Why did Bharati burn the Harmonium? (Post No 2602)


Compiled by london swaminathan

Date: 5 March, 2016


Post No. 2602


Time uploaded in London :–  15-17


( Thanks for the Pictures  ) 




(for old articles go to tamilandvedas.com OR swamiindology.blogspot.com; 


There are very interesting anecdotes in the life of the great Tamil poet Subramanya Bharati. One of them was his fear of leprosy, which made him to consume a harmonium to fire!

Once he was playing on harmonium; actually he was playing with a harmonium like a child. He pressed many keys at the same time which produced a horrible sound. Immediately people in the room criticized him. He gave a beautiful reply. I wanted to show you how horrible it is when you scold a child! The same horrible sound you people produce when you scold a child! (His care and love for children is known through many anecdotes).


Chellamma’s bother has given her this harmonium. When it developed some problems it was sent to a shop for repair work.  Bharatiyar found out that the person who was handling it was a leper. Bharati was so scared of leprosy, he came home and told his wife Chellamma, “Never ever touch that harmonium, when it is returned”. She kept quiet. She loved the harmonium very much. Moreover it was given by her brother.


All this happened when the family was about to shift to far away Kadayam from Pondycheri. Bharati told his friends to pack all the goods and send them as cargo by next train. Chellamma told them to pack the harmonium without fail. After some days the cargo arrived at Kadayam. It so happened that Bharati himself received it and opened the package.


As soon as he saw the harmonium he became very angry. He separated it from rest of the goods and then asked someone to take it to the garden nearby. There he poured kerosene oil over it and set fire to it. Only when he saw the ashes of the harmonium he became peaceful. He came back home and gave treatment to the house with burning torches to kill the leprosy bacteria.

Once a freedom fighter who was afflicted with leprosy came home and touched Bharati’s daughter Sakuntala. She was a child then. As soon as he went out he bathed his child with anti-bacterial lotion. Since he had so much respect to freedom fighters he could not say anything when he was playing with his child.


He used to throw out all the tumblers and other utensils touched by a leper. People who find them on the roads, just outside his house, naturally returned them to Chellamma. When he saw them back in the house, he took them to a garden and buried them saying that it would prevent others getting leprosy. He was so health conscious!


Every one of us has some fear or phobia. Bharati was very much worried about leprosy. This shows that his human side.



Source: Tamil book on Bharatis Life by Akkur Ananthachary, 1936 publication. Rough translation by London swaminathan.