Innumerable fake callings, half backed interpretations, highly prejudiced and deliberately falsified propaganda maligning and distorting the basic teachings of the great person, have all necessitated such a article at this juncture of chaotic multitude of confusions artificially created to fill all the facets of the media today.
As a pioneer of a rational movement, Periyar was warranted to invent several new points of strategies and communications to carry the vehicle of his historically new and original thoughts, he apparently never got settled with an appropriate medium.
When Periyar started his public life, he belonged to a world totally alien and different from the whole world around him. Rationalism or atheism was unknown to many of the population. Questioning the existing order of the belief/faith structure was considered as the greatest act of religious rebellion and ignominy that incurred the wrath of the gods.
Each one in those days was vying with each other in delving deeper and deeper in superstitions and self deception. Religion was the supreme order of the social moral personal and public behaviour. No one ever dared to question even the most obvious atrocious, immoral, senseless, unjust and improbable concoctions so abundantly made available in every sphere of life. Religion was the central authority and reference point of all the spheres of man’s life.
Appears on the Scene
It is the strangest of ironies that a person who enters the scene with such a profusion of falsehood and superstition, has nothing of the proverbial qualification like education, scholarship, reading, association with great thinkers or scholars. He had only one faculty but up to the brim. It was his unassailable immitigable ever bright and towering common sense and reason.
History will surely assess and affirm that Periyar preserved his originality unspoilt by any formal education; for any theoretical input would have seriously watered down and tampered with the natural flow of his genius.
As we have already mentioned, his real greatness consisted of his pure unmixed originality. His originality was ably fortified with his extraordinary sharp observation. Periyar was unbelievably quick to perceive the human foibles. His observations were never blunted with any existing or hearsay opinions but he went deep into the very root of matters. Nothing has thus escaped his attention.
The First Step
Periyar was seriously offended by being branded as a shudra which meant in religious dogmos ‘son of a prostitute’ merely based on his birth. He was extremely pained to note that the 97 per cent population of this land being branded as ‘shudra’ by the 3 per cent meagre population of the Brahmin community. He realized that there was something seriously wrong somewhere. His eternal march of search started at this point that never stopped until his last breath.
Starts from the Scratch
No predecessor; no inspirations; no models; no obligations; no faith; no principles; no theories ; no ideologies; no premises ; no philosophies. In short this is where Periyar started his pilgrimage of social justice. His first major breakthrough in his sojourn of social reformation was the revelation and realization that religion was holding the key at the bottom of all social evils.
Religion for him was nothing but the Hindu religion as this was the religion followed by almost all the Indians. This religion, he found, was supported by “sacred texts” of various kinds which justified and perpetuated all the superstitions, social discrimination and hierarchy. This finding was the first of its kind in the entire realm of Indian history of religions. No one had ever before landed on such a clear, comprehensive and unpeccable premise of the study and finding of this religion. This religion had strongly built up its fortresses with unpenetrable walls of defences.
An average human endowed with a simple reasoning faculty could never suspect such a devious conspiracy well hidden underneath . With the mighty power of common sense Periyar started laying his foundation. He was thoroughly convinced that god and the supportive structure of religions with the religious books, formed the very basis of social injustice that had taken roots in this land of superstitions. They have been acting as the perpetuators of the social exploitations for ages and ages.
In Search of Proper Medium
After landing on such a hallmark of a discovery, Periyar was required to substantiate his findings. He began a thorough search of all the existing religious texts. This search was not an academic endeavour which would have limited the scope to a particular extent or a parochial goal. But this was to liberate the 97 per cent of the population of this country from their bondage for thousands of years.
Therefore the depth and width of his search was to keep appropriate pace with his arguments used in his propaganda. He equipped himself thoroughly with all the perspectives of the matters he covered until he became an authority of all that he uttered. Every syllable of his words there after contained the accuracy and authenticity of his claims.
He realized well that if he had to contest the religions, he had then to find a new set of defensive strategies well equipped with a thorough knowledge of the subject he was dealing. In this process he became an expert of all the existing religious texts of this country. He possessed a will stronger than the strongest of the gibralters and mountains. Those who heard him were inevitably impressed with the power of his conviction and will.
The Next Step
The inevitability of his antagonizing methodology against the entire established orders of the social structure starts at this point. Periyar was committed to proclaim a Movement that questioned the total regime of faith in god, religion, culture, literature, art and all the other related areas. Periyar started his movement by denouncing everything connected to god, religion, culture and tradition that had a combined existence.
Naturally this earned the wrath, enmity, anger and disapproval of all the traditional forces. They were offended and frightened that their very source of livelihood was at stake. At this juncture a historically significant truth has to be remembered by all those who are committed to truth and fairness. In his call for the rejection of god, religion and all the related structures, Periyar did not intend to offend any individuals.
He was against only the institutions and principles that went against the very basic rights and respect of human beings. What objection can there be for any rational honest human being against the basic tenets of Periyar that contained such a noble human objective ?
History is obliged to answer the above question posed to all rational thinking humans
Periyar was pitted one against the entire congregation of the religious society of goons. While facing the heat of the vehement and vengeful ire of the opponents, Periyar had the miserable task of educating his own people for whom he had launched such an unprecedented drive and was pathetically required to wake up the slumbering multitudes from their servitude, superstition and ignorance.
This double role egged Periyar on to a comprehensive policy and principle. The print medium was found to be very handy. Besides the innumerable articles and books, he endlessly travelled through the length and breadth of this land addressing and meeting people untiringly. He invented a linguistic medium that at once connected him to the masses. He used the slang of the ordinary folk which was rusty and point blank.
The facts about Periyar are all surrounded in a mire of prejudice, bias, bitterness and hatred. This was the inevitable consequence of his newly founded Self Respect Movement and the sequential supporting ideals. In the process of promoting and realizing his ideals Periyar suffered perhaps the greatest of humiliations and hardships in the history of social revolution.
History will unhesitatingly and proudly record that Periyar expected nothing in return for all his sacrifices and hardships. Take for instance the lives and teachings of the great saints of any religion. Great leaders, prophets, revolutionaries and social philosophers have never suffered so much to execute their ideals
• Peiyar never accepted any offices even when they were offered on a platter to him.
• In fact, he entered public life by resigning from innumerable administrative and authorities posts he was holding.
• Periyar hailed from a rich family and received huge assets. He never used anything for himself or his family from the funds generously donated in great love by his followers. He left all the assets, he had gathered in his life to the Trust of the Dravidar Kazhagam.
• Every moment of his life was spent in an ingenious frugal way and he never enjoyed the comforts of luxury. In fact he most vociferously advocated simple and frugal ways of living.
• In Vaikom, he was hand cuffed and chained in the prison and was made to share the cell with the murderers. He was in jail many times in his life time. He had travelled a distance of 13,19,662 KMs in order to propagate his ideals .
• He was not fighting for his own kith and kin but it was a war against injustice, suppression, and discrimination against the total exploited population. He thus stood for all the suppressed sections irrespective of thousands of divisions within.
• Never in his entire career of public life did he resort to violence of any nature. The saying “if you see a snake and a brahmin together, kill the Brahmin first” is falsely attributed to him but in fact it was a proverb in the Uttar Pradesh. Has any follower of the Kazhagam killed any Brahmin at anytime based on this false insinuation ?
• In his personal life he was very friendly and polite to the Brahmins. There is not even a single instance of and personal prejudice.
The most significant contributions made by Periyar are
• ERADICATION OF CASTES AND SUPERSTITIONS
• DENOUNCEMENT OF GOD AND RELIGION—ATHEISM & RATIONALISM
• SOCIAL JUSTICE
• LIBERATION OF WOMEN AND EQUALITY TO THEM
All the above are the goals in the highest order of genuine interest in humanity.
Do we have a person of this caliber and honesty in all the pages of Indian history?
Can anyone find anything wrong in the life and teachings of Periyar?
If one does so, he/she has to seriously examine his/her conscience or rational stability.