He is known as the 'Father of the Dravidian Movement'. Ramasamy joined the Indian National Congress in , but resigned in when he felt that the party was only serving the interests of Brahmins. He questioned the subjugation of non-Brahmin Dravidians as Brahmins enjoyed gifts and donations from non-Brahmins but opposed and discriminated against non-Brahmins in cultural and religious matters. Ramasamy participated in non-violent agitation satyagraha in Vaikom , Kerala.
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Search this site. Did you know Him. He is also the founder of the socio-cultural organisation, Dravidar Kazhagam. At a young age, he witnessed numerous incidents of racial, caste and gender discrimination. Periyar married when he was 19, and had a daughter who lived for only 5 months. His first wife, Nagammai, died in Periyar married for a second time in July His second wife, Maniammai, continued Periyar's social work after his death in , but still his thoughts and ideas were being spread by Dravidar Kazhagam.
Periyar joined the Indian National Congress in , but resigned in when he felt that the party was only serving the interests of the Brahmins. In , Periyar led a non-violent agitation satyagraha in Vaikom, Kerala. From to toured Malaysia, Europe, and Russia, which had an influence on him.
In , Periyar became the head of the Justice Party, and in , he changed its name to Dravidar Kazhagam. The party later split and one group led by C. He opposed the exploitation and marginalisation of the non-Brahmin indigenous Dravidian peoples of South India and the imposition of, what he considered, Indo-Aryan India.
His work has greatly revolutionised Tamil society and has significantly removed caste-based discrimination. He is also responsible for bringing new changes to the Tamil alphabet.
However, at the same time, Periyar is also held responsible for making controversial statements on the Tamil language, Dalits and Brahmins and for endorsing violence against Brahmins. The citation awarded by the UNESCO described 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".
Early Years. Periyar's father, a rich businessman, was Venkatappa Naicker or Venkata , and his mother was Chinna Thayammal, alias Muthammal. He had one elder brother named Krishnaswamy and two sisters named Kannamma and Ponnuthoy. He later came to be known as "Periyar" meaning 'respected one' or 'elder' in Tamil. He could speak three Dravidian languages: Kannada, Tamil and Telugu.
His mother tongue was Kannada. Periyar attended school for five years after which he joined his father's trade at the age of He used to listen to Tamil Vaishnavite gurus who gave discourses in his house enjoying his father's hospitality.
At a young age, he began questioning the apparent contradictions in the Hindu mythological stories which he opined to be lies spread by the Indo-Aryan race. As Periyar grew, he felt that people used religion only as a mask to deceive innocent people and therefore took it as one of his duties in life to warn people against superstitions and priests.
Periyar's father arranged for his wedding when he was nineteen. The bride, Nagammai, was only thirteen. It was not, altogether, an arranged marriage because Periyar and Nagammai had known each other and were already in love with each other. Nagammai actively supported her husband in his later public activities and agitations. Two years after their marriage, a girl child was born to them. However, this child lived only for five months.
The couple had no more children. Though regarded as one of the holiest sites of Hinduism, he witnessed immoral activities, begging, and floating dead bodies. His frustrations extended to functional Hinduism in general when he experienced what he called Brahmanic exploitation.
However, one particular incident in Kasi had a profound impact on Periyar's ideology and future work. At the worship site there were free meals offered to guests. To Periyar's shock, he was refused meals at choultries, which exclusively fed Brahmins. Due to extreme hunger, Periyar felt compelled to enter one of the choultries disguised as a Brahmin with a sacred thread on his bare chest, but was betrayed by his moustache.
The gatekeeper at the temple concluded that Periyar was not a Brahmin, as Brahmins were not permitted by the Hindu shastras to have moustaches. He not only prevented Periyar's entry but also pushed him rudely into the street. As his hunger became intolerable, Periyar was forced to feed on leftovers from the streets.
Around this time, he realised that the choultry which had refused him entry was built by a wealthy non-Brahmin from South India. This discriminatory attitude dealt a blow to Periyar's regard for Hinduism, for the events he had witnessed at Kasi were completely different from the picture of Kasi he had in mind, as a holy place which welcomed all. Ramasami was a theist till his visit to Kasi, after which his views changed and he became an atheist.
Member of Congress Party Periyar Ramaswamy joined the Indian National Congress in after quitting his business and resigning from public posts. He held the chairmanship of Erode Municipality and wholeheartedly undertook constructive programs spreading the use of Khadi, picketing toddy shops, boycotting shops selling foreign cloth, and eradicating untouchability.
In , Periyar courted imprisonment for picketing toddy shops in Erode. When his wife as well as his sister joined the agitation, it gained momentum, and the administration was forced to come to a compromise. He was again arrested during the Non-Cooperation movement and the Temperance movement.
In , Periyar was elected the President of the Madras Presidency Congress Committee during the Tirupur session, where he advocated strongly for reservation in government jobs and education. His attempts were defeated in the Congress party due to a strong presence of discrimination and indifference, which led to him leaving the party in Vaikom Satyagraha — In Vaikom, a small town in Kerala state, then Travancore, there were strict laws of untouchability in and around the temple area.
Dalits, also known as Harijans were not allowed into the close streets around and leading to the temple, let alone inside it. Anti-caste feelings were growing and in Vaikom was chosen as a suitable place for an organised Satyagraha, passive resistance campaign as practised by Gandhi. Under his guidance a movement had already begun with the aim of giving all castes the right to enter the temples. Thus, agitations and demonstrations took place. On April 14, Periyar and his wife Nagamma arrived in Vaikom.
They were arrested and imprisoned for participation. In spite of Gandhi's objection to non-Keralites and non-Hindus taking part, Periyar and his followers continued to give support to the movement till it was withdrawn.
He received the title Vikkom Veeran, mostly given by his Tamil followers who participated in the Satyagraha. However, a considerable section of intellectuals feel that Periyar's participation in the Indian independence movement and his contributions in the Vaikom Satyagraha have been highly exaggerated.
The way in which the Vaikom Satyagraha events have been recorded provides a clue to the image of the respective organisers. In an article entitle Gandhi and Ambedkar, A Study in Leadership, Eleanor Zelliot relates the 'Vaikom Satyagraha' including Gandhi's negotiations with the temple authorities in relation to the event.
Furthermore, the editor of Periyar's Thoughts states that Brahmins purposely suppressed news about Periyar's participation. Self-Respect Movement Periyar and his followers campaigned constantly to influence and pressure the government to take measures to remove social inequality, even while other nationalist forerunners focused on the struggle for political independence.
The Self-Respect Movement was described from the beginning as "dedicated to the goal of giving non-Brahmins a sense of pride based on their Dravidian past". In , the Periyar Self-Respect Movement Institution was registered with a list of objectives of the institution from which may be quoted as for the diffusion of useful knowledge of political education; to allow people to live a life of freedom from slavery to anything against reason and self respect; to do away with needless customs, meaningless ceremonies, and blind superstitious beliefs in society; to put an end to the present social system in which caste, religion, community and traditional occupations based on the accident of birth, have chained the mass of the people and created "superior" and "inferior" classes Propagation of the philosophy of self respect became the full-time activity of Periyar since A Tamil weekly Kudi Arasu started in , while the English journal Revolt started in carried on the propaganda among the English educated people.
The Self-Respect Movement began to grow fast and received the sympathy of the heads of the Justice Party from the beginning. Alagiriswami took charge as the head of the volunteer band. Conferences followed in succession throughout the Tamil districts of the former Madras Presidency.
A training school in Self-Respect was opened at Erode, the home town of Periyar. The object was not just to introduce social reform but to bring about a social revolution to foster a new spirit and build a new society. International travel — Between and , under the strain of World Depression, political thinking worldwide received a jolt from the spread of international communism. Indian political parties, movements and considerable sections of leadership were also affected by inter-continental ideologies.
The Self-Respect Movement also came under the influence of the leftist philosophies and institutions. Periyar, after establishing the Self-Respect Movement as an independent institution, began to look for ways to strengthen it politically and socially.
To accomplish this, he studied the history and politics of different countries, and personally observed these systems at work. Periyar toured Malaysia for a month, from December to January , to propagate the self-respect philosophy. Embarking on his journey from Nagapattinam with his wife Nagammal and his followers, Periyar was received by 50, Tamil Malaysians in Penang.
During the same month, he inaugurated the Tamils Conference, convened by the Tamils Reformatory Sangam in Ipoh, and then went to Singapore. In December he undertook a tour of Europe, accompanied by S. Ramanathan and Erode Ramu, to personally acquaint himself with their political systems, social movements, way of life, economic and social progress and administration of public bodies. On his return journey he halted at Ceylon and returned to India in November The tour shaped the political ideology of Periyar to achieve the social concept of Self-Respect.
The communist system obtained in Russia appealed to him as appropriately suited to deal with the social ills of the country. Thus, on socio-economic issues Periyar was Marxist, but he did not advocate for abolishing private ownership. Immediately after his return, Periyar, in alliance with the enthusiastic communist M.
Singaravelu Chettiar, began to work out a socio-political scheme incorporating socialist and self-respect ideals. This marked a crucial stage of development in the Self-Respect Movement which got politicised and found its compatibility in Tamil Nadu.
Oppotition to Hindi In , when Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari became the Chief Minister of Madras state, he introduced Hindi as a compulsory language of study in schools, thereby igniting a series of anti-Hindi agitations. Tamil nationalists, the Justice Party under Sir A. Panneerselvam, and Periyar organised anti-Hindi protests in which ended with numerous arrests by the Rajaji government.
Periyar E. V. Ramasamy
He started the Self-Respect Movement or the Dravidian Movement and proposed the creation of an independent state called Dravida Nadu , comprising the states of South India. He is also the founder of the socio-cultural organisation, Dravidar Kazhagam. Periyar was born in Erode , Madras Presidency in a rich family. At a young age, he witnessed many incidents of racial , caste and gender discrimination.
Search this site. Did you know Him. He is also the founder of the socio-cultural organisation, Dravidar Kazhagam. At a young age, he witnessed numerous incidents of racial, caste and gender discrimination. Periyar married when he was 19, and had a daughter who lived for only 5 months. His first wife, Nagammai, died in