In light of the recent event of actor Rajinikanth refusing to apologize for his comments on E. V. Ramasamy (‘Periyar’), the truth about ‘Periyar’ and his followers’ Hinduphobia is coming to light.
Decades of concerted efforts by a certain section of people had white-washed the very problematic views of ‘Periyar’, and had somehow managed to portray him as some sort of a ‘Tamil Ambedkar’. Historical evidence however shows that nothing could be farther from the truth. This would be a good time to analyze the entirety of Periyar’s view, and what the tallest leaders of his time had said about ‘Periyar’.
Periyar’s Dream of Southern Partition
‘Periyar’ was one of the most vocal proponents of a separate ‘Dravida Nadu’, by which he wanted a second partition to happen in south India, and declaring the current state of Tamil Nadu as an independent nation. He had also openly supported the creation of Pakistan and declared that ‘Dravidians’ were not Indians.
In 1939, ‘Periyar’ organised the ‘Dravida Nadu Conference’ and advocated a separate and independent ‘Dravida Nadu’. There was practically no support for him from either within Tamil Nadu or from the other states of south India. However, that did not deter him from repeating the demand the following year when Muslim League came out with the Lahore resolution demanding the establishment of Pakistan.
‘Periyar’ was also a vocal supporter of British Raj, hoping that they might eventually accept his demand for ‘Dravida Nadu’. In a magazine called ‘Kudi Arasu’, on 28th of July 1940, he wrote that once the Second World War was over they must press for partition of India and create ‘Dravidar Nadu for Dravidians’.
Kudi Arasu 28-7-1940
In July of 1947, as the rest of India was getting ready for independence, ‘Periyar’ was busy advocating the 2nd partition of India into ‘Dravida Nadu’.
Periyar’s open Admiration for Jinnah and his Violent Methods
On 17th of October, 1957 ‘Periyar’ wrote that if people following him behaved as obediently as the followers of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, they could win independence. He also wrote that Jinnah won independence by taking up the sword and unleashing rivers of blood, and that they must do the same.
Periyar’s Support for Anti-Semitism at Height of Nazi Rule
On 20th of March, 1938, ‘Periyar’ compared Brahmins of India with Jews in a Nazi-like fashion, saying both conspire to torture and suck the lives out of other citizens while living in comfort themselves. Quoting his exact words in the magazine ‘Viduthalai’ –
“The Jews are only interested in themselves, and nobody else. They somehow contrive to have the rulers in their pocket, participate in governance and conspire to torture and suck the lives out of other citizens in order that they live (in comfort).” Are they not comparable to the Brahmins who too have no responsibility but have the rulers in their pocket, have entered the ruling dispensation and been lording over (all of us)?”
One has to keep in mind that this statement was made at the time when Hitler’s holocaust of Jews was in full swing, and anti-semitic tropes were the hallmark of Nazis.
Periyar’s Violent Contempt for Gandhi and Indian Constitution
‘Periyar’ had nothing but contempt for Mahatma Gandhi and Indian Constitution, and this is a well documented part of history. For instance, in 1957 he wrote in his magazine that the Indian constitution will be burned as the first step. If the government still doesn’t budge to his demands, then he will burn Gandhi’s photo and then he will burn the then PM Nehru’s effigy.
In response, the then PM Jawaharlal Nehru called ‘Periyar’ as an ‘old and senile man who deserved a place in lunatic asylum rather than in public life’
Source: Book- Anna Durai by P.C Mohan
Periyar’s Criticism of Ambedkar
Although initially Dr B R Ambedkar and ‘Periyar’ collaborated to fight caste oppression, Ambedkar’s support for national unity and Indian nation infuriated him.
On 8th of July 1947, he not only advocated for Dravida Nadu’ but also criticized Dr Ambedkar in his magazine ‘Viduthalai’, saying ‘Ambedkar might oppose creation of Dravida Nadu as he is controlled by Hindu establishment-Congress.’
“Today Dr Ambedkar had started taking the sterile stand of the North Indians that this nation should not be partitioned. I am afraid that in coming days he would also oppose the Dravidstan demand.”
On 11th of November, 1957 he wrote disparagingly about Dr Ambedkar, claiming that Brahmins had fixed a price for Ambedkar in form of reservations and that Ambedkar did not bother about the problems of others.
“Ambedkar had some feeling similar to us. He asked me, ‘What can I do for your people?’ I gave him a lot of data. He started talking for us. At once Brahmins fixed a price for him. He asked 10 percentage reservation for his people in education and government jobs. They said ‘we will make it 15’. The Brahmins knew that even if 25 percentage was given even three or four persons of SC community would not come. And Ambedkar simply signed in that law. He did not bother about the problem of others.”
Viduthalai (11 November 1957)
How did Kamaraj and Annadurai view ‘Periyar’?
Mr. K. Kamaraj was one of the tallest leaders of Tamil Nadu. A freedom fighter who had served not only as chief minister but also the National President of Congress. Called as the ‘Kingmaker’ of Indian Politics during the 1960’s, he was very critical of the radical views of ‘Periyar’.
In the 1961 elections, although ‘Periyar’ supported Kamaraj, Kamaraj said he cannot take the support of a communal organization like ‘Periyar’s Dravida Kazhagam’ and wanted to make it absolutely clear that he did not share the views of Mr. E.V Ramaswami Naicker(‘Periyar’).
Source: Journal of Asian Studies-Vol. 20, No. 3 (May, 1961)
Mr. CN Annadurai, commonly referred to as Anna (Big Brother), another tall leader of Tamil Nadu, had become increasingly alienated from Periyar’s radical views.
In fact, on the eve of independence in 1947, ‘Periyar’, shaken by the reluctance of the British to create a Dravida Nadu, gave a call to observe the Freedom Day as a day of sorrow and mourning. Anna, his own general secretary, publicly repudiated ‘Periyar’, by stating that “Independence Day should be celebrated without any reservation… We have made it very clear that our opposition to the Congress should not be misconstrued as our opposition to freedom.”
Anna further said that:
“To consider this day as a day of mourning would be nothing short of doing great injustice to their (freedom fighters) memory and that would not be in keeping with the high traditions of the Tamil people,”
This was a critical reference aimed at ‘Periyar’, invoking the wrath of ‘Periyar’ supporters. ‘Periyar’ considered it as a disloyal act. Although Anna was a protégé of ‘Periyar’, he separated from him and formed his own political party, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) because of such anti-India views of ‘Periyar’.
These are just some of the outrageous anti-India, Anti-Semitic, Anti-Gandhi, Anti-Hindu and pro-violence views of ‘Periyar’. To compare ‘Periyar’ with greats such as Dr. B.R Ambedkar, a great patriot and nation builder, is a great disservice to not only Ambedkar but also to India.
Note: Screenshots of Periyar’s writing in Viduthalai and Kudi Arasu magazine are taken from a “Fuzzy and Neutrosophic Analysis of Periyar’s Views on Untouchability”, a book written in 2005 by Florentin Smarandache, W. B. Vasantha Kandasamy, K. Kandasamy.