Journalist and historian RA Padmanabhan, who made important contributions to studies on poet Subramania Bharathi, died here on Monday. He was aged 97 years and is survived by his wife, three sons and three daughters.
Padmanabhan, started his career with the Tamil magazine Ananda Vikatan at the age of 16. He was the first editor of Dinamani Kadir after its renewal and had also worked for The Hindu. “Fortunately he started his work on Bharathi at a crucial time when many of the late poet’s contemporaries were still alive. He collected their memoirs about Bharathi and published them. Many of Bharathi’s works, letters, manuscripts and copies of India magazine survive today only because of Padmanabhan,” said historian AR Venkatachalapathy.
Padmanabhan’s ‘Chithira Bharathi’, a compilation of photographs of Bharathi and his contemporaries is a major work, first published in 1957. He discovered two of the five photographs of Bharathi that are now available. While working for the Hindustan, another weekly, Padmanabhan published two special issues on the occasion of Bharathi’s birth anniversary and it was these issues that first carried the five extant pictures of the national poet.
A writer well-versed in Tamil and English, Padmanabhan penned biographies of many freedom fighters including VVS Iyer, Neelakanda Brahmachari and Subramania Siva.