Many, who knew Bharathi as a Tamil poet and prose writer par excellence, did not bear in mind his proficiency in English or English journalism.
The competence that he brought to bear on just a political weekly viz. ‘India’ shone ever greater in the English monthly called ‘Bala Bharatha’ published from Nov. 1907. The full name of the periodical was ‘Bala Bharatha or Young India’.
In Chennai, C.M.Nanjunda Rao, a well-known doctor, managed Bala Bharatha for Bharathi. He was a dear friend of Bharathi though 20 years his elder. He also had unlimited devotion to Vivekananda.
The monthly, Bala Bharatha, came with the epithet, ‘magazine for national resurgence’. Bharathi was proclaimed as its editor. He wrote copiously in it without adding his name. Nivedita Devi, the supreme guru of Bharathi, also contributed to every issue of her disciple’s magazine anonymously. Several other intellectuals wrote in their own names.
The monthly magazine contained sections on philosophy, nationalism, reformation in the lives of people and Vedanta. Vivekananda’s powerful English slogan, ‘Arise, awake, stop not until your goal is reached’ and ‘kuNDalini’ of national consciousness figured in the top page.
The magazine came in royal quarto size (9”x6”) running to about 32 pages every month. G.C. Lokanathan and Bros. published it from Guardian Press, Mount Road, in top class paper and finest print with standard articles. Registered No. was M. 701, annual subscription for India, Burma and Ceylon Rs. one and a half and for abroad 3 shillings or 1 U.S. dollar. Those ordering six numbers would be charged for 5 only.
The address of the magazine was ‘Goodwyn and Co., Mylapore, South Chennai’. This was the address of Nanjunda Rao’s drugstore in Kutcheri Road. The revolutionaries that visited Chennai used to stay in the upstairs of the store.
Dr. Nanjunda Rao was a Maharashtrian, born in 1862 as the son of a poor worker. He was expert in studies and won several prizes and medals. He completed medical studies as a student of Mysore Government in Madras Medical College and secured first rank in the university in the course offered those days called M.B. and M.C. (Bachelor of Medicine and Master of Curatory).
As soon as he commenced practice in Mylapore, several Englishmen including Madam Annie Besant and Bishop Leadpbeater, and many prominent Indians went to him for treatment. He used to practise Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani systems also apart from Allopathy. By virtue of this, he described himself as an ‘eclectic physician’.
Nanjunda Rao donated liberally for several public causes. He is the one who built the house in Thiruvallikkeni, where Bharathi lived. Besides, a red house situated opposite Kapaliswarar tank in Mylapore was the doctor’s house.