Suddhananda Bharati was a poet, thinker, writer, yogi and nationalist. He was born on 11th May 1897 to an educated, devout and affluent Telugu Brahmin family who lived in Tamil Nadu. His father Jatadhara Iyer and his mother Kamakshi also came from a well-to-do and well-educated family. His parents named him Venkata Subrahmaniam. He had two elder brothers and an elder sister. One of his elder brothers was a lawyer and a supporter of the freedom struggle.
Suddhananda was drawn to spirituality and devotion from an early age. His maternal great-uncle Purnananda taught him yoga. It is said that his gift for poetry and words was a blessing he received when he was eight years old. After meditation at the Chidambaram temple, he is said to have spontaneously burst in song. That song was ‘Eppadi Padinaro’. This was a start of a long literary career.
He lost his father when he was still young and went to stay with his mother at his maternal uncle’s home. His uncle was also a lawyer and hoped that his nephew would follow in his footsteps. But the young man was drawn towards religion rather than law. Though it caused conflict at home, slowly his family came to accept his path. But he did continue his formal education and after that, he became a school teacher and then an editor. He also supported and contributed to the nationalistic cause as well as various social causes.
But it was to spirituality that he was mainly drawn. He continued his studies of the different religions including Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Jainism. He already excelled in Tamil; to add to that, he studied different European languages like English, Latin and French. Suddhananda Bharati had the privilege of meeting and working with many great spiritual and nationalistic leaders of those times including Gandhi, Subrahmania Bharati, VVS Iyer, Srinivasa Iyengar, Aurobindo, Tilak, Kalki, Shirdi Baba, Ramana Maharishi and many others. A prolific writer, he wrote both prose and poetry in Tamil, English and French. He also translated works from various languages to Tamil. His most important work was Bharata Shakti Mahakavyam. He spent 20 years in Aurobindo’s ashram in a vow of silence during which time his ouput was prolific.
In 1947 he finally brought an end to his vow of silence. After that he travelled widely within and outside India giving discourses. He propagated what he called Sama Yoga – the yoga of equality. He believed that it is the synthesis of Yoga and Science which will take mankind forward. He established yoga centres and a school at Sholapuram where he lived the last years of his life. He passed away on 7th March 1990.