தமிழ்த் தேசியம்

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."

- Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Home > Tamils - a Trans State Nation > One Hundred Tamils of the 20th Century > Periyar E.V.Ramaswamy

CONTENTS
OF THIS SECTION
Last updated
01/11/07

Suya Mariyathai Iyakam
When Periyar met Vinoba Bhave
Thanthaiperiyar
Biography of Periyar E.V.Ramasami Compiled by  S.V.Rajadurai, Professor & Head, Centre for Periyar Studies, Bharathidasan University
Periyar’s Biography: Life and Struggle of Periyar E. V. R.
Translations of the Speeches and Writings of Periyar related to Untouchability
Fuzzy and Neutrosophic
Analysis of  Periyar’s Views
 on Untouchability - W. B. Vasantha Kandasamy, Florentin Smarandache, K. Kandasamy
Centre for Periyar Studies
Writings and Journals Of Periyar
Writings on Periyar and Related Materials
Periyar - The Film
Periyar-Rationalist /Social Reformer
Comment by Dr.S.Ranganathan "My dear Tamilnation Brother: Tamil Vaazhga! I would like you to go to the following link and read this interview with one Mr. Venkatesan, who is a Dalit.  What appalled me was the contempt of Mr. EV Ramasamy Naicker for my mother language, Tamil. He called it a barbaric language..." more
Was Periyar a Tamil? - Vijay Pillai,  26 February 2000 together with response by tamilnation.org
E V Ramasamy Naickarin Marupakkam - (The other side of E V Ramasamy Naickar) - Book Review by Viswamitrar

E V Ramasamy Naickarin Marupakkam - (The other side of E V Ramasamy Naickar) V Sundaram interviews Author M.Venkatesan, 6 March 2006

'For more than 40 years, I have been describing Tamil as a barbarous language (Kattumirandi Mozhi) used only by barbarians. When Brahmins and the Brahmin-dominated government wanted to make Hindi a State language, I started, to a very limited extent, advocating the promotion of Tamil language only to oppose the imposition of Hindi language. The only language that ought to replace Tamil is English. What is not there in English which can be found in Tamil Language?'  EVR quoted by M.Venkatesan
Selected Quotations from Periyar

கவிஞர் காசி ஆனந்தன் on Periyar

பெரியார் ஒருவர்தான் பெரியார்
அவர் போல் பிறர் யார் அவர் பெருமைக்கு உரியார் - தந்தை பெரியார்

பகைவர் தமை காட்டி வதைத்த கூர் ஈட்டி
தமிழர் புகழ்நாட்டி வாழந்த வழிகாட்டி - தந்தை பெரியார்

மாட்டைத் தீண்டுவான் ஆட்டைத் தீண்டுவான்
மனிதனைத் தீண்ட மறுத்தானே!

நாட்டை உலுக்கினான் பெரியார் அவர் தொண்டன்
நரிகளின் வாலை அறுத்தானே!

கோடை எழில் கொஞ்சும் பெண்களை உலகினில்
கொடியவன் கூட்டில் அடைத்து வைத்தான்!

காலம் காலமாய் அழுத பெண்களின் கண்ணீரை
கிழவன்; துடைத்து வைத்தான் - தந்தை பெரியார்

மானம் கெடுப்பாரை அறிவைத் தடுப்பாரை
மண்ணோடு பெயர்த்த கடப்பாரை!

வானம் உள்ள வரை வையம் உள்ள வரை
யார் இங்கு மறப்பார் பெரியாரை - தந்தை பெரியார்

Periyar.Org
E.V.Ramasamy  - the Social Reformer
*Diehel, Anita - E. V. Ramaswami Naicker-Periyar : a study of the influence of a personality in contemporary South India)]
 
 

One Hundred Tamils of the 20th Century

Periyar E.V.Ramaswamy - பெரியார்
1879 - 1973

[see also Caste & the Tamil Nation - Dalits, Brahmins & Non Brahmins]

"Men should not touch each other, see each other; and cannot enter temples, fetch water from the village pond: in a land where such inhuman practices are ripe, it is a wonder that the earthquakes have not destroyed us, volcanoes not burnt us; it is a wonder that the earth has not split at its heart and plunge this land into an abyss, that a typhoon has not shattered us. I leave it to you to decide if you still like to trust to a divinity that has not punished us thus; if you still consider that God a just God, a Merciful Being. How long do you desire a vast section of the oppressed, the depressed classes to remain patient, peaceful and quiet? Would you consider it wrong if these oppressed were to choose death rather than lead such a life as they do now? " Periyar E. V. Ramasami
 

"நான் மனிதனே!  நான் சாதாரணமானவன், என் மனத்தில் பட்டதை எடுத்துச் சொல்லி யிருக்கிறேன். இதுதான் உறுதி.  இதை நீங்கள் நம்பித்தான் ஆகவேண்டும் என்று சொல்லவில்லை. ஏற்கக்கூடிய கருத்துக்களை உங்கள் அறிவைக் கொண்டு நன்கு ஆய்ந்து ஏற்றுக்கொள்ளுங்கள், மற்றதைத் தள்ளிவிடுங்கள்.

எந்தக் காரணத்தைக் கொண்டும் மனிதத் தன்மைக்கு மீறிய எந்தக் குணத்தையும் என்மீது சுமத்தி விடாதீர்கள். நான் தெய்வத்தன்மை பொருந்தியவனாகக் கருதப்பட்டுவிட்டால் மக்கள் என் வார்த்தைகளை ஆராய்ந்து பார்க்கமாட்டார்கள்.  "நான் சொல்லுவதை நீங்கள் நம்புங்கள், நான் சொல்லுவது வேதவாக்கு, நம்பாவிட்டால் நரகம் வரும் நாத்திகர்கள் ஆகிவிடுவீர்கள்" என்று வேதம், சாத்திரம், புராணம் கூறுவதுபோலக் கூறி, நான் உங்களை அடக்குமுறைக்கு ஆளாக்கவில்லை, நான் சொல்லுவது உங்களுடைய அறிவு, ஆராய்ச்சி, உத்தி அனுபவம் இவைகளுக்கு ஒத்துவராவிட்டால் தள்ளிவிடுங்கள். ஒருவனுடைய எந்த கருத்தையும் மறுப்பதற்கு யாருக்கும் உரிமை உண்டு. ஆனால், அதனை வெளியிடக்கூடாது என்பதற்கு எவருக்கும் உரிமை கிடையாது."


Counter Current Org on Periyar's Movement, 28 June 2003:

"The philosophy of Periyar E.V.Ramasamy ( 17.9.1879 - 24.12.1973) was all men and women should live with dignity and have equal opportunities to develop their physical, mental and moral faculties.. To achieve this, he wanted to put an end to all kinds of unjust discriminations and to promote Social Justice and rational outlook.

To put his principle into practice, Periyar associated himself with the Madras Presidency Association (MPA) in 1917. He was one of its vice-presidents. The Association advocated communal representation and demanded reservation for the Non-Brahmins and minority communities, as a 'sine qua non' of removing the injustices.

When Mahatma Gandhi (M.K.Gandhi : 1869-1948) took the lead in the Indian National Congress, Periyar joined the organisation in 1919. He resigned 29 public posts he held at that time, including the municipal chairmanship of Erode town. He gave up his very lucrative wholesale dealership in grocery and agricultural products, and closed his newly begun spinning mill. Periyar wholeheartedly undertook the constructive programme - spreading the use of Khadi, picketing toddy shops, boycotting the shops selling foreign cloth and eradication of untouchability. He courted imprisonment for picketing toddy shops in Erode in 1921. When his wife as well as his sister joined the agitation, it gained momentum, and the administration was forced to come to a compromise.

In 1922, Periyar moved a resolution in the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee when it met at Tiruppur. The resolution required people of all castes to be allowed to enter and worship in all the temples, as a measure to end birth-based discrimination. Citing the authority of Vedas and other Hindu scriptures, the Brahmin members of the Committee opposed the resolution and stalled its passage. This reactionary stand of the members of upper Varna provoked Periyar to declare that he would burn Manu dharma Sastra, Ramayana etc. to show his disapproval to accept such scriptures to govern the social, religious and cultural aspects of the people.

Periyar's determination to bring about socio-cultural revolution impelled him to support even his opponents when they implemented his progressive scheme. Though a Congress leader, he supported in 1923, the Justice Party's measure to form Hindu Religious Endowment Board with a view to put an end to the age-old monopoly and exploitation of the upper castes in the managements of Hindu temples and religious endowments.

Periyar's vigorous and spirited role in the Vaikom Satyagraha (1924-25) contributed in no mean measure for the triumph of that first historic social struggle in the history of modern India. This paved the way for the "untouchables" to use public roads without any inhibition and for other prospective egalitarian social measures.

At Cheranmaadhevi near Tirunelveli in Southern Tamil Nadu, they started a National training school as an alternative to those run under the control of the British Government. That school, known as Gurukulam, was funded by the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee and by other non-Brahmin philanthropists. It was managed by V.V.S.Iyer, a Brahmin. Under his management, they showed discrimination between the Brahmin and Non-Brahmin students. Brahmin boys were treated in a better way than the others with regard to food, shelter and the cirriculum. Along with his companions Periyar stoutly opposed the discreminatory practice and put an end to it.

It was Periyar's firm conviction that universal enjoyment of human rights will become a reality only when the Varna-Jaathi (caste) system was eradicated. Until the social reconstruction took place, he wanted communal representation as ameasure of affirmative action to uphold social justice. So he tried, every year from 1919, to make the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee to accept the policy of reservation to different social groups and communities. But his efforts bore no fruit in this regard. Finally he left Congress in November, 1925 at the Kancheepuram Conference. He had to part company with Mahatma Gandhil because the later was not prepared to put an end to the Brahmin domination and to fight against caste system.

Self - respect Movement : 1925- 39: Periyar's philosophy is that different sections of a society should have equal rights to enjoy the fruits of the resources and the development of the country; they should all be represented, in proportion to their numerical strength, in the governance and the administration of the state. This principle had been enunicated earlier by those who stood for social justice, particularly by the South Indian Liberal Federation, popularly known as Justice Party. Periyar's unique contribution was his insistence on rational outlook to bring about intellectual emancipation and a healthy world-view. He also stressed the need to abolish the hierarchal, graded, birth-based caste structure as a prelude to build a new egalitarian social order. In other words, he wanted to lay a sound socio-cultural base, before raising a strong structure of free polity and prosperous economy.

It was in this context, the Self-Respect Movement, founded in 1925, carried on a vigorous and ceaseless propaganda against ridiculous and harmful superstitions, traditions, customs and habits. He wanted to dispel the ignorance of the people and make them enlightened. He exhorted them to take steps to change the institutions and values that led to meaningless divisions and unjust discrimination. He advised them to change according to the requirements of the changing times and keep pace with the modern conditions.

Self-respecters performed marriages without Brahmin priests (prohits) and without religious rites. They insisted on equality between men and women in all walks of life. They encouraged inter-caste and widow marriages. Periyar propagated the need for birth-control even from late 1920s. He gathered support for lawful abolition of Devadasi (temple prostitute) system and the practice of child marriage. It was mainly due to his consistent and energetic propaganda, the policy of reservations in job opportunities in government administration was put into practice in the then Madras Province (which included Tamilnadu) in 1928.

Since the British rulers in India had no vested interest in perpetuating the inequitable Varna-Jaathi social structure based on Vedic Sanathana Dharma, Periyar and his followers found that they could influence or pressurise the alien government to take measures to remove social inequality. So they adopted a moderate policy in the struggle for political independence.

From the beginning of 1930s, Periyar added the programme of fighting for economic equality to his original programme of working for social equality and cultural revolution. Along with the veteran communist leader Com. M.Singaravel, he organised industrial and agricultural labourers to stand against the exploitation of big capitalists and landlords. In mid -1930s, the central and provincial governments took steps to ban the Communist Party and the organisations purported to have similar programmes. They started to stop the activities of the Self-Respect Movement. Periyar had to take a crucial decision. He had known by experience that there were supporters for the work to carry on the freedom struggle and to organise the labourers. But only a few came forth to expose the religion-based traditional evils, and struggle against the exploitation of the powerful Brahminical upper castes. Under these circumstance, he toned down his socialist activities in order to be free to carry on the task of the socio-cultural emancipation of the disadvantaged and the downtrodden sections.

In 1934, there was an unsuccessful move through C.Rajagopalachari, known as Rajaji, to bring Periyar back into the fold of the Congress Party. Periyar prepared a programme of action consisting of measures to promote Social Justice through reservations, to implement socialisation of vital and large-scale commercial and industrial activities, and to remove the hardships of the debt-ridden peasants. He sent the programme to the ruling Justisce Party and the Congress Party that was growing popular. The Congress Party did not accept it, as the policy of reservation was not agreeable to it. As Justice Party agreed to most of the measures including communal representation to uphold Social Justice, Periyar continued to support it.

In 1937, Justice Party that was in power in the then Madras Province from 1921, except for a brief period, lost the elections to the Congress Party. The Congress Government was headed by Rajagopalachari who introduced compulsory study of Hindi language in the high schools. Those who opposed this effort to make non-Hindi speaking people second class citizens organised a vigorous agitation under the dynamic leadership of Periyar. More than 1200 persons including women with children were imprisoned in 1938, of which two, Thalamuthu and Natarasan, lost their lives due to the rigours in prison. When the agitation gained momentum Periyar was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for two years, though released in six months (Periyar was in gaol five times in 1920s and four times in 1930s).

When he was in prison, a women's conference in Madras (now Chennai) passed a resolution to refer to E.V.Ramasamy always as Periyaar ( the great man.).

While undergoing imprisonment, the Justice Party elected him as its President on 29th December, 1938.

Periyar who opposed compulsory study of Hindi in the then Madras Province was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for two years. But he was released after about six months of confinement from 26th November, 1938 to 22nd May 1939. After his release, he announced that he would continue his agitation against the imposition of Hindi.

As the leader of Justice Party: 1939-1944.

We have seen that Periyar was elected while he was in prison, as the leader of the South Indian Liberal Federation, popularly known as Justice Party, in its Provincial Conference held in Madras (Chennai) on 29, 30 December, 1938. He was basically a fighter for human rights for all from the beginning to the end of his public life. Now he added a new dimension to his movement, viz., demand for an independent Dravida Naadu. He was driven to make this demand in 1938-39, because he found the Brahminical upper castes whom he opposed for their social oppression, were in league with the North Indian Bania community (comprador capitalists) in imposing Hindi and in exploiting economically the people of South India.

Periyar's concept of Dravidians was not based on the purity of blood related to a race, but on values and ways of life. The Brahminical upper castes who followed the discriminatory socio-cultural principles, practices and traditions of Varna-Jaathi (caste system) originally enunicated in the Sanskrit scriptures like Vedas, Ithihaasas, Puraanas, Dharma Sastras etc. are Aryans. Those who subscribe to the egalitarian Tamil tradition and values of humanism are Dravidians. It may be recalled here that while addressing the conference of Backward Classes and Scheduled Castes in Kanpoor in Uttar Pradesh in December 1944, he appealed to the Non-Brahmins of North- India to give up the religious appellation of Hindu and call themselves as Dravidians.

The Second World War broke out in September 1939. As a protest against the British rulers involving India in the war without consulting the High Command of their party, the Congress ministries in Madras and seven other Provinces resigned on 29th October of the same year. As Periyar was the leader of the opposition Justice Party, he was asked by the Governor and Governor General twice in 1940 and 1942 to form the ministry. Though a Congress leader, his friend C.Rajagopalachari personally requested Periyar to accept the offer, assuring his outside support to the Justice Party ministry. He explained that he wanted to put an end to the rule of the Governor and his advisers.

But Periyar refused to head the Provincial Government on both the occasions. His refusal was on two grounds: First, he felt it improper to form the ministry without a popular mandate. Secondly, he firmly believed that his main task of annihilating caste system and spreading rational humanist principles would receive a set back, if he assumed power. Periyar left for Mumbai (Bombay) on 5th January 1940. Dr. B.R.Ambedkar gave dinner- parties twice in his honour. They met the Muslim League leader M.A.Jinnah at his residence in Mumbai on 8th January 1940. Periyar explained then his decision to work for an independent State known as Dravida Naadu. On 21st January 1940, the Madras provincial Government ruled by the Governor and his advisers abolished the compulsory study of Hindi in schools. M.A.Jinnah sent a telegram to Periyar congratulating him on the success of his endeavour to ward off the imposition of Hindi. When the Justice Party was defeated in the 1937 general elections after being in power for a very long spell from 1921, most of its leaders were disheartened and became inactive.

It was at this moment of crisis, Periyar accepted the leadership of the party because he always felt the need for the existence of a vigorous political party essentially oriented to work for the upliftment of the socially deprived sections of the people. At this critical movement, two of the old guards staunchly stood by him. They were Sir R.K.Shanmugam and Sir A.T. Panneerselvam. At the time, the former was the Dewan of the Princely State of Kochi (now a part of Kerala) and then became Independent India's first finance minister in 1947. The latter was a member of the Governor's council and then a minister in Madras province in 1930s. On 1st March 1940, he lost his life in a plane crash while flying over Oman sea on his way to London where he was to assume office as an adviser to the Secretary of State for India in the British Government. Periyar lamented that the sudden and tragic demise of Panneerselvam was an irreparable loss to the people of Tamil Nadu. The 15th State Conference of the Justice Party was held in Tiruvarur in August 1940.

It was on this occasion, Chinnakancheepuram Natarajan Annadurai (C.N.A.) respectfully mentioned later as Arignar Anna, became the Joint Secretary of the Party. He fascinated the youth by his unique style of writing and oratory. He played a great role in popularising the principles, policies and programmes of Periyar through his essays, short stories, novels and plays. In February 1941, the founder-leader of Radical Democratic Party, M.N.Roy, came to Chennai and stayed as Periyar's guest. He sought Periyar's cooperation to form a grand All India alliance against the Congress Party. Both of them supported the war efforts of Great Britain as they considered British Imperialism a lesser evil than the Fascism of Mussolini, Nazism of Hitler and the Militarism of Tojo.

As a result of Periyar's persistant demand, the degrading practice of serving separately the Brahmins and the 'others' in the restaurants in railway stations was abolished in March, 1941. The conservative section in the Justice Party disliked Periyar's radical social reform programme, his critical view of religious literature and the propagation of rationalist ideas. Unmindful of their opposition, he continued his onward march and gathered around him the youth and the common people. It was during this period in 1942-43 that Maniammai joined the movement and came to attend to the personal needs of Periyar. She was devoted to the leader and served him sincerely. They married later in 1949.

The Justice Party's provincial conferenfce held in Salem on 27th August 1944 marked a turning point in Periyar's movement. The name of the Party was changed as Dravidar Kazhagam. The members were asked to give up the posts, positions and titles conferred by the British rulers. They were also required to drop the caste suffix of their names. It was also decided that the members of the movement should not contest the elections.

In other words, the Justice Party which was political was transformed into Dravidar Kazhagam and became a non-political socio-cultural movement. It remains so even today. It was in the historic Salem conference, Periyar allowed Mr. K.Veeramani, the present General Secretary of Dravidar Kazhagam, who had not yet completed 11 years then, to stand on the table and address the gathering. Arignar Anna introduced him to the audience as the Thiru Gnanasambandar of the Self-respect movement. (Gnanasambandar was a precocious devotee and composer of hymns in the Saivite lore). In the last week of December 1944 and in the first week of January, 1945, Periyar undertook a tour of North India. On 27th December 1944, he spoke in a conference of the Radical Democratic Party in Calcutta (Kolkotta). M.N.Roy introduced him to those assembled as his atheist preceptor. In 1945, a volunteer corps of black shirts was organised.

The Dravidar Kazhagam flag, in the ratio of 3 : 2, a red circle in the middle in the black background, was adopted in 1946. The black represented the deprivations and the indignities to which the Dravidians are subjected to under the Hindu religious milieu. The red stands for the determined efforts to dispel the ignorance and blind faith among the people and to liberate them materially and mentally from all kinds of exploitation, particularly those of social and cultural. A two-day conference of black-shirt volunteer corps was organised in Madurai in May, 1946.

On the second day the pandal was burnt down at the instigation of Brahminical Hindu Sanathanis. In the same year on 9th December, Periyar raised his sure voice against the manner in which the Constituent Assembly was constituted. Periyar declared that 15 August 1947, when India became politically free, was a day of mourning because the event marked, in his opinion, only a transfer of power to the Brahmin - Bania Combine, whose socio-cultural domination, in addition to economic exploitation, would be worse than the British rule.

The adoption of the Republican Constitution of India in 1950 was also viewed by him in a similar vein. Though he had basic differences with Mahatma Gandhi, Periyar was terribly grieved when he fell a victim to the bullets of a religious fundamentalist of the Hindutva variety on 30th January 1948. He even suggested on the occasion that India should be renamed as Gnadhi Naadu. The Congress government of Madras Province banned the black-shirt volunteer corps in March 1948. But that only made Dravidar Kazhagam more popular.

As a result more than a lakh of people, most of them in black shirts, assembled in the D.K.Conference held on 8,9 May 1948. Periyar revived the agitation against Hindi when it was again introduced in the schools in June 1948. Though the authorities were stubborn in the initial stages and took stern steps against the agitations, they had to yield in course of time to the popular will, and withdrew the scheme of compulsory study of Hindi. The firmly entrenched and deeply rooted social evils in India centre around the existence and perpetuation of the caste system known as Varna-Jaathi which forms a basic and inseparable part of the theory and practice of Hindu religion that sanctifies the stratified heirarchy or graded inequality. The beneficiaries of this social structure are the Brahminical upper caste people who have enormous material resources and mental capabilities obtained through unjust privileges and exclusive traditional advantages. Those who work for the complete transformation of the social order have to wage an unequal war.

By his experience and serious thought, Periyar was convinced that the individuals and movements that undertake the task of eradicating the social evils in India have to pursue the goal with devotion and dedication without deviating from the path and with uncompromising zeal. If they contest elections aiming to assume political power, they would lose vigour and sens of purpose. But many among his followers had a different view. They wanted to enter into politics and have a share in running the government. They were looking for an opportunity to part with Periyar. When he married Maniammai on 9th July 1948, they quit Dravidar Kazhagam stating that Periyar had set a bad example by marrying a young woman in his old age - he was 70 and she 30. Those who parted company with Periyar formed Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam - DMK, under the leadership of C.N.Annadurai (Arignar Anna).

Least perturbed by sentimental and motivated protests, Periyar marched on with redoubled vigour to found an enlightened egalitarian society. After the adoption of the Republican Constitution on 26th January 1950, Brahmins went to the Madras High Court and then to the Supreme Court in the same year asking for the discontinuance of the provision of reservation in educational institutions to the historically disadvantaged communities, on the plea that the provision violated the fundamental right to non-discrimination.

The courts upheld the plea and declared reservations meant to promote Social Justice unconstitutional. Periyar organised meetings and conferences against the judgement, and also initiated agitations that gained momentum as days passed by. As a result, the Constitution {First Amendment Act} was passed in 1951 adding the Clause 4 to the Article 15: "Nothing in this article or in clause (2) of Article 29 shall prevent the State from making any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes." The Periyar Self-respect Propaganda Institution was registered on 23rd September, 1952.

In 1953, as instructed by Periyar, the Buddha's Day was celebrated through out the state urging the need to follow a rationalist way of life, and the idols of the elephant god Vinayaga (Ganesha) were broken to demonstrate symbolically the inefficacy of the innumerable deities worshipped by the educated and uneducated people. In the meanwhile C.Rajagopalachari who had become the Chief Minister of Madras State for the second time between 1952 and 1954, had introduced the scheme of conducting classes in the schools in the forenoon and asking the students to learn the traditional jobs of their parents in the afaternoon. At the first stage it was implemented in the rural areas of the state.

The Dravidian leaders rightly assessed that the scheme was a clever device to keep the Shudra and Panchama castes as illiterates or semi-literates. Their children had just begun to attend school after centuries of denial of educational opportunities. They dubbed C. Rajagoplalachari's scheme as Castiest Education Plan (Kula Kalvi Thittam) and began to agitate under Periyar's leadership demanding its withdrawal. As a consequence, the Chief Minister had to resign in March 1954, and Kamaraj assumed office on 14th April. Kamaraj abolished the half-day-teaching scheme, and assured Periyar that his Government would extent educationasl facilities to people in every nook and corner of the state. He also asured that he would sincerely implement the policy of communal representation opening up opportunities to the under-privileged in education and administration.

As Kamaraj adhered truly to his assurances, Periyar gave him his unstinted backing. Though Periyar supported Congress nealy 30 years after he quit the same in 1925, his support was more to the person than to the party. In Novembr and December, 1954 and in the the first week of January 1955, Periyar and his wife Maniammai went on a propaganda tour to Burma and Malaysia. In Burma (now Myanmar), he attended the Buddhist Conference, and had a discussion with Dr. B.R.Ambedkar. Perhaps this was the last meeting between the two great men, before the latter passed away on 6th December, 1956.

They had similar views on almost all the points related to socio-religious issues in India. Periyar went to the burial ground in Thanjavur on 28 March 1955 to pay homage to Pattukkottai Azhagirisamy (Azhagiri, the dare-devil), an ardent follower of Dravidar Kazhagam principles and a fiery speaker, who passed away on the same day in 1949. He found a board indicating a separate place for burial for Shudras! Periyar wrote a letter to the district collector expressing his objection to the display of the board and to the practice of following "Varna dharma" even while burrying or cremating. As a consequence, the board was removed and the practice discontinued. On 1st August 1956, the Dravidar Kazhagam undertook an agitation of burning the portrait of Lord Rama as he symbolised the preservation of Varna dharma. Periyar was placed under preventive arrest on this occasion. The States in India were reorganised on linguistsice basis on 1st November 1956, and Periyar welcomed this measure.

In those days, the board "Brahmins Hotel" was displayed, following the lead given by the Brahmins, to indicate that only vegetarian food was served there. Dravidar Kazhagam objected to the Varna dharma connotation and started an agitation symbolically in front of a hotel in Madras (Chennai) on 5th Mary 1957. Batches of volunteers agitated daily and 1010 of them courted arrest till 22nd March 1958 when it culminated in success. The provisions of the Constitution that helped to safeguard Varna-Jaathi (Caste system) was burnt by about 10,000 volunteers of Dravidar Kazhagam on 26th November 1957. In this historic agitation, about 3000 of them were sentenced to undergo various terms of rigorous imprisonment, from two months to three years.

On Decermber 14, 1957, Periyar was sentenced to undergo six months imprisonment in a case based on fabricated police diaries where in he was accused of asking his followers to use force against Brahmins, an accusation which Periyar naturally denied. Two of the volunteers, Ramasamy and Vellaichamy, imprisoned for burning the provisions of the Constitution supporting casteism, died in jail. Their bodies were obtained with great effort by Maniammai from the unwilling and obstructing prison authorities and burried with due honours, after being taken in an emotionally charged procession through the main streets of Tiruchirappalli.

Due to the rigours they underwent in prison, about 15 people died soon after they were released. In January 1959, Periyar went to Bangalore to participate in the All India Official Language Conference. Along with General Kariappa and Medappa, he stressed the need to retain English as the Union Official Language. In February he undertook a tour of North India and propagated his principles of rationalism, social justice and self-respect way of life. In June 1960, Periyar asked people to burn the map of India as a protest against the Central Government using the Union of India for upholding and safeguarding caste system. About 4000 people were arrested for taking part in this agitation.

In 1962, Periyar wrote a special article in the Tamil Rationalist dai ly, "Viduthalai", welcoming the present General Secretary of Dravidar Kazhagam, Thiru K.Veeramani who had offered to become a full time volunteer of the movement giving up his lucrative profession of a lawyer. The Congress leader K.Kamaraj expressed his wish to resign Chief Ministership and work wholetime to strengthen the Party. Periyar sent a telegram to Kamaraj stating that it would be suicidal to the people of Tamil Nadu and to him, if he quit the office as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. But Kamaraj did not change his decision, and consequently M.Baktavatsalam became the Chief Minister on 3rd October, 1963.

As recommended by the National Integration Commission under the Chairmanship of Sir C.P. Ramaswamy Iyer, the Parliament enacted a law in 1963, prohibiting the propa gation of ideas demanding separation from the Indian Union. Periyar vehemently opposed the law. In April 1964, Dravidar Kazhagam conducted meetings throughout the State, condemning the Supreme Court's verdict against the State's Act fixing a ceiling to land-holding. The spontaneous and fierce agitation that raged through out Tamil Nadu between January 25 and February 15, 1965 against the imposition of Hindi resulting in several deaths, was criticised by Periyar because it was rudderless and unorganised. In the name of protecting cows, an unruly mob, motivated by the Hindutva ideology attempted to burn the Delhi residence of K.Kamaraj and kill him on 7th November 1966. He escaped by sheer chance. Periyar strongly condemned this barbaric attack and called upon people to be vigilant to protect Kamaraj by all means.

Dravidar Kazhagam supported congress party in 1957, 1962 and 1967 general elections, and opposed DMK which formed the government in the State in 1967. Soon after, Arignar Anna (C.N.Annadurai) went to Tiruchirappalli along with all his ministers and paid his homage to his mentor. Periyar was happy when the DMK regime renamed Madras State as Tamil Nadud and made Self-fespect marriages legal. It was a non-religious mode of performing marriages introduced by Periyar in late 1920s.

Though such marriages were not recognised by law till 1967, thousands of them were conducted due to the influence of the principles of Self-respect. In October 1967, Periyar undertook a North Indian tour and asked people to work for the eradication of caste system. On 12th and 13th of October, he addressed a Conference of BCs, SCs, STs and minorities in Lucknow. Periyar was deeply saddened when Arignar Anna, one of his chief disciples and an unquestioned leader of millions of Tamil Youth, passed away in his 60th year on 3rd February 1969. Dravidar Kazhagam decided in its Central Committee meeting in November to undertake an agitation demanding to put an end to the practice of appointing only Brahmins as Archakas in Agamic temples, as a way of removing one of the root causes of Varna-Jaathi. An Award was given to Periyar by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), and it was presented to him by the Union Education Minister, Triguna Sen in Madras (Chennai) on 27th June 1970. The citation hailed Periyar as "the Prophet of the New Age, the Socrates of South East Asia, Father of Social Reform Movement, and Arch enemy of ignorance, superstitions, meaningless customs and base manners." "Unmai", a Tamil monthly (now a fortnightly) and Modern Rationalist, an English monthly, were started by Periyar in 1970 and 1971 respectively to propagate the ideals of rational humanism more extensively.

Proscription of the Hindi version of Periyar's book on Ramayana was lifted by the Allahabad High Court in 1971. In the same year the proscription of "Ravana Kavyam" proscribed by the Congress Government of the Madras State was removed. On 12th January 1971, the DMK Government enacted a law giving equal opportunities to qualified persons irrespective of their birth in any Varna or Jaathi. On 23rd January a huge "procession of the eradication of superstitions" took place in Salem. The processionists carried large pictures and portraits truly depicting the events and gods described in epics and puranas. When a few intolerant orthodox onlookers threw footwears at the procession, the marchers used the same materials to beat the portrait of Rama beheading the Shudra Sambuka in deep meditation. This action of the Periyarists was blown out of proportion by the media through out India. They also published the pictures of gods and goddesses carried by the marchers.

This event was used against DMK-Congress alliance in the general elections held in March 1973. But both the parties secured massive majority - the DMK in Tamil Nadu Assembly and the Congress in the Lokh Sabha. On March 14, 1972 the Supreme Court gave a seemingly ambiguous judgement in the case against the Tamil Nadu Government's 1971 enactment that threw the job of Archakas open to all the qualified persons irrespective of their caste. As this judgement was interpreted by the bureaucracy in favour of the conservatives who defended the status quo, Periyar announced an agitation, exhorting people to work for equal human rights in all spheres including social, religious and cultural. This agitation had become necessary to remove the indignity to the people belonging to the Dravidian race because they were dubbed as Shudras and Panchamas according to Vedic and Brahminical Sanathana Dharma known as Hindu religion. Periyar organised a conference in Chennai on 8th and 9th December 1973. It was known as "Eradication of the social indignity of the Tamils Conference".

The conference decided to fight for equal rights and opportunities for persons of all castes to enter into Garba Graha (Sanctum Sanctorum) known as "Karuvarai Nuzhaivu Porattam" in Tamil. He undertook extensive tours to explain the need to bring to an end the Brahmin domination or privileges in priesthood and in other religious rites and ceremonies as an essential measure to reorganise the social order on the basis of equality. In the meanwhile the court set aside on October 11, a case against carieing on the pedestal of Periyar's statues, his famous pronouncements (made in 1967) denying god, and denouncing the worship and propagation of the same. In his last meeting at Thiagaraya Nagar, Chennai on 19th December 1973, Periyar gave an inspiring clarion call for action to gain social equality and dignified way of life. He fell ill on the next day and breathed his last on 24th December 1973. Periyar's life marked a turning in history and the beginning of a new era..." 

When Periyar met Vinoba Bhave  
From Tamil daily Thina Thanthi, 2 August 2004

Social revolutionaries Periyar and Vinoba Bhave met on 18 January 1957. Thina Thanthi reported that Periyar spoke to the paper's reporter about some of the issues that were discussed at the meeting. The paper reproduced the conversation between the two leaders.

"Bhave: I heard that you are fully engaged in the struggle to abolish caste system.

Periyar: I have taken up the abolition of caste system as my first priority. I believe that if the system is abolished people would overcome ignorance and they would lead a disciplined life.

Bhave: I admit that caste system should be abolished. But, I cannot endorse your acts of breaking the idols of our Gods and burning of our Epics.

Periyar: The Gods and Epics are the root cause of the system. That's why, I am targeting them. If we get rid of the Gods and Epics, then the caste system that they created will automatically disappear.

Bhave: There are good things and bad things in Epics. We have to take the good and leave out the bad..."

Periyar: How many people can do it? If you mix poison and sugar and give it, how many people can eat the sugar alone
 


Selected Quotations from Periyar

சுயமரியாதை
மனித தர்மத்தை அடிப்படையாக வைத்து, மனித சமுதாயத்திற்கு யாராவது தொண்டாற்ற வேண்டுமானால் முதலில் செய்யவேண்டியது, பகுத்தறிவுப்படி மக்களை நடக்கச் செய்வதும் சிந்திக்கச் செய்வதுமே யாகும்.
மனிதன் தனக்குள்ளாகவே, தான் மற்றவனைவிடத் பிறவியில் தாழ்ந்தவன் என்கிற உயர்வு தாழ்வு உணர்ச்சியைப் போக்கித் தன்னம்பிக்கையும், சுயமரியாதையும் பெற வேண்டும்.
சீர்திருத்தமும், சுயமரியாதையும், சட்டம் கொண்டு வந்து, வாக்கு வாங்கி நிறைவேற்றப் பெற்றுவிடலாம் என்று நினைப்பது ஒரு நாளும் முடியாத காரியம்
மனிதன் உலகில் தன் சுயமரியாதையை - தன்மானத்தை உயிருக்குச் சமமாகக் கொள்ளவேண்டும்.
மானமுள்ள ஆயிரம் பேருடன் போராடலாம். மானமற்ற ஒருவனுடன் போராடுவது சிரமமான காரியம்.

நான் யார்?

நான் எனக்கு தோன்றிய, எனக்குச் சரியென்று படுகிற கருத்துக்களை மறைக்காமல் அப்படியே சொல்லுகின்றேன். இது சிலருக்குச் சங்கடமாகக்கூட இருக்கலாம். சிலருக்கு அருவருப்பாக இருக்கலாம். சிலருக்குக் கோபத்தையும் உண்டாக்கலாம் என்றாலும் நான் சொல்வது அத்தனையும் ஆதாரத்தாடு கூடி உண்மைக் கருத்துக்களே தவிர பொய்யல்ல.
எந்தக் காரியம் எப்படி இருந்தாலும் அரசியலில், பொது வாழ்க்கையில் கண்டிப்பாக மனித தர்மம் தவிர வேறு எந்தக் கால தர்மமோ, சமய தர்மமோ புகுத்தப்படக்கூடாது என்பதுதான் எனது ஆசையே ஒழிய, உலகத்தில் உள்ள மக்கள் எல்லாம் என் விருப்பம்போல்தான் நடக்க வேண்டும் என்பதல்ல.
எனது பொதுவாழ்வில் நான் அறிவு பெற்ற பிறகு, பார்ப்பனரல்ல தார் ஆட்சி என்றால் வலியப்போய் ஆதரித்தே வந்திருக்கிறேன். இதில் நான் மானம் அவமானம் பார்ப்பதில்லை.
நான் என் ஆயுள் வரை யாரிடமும் ஓட்டுக் கேட்க மாட்டேன். எனக்காக இரண்டு நல்ல (புகழ்) வார்த்தைகள் சொல்லும்படி யாரிடமும் எதிர்பார்க்கமாட்டேன்.
"நீ ஒரு கன்னடியன் எப்படித் தமிழனுக்குத் தலைவனாக இருக்கலாம்?" என்று என்னைக் கூடக் கேட்டார்கள். "தமிழனுக்கு எவனுக்கும் யோக்கியதை இல்லையப்பா" என்றேன். இதற்குக் காரணம், ஒரு தமிழன், இன்னொரு தமிழன் உயர்ந்தவனாக இருப்பதைப் பார்த்துச் சகித்துக் கொண்டிருக்கவே மாட்டான்.

சமுதாயச் சீர்திருத்தம்

சாதி வித்தியாசமோ, உயர்வு தாழ்வே கற்பிக்கின்ற புத்தகங்களைப் படிக்கக் கூடாது என்று சொல்லிவிட வேண்டும்: மீறிப் படிக்க ஆரம்பித்தால் அவற்றைப் பறிமுதல் செய்ய வேண்டும்.
நாம் அரசியல் துறையில் முன்னேறி மாற்றம் பெற்றிருக்கிறோமே தவிர, சமுதாயத் துறையில் இன்னமும் பிற்போக்கான நிலையில்தான் இருக்கின்றோம். இந்த நிலை மாறவேண்டும்.
ஒரு சமூகமென்றிருந்தால் அச் சமூகத்தில் ஏழைகளில்லாமலும், மனச்சாட்சியை விற்றுப் பிழைப்பவர்கள் இல்லாமலும் செய்வதுதான் சரியான சமூகச் சீர்திருத்த வேலையாகும்.
சீர்திருத்தம் என்பது தேவையற்றதை நீக்கிவிட்டுத் தேவையுள்ளதை மட்டும் வைத்துக்கொள்ளுதலே யாகும்.
சமுதாயத்தில் பார்ப்பனர் என்றும் பஞ்சமர் என்றும் பிரிவுகள் இருக்க வேண்டியது அவசியம்தானா? அதற்குக் கடவுள் பொறுப்பாளி என்று கூறப்படுமானால் அக்கடவுளைப் பஞ்சமனும் சூத்திரனும் தொழலாமா?
தலைப்புக்கு திரும்புதல்

கல்வி

எல்லா மக்களுக்கும் கல்வி பரப்புவது, நம் நாட்டில் பொது உடைமைக் கொள்கையைப் பரப்புவது போன்று அவ்வளவு கடினமான கரியமாய் இருக்கிறது.
கல்வியறிவும் சுயமரியாதை எண்ணமும் பகுத்தறிவுத் தன்மையுமே தாழ்ந்து கிடக்கும் மக்களை உயர்த்தும்.
ஆசிரியர்கள், பெற்றோர்கள், அதிகாரிகள் எல்லோரும் மாணவ ர்களின் ஒழுக்கம், கட்டுப்பாடு, நேர்மை, நாணயம் இவைகளை வளர்க்க முயற்சி எடுத்துக் கொள்ள வேண்டும்.
படிப்பு எதற்கு? அறிவுக்கு, அறிவு எதற்கு? மனிதன் மனிதத் தன்மையோடு வாழ்ந்து மற்ற மனிதனுக்கு உதவியாய் - தொல்லை கொடுக்காதவனாய் - நாணயமாய் வாழ்வதற்கு.
முதலாவதாக, மாணவர்கள் ஆசிரியருக்குக் கட்டுப்பட்டு நடக்க வேண்டும். அடுத்து, ஒழுங்குமுறை பழக வேண்டும். அதற்கு அடுத்தாற்போல் தான் பாடம்.

தமிழ்மொழி

ஒரு நாட்டிற் பிறந்த மக்களுக்கு வேண்டப்படும் பற்றுகளுக்குள் தலையாய பற்று மொழிப்பற்றே யாகும். மொழிப்பற்று இராதவரிடத்து தேசப்பற்று இராதென்பது நிச்சயம். தேசம் என்பது மொழியை அடிப்படையாகக் கோண்டு இயங்குவது. ஆதலால் தமிழர்களுக்குத் தாய் மொழிப்பற்றுப் பெருக வேண்டும் என்பது எனது பிரார்த்தனை.
தமிழ்நாட்டில் பிறந்தவர்களுக்கு மொழிப்பற்று அவசியம்! அவசியம்! என்று சொல்லுகிறேன். வங்காளிக்கு வங்கமொழியில் பற்றுண்டு; மராட்டியனுக்கு மராட்டிய மொழியில் பற்றுண்டு; ஆந்திரனுக்கு ஆந்திர மொழியில் பற்றுண்டு; ஆனால், தமிழனுக்குத் தமிழில் பற்றில்லை. தாய்மொழியில் பற்றுச் செலுத்தாதவரையில் தமிழர்கள் முன்னேற்றமடையமாட்டார்கள்.
நான் தமிழினிடத்தில் அன்பு வைத்திருக்கிறேன் என்றால் அதன் மூலம் நான் எதிர்பார்க்கும் நன்மையையும் அது மறை நேர்ந்தால் அதனால் இழப்பு ஏற்படும் அளவையும் உத்தேசித்தே நான் தமிழினிடத்து அன்பு செலுத்துகிறேன்.
மற்றொரு மொழி நமது நாட்டில் புகுத்தப்படுவதைப் பார்த்து அதனால், நமக்கு ஏற்படும் இழப்பை அறிந்து சகிக்கமுடியாமல்தான் எதிர்க்கிறேனே யொழியப் புதியது என்றோ, வேறு நாட்டினது என்றோ நான் எதிர்க்கவில்லை.
மக்களுடைய வாழ்க்கைக்குப் பயன்படக்கூடியதும் அறிவையும் திறமையையும் தைரியத்தையும் உண்டாக்கக் கூடியதும் ஆகிய சிறந்த கலைகளையெல்லாம் தமிழில் எழுதிப் பரவச் செய்வதன் மூலம், மக்களுடைய அறிவையும், தமிழ் மொழியையும் செம்மை செய்வதே தமிழ் உணர்ச்சியாகும்.

எழுத்துச் சீர்திருத்தம்

எழுபது எண்பது ஆண்டுகளுக்கு முந்திய பதிப்புகளிலும் எழுத்துக்களிலும் ``ஈ'' என்கின்ற எழுத்தானது ``இ'' எழுத்தையே மேலே சுழித்த வட்டவடிவத்தில் இருந்து வந்திருக்கிறது.
இன்னும் 400, 500 ஆண்டுகளுக்கு முந்தின கல் எழுத்துக்கள் அநேகம், வேறு வடிவத்தில் இருந்து வந்திருக்கின்றன. அதுபோலவே இப்போ தும் சில எழுத்துக்களை மாற்ற வேண்டியதும் சில எழுத்துக்களைக் குறைக்க வேண்டியதும், சில குறிகளை மாற்ற வேண்டியதும் அவசிய ம் என்றும், அனுகூல மென்றும்பட்டால் அதைச் செய்யவேண்டியது த ன் அறிவுடைமை.
ஒரு மொழியோ, ஒரு வடிவமோ எவ்வளவு பழையது - தெய்வீகத் தன்மை கொண்டது என்று சொல்லிக் கொள்ளுகின்றோமோ அவ்வளவுக்கு அவ்வளவு அவற்றைச் சீர்திருத்த வேண்டிய அவசியமிருக்கின்றது என்பது அதன் உண்மைத் தத்துவமாகும்.
எழுத்துக்களை உருவம் மாற்றுவது, குறிப்புகள் ஏற்படுத்துவது புதிய எழுத்துக்களை சேர்ப்பது என்பது போலவே சில எழுத்துக்களை அதாவது அவசியமில்லாத எழுத்துக்களைக் குறைக்க வேண்டியதும் அவசியமாகும்.
மொழியின் பெருமையும், எழுத்துக்களின் மேன்மையும், அவை எளிதில் தெரிந்து கொள்ளக் கூடியதாகவும், கற்றுக்கொள்ளக்கூடியதாகவும் இருப்பதைப் பொறுத்தே ஒழிய வேறில்லை.

திருக்குறள்

திருவள்ளுவரின் குறளை மெச்சுகிறார்களே ஒழிய காரியத்தில் அதாடு, அதற்கு நேர்விரோதமாக கீதையைப் போற்றுகிறார்கள்.
அறிவினால் உய்ந்துணர்ந்து ஒப்புக்கொள்ளக்கூடியனவும் இயற்கையோடு விஞ்ஞானத்துக்கு ஒப்ப இயைந்திருக்கக் கூடியனவும் ஆன கருத்துக்களைக் கொண்டு இயங்குகிறது வள்ளுவர் குறள்.
கம்பராமாயணத்தில் 100 பாட்டும், கந்தபுராணம் அல்லது பெரிய புராணத்தில் 200 பாட்டும் படிப்பதைக் காட்டிலும் திருக்குறளில் 10 பாட்டுப் படிப்பது எவ்வளவோ அறிவூட்ட வல்லது.
குறள் வெறும் ஒழுக்கத்தையும், வாழ்க்கைக்கு வேண்டிய அனுபவர்வமான பிரத்தியட்ச வழியையும் கொண்டதாகும்.
குறள் ஒரு அறிவுக் களஞ்சியம். பகுத்தறிவு மணிகளால் கோக்கப்பட்ட நூல்.

கூட்டுறவு

கூட்டுறவு வாழ்க்கை பிறருக்கு நாம் எவ்வாறு சகாயம் செய்வது, எவ்வாறு உதவி செய்வது என்பதை இலட்சியமாகக் கொண்டதேயாகம்.
நமது உடலில் பழைய தனிமைத் தத்துவ இரத்தைத்தை எடுத்துவிட்டுக் கூட்டுறவுத் தன்மை என்கிற இரத்தத்தைப் பாய்ச்ச வேண்டும்.
மனிதன் பகுத்தறிவுள்ள காரணத்தால்தான் தன் சமுதாயக் கூட்டு வாழ்க்கைக்கென்று பல திட்டங்களை வகுத்துக் கொண்டிருக்கிறான். அத்திட்டங்களை நிறைவேற்றத் தனி மனிதனால் முடியாது. அதற்கு மற்றவர் உதவி இருந்தே தீர வேண்டியிருக்கிறது.
கூட்டுறவு என்கிற கொள்கை சரியான உயரிய முறையில் நம்நாட்டில் ஏற்பட்டுவிடுமானால் மக்கள் சமூகமே சஞ்சலமற்று, நாளைக்கு என்ன செய்வதென்ற ஏக்கமின்றி, திருப்தியுடன் நிம்மதியாக-குகலமாக வாழ வழி ஏற்பட்டுவிடும்.
நாம் செலவழிப்பதில் வகைதகையற்ற முறையில் வீண் செலவு செ ய்து வருகின்றோம். கூட்டுறவு முறையில் நமது வாழ்க்கையை நடத்தினால், இன்றைய நமது செலவில் எட்டில் ஒரு பாகம் தான் செலவு ஏற்படும். பாக்கி இன்னும் ஏழு பேருக்கு உதவக் கூடியதாயிருக்கும். நம் நாட்டு நிலைமைகளை மாற்றியமைக்காவிட்டால் நம் வாழ்வு விரைவில் அதாகதியாகிவிடுமென்பது நிச்சயம்.

பொருளாதாரம்

கடவுளுக்குக்கு நன்றி செலுத்தும் முறையிலும் இன்னும் மேன்மேலும் செல்வம் பெருக வேண்டும் என்பதற்காக விண்ணப்பம் போட்டு, லஞ்சம் செலுத்தும் முறையிலும் செல்வத்தைப் பாழாக்குகிறார்கள். இதன் பயனாகவே, இந்த நாட்டின் ஆண்டொன்றுக்குப் பல கோடி ரூபாய் பாழாவதைப் பார்க்கலாம்.
மக்களக்குள்ள சமுதாயக் கொடுமை தீரவேண்டியது எவ்வளவு அவசியமோ அது போலவே, மக்களுக்குள்ள பொருளாதாரக் கொடுமையும் தீரவேண்டியது அவசியமாகும்.
நான் ஒரு நிமிடம் அரசனாய் இருந்தாலும் முதல் முதல் திருமணம் முதலிய பலவகைகளிலும் ஏற்படும் பொருள் விரயத்தைத் தடுக்கத் க்குத் தண்டனை நிபந்தனையுடன் சட்டம் செய்வேன். பொருள் நட்டம் தான் இன்று இந்தியாவைப் பிடித்த பெரும் பிணி என்று சொல்லுவேன்.
செல்வம் என்பது உலகின் பொதுச்சொத்து, அதாவது மக்கள் அனைவரும் அனுபவிக்க உரிமையுள்ள சொந்தமான சொத்தாகும். அதை யார் உண்டாக்கியிருந்தாலும் உலகத்தில் உள்ளவரை, எவருக்கும் அது பொதுச்சொத்தாகும். அனுபவிக்கும் உரிமைபோல அதை அழியாமல் பாதுகாக்கவும் உரிமை உண்டு.
நாளுக்கு நாள் மக்களிடம் ஒழுக்கம், நாணயம், யோக்கியப் பொறுப்பு ஆகிய தன்மைகள் இல்லாத போக்கு உச்ச நிலையடையும் வகையில் மனித சமுதாயம் சென்று கொண்டிருக்கிறது. சொத்துரிமை இல்லாமல் தடுப்பதே இதற்குப் பரிகாரமாகும்.

திருமணம்

மணமக்கள், உயிர் நண்பர்கள் ஒருவருக்கொருவர் பழகும் முறையைப்போல் நடந்துகொள்ள வேண்டும். எதிலும் தான் கணவன் என்ற ஆணவத்தை மணமகன் கொள்ளக்கூடாது. மணமகளும் தான் கணவனுக்கு அடிமைப் பொருள் - அடுப்துவதற்கு என்றே வந்தவள் என்ற எண்ணமில்லாது பழக வேண்டும்.
மணமக்கள் சந்ததி உற்பத்தி செய்வதில் அவசரப்பட்டுவிடக் கூடாது. திருமணம் நடந்து குறைந்தது மூன்று ஆண்டுகளுக்குப் பின்னாவது குழந்தை பெறுவதாயின் மிக நல்லதாகும்.
ஒருவனுடைய வாழ்க்கைக்கு ஒருவர் இன்றியமையாதவர் என்ற நிலையில் காதல் கொள்வதுதான் உயர்ந்த காதலாகும்.
சுயமரியாதைத் திருமணம் என்பது அறிவு ஆராய்ச்சியின் காரணமாய் ஏற்பட்டது.
திருமணம் என்பது மணமக்களை மட்டும் பொறுத்ததல்ல. நாட்டின் முன்னேற்றத்திலும் தொடர்பு கொண்டிருக்கிறது.

அரசியல்

பிறவியிலும் பணத்திலும் உயர்வு தாழ்வு இல்லையானால் ஆளுவதிலும் ஆளப்படுவதிலும் உயர்வு தாழ்வு இல்லாமல் போய்விடுமே என்று அரசன் பயப்படுகிறான்.
நம் நாட்டுக்கு இன்று எவ்வித அரசியல் கிடைப்பதானாலும் அதில் சமூக சமத்துவமும், சமூக ஒற்றுமையும் உண்டாக்கக்கூடிய தன்மை இருக்க வேண்டும்.
பணம் உள்ளவனும் பணம் இல்லாதவனும் உலகத்தில் இருக்கும்வரை லஞ்சம், பிச்சை முதலானவைகள் ஒழியவே ஒழியாது.
இலஞ்சம் ஒழிய வேண்டுமானால், தனி உடைமைத் தர்மம் அழிந்து, ஒழிந்து, பொதுஉடைமை நிலை ஏற்பட்டால்தான் முடியும். அதில்லாதபடி இலஞ்சத்தை ஒழிக்க வேண்டும் என்று பேசுவது மனுதர்மம் பேசுவதேயாகும்.
சமுதாயத் துறைக்கு பாடுபடுவதுதான் உண்மையான அரசியல் தொண்டாகும்.

பொதுத்தொண்டு

தன்னலமற்ற பொதுத்தொண்டு செய்பவர்கள் - பிரதிபலன் கருதாது உழைக்கக் கூடியவர்கள் எண்ணிக்கை நாட்டில் மேன்மேலும் பெருகவேண்டும். அவர்களின் சீரிய குணங்கள் பொதுமக்களுக்கு வழிகாட்டியாக அமைய வேண்டும். மனிதனாகப் பிறந்தவர் பொதுவாழ்வில் எப்படி நடந்துகொண்ண வேண்டுமென்பதற்கு அவர்களின் வாழ்க்கையே எடுத்துக்காட்டாக இருக்கும்.
பிறப்பதும் சாவதும் இயற்கை, ஆனால் மக்கள் பாராட்டுதலுக்கு உகந்தவகையில் வாழ்தல் வேண்டும். மக்கள் ஒருவரைச் சும்மா போற்றமாட்டார்கள். நாம் மற்ற மக்களும் போற்றும்படியான வகையில் காரியமாற்ற வேண்டும்.
சுகபோகத்தினால் இன்பம் காண்பதில் பெருமை இல்லை. தொண்டு காரணமாக இன்பம் காண்பதே சிறந்த இன்பமாகும். வாழ்வு என்பது தங்களுக்கு மட்டும் என்று கருதக் கூடாது. மக்களுக்காகவும் தொண்டுக்காகவும் நம் வாழ்வு இருக்க வேண்டும் என்று கருத வேண்டும்.
ஒருவன் தன்னுடைய சொந்தக் காரியத்தைப் பொருத்த மட்டில்தான் மானத்தையும், கவுரவத்தையும் கவனிக்க வேண்டும். பொதுநலம், பொதுத்தொண்டு என்று வந்துவிட்டால் அவை இரண்டையும் பார்க்கக்கூடாது.
மனிதன் திருடுகிறான், பெய் பேசுகின்றான், பாடுபடாமல் வயிறு வளர்க்கப் பார்க்கிறான். இவனை மக்கள் இகழ்வதில்லை, சாதியை விட்டுத் தள்ளுவதில்லை, ஆனால் சாதியைவிட்டுத் தள்ளிவிடப்படுகிறான், கல்யாணம் செய்தால், சாதியை விட்டுத் தள்ளிவிடப்படுகிறான். இந்த மக்களின் ஒழுக்கம், நாணயம் எப்படிப்பட்டது பாருங்கள்.

மலர்கள்

சமுதாய வாழ்க்கையில் ஒழுக்கமே பக்தியைவிட இன்றியமையாது. ஒழுக்கம் என்பது, சொல்லுகின்றபடியே நடப்பதும் நடந்தபடியே செல்லுவதுமாகும்.
பக்தி என்பது தனிச் சொத்து, ஒழுக்கம் என்பது பொதுச்சொத்து. பக்தி இல்லாவிட்டால், இழப்பில்லை ஒழுக்கம் இல்லாவிட்டால் எல்லாமே பாழ்.
தொழிலாளி-முதலாளித்தன்மை முறையே இருக்கக் கூடாது. வேலை செய்பவர்கள் பங்காளியாக அல்லாமல் கூலிக்காரர்களாக இருப்பது அடிமைத்தனம்.
நாடு, மொழி, கடவுள், மதம், சாதி என்று எந்தபற்றுமின்றி, மானுடப் பற்றுடன் அறிவைக் கொண்டு தங்குதடையின்றி சிந்தித்துச் செயல்புரிவதே பகுத்தறிவாளர் கடமையும், பொறுப்புமாகும்.
தீண்டாமை என்பதே சாதி காரணமாக ஏற்பட்டதே தவிர, அதற்கு வேறு காரணமே ஆதாரமே இல்லை. சாதியை வைத்துக்கொண்டு தீண்டாமை ஒழிய வேண்டும் என்பது சிறிதும் அறிவுடைமையாகாது.

 

பகுத்தறிவு

இராமாயணத்திலும், பாரத்திலும் ஆகாய விமானம் இருக்கிறது. ஆனால், அது மந்திர சக்தியால் ஓடியிருக்கிறது. ஆங்கில இலக்கியத்தில் ஆகாய விமானம் பற்றிய விளக்கம் இருக்கிறது. இது இயந்திர சக்தியால் ஓடுகிறது. நமக்கு எது வேண்டும்? மந்திர சக்தியா? இயந்திர சக்தியா?
அறிவுக்கும் ஆராய்ச்சிக்கும் தேவைக்கும் பொருத்தமில்லாத காரியங்கள் பழக்கத்தின் பேராலோ, வழக்கத்தின் பேராலோ, தெய்வத்தின் பேராலே மதத்தின் பேராலே, சாதி வகுப்பின் பேராலோ மற்றெதன் பேராலே நடத்தப்படக் கூடாது.
கடவுள் சென்னது, மகான் சொன்னது, ரிஷி சென்னது, அவதார புருடர்கள் சொன்னது என்று பார்க்கின்றானே ஒழிய, தன்புத்தி என்ன சொல்லுகிறது என்று பார்ப்பதே இல்லை.
மூட நம்பிக்கைகளைப் பகுத்தறியாமல் பின்பற்றியதாலேயே உழை ப்பாளி அடிமையாகவும், சோம்பேறி ஆண்டானாகவும் இருக்கும் நிலை வந்தது.
மாறுதலைக் கண்டு அஞ்சாமல், அறிவுடைமையோடும் ஆண்மையோடும் நின்று எதையும் நன்றாய் ஆராச்சி செய்து, காலத்திற்கும் அவசியத்திற்கும் தக்க வண்ணம் தள்ளுவன தள்ளிக் கூட்டுவன கூட்டித் திருத்தம் செய்ய வேண்டியது பகுத்தறிவுடைய மனிதனின் இன்றியமையாத கடமையாகும்.

அறிவியல்

இயந்திரம் கூடாதென்றால் மனிதனுக்கு அறிவு விருத்தி கூடாது என்பதுதான் பொருளாகும்.
இன்று நாம் எவ்வளவு மாறுபாடு அடைந்துவிட்டோம். நம் வசதிக ளும் வாழ்வும் ஏராளமாகப் பெருகிவிட்டன. அதற்குமுன் கட்டைவ ண்டிதான். இன்று ரயில், மோட்டார், ஆகாய விமானம் முதலிய ந வீன வசதிகள், தீ உண்டாக்க சக்கிமுக்கிக் கல்லை உராய்ந்தாம் , இன்று ஒரு பொத்தானை அழுத்தினால், ஆயிரக்கணக்கான மின்ச ர விளக்குகள் எரிகின்றன. வாழ்க்கையில் இவ்வளவு மாற்றமடைந் துள்ள நம் மக்களின் புத்திமட்டும் 1,000 ஆண்டுகளுக்கு முன்பு இருந்த து போலவே இருக்கிறதே!.
கொஞ்ச காலத்திற்குமுன் கடவுளைப் பற்றிய கதைகளை அப்படி யே, அதாவது கடவுள் சக்தியில் நடைபெற்றது என்று நம்பிக்கொ ண்டிருந்தவர்கள் கூட, இப்பொழுது அப்படியே நம்புவதற்கு வெட் கப்பட்டுக் கொண்டு, தங்களுக்குள்ள அறிவு வளர்ச்சியில்லாத தன் மையை மறைத்துக் கொண்டு, விஞ்ஞானத்தின் மூலம் அக்கதைகளை மெய்ப்பிக்க முயற்சி எடுத்துக் கொண்டு சிரமப்படுகிறார்கள்.
சக்கிமுக்கிக் கல்லால் முதலில் நெருப்பை உண்டாக்கியவன் அந்தக் காலத்து "எடிசன்" அப்புறம் படிப்படியாக முன்னேற்றமாகி இப்பொழுது மின்சாரத்தில் நெருப்பைக் காண்கிறோம்; எனவே மாற்றம் இயற்கையானது; அதைத் தடுக்க யாராலும் முடியாது.
மக்கள் பிறப்புக்கூட இனி அருமையாகத்தான் போய் விடும். அது போலவே சாவும் இனிக் குறைந்து விடும். மனிதன் வெகு சுலபமாக நூறு ஆண்டு வாழ முடியும். யாரும் சராசரி என்று இரண்டு பிள்ளைகளுக்கு மேல் பெற மாட்டார்கள். ஆண், பெண் உறவுக்கும் பிள்ளைப் பேற்றுக்கும் சம்பந்தமில்லாமலே போய்விடும்.

இலக்கியம்

எந்த நூலை எடுத்துக் கொண்டாலும் அதன் மதிப்பு, அந்த நூலின் பயனை அளவாகக் கொண்டதே ஒழிய, அதை ஆக்கியவனையோ, அதில் உள்ள தெய்வீகத் தன்மையையோ, இலக்கண இலக்கிய அள வையையோ, அமைப்பையோ, அற்புத தன்மையையோ அளவாகக் கொண்டது ஆகாது.
இலக்கியம் என்பது நாகரீகத்தை புகத்த வேண்டும். மக்களிடம் உ யரிய குணங்களைப் புகுத்துவதாக இருக்க வேண்டும்.
இலக்கியம் எதற்காக? இலக்கியம் எப்படி இருக்க வேண்டும்? எப் படிப்பட்டதை இலக்கியம் என்று சொல்லலாம்? அவை எதற்காக இருக்க வேண்டும்? என்பது பற்றிச் சிந்தித்தால், மனிதனின் வாழ்க்கைக்கு உயிர் மட்டும் அல்லாமல் மனித சமுதாய வளர்ச்சிக் கும் ஏற்றதாக என்பது என் கருத்து.
நம் மக்களிடம் நிரம்பியிருக்கும் மடமை, மானமற்ற தன்மை, இழிநி லை, அறிவற்ற தன்மை இவைகளைப் போக்க வேண்டும் என்ற எண்ணத்தின்மீதே "இலக்கிய மறுமலர்ச்சி" பற்றிச் சிந்திக்க வேண் டும்.
மதம், கடவுள் சம்பந்தமற்ற - யாவரும் பொதுவான இயற்கை ஞ னத்தைப் பற்றிய இலக்கியம், யாவரும் மறுக்க முடியாத விஞ்ஞான த்தைப் பற்றிய இலக்கியம் ஆகியவைகள் மூலம்தான் ஒரு மொழியும் அதன் இலக்கியங்களும் மேன்மையடைய முடியும் என்பது மாத்திரமல்லாமல், அதைக் கையாளும் மக்கள் ஞான முடையவர்களாவார்கள்.

கலைகள்

"தமிழ்நாட்டில் தமிழ்ப் பாட்டுக்கள் பாடப்பட வேண்டும்" தமிழில் இசை இருக்க வேண்டும்" என்று கூறுபவர்களை நையாண்டிசெய்து, அவ்வாறு கூறுவதும் கோருவதும் முட்டாள்தனம் என்று மேடைகள் மீதேறிப் பேசிடத் துணிவுகொண்ட கூட்டத்தினருக்கும் இத்தமிழ்நாடு இடங்கொடுத்துக் கொண்டிருக்கிறது.
நல்ல தமிழில் - இயற்கை எழில்களையும், தமிழரின் வீரத்தையும்,அன்பையும், மானமிக்க சமத்துவ வாழ்வினையும், வரலாற்றினையும், நேர்மையையும், நீதி நெறிகளையும், தமிழ்நாட்டுப் பற்றையும், மொழியின் ஆர்வத்தையும், ஒற்றுமையையும், கட்டுப்பாட்டையும் எடுத்துக்காட்டும் பாட்டுக்களையே பாடுமாறு செய்தல் வேண்டும்.
நாடகங்களிலே இரண்டு விதமுண்டு. ஒன்று பாட்டாக நடத்திக் காண்பிப்பது; மற்றொன்று வசன ரூபமாய் நடத்திக் காண்பது. வசன ரூபமாய்க் காண்பிப்பவைகளையே மக்கள் விரும்புகிறார்கள்.
தமிழர்களின் தன்மானத்தை வளர்ப்பதற்கும், தமிழர்களுக்கு அறிவூட்டுவதற்கும், தமிழர்கள் மனிதத் தன்மை அடைவதற்கும் பயன்படாத இயலோ, இசையோ நடிப்போ எதற்காக வேண்டும்? அது என்ன மொழியில் இருந்தால்தான் என்ன?
எப்படிப்பட்ட கலையும், ஒழுக்கக் குறைவுக்கும் மூடநம்பிக்கைக்கும் சிறிதும் பயன்படக்கூடாதோய் இருக்க வேண்டும்.

ஒழுக்கம்

பொதுவாழ்வின் பெயரால் ஒழுக்கக் கோடாக, லஞ்சகராக, திருடர்களாக நடப்பவர்களை ஒருநாளும் விட்டுவைக்கக் கூடாது.
ஒரு நாடு சுபிட்சத்துடன் வாழவேண்டுமானால் அந்நாட்டு மக்கள் ஒழுக்கமுள்ளவர்களாக இருத்தல் அவசியம்.
மனிதனிடம் சுலபத்தில் ஒழுக்கத்தைப் புகுத்த வேண்டுமானால், மாணவப் பருவத்தில்தான் முடியும்.
பிறருக்கு எந்தவிதத் தொல்லையும் தராத வாழ்வே ஒழுக்கம். இது எல்லாவித பேத நிலையும் ஒழித்த நிலையில்தான் வளர முடியும். ஒழுக்க அடிப்படையே இன்ப வாழ்வு.
ஒழுக்கம் என்பது தனக்கும் அந்நியனுக்கும் துன்பம் தராமல் நடந்து கொள்ளுவதாகும்.

பெண் உரிமை

மனிதன் பெண்களைத் தனக்குரிய ஒரு சொத்தாகக் கருதுகிறானேயொழிய தன்னைப் போன்ற உணர்ச்சிக்கும் அருகதையுள்ள ஓர் உயிர் என்று மதிப்பதில்லை.
பெண்மக்களை இன்று ஆண்கள் நடத்தும் மாதிரியானது மேல்சாதிக்காரன் கீழ்ச்சாதிக்காரனை நடத்வதைவிட, ஆண்டான் அடிமையை நடத்துவதைவிட மோசமானதாகம்.
இந்திய நாட்டில் பெண்கள் சகல துறைகளிலும் தீண்டப்படாத மக்கள் அடைந்துவரும் வேதனையையும் இழிவையும், அடிமைத் தனத்தையும்விட அதிகமாகவே அனுபவித்து வருகிறார்கள்.
கற்புக்காகக் கணவனின் திருகச் செயலையும் பொறுத்துக் கொண்டிருக்க வேண்டும் என்ற கொடுமை ஒழிய வேண்டும்.
ஆண் எப்படி வேண்டுமானாலும் திரியலாம், எவ்வளவு மனைவிகளை வேண்டுமானாலும் மணக்கலாம், என்கின்ற முறையே, விபச்சாரம் என்னும் பிள்ளைகளைப் பெற்றெடுக்கின்றது.

இளைஞர்கள்

வாலிபர்களுக்கு வெறும் உற்சாகமும், துணிவும், தியாகபுத்தியும் ம த்திரம் இருந்தால் போதாது. நன்மை தீமையை அறியும் குணமும், சாத்தியம் அசாத்தியம் அறியும் குணமும், ஆய்ந்து ஓய்ந்து பார்க்கும் தன்மையும் இருந்தால் தான் வாலிபர்கள் பொதுவில் பயன்படக்கூடியவர்கள் ஆவார்கள்.
வாலிபப் பருவம், அபாயகரமான பருவம், சுலபத்தில் நெருப்புப் பற்றிக் கொள்ளக்கூடிய பொருளைப் போல் மிகப் பத்திரமாய் காப்பாற்றப்படவேண்டிய பருவம்.
பித்தலாட்ட, மத சம்மந்தமான மூட நம்பிக்கைகள் அனைத்தையும் ஒழிக்க வாலிபர்கள் முனைய வேண்டும்.
வாலிபர்கள் சுயமாகச் சிந்திக்குமாறு பழகப்படுத்துவதேயில்லை, பகுத்தறிவை உபயோகிக்கச் சந்தர்ப்பமளிக்கப்படுவதே இல்லை அறிவுக்கும் அனுபவத்துக்கும் சம்பந்தப்படுத்திப் பழக்குவதேயில்லை. இத்தகைய நிலைமை மாறாதவரை, வாலிபர்கள் சுயமாகச் சிந்தித்துப் பார்த்து ஆராய்ந்து தாங்களே ஒரு முடிவுக்கு வருவது முடியாதோகும்.
இளைஞர்கள் குழந்தைகளுக்ச் சமமானவர்கள். சமீபத்தில் உள்ளதைப் பற்றுகிறவர்கள், பின்விளைவை அனுபவித்து அறியாதவர்கள். கண்ணோட்டம் விழுந்தால் பற்றி விடுபவர்கள். எழுச்சி என்பது எங்கொங்குக் காணப்படுகின்றதா, கூட்டம் குகலம் என்பவை எங்கெங்குக் காணப்படுகின்றனவோ அவற்றையெல்லாம் பற்றுவதும், அவை மறைந்தால் கைவிட்டுவிடுவதுமான குணமுடையவர்கள்.

பல்துறை

சிலர் சாமியைப் பார்த்தால் சாமி சக்தி ஓடிப்போவானேன்? சிலர் கோயிலுக்கு வந்தால் கோயிலும் சாமியும் தீட்டுப்ட்டுப் போவானேன்? சிலர் சாமியைத் தொட்டால் சாமி இறந்து போவானேன்? ஒரே பெயரும் உருவமும் உள்ள சாமிக்கு ஊருக்கு ஒரு விதமாய்ச் சக்திகள் ஏற்பட்டிருப்பானேன்?
காசி, ரி, பண்டரிபுரம் முதலிய ஊர்களில் உள்ள சாமிகள் யார் தொட்டாலும் சாவதில்லை. அங்குக் கோயிலுக்கு போகிறவர்கள் எல்லாம் தங்களே நேரில் சாமியைத் தொட்டு தலையில் தண்ணீர்விட்டு மலர் போட்டுக் கும்பிடுகிறார்கள். அதே பெயருள்ள சாமி நமது தமிழ்நாட்டில் மட்டும் நாம் தொட்டால் செத்துப் போய்விடுகிறதா, ஏன்? இப்படி சாமிகளின் சக்தியும் உயிரும் கோயில்களின் யோக்கியதையும் ஊருக்கு ஒரு விதமாய் இருப்பானேன்?
எவன் ஒருவன் கடன் வாங்காமல் வரவுக்கேற்ற மறையில் செலவு செய்து வருகிறானே அவன்தான் பிரபு ஆவான்.
நல்ல குடும்பம் எனப்படுவது வரவுக்கு மிஞ்சிச் செவு செய்யாமல் இருப்பதாகும். தமது வாழ்க்கைக்குச் செலவை வரவுக்கு உள்பட்டே அமைத்துக் கொள்ள வேண்டும். இப்படிப்பட்ட குடும்பந்தான் கண்ணியமான குடும்பம்.
சாதி ஒழிப்புக்கு இன்றைய அரசியல் சட்டம் இடந்தரவில்லை. அதை, அடிப்படை உரிமைக்கு விரோதம் என்கிறது. அதேபோல்தான் வகுப்புவாரி விகிதப் பேச்சும் பேசாதே அது வகுப்புத் துவேசம் என்கிறது. சாதி இருப்பது தவறல்லவாம். சாதிப்படி உரிமை கேட்டால் மட்டும் தவறு என்றால் இதைவிடப் பித்தலாட்டம் வேறு இருக்க முடியுமா?


Biography of Periyar E.V.Ramasami
Compiled by : S.V.Rajadurai, Professor & Head, Centre for Periyar Studies, Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirapalli-620 024

(1879 -1973)

1879
Born on 17.9.1879 to the wealthy merchant family of Venkata Naicker and Chinnathayee Ammal at Erode, Tamil Nadu, India

1889
His formal schooling ended at the age of ten. As he jokingly remarked to his early biographer Sami Sidambaranar, he was more interested in harassing teachers than attending the classes.

1888
Married 13 year old Nagammal.

1898
Entered into the family business of trading

1904
Went on a pilgrimage to north Indian cities of Calcutta (Kolkotta) and Benares (Varanasi) to experiment with the life of an ascetic. Disillusioned with the philosophy and practice of the sanyasins ,returned to his hometown

1907
Took to social service works and gravitated towards Indian National Congress

1914-1916
Took an active role in organizing Congress Conferences.

1917
Elected Chairman of Erode Municipality and held responsible position in Erode Taluk Temple Committee and many other honorary posts for several years. During his tenure as the Municipal Chairman, drinking water scheme was implemented. Joined Madras Presidency Association (MPA) floated by the non-Brahmin Congress leaders to counter the Justice Party. Elected Vice-President of MPA and served as the Reception Committee Chairman for its second provincial conference held at Erode in October 1919

1919 -1920
Persuaded by C.Rajagopalachari and P.Varadarajulu Naidu,leading Congressmen of the day Periyar resigned from the Chairmanship of Erode Municipality and from many other honorary posts to plunge himself into active nationalist politics. His brief tie-up with Annie Besant's Home Rule movement ended up in disillusionment. In his short autobiographical notes Periyar mentions that he visited Amrister after the Jalianwallabagh massacre and that what he saw and heard there made him an ardent Nationalist. He was soon to be elected President of Tamil Nadu Congress Comiitee. From 1920 onwards he was consistently urging the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee to demand for proportional representation of non Brahmins and depressed castes in government services.

1920
Actively involved in Gandhi’s non co-operation movement and Constructive Programme together with his wife Nagammal and sister S.R.Kannammal.

1921
Sentenced for involvement in Temperance movement and cut down 500 coconut trees in his garden.

1922
At the session of the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee held at Tiruppur in Coimbatore district he declared that Manusmriti, Ramayana and such other texts that legitimise the Varna –Caste system be burnt to ashes.

1924
Led the Satyagraha at Vaikom in the erstwhile princely state of Travancore for the right of the untouchable castes to use the roads around the Hindu temple .Arrested in May, sentenced to jail term for one month and held at Arvukuththi jail and after release resumed the struggle to be sentenced to imprisonement for six months. His wife Nagammal and sister S.R.Kannammal also participated in satyagraha. Dhananjay Keer, the biographer of Dr B.R.Ambedkar writes of Vaikom struggle: “The outstanding event of the year concerning the struggle of the Depressed Classes was the Satyagraha or the passive resistance sponsored by Ramaswami Naicker, a Non-Brahmin leader at Vaikom in the Travancore State for vindicating the rights of the Untouchables to use a certain road to which they were forbidden entry. Its moral pressure and the spirit of righteous assertion had a tremendous effect, and the orthodox Hindus, for a while, regained their civic sense and sanity, and the road was thrown open to the untouchables…Ambedkar … referred to the Vaikom struggle, a few months latter, very touchingly in one of his editorials, on the eve of the Mahad Satyagraha.” Always already critical of the reactionary Brahmins of the Swarajist wing of the Congress Party, Periyar began taking on the’ radical’ elements on matters concerning social reforms. He vehemently criticised the practice of serving food separately for the Brahmin and non-Brahmin students in Gurukula Ashram run by V.V.S.Iyer, a Congressman ( once convicted of ‘terrorist activities’) out of Congress funds. The Gurukula incident exposed the growing schism between the Brahmin and non-Brahmin public figures in Tamil country.

Periyar lent his support to the Hindu Religious Endowment Bill moved in the Madras legislature by the Justice Party ministry with a view to put an end to the monopoly of Brahmins in running the affairs of the temples and to utilize the temple funds for secular purposes.

He also presided over the 30th session of the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee at Thiruvannamalai and declared that the annihilation of castes was the only means to abolish untouchability.

1925
Still being a Congressman and with a strong faith in the efficacy of Gandhi’s constructive programme in the upliftment of the poor and untouchables , Periyar launched his celebrated Tamil weekly ‘Kudi Arasu’ (Republic) on 2.5.1925 for serving the cause of “Tamils such as Untouchables”. With this weekly came into being his Self-Respect movement, the core philosophy was to do away with oppression and exploitation based on caste, class and gender. He parted company with the Congressmen (though not officially making a break with the Party) after the resolution moved by him in the Tamil Nadu Congress Conference in Kanchevaram to provide for proportional representation for non-Brahmin and Untouchable castes in legislature, government jobs etc., was disallowed. While moving closer to the Justice party, he persuaded the latter to adopt Gandhi’s constructive programme. At the same time he called for a militant non Brahminism which would not be content with the bread and crumbs offered by the rulers but would radically challenge the caste system.

1927
Final break with Gandhi came when Periyar and other Self-Respecters failed to persuade Gandhi to give up his belief in Varnashrama Dharma. Periyar welcomed the Simon Commission as he believed that its recommendations would pave the way for the rightful representation of non Brahmin and Untouchable castes in running the affairs of the government. While his Self-Respect ideas were making a powerful appeal to the downtrodden masses crystallizing in horizontal solidarity of the backward and depressed castes throwing a powerful challenge to the status quo, he began actively supporting the Independent Ministry headed by P.Subbaroyan (after the Justice Party failed to get a majority in the Madras Legislative Assembly in 1927 elections) for its daring implementation of the Government Orders passed by the Justice ministry to give proportional representation in the Government jobs for non Brahmins and depressed castes and for its radical measures to uplift women and depressed castes. For the first time in the history of Tamil Nadu two members of ‘untouchable’ community were appointed as members of Devoswam (Temple Affairs) Committee.

Periyar supported the bill moved in the Legislative Assembly by social reformer and the Congress member Muthulakshmi Reddy to do doing away with the Devadasi system in the Temples. Copies of Manu Smriti were burnt in many Self respect meetings. Periyar removed from his name once and for all the caste appellation ‘Naicker’.

1928
In the month of May Periyar was arrested at Erode for his participation in the strike of the employees and workers of South Indian Railway. He was earlier arrested at Tiruchirapalli at the beginning of the year for his alleged provocative remarks against the upper caste Christians.

Periyar launched his English weekly ‘Revolt’ on 7th November 1928. In the first anniversary number he wrote:” It was on the 7th day November 1928 that memorable day in the history of the nations, the day of the anniversary of the immortal Revolution in Russia, the day which is looked upon as the violent explosion of human liberty, the day which is memorialised by millions in Russia for the mighty mixing up of monarchs and the massed, - it was on that day that the revolt saw the light of day at Erode. Even as we pointed out at the outset, we ‘unfurled the flag of revolt to destroy tyrannies and to befriend men and women’. Our aim, as we declared, was to put before our people, and humanity in general, how ‘social injustice is at the root of our economic bondage and political subjugation”.

‘Revolt’ gave extensive coverage to the anti-caste and social reform movements taking place in various parts of British India as well as in princely states. These included reports on Adi Dravida Conference in Karaikudi, Non Brahmin Youth Conference held at Madurai, All Travancore Social Conference in Nagercoil, Anti-Caste Conference organized by Dr.B.R.Ambedkar in Nasik, Lohore conference of Jat Pat Todak Mandal. It gave great importance to the struggle waged by Samaj Samata Sangh led by Dr. B.R.Ambedkar for the rights of the Untouchables to enter the Temple in Ganesh temple in Dadar, Bombay.

Periyar and his movement put their focus on the rights and emancipation of untouchable castes and endeared themselves to the depressed caste organizations of the day. In the Karaikudi Conference of Adi Dravida Association led by M.C.Raja, a resolution was passed urging its members to buy and read Justice Party daily ‘Dravidan’ and Self respect weekly ‘Kudi Arasu’

Periyar welcomed into the fold of Self-Respect Movement M.Singaravelu, an outstanding intellectual (born in a poor fisherfolk family) and a radical Congressman with Buddhist scholarship turned Communist (‘ the first Communist of South India’).Singaravelu began enriching the movement through his essays on socialism, religion, superstition and rationalism. K.V.Alagarisamy, a Self-Respect veteran was instrumental in bringing this great man of letters to the movement after both of them jointly addressed a meeting in Napier Park in Madras to condemn the death sentence awarded to Sacco and Vanzetti , the American anarchist labour leaders after a fake trial.

1929
Published detailed reports eulogizing Dr.B.R.Ambedkar’s struggles.
Organised the first Madras Provincial Self-Respect Conference at Chingleput near Chennai on 18th February 1929 sending shivers up the spines of the casteist forces across the country.

Visited Malaya and Singapore with his wife Nagammal and addressed a number of meetings organized by the expatriate Tamils with Self-Respect leanings.

1930
Periyar published his celebrated book “Garba Aaatchi’ (Right of reproduction), which anticipated many of the arguments of the radical feminists of the future. He also wrote a number of articles dealing with the questions of patriarchy and gender justice thus contributing some original and thought provoking ideas to the feminist movement in India.

Organised the second provincial self-respect conference at Erode under the presidentship of the Congress-Hindu Sabhaite M.R.Jeyakar and for the first time in the history of political gatherings in Tamil Nadu the food to the delegates was served by the Adi Dravida members of the Self- respect movement.

Criticised Gandhi’s Civil Disobedience Movement and his Salt Satyagraha as these did not address the questions of caste oppression, exploitation of the poor by rich and the gender injustice and called Gandhi-Irvin pact as a total surrender of the Congress to the British raj. The press controlled by the Brahmins came up for severe criticism of Periyar as they glorified the participation of the Brahmin leaders who offered the least harmful Satyagraha in the civil disobedience movement while deliberately belittling the severe police repression suffered by the non Brahmin Congressmen.

Moblised public support for the Bill tabled by the Congress legislator and social reformer Muthulakshmi Reddi for the abolition of Devadasi system and criticized the Justice Party leadership for its nationalist pretences and its lukewarm attitude towards the Devadasi abolition bill.

Organised along with the Coimbatore District Self Respect Conference, a separate conference non-Brahmin musicians whose talents and merits were systematically belittled and unrecognized by the Brahmins whose hegemony extended to all realms of public and private lives and called upon the non Brahmin artistes to assert their self-respect and fight for getting their rightful place in Concert Halls and other musical events.

1931-1932
Organised public meeting and published articles criticizing the All India Conference of the Indian National Congress held at Karachi. In Periyar’s view the resolutions on fundamental rights passed in the Congress , especially its advocacy of ‘neutrality in religious matters’ held dangerous portends for the shudras and untouchable castes as they adumbrated the essential features of the Rama Rajya of Gandhi and the Congress where the caste order and religious obscurantism would be preserved (The Karachi resolutions were as follows: The articles in the Constitution relating to Fundamental Rights shall include a guarantee to the communities concerned of protection of their culture, languages, scripts, education, profession, practice religion and religious endowments.

2.Personal Laws shall be protected by specific provisions to be embodied in the Constitution.)

Periyar and other self-respecters wrote and spoke in support of Bhagat Singh who in their view was betrayed by Gandhi and his Congress.Periyar offered a trenchant theoretical and philosophical critique of Gandhi’s philosophy of ‘ahimsa’ and his claims of listening to the dictates of ‘conscience’.

29.3.1931 issue of ‘Kudi Arasu’ published an important speech of Prof Lakshminarasu, co-founder of South Indian Buddhist Association on “Untouchability and Samadharma”

Organised the third provincial Self-Respect conference at Virudhunagar in response to the Karachi Congress. With S.Ramanathan, a leading Self-Respecter, translated from English and published ‘The Communist Manifesto’ in Kudi Arasu. The Tamil version with Periyar’s lengthy introduction was published in ‘Kudi Arasu’ weekly from 4.10.1931 to 25.10.1931.

In compliance with a resolution passed in the third provincial self-respect conference, Periyar accompanied by S.Ramanathan began his long foreign trip to learn from the experiences of various countries in solving social problems. He made brief visits to South Africa, Egypt, Greece, Turkey, England, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Italy. But his primary interest was Soviet Union where he stayed from 13.2.1932 to 19.5.1932 visiting factories, Communist Party functionaries, Atheist Groups etc. In Germany he met Communist and anarchist leaders and the Nudists. He briefly joined the Nudist Club to experiment with the idea of shedding the gendered notions of shame, honour, decency and ‘naturally endowed sexual differences.

In London he had several meetings with Sarbuji Sakhlatwala, the Communist leader and the first Indian ever to be elected to the British several times and accompanied him to several public meetings of workers and communists and shared the platform with him in a few meetings.


On his way back home he spent three weeks in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) to propagate Self Respect and Socialist ideas. His audience comprised mostly of depressed caste migrant workers. He returned to his hometown Erode on 11.11.1932

In December, along with M.Singaravelu, P.Jeevanandam and other leading socialist inclined Self respecters, drafted and published the ‘Samadharma (Socialist) Programme’, popularly known as ‘Erode Plan’.

During Periyar’s absence, in tune with his principles and commitments leading Self-Respecters like S.Gurusamy, Ponnamblanar, M.Singaravelu ,G.Appaduraiyar organized several meetings independently and also jointly with many Adi Dravida Associations to support Ambedkar’s struggle for separate electorate for untouchables and condemned Gandhi’s ‘fast unto death’ that resulted in the infamous Poona pact. In March, 1932 Self-respect , Buddhist and Adi Dravida Conferences were organized at Kolar Gold Fields. Justice Party was the only political party in South India that supported the separate electorate demand.

1933
Periyar carried out intensive propaganda of socialist thoughts across the Tamil Country. Wrote and spoke against the activities of Harijan Sewak Sangh of Gandhi and Congress.

With the help of S.Ramanathan, translated from English and published Frederic Engels’s ‘Principles of Communism’ and Lenin’s article ‘Tolstoy the mirror of Russian Revolution’ and a few of his letters to Maxim Gorky on religion. Periyar kept drawing an analogy between Tolstoyism and Gandhism and argued how the latter functioned as an ideological mystification blurring one’s view of social reality.

Periyar organized anti-Zamindar Conference and spoke against the reactionary princely states.


Nagammal, Periyar’s wife and comrade-in-arms passed away on 11.5.1933. The obituary Periyar wrote remains till date one of the moving account of their dedication to each other, the sharing of ideals and a self-introspection on the part of Periyar about the extent to which he lived up to his own advocacy of gender justice.


Very next day Periyar left for Tiruchirapalli to conduct self-respect, inter-caste and inter-religious marriage defying the prohibitory order under Section 144 of IPC imposed to prevent Periyar from attending the function.


For the editorial ‘Why the present form of Government should go?’ published in 29.10.1933 issue of’ Kudi Arasu’ weekly he and his sister and the publisher of the journal S.R.Kannammal were arrested under Section 124 –A (sedition charges), his house was searched and 46 ‘seditious’ letters were confiscated. Both of them were incarcerated in Coimbatore Central Prison. The carping criticism made by Periyar and his followers of the practice of untouchability and casteism amongst the Catholics and their publication of anti-clerical articles of Bertrand Russell, Ingersol, Jean Meslier and Voltaire invited the wrath of the Catholic clergy who appealed to the Pope to urge the British Government to ban the Self-Respect Movement.

1934
As Periyar had already planned to bring out another Self-Respect journal in the event of ‘Kudi Arasu’ being banned or prosecuted, he had another weekly ‘Puratchi’ (Revolution) launched in 1933. It , together with another self respect journal ‘Samadhramam’ edited and published by Parthasarathi in Jalarpet, North

Arcot district kept publishing articles on socialism, Soviet Union, women’s rights, fascism, critiques of Gandhism and also articles supporting the Justice Party candidates for the Central Assembly bye-elections. The editor and Periyar’s elder brother E.V.Krishnasamy,himself a leading self-respecter had to face charges of sedition.

Schism that began to develop between Periyar and like minded persons on one hand and M.Singaravelu and his ‘communist’ colleagues on the other over the question of supporting the Justice Party and implementing the ‘Erode Socialist Programme’ began to surface.

The weekly ‘Puratchi’ had to be fold up because of Government repression and also in view of the virulent opposition from religious fundamentalists and Periyar,using his tactical genius, had another weekly launched this time.

‘Pakutharivu’ (Rationalism) weekly was launched with E.V.Krishnasamy as the editor. A daily and a monthly with the same name were also brought out. The daily had to fold up shortly due to financial constraints.

P.Jeevanandam who translated into Tamil , Bhagat Singh’s ‘ Why I am an Atheist?’ and E.V.Krishnasamy, Periyar’s elder brother who published it on behalf of the self-respect press were arrested under Section 124 A of IPC (sedition). Periyar asked them to give an undertaking to the Government that they would not indulge in such seditious and anti-government activities and secure their release. In response to the criticism from the young and more militant self –respecters that Periyar’s act was a regretful compromise and a sign of cowardice, he owned up the responsibility for asking his colleagues to give such an undertaking but argued that he was not interested in ‘martyrdom’ either for himself or for other self-respecters but was only exploring avenues to carry forward the self-respect works in a charged political climate where, according to his reading, the Congress-British alliance was being forged after 1932 Gandhi-Irvin Pact and Gandhi’s influence was increasing in civil society while the Government were contemplating a ban on Self-Respect movement following the ban imposed on the Communist party. Periyar argued for a pragmatic way forward steering clear of the obstacles being erected from various directions.

There was a meeting of Periyar and C.Rajagopalachari in Coimbatore Central Prison where the latter was held on account of his participation in individual satyagraha movement and it was widely believed that Periyar was contemplating reaccommodation within the Congress Party. A modified and much watered down version of Erode programme was sent by Periyar to both the Congress and Justice Party on the condition that whichever party accepted it would get his support in the elections. While the Congress Party ridiculed it as a pale imitation of Karachi resolutions, Periyar pointed out that the Karachi resolutions did not contain anything relating to the upliftment of women and the untouchable castes. On the other hand, the ‘leftist’ elements led by M.Singaravelu parted company with Periyar and joined the Congress Socialist Party to strengthen the Congress Party which in their view was a ‘mighty anti-imperialist force’ and criticised the Justice party as the party of British toadies, job-seekers and landlords . It is noteworthy that Periyar allowed democratic dissent within his movement allowing those like M.Singaravelu who opposed his positions to air their views through editorials and articles in his journals.

Periyar and his supporters campaigned for the victory of the Justice Party candidates in 1934 bye-elections. But with the Congress Party’s growing influence in realms of both the political and civil societies and in view of the failure of the Justice leadership to develop mass organizations, the Justice Party candidates were defeated.

Lent his support to ‘Tamizh Isai Movement’ , a movement for securing a place for Tamil songs in the repertoire of the Carnatic Musicians performing in the Concert Halls.

1935
Periyar enthusiastically welcomed Ambedkar’s decision to leave the Hindu fold and convert to another religion of his choice. He continued with publishing articles on communism and Soviet experiments. Some publications of Self respect movement such as the Tamil version of Bhagat Singh’s ‘Why I am an Atheist’ were confiscated by the police and he was asked to pay security deposits to the government.

He called upon the Self-Respecters to celebrate the May Day through out the Tamil Country. Till then the May Day celebration was observed only in the city of Madras.

Consequent to the efforts made by the Justice Party backed by Periyar’s Self –Respect movement, the Viceroy’s Government passed the G.O.No.14634 dated 15.3.1935 for reservation of jobs for non Brahmins and scheduled castes in the Central Government Services in Madras Presidency. The G.O. implemented in 1936 was withdrawn one and a half months after the Independence (ie from 30.9.1947) by the Congress Government.

1936
While the Congress Party was registering bigger and bigger victories in civic polls of 1936, the fortunes of the faction ridden Justice Party started sliding down. Periyar’s programme was accepted by the Party only by the end of 1936 and in response to the Congress critics who claimed that it was only a pale imitation of their Karachi resolutions, Periyar challenged them to show whether there was anything in the Congress programme similar to the ones he had included in his own for the removal of discrimination based on castes, upliftment of women and for proportional representation. Unruffled by the series of defeats faced by the Justice Party he and his self- respect colleagues went ahead with concentrating their energies on social issues.

Periyar serialised the Tamil translation of B.R.Ambedkar ‘ Annihilation of Castes’ in ‘Kudi Arasu’ from its issue dated 24.7.1936 and each installment was accompanied by a photograph of Ambedkar. It was published in a book form in 1937.

The ‘communist’ self-respecters who made a final break with Periyar launched a short-lived ‘Suyamariyadhai Samadharma Party’ only to merge it with the Congress Socialist Party with the intention of serving the ‘mighty anti-imperialist force’ that was Congress!

1937-1938
Took over the responsibility of bringing out the Justice Party’s Tamil daily ‘Viduthalai’ ( Liberation). He infused the columns of the daily with anti-caste, self-respect ideas. In the first general elections held for the Madras Legislative Council under the Government of India Act, the Congress won an impressive majority trouncing the Justice Party. When the Congress wavered for some time on the question of forming a ministry in 1937, a non-Brahmin ministry was formed with the help of the Justice Party members and the Adi Dravida leader M.C.Raja. But Periyar was keen to see the formation of a Congress ministry as he was convinced that all its weaknesses, its will to power at any cost and its class-caste character would unfold themselves through its acts of commissions and omissions.

Successfully pressurized the Railway authorities to abolish the arrangements to serve food for Brahmins and non Brahmins in separate partitions in Railway station restaurants.

The Congress ministry headed by C.Rajagopalachari, in the name of slashing the government expenditure in view of the fall in the government revenue resulting from the partial prohibition implemented in the state closed down hundreds of primary school depriving the children of backward and untouchable castes of basic education. The ministry also tried to implement Gandhi’s Wardha Scheme in the educational institutions, thus clandestinely introducing the varna system. It put down with iron hand the struggles of the workers and arrested the leading members of the Congress Socialist Party. To cap its reactionary measures, the ministry introduced the scheme of compulsory learning of Hindi in selected schools to be extended to all other schools in future. C.Rajagoplachari argued that by learning Hindi one can read Thulasidas’s Ramayana in original. Sensing that the scheme of compulsory learning of Hindi was a clever ploy to build Sanskritic-Brahminical ideological hegemony, Periyar and the self-respecters and Justice Party members decided to wage a relentless battle against the scheme. Almost every segment of the Tamil populace including a section of the Congressmen joined the anti-Hindi agitation launched by Periyar. Several hundreds of agitators were arrested under various sections of the IPC including 124A. Two of them, one a Dalit and another from a most backward community died on account of ill treatment in the prisons. In the Tamil Nadu Women’s Conference held at Chennai on 12,13.11.1938, it was unanimously resolved that E.V.Ramasamy would hereafter be addressed only with the honorific ‘Periyar’(Great Man) and not by his name. For the anti-Hindi speeches he made in this women’s conference and in Pethunaickenpet, Chennai on 13th and 14th November 1938 respectively, Periyar was arrested under section 117 of IPC and Criminal Law Amendment Act Section I and sentenced to two year rigorous imprisonment. It was later commuted to one year simple imprisonment. First lodged in the Central Prison in Chennai, he was later shifted to the jail in Bellary (now part of Karnataka)

The active members of the rudderless, leaderless Justice Party, seeing the immense popularity of Periyar, elected him their Party President on 29.12.1938 in its Provincial Conference held at Madras. As Periyar was in prison, his presidential address was read out by A.T.Panneerselvam, a leading Justicite and a former Minister.

The anti-Hindi agitation joined and supported by various streams and strands of Tamil enthusiasts and anti-Brahmin militants crystallized into a veritable Tamil Nationalist movement with a demand , first for separation of Tamil speaking areas from the erstwhile composite Presidency of Madras and subsequently for a separate country. Periyar endorsed the demand for a separate Tamil Nadu which he later made it a demand for Dravida Nadu roughly approximating the geographical boundaries of the composite Madras Presidency of his time. He wanted it to enjoy the status of a separate dominion state under the British Crown with a view to protect it from the exploitative machinations of what he called the Brahmin- North Indian (Bania) alliance.

1939
When the Second world War broke out, Periyar had to hand over ‘Viduthalai’ for propaganda for mobilizing support and funds for war efforts. He argued that though it was the Brahmins who reaped unprecedented benefits under the British Raj, it was necessary that the allied nations in which the Britain was a part win the war, lest the axis powers would reverse the course of history and the non Brahmins and untouchables would have to start their struggle from the very beginning. He was systematically exposing the ‘doublespeak’ of the Congress vis--vis the war and argued that all its ‘anti-war’ talks were only camouflages for its underhand dealings with the Britishers.

1940
Met Ambedkar and Mohamed Ali Jinnah at Bombay on 8.1.1940 and signed a joint statement calling upon all the secular anti-Congress forces to unite to defeat the claims of the Congress as the sole representative of the entire population of India. Periyar also sought the support of Ambedkar and Jinnah for his Dravida Nadu demand.

Periyar denounced the demand of the Congress to form a National Government and its claim to be the sole representative of the Indian people. ‘Kudi Arasu’ criticized Gandhi’s letters to Hitler and his appeals to the people of Czechoslovakia and England threatened by the Nazi forces not to offer any resistance and allow the invaders to take over their land and other material belongings excepting their minds and spirits.

Periyar suspected that the individual satyagraha offered by the Congressmen to express their ‘disapproval’ of involving India in war efforts was actually a drama pre-arranged with the consent of the British rulers to hoodwink the people. Periyar also pointed out that the ‘war committees’ set up by the government were dominated by Brahmins.

1941
Periyar and the self-respecters were keenly watching the developments within the Congress and placed on records the manouvres of Gandhi, Nehru and other leaders to marginalize Subhas Chandra Bose. They also exposed the betrayal of the people of princely states by Gandhi and other Congress leaders like Nehru and Patel.Periyar intensified his campaign for separate Dravida Nadu by organizing meetings and publishing articles. Number of articles supporting Soviet Union’s war against Fascism was published.

1942
When the members of British Cabinet mission led by Sir Stafford Cripps appointed by the British Government visited India to find solutions for political demands, Periyar led the Justice Party delegation and argued for a separate electorate for the non Brahmins on a scale that would automatically make their representatives majority in the Province since under the prevailing conditions they would not get the majority in the legislature either through the vote or through a plebiscite as they would be outmanoeuvred by the powerful elements comprised of more wealthy and powerful Brahmin population. This demand was turned down by Cripps. Responding to C.Rajagoplachari’s satirical remarks that those who claim to represent a majority seeking protection from the manipulations of a minority was something unheard of, Periyar remarked that out of 10000 people who gather in a market place, 9990 people had to protect their wallets from 10 pickpockets.


Periyar was keenly watching the political developments in the country and kept commenting on the material support the Congress and its wealthy patrons were rendering to the British war effort and the rich dividends they were receiving in return. Periyar criticized ‘Quit India Movement’ announced by Gandhi in September 1942 as an invitation to the Japanese Fascists to land in Indian soil.

1943
Periyar resumed publication of ‘Kudi Arasu’ which was not allowed to be published during the first three years of war. Welcomed the rout of the Nazi army by the heroic resistance of the Soviet people and the Red army and wrote that the “Quit India Movement’ was a gamble played by Gandhi and Congress anticipating the defeat of the allied nations and the victory of axis forces.


He announced the scientific possibility of having ‘test tube’ babies and argued that this would reduce the reproductive burden on women.


1944
At the provincial Conference of Justice Party held at Salem , he had the name of the Justice Party (South Indian Liberal Federation) changed as ‘Dravidar Kazhagam’. One of the resolutions passed in the Conference called upon all the non Brahmins to throw away the titles and honours conferred on them by the British. Periyar also revived the demand for separate electorate for scheduled castes.

Another resolution demanding a separate, sovereign Dravida Nadu completely independent of the British Rule was also passed.

Dr B.R.Ambedkar called on Periyar at Chennai and discussed with him the political developments in India. According to the report on the meeting published in ‘Kudi Arasu’ Ambedkar was understood to have agreed with the contents of the resolutions of the Salem Conference of the Justice Party and supported the Dravida Nadu demand.’Kudi Arasu’ also reported that Ambedkar wanted even the Maharashtra part of the country be included in Dravida Nadu. On the same evening Ambedkar met the leaders of a section of the old Justicites who disagreed with Periyar’s idea of clubbing social issues with political ones and functioned under the old name. Ambedkar frankly expressed his unhappiness about the elitist nature of the (old) Justice Party which failed to develop any grass root social base and was interested only in hunting for government jobs and positions.

Dr.B.S.Moonje , the leader of Hindu Maha Sabha during his visit to Chennai called on Periyar and discussed with him the political changes that were taking place. According to the reports published in ‘Kudi Arasu’, Periyar insisted on removing the hegemony of the Brahmins in the social and political life of the country and that Separate Dravida Nadu was the only solution for the non Brahmins.

Periyar visited Calcutta and addressed M.N.Roy’s Radical Democratic Party’ Conference on December 27, 1944. He also visited Kanpur and addressed Non-Brahmin backward classes Conference.

Self-Respect journals like ‘Kudi Arasu’ and ‘Dravida Nadu’ expressed their support to the Indian National Army men taken prisoners by the British and also those participated in the RIN ‘mutiny’. Periyar and his journals launched trenchant criticisms of Communists who instead of targeting the ‘Brahmin-Bania’ Congress were attacking the Justicites and self-respecters. ‘Kudi Arasu’ described the Hindu Maha Sabha and the Communists as the right and left wing respectively of the Congress.

Periyar launched the short lived English weekly ‘ Justicite’

1945
Periyar felt that that Brahmin-Bania-British Pact was taking concrete shape. The Congress registered massive victory in the elections to the Central and State legislatures conducted in 1945-46 and Periyar was helplessly watching the situation. Tamil Nadu Communists who campaigned for the most reactionary Brahmin candidates came up for severe condemnation.

He organized the Dravidar Kazhagam conference in Trichy on September 29 and 30,1945 and floated a volunteer corps under the name of ‘Black Shirt Volunteer Force’. For him the ‘black’ denoted the unfreedom and degradation of Dravidians.

1946
Periyar launched campaigns against the Congress Ministry in Madras Presidency headed by Prakasam for its pro-Brahmin and anti-labour policies. Despite serious difference of opinions with the Communists, the Dravidar Kazhagam of Periyar supported the struggles of the labour unions under their control. They played an important role in mobilizing the support for the struggle of the Railway workers in Ponmalai near Tiruchirapalli which was ruthlessly suppressed by the Congress ministry.

On 11.5.1946, the State level Conference of the Dravidar Kazhagam was held in Madurai. The venue of the Conference was attacked by the hooligans reported to have been instigated by the Congress Brahmins. They also set fire to it and disrobed a woman activist. The orgy of violence and mayhem was such that Periyar and some of the important leaders could not reach the venue for several hours. The official flag of the Dravidar Kazhagam – black background with red circle in the middle – symbolizing the degradation to which the Dravidians were subjected and the liberation that would dawn on them respectively was created. Periyar condemned the undemocratic and unrepresentative manner in which the Constituent Assembly was created.

When the Cabinet Mission deputed by the British Government recommended the grouping of British Indian provinces in A,B.C categories and permitting the princely states to decide on their own future, Periyar, despite his unhappiness about the proposal, made last ditch efforts to mobilize the non-Brahmin opinion and support cutting across the party lines to see that Madras Presidency was not tied to A Group (which included Bombay Presidency) but remained autonomous within a broad Confederation. Periyar expressed his anger against the way a Constituent Assembly to draft the future constitution of India was constituted.

1947
In a mass meeting of Adi Dravidas Periyar expressed his unhappiness about Ambedkar joining the Constituent Assembly. He opined that in view of the absence of a strong political and social base for Ambedkar , the ‘Aryans’ were able to ‘appropriate’ him making him no longer able to thunder against the reactionary Brahmins and call such ‘sacred’ texts as Bhagavat Gita as a blabber of a fool as he did in the Viceroy’s Executive Council.

When the British Government announced its decision to partition India and grant dominion status to India and Pakistan, Periyar was shocked by the blatant arbitrariness displayed by the Brahmin-Bania-British alliance in deciding on the future of the Indian people. He sent a telegraphic message to the British Primier Atlee requesting him to reconsider the decision and do justice to all sections of the Indian people.

Periyar called upon his followers and the general public to observe August 15, 1947 as a day of mourning. The General Secretary of Dravidar Kazhagam, C.N.Annadurai , however wrote that it was a day of rejoicing, thus paving the way for the irreversible split in Periyar’s movement.

Periyar and the leading Dravidar Kazhagam intellectual S.Gurusamy engaged the Communists in polemics on the nature of Indian Independence.

Periyar called upon the people of Tamil Nadu to observe July 1 as the ‘Dravida Nadu separation day’. On 14.9.1947 he organized a mammoth Dravida Nadu separation conference at Cuddalore. It was addressed amongst others Thiru Vi.Kalyanasundara Mudaliyar, a celebrated Congress nationalist, trade unionist and a Tamil man of letters.

1948
To protest against the imposition of Hindi Periyar convened the meeting of all- party leaders in Chennai. He violated the ban order imposed under Section 144 IPC at Kumbakonam to assert the right of freedom expression against the imposition of Hindi. Arrested again along with several hundreds of Dravidar Kazhagam volunteers when they staged a protest against the visit of C.Rajagoplachari, the Governor General of India. Organised a massive Dravidar Kazhagam Conference at on May 8 and 9. He also organized a conference on ‘Thirukural’, the classical Tamil work on Ethics in order to popularize it amongst Tamil masses.


From 1948 to 1952 he and his leading cadres supported the demand for the civil and political rights of the Communists whose party was banned in 1949. The campaigns led by him and his party men resulted in the commutation of death sentences given to 11 communist workers who participated in Telengana struggle. Leading Communists of the day S.A.Dange, A.K.Goplan and M.Kalyanasundaram placed on records their appreciation of the support rendered by Periyar.

When Gandhi was assassinated by a Brahmin Hindu fanatic, Periyar was deeply distressed and disturbed. He gave a moving talk in the All India Radio helping to restore peace and order and wrote that since the Independent India owed its being to Gandhi it should be named ‘Gandhi Nadu’ (Gandhi desh)

1949
Married Maniammai, a long standing Dravidar Kazhagam worker. This marriage was used as pretext for C.N.Annadurai and his followers to break away from Periyar to form Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.

Periyar condemned the manner in which the Constitution of India was passed at the end of 1949. He violated the ban order imposed under Section 144 of IPC at Udumalpet and courted arrest.

1950
He called upon the Dravidar Kazahgam workers and the public to observe the Republic Day (January 26) as the ‘day of mourning’ . He and his cadres picketed the commercial venues of north Indians to oppose the north Indian domination and also to protect the interests of the Tamil handloom weavers.

He raged against the judgments of the Madras High Court and the Supreme Court of India against the reservation for backward castes in educational institutions in Madras Province. The Courts said that this was violative of Artilce 29(2) of the Constitution of India. Periyar convened the leaders of the non Brahmin community and organized a conference at Trichy in December on Communal Representation. Also organized several hundreds of meetings all over Tamil Nadu criticizing the Constitution. Organised black flag demonstrations against the Central ministers visiting Tamil Nadu.

His brother and a leading self-respecter E.V.Krishnasamy passed away.

1951
The agitations launched by him to restore Communal Representation bore fruit. On 2nd June 1951, the first amendment to the Constitution was made. A new sub-clause 4 was included in Article 15 of the Constitution of India for guaranteeing constitutional validity for reservation in educational institutions for the backward classes>this amendment facilitated for reservation for scheduled castes and tribes in educational insittutuions. Dr B.R.Ambedkar played a crucial role in persuading Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Premier of Independent India to bring in this amendment.

Periyar and Dravidar Kazhagam differed with Ambedkar on certain aspects of India’s foreign policy and also on Kashmir question. As against Ambedkar’s proposal that Jammu and Kashmir be divided into three parts on religious lines and that Hindu and Buddhist majority parts be merged with India, Dravidar Kazhagam maintained that the question of self-determination of Kashmir must be decided by the Kashmir people themselves and that the armies of both India and Pakistan be pulled out. Dravidar Kazhagam disapproved of Ambedkar’s opposition to bring into UN, the People’s Republic of China and also his proposal that India should have a military alliance with US in order to reduce military expenses.In Dravidar Kazhagam’s view such a thought itself would be detrimental to the interests of the very working people for whose leader Ambedkar was. It however welcomed Ambedkar’s decision to quit Nehru’s cabinet.

1952
Periyar played a crucial role in seeing that the Congress did not get a majority in the erstwhile presidency of Madras in the first general elections conducted on the basis of universal suffrage. He offered support to the Communist candidates in selected constituencies while working for the victory of others whom he believed would fight for the implementation of Social Justice creed of his movement. His colleague and editor of ‘Viduthalai’. S.Gurusuamy entered into polemics with the Communists on the question of the exploitative role played by Brahmins, temples and the question of self-determination of Dravida Nadu.

Once C.Rajagoplachari captured the power through ‘back entry’ ( by getting nominated a member of the upper house of the Legislature by the then Governor of Madras) Periyar launched a series of agitations. His papers and publications were confiscated several times and was asked to remit security deposits to run his daily ‘Viduthalai’. He launched the struggle to erase the Hindi words in the name boards in Railway Stations. In the local body elections, he used his energy to defeat the Communist candidates. Convinced of the need to have separate workers and peasant organizations for Dravidians, he floated Southern Railwaymen Associan and Dravida Vivasay Thozhilalar Sangham (Dravidian Agricultural Labourers’s Association)

1953
Paid rich tributes to Joseph Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union. Periyar called him the last of the Great Men of the century.

Celebrated Buddha Jeyanthi all over Tamil Nadu and organised state wide breaking of the idols of Vinayaka with a view to oppose idolatry. In Chennai city alone hundreds of Vinayaka idols were broken in a stretch of Mount Road where the offices of the dailies ‘The Hindu’ and ‘Swadesamitran’ considered by Periyar as the leading mouthpieces of Brahminical orthodoxy were located. Buddha Jeyanti was celebrated in a number of towns by the Dravidar Kazhagam members.

1954
He toured the entire Tamil country to mobiles public opinion against the varnadharmic education system C.Rajagopalachari ministry tried to introduce in the primary schools. According to this ‘hereditary vocation scheme’ the students were expected to attend the classes for a half a day and then in the afternoon , practice the traditional vocations of their families. He organized a Conference at Erode against C.Rajagopalachari’s education policy under the chairmanship of S.B.Adityan, Editor of the Tamil Daily ‘Thina Thanthi’. Following day a Buddhist Conference was conducted with Rajbhoj, M.P. and the General Secretary of All India Depressed Classes Association and Dr.Mallalasekara, leading Buddhist scholar from Ceylon (Sri Lanka) as Chief Guests.

With a view to unseat C.Rajagoplachari from power and bring in K.Kamaraj, a non Brahmin leader Periyar relaxed the intensity of the anti-Congress crusade he began in 1925. By getting K.Kamaraj elected in a bye-election, Periyar put an end to the C.Rajagopalachari’s reactionary education scheme. On August 1, he and his followers erased the Hindi words from the sign boards in Railway stations.

Went to Burma accompanied by Maniammai and participated in the World Buddhist Conference held on December 3 along with Dr.B.R.Ambedkar and Dr Mallalasekara. When persuaded by Dr Ambedkar to embrace Buddhism, Periyar told him that tactically and strategically he preferred to remain in ‘Hindu’ fold to challenge it from within since converting to other religions would deprive him of the right to speak against Hindu religion.

1955
Protesting against the imposition of Hindi he announced that that the National Flag would be burnt across the Tamil Country. On getting the assurance from the State and Central governments that Hindi would not be a compulsory lesson for examinations, he temporarily withdrew the agitation.

1956
Had the pictures of Rama set to fire in hundreds of places across the Tamil country. He resolutely opposed the scheme of creating a ‘Dakshin Pradesh’ comprised of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in place of forming separate states on linguistic basis. He considered this scheme as a conspiracy to make the Tamils a minority in the new formation and establish the hegemony of Brahmins and other upper castes. He declared that the Tamil speaking areas alone would be the geographical boundaries of his Dravida Nadu.

Wrote a moving and tearful portrait of Dr.B.R.Ambedkar on the eve of his death. Periyar described him as a scholar par excellence and suspected a foul play in his death.

1957
To Vinoba Bhave, the Sarvodya leader who met Periyar in Trichy, the latter frankly explained to him his views on Ramayana and why he wanted it to be burnt. When strictures were passed by the Brahmin judges against a very upright non Brahmin Collector of Tiruchirapalli district, Periyar toured the entire Tamil country vehementy criticising the judgment thus inviting Defamation of Court proceedings. Periyar filed a historic affidavit in the High Court of Madras justifying his criticism of the Brahmin judges. He organized agitations to erase the words ‘Brahmin’ in the sign boards of hotels and restaurants as it signified the casteist superiority of the Brahmins. The struggle continued for nearly an year against an unrelenting Hotel owner in Madras who finally agreed to remove the word from his hotel sign boards. Periyar always used such peaceful agitations as pedagogic exercises to teach and disseminate his self-respect ideas.

When unprecedented caste clashes took place in Ramanathapuram district of Tamil Nadu between upper castes led by the former Congressman and Forward Block Member of parliament Muthuramalinga Thevar, Periyar resolutely stood by the side of the Adi Dravidas and touring the country, urged the state government to unwaveringly suppress the upper caste elements who unleashed an orgy of violence and murder against the helpless Adi Dravidas. It is noteworthy that all the parliamentary parties including the Communists were agitated over the arrest of Muthuramalinga Thevar but not about the Adi Dravida victims.


At a special function at Thanjavur on 3.11.1957, he called upon the members and supporters of Dravidar Kazhagam to burn copies of the Indian Constitution which in his view, through Article 372 and connected Sections, protect the caste system. In response to his call nearly 10000 persons all over Tamil Nadu burnt the copies of the relevant parts of the Constitution on 26.11.1957 (the Constitution day). The State repression was so severe that they were convicted and sentenced to imprisonment ranging from a period of six months to three years. Two of them died in prisons. Periyar was charged with acts of criminal instigation of his followers to assault the Brahmins with deadly weapons. He was sentenced to one and a half year imprisonment. The Tamil population rose in revolt against this harsh punishment.

1958
Released from the prison and was accorded an enthusiastic reception at Chennai on May 13.

1959
Undertook a tour of north India and addressed the meetings organized by the Republican Party of India in Kanpur, Lucknow, Delhi and Bombay. He also addressed a several meetings of College students there. With the funds collected from the people of Tamil Nadu, he bought the dilapidated and abandoned Tram Shed at Egmore , Chennai where he established his headquarters.

1960
To gain support for his separate Tamil Nadu demand, he asked his followers to burn the map of India excluding the part that showed Tamil Nadu. He was arrested under Section 151 of Preventive Detention Act.

1961
Toured all over Tamil Nadu to mobilize support for the state government led by K.Kamraj as this ministry was implementing a number of schemes beneficial to backward classes and scheduled castes.

1962
Campaigned vigorously for the victory of Kamaraj led Congress in the general elections. He gave tentative support to Nehru as well on the ground that the latter was implementing socialist programmes.

When the border war between India and China broke out, he went around and mobilized support for the Indian Government calling the Chinese ‘aggressors’

1963
When Kamaraj mooted a plan by which all the leading Congress leaders would give up offices and concentrate their energies to strengthen the party organization and set a precedence, Periyar unsuccessfully dissuaded him.

1964
The Judgment of the Supreme Court invalidating the Tamil Nadu Land Ceiling Act passed by Kamaraj Government, was condemned by Periyar who began mobilizing public opinion against the judgment.

1965
He condemned the deliberate attempt on the part of a section of the pro-Brahminical and anti-Kamraj press, which published inflammatory reports on the anti-Hindi agitations initiated by the students first and then joined by the DMK and argued that in view of the promise made by Nehru at the instance of Kamraj that English would continue to be used along with Hindi even after 1965, there was no need for a violent agitation in which innocent lives were lost and public and private property worth several crores damaged. Periyar stood his ground, despite the unpopularity his stance generated.

On 6.4.1965 he had the copies of Ramayana burnt in several parts of Tamil Nadu.

1966
Periyar continued with the Ramayana burning activity.


1967
The anti-Hindi agitations of 1965, the rise of prices of essential commodities and certain anti-popular measures taken by M.Bhaktavatsalam who succeeded K.Kamaraj as the Chief Minister resulted in its rout in 1967 general elections despite Periyar’s all out efforts to make it win. He owned it up as a personal defeat. But when the DMK that win the election turned around and sought his support and blessings, he unhesitatingly offered to stand by the DMK ministry led by C.N.Annadurai which in the best tradition of the non Brahmin movement tried to implement a number of social reforms. One of the first Government Orders issued by this Ministry asked all the government departments to remove the pictures of all gods and goddesses from the office venues.


At Periyar’s instance, Hindu Marriage Act (Central) 1955 was so amended in such a way as to make the Self-Respect marriages legally valid.

1968
14.4.1968 was observed by him and his followers across Tamil Nadu as a day of condemnation of the rule of Delhi with a view to mobilize public opinion in support of his demand for an independent Tamil Nadu

He addressed a number of meetings in Lucknow in the month of October.

Periyar condemned the violence in Kizhavenmani village in which 44 Adi Dravida agricultural workers were burnt to death by the landlord’s henchmen. This was the result of the wage dispute and Periyar vehemently criticized the Communist led Kisan Sabhas for creating an atmosphere which resulted in such an atrocity.

1969
After the demise of C.N.Annadurai, Periyar revived his agitation for the right of members of all castes to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the Hindu Temples. He announced that the agitation would be launched on 26.1.1970.

1970
Persuaded by the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.Karunanidhi , Periyar postponed the ‘sanctum sanctorum’ entry agitation.

Launched Thinker’s Forum in Tiruchirapalli and Madras rationalist Association in March and September respectively and saw that branches of these fora were opened in hundreds of places in Tamil Nadu. In October he successfully launched the campaign to remove the word ‘Brahmin’ in the sign boards of the restaurants. In November he visited Mumbai and addressed meetings organized by his followers.

Periyar launched the Tamil monthly ‘Unmai’ (Truth) to propagate rationalist thoughts and scientific ideas.

1971
Periyar was happy that his demand to allow members of all castes to enter sanctum sanctorum was fulfilled to a great extent when the Tamil Nadu legislature on 2.12.1970 unanimously passed the amendments to the Hindu Religious Endowment Act which provided for the appointment of archakas (priests) from any caste. With assent of the Governor of Tamil Nadu This Act came into force in January 1971.

In January Periyar organized a Conference for the Abolition of Superstition at Salem Town. Included in the anti-God pageantry that formed a part of the conference was an image of Rama and placards inscribed with word denigrating him and other gods and the obscenities in the Puranas. Volunteers of ‘Hindu Mission’ , a far right organisation, threw chapels aimed at Periyar and other leaders. In retaliation, some of the enraged volunteers of the Dravidar Kazhagam beat the effigy of Rama with with chapels before setting it to fire. The Salem incident was twisted and misrepresented by the pro Brahminical press to suit the interests of the orthodoxy to whip up communal frenzy. Despite the hysterical reaction of the conservative forces that demanded a ban on Periyar’s movement, the general public remained unperturbed. On the other hand, Periyar had similar acts of denigrating Rama replicated in several parts of Tamil Nadu.

The English monthly ‘The Modern Rationalist’ was launched by Periyar in September. He entrusted the editorship of this journal to K.Veeramani, the General Secretary of Dravidar Kazhagam.

1972
Periyar was enraged when the Supreme Court of India nullified the amendments to the Hindu Religious Endowment Act passed by the Tamil Nadu Government as violative of Articles 25 and 26 of Constitution of India. The Court quoted certain scriptures in support of its judgment and observed that the idols would become ‘polluted’ by the touch of outcastes. Periyar was convinced that the Supreme Court judgment has reasserted the Varna system and condemned the 97 percent of the population to shudrahood or the status of the sons and daughters of the concubines of the Brahmins.

1973
In is 95th year, despite his failing health , he undertook intensive tour of Tamil Nadu and called upon the people to rise against the degradation imposed on them by the Brahminical caste order, which in his view, was now propped up by the Supreme Court Judgment. On 8th and 9th December 1973 he organized a Conference to remove the social degradation of Tamils . This happened to be the last Conference he addressed. The last public appearance was however on 19th December when he addressed a mammoth public meeting in T.Nagar,Chennai. He made one of the most spirited and carping criticism of brahminical caste order, the Shastras and laws of the country that support them and the need for the shudras and panchamas to rebel and secure their self-respect and self-worth either by getting the Constitutional provisions that safeguard the caste order or by seceding from India to create and independent secular casteless Tamil Nadu.

On 20th December he was admitted in the Government General Hospital, Chennai. In a state of coma he was shifted a private hospital at Vellore near Chennai. As the treatment failed to revive him, be breathed his last at 7.40 AM on 24.12.1973. His body was brought to Chennai on 24.12.1973 for the public to pay homage. On 25.12.1973 he was laid to eternal rest at ‘Periyar Thidal’, the venue of the headquarters of Dravidar Kazhagam with State honours.

Thus came the end of an era.

 
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