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About Periyar E. V. Ramasamy [ 1879-1973 ] Biography & Life History Of Erode Venkata Ramasamy Periyar

Erode Venkata Ramasamy Periyar

Periyar E. V. Ramasamy
Periyar E. V. Ramasamy

Born 17 September 1879Erode, Madras Presidency, British India (now, Tamil Nadu, India)
Died 24 December 1973 (aged 94)Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India
Other names    E.V.R., Vaikom Veerar, Venthaadi Venthan
Occupation  Activist, politician, social reformist
Political party Justice PartyFounder of Dravidar Kazhagam
Movement  Self-Respect Movement, Dravidian Nationalism
Spouse(s)   Nagammai (died in 1933), Maniammai(1948- 1973)

Early Life Of Periyar Ramasamy

Erode Venkatappa Ramasamy  (17 September 1879 – 24 December 1973), commonly known as Periyar, also referred to as Thanthai Periyar, was an Indian social activist, and politician who started the Self-Respect Movement and Dravidar Kazhagam. He is known as the 'Father of Dravidian Movement'.He has done exemplary works against Brahminical dominance, caste prevalence and women oppression in Tamilnadu.

E.V. Ramasamy joined the Indian National Congress in 1919, but resigned in 1925 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 non-Brahmins in cultural and religious matters. In 1924, E.V. Ramasamy participated in a non-violent agitation (satyagraha) in Vaikom, Kerala.

From 1929 to 1932 Ramasamy made a tour of British Malaya, Europe, and Russia which influenced him.[how?] In 1939, E.V. Ramasamy became the head of the Justice Party, and in 1944, he changed its name to Dravidar Kazhagam.The party later split with one group led by C. N. Annadurai forming the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in 1949. While continuing the Self-Respect Movement, he advocated for an independent Dravida Nadu (land of the Dravidians).

E.V. Ramasamy promoted the principles of rationalism, self-respect, women’s rights and eradication of caste. He opposed the exploitation and marginalisation of the non-Brahmin Dravidian people of South India and the imposition of what he considered Indo-Aryan India.

Early years

Ambedkar with Ramaswami Periyar
Ambedkar with Ramaswami Periyar
Erode Venkata Ramasamy was born on 17 September 1879 in Erode, then a part of the Coimbatore district of the Madras Presidency. E.V. Ramasamy's father is a,Venkatappa Nayakar (or Venkata), and his mother was Chinnathyee, 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.

E.V. Ramasamy married when he was 19, and had a daughter who lived for only 5 months. His first wife, Nagammai, died in 1933. E.V. Ramasamy married for a second time in July 1948. His second wife, Maniammai, continued E.V. Ramasamy's social work after his death in 1973, but his thoughts and ideas then were advocated by Dravidar Kazhagam.

In 1929, E.V. Ramasamy announced the deletion of his caste title Naicker from his name at the First Provincial Self-Respect Conference of Chengalpattu. He could speak three Dravidian languages: Kannada, Telugu and Tamil. Periyar attended school for five years after which he joined his father's trade at the age of 12. 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. 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.

E.V. Ramasamy's father arranged for his wedding when he was nineteen. The bride, Nagammai, was only thirteen. Despite having an arranged marriage, Periyar and Nagammai 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 daughter was born to them. However, their daughter died when she was five months old. The couple had no more children.

Who was Erode Venkata Ramasamy Periyar?

Erode Venkata Ramasamy Periyar was born in 1879 in what was then called the Madras Presidency to a Kannada businessman and later joined his father's business. He joined the Congress party but left it after he found it to be dominated by Brahmins. Much later, he started his own Dravidar Kazhagam party, which is considered the inspiration of all political parties launched later on the plank of Tamil pride.

What was E.V Ramasamy Periyar politics?

Periyar's thought, philosophy and action revolved around his opposition to Brahminism. He said Brahmins had dominated all other castes through their religious principles and practices. He propounded rationalism and criticised the Hindu religion as superstitious.

However, he believed in the ideas of Tamil saint Thiruvalluvar and hence held faith in the idea of a single, formless God. He found conversion to Islam and Christianity as a way for the lower castes to escape Brahmin oppression as he thought both these religions created better societies than Hinduism. Periyar was also against Mahatma Gandhi because he saw Gandhi not totally rejecting Brahminical ideas and practices.

Periyar's Self-respect movements

Periyar came to be known widely as a leader of the lower castes after he led a movement in 1924 that demanded entry of Dalits in temples in Kerala. He is known the most for his Self-respect Movement that aimed at generating pride in lower castes.

His campaign against imposition of Hindi in Tamil Nadu is the origin of all anti-Hindi movements later in south India. He found Hindi a tool of Brahminical domination of Tamils. His most controversial movement was protests against Hindu idols. The movement involved breaking or burning of idols of Hindu gods or garlanding them with shoes.

Why is Periyar such a big issue today?

Even though many Dalits find Periyar to be a representative of non-Brahmin upper castes, he has been a big anti-caste icon in India. More than that, his importance is due to his centrality to the Tamil pride movement.

Today, no political party can hope to succeed in Tamil Nadu politics if it does not swear by Periyar. Even the BJP, which can hope to achieve little in Tamil Nadu politics on its own, cannot afford to be seen opposing Periyar. Perhaps that's by BJP leader Raja regretted his Facebook post against Periyar.


Top Quotes of Periyar


 There is no god, there is no god, there is no god at all. He who invented god is a fool. He who propagates god is a scoundrel. He who worships god is a barbarian.
                                                                                                          - Periyar E. V. Ramasamy


Man is equal to man. There should not be exploitation. One should help the other. No one should harm anybody. Generally there should be no room for grievance or complaint from anybody. Everyone should live and let others live, with a national spirit.
                                                                                                       - Periyar E. V. Ramasamy

Man treats woman as his own property and not as being capable of feelings, like himself. The way man treats women is much worse than the way landlords treat servants and the high-caste treat the low-caste. These treat them so demeaningly only in situations mutually affecting them; but men treat cruelly and as slaves, from their birth till death.
                                                                                                          - Periyar E. V. Ramasamy


  Foreigners are sending messages to the planets. We are sending rice and cereals to our dead fore-father through the Brahmins. It is a wise deed?
                                                                                                           - Periyar E. V. Ramasamy
By helping the poor, we must be able to remove their poverty. But extending help to one here and one there in the form of providing food will not remove poverty.
                                                                                                              - Periyar E. V. Ramasamy
   There's no god. He who created god was a fool; he who spreads his name is a scoundrel and he who worships him is a barbarian.
                                                                                                             - Periyar E. V. Ramasamy
   The word 'Sudra' which means 'Son of prostitute' should not find a place even in the history hereafter. We will not allow it to find a place in the dictionary or encycl 
                                                                                                   - Periyar E. V. Ramasamy


 I want the Brahmins to realize that the Dravidian people today are very much hating those who cunningly cheated them with absurdities. They are now aware of the particular community making a living by spreading the foolishness. People have begun to hate god, religion, caste, mythologies (puranas) and so on.
                                                                                                     - Periyar E. V. Ramasamy

While all men are born as equals, to say that Brahmins alone are the highest and all others are low as Pariah (the Untouchables) or Panchama is sheer nonsense. It is roguish to say so. It is a big hoax played on us.
                                                                                                                    - Periyar E. V. Ramasamy
The number of those who do selfless public service and those who serve without expecting any return, should increase. Their sterling qualities should show the way to the people at large. Their life would be a model to show how man should conduct himself in public life.
                                                                                                                   - Periyar E. V. Ramasamy
  Because our ladies mostly attend Kalatshepams, (Religious discourses) they have fallen prey to the superstitions, blind beliefs, and immorality by the false and fictituous propaganda of the Brahmins.
                                                                                                                 - Periyar E. V. Ramasamy
   A male has the right to wander about as he pleases. He has the right to marry any number of girls. This practice has led to prostitution.
                                                                                                                    - Periyar E. V. Ramasamy

 Capitalists control the machineries. They create difficulties to the workers. Consequently rationalism, which has to lead the way for peaceful life to all, has resulted in causing poverty and worries to the people because of dominating forces.
                                                                                                                   - Periyar E. V. Ramasamy
  Those who still believe the Brahmins should take a serious note of the changing times and start leading an awakened life.
                                                                                                                   - Periyar E. V. Ramasamy


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