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T V KalyanasundramYou cannot put down the Self Respect movement by mere abuse. In fact, I make bold to assert that it can end only in triumph. And it must win; for its defeat will mean a severe set back to the National movement.

Perhaps you laugh and even pity me for this declaration; but if you are a sincere well-wisher of Mother India, it is your duty to see that the Self-Respect movement triumphs.

In Congress Camp

No thinking Indian can question the need for it. Let me explain how I became a convert to it – not now but twelve years ago.

As a Congress delegate, I went to Lucknow in December 1910. There two compartments had been put up in the same hall to serve meals for delegates. My Brahmin friends had their food first and then came our turn! Naturally, we had to get on with the remains. Why should that be? When there are two separate rooms, why should they not have served us the meals at the same time?

A revolting experience

On the second day, we had a most horrible experience. The leaves on which the Brahmins ate their meals had been heaped up in our room. They were giving out a stench, and the liquid from them had penetrated almost the entire surface. In those impossibly dirty surroundings, we were asked to eat.

Who will not revolt at such monstrous treatment and that in the Congress camp itself?

Needless to say, we left it in the body and thereafter took our food in a hotel though we had paid at the camp for the day’s meals.

Resolved to keep out

Some of my Non-Brahmin friends, the late Mr. Somasundaram Pillai, in particular, were so shocked at that experience that they kept out of the Congress from that day. They did not attend even the Lucknow Session itself.

Will you tolerate such treatment? And is it not being continued to this day? Strange though it may seem, it is not reserved to us who are grouped, of course wrongly, as Brahmin haters. Take, for instance, the experience of a non-Brahmin critic of the Self Respect movement like Mr. T.V. Kalyanasundra Mudaliar.

Insulting hosts

He was once invited to a Brahmin house for meals, and the host would not take a refusal. What was the outcome? This 'Educated gentleman' and Congressman, first went to the kitchen and had a sumptuous dinner; and then after he had partaken of even Tamboolam, he asked Mr.T.V.K. to have his food outside; and the utmost that he conceded to him was that if T.V.K. was not accustomed to take his leaf and smear cow-dung, the servant woman would do it!

Why should our Brahmin friends force such insults on us? They invite us to dinner they get offended if we refuse to come and when we go, such is the treatment they offer. Yet these are the very people who throw up their hands in horror at the Self-Respect movement.

- Revolt, 17 April 1929


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