Manabendra Nath Roy, popularly known as M.N.Roy was an Indian nationalist revolutionary and an internationally known radical activist and popular theorist. Roy was a founder of the Communist Party in both Mexico and India and was a delegate to the Communist International held in Soviet Russia.
He participated in International Communist Movement along with Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky, Bukharin. Following the rise of Joseph Stalin, Roy left the mainline Communist Movement to pursue the political independence of India. He played an important role in Indian Liberation fighting along with Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose. In 1940, Roy was instrumental in the formation of the Radical Democratic Party, an organization in which he played a leading role for much of the decade of the 1940s. Roy later moved away from Marxism to become an exponent of the philosophy of Radical Humanism.
After the formation of Radical Democratic Party, Roy got introduced to the ideology of Periyar E.V.Ramasamy and acquainted with him. In fact, Roy invited Periyar to lead Radical Democratic Party. But Periyar did not accept the invitation due to his decisive commitment of his non participative role with any political party but assured of co-ordinated endeavours.
In 1941, Roy toured the then Madras Presidency and addressed several meetings with Periyar in Madras , Coimbatore and Salem. Both the leaders possessed very high respect mutually. Roy praised the public life of Periyar and the services rendered by him as something unprecedented in the history. Similarly Periyar praised Roy in his own words thus:
“ M.N.Roy is an intellectual exponent of humanist philosophy. He has enormously experienced in international arena by spending major period of his youth in foreign countries. His contribution to Indian independence is unparalleled. He was a faultless fighter for the liberation of India. No other Indian leaders would have suffered and sacrificed as to the level of M.N.Roy for India’s Liberation.”
Roy’s line was clearly different from that of the mainstream national liberation movement in India. After Independence, he concentrated more on propagating radical humanism. He was the first Vice-President of International Humanist Association formed in Amsterdam in 1952. He had personal acquaintance with Albert Einstein and other scientists. He edited many magazines like Independent India, Marxian Way, Humanist Way, International Press Correspondence, Radical Humanists etc., He wrote books on Humanism, Renaissance, Russian Revolution, Philosophical Consequence of Modern Science.
He was born on 21st March 1887 at Changripota, 24 Parganas, Bengal of British India. In 1916, he married Evelyn Trent, a Stanford University graduate. Ellen Roy, his second wife led the Humanist Movement founded by M.N.Roy, after his demise on 25th January 1954 at Dehra Dun.
Commemoration of 125th Birth Anniversary of M.N.Roy by Periyar Movement
To commemorate 125th Birthday of M.N.Roy and to celebrate Dravidian Movement Centenary Thoughts, a function was organised by The Rationalists’ Forum, Tamil Nadu, India on 21st March 2012 at Periyar Thidal, Chennai.
Dr.K.Veeramani, President, Dravidar Kazhagam, unveiled the portrait of M.N.Roy and addressed elaborately about M.N.Roy and his association with Periyar, reminiscing the sequence of related events in Dravidian Movement, focusing the support through the views of M.N.Roy for the cause of the movement.
“The inherent thirst of humanism in M.N.Roy is unequivocal. He toured different parts of the globe, dwelled in various countries associating with Community Party in its international arena. He was in close association with Lenin and rendered his service in Eastern Oriental University in Soviet Russia, as its Vice-Chancellor. He was unable to compromise with the strategic approach adopted by the leaders of Communist movement. and disassociated from it. After coming back to India, he joined Indian National Congress, felt disgusted about its approach and at last came out from its fold. He formed his own political organization viz. National Democratic Party. Ultimately he concentrated on the propaganda of Radical Humanism by forming Renaissance Movement. During 1940s, he came in contact with Periyar, impressed about the cause of Dravidian Movement and its nature of strategic approach to achieve it. He was amazed looking at the public life stature of Periyar .While he addressed in Chennai in 1941, under the Presidentship of Periyar, he emphatically pointed out that nationalism in South India will be meaningless without the participation of non-Brahmin population. Justice Party, which commenced the movement of non-Brahmins organizationally in 1916 which ruled the then Madras Presidency of British India. In late 1930s, the leadership of Justice Party was vested with Periyar. The joint endeavours attemped by Periyar and M.N.Roy were not paid due coverage in print press media which was dominated by Brahminical hegemony. The initiatives and efforts made by both the leaders were victimized by the ‘conspiracy of silence’ an advocacy of Dr. B.R.Ambedkar. Until M.N.Roy remained in Congress, the original Brahminical party, he was popularised in press media. Later, his contributions were masked. All such historical and ideological journey of M.N.Roy with Periyar must be unearthed and be made known to the current contemporaries and the posterity. The mission of Periyar and M.N.Roy on humanism is alike.
The ideological advocacy of M.N.Roy was identical with the core philosophy of Dravidian Movement. Because of that ideological convergence, the stalwart of social justice of Dravidian Movement, Muthiah Mudaliar (instrumental force through his role as Minister in the cabinet of Madras Presidency in 1930s to bring communal G.O. which facilitated employment of non-Brahmins in government jobs) became functionary at a later time in National Democratic Party founded by M.N.Roy.
The core life style of leaders like Periyar, M.N.Roy is not their mere leading in public life, the major element of ideological advocacy dominated rather than their identity with the organizations, they had associated then and there. Periyar expressly ventilated like thus:
“Never I served as a party man, though my life stood for principles
To conclude, we have to affirm ourselves to bring back afresh the ideological propaganda of M.N.Roy and the cause for which he lived for. The final phase of his life reflected uncompromising adamancy in advocacy of Radical Humanism. The commemoration of 125th Birth Anniversary of M.N.Roy is not ceremonial. It is recommencing the journey in the ideological path, treaded by M.N.Roy. Let us salute the great humanist stalwart M.N.Roy!”
Prof.A.Karunanandan, Secretary of Dravidian Historical Research Centre, addressed encovering the contributions of M.N.Roy to communist movement and the disparities in the prevalence of social environments in Europe and India for the spread of communism.
“ In European and other countries, the role of religion became dismal and its significance in the society was made exclusive, personal and distanced from the political and economic map. The contradictory social position of capitalist employer and employee was crystal clear in revolutionized industrial environment. Whereas in India, religious influence prevailed anywhere and everywhere. Industrial revolution had not taken place. The leaders who took up the cause of labour were religious minded. The contradiction between the capitalist and labour was converted as conciliation and adjustment more in favour of the capitalists. The Congress Party in British India fabricated philosophy of communism.
The Communist leaders in British India and later in independent India strategised their movement by imitating the style of Russia. M.N.Roy was intellectual ideologue as well as activist in the philosophy of communism. He experienced enormously with the functional approach of Russian communist party internationally and its supportive perception about the Indian Congress leaders who were against British Imperialism. M.N.Roy also subjectively experienced with the functional style of Congress Party. Both the international and indigenous political experience enabled M.N.Roy to expose the faulty approach in the name of facilitating socialism, a pre phase to reach communism. The basic commitment to humanism made M.N.Roy to get released from the folds of disguised progressive forces and it resulted in his culmination as Radical Humanist. This was the final message of M.N.Roy to the mankind.”
V.Kumaresan, General secretary of The Rationalists’ Forum welcomed the gathering with a brief note that anti-Brahminical approach of Periyar Movement is founded on humanist approach and not with any deliberate hatred. R.Tamil Selvan and Dravida Puratchi, functionaries of the Forum discharged their role of introduction and proposal of vote of thanks respectively. Versatile audience comprising humanists, educationists, scholars, political functionaries, cadres of Periyar Movement assembled and were attentive to the proceedings of the meeting.
Greeting Messages were received for the commemoration of 125th Birth Anniversary of M.N.Roy from the humanist fraternity. They were Dr. Lakshman Tamil of Periyar International, Texas, USA, Dr.G.Vijayam of Atheist Centre Vijayawada, Prof. Narendra Nayak of Federation Indian Rationalist Associations (FIRA),Swami Manavatavadi from Kurushetra, Haryana, R.G.Rao alias Somu of Goa Science Forum and Prof. Malathi of University of Delhi. The greeting messages were read at the function.