February 20, 2014
E V Ramaswami
Erode Venkata Ramaswami was born in 1867 in Erode, Tamil Nadu. He father was a successful businessman. He belonged to Naiker caste, which is upper layer of Sudras. He was an Indian independence activist, politician and businessman, who started the Self-Respect Movement, formation of Independent state called Dravida Nadu, comprising the states of South India. He is also the founder of the socio-cultural organisation, Dravidar Kazhagam. Ramaswami was known as ‘Periyer’ or the great one because of his excellent speeches and essays. He took stands in favor of atheism, women’s rights and contraception. He disliked Brahmins because he thought they were misusing their high social ranks. Ramaswami wrote critically about Brahmins, his writing were targeted to Brahmin priests as he thought they were corrupt and shrewd. In 1920 he joined congress party. He promoted the use of Khadi, which was the homespun cloth, boycotting foreign goods, temple eradicating untouchables. However, he left the congress because he felt the party had the leadership of Brahmins which discriminated lower caste that lead to what he called ‘self-respect’. Self-respect movement was to influence and pressurize government to remove social inequality. Ramaswami believed that north India dominated the south India, and Brahmins dominated non-Brahmins. Oppressed castes needed self-respect and equal rights. He also wrote political magazines which promoted his ideas and was widely read. In 1944, he formed his own party, Dravidar Kazhagam. His group asked for a separate and independent state in south India to be called Dravida Nadu.
There are two speeches on religion deception. Ramaswami disliked Brahmins because in his view they were getting all advantages of Hindu religion and other castes were working under them and following their orders . Moreover, other castes were also being discriminated by Brahmins. Ramaswami also stated that Brahmins were the ones who are ruining our (India’s) society in the name of society. Religion was a fraud and we were being its permanent slaves. Ramaswami also says what does language have to do with religion? Every person speaks different language and if the holy book was written in a specific language he finds it a flawed religion. He states that there no such thing as religions, so called Gods are making the people slaves. In his second excerpt Ramaswami notes that politics is not a path of freedom because it involved religion. In his view religion was originated by people and the aim of religion was to have peace and not harm one another. Eventually, it was greed and desires and politics bended the religion to their own good and got a new religion. Ramaswami also notes that Hindu’s know very little about their religion compared to others. Hindu’s spent a lot of money on the name of religion, they spent money on pilgrimages, rituals, and even after death. He thinks that all the money Hindu’s spent on religion is a waste. Ramaswami also wrote about remarrying widows. He supported widows rights and their remarriage. He said if men can marry again in their old age then women especially young girls also have the right to remarry. Ramaswami was also against widow discrimination. He actively participated and supported young widows. His niece was a young widow and Ramaswami helped his niece