27 July, 2021

Iconoclast, Or Lost Idol?

He broke Ganesha idols, burnt Rama portraits. But his legacy has few takers today.

R.S Kumar
Iconoclast, Or Lost Idol?
"There’s no god. He who created god was a fool; he who spreads his name is a scoundrel and he who worships him is a barbarian."
—Periyar E.V. Ramasamy

By this yardstick, Tamil Nadu was never the land that Periyar had in mind. It is 125 years since Erode Venkatanaicker Ramasamy (1879-1973) was born into a life that gave him the title Periyar (The Great Man). He crisscrossed the Tamil country spreading a heady message of rationalism, atheism, anti-Brahminism and self-respect for the so-called Shudras. But very little of what he preached has sunk in or inspires any action today. While Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati celebrated the iconoclast with statues and Periyar Melas in UP in the mid-’90s, back in his own state, Periyar seems to have little or no following. Periyar swore by rationalism, and yet the most visible representative of Dravidian self-respect, Muthuvel Karunanidhi, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) president for life, always wears a yellow angavastram whose religious significance remains mired in mystery. Puratchi Thalaivi J. Jayalalitha, another...

Latest Magazine

August 02, 2021

other articles from the issue

articles from the previous issue

Other magazine section