VAITHEESWARAN KOIL – TAMIL NADU – INDIA DECEMBER 25 , 2012 10.55 P.M.
After going through my two previous blogs on ” Understanding Tamil Nadu ” , I think that E. V. Ramasamy Naicker ” Periyar ” and his various steps , which he took during his movements , would be properly understood out of Tamil Nadu also . His rationalism , espousal of self-respect , advocacy for women rights and eradication of caste system is epoch – making and has everlasting effect on Tamil people and Tamil Nadu .
His works among weaker sections of Tamil Nadu , his efforts for the uplifting of lower castes , long subjugated by Brahmins , would be always held in high esteem and would be considered exemplary .
His untiring efforts for the uplifting of women bears indelible marks on the social psyche of Tamil society . Widow marriage , in my opinion , is his most colossal work .
He tirelessly worked for the eradication of child marriage . He espoused inter – caste marriages and opened many educational institutions for the weaker section of society .
It is not for nothing that UNESCO citation in 1970 described Periyar as ” the prophet of the new age , the Socrates of South East Asia , father of social reform movement and arch enemy of ignorance , superstitions , meaningless customs and base manners .”
His blind opposition of HINDI , HINDU , HINDUSTAN somewhat darkens his other exemplary and far – reaching social works . It is this aspect of his personality and work that brings suspicion and doubt in the minds of large sections of North India . To understand Tamil Nadu better , let us take all the three causes of Periyar , one by one .
HINDI : I closely followed politics since my Allahabad days . I went to Allahabad in 1967 and it was the year when anti – Hindi agitation started in Tamil Nadu . I read many wicked stories published in the Hindi newspapers and magazines of those days . One story said that if you are lost and approach a Tamil speaking person for asking the right route , you will be unable to get an answer if you ask in Hindi . Even if a Tamil speaking person knows Hindi , he won’t answer and will go away saying ” HINDI ILLAI ” .
I found this story false during my recent forays in the hinterlands of Tamil Nadu . If I approach a person for asking something and even if I ask the question in Hindi , I was not spurned . I get the answer in broken Hindi and that too with smiling face . Sometimes if the person genuinely doesn’t know Hindi , instead of running away , he tries to explain everything in fluent Tamil with lots of hand movements and facial expressions .
If Tamil people think that Tamil is an ancient language and it is older than Hindi , I think that we have to respect the sentiment . Tamil is used in every sphere of Tamil Nadu and you will hardly find signboards in Hindi but in my opinion that is absolutely fine . A particular language should be respected and should be used in the land of its origin . That’s the basis for the formation of linguistic states , which has been agreed by all the political parties .
HINDU : E. V. Ramasamy Naicker ” Periyar ” was atheist for sure . Through his organization Dravid Kazhagam , he started denouncing Hinduism . It started with denunciation of Iyers and Iyengars , Brahmins of Tamil Nadu and culminated in processions , where idols of Ram , Sita and Lakshman were garlanded with slippers .
I can understand his dislike for Brahmins . I am willing to fathom his opposition of Sanskrit language also . I am willing to accept his credo of atheism . We in India have accepted Charvak , the first atheist , as a saint . But you can’t force your belief of not believing in religion on others .
He organized a procession to the Marina beach in 1956 , to burn pictures of Rama , the God . His followers broke idols in the temples , banished Brahmins from the every section of tamil society and organized Ravan Leelas .
But in my recent visits to the state , I found to my surprise that in every temple of Tamil Nadu a serpentine queue of devotees are visible . It has to be seen to be believed . People come in very large numbers and they pray and worship . Temples are well maintained in Tamil Nadu and I can vouch that Hinduism is thriving in the state much vigorously . Dravid Kazhagam is now a smaller force and Tamil Nadu is as religious as any part of India . In following the tenets of Hinduism they are much ahead and dogmatically strict . On EKADASHI , I found people thronging the temples . I am yet to see same enthusiasm on EKADASHI in North India . Moreover the Tamil Nadu state emblem tells it in a more fitting way .
Burning effigies of Bhagawan Ram and other Hindu Gods and the days of celebrating Ravan Leelas are over . Atheism can be accepted , as Charvak was accepted in olden times and he was even called a RISHI .
HINDUSTAN : One of the most disturbing legacy of Periyar was to give a call for Dravid Nadu . He wanted to unite all the four provinces of South India and wanted this entity to be an independent Dravid Nadu .
But majority of his supporters revolted against this demand . In the leadership of C. N. Annadurai , they formed Dravid Munnetra Kazhagam and fought elections . Since 1965 either D.M.K. or A.I.A.D.M.K. rules the state and the demand of so-called Dravid Nadu is thrown somewhere in the trash bins of history .
But demand for separation from India is there in Jammu & Kashmir and all the provinces of North East India . They are more palpable . In fact these provinces are waging armed struggle against the nation . Then why to blame only Tamil Nadu ? There was just a demand and that too by just one organization , Dravid Kazhagam . And today Dravid Kazhagam is not a major force .
A very interesting fact of Tamil Nadu and Dravid politics is that Periyar was himself a Kannada speaking Kannadiga . One of the most successful chief ministers of Tamil Nadu , M. G. Ramachandran was a Kandy , Sri Lanka born and Malayalam speaking actor turned politician . current chief minister Miss Jayalalithaa Jayaram is also a Kannadiga and the irony of the situation is that she is a Brahmin . And she speaks fluent Hindi . Present day superstar Rajanikant , incidentally , is a Maharashtrian .
So the fort of atheism and anti Hindi these days is held by Muthuvel Karunanidhi only . But even his family members have changed . M. K. Stalin and Kannimozhi are not that dogmatic .
So I am stating with all my knowledge accumulated during this visit that Tamil Nadu is changing . Or it has already changed ?
After my return , I would love to share these findings with all the current students of my acting institute Vidur’s Kreating Charakters .
MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA
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