compiled by Mukilan Murugasan
(Organising Secretary - Malaysian Dravidian Association)
PERIYAR E.V. RAMASAMY
was born at Erode town in Tamil Nadu State - India
Father: VENKATA (NAICKER)
A popular rich merchant;
Ardent devotee of Hindu religion. (A Vaishnavite)
Mother: CHINNA THAYAMMAL alias MUTHAMMAL
1885 [Age - 06] He was sent to a small primary school conducted at a house - verandah in those days.
1889 [Age - 10] His school career ended within 5 years.
1891 [Age - 12] He entered his father’s trade.
1895 He used to hear Tamil Vaishnav religious Gurus talks on mythologies at his house, while witnessing them enjoying hospitability of his parents. As a boy, he started questioning the contradictions and absurdities in the fables of Hindu deities spread by the Aryan Race. Rationalism and atheism slowly blossomed in the mind of this youth - Ramasamy.
1898 He married NAGAMMAL, aged 13. He reformed his orthodox wife and sowed rationalistic views in her mind.
1900 He became the father of a baby girl which expired within 5 months and thereafter had no children.
1904 He undertook "renunciation" of family because of the harsh reprimand of his father.
He went first to Vijayawada in Andhra State. Then he proceeded to Hyderabad and Kolkatta.
INSULT AT KAASI ENLIGHTENS HIS RATIONALISM
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, 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.
o 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 his mind, 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 him 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 the 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 and 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 him and renamed his major commercial concern under the title: "E.V. Ramasamy Naicker Mandi"
1905 onwards : Besides being a well-known wealthy businessman in Erode Periyar entered into public life by rendering social services selflessly.
The dreadful contagious disease plague attacked Erode. Hundreds of people died and thousands fled for saving their life. But Periyar 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 Periyar 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.,
1909 Unyielding to stiff protest of orthodox family members, Periyar arranged the remarriage of his sister's daughter who became a child widow at the age of 9.
1929 Periyar visited Malaya with his wife Nagammai. It received strong opposition from the local Brahmins. However, with the intervention of reformists in Malaya and the British, Periyar was finally allowed to tour Malaya. His tour paved way for the formation of Self-respect movements and eventually Malaysian Dravidian Association.
1931 Dec 13 Periyar started his Journey to Europe from Chennai harbour by ship. Mr. S. Ramanathan and Mr. Ramu of Erode accompanied him. (Via Sri Lanka)
1932 He visited many European Countries like Egypt, Greek, Turkey, Soviet Russia, Germany, England (Britain), Italy, Spain, France, Portugal etc.,
In Russia (formerly Soviet Union) his stay was extended for a lengthy period of three months because he was invited to address many workers' meetings. Being the First Nation of Karl Marx's Communism, established by Lenin, the former Soviet Union (Russia) captivated very much the heart of Periyar.
At Berlin, capital of Germany, Periyar visited several Socialist Associations and offices of Socialist magazines.
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.
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.
1933 Because of the repression by the British Rule, 'Kudi Arasu' - Tamil Weekly was banned. Another magazine 'Puratchi' (Revolution) was published by Periyar.
1933 Dec - 30 Periyar and his sister Kannammal were arrested and awarded imprisonment for an editorial in 'Kudi Arasu' weekly.
1934 He brought out the Tamil weekly 'Pagutharivu' (Rationalism) on 12-1-1934.
1935 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. It was later adopted by Tamil scholars all over the world and is in practice currently.
1937 Dec. 26 At Truchirappalli, 'Tamils Conferance' was convened. There Periyar declared that to defeat the dominance of Hindi over Tamil and Dravidian race, the only solution would be 'A separate Souvereign State' ie., 'Tamil Nadu for Tamils'.
1938 In his book entitled as "The world to come" Periyar visuvalised many scientific inventions including the possibility of the "Test Tube Baby" which is now a reality!
Periyar opposed the introduction of compulsory Hindi in schools by Mr. C. Rajagopala Achariyar (Rajaji) as Prime Minister of Madras Presidency who had earlier announced its introduction on 25-2-1938 but he actually introduced it on 23-4-1938. Periyar began to picket in front of the Hindu Theological School, Chennai from 4-6-1938 where Hindi was introduced. He courted arrest and was sentenced on 6-12-1938 to undergo imprisonment for 2 years. He was lodged in the Govt. Central prison at Madras and then he was transferred to the Bellary Jail (Andhra). Mr. C.N. ANNADURAI (Latter he became the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu 1967-69) participated in the picketing against Hindi and went to jail.
On 29-12-1938 he was elected President of the Justice Party even when he was in Bellary Jail (Andhra).
The title "Periyar" was conferred on him by Tamil Nadu Women Conference held in Madras on 13-11-1938 under the presidentship of NEELAMBIGAI AMMAIYAAR daughter of MARAIMALAI ADIGAL, a veteran Tamil Scholar.
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.
1946 On 11-5-1946, the famous "Blackshirts Conference" was held on the sands of the River Vaigai in Madurai when the conference tent 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.
1949 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.
1950 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 publication of
his book 'Ponmozhigal' (Golden sayings).
1951 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.
1952 Periyar opposed the scheme of New Elementary education on the basis of the parents hereditary occupation, introduced by the then Chief-Minister Mr. C. Rajagopalachari (Rajaji).
Periyar and his followers erased with tar the Hindi-name-Boards in all Railway stations all over Tamil Nadu.
1953 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-programme
1954 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 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 large number of people, and not to go alone.
1954 Dec Periyar undertook his second tour to Malaysia and propagated his rationalistic principles in many places.
1958, another big agitation was started by Periyar against the caste system. 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.
1967 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.
Periyar decided to extend his support to the D.M.K. Ministry. Mr. C.N. Annadurai declared in the State Assembly that he dedicated his 'Ministry' to Periyar. He also enacted the Self-Respect Marriage Act legalising all the marriages so far conducted on Self-Respect Marriage System devoid of rituals.
Mr. C.N. Annadurai, a lieutenant of Periyar, brought a legislation renaming Madras State as Tamil Nadu State and also introducing the two language formula (Tamil and English) for Tamil Nadu, instead of the 3 language formula prescribed by the Central Govt. then. These three achievements are the mile stones of his ministry.
1968 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.
1969 Feb - 3 Chief Minister ANNA expired. Periyar plunged into profound grief and expressed that the future of entire Tamil Nadu had become darkened due to the demise of ANNA.
1969 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.
1970 The UNESCO, an international organisation of the United Nations, conferred on Periyar a glorious title the citation of which reads as "Periyar the prophet of New Age, Socrates of South East Asia, Father of the social Reform Movement, and Arch enemy of ignorance, superstitions, meaningless customs and base manners" - UNESCO 27-6-1970. The award was presented by the Union Education Minister of Education, Dr. TRIGUNA SEN under the presidentship of Chief Minister KALAINGAR M. KARUNANIDHI.
Legislation was passed in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly, enabling persons belonging to all castes to become Archakas (Triests) in Temples. Periyar demanded such a legislation, to abolish castes and to establish equality of persons irrespective of caste at all places.
1972 Aug-13 At Cuddalore, the statue of Periyar was unveiled by the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Hon. M. Karunanidhi. The Chairman of the Legislative Council Mr. C.P. Chitrarasu presided over the function.
1973 Sep-16,17 Periyar happily participated in his 95th Birth-Day Celebrations. The A.D.M.K. General Secretary M.G. RAMACHANDRAN offered laurels and a purse to Periyar.
1973 Sep-30A huge 'Conference of Blackshirts' was conducted at Madurai City. The statue of Thanthai Periyar was unveiled by Tamil Nadu Minister Dr. V.R. NEDUNCHEZHIAN under the Chairmanship of Minister PANRUTI S. RAMACHANDRAN.
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 Periyar was taken to the C.M.C. Hospital at Vellore on his wish.
1973 Dec- 24 Periyar breathed his last, putting millions of rationalists, Tamilians of Dravidian race and admirers all over the globe into unbearable agony.
An official State mourning was announced by the Chief-Minister Kalaingar M. Karunanidhi and Gazette extraordinary was issued by the Govt. of Tamil Nadu.
1973 Dec- 25 A state funeral with police honours was arranged in Madras. His body was kept in the Rajaji Hall for the public to pay their respects when dignitaries, his followers, friends, and a host of others assembled in millions. The funeral procession started in the evening and reached the Periyar Thidal at Vepery, Chennai - 600 007 where his body was laid to rest. Leaders like former Chief Minister Mr. K. Kamaraj and Kalainagnar Karunanidhi came in the procession A Govt. holiday was declared on 24-12-1973 by the State Govt of Tamil Nadu.
1974 Jan- 6 After Periyar's death Mrs. E.V.R. Maniammai headed this Social Revolutionary Movement (Dravidar Kazhagam) and lived up to 1978.
PERIYAR’S VISIT TO MALAYA
Thanthai Periyar visited Malaysia twice; the first visit was in 1929 and he second visit in 1954. During his first in 1929, his first wife Madam Nagammai accompanied him. Madam Maniammai as Thanthai Periyar’s “caretaker wife” during his old age accompanied him in the second visit in 1954.
In 1929, the then Singapore’s leading reformist A.C. Suppiah along with his friends G.G. Sarangapany, K.Thamotharan and, K.Ramalingam made preparations to bring Thanthai Periyar to Malaya to take part in the All-Malaya Tamil Conference. A total of RM20, 000 was raised for this conference. In 1929, RM20, 000 is considered a large sum and raising such a large sum is a mammoth task as most of the Tamil community is laborers with meager income. However, there was another group working behind the scenes to prevent Thanthai Periyar from visiting Malaya by labeling him as an atheist.
K. Narasima Iyangran, a Brahmin wrote in the Tamil Nesan that Thanthai Periyar is an atheist and his visit to Malaya will cause a major unrest and therefore should be sent back to Tamilnadu. The same sentiment was echoed by several other Tamil newspapers and by those who oppose Thanthai Periyar’s self-respect ideology. They distributed leaflets throughout Penang boycotting Thanthai Periyar .
When the ship ‘Rajula’ harbored at the Penang port, Thanthai Periyar and his aides were barred from leaving the ship by this group of Tamils.
After hearing news that there are groups protesting Thanthai Periyar’s visit to Malaya, the Perak Tamil Reform Association's committee members, G. G. Sarangapany from Singapore, A.C. Suppiah and, Govindasamy met the British authorities and assured them that the committee will assume full responsibility, should there be any untoward incident due to Thanthai Periyar’s speeches. With the help of the British authorities Thanthai Periyar was allowed to leave the ship on 10 December 1929 and continue with his tour in Malaya.
Thanthai Periyar subsequently, officiate the Perak Tamil Reform Associations conference in Ipoh and spoke for three hours touching on a variety of topics ranging from blind beliefs, caste, social justice and rationalism. Unperturbed by the opposition, Thanthai Periyar continued with his tour and spoke at functions specially arranged for him throughout Malaya in an attempt to enlighten the masses. From Penang to Singapore, Thanthai Periyar spoke at 29 public rallies in Ipoh, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Prai, Kuala Kangsar, Taiping Muar, Johor Baru, Batu Pahat, Malacca, Tampin, Kuala Kubu, Tanjong Malim, Sungai Siput, Sungai Petani, Telok Intan and Kampar before leaving to India.
“Why suffer the throes of casteism in a land where everyone has the chance to be the master of his own destiny?” he had asked. “Forge ahead. Seek education. Strive for economic strength. That’s all that matters.”
Thanthai Periyar’s speeches brought some changes among Tamils who were suppressed by their caste and those who were working for the British as coolies. Self-respect movements were established throughout Malaya to reform the Tamils. Thanthai Periyar’s visit to Malaya in 1929 created strong reformist impulses which led to the formation of Adi Dravidar Sangam in 1929 in Batu Pahat and Johor Bahru, Tamilar Sirthirutha Sangam (Tamil Self-Respect Association) in 1930, Pan Malaysian Dravidian Association and eventually Malaysian Dravidian Association in 1946. Magazines, newspapers and journals such as “Kudiarasu”, “Viduthalai”, “Puratchi”, and “Pagutharivu” published by Thanthai Periyar’s Self-Respect Movement in Tamilnadu were imported in large scale. Thanthai Periyar’s visit further led to publication of 5 Tamil and English newspapers namely Munnetram, Sirthirutham, Tamil Murasu, Reform and Indian Daily Mail. Reform and Indian Daily Mail was published in English. In Singapore, G. Sarangapany propagated Thanthai Periyar’s principles through all the above newspapers.
In 1954, the All Malaya Dravidian Association took charge of Thanthai Periyar’s visit and organized public rallies throughout Malaya. This time he visited Penang, Prai, Sungai Rumbai, Alor Star, Taiping, Kuala Kangsar, Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur, Seremban, Banting, Port Dickson, Kajang, Muar and Pasir Panjang. Thanthai Periyar spoke in all the rallies and enlightened the masses on the variety of areas that they are being suppressed. In every rally Thanthai Periyar without fail reminded the Tamils to make Malaya as their home and work towards the country’s progress. He also urged them to seek education and also set up their own business instead of remaining as laborers forever.
Thanthai Periyar views contraception as a key to liberate womenfolk from their slavery to man.
Thanthai Periyar went to the extent of suggesting women to stop conceiving as having a number of children affects both the women and their husbands adversely. They lose their independence and liberty and become slaves to others.
A man has to forfeit all his rights and self-respect to eke out his livelihood how can he dream of leading an independent life overburdened with a cluster of children hanging around him? As such, conceiving, bearing, and begetting children deprive a woman of her own independence and set her husband’s freedom at naught.
As woman has no independent source of income those days, she depends on others to rear up her children. In this respect she is more miserable than any other creature in the world. Besides, she loses her luster and stamina with repeated child- bearing and falls an easy prey to diseases and premature death. Therefore, women should adopt contraceptives to safeguard their rights.
Invariably men become admirable bachelors and adorable saints, monks, and monastery heads wallowing in money and material pleasures but never a woman. This discrimination towards women is due to the fact that she conceives and loses her rights to become a religious head and therefore, she is considered unfit to occupy holy positions.
Thanthai Periyar felt that propaganda for contraception is more significant than the propaganda for prohibition and eradication of infectious diseases.
However, Thanthai Periyar’s strong support of contraception does not mean that he is against women having any children altogether. His idea of contraception is aimed at limiting the number of children. Thanthai Periyar says a married couple should not have more than 3 children. Thus, his contraception policy is against bringing forth an unlimited number of children.
Thanthai Periyar even suggested that books, which have appeared, on the subject in English and other foreign languages be translated into Tamil and distributed among the people. Popular media such as the cinema and drama should also be fully exploited to highlight how women can be liberated from their slavery and the country be benefited by practicing contraception.
The word prostitution is in reference to man-women relationship. The concepts that prostitution is a sin and that prostitution means immoral character are applied only to women and not at all to men. Thanthai Periyar says the word prostitution was never used on men, in spite of his conduct in matters related to sexual conduct. The use of the word ‘prostitution’ with reference to women is because women are deemed as slaves to men. Women who indulge in prostitution are kept out of their community, imprisoned, beaten, rebuked and in some occasions even murdered. Men have never been subjected to such harsh treatments even if his sexual conduct is extremely bad. This proves that women are deemed as slaves to man, that they are objects of lust and can be easily be bought and sold or rented out for men to fulfill their sexual needs.
Thanthai Periyar points out that, weddings in the Tamil society are wasteful and causes tremendous amount of difficulty for the families of the bride and bridegroom. It also involves a lot of wastage for everyone. However, the people involved often disregard the difficulties and wastage resulting from the wedding. They are of the opinion that, it is an obligation to spend large amount of money for a wedding. They do not mind going through the hardship and difficulties arising due to the wasteful expenses. The wastage and difficulties is not confined to the families celebrating the wedding but it also extends to the relatives, friends and neighbors. Almost all families that celebrate the wedding borrow recklessly and spend lavishly to satisfy those who attend the wedding. They also do this fearing that others may speak low of them. Those wasteful expenses cause many families to crush and they remain in debt for a long period of time.
Thanthai Periyar opines performing ‘Sati’ is better than torturing widows for the rest of their life in the name of Sastras. If every wife, at the death of her husband were allowed to mount the funeral pyre, she would have gone to the ‘heaven’ preserving her ‘chastity’. But the widow who is spared the funeral pyre is made to face throughout her life a kind of suffering equivalent to the torture of her body inch by inch. Therefore, it was better that she died, than live such a life.
A widow has no life to look forward to. As a widow, remarriage was out of the question in the Hindu tradition bound community. Chapter 6, 50 of the Manu strictly prohibit a widow to remarry. Verse 44 says a widow should only eat fruits, edibles and vegetable for the remaining part of her life. She is not supposed to even mention the name of another male. The society treats a widow as an evil omen and an economic liability. She has to remain barefoot, shaven bald, sleep on the floor and is not allowed to venture out of the house. She is slandered if seen talking to any male.
Thanthai Periyar strongly advocates that all women should be educated. Women who are not educated will eventually be sent to religious sanctuaries of mutts for unmarried women, as man will not marry them. Even for those women who are married and feel they are no longer young, should continue to study so that their husbands will not seek educated women in their place.
Thanthai Periyar condemns the belief by parents that educated girls will correspond with their secret lovers. Thanthai Periyar further advocates that girls should be taught self-defense. Women should acquire the ability to protect themselves from men who tries to molest them. Women should develop physical strength like men and they also should be trained in the use of weapons. Their leisure time should not be wasted in learning traditional dances.
Thanthai Periyar advises women to acquire education, rationalization, worldly experience, self-confidence and courage. Women should have the desire to work like men.
Advice to youths
On speaking about expenses, Thanthai Periyar concludes that an increase in income is not important for an individual or a family. One should instead learn to minimize expenses and learn to save. Whatever may be the financial status of the family, the expenses should be within their limits. It is very unprincipled on the part of a women of ordinary means desire to dress like a rich woman. One should learn to spend according to his income. Expenses should be carefully planned and somehow, saving should be effected. Lavish expenditure spoil’s one’s character. In addition, married couples should not live for themselves. They should learn to share their wealth with those who are in need. One should bear the little inconvenience when helping someone. By adopting this principle in all affairs of life, Thanthai Periyar says one will be doing some service to the society.
One of the main contributions by Thanthai Periyar is the Self-respect marriage. Self-respect marriage is a marriage that excludes the Brahmin priest, blind beliefs and slavery of women. It is conducted in one’s own mother tongue and rationalistically. Self-respect marriages have no place for god, religion, religious ceremony and tradition and Brahmin priests.
.N. Annadurai was elected as the Chief Minister. He immediately announced that he would pass a law to make the self-respect marriage legal. On the same year a draft copy of the Section 4 Madras Acts and Ordinance, which governs self-respect marriage, was sent to Thanthai Periyar for his comments. The present Secretary General of Dravidar Kazhagam, Dr. K. Veeramani read it to him. Rule 2b and 2c of the act read as follows:
2b) by each party by garlanding the other or putting a ring upon any finger of the other; and
2c) by tying of the thali.
Thanthai Periyar immediately requested the word “and” to be changed to “or”. The word “and” makes tying of thali compulsory while the word “or” makes it optional. Consequently, the word was amended and the law was passed in the Tamilnadu state assembly.
After the law on self-respect marriage was passed in Tamilnadu state assembly, members of Malaysian Dravidian Association felt a similar law should be passed in Malaysia. Malaysian Dravidian Association made applications to the Malaysian federal government and urged it to recognize all previous and future self-respect marriages. A copy of the self-respect law was submitted to the government.
Malaysian Dravidian Association also gathered the support of other Indian based organizations to urge the government to introduce the above law. MIC leaders Dato’ Seri S. Samy Vellu, the late Dato’ K. Pathmanaban also played a major role in getting the Self-respect marriage recognized by the government. Finally in 1982 the Law Reform and Marriage Act were passed in the parliament and a total of 52 members of Malaysian Dravidian Association were appointed as Assistant Marriage Registrars.