Periyar: Radical Liberalism

Niraj Kumar Jha and A. P. S. Chouhan

Erode Venkatanaicker Ramasamy (1879–1973), better known as Periyar (The Great Man) has a complex legacy. He began as a nationalist, worked as a follower of Gandhi, but turned into a firebrand leader of the anti-Brahminism movement in Madras Presidency. He saw the salvation of the country in the destruction of the Congress, the Hindu religion, and Brahmin domination. He declared the goal of the Dravida Kazhagham, the new avatar of the Justice Party in 1944 to be a ‘sovereign, independent Dravidian Republic’ and called upon his followers to observe Independence Day as a day of mourning representing the enslavement of the southerners’.1 Meanwhile, he saw himself as a social reformer ...

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