In this interview series where we ask few questions to people who are making a difference, it can be big, it can be small it doesn’t matter what matters is their contribution to our society. It can be anyone from any walks of life and from any country. Please, do send us suggestions of people whom you think we should interview for this series.
Mr. N V Subbaraman from Tamilnadu is a bilingual poet, a Versatile Blogger, writer, scholar, trainer and communicator with thirty seven books to his credit including 16 translated works in prose and verse. Following are his thoughts on some of the questions we asked him.
Tell us something about yourself?
I am N V Subbaraman, was born on July 31st 1941 in Tamilnadu. My mother tongue is Telugu. Having been born, brought up, educated and employed for long and living in Tamilnadu I know Tamil well in addition to my mother tongue, English, Hindi and Sanskrit to an extent. I am a graduate in Mathematics and a Fellow in Insurance. I served the premier Public Sector Undertaking Life Insurance Corporation of India for four decades, served as a part of my Central office, in the States of Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan. I retired in 2001 as Deputy Zonal Manager and post retirement served as a Director in an HR Training Organization and as a Managing Director of a company.
Since the age of seventy, I have given up all my gainful employment and concentrating on literary activities.
I am a bilingual poet in Tamil and English. I am a communicator, writer, speaker, and a trainer. I am a small time writer and I have thirty seven published books to my credit. I am a translator from English to Tamil and vice versa. Totally I have to my credit translated works numbering 16 in prose and verse.
I am a Blogger-keeping ENVIUS THOUGHTS in https://nvsr.wordpress.com where I post an English poem original or translated every day from Monday to Saturday and a Sunday story right from 28/2/2015 till this day without a single break; my 545 posts in 508 days have a total VIEW Score of more than 49000 from 198 countries.
I am a Haikuist and I have written more than 1000 Haiku poems strictly in 5-7-5 pattern, with first and third line rhyming. I have ten awards for my literary activities including the latest to be awarded on 16th September UWA ADMIRABLE ACHIEVER AWARD 2016/17 by the United Writers Association of India “an Association formed to kindle the light of love and compassion among all nations and whenever possible, in areas of conflict, the Association will act as counseling body for equalizing the flow of knowledge, for reducing aggression and of generating attitudes of fraternization, and an Association of Truth to lend meaning to the pursuit of excellence with a view to forging an endless alliance and a more perfect Union among the people of the Earth”.
I am a simpleton, out and out a humanist and a Universalist keeping strictly to certain principle of life. I wrote long back and I hold to that.
I know no God
I know no Bible
I follow and practice
“Help ever, hurt never
Love all, Serve all
Be kind, be friendly!”
That is all what I know on earth and
That is all what I need to practice!
I am greatly attached to Saint Tamil Poet Thiruvalluvar, Mahatma Gandhi and Tamil national poet Mahakavi Subramaniya Bharathi. I use to say that whenever I leave my flat all these three take me by their hands and bring me back home safely.
What is the essence of Thirukkural in your opinion?
In one of his poems singing in praise of Tamilnadu, national poet Mahakavi Subramaniya Bharathiyar wrote:
வள்ளூவன் தன்னைஉலகினுக்கே தந்து
வான்புகழ் கொண்ட தமிழ்நாடு.
“VaLLuvan thannai ulaginukkae thandhu vaan pugazh koNda Thamilnadu”
“Giving Valluvan to the world, Tamilnadu got the sky high fame”
THIRUVALLUVAR indeed is one of the greatest thinkers the world has witnessed. Born more than 2300 years ago in the famous city of Chennai in India, he through his magnum opus ‘Thirukkural’ has given the art and science of life and living.
When the values propounded are practiced truthfully, it will surely bring the unseen heaven to this very earth. Hardly there is any subject in the world that has not been dealt with by Thiruvalluvar and that in fact has made this work universally accepted as common scripture of eternal truths. This is probably the only work that has been translated into more than ninety languages of the world, of course, excepting Bible and Quran, which are the valued possession of the respective religions. That indicates the universality of the great work. Monumental contribution and rarest gift of Tamilnadu to India and the world are versatile Tamil Saint Poet Thiruvalluvar and his marvelous work Thirukkural!
To me Thirukkural dictum is not theoretical or bookish. A serious practitioner whether he is a layman, an employee Manager to the last grade servant, an agriculturist, medical man, or in Government from the ruler to the ruled, or in any walk of life can put into practice and the society will be peaceful, prosperous and noble. In fact Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Ramalinga adigaLaar—a Tamil reformer and many others have practiced VALLUVAM-dictates of Thiruvalluvar and his Thirukkural- .all given in 133 parts of 10 couplets each totaling 1330 couplets of seven seers each.
Different Indian languages have literary works of great cultural and artistic value but regionalism often comes in the way of connecting people with these works. What is the way to bridge this gap in your opinion?
Yes, India is a vast and diverse country with its rich heritage, culture, religions, languages, literature, scholars, writers, poets and so on. They are indeed great treasures beyond values for the present and posterity.
In a multi lingual society and the states on linguistic basis, regionalism of course takes its own toll on many aspects and one important impact is on the literary works of great cultural and artistic value. Due to political and other reasons there is a vast gap in connecting the people. Rightly you have diagnosed the cause for the gap and that is narrow regionalism leading to parochialism. It should therefore, be the foremost duty of the broad and nationalistic minded patriots to create opportunities for the people of religions and regions, languages and cultures to move freely and absorb the greatness from others.
Translation of the rich literary works of each language into other languages of India and English is a sure way of bridging the gap.
Emphasizing on the importance of TRANSLATION in bridging the gap great National Poet Subrahmanya Bharathiyar says:
தேமதுரத் தமிழோசை உலகமெலாம்
பரவும்வகை செய்தல் வேண்டும்.
பிறநாட்டு நல்லறிஞர் சாத்திரங்கள்
தமிழ்மொழியிற் பெயர்த்தல் வேண்டும்
திறமான புலமையெனில் வெளிநாட்டோர்
அதைவணக்கம் செய்தல் வேண்டும்.
Thaemadhurath thamizoasai ulagamelaam
Paravum vagai seythal vaeNdum
Piranaattu nallaringar saaththirangkaL
Thamizmoziyir peyarththal vaeNdum
Thiramaana pulamaiyenil veLinaattoar
Atdhai vaNakkam seythal vaeNtum.
Tamil’s mellifluous sounds
Must reach the world’s utmost bounds.
Translation too we must produce
From foreign classics for our use.
Our genuine greatness and skills and wisdom
The world will recognize and salute hands down.
But then translation is a fine art and science; competent persons for translation from one language to other language/s are to be spotted, sufficient recognition given and motivated to pursue the art of translation. Translation is not simply finding the equivalent words. It is indeed trans- creation; the translator must get into the heart and soul of the original creator and come out with his version presenting the mind of the creator.
It has to be done through print and electronic media. From that angle, I cannot but commend the efforts of Indian Periodical. Educational Institutions should make it a point and policy to prescribe the translated literature in the curriculum at all levels. As extracurricular studies, parents, social service organizations and schools must popularize translated arts and literature. It may not be too much to suggest literary competitions may be floated at many levels on translated literary pieces for all ages, educational standards, rural, urban groups and so on as the competitions have the motivating ability.
How should young generation be motivated towards preserving the cultural heritage like Thirukkural?
Your question on targeting the younger generation is indeed commendable. This is the age of youth and the future of the country’s culture and civilization, principles and practices, peace and harmony very much depend on the way our younger generation is brought up. While several distractions and disturbances are there for them, concerted efforts must be made, by all concerned with the future, to divert the focus of the youth towards preserving the cultural and literary heritage of the great works like THIRUKKURAL. Right from the elementary stage through curricular and extracurricular activities the text, meaning and the value of the teachings of Valluvar are to be prescribed. It has to be naturally in the languages known and appreciated by them for which making available the TIRUKKURAL in all Indian languages is a sine- qua-non. It is to be coordinated at the school/university, state and central level by competent teams.
The parents and elders should set an example and role models to the youngsters by practicing the principles of life and living propounded by Thiruvalluvar in his magnum opus Thirukkural. Once the young minds absorb from their studies and observe the elder’s following in their day to day life, they will also fall in the groove and what is imbibed at the cradle will stand till the grave.
What sort of encouragement do central and state governments provide in promoting literature?
Of course, they have their own methods and manner of providing encouragement in promoting literature; but it leaves much to be desired. Of course priority treatment is given to education and not to the man making literary education! Unlike the subjects like Mathematics and Science, Engineering and medicine, literature in any language enhances the vision and catholicity, broad mindedness and nobility of the learners.
Hence, the governments must give a priority to the translation activity of the ministry of culture and education and instill the importance of translated works, methodical study at all levels to ensure that regionalism stands not in the way of literary progress in the whole nation. In particular in Tamilnadu lot of emphasis is made on studying the THIRUKKURAL couplets and the schools right from the age of four make the kids read and recite this great work of Thiruvalluvar.
Monetary incentives have their own attraction with the human beings and rightly the Tamilnadu Government recognizes the students from primary level to University level, who learn, by heart and recite the entire 1330 couplets in front of competent team of Thiruvalluvam specialists and award Rs.10000 each. It is indeed a matter of immense satisfaction and pride that thousands of boys and girls from Tamilnadu have been awarded.
Individual specialists in Tirukkural contribute in their own way for the propagation of the Saint Poet’s ideas and views among the children and elders. One such expert by name ELLAPPAN from the famous holy place of Kanchipuram in Tamilnadu, a dhashavadhani, has trained many children and out of them more than hundred boys and girls have received the Rs.10000 award from the Government.
One more individual Mr. Aadhilingam, founder president of “ULAGAP PODHUMARAI THIRUKKURAL SANGAM” is running THIRUKKURAL SCHOOLS in different parts of Chennai, teaches Thirukkural, awards monetary incentives up to Rs 5000 to the school children for attainment of proficiency in Tirukkural in 10 different levels. How I wish the students from Andhra Pradesh to Uttar Pradesh prepare themselves and receive the Tamilnadu government and other awards in large numbers!
Your message for our readers?
Message to readers! Yes, we have to. At a time when the sea changes are taking place in the society, in the minds and attitudes of readers and writers, concerted efforts are called for to make the youth read, read and read, understand, appreciate, absorb the contents and crux of the noble literature from not only their own language but from other languages translated well by the competent authorities. Honest efforts must be made to read well all that is worth reading and follow in day to day life that they got out of reading.
Just as physical exercises tone up the body and health, reading tones up the intellect. They must also make it a point to read the journals and magazines on line or off line providing translated matters as is being efficiently done by Indian Periodical. My best wishes and prayers are to all the readers. Thank you, very much to you for having provided me a golden opportunity to interact with you and through you, your esteemed readers. .