Not only is September 17 the birthday of our beloved Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji, it also happens to be the birth anniversary of E V Ramaswamy aka EVR aka Periyar, who spearheaded the Dravidian movement in the 1940s that led to eradication of untouchability in Tamil Nadu. EVR is credited with gaining entry access for millions of dalits into the state temples that held their doors closed to them until then. In short, EVR bestowed the much denied dignity on hundreds of thousands who were stomped over by the upper classes for centuries playing the ‘caste card.’ To most, it is a legal victory. Only to the traumatized and stigmatized community, it is akin to winning a psychological warfare.
To some of us like me, both Periyar and Modi are equally important. Dravidianism may have fizzled out presently just like the Congress party has lost steam over decades. That does not imply that these entities did not play their crucial roles at very important junctures of time, crafting history.
EVR managed to accomplish what none of the so-called Shankaracharyas of India even dared to attempt. To me this is the ultimate ‘Bhakthi’ or even better, ‘Mukthi.’ Bhakthi must stem from empathy and compassion or is it even bhakthi. What is ‘mandir’ but a huge hollow otherwise. Most often I see a total divorce between religiosity and spirituality (realization). To me, the chappal mala thrown by EVR would have been smilingly received as a garland of roses by Lord Raam. That is Ram to me. That is how I perceive Ram. This Ram i know wouldn’t have even wanted the Ayodhya. This is what maketh Ram. Sometimes I wonder why I have to think like this. But then I remember this is also the land of Ramanuja. This is faith to me. This is the dharma that i have come to believe in. I do not respect any culture or ideology that denies fellow humans equality and justice and dignity in the first place. I have written much on this. I trust our Sanatana Dharma has always been far above all this, but selfish groups reduced us to this lowly levels. If at all reservation has to go once and for all, I request the upper castes to ‘consider working in crematorium for just an year to experience what these downtrodden went through for ages. None stops you from manually scavenging either. Denial of social justice, equality and knowledge sharing and messing up with someone’s self respect and dignity – this is cruelty worst than cold blooded murder to me. This is what the upper castes of India committed through millennia. And we all talk about ‘Black lives matter’ when for eons we thrived suppressing systematically fellow humanity. What a wrong sense of entitlement some of us enjoy thanks to virtue of birth.
Of late a lot of demonizing such a phenomenal man as EVR is happening. How much is he maligned, how much character assassinated decades after he left. This must reveal to you something. That EVR was undoubtedly an epoch in history whether you like it or not.
EVR cannot be held responsible for the current political scenario in Tamil Nadu just as Mahatma Gandhi cannot be made accountable for the Congress debacle in present times. Denying EVR the credit for what he truly deserves is appalling. The more he is villainified, the more will some of us defend him staunchly. EVR’s views on women for instance! He was far ahead of his times. Much later in subtler tones we had our own K Balanchander make pictures echoing what EVR spoke of in the 40s and 50s. Periyar did not also mince words and did not hesitate from naming and shaming. He called a spade a spade. If it hurt someone, then how about the Panchamas living in the fringes for centuries. They do not even fall within the four varnas. Outside the varna system. If mere words can wound, then what trauma could harsh realities of life have inflicted not for one year, one century but for at least a two thousand years… Not mere untouchability, even unseeability was in force in many pockets of our society, especially in Kerala that gave us Adi Shankara. This was not a 3000 years ago but until a mere 100 years back.
Admiring EVR does not have to prevent one from being nationalistic at heart. Most importantly, Dravidian values need not have to make one any less Hindu. I am equally proud of what our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji is achieving for India, given the complex times we are living in. EVR mattered in the 1940s quite like Gandhi and Congress were relevant during our freedom struggle. Times change, history is in the making, and in modern India of the 21st century, the need of the hour is a man of steely nerves like Shri Narendra Modi who is resolute, determined, selfless, focused and persevering. With him for our PM, our sense of security is reinforced. We know, we are in good hands. Like EVR, Modi ji in a way restored our self esteem and self confidence.
There is also need for Hindu dharma to rise above pettiness in critical times like these. The Abrahamics are waiting like hawks. No one is dragged against his/her will kicking and screaming, for conversion. Conversion happens because, some among us are willing to accept rewards of any kind for promise of dignity in return that was denied to them by the society they have been part of. The converted are our shame! Will some numbskulls ever get it.
Too many self-appointed guardians of Hindu Dharma today out in the prowl doing more damage than they ever realize. Sickening ‘holier than thou’ attitude.
Living a neutral life, striving to remain sane is not an easy job in today’s India. As for me, EVR and PM Modi are two sides of the same coin.
PS: To those of us who invoke Karma at the drop of a hat, has it ever crossed your petty minds that perhaps Ayodhya was also our Karma. Is it possible that Ram with his acute sense of social justice wanted out of Ayodhya when a section of humanity was barred from His holy abode by narrow minded pompous self-important groups? Ram has now returned to Ayodhya because finally on legit grounds, social justice and equality triumphed in India as it never ever did in over 2000 years. Hail Ram! May be this was the destiny of each and every single Hindu temple struck down by the invaders. Hindu Bharatha deserved every bit of this historical correction.