Remembering an iconoclast by
Vidya Bhushan Rawat
We remember iconic Periyar today on his death anniversary. The man who shook the foundation of brahmanical crookedness in Tamilnadu and gave a new direction to the state. Periyar is the name which still send shiver to these religious thugs who have been befooling people in the name of religion for years. Unfortunately, Periyar was confined to Tamilnadu and his ideas and movement could not be 'nationalised' as he himself became victim of Tamil Nationalism which confined its fight against imposition of Hindi and considered all north Indians as Aryans. This was a wrong approach. Political battles can not be won through isolation but through inclusion of new people into your movement. Unfortunately, while Brahmanical forces are expert in bringing new converts to their movement, the movements in the names of icons have become rigid and do not want new converts.
Periyar is needed much more than ever today in the north where people are remembering Lohia who actually end up at Gandhi. We need the Shudra politicians to come up and own Periyar but they did not as social change is not on the agenda of these politicians. Periyar's ideas can bring Dalit Bahujan masses together and can give them a humanist alternative to brahmanical rituals which are destroying our societies.
Periyar did not convert to any one to any religion. He was against religion. I want to ask all those religious lunatics of the Aryavrata as why were they so upset with Periyar that they attacked him when he visited Lucknow in the sixties. Periyar's Sachchi Ramayana was banned by UP government but one should read it. One should read all the literature of Periyar and you will find how refreshing and modern Periyar was.. much ahead of his time. Unfortunately, those who swear in the name of Periyar actually ditched his principles. Tamilnadu saw the silent revolution unleashed by Periyar but today it is fast returning to old brahmanical rule where religious rights are using identity politics to defeat the very ideas of Periyar. Parties like PMK are notoriously casteist and even cadres of DMK and AIDMK have not left the anti Dalit attitude of the backward communities in the villages. Shamefully, we have heard anti Dalit cry from many of the leaders in district like Dharmapuri where they called for abrogation of SC-ST Act. At many places in Tamilnadu, Dalits are not allowed to hoist flag. Is this what Periyar wanted ?
Many of Ambedkarites over the years have been crying foul against Periyar terming him anti Dalit. Sad that these people ignore the great work done by him. Nowhere in his writing and speeches is Periyar anti Dalit. In fact, he lead the vacom movement in Kerala now, against untouchability and entry in the temple. Periyar is a legend and wrote over a period of time. A perfect example of how secular rationalist movement if communicate with people properly can reach widely and defeat the religious rights.
Today on Periyar's death anniversary we remember him and hope that one day INdia will understand the importance of keeping religion away from people. Most of the politicians who do not want to remember Periyar today are the chelas of religious thugs and go to bow before them. I am sure after this churning, India will realise how dangerous the religious pontiff could be and therefore Periyar would become more important for all of us. Let us enlighten our people through reasoning and humanist values as Periyar visualised.
The success of Periyar's movement is an expose to those who felt that India can not have political movement succeeding because people here are religious. Nobody mocked at God like Periyar in India and yet even today in Tamilnadu, we still have two parties who came to power on his ideological ground. Ofcourse, both the parties have turned corrupt which Periyar had visualised during his movement and that is why he was opposed to social movements turning political.
He always mentioned that social movements should always remain pressure point so that the governments are forced to act. If social movements turn political they will compromise with people's issues and ideologies and Periyar was an uncompromising man and hence did not really blessed Anna Durrai and others who formed a separate political party to fulfil the aspirations of the people. India need an iconoclast like Periyar today who could guide its destiny and liberate its masses from the clutches of clergies who are using its secular constitution to promote their own hidden religious agenda in the name of 'religious freedom'. India does not need 'religious freedom' but freedom from religion to grow and become a civilised nation so that each human being is treated equal without any distinction on caste, class and gender basis and where its women could walk in the street fearlessly with her head high