swarnan  is one of those Tamils who has, perhaps, done more than many others. His poems in Tamil come from deep within him. He writes with passion - but not a mindless passion. He appeals to the mind. But he is no desiccated calculating machine. His poems blend mind and heart together and it is this authentic whole, which touches our own being. It would seem that Swarnan has no need for Gramsci's caution:

'The error of the intellectual consists in believing that it is possible to know without understanding and especially without feeling and passion.. that the intellectual can be an intellectual if he is distinct and detached from the people-nation, without feeling the elemental passions of the people..... without this emotional bond between intellectuals and the people-nation... the relations between intellectuals and the people-nation are reduced to contacts of a purely bureaucratic, formal kind; the intellectuals become a caste or a priesthood...' 

The emotional bond that Swarnan has with his people-nation is that which gives his poems the capacity to move those who read them.  His poem at Professor Vithyananthan Ninaivu Vizha at Peradeniya University on 27 May 1999 reflected Swarnan's search within:

இனம் ஒன்று தன் இருப்புக்காய்
இன்னல் படுகையிலே - நாங்கள்
இலக்கியம் பேசிக் கொண்டிருக்கிறோம்..
இலக்கியம் தீதல்ல - எனில் எம்
இன்னல்கள் தம்மை இவ்வுலகுக்கு
எடுத்தியம்பும் இலக்கியமே
இன்றெமக்குத் தேவை..

He questions himself: "When a people are struggling for their existence, we are engaged in writing poems" and answers: "No, literature is not evil, we need writings which express to the world our pain and our suffering."  We who read Swarnan  can relate to that which he says. We understand him, because he understands us. We understand him in the same way as we understand Jean Paul Sartre when he wrote:

"...whether he is an essayist, a pamphleteer, a satirist, or a novelist ... the writer, a free man addressing free men, has only one subject - freedom...One does not write for slaves. The art of prose is bound up with the only regime in which prose has meaning, democracy. When one is threatened, the other is too..."

On the occasion of the International Conference On Tamil Nationhood & Search for Peace in Sri Lanka held at Carleton University, Canada on 19 May 1999, Swarnan wrote:

உலகத் தமிழினமே எழுக..

and added:

உண்மைகள் ஒருபோதும்
உறங்கவும் கூடா..

Truth does not sleep. Also, truth must not sleep. It was a call which did not go unnoticed in the international Tamil community.

That which Swarnan wrote in July 1999 on the 16th Anniversary of the 1983 genocidal attack on the Tamil people, defies adequate translation in English, but to all those Tamils who lived through those fateful days, the metaphors he employs, will convey meaning touched with poignancy - and determination. The sum of his words is greater than the parts, and we see a glimpse of  that which has given stature to Swarnan's work:

உயிர்வாழ விரும்பினால் - நீ
உனக்கென ஒருதேசம்
சமைத்திடு என்று
உறைப்பாக உணர்த்தியது
எண்பத்து முன்று..

And, finally, in ManNin Maintharkal, written in November this year, Swarnan bows in humility before those who have given their lives in the struggle, and in so doing, he makes a statement not only about the struggle but also about himself.

உங்கள் உடல்கள் சாய்ந்ததால்
எங்கள் தலைகள் நிமிர்ந்தன..
நாங்கள் வெறும்
கவிதை பாடிக் கொண்டிருக்கிறோம்..
காவியமாகி விட்டீர்கள்..

"Because your bodies have fallen, we stand with our heads upright:
we simply write poems, but you... have become poems."

It is said that Subramanya Bharathi went through a process of mental and physical anguish before his poems were born. The pain and anguish (and some times, even anger) of Swarnan  find moving expression in his poems.  A poet touches the being of his readers, when that which he abstracts  from his own life experience serves as a key to his readers to clarify their own life experiences. A poet does not simply write for others. He gives expression to himself. It is this integrity which moves his readers. At the same time, the poet is himself constituted by the social milieu to which he belongs - and is part of it. Swarnan has much to contribute to the growing togetherness of the people to whom he belongs.


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