Translated from the Tamil Original
Sri Maruthi Publishers
First and foremost, I would like to thank my parents S.Thangasamy-T.Maragatham; my sister and brother in law T.Mercy-A. Thilagaraj for giving me the strength and fortitude it took to complete this book.
Much of what I have learned over the years came as the result of being a student to Dr.S.Ravindranathan who, in his own ways inspired me and, subconsciously contributed a tremendous amount to the content of this book.
I want to thank Mr. Logu Ayyappan for giving me the opportunity to use his Ravanan Library and allowing me the freedom to choose articles of Periyar my way.
This book would not have been possible without the essential and gracious support of Messrs. Sri Maruthi Publishers, Chennai. I also need to thank a wonderful man D. Harinath who designed the cover page in a perfect manner.
Personally speaking, I would like to thank my student friends Kanaga Vinayagam, Muruganandam, Murali, and Divakar for helping me along the path that has led me to complete this book.
Mostly, however, I want to thank my loving wife Christhu Mary for her constant support, understanding and patience. There are no words on earth or up above
to express my Love for my daughter Melinda Jenny, a tiny little angel
who brought me so much light.
This small book is intended to propagate the radical thoughts of Periyar among the non-Tamil readers. Its aim is to help the person with no access or rare access to the English version of Periyar.
Periyar gave life to the lifeless, voice to the voiceless, and converted the untouchables into touchables, and despised individuals into dignified citizens. It is a matter of gratification that this volume is being published when the judiciary thwarted the dreams of certain individuals with vested interests who tried to monopolize Periyar and his thoughts.
Having undertaken to translate the essays of Periyar, now presented to the readers, I should like to preface them with a brief account of the life of Periyar, thereby satisfying in part the legitimate curiosity of non-Tamil readers. With due acknowledgements, I have borrowed and edited the biographical sketch of Periyar from the Dravidar Kazhakam’s official website.
Any errors which remain after a rigorous proof reading can only be due to my carelessness or stubbornness. However, I hope that the work offers you pleasant reading, new insights into Periyar and intellectual excitement.
This publication in no way claims to encompass the complete writings of Periyar on Caste and religion, but the essays included in this book have been carefully chosen to give a fairly accurate picture of Periyar. I think any reader, irrespective of his profession who has an interest to wipe out caste and religious forces, will find this collection meaningful for it gives him/her a glimpse of Periyar, striving toward the future.
I am happy that Dr.T.Marx has-this time-entered into a very meaningful venture. Transcending his official work as a teacher of English, he has attempted to translate some of the thought provoking essays of Thanthai Periyar into English.
Raising the question “what is poetry?, a cynic answered: “what is lost during translation.” Cynicism apart, the statement has some truth. Mechanical translation often kills the spirit of the original text. It is not that anybody who knows English and Tamil can venture translation. Definitely NOT-the thoughts of Periyar.
Marx has rightly chosen the essays of Periyar on Caste and Religion- the twin evils in India. Periyar has elaborately written on religion-explaining how it is a fraudulent tool in the hands of Brahmins to suppress the Scheduled caste and the Backward class people.
Periyar has all along fought for the rights of the untouchables and his words do not spare any enemy of the suppressed people. The translated version has carefully brought out the unifying ideas of Periyar into English without damaging the idiom and the subtext. Similar are the essays on God. The English version is readable, clear and correctly exposes the anger of Periyar.
I am happy that in Marx’s translation the “poetry” has not been lost. Marx, a Periyarist by choice and commitment has understood Periyar’s ideas in the right perspective and his command of English has helped him to bring out Periyar’s ideas in English.
I am proud of Marx as his teacher and I am confident that the readers of this book will have a meaningful experience.
Biography of Thanthai Periyar
Who am I?
My family is a very orthodox family. It has done many things like constructing temples, choultires, feeding the poor, etc. Members of the family have also donated liberally for such charitable activities. Still, though born in such a family, I am regarded by many people as a revolutionary and an extremist. The reason for such thinking is that I dwell upon some fundamental aspects in our society which has degraded us. What I have been stressing is that as long as we believe and follow Hindu religion, Hindu Gods, Hindu Sastras, Epics, Vedas and its history, so long we would continue to be oppressed, backward, and can never escape from the position of ever getting out of unequal conditions in the society. Instead of getting out of such a rotten situation, any one who merely followed all those–irrespective of their great efforts and having attained good positions–never escaped from the degraded conditions surrounding him. I am just saying that everyone who calls himself a reformist, must understand this.
(From lectures in Kanpur, 29,30,31-12-1944 –Republic, 19.1.1945)
I, E.V.Ramasami, have undertaken the service of reforming the Dravidian society and convert it into a society fully endowed with self-respect and dignity. I am wholly engaged with that task and dedicated to this great cause. Whether I have the ‘qualification’ to do this service or not, as there is no one else in this land coming forward to do this thankless job, I am emboldened to do this.
I do not have any interest other than this; as I devise my policies and plans based on rationalism, I think I am qualified to do this. For one who does service to the society, that is enough.
A Brief Year-wise Account of Periyar’s Life
1879 (Sep-17) Periyar E.V. Ramasamy was born at Erode town in Tamil Nadu State – India for VenkataNaicker, a popular merchant and Chinna Thayammal alias Muthammal.
He married Nagammal, aged 13. He reformed his orthadox wife and sowed rationalistic views in her mind.
He reached Kaasi (Varanasi), a noted sacred town of Hindu pilgrimage on the bank of the River Ganges. There he could not get free meals easily at choultries which exclusively fed Brahmins forbidding other Hindu castes.
Having starved severely for some days, this handsome young man Ramasamy found no other better way than to enter a choultry with the appearance of a Brahmin wearing a thread on his bare chest. But his moustache betrayed him. So the gate-keeper not only prevented his entry but also pushed him rudely to the street.
At that moment, as the feast was over inside the choultry, the leaves with food left over were thrown at the street.
The unbearable burning hunger for the past few days forced Ramasamy to compete with the street – dogs in eating the remnants of food in the leaves.
While eating that food, the eyes of Ramasamy looked at the letters carved on the front wall of the building. They revealed the truth that the choultry exclusively occupied by the highest caste viz., Brahmins, had been built only by a wealthy merchant of Dravidian Race from Tamil Nadu. Suddenly in the mind of this young man, some questions could have sparked such as:
“Why and how the Brahmins can obstruct the Dravidians from taking meals in the choultry although the choultry was built with the money of a Dravidian Philanthropist? Why the Brahmins behaved so mercilessly and fanatically as to push the communities of the Dravidian race even to starvation – death by adamantly enforcing their evil casteism?”
No justifiable answers came to convince the judicious thinking of Periyar on the above questions.
The disgrace inflicted by the Brahmins at KAASI upon him without the least mercy, made a deep wound in the heart of Periyar and it inflamed intense hatred towards that Aryan race and their creation of innumerable Gods.
Though Kasi (Varanasi) has been acclaimed as the most “sacred town” by the Brahmins, the worst ugly scenes of immoral activities, prostitution, cheating, looting, begging crowds for alms, floating dead bodies on the River Ganges turned Periyar to abhor that so-called holy-town. Consequently, a re-thinking on his renunciation led him to return to his family life.
On returning to Erode – his father delegated all his trade rights to this second son and renamed his major commercial concern under the title: “E.V. Ramasamy Naicker Mandi”
1905 onwards : SELFLESS SOCIAL SERVICES
Besides being a well-known wealthy businessman in Erode Mr. E.V.R. entered into public life by rendering social services selflessly. One noteworthy instance: Once the dreadful contagious disease plague attacked Erode. Hundreds of people died and thousands fled for saving their life. But this noble man did not desert his native town like other rich merchants. He himself carried the dead bodies to the cremation ground while even the close kith and kin did not touch them for last rites due to the fear of the contagion of the plague disease.
He commanded enormous influence over other traders in the bazaar street of Erode. He mediated and solved many disputes among the businessmen with neutrality and uprightness.
In his youthful years he was attracted by the Tamil scholar Pandithamani Ayothidhaasar who vehemently condemned the caste – system and Hindu religion of Brahmins with the principles of rationalism and Buddhism.
Despite his intense hatred towards the Hindu religion and its caste – system – particularly the cruel ‘Untouchability’ imposed by the Brahmins to supress the Dravidian race – the executive efficiency and the unshakable honesty of E.V.R. fetched the awards of many posts in various public institutions.
Periyar was made Honorary Magistrate by the British Government.
He held many honorary positions like the President, the Secretary, Vice-President etc., in various public institutions numbering 29 such as – District Board, Taluk Board, Urban Bank, Davasthanam (Religious Trust), Public Library, War Recruitment Committee, Association of Agriculturists, Association of Merchants, Mahajana School Committee… etc.,
He became the Chairman of Erode Municipality
Many essential welfare schemes were implemented effectively by him. Particularly the drinking water scheme was skilfully executed. While Periyar was the Chairman of Erode Municipality, friendship blossomed between himself and Mr. C. Rajagopalachariyar (Rajaji) who later became Governor – General of India.
Mr. P. Varadharajulu Naidu and Mr. C. Rajagopalachariyar persuaded Periyar to join the Indian National Congress party led by Mr. M.K. Gandhi. Resigning the Chairmanship of Erode Municipality, Periyar enrolled himself as member of that party.
He ardently participated in the Non-Co-operation movement launched against the British rule by “Mahatma” Gandhi. On the latter’s clarion call, Periyar resigned all the 29 public positions held by him. He gave up the family trade and closed the business concern which was earning Rs. 20,000 annually (in those days) when the price of a gold sovereign was not even Rs. 10!. He defied the prohibitory order under section 144, promulgated at Erode for the first time and courted arrest for picketing today shops. Periyar trusted and accepted Mahatma Gandhi as his leader. So, as a true disciple he began to execute every word of Gandhi into deed.
One such example is Khadhi cloth spun and wound by hand. As soon as the command of Gandhi for wearing Khadhi cloth was announced, Periyar immediately shed away all his costly foreign clothes and began to wear Khadhi. Also he forced all the members of his family, including his mother, aged 80 years to wear Khadhi dress only! Forsaking pomp hitherto enjoyed, Periyar implicitly enforced simplicity in every aspect of his life-journey.
The policy of Prohibition of Liquors was first conceived only at the house of Periyar. When Gandhi came to Erode and stayed at his residence, his wife Nagammal and his sister Kannammal explained the unbearable agony of the wives tortured by their drunkard husbands and strongly stressed to draw a policy on prohibition of liquors. They also pleaded to launch an agitation in this regard.
Their worthy suggestion was accepted at once by Gandhi. He announced that the Congress party men should undertake picketing in front of toddy shops throughout the country for urging the British Government to implement the policy of liquor-prohibition.
To accomplish the command of Gandhi for upholding the policy of liquor – prohibition, Periyar had cut and uprooted more than 500 coconut – trees in his vast grove, from which toddy was obtained. Such was his commitment to prohibition.
At Erode, Periyar was leading the agitators and picketed before the toddy – shop.
He was arrested and sentenced to undergo imprisonment for one month.
His wife Nagammal and Sister Kannammal also bravely jumped into the agitation and they led women volunteers for picketing in front of liquor-shop.
When some Congress front-line leaders requested ‘Mahatma’ Gandhi to stop that agitation, he seriously told them that such a decision of stopping the agitation was not in his hands but of two women at Erode, implying the wife and the sister of Periyar!.
Then, Periyar became the President of Tamil – Nadu Congress Committee. At the provincial conference of that party held at Tiruppur, he moved a resolution which urged that all the “Untouchables” of Dravidian race, should be allowed to enter the temples for worship. But the Brahmins of the Congress Committee obstructed the passing the resolution.
Provoked by their frenzy of caste – “Varuna Dharma” Periyar declared that he would burn “Manusmiruthi”, “Ramayana”, etc., because these had been utilised by the wily Brahmins, as their religious weapons to suppress the Dravidian race with evilm of caste and superstitions.
The Government of Justice Party headed by Raja of Panagal passed an Act in the Madras State Legislative Council to create the Hindu Religious Endowment Board to end the exploitation of the Brahmins in Hindu temples.
Though he was a Congress leader, Periyar supported that legislation brought by the Justice Party Government, due to his sincere concern for securing social justice as well as the rights of education, employment, economy, etc., to the Dravidian race oppressed by the Hindu Aryans.
1924 FIGHTER FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE
Periyar appreciated the measures of the Justice Party Government for implementing the policy of Communal Reservation in education and employment through Government Order. To abolish the cruel system of “Untouchability” sternly observed by the Brahmins as a mode of oppressing the Adhi-Dravidas (the lowest of the Hindu Castes) like slaves – Periyar daringly led the agitation at VAIKOM town in Kerala State defying the prohibitory law order.
In the temple town of Vaikom, the low caste people including (Ezhavas) were not allowed to walk in the streets around the temple. So the”Sathyagraha” – agitation was started by local Congress party people.
They requested Periyar to come from Tamil Nadu to take up the leadership of Sathyagraha he led the agitation. Hence, he was arrested and sent to jail. In that case, he was sentenced twice. On the seond occasion he was to undergo imprisonment for six months term. The Sathyagraha went on for one year.
Then the streets were thrown open to the Untouchables.
That courageous social sacrifice and fight for the human rights, secured victory. The title of honour as “Hero of Vaikom” was conferred on Periyar.
1924- Sep 11
He was awarded jail sentence for his earlier propagation for Khadhi cloth and for boycott of the foreign goods imported by the British Rule. Discrimination was shown by V.V.S. Iyer, a Brahmin in charge of the National Training School hostel called “Gurukulam” at Cheranmaadhevi near Thirunelveli, between the students of Brahmin caste and the non- Brahmin castes, although that hostel-attached institution was funded by Tamil Nadu Congress Committee and also by Dravidian philanthropists.
Iyer’s caste-oriented approach towards the Brahmin students segregating the Dravidian students with caste-fanaticism, infuriated Periyar. Hence this Great humanist resigned the post of Secretary of Tamil Nadu Congress Committee.
However Periyar was then elected as the President of Tamil Nadu Congress Committee. He presided over the provincial conference of the Congress party held at Tiruvannamalai in November – 1924.
Since 1920, he had been moving a resolution in Congress conferences demanding the Communal Reservation in Government jobs and education for the Non-Brahmins (Dravidians) to drive out their degradation and attain higher positions in all spheres of life on par with the dominating Brahmins. Similarly he proposed such resolution at Tiruvannamalai Congress Conference also.
But it was defeated by the Brahmins as they plotted at the Conferences of Tirunelveli (1920), Thanjavur (1921), Tiruppur (1922) and Salem (1923).
Speaking at a public meeting at Salem, Periyar cautioned that unless the right of communal representation for the Non-Brahmins was attained during the British Rule itself, the Brahmin supremacy could not at all be ended and the Dravidian race had to suffer under the tyranny of “BRAHMINOCRACY” (The “Hindu” Centenary Special Number: page 337). Thus he even coined that new word.
1925- May 2
Periyar published a Tamil Weekly under the title “Kudi Arasu” edited by himself to spread the principles of Self-Respect for the awakening of the Dravidian race against the oppression by the Brahmins with their cruel caste – system and superstition of Hindu Religion.
The first issue of “Kudi Arasu” was released by the reputed Tamil Religious Scholar and eloquent orator by name Thiruppathiripuliyur – Gnaniyar Swamygal.
Again at the Congress conference held at Kancheepuram under the Chairmanship of the great versatile Tamil author, editor, orator and labour leader Thiru. Vi. Kalyana sundaranar, (Thiru. Vi. Ka.), the resolution demanding Communal represintation was moved by Periyar for the Non-brahmins. As usual, the cunning Brahmins stalled its passage. That defeat enraged Periyar so such as to quit the Congress Party, the hierarchy of which was completely captured and dominated by the Brahmins.
While bidding farewell to the Congress, Periyar thunderously vowed that his only future task was to destroy that Brahmin Raj in party by all means. On his leaving the conference, a large group of front line leaders and volunteers also followed him. At the same town Kancheepuram, Periyar organised parallel a conference of Non-Brahmins. In his address, Periyar declared that the difference of racial identity between the Dravidians and the Aryans (Brahmins) had always been existing from very ancient times and its prevalence in the Congress Party also could not at all be denied. Therefore, he stressed the compelling need of the Dravidians to preserve the SELF-RESPECT of their race, language, and culture which had been degraded by the Brahminical dominance bynusing caste-system and superstition of Hindu religion.
Thus Periyar founded the SELF-RESPECT Movement in 1925 after his exit from the Congress Party.
He participated in many Non-Brahmin Conferences held at various places of Tamil Nadu and propagated the principles of his SELF-RESPECT Movement to kindle the awakening of the Dravidian race for freeing themselves from the slavery of Brahmins.
Periyar met the Congress leader M.K. Gandhi at Bangalore and strongly argued that unless the poisonous caste-system called “Varnashrama Dharma” was uprooted, the eradication of the “Untouchability” stubbornly practised by the Brahmins could not at all be made possible.
He also emphatically told Gandhi that before fighting for the freedom of India, three threatening evils – viz., (1) The Congress Party (Under the seizure of more Brahmin office – bearers), (2) Hindu religion with its caste – system and (3) the Dominance of Brahmins in the society should be put an end first.
Periyar published an English magazine under the title “Revolt” on 7-11-1928.
The first provincial conference of Self-Respect Movement was organised by Periyar at Chengalpattu in February 1929. Mr. W.P.A. Soundara Pandian, presided over that conference.
Periyar introduced a new rationalist marriage system called “Self-Respect Marriage”. While conducting it, all the religious rituals and uttering of “Mantras” by Brahmins in Sanskrit should be forbidden. It would be enough for the new couple to garland each other and declare the wedding affirmation in mother-tongue. The marriage should not be arranged pompously but should be very economic. These are the conditions laid down by Periyar for his reformatory wedlock system. By this new matrimonial arrangement, he has secularized the marriage. Any person irrespective of any religion could conduct the marriage by asking the bride and the bridegroom to exchange garlands and make a declaration for becoming life-partners.
Besides this new wedding system, Periyar also encouraged inter-caste marriages and widow marriages.
1930- May 10, 11
At Erode, the Second Provincial Conference of the Self Respect Movement was convened by Periyar under the chairmanship of Mr. M.R. Jayakar from Pune, a rationalist leader. Youth conference, Women’s conference, Prohibition of Liquor Conference, Tamil Music patronage conference were also conducted there at that time.
He actively supported the Bill for the abolition of Devadasi system (setting apart young girls from a particular community playing musical instruments in Hindu temples as dancing girls).
Dr. Muthulakshmi (Reddy) a woman reformer brought that Bill which was passed in the Madras Legislative Council despite stout opposition by the caste-fanatic Brahmin leaders.
The third provincial self-respect conference was held at viruthunagar.R.K. Shanmugam fresided over it.
1932 June 20
In England (Britain) Periyar addressed a huge labourers’ public meeting with more than 50,000 people. He explained his principles on Rationalism as well as Socialism.
1932 Dec 28-29
In Erode at the residence of Periyar, a plan of Socialist Programme drafted by the great thinker Comrade M. SINGARAVELU was discussed by the followers of Self-Respect Movement.
Periyar addressed many meetings throughout Tamil Nadu, propagating the ‘Erode Plan of Socialism’.
1933 May 11
Mrs. E.V.R. Nagammal, the beloved wife of Periyar passed away and the burial took place the very next day. On 12-5-1933, he immediately left for Tiruchirappalli where he conducted an Inter-religious (Christian) Self-Respect Marriage defying the section 144 promulgated in this connection and got arrested.
Because of the repression by the British Rule, ‘Kudi Arasu’ – Tamil Weekly was banned. Another magazine ‘Puratchi’ (Revolution) was published by Periyar.
Periyar began to extend his support to the Justice Party. It started the Tamil weekly paper “Viduthalai” on 1-6-1935. Then it was entrusted to Periyar who published ‘Viduthalai’ as Tamil Daily Newspaper from 1-1-1937. From 13-1-1935 Periyar’s script reform in Tamil language was adopted in all the papers and books published by him.
He met Dr. B.R. AMBEDKAR and MOHAMMED ALI JINNAH in Bombay. Mr. C.N. ANNADURAI (affectionately called as ‘Anna’), accompanied him. When the Ministry of Mr. C. Rajagopala Achariar resigned Periyar was invited to form alternative Ministry since he was elected the leader of the Justice Party.
He put forward the demand for a separate Dravida Nadu to save Dravidian race and Tamil language from the dominance of Hindi and North Indian Hindu Capitalists at Thiruvarur Conference.
On 27-8-1944 the name of the Justice Party was changed as ‘Dravidar Kazhagam’ to signify purely as a social revolutionary movement for the emancipation of Dravidian race oppressed by Brahmins at the provincial (special) Justice Party conference held at Salem and also not to contest elections and accept the titles given by British Govt.
On 11-5-1946, the famous “Blackshirts Conference” was held on the sands of the River Vaigai in Madurai when the conference pandal was set fire to, by Brahmin – instigated hooligans. Periyar and his followers were stranded for the whole day.
1947 Aug- 15
When the whole of India and the world were jubilant on the attainment of Indian “Independence” on 15-8-1947, Periyar boldly called it a ‘mourning’ day for Tamils with a foresight. He called Independence of India was nothing but a ‘made over’ to Brahmins and Baniyas from British.
On 14-9-1947, the Dravida Nadu separation conference was held at a moffusil town, Cuddalore.
The blackshirts volunteer corps was banned. The 18th Dravidar Kazhagam’s State Conference was held at Tuticorn on 8-5-1948 and 9-5-1948 under the presidentship of Periyar when thousands of Periyar’s followers assembled, irrespective of Caste and Religion.
Periyar and Mr. C.N. Annadurai (‘Anna’) participated in the Anti-Hindi Volunteers Conference held under the leadership of Maraimalai Adigalar (the Champion for purity of Tamil) in Chennai. On 30-1-1948 Mahathma Gandhi fell a victim to the bullets of assassin Mr. Godse, a Marathi Brahmin in New Delhi at his prayer meeting. Periyar condemned the assasination at all meetings held thereafter in Tamil Nadu. He suggested that India be named as “Gandhi Nation (Nadu)”, a new religion may be created as “Gandhi Religion” to mark his martyrdom.
Periyar’s marriage with Mani Ammai was held just to guard his health as well as Movement’s properties so that the Reformation movement would go on in future without stagnation.
He declared the Republic Day, 26-1-1950, as a Mourning Day for Tamils. On 22-01-1950 Periyar was sentenced to undergo imprisonment for the publicationof
his book ‘Ponmozhigal’ (Golden sayings).
Sensing the formidable opposition engineered by Periyar, Constitution of India was amended for the first time by the Nehru Govt. at the centre. This was the first Amendment to the Indian Constitution. Ultimately sub clause (4) was added to the section 15 to admit of the provision of Communal G.O. to preserve the rights and equal opportunities of backward classes of India.
In order to condemn idolatary worship and to show to the world that there was no divine power in idols, he organised a campaign. His followers and himself broke the idol of PILLAIYAR (Vinayaga) at public places. The intensity of Periyar’s opposition against the educational reform-programme of Rajaji according to which all students should learn in schools their parents’ profession was so formidable that Mr. C. Rajagopala Achari (Rajaji) had to quit the post of Chief-Minister. Consequently MR. K. KAMARAJ came to power as Chief-Minister of Tamil Nadu and he dropped the much opposed educational reform.
Periyar convened the Conference on Buddhism at Erode.
Periyar along with his wife and some friends visited Myanmar (Burma) and Malaysia. At Mandalay (Myanmar) he attended the World Buddhist Conference where he met Mr. Mallala Sekara, a Buddhist Scholar and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. He conversed with the latter for a long time and the subject of conversion to Buddhism came up for the discussion. He strongly advised Dr. B.R. Ambedkar to get coverted to Buddhism with a very lage mumber of people, and not to go alone.
Periyar announced and fixed a date to set fire to the Indian National Flag in protest against the compulsory scheme of imposition of Hindi in Tamil Nadu, much against the wishes of the people. Periyar was arrested for his public agitation of burning the pictures of Rama at all public places, as a symbolic protest against the Aryan domination and degradation of the Dravidian leaders according to the Ramayana epic.
The Trichi District Collector Mr. R.S. Malayappan a sympathizer of the Untouchables was given wantonly strictures in a judgement of the Madras High Court by two Brahmin Judges. Periyar exposed this judgement since R.S. Malayappan was an Offficer from a Backward community. Periyar criticised the High Court judges for their hatred towards the depressed class officers in a public meeting held at Trichi Town Hall Square.
1957 Jan – 18
The meeting between PERIYAR and VINOBA BHAVE, the Founder-leader of ‘Land Donation Movement’ took place at Tiruchirappalli.
1957 April – 23
For criticising the judgement of Madras High Court delivered by two Brahmin Judges in the case of Trichi District Collector Mr. R.S. Malayappan, Periyar was charged with contempt of court and when the final hearing was heard (Before the judges Justice P.V. Rajamannar and Justice A.S. Panchapakesa Iyer) he made a statement in the High Court, explaining how Brahmins conducted themselves with racial motive in several cases and opined that it was their inborn natural ‘Dharma’ to annihilate uprising Shudras and Panchamas.
Against the caste system, another big agitation was started by Periyar. Brahmins used to inscribe the name in their Hotel-Name-Boards as ‘Brahmin Hotel’ to spread the impression that Brahmins were superior caste. Periyar requested all his followers to erase the name ‘Brahmin’ in the Hotel Name Boards. Accordingly a compaign was started to erase the word Brahmin in all Brahmin Hotels in Tamil Nadu. As a result of this agitation, the name ‘Brahmin’ in the hotel-name-boards disappeared.
Periyar was arrested as a case was foisted on him by the Govt. of Tamil Nadu that he exhorted his followers to attack the Brahmins in his speeches delivered at Pasupathipalayam (Karur), Kulitalai and Tiruchirapalli and was sentenced to undergo imprisonment for 6 months by the District Sessions Court at Tiruchirapalli.
Periyar and Ram Manohar Lohia, the Socialist leader of North India, met at Chennai and discussed their social and political service to the people.
He burnt the map of India excluding Tamil Nadu, explaining that the Central Government Raj is a Brahmin Raj. A protest day was observed by Periyar all over Tamil Nadu against the Supreme Court judgement which had crippled the operation of the Tamil Nadu Land Ceiling Act which was ratified by an Amendment to the Constitution.
Mr. C.N. ANNADURAI became the Chief-Minister of Tamil Nadu, his party (DMK) having secured the majority of seats in the Tamil Nadu Assembly. He went to Tiruchirappalli and sought Periyar’s greetings, goodwill and advice.
As a true rationalist disciple of Periyar the Chief Minister ANNA directed to remove the pictures of all Hindu deities from the Govt. offices through a circular, as a secular measure.
Periyar announced a Programme of agitation to get the right people of all castes to enter into the Sanctum Sanctorum of temples to eradicate the caste discrimination practised, according to which Brahmins alone could become Archakas and perform poojas in Sanskrit only instead of Tamil.
The Tamil Bi-monthly, the “Unmai” (Truth) was first started at Tiruchirapalli by Periyar. Periyar inagurated a new forum, called the Rationalist Forum, a non-political social organisation, enlisting the Government and private Employees and also others who subscrible to the views of “Rationalism”. Periyar inaugurated the English monthly, the “Modern Rationalist”, the need for which was keenly felt by English knowing Rationalists.
1973 Dec. 8
Periyar convened a social conference to eradicate social degradation and caste system imposed by Brahmins. This conference was held on 8-12-1973 and 9-12-1973 at the Periyar Thidal, Vepery, Madras and a large gathering attended the session on both days. Periyar made an eloquent speech exhorting all Dravidians to come forward and work for the eradication of caste and their social degradation. Many historic resolutions were then passed.
1973 Dec. 19
At Thiyagaraya Nagar, Chennai – Periyar delivered his last speech (the Swansong) like an ever memorable dying declaration.
1973 Dec- 20
Due to unbearable acute pain of Hernia disease – Periyar was admitted in the Government General Hospital in Chennai.
1973 Dec- 21
On his wish Periyar was taken to the C.M.C. Hospital at Vellore.
1973 Dec- 24
The Greatest Original Thinker and the Resolute Rationalist of the World, Periyar, breathed his last, putting billions of rationalists, Tamilians of Dravidian race and admirers all over the globe into unbearable agony.
1. Abolition of God
The foremost task of a patriotic or humanistic government, public service organisation or individuals with social consciousness is to make the people of this country intelligent and awaken their rational thinking.
Efforts must be made to improve the standard of living of the people who must be freed from worries and shortcomings and for the establishment of economic and social equality.
Only a state with such attributes would be termed a true state and a free state. If these are not present, the state must be termed as just a prison-house and the society as one of slaves.
Normally states and societies ruled by kings could lead their own way of life: for the King relies on religion and religious scriptures (doctrines) as the basis for governing. However a democratic state should have wisdom (intelligence) and freedom as its base.
Religion and scriptures are instruments solely created for the purpose of destroying intelligence and freedom and making people a set of fools and slaves. These came into vogue when people were living as savages, leading an animal existence. Just as the people were terrorised by tales of ghosts, ghouls and spirits, so were they instilled with fear by religion and scriptures.
Even though religions and their scriptures were created with God as the Lord and Prime Source, we must say that God and the scriptures were totally different concepts.
This is because the concept of God had originated from ignorance.
Religions and scriptures originated from dishonesty—i.e., created with the intention of fooling people and terrorising them to become slaves.
This idea had been supported by wise men of the world, particularly by renowned Western scholars.
That is, “You can forgive the person who created the concept of God: he was a fool, was forced to create such an idea due to his lack of intelligence”.
“But the person who created religions and scriptures, (soul, heaven, hell) is dishonest: he can never be forgiven. He has done this just to frighten the people.” (This is what they have said.)
The person who created God did insist, on the probability of the idea that there must have been an entity to have created the world and its order.
That is, he gives (benefit of doubt) to the existence of God.
But religion and scriptures are not like that. Conceiving a total falsehood, solely for the purpose of deceiving people, and to use or exploit them, and to discriminate them, he organised religion and scriptures.
The proof to this organization (to call it an organization) is that there are different religions and scriptures, contradicting and (confronting) opposed to each other, which is the truth.
Also, the idea that such ‘creators’ are above human nature and the fact that the scriptures of Hinduism are contradictory to natural laws is another proof of this.
As these destroy not only our intelligence but ruin our character, honesty, love, grace, unity and equality, stifle the growth, hide science and nurture ignorance; we are against them.
You do not have to go “very far” to realise this. It is enough if you analyse ‘our’ religion and its ‘scriptures’.
It is a different matter to consider whether we Tamils (Dravidians) have a God or not. But we have been considering Hindu religion as our religion. This itself is a ‘Himalayan blunder’. Why so? What is Hindu religion? What is the meaning of it?
For the word ‘religion’, as could be discerned from the features of Christianity or Islam, is there any ideal, authority or history? Is there any such thing as scriptures and authoritative works of Hinduism?
The Brahmins call Hindu religion as the Vedic religion.: the Brahmins call themselves as Aryans. Therefore, they call this religion also as Aryan religion. In English dictionaries, Hindu religion is defined as the religion of the Brahmins, ‘a non Christian, non Islamic faith’.
This will require much elaboration. But I will shorten the same.
The authorities for the Hindu religion are Vedas, Sastras (scriptures) and Puranas, Ithihasas (fables and semi-historical lores of the past). According to this religion we belong to the 4th or 5th castes! Therefore, we have been made as ineligible to even read the above different authorities!. Vedas, Sastras, Puranas, Ithihasa works all have degraded our people, branded us dishonest and humiliated us in many ways.
That is why, we say that faith in God, religion, scriptures, Puranas and Ithihas must be abolished.
Translated by Prof.T.Marx
(Viduthalai, Editorial – 17.12.1969)
2. The Concept of God……..?
There is no evidence or authority to find out who first spoke on the concept of God. But it can be perceived that for us (Tamilians) Dravidians, the ideas of God was imposed by the Aryans.
The proof for the fact that we (Tamilians) did not have a God before the Aryans is that there was no Tamil word at all for the word God.
Tamil scholars say that there is a word called ‘kanthazhi’ to mean God: however it is still defined as a ‘meaningless word’ and has only been attributed such a meaning.
That is, the word is explained as, “a Supreme Being, without attachment, (without form), existing on its own as a formless (Abstract) philosophy”. The word philosophy has many meanings like truth, nature, valour, intelligence, etc. If it is said that something is “beyond this”, then only the meanings of ‘non-existent’ and ‘false’ will remain.
Therefore, even when the Tamilian uttered the word ‘kanthazhi’, he had included in its meaning the idea of negation of God. In the words thathuvam kadandhu (beyond philosophy), my opinion is thathuvam is not a Tamil Word.
Accordingly the word ‘kanthazhi’ does not have any meaning. In Northern languages too, the meaning “not truth” is stated and then a list of words, which are not Tamil, like Pancha Boothangal, is printed in the dictionary.
I am also of the considered opinion that words like Deivam, Bhagawan, Easwaran, Paraparan are not Tamil words.
Therefore, it is certain that the word ‘kadavul’ (God) is not Tamil.
Also, for the word ‘kadavul’, dictionary gives the meanings (perceived) like guru, aiyar, vanavar and puthel.
If the word puthel (heavenly) is taken as Tamil, even for that deivam (deity), pudumai (new), puthiavar (new entity), puthal are given as meanings.
So, if you want to find the meaning of the word God, without recourse to Sanskrit meanings, that too, conveying celestials or Devas, it is certain you cannot do so for it either in northern languages or in Tamil, which conveys the meaning of what people hold for that word.
I do not say that the Tamils alone did not have the concept of God; even the Aryans did not have God.
For an Aryan the fundamental authority is Vedas. Even if it is assigned a specific time-period, in that recently created ‘Veda’ (for Aryans), no God was given according to the general norms of God. All that we find in the Vedas are Devas or Celestials. All these Devas are subordinate to Indira. Therefore, for the Tamils or Aryans there was no God.
All the Gods have been picked from the Devars
Also they were characterised by very inferior qualities. That is, they have been created with very worse attributes, low human qualities.
Among those, adored by the Tamils, are the three Gods, Brahma, Vishnu and Sivan which are the three entities considered as the source for all other celestials. As they were considered separate entities, there are separate religions and scriptures in their names, attributing higher and lower status among them, in the accounts about them (Puranas).
This state of thinking and worshipping is considered as the lowest level among the believers of God.
Because these three religious sub-sects had created three forms of entities, male-female attributes, human nature, human qualities—and also endowed them with basic instincts, and worshiped them as such, the followers of all these three sects have become fit to be called as barbarians by rest of the people in the world.
Not only that, people all over the world with faith in God, are worshipping Gods with human qualities and attributes and do not worship a God which has got ‘Godly qualities’ or attributes.
Also, among the people who believe and worship God, there is no similarity or uniformity in thinking.
What is stated as revealed by God, attributed to God and created about God are not similar or uniform either.
Similarly the qualities attributed to God, are just imagined and created and told by people to other are not similar either. That there is no single God or multiple Gods can easily be perceived from this standpoint alone.
The number of people believing in God in today’s world is dwindling. The reason for this is the growth in the intelligence, reasoning and researching, daring to think independently. This means that for selfish and dishonest persons a faith in God has become a necessity.
Only among the senseless, foolish people the desire to worship has been growing.
A large number of people in today’s world have lost faith in God. Countries with large population like Russia, China, Japan, Burma, Siam and Lanka now consist of about 100% or 90% or 75% of people as non-believers.
Also in Western countries like America, France, England and Germany, there are not only associations of atheists (non-believers): but also crores of people as members in these associations who publish lakhs and lakhs of books to propagate atheism.
The reason for this is the growing awareness among the scholars that faith in the concept of God has been a big obstacle and an evil in the growth of scientific temperament and social growth of humanity.
“There is no God for a wise man (Gnani)” was an idea commonly reflected in the works even before 2000 years
Believers in God and superstitious people did not think about wisdom and wiseman as a Gnani (Wise Person) have also been categorised with the attributes of God,
A lamp can burn only when there is oil: similarly truth can be perceived only when there is (rational) thinking.
“God cannot be apprehended by thought; because he is beyond mind and thinking.” When a man is instilled firmly with such idea, how can a man function as an intelligent being?
In the present times, the world is moving quickly towards scientific development.
If the present government which rules over us is based on rational thought of ‘there is no God’ (negation of God), then is not this government next in rank to that of the government in Russia?
Similarly the Communist party in India is functioning and also communist parities functioning all over the world in an institutionalised form, does that not strongly indicate that the idea of negation of God, development of intelligence and thinking power are on the move? Besides even in capitalist countries in the continents of Europe and Asia, there are many associations with crores of people denying the existence of God in important cities. Such associations are multiplying. What does that mean?
Just a handful of priests, mullahs and the brahmins who would hide themselves in gutters when you shout ‘hey’, say that they would stabilise (or firmly establish) the concept of God. When this idea of God is disappearing, and is bound disappear, they claim to establish a non-existing God, by ‘fiercely nailing their concept of God’, how then can there be rationalism or proper thinking?
Let me conclude by pointing out that according to the findings of Western researchers’, out of the world’s population of 300 crores, there are less than 150 crores of ‘believers in God’: of the rest nearly three fourths are total disbelievers and the rest are in a confused state, as recorded by Western evidence.
Translated by Prof.T.Marx
(‘Viduthalai’- Editorial, 5.8.1972)
Respected Chairman, Elders and comrades
The subject matter ‘God’ can be considered as insignificant or extremely important. For ordinary people, there is much indifference in the subjects of God, religion and discussions on political philosophy or doctrines. But for scholars these are matters of great purport which must be analysed thoroughly and minutely.
If I feel afraid to speak out boldly of my ideas (philosophy or doctrines), or distort or manipulate them, I would hate myself for doing so.
Therefore, if a believer were to brand me as a non-believer and hater of religion, that would be an act of much ignorance and an indifferent attitude.
I will explain this by an illustration. In a place, “a brahmin beggar” approached a house renowned for its charitable works for asked for donations to a good cause. The owner of the house gave him four annas as normally he would give to any other beggar. This brahmin beggar was outraged and shouted at the householder: “Hey, Are you giving just four annas to me, who am a very great scholar in the four vedas, 6 sastras (scriptures), 18 puranas, study of logic, causation, and philosophy and who have renounced self-praise, criticising others and a desire for money, mere four annas and to that ignorant fool of a donkey also four annas? I say, this exactly resembles the standpoint of a believer when he brands somebody else as a non-believer.
This is because this believer has comprehended God as omnipotent (all-powerful), omnipresent and omniscient, there is none higher than him, nothing takes place except with his consent and then merely because I object to that belief, if he were to make also the above statement, then it is equivalent to what the brahmin-beggar quoted above had said.
That brahmin having first said that he did not have the qualities of self-praise, critical of others and no desire for money, immediately stated that he was a great scholar in the four Vedas, 6 sastras (scriptures), 18 puranas, study of logic, causation, and philosophy and that he was merely being offered four annas equivalent to what was being offered to an ignorant fool of a donkey. It is obvious from his statement that he had nothing but self praise.
Similarly he stated that he never indulged in criticising or degrading others but immediately states, “Should you give that fool of a donkey also four annas?”
And then proclaiming that he had no desire for money, he states, “Are you giving me only four annas?” So it becomes obvious that whatever he said about himself became false with his next utterances.
So also, if a person says there is no God—one who is said to be all powerful, all-pervasive and causes everything to take place—either whatever that believer has said about the attributes of God must be false and imaginary or what he says to someone else, “A nonbeliever is one who says there is no God” must be false, ignorant and uttered without thinking at all.
What benefit does one get by denying a God that exists? Or what profit or sense is there for a good who can do everything, cause everything to be done to allow a person to think and express non-belief? So, would a man do such a foolish thing? Or would a God cause such a crazy action to take place? If a person has an iota of thinking like that or have such a thinking power, he will not call any one a non-believer and find fault with him or criticize him.
If someone were to refer to any other person as, “He is a non-believer, says there is no God”, that itself is non-believing. Those who coined such word were themselves non-believers. If there is God, can any person say, “There is no God?” Or can any one else think that the other person says there is no God? Therefore, atheism, atheist are words that are used by those who do business in the name of God have discovered as their instruments of business. Excepting for those who trade in the name of God, others have no reason to bother about it at all.
An explanation about the concept of God implies to do research and bare all facets about it. If a matter is to be inquired deeply, questions like why, how, where, when etc. must be raised and answered satisfactorily. Logical inquiry and logical discussion are inter-related. Therefore, people who want to logically discuss the nature of a God who is said to be all-powerful, all-pervading, causing all actions to be done by its will, called ‘param pour’ (supreme object) must test not only these 6, 7 questions but conduct 60 or 70 tests or experiments as well. For a devotee, there is no need to do this. But it is absolutely necessary for a philosophical inquirer.
God should not be based on foolish devotion or blind belief. Even if that type of approach is followed by someone, I would say that a rational man, that too, an investigator by philosophical means should not have findings on such basis.
Where is the need for God, Why God, What is God, such examinations are important. Every philosopher should understand such questions and answer them. Man has got rational thinking. That is meant for proper investigation and not for blind animal existence. Man has misused rational approach and is entangled in many troubles. He created God as an antidote to free him from these troubles. Why should there be a King; why should there be subjects: why is there poor and the rich? Why should there be high and low castes? Why should there be hard working labourer and lazy master? Why should there be a bigger and then a very rich man?
Apart from creating, sustaining and protecting these features, what benefits have accrued by the concept of God? What is the good thing done by him? To do these things, do we require God?
If a rational man dies without peace, love, satisfaction, worry but with unsatisfied attitude, the reason could be nothing but the concept of God. What else?
If this is due to each individual’s foolishness, then what is the need for rationalism? Just to create foolishness? Why should a rational man have many evil qualities, worries, shortcomings, racial hatred and betrayals that are not had by animals which do not have rational, sixth sense? Why should a rational man have evil qualities found in wild animals which do not have rationalism? If even rationalism cannot answer the question why, what is its use then? What then is the nature of God?
Why the concept of God? Was it inherent in the thinking of man or was the idea instilled by others? If it is spontaneous or inherent, then why has it not occurred to everyone? And even then why should it have appeared differently to different people? Why do its qualities and powers appear differently to different people?
If the concept has been created, why was it created? Has the purpose of its creation fulfilled? Did those who create that succeed in their efforts? If God is understood, or if God created by man is properly understood, they why does man behaves contrary to the good qualities of God and desired by God?
Everything takes place according to the will of God. God is omnipotent and omnipresent. If this is true what are the actions done by God? Everything is done by man only in the name of God, after ignoring him, and doing many things not desired by God. Many things are taking place that are not required by man or are undesirable for him. We are unable to see a single thing taking place—in earth supposed to contain all-pervasive nature of God — that which gives total satisfaction without defect or flaw. If human effort to protect things is not there, not only that nothing will be safe but one can say that even God is not safe.
Translated by Prof.T.Marx
(Lecture given in Salem College ‘Republic’ ( kudiarasu) 23-11-1946)
4. On God
The purpose of this essay on God is to find out whether the behaviour and the attitude of mankind, with reference to God and because of that reason, is correct or necessary.
The first aim of the essay: Is it is necessary for people to tell people to save God, to clarify if God is one or several, in one form or with several forms, and to indulge in propaganda about it?.
The second aim: Thoughts on God are disappearing from the people. Is it necessary to employ priests and gurus, paying them money for propagation of the idea of God—that he exists?
Moreover, many atheists have appeared on the scene and their propaganda that God does not exist has resulted in the diminution of followers of religion. Therefore, many theists, believers, have come forth to propagate about God, the need to save God. Is this necessary?
Again, should there be a temple for God?
Should God have a wife?
Does God have a sensual pleasure?
Does God require prostitute, women who would give pleasure?
Does God require offerings, food, jewels, clothes, paraphernalia, marriage, festivals and procession?
Apart from these, are there any yardsticks for the actions and power of God? Or is he all powerful and responsible for everything?
Is there any limit to his power and action? Or is there no limit?
Would a person who knows the power of God, worry about saving God?
If a person truly believes from the depths of his heart that “There is an all-powerful God. Not an iota of anything could take place without his knowledge”, would he try to save God? If somebody were to say that there is no God, would he be very angry with him?
There are people worrying about God, making propaganda about God. Among them have you come across any who in their conduct obey the dictates of God, do all things fearing God, are live showing fear, faith and respect in Godliness?
If a person has faith in God, should he offer prayers to God and worship him?
Even if a person has to offer prayers and worship, should there be a specific time, place, form, a sentence or prayer song?
Also should God be given material offerings? If really there is God, and if there is real faith in God, are the different practices of people belonging to different religions required? –Leaving aside these questions, according to people who think that they are great scholars, that they are geniuses who know everything, “Whether God exists or not is a different matter. Only if you make people believe that there is an all-powerful God, people would live honestly, without harming others. Therefore, people must have a fear of God. That fear must not be removed.” Let us ponder over this. Thoughts about God, his qualities, his acts of judgements, ideas on terrible retribution in the form of miserable conditions in the hell, punishments like, providing the fate of a person whereby he would suffer degrading miseries in his next birth, or some getting great pleasures of liberation, higher births, previous births’ good deeds paving the way for countless pleasures subsequently, God’s words to guarantee such benefits, very intelligent creative and imaginary writing of veda, sastra, purana etc.have all been instilled in the minds across over thousands of years: Still, till now a very large number of people, almost all people, do not live honestly, without exploiting or exercising control over others or are not able to enjoy great pleasures above ordinary human beings. If it is analysed why it happens like that or whether fear of God instilled has led to any benefit accruing to people, even the argument that ‘the idea of God is needed for the proper of conduct of man’, loses its validity and efficacy.
Because we find that not only the poor, uneducated, unintelligent behave without proper conduct, honesty and truthfulness, but very educated, wealthy, people who occupy high posts and positions, very great devotees, religious leaders as well act similarly, without exception. Therefore, it becomes apparent and very clear that there is no connection between faith in God and high conduct and good character. If we ask a question as to why should a form be given to God, we are told:
“Ignorant, foolish common people cannot comprehend the concept of form-(formlessness) of God. Accordingly, God is shown in a form, and in order that form remains to instil in people great fear and slavish mentality, figures of God are filled with many terrible attributes, showing God as belonging to high caste, in order to create faith, such forms are given to God by intelligent people.” If we think about this explanation also, its uselessness, ignorance and conspiracy will easily become clear.
Generally, it must have been about 2,000 or 3,000 years when forms were given to God and worshipping began to take place in our country. That is, it can be said that we have been having Gods with forms since the days when the Aryans came to our country, imposed their (Aryan) faith among the people, through that imagining and creating Gods and providing them with forms. The reason for this is whatever God you choose, it is rare to come across any God which has no relation with Aryan story or no relation with Aryan appearance. But in spite of the fact that for over three to four thousand years, God has been given (or Gods have been given) forms, people are instilled with faith in that idea, still not only among the ignorant common people, but among great scholars and saints too, there is the absence of a true devotion to God, apparent Godly traits in their actions and rationalism etc. This clearly destroys the myth that forms of God were created to instil faith in God and that it has benefits or uses or truth.
Also, if there is the eternal omnipotent, omniscient God, why should people consider God as to whether God exists or not. Why should some people feel that there is no God or likelihood of existence of God? Even assuming that ‘some ignorant’ people have such feelings, why should the ‘intelligent’ people feel the need to save God and propagate theism? Where is the need for them for making efforts to teach children and school pupils that there is God?
Leaving aside this, why the ideas of God’s descent (avatars), some people are given a pride of place that they are Godly in nature, and God depicted to have taken forms like pig, man and many grotesque forms? Why should God have child, messengers, conveying messages through Voice, and speaking through people (making much fuss with shaking bodies and commanding people to do this or that)?
Whether these acts are true or false, they do not confirm or prove the existence of God and there must be serious thinking whether there is utility or use for people by the existence of God or for the good conduct of worldly activities or for general social welfare.
Howsoever things had taken place so far, at least hereafter it is essential that mankind should lead a life without fear and worry, should lead a peaceful, contented and good life. Social norms and regulations should be accordingly drawn. (Otherwise) future would be full of dangers.
This is because people will not hereafter be dying earlier. If the average life-span of our people so far had been 25 years, hereafter this average will go above 50 yrs. Health and medical facilities have increased. Till now men attributed diseases and troubles to God’s will and were dying at young age. But now he has faith in himself, is finding out ways and means to overcome these obstacles. In many areas of life man has made enormous progress and has increased the longevity of life.
Similarly the population is also increasing. Abortions, children prematurely dying, deaths during delivery time, etc. are decreasing due to suitable medical care and general improvement in healthy living conditions and proper safety measures. Progress has been made in resolving infertility problems. There is no need for people to live the life of widowhood because widow remarriage, freedom for love marriages, etc. have been gaining influence, consequently leading to a higher birth rate.
Generally due to increased medical and health facilities, people instead of having 2,3 or 4 children are now having 6,8,10 or 12 children. They also live for a longer period. They all require food, comforts, decent livelihood: this will result in severed food shortages or famines. Consequently there would be growth in hatred, vengeance, betrayal, looting, murder, etc. Good and honest people will face great difficulties. Dishonest people and rogues will have comfortable life. The government also will be formed with such characteristics.
Translated by Prof.T.Marx
(‘Republic’ ( kudiarasu) Essay, 7-5.1949)
5. On Religion
Religion is a regulatory discipline. A person, who is religions, even if he is very intelligent, has to obey that discipline: but he does not have any other use from it. For one with a religious disposition, what is acquired in the name of religion, ideas like God, liberation or heaven, hell, veda, religious order, religious headship all had come owing to his involvement in his religious discipline and nothing else: They are not true, right logic or philosophy and are merely artificial, bereft of natural values.
For a religious person, to whatever religion he belongs, God, howsoever high it maybe, is only an artificial God. Here the meaning of words nature, artificial must be understood. Intake of food, bowel movements, seeing, listening, breathing, talking, feeling a pain, feeling hungry, sleeping, waking up, sensual pleasures, pleasure, pain, sun, moon, light, darkness, the five elements are all nature. All these are common to mankind and cannot be denied. God, religion, liberation (heaven), hell, gifts, punishments, wealth, pride, humiliation, devotion, prayers, veda etc. which are not natural are completely imaginary.
The authority for understanding this nature and artificial character are respectively direct perception, intelligence as opposed to faith which is contrary to it.
Accordingly a person with religious disposition or feelings, whatever the religion be, is only a believer and not a rationalist (or thinker). For example, if some one were to utter ‘Christ’ or ‘Bible’, it is only for those who have accepted Christ and in his name and faith believe in ‘Bible’ and not for others who have no faith in that: for the latter category it cannot be truth or logical or philosophical.
Similarly if someone utters “Mohammed, the Prophet”, “Koran (Quaran)”, such idea is only for those who have faith in Mohammed and Koran: But for those who have no faith they cannot believe in Mohammad, the Prophet or Koran. Similarly it is true for other religions and scriptures. For the one who doesn’t believe or accept; whichever is not there, is only artificial, including God and belief in God.
Just as a person who tells someone else “You must believe in Christ, You must believe in Bible. Otherwise you will languish in hell.” And a person telling somebody else, “You must believe in Mohammad the Prophet, or else you will be roasted in fiery hell”, are as senseless and unintelligent as the person telling somebody, “You must believe in God, you must believe in heaven and hell, otherwise you will be drowned in hell.” Religious people must understand this. God and religion will dominate only the foolish (and ignorant) and make a believer a fanatic and a lunatic.
But a God or a religion, whatever be the type, cannot have any impact on a rationalist.
I always refer to God and matters pertaining to religion as ‘onion’ (vengayam). Onion is one without a seed; just fleshy. The meaning of word ‘onion’ The meaning of word ‘onion’ (vengayam) is mere body, lifeless body, seedless, while peeling off just come as skin, and finally ends in nothingness, that is, without containing any seed.
It got its name Vengayam because it is seedless. God and religion are also like that only. There is no natural meaning for these words: only the meaning given by those who have created that word.
But can any one say that sun, moon, etc. are also like that? No. Because they are true. Even the worst fool and the great rationalist will not deny the same: They will not say, “I do not see them, for my intelligence they are not grasped, therefore, I will not accept the same.” He will never say like that. This is the example for nature, truth as distinguished from artificiality and imagination or myth. Also, religionists should think as to why some person denies his religion. Similarly a believer in God should think as to why a person refuses to accept God.
Also, in what ways are the believers in God and religious people superior to those who refuse to accept God and religion? In what ways are they wise or intelligent? In what respect are they endowed with superior sensory organs (body, mouth, eye, nose, ear etc.) These must be subjected to serious thinking.
It must also be properly pondered that when man has got excellent intelligence, rational outlook, capacity for deep thinking and to lead a life based on experience, where is the need for God.
Man has created the concept of God, with the attribute of (not only) having created everything and also conducting all the activities of the world.
That is to say, “Whether you do good or bad, you are not the master of it, but you are so ordained to do so.” This is what theists or believers tell people as God’s attributes!
Does this idea give an iota of help to any body? Very conveniently it can be used to advise others: but can this be useful to believe and taken as a guide to conduct one’s own life in any manner?
So long as people were fools or ignorant, i.e., without the capacity to think, and continue to be without the capacity to think, God could have been all-powerful and controlling all the activities. But today, for a thinker and an intelligent person, could it be accepted as true or correct standpoint?
More over the ideas of God and religion have been created or have been in existence for man thousands of years back. Can anyone deny that such ideas or imaginations have been gradually changing over the years?
In this background, when Christian religion and God founded about 2000 years back and the ideas on Allah and of Mohammed, the Prophet created around 1500 years back, have been reformed or modified, if some one were to say that Aryan religion and Aryan Gods created thousands of years ago should not be changed, how can it be rationally acceptable?
All these were created by man only, and if it is said that these were created by a being with human attributes but with greater capabilities, a power far above human’s, I would say that such utterance is nothing but a fraud, will not be truth or intelligent and also does not have any honest responsibility. This is because mankind’s present nature, scientific development and outlook are several times superior and better than what they were 1500, 2000, 5000, 10000 years ago.
The God, religion and people who created them in the past, and the people who were above ordinary human qualities had said, “Help the poor; you will be rewarded with heaven.” The sastras and vedas originating from them also said the same thing. But ordinary scientific intelligence of modern science states: “Why should there be poor people in the world? Such poverty should not have been created. Yet, whatever be the reasons for the existence of poor people in the past, whosoever created such conditions, there should not be poor people amongst humanity now.” What reply could be given by any one, any divine person to this approach? Therefore, God, religion, divine personages, whatever and however they may be, in order that they are to be protected, must remain humble in order to be safely protected at all. If, on the contrary, if people spring forth with pride and say they are great devotees of God, protectors of God, etc. it is certain that such people have come forth only to destroy them, their ‘greatness’. What is worse than God, religion, divine personage is the kindling of discrimination, spreading differences and making people suffer on that account. That which gives men foolishness and arrogance is reference to divine power—i.e., stating that there is a higher power, better than man and man’s power.
Therefore, even if such religious feelings persist in adults above 30 years, my desire is that such feelings should not be there in people who are below 24 or 30. Only by having no feeling of God, humanism, the propensity to treat equally all people, honesty, courage to appreciate good things from the bad ones, the capacity to do public service treating everyone alike would be there. If this situation is not here today, it is because of the thoughts of God, religion, man with divine qualities etc. That is my humble conclusion!
6. Concept of Religion
Generally, the words religion and pathways are taken in good sense, and they were originally brought into existence for the common welfare of the human society.
Religion and Pathways (marga) are for laying down norms for the betterment of human life.
Just like the members of a library, recreation club or any association, to decide upon the nature and conditions of that particular group’s administrative requirements, frame their rules and regulations, just as people living in a particular area or territory, in order to live together without any obstacles and to avoid giving undesirable hindrances to others, have laws for governing themselves for collective living, similarly religious tenets have been laid down by a leader or a scholar.
These were also laid down taking into consideration the period, place, the stage of development of the people and other relevant factors. But these doctrines also had the aim of instilling a fear in the people, who could not discern much about the good and evil consequences of many actions, people who were not much developed intellectually, to force them to conform to some norms suited to the creators of such norms, who had no hesitation to use a number of myths for that purpose.
This is something similar to the action of the parents or guardians, who know that a child cannot protect itself, cannot even follow if correct procedures were explained to him and in order that the child should not go out and face any danger, frighten the child by saying, “If you go out, you will be carried away by ogre (Poochandi)”, “You will be carried away by ghost,”, “A man with the baton will carry you away”, and the like and also grimacing the face in many ways and by gestures indicating horror, so that the child is confused and become frightened not to go out at all. So also, when it was thought that people were not in a position to understand and follow norms and religious practices required for proper living, the “scholars” of that time made people accept certain norms by telling them incomprehensible things and frightening them into submission.
Those conditions like, threats and regulations are today’s concepts like liberation, hell, Yama, next birth, karma, fate, being squeezed in the mill. Also in similar vein, ideas were implanted in the minds of the people through sastras, puranas, itihasas by insistence of such thinking.
Not only that. Having said and written many things like the above, knowing that people will not believe if told that these written by so and so, they resorted to saying that these were uttered by God (Bhagawan), Rishis and Munivars (sages and saints) —that is to impress upon common people that these were uttered by people who were far above ordinary human qualities, so that they can be compelled to follow them: also telling them that believers would go to heaven, non-believers would go to hell, will be born as donkeys, etc. Ordinary people who believed them and some pundits who utilised these for leading a comfortable life, gripped them firmly like monkeys. Such was their grip that after quite some time, nothing could be changed or modified taking into consideration the changes in times and development of the people: as a result, new religious appeared to meet such needs, Those religions that adopted modifications according to changed times expanded their base while those stood obstinately without yielding to the times, began to wither away.
Therefore, if any religion based on the above logic accepts modifications based on time, place, attending circumstances, etc. and is amenable to proper changes according to developments of the people and the times, such religion can be accepted by intelligent man.
On the contrary if it is considered that man must live according to religion instead of understanding that religion has been created to better the worldly life of man, that too, has to be conditioned by changes in the time and growth of intelligence, and if it is further considered that the only duty of man is to protect such religion, and that irrespective of its nature, nobody has a right to be critical of it or modify its tenets; it is the duty of each individual who clamours for human social reforms to destroy such a religion. Religious duties are subject to such duties of general social welfare.
Translated by Prof.T.Marx
(Lecture in Pachaiyappa’s College, Chennai – ‘Republic’ ( kudiarasu) 25.1.1931)
7. Hindu Religion
Mr. President, Sisters and Brothers:
Generally and especially, among the people of Hindus, hardly one person among a thousand has knowledge and that too limited knowledge about what is God, what is proper protection of values, what is religion and what is the moral order or dharma to be followed. There is nothing more degrading than this state of affairs in a society. What do most of these people think about God? Many think God is also having a human form, that he is also having wife, son, parents, place of residence, properties, pleasures: that God also has marriage, nuptials, bedroom, seemantham (a ceremony when the wife is several months pregnant), childbirth, etc. They think that there are thousands of Gods with thousands of names: and devotion to God means nothing but to perform to the figurine of God abhishekam, offerings, worship, showing lighted camphor or conduct festivals and processions.
Similarly when they think of religion, they think Hinduism is applying on the forehead namam, sacred ash, or sandal paste and categorising each another as high caste and low caste people. They think that conducting festivals, to construct places of rest for those who come to such festivals i.e., construction of mutts, and feeding them is dharma or high moral act. To do these things, they indulge in propagation, perform such activities and spend public money, which they consider as fulfilling and protective.
The basic crime (flaw) in Hindu society—weakness in its foundation itself—is our own perception about God and religion. So long as this understanding or attitude persists, there is no chance for society to be put back on the right track. We must give up the habit of attributing every activity to God’s will, and also to having the crazy, greedy thinking that all our requirements can be had without proper effort by cheating God. God is living in some place with hands, legs, eyes, nose just like a man, if we think of him or prostrate before him, breaking the coconut or offering fruits, food and worship him or giving money to the priest—thinking and doing all these, we feel that we have discharged our duties for having been born as men and that all the mistakes done by us are wiped out. Nothing is more foolish than such acts and thoughts. The reason for people doing so many atrocious things is that they do not understand what God is, and even those who think that they have understood God are under the impression that God would forgive them of all their misdeeds if they worship and ask for excuse. Even among those who think that there is a God and that he is aware of everything, it is very rare to see even one in a thousand leave everything to the will of God. The reason for all these is ignorance about laws that are inimical to nature and incorrect perception about God.
We also find that what is referred to as God’s command differs from place to place and from caste to caste. How, then, can these be respected as God’s command? Similarly acts of sin and good deeds also differ from country to country, religion to religion and caste to caste. Even in our marriages, customs differ in different religions and castes.
Some people marry their father’s elder or younger brother’s daughter. Some marry the daughter of father’s sister or mother’s brother. Some marry anybody without any differentiation.
In the matter of taking food, some think it is sin to eat the flesh of cow. Some think eating the flesh of pig is a sin. Some consider it a sin to partake any form of poultry. Even among the Hindus some say that it is no harm to beat a cow and extract work from it, but it is sin to beat or kill a snake. Some say that no animal should be harmed in any way. Others say that all animals were created just to be consumed by man! What is true in all these? What is God’s orders? How can one come to the conclusion which is sin? If anybody wants to find out by research, the truth about these, he is dubbed as ‘atheist’, non-believer and is told: “Why are you concerned with all these? Just lead a life according to what elders (wise men) had said and had lived.”
If you want to find out who the elders (wise men) are, there is no end to difficulties in coming to a conclusion on that. And if you deeply consider what they said and how they lived, the difficulties and contradictions multiply.
For example, some one will say there is veda and everybody must follow its dictates. “If we ask, what is said in it, can we look into it?” they say, “It contains God’s utterances: it is a sin for you to read and hear it. You just obey what we say.” How many Gods could be there in the world! They say there is only one God. In that case, should it not be accepted as such by people all over the world?
Why then has God not made it acceptable to Christianity and Islam—and all other countries in the world to accept it? Therefore, it is a lie to say that God has said this. If someone has to point this, he would be branded as “Veda Brashta” (outlawed by veda). In this way, in the name of Hindu religion, principles contrary to nature, experience, honesty and transparency are abound and are ruining the edifice of a great society. In the name of protecting and administering this, precious time, intelligence and money are squandered.
A separate God for each religion? Separate God for each caste? Different scriptures for each religion? Different concept of sins and good deeds for each religion? Are there separate worlds for God, heaven and hell? It can never be like that. Just as a child seeing the elders folding their hands and offering worship in a temple, also imitate the same without having anything in mind, without any understanding, so also words like God, religion and dharma have become ingrained in our minds, hearing them many times from others.
Similarly words like bhakti (devotion), service and non-violence are in use without any meaning. If you think about it, the love we show towards our fellow beings is fit to be called devotion to God. Serving them is service to God. Liberating them (from many bonds) is the real liberation or heaven. To show kindness to them and keep them without pain is ahimsa or non-violence. Mere avoidance of meat is not non-violence. Not to harm people who have rationality, not to cause any pain to them, to strive for removing their difficulties and slavish conditions, are acts of non- violence. Not eating meat, but making the bull draw the cart daily with enormous weight and make it suffer is non-violence. Similarly giving, difficulties and inflicting cruelties to other living things in any form is non-violence.
To even see another man is sin; if some people walk on certain streets, it is a sin; saying such things but adorning the forehead with huge vaishnavite mark, wearing the dhoti in a traditional manner and chanting words like “Ram, Ram”, it cannot become an acceptable way and proper devotion.
When people around us, in crores, live without any roof over their heads, cannot afford to have a good meal even once in two days and live in dire penury, will it be dharma or righteousness to construct mutts and choultries (free residential places) for lazy people and prostitutes, or in the name of performing samadharana (holy offer of food), give feast to people who complain that ‘fine varieties are not given, more cashew nuts must have been put in delicious food’, etc.? Instead of having proper perspective, believing in what has been written in obscene writings of selfish people for their selfish interests we waste our money, time and intelligence.
People called Hindus or Hindu Acharyas (religious heads) do not have any worries, lead a life based on these ideas to sustain their lives. Because such behaviour is advantageous to some individuals and some castes or groups, their cunningness to cover up such obscenities and the ignorance of others help them to lead such lives.
If it is said that in our Madras Presidency, in the name of Hindu religious rituals, Hindu religion and in the name of Gods more than ten crores of rupees are annually spent, it is not an exaggeration. That is if you take into consideration the number of pilgrimage centres, the number of propitiating centres, festival centres, the number of festivals, etc. the amount, if calculated, would be many times that of 10 crores. What are the benefits accrued from these?
Our people put with up with such difficulties; incur expenditure just for getting satisfaction derived from blind faith while those groups or communities, which get benefits from such spending live merrily. Look at the enormity of the growth of slavish mentality due to these?
Translated by Prof.T.Marx
(Lecture given at Balya Nadar Sangham, Annual Day at Ezhayiram Pannai, on 16, 17-5-1926. ‘Republic’ ( kudiarasu) 30.5.1926)
8. Fraudulent Religion
Mr. President, Sisters and Brothers:
I have been saying that the so-called politicians and nationalists in the name of politics, have been cheating and ruining common people for their selfish interests: no less than these politicians, people belonging to the priestly or Brahmin community cheat us in the name of religion, break our unity, loot the wealth we have earned through hard work, ruin our society and country and has made us live like lifeless bodies without any self-respect.
Without understanding this secret, we ourselves have been helping them in this diabolical system, and are creating sufficient sources for perpetuating ourselves and our posterity for a very long time to be under their authority. When this is explained, it is possible your hearts will be greatly agitated. But please patiently hear what I have to say and then if you use your rational thinking and objectivity, you will definitely come to know the truth about what I have been saying, whether it is right or wrong.
Again, remember that I do not say like veda, sastra and purana “Believe what we say! It is God’s words! If you don’t believe it, you will go to hell! You will become atheists!” and try to control you. What I say is “If my words are not acceptable to your intelligent search, mind and experience, leave them aside. If acceptable, please begin to try to follow some at least of what I have been saying. Tell your brothers about this and liberate them too! Also try to understand that I do not have any selfish gains out of this.
I am not an agent for any religion; also, I am not a slave to any religion. I follow two tenets, love and intelligence. Therefore, in explaining my ideas to you, I think it is my duty and desire to tell you this and it also gives me happiness. Otherwise, I leave it to your will and pleasure to do what you think should be your duty—that is, leave it to your rational thinking.
Why should there be a religion for an individual, society or a country? Is it to discipline and unify a country or society? Or divide them? Is it under the control of an individual’s conscience or does it control the individual’s conscience? Is religion for man? Or man for religion? Please think about these.
In this context, first think about the nature and quality of our religion. First, how many people know about what constitutes Hinduism? How many, among the Hindus, have knowledge about it? How many accept that there is such a religion as Hinduism?
First, to what language the word ‘Hindu’ belong? Can anybody say this word is found in any language of the world? When did this word come into our country? If you think about this, have the words ‘Hindu’, ‘Hinduism’ occurred in our Tamil literary and grammar works, or in the ancient works of Sangam times, or in edas, sastras, agamas, smrithis, puranas or ithihasas, stories based on Aryan language and Aryan culture? Or does it occur in the biographies or works of great Nayanmars and Alwars (Saivite and Vaishnavite devotees)? Or can it be found in the works of people who are reputed to be Siddhas, Sages and Saints or in their writings and utterances?
Even if we try to find the meaning of the word ‘madham’ (religion), researchers tell us that a religion consists of doctrines or principles. Even if we accept this, what is the principle of Hindu religion?
If we accept that it means ‘Hindu principles’:
What is the meaning of the word ‘Hindu’? Except in Hindu religion, unlike this, the word religion is prefixed or affixed with a man’s name, ; like the Religion of Christ (‘Christianity’), ‘Mohammedanism’ (Islam, religion of Mohammed, the prophet), ‘Buddhism’, ‘Ramanuja madham’, ‘Sankaracharya madham’, etc. By this yardstick, Hinduism is associated with which person? Whose doctrines does it embody? Except mere pronunciation and without any meaning are we not adopting the name for the religion we have? Please think about this.
Secondly, like other religions, who created Hinduism? What is its age? What are its doctrines? What is the source or authority for it? At least think about them.
Some say, “Hinduism is Vedic religion. Vedas are revelations of God.” Think about this obscenity as well. If it is uttered by God, it would be a single commonly acceptable one for all people–Not the one that is acceptable to some, rejected by some, not comprehensible to some, and bound within some limits. If it has been uttered by God, would it be only in one language? If it is meant for us, would it not be in our mother-tongue? Is there any relation between the language of the Vedas and us? Moreover, if it has been uttered for our edification by God, would it not be easy for us to hear, see, read and understand it? Will it be one, two, three, four, five or six as conditioned and classified by some? Also just like the proverb ‘wife for whoever chooses’, will it be susceptible to different explanation given by different people? And also susceptible for different people to gather followers for different interpretations? If you think along these things, naturally you bent to question whether there is Veda? Even if it is there, whether it is truthful? Even if it is truthful, whether it is binding on us? Think about these things. Also think deeply about religious, vedic and matters relating to God.
How many Gods are there in the world? How many Vedas in Hindu religion which is just one among the religions of the world? How many Gods propounded in the Vedas? How many differentiations among people who worship God? For each God, how many types of symbols? How many quarrels over these symbols? How many types of food? How many marriages? How many children? How many dishonest activities? Discern all these things. How many differences among the devotees of God? How many castes? How many distinctions of superiority and inferiority? And among all these, why a small percentage, very few should be considered as holy, great and privileged? What justice is there in it?
If the concept God is common, he is omnipresent is accepted for the God of our religion too, why should there be atrocious practices like some of us cannot go near the statue of god, should not enter the temple, only some people can touch the statues of gods, bathe it, dress it up, etc.?
We have accepted this religion; we have also accepted Gods mentioned in it; We have constructed temples for these gods: endowed them with properties. Daily also offer our worship. Please think what we have gained out of all these?
Having spent one lakh, five lakhs or ten lakhs for constructing a temple, maintaining it for 100, 1000 or 10,000 years, think patiently what have maintained over these years! “I am a lowly placed person who cannot go near the God installed in this temple! I belong to a degraded caste which cannot offer direct worship to this God! There is a higher caste than me! As I belong to an inferior caste I have to stand outside only in this place!—like these, we have degraded ourselves in many ways, accepted that degradation; As long as this stone and temple and the God within the temple are there, my degradation, inferior status and low level will persist. My descendents also are bound to these practices! Spending lakhs of rupees on constructing temple, doing purification ceremonies for it, to accept that a person belonging to some other caste is superior to mine, to see to it that he does not die of hunger and starvation, to be useful to him, in the name of God we give so many lakhs of rupees. This is eaten by only his kith and kin, will be had by his descendents for generations and generations and for ever and ever: this practice will continue so long as there are stones and river Cauvery, flora and fauna: And they will continue to remain higher caste people till the end. This is what goes on. Think and you will find that nothing else goes on. Also we ask others also to spend money for such temples. Consider how much expenditure is incurred by all for upkeep of the temples.
“Government collects taxes from us; loots us: but it does not do this or that. They are wasting money. People are not given education. There is no order anywhere.” We shout like this. Do we bother about the looting done in the name of gods? At least, do we thing about how these can be stopped?
Just take into consideration 4 or 5 temples in Tirunelveli district. The temple in Tirunelveli has a collection of Rs.70,000/-per year; in Sankaran Koil it is Rs.50,000/-: In Courtallam it is Rs.40,000/-: In Tiruchendur, it is more than one and half lakhs per annum. So these four temples earn more than Rupees 3 lakhs per annum according to Devasthanam authorities. Besides this, the devotees who come to these temples spend on transport, coconut, fruits, ghee, curd, bathing the deity with fruit mixture, pipers, drummers, women servant, dancers, music concerts, festivals, etc. How much money is spent on these? Think about how all these monies are used? “You belong to lower castes. People who perform worship and a few others belong to high caste. So you must give. The others must eat.” Only for that the money is used. Which God asks you or commands you to do this?
Some stomach-filling men are fooling you; you are being fooled. The ‘Gods’ in the temple
laugh and think, “Do we have such foolish devotees!”. Excepting these, no other benefit is there at all.
Translated by Prof.T.Marx
(Lecture in Courtallam, 27.8.1027 Republic, ( kudiarasu) 11.9.1927)
9. The Atrocity of Hinduism
We have written many times that there is no such thing as Hindu religion, that in order to earn their livelihood Brahmins had written a number of falsehoods and lies to cheat the fools, called them as religion, vedas and sastras. With the help of some dishonest, stupid people from amongst us and by bringing them under control, attempted to propagate their ideas, made it an art and poetic too; and as a result it has become the haven for the livelihood of lazy fellows and selfish people; has also become a source of professional income and profit for them and consequently a majority of people in our land exist without sense (intelligence), respect and integrity and lead a useless life.
We want to know whether any honest people who advocate for Hinduism would come forward and give suitable reply and explanation. We want to ask, whether these people who consider that by (our) finding fault with Rama, if they consider that their religion, God and respect have been offended, would inquire as to from where such offences originated?
If they are honest, have manliness and if pure blood runs in their veins, they will come out with explanations as to whether those crimes are true or false, whether Gods said to belong to Hindu religion exist or not and start discussions on them. Instead of doing that, we merely ask whether accusing others mischievously is an act done by honest and responsible people?
Besides, many dishonest people babble and write that we and our journal indulge in atheist propaganda. When we observe this we cannot but reprove of their attitude. Because those who write and bark that we commit atheist propaganda, explain what is atheism, what are the evils flowing from it, and then accuse us of that crime; that can be taken as human culture. Instead of doing that, without even stating clearly what is atheism, knowing that ignorant people have hatred for that word, if they use that word with dishonest intention in order to instigate the ignorant against us, who will keep quiet?
Some readers may think that I am using some harsh words in this context. What else can be done? We want to inform our readers that there is no other alternative than using harsh words. Because many times we have given explanations on this. Those animals would not simply comprehend them. Again and again they speak of atheism, speak and write that I use abusive language against Sita or someone else. Therefore, there is no other alternative than to expose their real character.
At least, hereafter we expect that those who come to advocate for Hinduism or anything else, instead of taking advantage of the ignorance of the masses for their selfish gains, should come forward in all honesty to defend Hinduism. Similarly we expect those who speak on atheism, to first define and clarify what is atheism and then advocate or propagate that. Instead, doing what they are doing now is nothing but dishonest practice and a degrading act. Also we wish to inform that we will not be cowed down by any number of people with such avowed purpose.
Similarly, many dishonest elements, formerly taking advantage of the ignorance of the people, characterised “Justice Party”, “Dravidian” made them hate these words and stabilised their livelihood. But because we worked firmly without fear and not bothering about any consequences, people have realised the truth today and the true nature of the dishonest and fraudulent elements have been exposed, who are now forced to crouch in a corner. None can deny this. So also, even though ordinary people have been cheated for a very long time, it is certain that a time will come when they will realise the truth.
Translated by Prof.T.Marx
(Essay in ‘Republic’ ( kudiarasu ) 24.6.1928)
10. The Philosophy of Hinduism
In a school run by ‘Tirupathi Devasthanam Funds”, Tirupathi, the authorities have refused permission for non-brahmin students to study Sanskrit literature in the class. When the public brought this to the notice of Mahat, the Devasthanam official, he said that he did not know about it. When Miss Mayo, in ‘Mother India’ book wrote that Brahmins were responsible for illiteracy in India, ‘Nationalist Leader’ Satyamurthi pointing out that referred to Panagal Raja as ‘betrayer’ of society and nation. Another national leader referred Miss Mayo as “Rubbish gatherer”.
We want to know what attitude they will take towards Tirupathi school incident.
Sanskrit is the language of the Gods, common language, and knowledge for intelligence—, a school is founded from the funds collected from the non-brahmins. But if a non-brahmin student wants to learn Sanskrit, he is refused permission. We want to know whether any nationalist leader came forth to abolish this piece of rascality or to condemn it.
We also want to ask, ‘Desiya Veera Muzhakkam” (National Heroic Call), which fears brahmin smile, always kisses brahmin feet, as to where it has gone on hiding?
Like beating a dead snake and talking of Simon Commission Boycott –‘is dead, funeral over, ashes immersed in river and the final rituals over for it’—this crowd with great
cunningness and conspiracy, dominated by brahmin authority is ever eager to fill up its stomachs with shouts about nationalism. Has any one from that come forward to express concern over these developments? That is what we ask.
According to them the sudras, the non-brahmins—children of women of easy virtue and servants of brahmins—should not read vedas; now to say that they should not even study Sanskrit literature, I would say that I don’t have to explain, this as the height of rascality. Why should the money of non-brahmins be used for promoting a study not to be had by non-brahmins, is the question we raise. Also we want to know if this crowd had an iota of sense of shame, self-respect and if in its veins pure blood runs, whether it could do such a thing.
We want to ask whether at least hereafter, the government or religious endowment boards or public would interfere in this matter and take adequate care to ensure prevention of public funds from being utilised for the selfish interests of a group. They should not blink at what is self-respect (movement): they should not be pretending to sleep over the matter. They must understand what self-respect is.
Translated by Prof.T.Marx
(‘Republic’ ( kudiarasu) Essay .19.8.1928)
11. The Brahmin’s Dharma (Code of Righteousness)
The Brahmin Preceptor Sankaracharya has said the following on Hindu dharma -(‘Dinamani’ 27.2.1969):
“Hindu religion is very ancient. It originated even when the world originated. The Hindu Dharma (Code of Righteousness) states that everyone must adhere to duties enjoined upon them and uphold sanatana (ancient) dharma.”
He proceeds: “A religion is what a person determines to have as his accepted doctrine. There is no beginning for the Hindu religion. People of other religions say that their religion was founded by the Son of God, or the Messenger of God. But it cannot be said when Hinduism originated. It began to function when Vedas originated. Nobody can say when the Vedas started. Different people say different things about its time of origin.”
So, Sankaracharya himself accepts that nobody can say when and how Hinduism was started. Also that it originated even at the time of the start of the world.
How barbarous the world would have been at the time of its inception?
“The Code of righteous conduct, norms and activities of that time should still be carried on. Otherwise harm will come, it will be a sin.” We should see whether there is any sense in this.
Therefore, hindu religion is a big hoax.
There is no proof of authority for this religion.
It does not have any formal norms or schemes.
Depending upon the creativity of the brahmins—also based on the stupidity and shamelessness of the non-brahmins, which may change from time to time—the forms and norms (or plans and concepts) of hinduism would be defined.
This also would change in different parts of a country, sub-divisions in the country, cities or townships in the country, during different times, opportunities and also sometimes from person to person
Rajaji will eat at a panchama’s (fifth caste in the social order against which untouchability was practised) house; Sankaracharya will take a bath (of purification) if he sees a fifth-caste person. Some people will take a bath even if they touch the shadow of a panchama. Some will marry a male or female ‘panchama’ and still will remain a brahmin.
‘So long as it goes’ (seems to be) is the motto of brahminism and hinduism.
God is also like that. So long as it is in temple, if anyone other than a brahmin touches it or goes near it, it gets ‘contaminated’. The same God if installed under a banyan tree, or on the (pavements of the) streets or in the outer entrance near the house, anybody can touch it. Even a dog can lick and taste the figurine. Inside the temple, rats and cockroaches and cats rub on it or run over the statues.
The Siva or Vishnu of Tamilnadu, in their respective forms in world-famous ‘best known’ pilgrim centres of Banaras, Pandaripura and Jagannath can be touched and embraced by any one.
The Arya Samajists in Punjab will utter vedic sounds loudly so that they could be heard by dogs, horses, donkeys, etc. In Tamilnadu they say that vedic sounds should not even fall on our ears.
The way brahmins had their tradition in 1900 was of one kind; in 1940 it is different, after 1940 it is in yet another different form!
In 1930 the fifth caste people could not enter a temple. In Malayalam (Kerala) even some fourth caste sects cannot enter a temple. Today everybody (including cheramar) can enter a temple. No God has run away from the temple on account of this.
Even today in some holy centres there are brahmin girls to give sensual pleasures. Even brahmin boys act as brokers for them. In some places archakas (temple priests) have two wives, one for themselves and another for devotees. There was a time when the temple priests were considered far inferior by other brahmins. Today they have become as ‘acceptable’ brahmins as others.
Some time back vaishnavite and saivite priests used to have tufts (locks of hair) on the front side of the heads like the Keralites: today such distinctions have disappeared.
Today, the brahmins feel whatever happens, changes, it is enough that they are considered as the highest caste and given highest status. Therefore, it seems, they are prepared to do any or many things as acts of high dharma (code of righteousness).
Translated by Prof.T.Marx
(‘Viduthalai’ Editorial, 4.3.1969)
Religion is a matter fit to be analysed and researched. Mankind used to live separately in forests as animals; When it changed and humanity began to progress and began to live in huts, it required some regulations to live together. If people who live separately, have to do some thing for the common good, they have to form an association and this association must necessarily have rules and regulations. Similarly people who begin to lead a communal life require principles governing such social living. They have to decide upon common doctrines to be followed. Such practices are now referred to as religion. In order that such principles are not violated, some conditions were imposed: when it was not possible to punish people who violated such principles, or when it was thought that it was not necessary to punish such people, or for the sake of selfish interests of some, or to live by cheating others, or thinking that people could be cheated only by connecting these principles to the concept of God, it was begun to be said that ‘God’ created them or God would punish if they are violated. (This is where man committed his ‘original’ mistake.)
But if we look at how these principles were determined, on what basis or authority, we can say it depended upon the conditions of the time, climate, the intellectual or intelligence level of the people—that is the ignorance of common people, cunningness of some—that is the time, place and conditions (circumstances) that was generally prevaling. If a particular doctrine (or principle or concept) becomes unsuitable or inappropriate for later time and circumstances, when a wise person or a cunning man wants to change it, the ignorant masses due to their obstinate nature refuse for transformation, would leave the society and establish separate society for themselves, form new principles by changing or modifying some of the previous ones, or adding some new ones, such acts lead to founding of a new religion. As a result ignorant masses—blind and obstinate people—resort to quarrels on the basis of religion stating ‘my religion is great’ or ‘your religion is inferior’ (that their respective religions were better than others).
Some respectable, wise, elderly people would wonder whether without quarrels things could be modified, tried to satisfy everyone by giving new explanations to old principles and thus avoiding changes. But as a result of such efforts, at the end dissents became sub-sects and associated faiths, and the first principles could never be corrected at all. This is how religions have had a long history of changes, twists and multiplications. This led to a situation when the true purport of religious principles could not be comprehended and there was no need to understand that either. In the end religion became a cluster of rituals. If today you ask any person, ”What is your religion? What are its principles?” he would merely state some rituals and symbols and not the true tenets—that is, will not be able to explain the original purpose of founding the religion: nor would he have known about that. Not only that: in direct contravention of the original principles, ignorance and moral lapses had also intruded and religion had become the instrument of some people for their selfish purposes. Particularly, all the religions which are considered as major now, are indulging in the practice of cheating the ignorant masses; they are pathways just to enrich the priestly class, government and the wealthy and the general mass of people do not get any benefit out of it. Then, if we look at the evils perpetrated by religion, the foremost impact is that religion totally destroys man’s intelligence. People of one religion believe in God according to their religions tenets and also think that their religion was created by God. But the same idea is had by people belonging to other religion as well. Nobody thinks why should God create one religion for one set of people and another one for a different set of people. Or people do not think whether God would have created another religion whose followers do not accept the first one and also pass adverse comments on its practices. Everyone is not thinking about these contradictions. And everyone includes religious preceptors and lovers of that particular religion.
This single reason illustrates to what extent religion has damaged the intelligence of people. Secondly, instead of promoting unity among people, it has created divisions. Thirdly, religion makes men satisfied with outward appearances and formalities and not genuine building up of character. Fourthly, there is no scope for rational thinking in any religion. Whatever the religion be, howsoever good its tenets, first it tells that we must blindly accept certain things that are beyond our five senses and our intelligence. That makes the unenviable position of accepting one set of norms apparently without any reason to reject another set of norms. Fifth, religion creates intermediaries between God and people and stresses that the words and actions of these agents—despite their inappropriateness-are better than our personal intelligence and experience. Besides, religion also states that the amount of money one spends could bring exoneration of one’s sins and would bring propitiation and heaven; and that all atrocities done by man could be absolved by offering worship and getting absolved from all sins. These lead men to commit atrocities and accumulate money by committing such atrocities. Religion gives plenty of opportunities to a lazy livelihood.
Religion makes people a bunch of cowards. Even though so much injustice is caused by religions, people are prevented from learning the truth about the causation of these events of the world by the compulsions of religion. Above all, it encourages one man to live at the expense of other’s labour. A true saivitie states that despite his manifest rascality, if a particle of sacred ash is smeared on him, says, that he is absolved of all sins and could straight away reach Mount Kailas (abode of Siva). A lawyer and a professional giving discourses on false epics and puranas, think that they are true saivities just because they habitually apply sacred ash on their forehead. They also think that others also should so respect them. Does any further proof is required for dishonesty and absurdity. Similarly a true vaishnavite says all sins would be wiped out at once by uttering the word ‘Rama’. He says that there is no God on earth other than Rama. A true christian says that “when one surrenders to and reaches Jesus, all sins are wiped out. There is no salvation
except through acceptance of and surrender to Christ.” Also a Muslim states that “whatever is stated in Quoran is God’s word; it is applicable to all countries and climes; If one syllable is changed in that, the edifice of Islam would suffer. Like this, each religion states its greatness and claims that it alone is a true religion, its God is the true one, or true child of God, its prophet, true God’s messenger, etc.
Translated by Prof.T.Marx
(‘Republic’ ( kudiarasu) Essay – 23.4.1949)
13. Are the Suppressed Class People Hindus?
We have been saying for a long time that Hindu religion means Aryan religion and Hindus are Aryans. Therefore, we have been telling that we Dravidians should not call ourselves as Hindus nor say we belong to Hinduism. Accordingly, in 1940 in the Justice Party’s provincial conference, under my (Periar) chairmanship, a resolution was passed deciding that we Dravidians should not call ourselves as Hindus and should not state that we belong to Hinduism. I had even then explained why we decided like that. Still as there are some who say that we are Hindus and we should not leave Hindu religion, we would like to elaborate on this point.
Hindu was the name given to Aryans living in Hindusthan by people of other countries. There is no suitable explanation for the word Hindu. There is also no authority or proof to say that there is such a thing as a Hindu religion. All that can be said is that people who lived in Hindusthan and practised a religion were referred to as Hindus and Hinduism respectively, by the foreigners. In the dictionaries also it is given that the meaning of the word Hindu is one who lives in Hindusthan. This word now is understood to denote people who oppose Islam and believe in and support Brahminism. Also it is stated that the word means people who adhere to sanatana dharma (ancient code of righteousness). Besides, it is said that in Persian language the word Hindu means a thief.
So in whatever way you look at it, it is clear that the word Hindu has no proper meaning. Also it just referred to a set of people, and the religion that they followed. We do not have to (specially) mention which community it refers to and what religion it indicates. Foreigners referred to Aryan community as such. This is because history shows that only after the coming of the Aryans, foreigners invaded or occupied India.
Those who came to Indian sub-continent in the past, came through some specific routes and not through the sea-routes. They must have come through some routes in the north-west and north-east directions. We can also learn from history that the first ones to colonise and settle came via north-west passes. The Aryans were such first people. If people who came later on, referred to the people in the sub-continent as Hindus, it is easy to infer even by the common people, as to who they would have referred to and the religion the earlier ones followed.
I do not think it is necessary to explain even today, in detail, what type of people these Aryans were and what type of religion they followed
If today we live in these conditions, and are subject to the control of the foreigners, what is the reason? Is this not a result of the seeds sown by the Aryans? People of our land had lived under the philosophy that everyone belonged to one society and that all are brethren; who is responsible for creating four varnas (divisions) and hundreds of caste distinctions that ruined the unity of the people and ravaged the country? Was that not done by the Aryans? By creating these varnas and distinctions of castes and by stressing that different castes would not have contact with other castes, each caste should attend to its work and duty; have not they perpetuated disunity? Is that not the reason our people did not worry or care about the country and other people in general? Therefore, it became easy for invaders and those who wanted to colonise this sub-continent. It is no exaggeration to say that we, who ruled over this land, evoking fear in others, we who taught culture and civilisation to the rest of the world, have ourselves lost our cities, country, sense of shame and intelligence as well and have become slaves to Aryans and foreigners.
If really this sub-continent should become independent, people here should live in freedom, must we not think in terms of throwing away people who brought us down to this level. That is why we stress that we who are Dravidians should not call ourselves as Hindus, should not follow Hindu codes or practise Hindu religion. If the Dravidian community were to progress, should live as men with self-respect, people would only come to such conclusion.
That is why on 4.1.1945, when Dr.Ambedkar inaugurated People’s Herald, a weekly journal of the depressed people at Calcutta, stated with great heart burn, “Hindus are parasites. We work hard, they suck the fruits of our labour. When Independence could perpetuate this exploitation, whether it comes or not, it does not make any difference.”
The crowd which sucks the blood of others, lived without even getting dust on its nails, with the capital of torn almanac and dry dharba grass leading a life (of ease and pleasure), will boil with anger and seeth with outrage. I also won’t be surprised at that reaction. For thousands of years, people who treated us as frogs and degraded us, and on that account having led a comfortable life, it is not easy to leave such a life behind, or tolerate others’ criticising their life-style. Therefore, they will get angry, try to control us, seek the help of authorities in power and indulge in abusive language. We do not have to worry about it. It is only natural.
If you call a thief, a thief, certainly he will be angry. If you call a prostitute, a prostitute, she will also jump in outrage. Similarly, if you call the set of people who, when others work hard, sucked their blood like leeches, as parasites, they will be turbulent. What can we say about these people? Should we sympathise with their ignorance, or call them thick-skinned people or people without a sense of shame and just leave things like that? Because we allowed things to remain like that, all the upsurge against the Aryans in this sub-continent had subsided, were contained or simply suppressed. Today we could see in the world war, similar conditions repeating.
Nations which are fighting against others resort to the tactics of creating in the land where they invade a cadre to support them and rise against the local government. Same thing is happening here too. Whey they see that opposition to Aryans is strengthened and efforts are taken to destroy it, an opposing group is created and through them destroy those who originally rose against them. We should never show sympathy for such people and leave things like this.
In this fight—fight against Aryanism—if people who oppose Aryans are to emerge successful, before gathering people to oppose Aryans, before such a plan even, such “quislings” must be first removed, corrected. If you cannot correct them, till all people become free from the shackles of Aryanism, these must be ostracised. Otherwise all our efforts would go in vain.
If a pot has holes, no amount of efforts to fill it would be successful. If the pot is to have full of water, the holes must be filled up or a different pot must be had. That is what sensible people would do. We must also do the same thing.
The reason for our stressing on this is clear. Dr. Ambhedkar has stated that the reasons for the depressed class coming to that level and living a degraded life is due to Hindu religion; in order that one is to be known as Hindu, he should believe in Arya Vedas, puranas, ithihasa, (myths and history) and support them. If you don’t believe in or follow them, you will not be called Hindus. Is it not so? In that case the caste distinctions, sub-sects in religion and varna differences will become ineffective or disappear. Will not the society make progress in economy and politics? That is why Dr.Ambedkar stresses that the depressed class people should not call themselves Hindus; also, vedas, puranas, ithihas etc. which had created so much havoc in society and disunity among people and ruined the country must be destroyed.
But in South India, people who claim that they too are the leaders of depressed people, like Muniswamy Pillai and Sivashanmugam say:
“Harijans (depressed people) should not heed to the propaganda against Hinduism by Dr.Ambedkar in Chennai recently. They must observe their duties according to the code of righteousness, as enshrined in Hindu scriptures.”
“We do not have to take into account what Dr.Ambedkar has said about Hindu religion.”
General public must ponder over the fact whether these people had uttered these ideas after taking into consideration the position of their society in the past, its sordid history and present circumstances. If a few people in their community have got ministerial posts and titles like Rao Bahadur and Diwan Bahadur, will that be enough? What is the general condition of the community. Will it be enough if some people had become economically well-off? What is their economic base?
Even a blind fool would say that they would not have uttered what they said if they had carefully considered, whether from the existing order. plans would effectively come forth to bring changes in their living conditions. If they speak in this vein, on the understanding that blessings of a few people and appreciation from a few would be enough, even if it is temporary, and that claps and garlands would be enough for a while, then future historians would condemn them, and people in future would laugh at what they have done.
So, instead of being carried off by petty fame and blessings from some quarters today, instead of considering their welfare alone, if they think deeply about people’s welfare and what could be done to uplift them, what sacrifices are needed, how to oppose vested interets obstructing the progres of the people, people who are interested in the welfare of society must ostracise them, atleast for some time. Then alone this community and race will improve.
These people also must ponder over why is Dr.Ambedkar was critical of Hindu religion amd why did he call the Hindus as Parasites? If you look at the history of this land, at the puranas, Manu (Needhi) sastras, or study deeply any work of Aryans, you will find that the Aryans—Hindus—lived without working hard, lived like parasites on others’ work and continue to do so even now.Whatever book you take, you will find that they are written depicting that Aryans lived comfortably and others lived at their behest. Who will not have a heart-burn, if they see this? They must awaken to the truth after hearing words coming out from harrowing position of burning hearts instead of merely burying them.
(‘Republic’ ( kudiarasu) ‘Editorial’ 6.01.1945)
“Even though you consider it an honour bestowed on me to inaugurate the use of this well, frankly I do not feel happy to do this work. In fact I consider it a very painful act to participate in this function. My opinion is that it is an atrocity to dig a separate well for the Adidravidas. Constructing separate wells for Adidravidas raises a permanent barrier between ourselves and Adidravidas and a permanent reminder that Adidravidas are inferior to us and that they are unfit to mix with us. Why should a separate well be constructed for them? Such acts of charities merely help some people to show themselves as benefactors of Adidravidas and superior to them. Why should we not permit Adidraivdas to draw water from our wells? Do not birds and animals partake water from the tanks? Don’t you know how water is filled up in the tanks? Don’t you know what type of impurities are there in that water? Also what type of harms would come to Adidravidas by using that water.”
“In the welcome presented to me, you have praised me stating that I have done a lot for you. That is not true. I have never done anything exclusively for you. To say that one works for the welfare of Adidravidas, for the improvement of the Adidravidas, according to me is mere pretension and show. It is just like saying Europeans rule over India for our good. I do not think along such lines.”
Because we have a caste name ‘Paraiar’ in our country, we also have a caste name called ‘Sudras’. The caste name ‘Sudras’ is more degrading than the caste name ‘paraiar’. According to Hindu sastras there could be chaste women and people born to one father and mother. But according to them that is not the case with the sudras; because ‘sudrachi’ (sudra woman) means one who serves others, a prostitute. ‘Sudran’ (sudra man) means son of one who serves others, a prostitute’s son. According to the sastras, if you do not accept this idea, you are not a Hindu. So if people who are called ‘sudras’ like me work for people called ‘paraiars’, it is just to avoid being called ‘sudras’ by others and nothing else. Therefore, when I work hard for me, it appears to you as if I am working for you. Men and women who consider you inferior, do not understand that they themselves are considered even more inferior by others. Because of the ignorance of considering others as inferior, others considering them as inferior does not appear to them as a low thing.
As if this is not enough, they find fault with you, that foul smell comes from your body, that you do not take bath, do not wash clothes, that you eat beef, that you drink alcohol and preach that you must give up all these. They do not understand who is responsible for your not taking a bath or washing your clothes. When you have no water even for drinking, where is the water for bathing and washing clothes? If you confine people who are called saints and sankaracharis and do not allow them to take bath or wash clothes or wash their teeth, will their clothes be free from dirt, will their bodies and mouths be free from foul odour? If we starve a man and kill him and then if we say he died of starvation, think who really is the ‘sinner’. Instead it is not an honest act to say that your eating beef and drinking alcohol is the reason for your being ‘paraiar’. In fact those who eat beef and drink alcohol are ruling the world today. Besides if you eat beef, the fault is not yours. As you have not been allowed to earn, eat well, walk in the streets, freely move about to go and work and earn accordingly, you are obliged to eat with your limited resources to have more to eat whatever can be had for that money. Even those belonging to Christianity and Islam which permit beef eating say that if they could have more money to spend on food, they would not prefer to eat beef.
But in our country the principal reason for beef eating is utter penury. Also, in what way is beef eating a more sin than eating goat’s flesh, poultry, fish or pig? Poultry, fish and pigs eat dirty things, worms and excreta. When north Indian ‘brahmins’ to south Indian ‘sudras’ eat these, can belong to good castes and can be touched, how can one become inferior by eating beef which comes from animals that eat good grass, cotton seed, and chaff. Even then do they say about all people who eat beef ‘Don’t touch’, ‘Don’t walk on the streets’, ‘Don’t drink water from the tank’ and ‘Don’t live within the village’? My conclusion is that this is a dishonest, irresponsible reason for keeping you in a degraded condition rather than a real cause. I am not objecting that beef and alcohol should be given up. But when some say that if you give up these your caste will have a higher status, then I object to that dishonest uttering. I will not ask you to give up beef or alcohol just to raise your caste to a high level. For that, there is no need for you to do that either. You do not consume all the toddy taken from coconut and palm trees, or liquor brewed or drinks imported from foreign lands to the value of ten to fifteen crores in our province! Nobody will believe that either. If somebody says that for getting higher caste status you must do so, let them give up first.
I accept that consuming liquor is opposed to the good conduct of man. I have also done some service for abolition of drinking habits. But giving up what is consumed by all has nothing to do with becoming a higher caste. So if any one says avoiding beef and alcohol is good to become a higher caste I say it is a lie. Also I cannot help but point out some faults in you. You yourselves earn degradation for your caste. You greet everybody unnecessarily and address them “Swami”. In your blood is ingrained the feeling that you are inferior to others. You must change. When you see somebody, you must ask yourself, “In what way I am different from him?”. You cannot raise the level of a caste that has lost its self-respect. Each one must feel that he is a human being. You should not hereafter call any body “swami”. If you want, just call, ‘Ayya’. You must give up the bad habits of going apart and away from others. Then alone you will be treated equally.
(A speech delivered at inauguration of a well at Gandhi Reading Library Annual Day held at Karaikudi Siravayal on 6.4.1926.)
Translated by Prof.T.Marx
(Republic ( kudiarasu)25.4.1926)
15. Who are the Suppressed Class People?
Today in this annual day celebrations, U.P.A.Soudirapandian, N.Sivaraj, S.Gurusamy, T.N.Raman, Kunjithm, Vidwan Munisamy, Arockiasamy and Kalyanasundaram have spoken. With my speech I think the annual day would come to an end. But most of the speakers have covered whatever I wanted to speak. Therefore, you may think that I may not talk much. You must be very united. You must enroll more women as members.
In truth, everybody must give more thought to rationalism. You must develop rationalist thinking. You must always deeply study about everything. Whatever comes to mind, should not be dubbed as rationalism. Memorising ideas from books cannot be rationalism. You must learn to distinguish between what is possible and what is impossible. We must know our powers and the strengths of our power. Must concentrate on time, place and circumstances of things we come across. Even if our intelligence says that a particular thing is correct, only after subjecting it to rigorous tests it must be implemented. That is to develop rationalism too, you must have rationalist thinking.
Many spoke here on self-respect and on politics. As a large number of people in this association appear to be mostly from depressed classes, it should be useful for your politics to get along with government support. In politics your community has been separated. As there is a great deal of difference in the status and aims of other communities and yours, you are obliged to ask for separate rights. Accordingly, even if the government has conferred on you separate rights, you are deceived by the so-called higher caste people. The high caste people have inherent cunningness and tactics. That is why they remain high caste people. You are categorised as oppressed caste and are enjoying benefits given thereof. Comrade Arockiasamy was angry even at the idea that you are referred to as oppressed class. What is the use of being angry? In practice, are you not kept suppressed and oppressed? If that were
not so, there is no need to ask for separate rights. Think of how many legal obstacles you have in social life. You do not have right to enter into temples. Even the right to entry into streets, tanks and schools have been given to you only after Justice Party came into being. Even then, in many places there are obstacles to these rights.
Many of you appreciated the right to enter Travancore temple. Of what use is that to you? What is your position in your own motherland? For many who are considered belonging to higher castes than you, there is no right even to go near the temple compound. When this is the position, some people shamelessly talk about politics. This itself is enough to indicate that that they are unfit to have human rights.
If one were to speak in a fair manner, you alone are not oppressed people. In some places those who are denied entry into the temples alone are not oppressed people. We, who have the right to enter all temples, also are oppressed people. Even in temples there are some places we do not have certain rights. In coffee shops and hotels, we are treated separately and cannot have entry into many areas. The sympathy shown in talking about your degradation and oppression is that our degradation may also be put to an end. Have you not come across the tactics of some people, while eating in a row with others ask servers to give additional help to people sitting near them and also incidentally get more serving for themselves? In the same manner we think if your grievance and
degradation come to an end, ours also will disappear. That is why we constantly speak about your grievances.
JOINING THE CONGRESS
My opinion is that the more you detest “political clamour” and refuse to join “political parties”, greater the chances that your grievances would be resolved. If you take care not to yield to people who want to walk over your heads, atrocities perpetrated on you will be quickly wiped out. Otherwise you will just remain steps for others to move on.
Even though it is 50 years since the Congress party has been founded, only after the formation of Justice and its demand for share in political and social life, we find much improvement. Only thereafter, in the last ten years, so many changes have come about. Instead of that, if you had continued to raise your hands in supporting the Congress, had gone behind the high caste people shouting “Govinda, Govinda” (shouting praise in chorus of these people), think what your position would be even now.
Just look at the propaganda on Travancore temple entry. How did this come about or take place? Don’t we know about our friend Dr.C.P.Ramaswamy Ayyar? What did he do when the law enacted by the ministers of Justice Party permitted all citizens to walk on all the streets under public maintenance? Did he not prevent that? When a brahmin magistrate prevented Ezhavas from using that law tried to walk in a road in Kalpathi by imposing Section 144, and when questions were raised in the assembly about that, what did Mr. Ayyar say? He replied in support of that imposition. That is, he gave a new ingenious explanation to that law. He said that law was applicable only to those who had some specific work to pass by that road and not for people who unnecessarily walk on that road. He said that the application of Sec.144 was meant to prevent embarrassment to high caste people by others who just wanted to walk on that street wantonly and that, therefore, it was justifiable.
So, we can very well understand the ‘liberal view’ of Travancore Diwan Sir C.P. Ayyar from this. Also think of how they opened up the doors of the temple finally. The oppressed people there, Ezhavars and Nadars and everybody else tried to demolish the temple and the figurines there. They conducted conferences and thousands of people passed resolutions stating that the Hindu religion was a fraud, temples were a fraud and concept of God was a fraud. Many became muslims, put on the distinct cap of the muslims. Some grew beards adopted the dress of the sikhs and practised sikhism. Some got converted into christianity along with their family members. It was then that the temple doors were opened to all. All high caste people including brahmins in Tamil Nadu appreciated the ruler of Travancore. See where the secret of victory lay? Similarly, if you begin to break Congress, religion and temple, statues of Gods etc. without anyone’s compassion or mercy, all rights will reach you of their own accord.
NO USE IN CHANGING MERE APPELLATIONS
Instead, if you are referred to as “Oppressed”, nothing can be achieved by you if you feel angry over that. As the word pariar got changed to adidravada and now to harijan or could become something else, nothing of your grievances or degradations would disappear. Merely because prostitutes and women of easy virtue are referred to as
devadasi (servant maids of celestials), the social ignominy of them does not disappear.
Similarly for non-brahmins, merely because names like Naicker, Mudaliar, Devar, Vellaar, Rajar, Rayar etc. are prevalent, the stigma of being ‘sudra’ in society does not disappear. So, don’t worry about names: seek to put an end to grievances and degradations. To non cooperate with people who treat as such and create obstacles in their progress alone is the remedy to the situation where we are degraded by such people.
We should not be disappointed if some renegades cooperate with them. Because there are such degenerate, shameless people, we are obliged to form associations and struggle for our rights. If everybody had self-respect, where is the need for having an organisation for improving the conditions of oppressed people or non-brahmins? Many amongst us are compelled to kiss the feet that kick us away. We are compelled to seek remedial measures against the degradations. The remedy lies only in our united cooperative efforts with bravery and firmness and creating obstacles to them. Some speakers have made reference to self-respect and some have sent a note to me asking for some details.
1. A gentleman has asked what is difference between people like Jeevanandam and us. The answer is ‘nothing now’. Formerly they were telling that conducting election propaganda was rotten and stinking. Now-a-days, I find from press reports that they are also keenly doing election propaganda. I make propaganda for Justice Party. They do the same for the Congress. Otherwise, there is no difference.
2. A friend has asked what is the difference between Justice Party and Democratic Party.
The answer to this is also that there is no difference. If there is at least some benefits accruing to people over communal representations in jobs advocated in the important principles of Justice Party, I would say that it is largely due to the services of a person responsible initially for that, that is friend Matthias Mudaliar. Even though many leaders of the Justice Party and many non-brahmins, do not show enough gratitude to him, as far as I am concerned I am grateful to him to some extent atleast. Otherwise based on the political experience of the Democratic party, some could say that there could be difference between the moderates and the Justice Party. But to my mind there is no such perception.
ONLY ONE PARTY IN INDIA
There is only one party in India today. That is a party of people who want to win the elections, get ministerial posts and earn money and exercise power. It might appear that there are many ways and tactics to obtain that objective. Also they might appear to be contradicting each other in social matters. As a result some parties speak truth. Some parties would be unclear in their principles and utterances. This is the truth regarding parties today.
But Justice Party in its principles and plans has truth. And frankly states that it would do just whatever was possible. The leaders and members of the party do not have difference of opinion over party principles. Among the leaders and members of the party, sometimes there could be disunity and could to anything with selfishness and without commitment for a public cause. We are not worried about that. In all parties you can find people with such an attitude. Each party must allow a margin for the activities of such persons. Otherwise, I would say that for the enslaved, degraded people in the society, Justice party is the panacea.
I am not blaming the Congress party just because it has a passion for posts and powers. But because it has as its important principle denying equal rights to backward and oppressed, I say we must destroy it. I have no faith in and respect for its leaders who are conservatives and believe in varna dharma (traditional divisions of the society). I am not worried about other parties.
PROPAGANDA OF SELF-RESPECT
3. A question has been asked as to why there has been no propaganda for self-respect.
Myself and my friends are doing some propaganda. But the chief concentration is on Justice Party. I think it is necessary from the view point of the good of the self-respect movement. Any way the election propaganda for Justice party will be over in a month and half. Thereafter, whether the party wins or loses in the elections, myself and my friends will continue to propagate the self-respect movement.
WILL IT WIN OR LOSE IN THE ELECTIONS?
4. A question has been asked as to whether Justice Party would win the elections. If justice party loses, I will be very happy: self-respect movement will get more support from non-brahmins and propaganda for self-respect movement with gather momentum. If Justice party wins, there could be no support from the leaders who get power and posts. Defeat will be an instrument to bring unity among non-brahmins who are scattered now and for working hard (towards betterment). But Justice Party will not be defeated. For the simple reason parties opposing this have no adequate strength in their principles. Even if some leaders behave in even more indifferent attitude, irresponsibility and selfishness, and degrade themselves, I don’t think the party will lose. Because it has strong principles. The Congress totally lacks in that respect. Therefore, I think that Justice party will not lose.
EQUALITY, SOCIAL JUSTICE
5. A friend has mentioned about equality and social justice. Remember that Justice Party is a social justice party. Only after its advent a pariah and a brahmin shares dais at some places in terms of absolute equality. In the olden days it used to be said that if a tiger and cow drink water from the same place, it amounted to social equality. But that happens only in shows staged by circus companies. On that score you cannot say social justice prevails there. But today a pariah, a brahmin, a sastri, a sankarachari and a cobbler occupy the same pedestal. How? Is it due to the fear of being whipped? Fear of being shot at by a revolver? Definitely not. They volunteer to occupy a level footing by spending nearly 10 to 20 thousand rupees. A brahmin even pleads to a pariah calling him a master and a lord. How did this happen? Please think whether before Justice Party was founded, there was any reference to the condition of the oppressed class in the Congress meetings, activities, resources, plans and principles and resolutions. I, therefore, ask you whether you still have any doubt about the social justice clamoured by the Justice Party. I continued to do my service to the cause of social equality and social justice.
I am keen to do work or service on economic equality and justice. But the Congress is totally opposed to such idea and will only betray the cause. Only when it is destroyed, can there be economic justice. Still, whatever can be done without offending the laws and oppression of the government, I am doing as much propaganda for economic justice as possible. I will continue to do so. I express my gratitude to you for honouring me so much and giving me an opportunity to express my views.
(Valedictory address of friend E.V.Ramasamy, at the fourth annual day meeting of Kodambakkam Rationalists society)
Translated by Prof.T.Marx
(Republic, (kudiarasu) 10.1.1937)
16. Caste System
Nowhere in the world we find people of the same country divided into so many castes (divisions) based on (the accident of) birth as in India.
Generally, ‘caste’ system among the Hindus –only among people who are enslaved to aryan principles, proclaimed to be ‘created by God’—has the basic division of people into four castes, brahmins, kshatriyas, vaisyas and sudras. Everyone knows that his is a social hierarchy, the brahmins at the top of the ladder and each other caste is in descending order the last one considered as the most inferior and degraded one. Still, what is the reason for the prevalence of so many castes. This is because people who were divided into ‘varna’ according to the creation of God, subsequently deviated from that and got ‘mixed’ varna, due to intermixture of varnas leading to emergence of separate castes, consequent upon such lapses on moral codes enjoined upon each varna. We also find authorities for such divisions getting the name of panchama castes.
It is also mentioned by such sources that many important castes prevalent in our country came about due to this inter-mixture, consequent upon the higher caste people deviating from their moral norms and that resulting in the origin of “panchama castes”. It is also said that in Tamil Nadu, the popular and important caste of velalars belonged to this Panchama caste and that people in this caste came about by brahmin girls and kshatriya girls marrying and giving birth to children by mixing with other varnas.
It is also mentioned that among these people called velalas, if they have their livelihood by agricultural operations they were referred to as ‘kaniyalars’ and if they were in administrative posts called as ‘velan samanthars’; books like Supra bhothakam, brahma puranam, vaikanasam, madhaviyam and sathivilakkam are authorities for this categorisation.
If a brahmin begets children through a vaisya girl, such children were called Ambattans and if the children were born out of wedlock they were referred to as ‘kuyavars’ (potters) and ‘navithas’ (barbers).
Similarly if a brahmin begets children with sudra women, the children born by marriage are called ‘baradhwar; or ‘Sembatwar’ and those born out of wedlock were called ‘Vettaikaran’ or ‘Veduvar’
Similarly, if brahmin girls beget children through kshatriyas by marriage, they were referred to as ‘savarnas’ and ‘telungars’.
If a sudra cohabits with a brahmin girl, the children were referred to as ‘chandalars’ .
If a chandala cohabits with a brahmin girl, children were referred to as ‘chamars’ or ‘sakkiliars’ (cobblers): if chandala cohabits with a kshatriya girl the resultant children were known as ‘venugars’ (people who play venu or flute); kanagars (goldsmiths), saliars (weavers).
Similarly if for ‘ayovaha caste’ girls (one of the castes which came about consequent to inter-mixing of lower-higher castes) children are born through relationship with nishadas, they were known as ‘bharghavas’. Similarly a number of rules are stated for having given caste names to many. These are found in Abhidana Kosak, Abhidana Chintamani—and also other books cited by Hindu pundits as authorities. Also, among many other castes considered inferior to four principal castes, children born due to mix up of high caste women-low caste men, high caste men-low caste women etc. and also people born out of wedlock are referred to as Chettiars and Asariyars. Also they are referred to in a degrading manner.
So if we persist with caste-system, it is tantamount to our accepting these degrading remarks indirectly.
Translated by Prof.T.Marx
(‘Republic’, Editorial: (kudiarasu) 16.11.1930)
17. On Caste
Those who want to protect the multi castes-system! We stated that the reason for original four castes, in course of time multiplying into 4,000 castes was inter mixture of one caste with the other. Still there are people among us, those who are called ‘velalars’ accept the original system of four castes, that is brahmin, vaisya, kshatriya, panchaman, consider themselves as ‘sad sudras’ and some others instead of referring to graded caste names of Sanskrit words, referred to them in beautiful Tamil words like Anthanar, Arasar, Vanigar and Velalar and proclaim that these categories were there in Tamil Nadu anterior to, even before the arrival of aryans and that they belonged to the fourth category and created a myth that to serve the people belonging to these four castes, many castes came into being functioning as slaves and that they were pallu, pariah and eighteen such castes and were contented with such new explanation.
Under the heading of such ‘pallu, pariah eighteen set of people’, that is to indicate eighteen castes meant for serving the four higher castes, the names were given as follows: ilai vanikan, uppu vanikan, ennai vanikan, ochhan, kalthachhan, kannan, kuyavan, kollan, koyilkudiyan, thachan, thattan, navithan, palli, pariah, panan, poomalaikkaran, vannan and valayan.
But these same eighteen castes are, according to a research book, Abhidhanakosam, detailed as servants with the names, viz., sivigaiars, kuyavar, panars, melakarars, parathavars, sembadavars, vedars, valaiars, thimalars, karaiars, sanrars, saliyars, ennai vanikars, ambattars, vannars, pallars, puliars and sakkiliars.
Apart from this, the divisions among the velars are shown as: Velalars are the supreme among the sudras; among them mudalis occupy the top place; next to them come velanchettis—sub categorised into cholapurathar, sithakkattars and panchukkarars; they are saivars and are eligible to sit and eat in the same row without discrimination. Next to them come cholia, thuluva, kodikkal velalars of different categories. Among them the lowest in order are ahambadiyars, below them maravars; lower in rank are kallars. Below them formed Idaiyars and further down the social ladder were kavaraigals and kammavargals.
It can be observed that the above arrangements carefully avoid discrimination among the brahmins and shuffling of higher-lower positions among them and that no objection or doubt could be cast on their position. It clearly explains the cunning nature of the caste system. Otherwise mention is made about quarrels among kshatriyas and vaisyas, objections on who is superior to the other and without any basis, fighting for supremacy over the other, reducing the other caste to a subordinate position, etc. could be discerned. Also even if other caste people try to find sources for raising themselves to a higher level among the fellow castes, all the sources cleverly used to indicate that these are all inferior to the parppanars who are called brahmins. Otherwise they are not useful for the purpose of unravelling the mystery of the creation of such other categorisations.
So, in this way, it was established that except the brahmins, others are inferior castes; that is unfit to be touched by brahmins, nor would a brahmin eat with them giving equal status to them; also the other castes shall not have many other rights; that they are fit only to be subservient to brahmins, were born due to illegal cohabitation, low-high caste cohabitation leading to intermixture, and by and large people of a general, degraded condition. This, in brief, is the essence of caste system.
Besides, if any logical or philosophical explanation is to be given for this, that can only be for the stupids who listen to that: not really for the religion that originated these and supporting documents like the vedas, sastras, the co-called code of righteousness etc. And without raising any valid questions and objections to these logical explanations, people have to merely accept their degrading conditions.
Leaving these aside, if we look at the position and rights assigned to others except the brahmins, one can easily understand that no rational thinking or self-respecting people would accept what is referred to as the name of their castes and in fact could not even dream of such degradation consequent upon this caste division. That is, if you look at the position and rights assigned by the brahmins to the fourth varna, sudra class, it is akin to what the present government has conferred upon people who are referred to ‘traditionally criminal class’ who are obliged to live by the terms and conditions imposed by the government and manner in which they are treated.
For example we will quote from what are referred to dharma sastras or code righteousness: “Snathamaswam gajamatham rishabham kamamohitam sudrama ksharasamyuktam dhoorata parivarjiyem” – i.e., “ a horse that has been give a bath, an elephant in high mental tension, a bull in sexual pursuit, and a literate sudra should not be allowed to come nearer.” Is the meaning of that Sanskrit quotation.
“Japas thapa, theertha yatra pravarjaya, manthara sadhanam, devaradhanam, sachaisva stree sudra pathathanishan” i.e., “Mental prayers, penance, pilgrimage to holy places, sanyasa or renunciation of the world, prayers to God and worship—are all prohibited for womenfolk and sudras.”
“na patem samskritam vanim” –i.e, a sudra should not read Sanskrit.
“naiva sastram patenaiva srunuvan vaidhikaksharam, nasnayatu dayalpurvam thapo mantram suvarjayel” – i.e, a sudra should never study sastras, or listen to the vedas; he should never get up before sunrise and take bath or say mantras or do sever penance either.”
“Itihasa puranani, napatesrotumarhasi”—a sudra should not even read itihasa and puranas. But he can listen to a brahmin reading them. “
“Chaturvarnyam mayasrushtam, parisramatyakam, karmam sudrasyapi pavanam” (Gita) – The four varnas were created by me; in that the principal duty of sudra is to serve others.
Thousands of such quotations can be given and explained. This is what is contained in what is consider as our religion’s religious works, vedas, dharma sastras referred to as revelations from God.
For some reason, we have a government which is not obliged to practice these religious regulations: Accordingly some of us are not obliged to live according to these ‘right’ code of rules and regulations. But again if attempts are made to protect our religion and caste, to stabilise them in the name of religion and caste, think of the havoc we have to face and what are the consequences to be experienced.
So long as there caste divisions within the Hindu society, as long high-low perception also will be there.
Today those who are nationalists and desire that India should have full independence, they must make efforts to eradicate the caste differences even while British rule lasts. Instead if they say, “You leave us, we will take care of things”, it is equivalent to taking poison ourselves and no good will accrue by that. In India, today 999 out 1000 people are not interested in abolishing caste differences, in fact want to be in the higher caste where they would dominate over a number of lower castes. Today if we give up even the rights acquired under the present rule, and if administration were come into the hands of people who are committed to varna dharma, caste domination, the atrocities of caste system will never be wiped out.
Translated by Prof.T.Marx
(‘Republic’, (kudiarasu)Editorial -30.11.1930)
Mr. Chairman, Sisters and Brothers!
Ever since man began to have thoughts on the existence of God we have also had ideas of high-castes and low-castes. In the name of God, high and low caste ideas have been floated and sustained. In Hinduism, whether in vaishinivite or saivite sub-sect, can you show castes without discrimination, higher or lower order Gods, or avatars (descent of God on earth)? Also the playful activities of God (leelas), great men who showed path towards God, puranas which explain God’s activities or ithihasas are soaked with caste ideas. The 64 nayanmars (saivite saints) had belonged to 64 castes. The 12 alwars (vaishnavite saints) had belonged to 12 castes. If you consider Manu dharma (the code of righteousness), the basis of Hindu religion, you will find reference to a number of castes and discrimination amongst them. In whatever way you look at, whether it is your today’s faith in religion, or faith in God based on that, or faith in the veda, sastra, purana, ithihasa, you can never say that, that there is no caste discrimination or differentiation.
If any body were to tell you that according to Hindu traditions, there are no caste distinctions, you must consider them as ignorant people or fraudulent people. Some others would tell you that “Only based on differences in occupations that caste system was created, not on basis of birth.”, “So occupational differences are bound to be there”, “God has said like that in Gita” and try to mislead or cheat you. Even if it is based on occupation, why should there be discrimination? Why cannot a person be a carpenter in the morning, businessman during day time and a teacher in the night? Why should he not be doing agricultural tilling work the next day, weaving in the noon, a seller in the evening and a watchman in the night?
What I stress is that we do not require a system in any form. It has not given people a use in any sense. These have been used to create evil ideas like people of high birth, low birth, rich, poor etc. but never for promoting ideas of equality and freedom
Translated by Prof.T.Marx
(Lecture at Irugoor – 3.1.1931 – ‘Republic’, ( kudiarasu)11.1.1931)
19. The Functioning of Caste System
Mr. President and friends!
You would expect me to say a few words while I inaugurate this conference. You know my views on oppressed people. If you want to liberate the oppressed people from the atrocities imposed on them by others, it must be considered as a revolutionary work. Because the conditions of the oppressed people have been based on a strong foundation.
The ideas that oppressed people belong to lower castes, people who are untouchables, are by birth having inherently low qualities, even Gods have created them only like that, the authority for such a situation could be gleaned in religious works and sastras (scriptures of religion), nobody should change the acts of God or religious rules, have all been built upon strong foundations. If anybody were to think that oppressed people should get equality or the principle of untouchability removed from human society, can be achieved through words of propaganda or by just requesting for such things from high caste people, let me say that such people are wasting their lives in such thoughts. Some among the oppressed think that if they take bath, adorn their forehead with the religious mark of vaishnavism or saivism, dress like vaidics (followers of the vedas), say that they do not drink alcohol or eat meat, have a name like samy, their condition would improve and untouchability would be abolished.
This is a crazy thing to do: really cheating oneself while thinking that others can be cheated. Many people among the oppressed –the adidravadars—had done like this for a long time. There are many authorities in the puranas for this. One can boldly assert that for thousands of years nothing had been done to eradicate untouchability. The activities of some phony people may have benefited their selfish interests, but such show and devotion would serve no purpose: also there is neither any possibility.
This is because they had built this around such strong foundations. Leave the subject of untouchability aside for a while, Even though so many have fought against it, many giants have fought against it, has the title ‘sudra’ been –imposed on 97 out of 100 people by 3 out of 100—abolished? Even though some among the sudras have been made mahatmas, sages, saints, alwars, nayanmars, people with divine virtues, etc. the column created to call the very large majority of people by the term ‘sudra’ has not been destroyed. And it is not easy to destroy it either. Yesterday the person who inaugurated the adidravidar conference here and the one who presided over the function here, both belong to higher castes. That is the Hon. minister, P.T.Rajan and your District Board President friend Samiappa Mudaliar are saiva velalars – that too, saiva velalars of Thondai Mandalam. People who say that their rank is next to brahhmins and some in their community would say that would not even eat in a brahmin’s house. Still the brahmins would ask such people whether howsoever high could a sparrow flies it could never become a hawk.
Not only that, the brahmins will stamp them all and categorise them only as sudras, among the four varnas there is no special provision for Thondaimandala Saiva Velalars. Many Thodamandala velalars have for a long time stated that they were not sudras and that they had no connection of varnasrama system. Some others have claimed that they were not ordinary sudras’ but were ‘sadsudras’. which was just like adorning the ‘broom stick with a silken kunchalam’. When that is the position, alas, while being placed in worldly life in a very low position, being denied any support and comfort, if you think you will be able to destroy or conceal this stigma of pariah, that too by just putting on a make up like adherent to religion, that will be something like a sparrow drying up a sea by drinking the same and nothing else. They proclaim that varnas were created by God. In Gita Bhagwan Krishna has stated, “I have created four varnas.” Castes were created by religion. In Manu code the manner in which the Chandala caste originated and other castes were created has been elaborated. Therefore, if God, religion and Gita and manu code are continuously sustained and supported, think how it is possible to abolish the stamp of sudra and the attribute of ‘low caste’.
In order to abolish untouchability our friend Gandhi has shouted as much as possible. Collected many lakhs of rupees to achieve that end and handed them over to higher caste or varna people. Otherwise, he was not able to bring about the slightest change. On the other hand he also supports Gita, manu code, varna system and caste. Today those who are doing service, involved in the abolition of untouchability, 100 out of 100 such gullible people have full belief in and support for Gita and manu code. Even if they toil for a long time on this issue, it is just like trying to fill up a water tank, drawing water from a well using a vessel full of leaks only. So for abolition of untouchability or caste, you must first destroy or abolish your religion. If you are not able to destroy the religion, you must atleast leave that religion. It is a firm position that unless your religion is destroyed, you cannot destroy untouchability or pariahhood. People who have become ‘touchables’ after being `untouchable’ are those who have dismissed the shackles of religion imposed on them. Statistics can be given listing crores of people who have done this by giving their names and place of living.
Therefore, don’t ever be deceived into thinking that by saving religion as well, you could abolish untouchability. Friend Gandhi is an ardent religionist and not a deep humanist. He has been saying that untouchability must be abolished only to save Hinduism: otherwise he is not having his principal objective of the abolition of atrocities perpetrated against you. Congressmen also do not bother about it. That is because most of them are brahmins. If in practice they follow untouchability, they know that they themselves would become untouchables in the long run. Because when untouchability is abolished, the high caste attribute of brahmins will also be abolished or disappear. If they lose their stamp of high caste people, who would care about them? So if any type of liberation is to be done for those called untouchables, it can be done by the government. A government is duty bound to abolish atrocities prevalent in a society and also atrocities perpetrated against one section of the people against others. Not only that, the government that is ruling over us does not practice untouchability. As a sign of good times for the untouchables, Indian sovereignty is not in the hands of Indians but in the hands of a ruler of a different continent. Congress says it is trying to bring sovereignty back to Indians and efforts are also taking place.
Accordingly, you must make efforts to remove your grievances before this rule comes to an end. Do as much as possible to oppose the transformation of this rule into a brahmin rule. Swayarajya or self-rule are nothing but Ramarajya, Gita rajya, Manu code rule, as you know. It is far better if India were to be destroyed by earthquakes or hurricanes or floods rather than reverting back to Manu code rule or Ramarajya. Therefore, make all your efforts to free yourselves during the British rule itself. All the olden, past administrations could not abolish untouchability. It is during this rule that you became Collectors; you became judges; you became lawyers; you became doctors; you became teachers; you became members of legislatures; you got titles like Rao Bahadur and Diswan Bahadur: you may even become ministers. Therefore, to address your grievances, in order that your society could improve and you be treated as others, there is scope only in the British administration: I would stress that it would be impossible in Hindu religious Hindu Administration or Ramarajya or the rule of Manu code, or Gita rule, or under the rule of local swadeshi rulers.
Do not bother about or participate in the political agitations of others. They are all just to gain more dominance by the rich or the high-case people, or the educated crowd. You are not in any of these three categories. To get them you must depend only British. All others have been devotees of the British administration, loyal subjects and have obtained the present high positions and clamour for still higher positions. You must agitate and gain equal posts and then, later on, clamour for and try to get higher posts.
Friends, these are my views in this matter. Then it is up to you to think and come to your own conclusions.
Translated by Prof.T.Marx
(A lecture in Sirkazhi, 10.7.1935 – ‘Republic’, ( kudi arasu) 28.7.1935)
20. Down with Caste System!
Sisters and Brothers!
No good or benefit will come to you by associating with any caste. The Hon’ble Minister, who is seated nearby, though the Premier of this Presidency, though has the merit to be a Minister in the Central government, though belongs to a great velalar community, he is categorised only as a low caste person. Above him there are three castes. His caste is referred to as ‘sudra caste’. So long as this caste tag is attached, the feelings of high and low will never go away. In order to destroy this difference, caste names and feelings must be abolished or destroyed.
Brothers, already much time is lost. Many important resolutions have to be passed. The conference is also to be concluded quickly. Therefore, as said in this morning, some introductory remarks are necessary.
We see conferences of this type taking throughout the country. This country consists of many castes and many communities. The day we began to have caste system and a hierarchy of high, low birth people; from that time onwards the necessity for conducting separate conferences for separate castes had arisen. I hear complaints from many people if separate conferences of separate castes are held, when will we ever be united? I have also heard some people calling these conferences as ‘communal’ and refusing to attend the same. Saying like this, you cannot blame people who convene caste or community meetings. It is essential that conferences of this type are conducted. So long as people belonging to a particular community do not realise that they have been subjected to low status and degradation, they will remain without making any efforts to improve their position. If they realise that they too are humans, they are also equal to others, to be dubbed as low caste people and the intolerable atrocity is committed by a selfish crowd, then they would make efforts to attain equality. Though called a high sounding ‘Devendra Kula Velalar’ as they are oppressed and treated as untouchables, when they have feelings of self-respect, they will make efforts to gain equality. As all the present difficulties are due to the tag of low caste and treatment as such by others, it is imperative that efforts be made to come out of this rut.
What is it that we learn from such conferences? Instead of admiring the dazzle of the conference and feeling pride about its appearance, we must pay attention to what decisions they have taken, what resolutions have been passed and conduct ourselves to our best according to such conclusions.
We are not fit to participate in world competitions. If everybody is placed on an even level, we can definitely show our prowess. But the race is held by placing different categories behind one after the other; and Devendra Kula Velars are last in this line. When compelled to compete, however hard one placed last tries, he will only finish last in the race. Our educational and economic positions are also very limited. Some could say that we do not have much efforts, intelligence and concern for getting education. There could be none who would not spare efforts or intelligence and concern to get education. We have been tied up, shackled so that we do not get education and get better financial conditions because of that. If those bonds are untied, shackles removed, we can also fare very well in this competition.
Even though some people consider that Devendra Kula Velars are untouchables, they are also considered by some as ‘sudras’ –son of a prostitute- and kept away. A brahmin who consider all others as sudra is considered socially inferior and treated as such in South Africa by the whites. He cannot live in particular streets. Nor can he walk in some streets. So all over the world there are people who are treated in a lowly manner.
If anybody calls you pallar, pariar and treat you in a degraded manner, I say they are worse than you. Your caste names are in no way inferior to the caste names of those who call you as such. If anybody asks me what is superior, to be called pallar, pariar or sudra, I would reply never call a person sudra, to be called pallar or pariar is superior. Because the word sudra has degraded connotations than the other caste names. Pallars and pariars are born to their own parents. But sudras are considered as children of brahmin’s ‘kept women’. You may say that in the present government’s position such is not the consideration. But if the old Ramarajya were to come back, position would only be like that. Today also, in Travancore where Ramarajyam takes place, the position is only like that. There if you call a pucca Nair and ask him, “Whose son are you?”, “What is the name of your father?”, he would reply, “I am the son of so-and-so Nambudri.” “I was born to that Nambudri” . He will feel a sense of shame to call himself as the son of a nair. The reason for his saying like that is, Ramarajyam is prevalent there. In a true Hindu state, there is provision to change one’s father and a mother according to the wishes of a person could be wives to many. Similar is the meaning of the word ‘sudra’ here.
You desire to be called as velalars. Vanniars desire to be called as kshatriyas. Chettiars prefer to call themselves as vaisyas. If asked, “Why all these? These are equal to your degrading yourself”, you reply, “What Sir, we are just correcting our parents. You are pushing us down!”. Some Nadar gentlemen, just to follow the Aryans, had put on poonul (thread). When they were told to remove them, they said, “It has taken such a long time, after so much struggle, to put this on. Even before it could gather dirt or dust, you are asking us to remove it!” So it is clear that to be called a kshatriya, vaisya, velar or to put on sacred thread reveals that there is a feeling that there is a higher caste than one’s own and that they accept that they are inferior to that caste. The one who calls himself as belonging to the highest caste, distinguishes kshatriya as superior to vaisya and vaisya to be superior to sudra but treats both of them as inferiors and alike. For him there is no difference among the rest of the three castes. Have you not seen this and realised when you go to railway tiffin centres and hotels? There you have two separate places: in one place the brahmin sits and eats. In the other place, kshatriya, vaisya and sudra sit and take food. So, what difference do you find? Does this not show that brahmin is superior and the other three are equal among themselves? Then, why do you say you are kshatriya, vaisya or velala and talk of higher or lower status? Don’t you understand that these are all cunning measures to keep you disunited? Therefore only one section gets great benefit from this caste divisions. For the rest only disunity results.
Therefore, we must come to the conclusion whether this atrocity of caste difference should be put to an end or not. Secondly we must also come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as higher or lower caste for a man. After that whatever is the authority or basis for caste difference, it must be totally destroyed. If you don’t do that and think high or low differences could be abolished, it is equivalent to the act of a foolish person sitting at the top of the branch and cutting off the lower section of the branch. Caste, code of conduct are (like creepers around) surrounding the tree of religion. Caste must be separated from the religion. If it cannot be done and if caste and religion are intertwined and bound together, both of them must be felled, destroyed. The high caste cunning people, who were there earlier, had so cunningly bound caste and religion together that it would be impossible to separate them. Therefore, when you attempt to destroy caste, you should not feel fear that religion too is to destroyed: it is imperative, that the caste tree and the religion tree must be together burnt to ashes. There is however one problem in this. The religion is bound firmly with Veda, purana, etc. Therefore, it must be freed, separated from Veda and purana. If the bond is very tight and separation is not possible, here too both of them must burnt down. This Veda is inextricably bound with God; therefore God also must be tackled. If you deal firmly with the Veda, there would be shock wave for God also. Here one may get great feeling of dilemma. But one should not be afraid to shake God as well. Caste, religion, veda, God all must be destroyed. They are so bound together, intertwined, that each of them would not separately come off. (separately cannot be destroyed). So when we burn all of them which are bound together, and if there is any true substance in them, that will not be destroyed. So when we want to destroy caste system, if religion is also destroyed, so be it. We do not want a religion which has the crutches of caste system. Let it be destroyed, here and now. When you burn religion if Veda also gets burnt, so be it, let the Veda be also burnt. When you drive out the Veda, if God also runs away, let him do so. We do not want such a God.
Due to the atrocities of caste, man has been degraded worse than excreta. This is truth. Not just as rhetoric. One who goes to ease himself, cleans that part alone with a vessel full of water. If one by chance had touched excreta with his foot or feet, he washes the legs alone and feels clean. But if a man is touched by the other, if it is felt that he is polluted from head to foot, they say this pollution will not leave the body unless he pours water from head to food. So look at how man is considered worse than excreta. What harm could come if one man is touched by the other? What pollution? What crime? Nothing. Then why is it called a dosha (shortcoming)? This is just to live by cheating others. There is no other secret in this.
Some people say that people belonging to this caste should take bath and cleanse their bodies: should not drink toddy; should not eat meat. People who say these things call themselves as reformists. I do not say that these people should not be clean: nor do I say that they must drink toddy or arrack; or they must eat meat. But just to degrade them one should not say things about them. I just want to ask those who say that these people must be like this, whether they do not touch people who do not take bath or drink toddy or eat meat? Do all the people who they daily touch and indulge in conversation, take bath daily? Do they not eat meat? Are they abstained from drinking toddy or arrack? I take bath only twice a week. As I am constantly on travel, I am not able to take bath more than twice a week. There are countless people like me. Don’t they touch such people? In the world 99% of the people are meat-eaters. Drinking is also prevalent among all castes. Do these people not touch such people?
Do all the toddy manufactured in our land and meat got out of killing are consumed only by these who are called untouchables? Some say that these people eat beef. People who rule over us now are totally beef eaters. People who have accepted beef eaters as our rulers, and remain as their subject people, if a brother of ours eat cow’s flesh, what untoward thing would take place? Are these talks senseless, shameless ones or spoken out of spite, ill-will and a sense of superiority? Muslims are also beef eaters; why are not these people fighting against them for that?
Some others say that they eat the flesh of dead cow or bull. What pollution, in what form would come to them on that account? Should the cow in full cry, shivering in fear be slaughtered, and then eat its flesh—is that a sin? Or to eat something that is dead and is about to buried eaten because of no other alternative due to poverty, is that a sin? Poultry which eats worms, excreta eating pigs –can you say that cow and bull which eat grass and oil-cake, to eat them is degrading?
When a person has no facility to take bath, how can he bath? You just lock up the so-called saints and heads of mutts, don’t give them water for bathing or even washing teeth for a month, wont their mouths stink? Won’t their bodies stink? Would not their clothes become dirty? Why should it be so? Is it due to not giving them water? Or due to birth? When the so-called untouchables are not given water for drinking, or pour water over their bodies, what a foolish thing to say that they do not take bath. When he is so poorly paid and profits accruing from his hard labour is appropriated by the rich and when is reduced to a position where he cannot afford to buy meat what else could he do except to eat flesh from dead cow and goat? He is forced to traverse all over hard places to eke out an existence, whether it is hot sunshine or cold or pouring rain, sweating out heavily while working and facing such hardships, if he takes toddy to forget bodily tiresomeness, does he become degraded on that account?
I do not know the position in these places. In our side, this caste is not allowed to take bath in ponds and tanks where even cattle are bathed: nor allowed to take bath in the small canals through which water from wells flows into fields. Who is responsible for these deeds? Does all these come with birth? Or are they acts done by people who have caste pride?
We have done everything fairly, obeying the discipline of religion, sastra (scripture), devotion to God, etc. with great patience, for making progress in living conditions. We have done everything in a peaceful manner, all the required efforts paying respects to religion and God. There is a limit to patience and peace. Now that limit has been crossed. Hereafter nothing would come by obeying religion, veda or God.
They say do not find fault with puranas which have made Nandan a nayanar and Panan an Alwar. True, we now keep quiet. If it is true that Nanda got heaven or liberation why are you not permitting his son to go into temple? If it is true that Panan was made an Alwar, why are you preventing his grandson going to temple? You install a stone for Nandan, a stone for Panan, and in their name want people to offer Pongal and try to earn money out of. What else are you doing in their name? If Nandan could, why should we not go? If we ask questions like that, they say “That Nandan entered fire first before coming to the temple. You also come like that.” If we want to go first we must enter the fire, get burnt to ashes, then alone can enter.
So caste differences must be destroyed. All sacrifices must be made to abolish caste discrimination. We must implement the resolutions passed in this conference into action, everyone should come forward to abide by them. No sense in wasting time over whether to be called ‘pallar’ or ‘velalar’. That won’t do. In western countries they do research on a number of things. We are quarrelling as to what names we should have. Even if you call yourself Devendra Kula Brahmins: I know the plight of people who have added the title of brahmins to their caste names. Viswa brahmins, Devanga Brahmins, Sourashtra Brahmins—By having such new names, I know what their position is. An adi dravida, whatever abuses he hears from any house, will eat from what is given from that house. Wherever he is made to stand, will take whatever is given. But will not touch even water offered by houses of Vishwa Brahmins. If you ask them the reason you are told that Viswa Brahmins are Idakkaiyars, left-handers, we are all valangai, right handed ones. This is the position of people who added the title Brahmins to their castes.
I consider even the name Devendra Kula as degrading. I do not know why you are having such a name. But the word ‘devendran’ is a big obscenity to me. Because all the stories about devendra depict him so filthily. He is considered worse than a prostitute’s son. A caste should not be subdivided into many with different names. There are many variations of naickers. Among the chettys too like that; differences among the Pillais as well. In Madras city even a pariah calls himself Pillai. Pallan also calls himself pillai. Because pallan and pariah change their names into pillais in Madras, youngsters living here also change with speed of airplanes, their names into mudaliars. This type of tendency should be avoided. We must demolish the idea of caste differences from our thoughts. We need consider the caste we are born into as inferior and degraded one to some other caste and surrender to it. Nothing is more degrading than that. You should never follow such ideas.
I conclude my introductory remarks with these. I express my gratitude for the welcome and hospitality accorded by the Reception Committee, In my concluding talk I will refer to other things.
Translated by Prof.T.Marx
(Lecture at Trichy – 29.9.1929 ‘Dravidan’ Daily – 5.10.1929)