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Respected Chairman! Brothers! 

Only if India had become a nation, we would have with us the right to speak for the whole of India. Is now India a nation? India-remains merely as a museum of castes, a museum of religions, a museum of languages, a museum of statues and what else does it exist as? Is it possible for India of this condition to attain either liberation or development? The other countrymen, by constituting their land into a country, are trying to annex our nation also. They are competing as to which other land has to be annexed to which country and by whom?

(Speech of Periyar E.V.Ramasamy in Salem. Reported in ‘Kudiarasu’ on 01.05.1930.) 

Respected President! Comrades!

periyar 350Even comrade Jawaharlal has not given a specific meaning for ‘swaraj’. But he would at one moment say swaraj means opposing imperialism; at another moment, he would say it is destroying the British rule; at another moment, he would say it is workers’ rule; at another moment, he would say it is peasants’ rule; at another moment he would say it is socialism; at another moment he would say it is one’s free will; at another moment he would say it is ending hunger and unemployment; at another moment he would say it is the communism of the international. This way and in many more ways, he would speak as his tongue wags and as the opportune moment warrants.

Whereas Comrade Gandhi the great would say at one opportune moment swaraj to mean Ram Raj; at another moment he would say it is precisely and exactly establishing the varnashrama caste system; at another moment, he would say even kings and zamindars have a place in swaraj; at another moment he would say it is to make each and every person to do one’s own traditional occupation as enjoined in the shastras; at another moment he would say that the hand – spinning wheel itself is swaraj; at another moment he would say that only wearing the cloth woven with yarn produced on the hand – spinning wheel by each and all is swaraj. In the last month, he told, ‘if the bitterness of mind between Britain and India gets even to the size of a mustard seed, he will abolish that bitterness of the mind by sacrificing his very life’.

Furthermore, whatever and what all are being spoken by him during the past 20 years’ period. On the other hand – our dear “sons of Bharata Matha”-pious patriots, patriotic warriors ‘those puny leaders and devoted servants who for the sake of swaraj had given their life, property and spirit only the month gone by having sworn oath to the Indian Sovereignty, the British king and its descendants, its mandate, rule, arrangement of law that they will remain devoted and faithful and have promised to behave in obedience and are dancing as lions jump in a circus ring and are conducting themselves in submission to the alien agents’ rule. Hence, Comrade K.P.Pillai now at least may explain what is meant by Swaraj. Besides, as the next step by merely abolishing the very British Rule itself, could it be said that Swaraj will come into existence? The Frenchmen are ruling a part of India, the Portuguese are also ruling a part. They have their own separate nations. Would all these persons flee India frightened at the sight of the weapon of a hand spinning wheel without joining hands to give a tough fight?

For attaining swaraj, what is the necessity to have a common language?

Russia is a Communist Nation. There is no common language. Our land being India before the alien rule, even during the time spoken of as Ram Raj- when the 56 countries were said to have had one emperor, there was no evidence or history to prove that there was one common language.

Equally next, what evidence is there to be said to consider India as our motherland? When was the name India attributed to this land? What is its boundary? Burma got separated last year? Prior to that, Ceylon got separated? Prior to that, Malaysia got separated? Prior to that, Nepal and Bhutan got separated? Prior to that Kandhara, Kabul (Afghanistan) got separated. In this way, so many have separated, and so many have joined it. In this condition which is our motherland? What is our fatherland? In Puranic times 56 countries were said to have been there; then, did one country consider another country as their motherland?

After independence to the province is given and from province to province the position of standing on its own leg with full independence when coming into existence and like the European Nations on the basis of language separate countries when after being divided how could India become motherland for all. Nepal is the extent of our one district. Will they call India their motherland? In Siam (Burma) majority is Hindu Religion - Will they call India their motherland?

In Europe, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Portugal, Greece are nations whose sizes are equal to our 4 districts, 3 districts, 2 districts in extent. Each one of them will call only their own nation as their motherland, or would they call Europe to be their motherland? Hence we Tamil Nationals-Dravidian people for what reason have to call India as motherland? For what reason it is desired that the whole of India has to be under one umbrella forever. It could not be appreciated by me. At first I cannot accept that this is ‘Bharat Land’ or even we being called as ‘Bharatas’, i.e. debauchers (profligates).

When was Hindi language in existence in Tamil Nadu? When was it in existence in Bombay? When was it in existence in Bengal? When India was of 56 countries, only named after the 56 languages, those existed as countries? Even then, totally, there would have been 56 languages. As days passed on, when only one countryman dominates over another countryman and also only when one community dominates over another community, alien language is being inserted? To attempt in that way to insert Hindi into Tamilnadu today is only because a non-Tamilian alien community-class has got domination in Tamilnadu and not otherwise.

If so, is India a nation? What is its language? What is its religion? How many religions are there in India? Why so many ceremonial customs and rites? At first, do Tamilians accept what is called as the Hindu religion? If Comrade K.P.Pillai calls himself a Hindu, would the authority of the Hindu religion, the Vedas, Manudharma Shastra, and the Gita be acceptable to him? Will he consent today to act according to it? Will he at least allow the other to act accordingly? What place is given to K.P.Pillai in the Hindu religion? If only on the basis of Hindu religion India is a nation, that is if, for a nation, religion alone is primary, for Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Parsis, can India become a nation? On what basis could India be called by them as a nation?

If the nation is divided on the basis of language, would not four to five nations be created for every single Presidency? It is said by him that community and religious matters should not be involved in common affairs; it is nevertheless a very trivial thing, he says. I ask for whom it is trivial? Are not religion and community trivial only for an atheist and by whom alone it shall be shunned?

Indian leader Comrade Gandhi the great said, ‘I am living for the Hindu religion, and my very breath is Hindu religion, I am myself the very Hindu religion’. The Muslim leaders, Comrades Muhammad Ali, Shaukat Ali, Jinnah, say, ‘we are at first Muslims; Secondly we are Muslims; Thirdly we are Muslims; then alone Indians’. Comrade Jawaharlal has got his post of president by having promised to safeguard the religion and religious bases and religious customs and practices. Which honest theist would spoil his everlasting, eternal life (heaven) for the sake of this very impermanent trivial worldly life by claiming community and religion are trivial? If ‘religion’, ‘community’ has been considered as trivial, why there is a struggle between Jinnah, Jawaharlal, Gandhi, Shaukat Ali, and Rajagopalachari and ourselves. Are these persons dishonest? Selfish? Do they, through public life, fill their stomach? Are not they worth it in any other ways? Think about this!

If it be that Hindi alone is to be the common language – if, that, alone is being spoken by more people, for choosing a common language is merely the strength of majority enough? What for language is needed? Just for speaking alone? If a new language is to be chosen, it is unwise to choose the language, saying the reason that it is ancient or because it is spoken by many persons. It has to be seen what benefit is to be attained by the people of the country by that language. Would new wisdom beget? Would it be useful for research? Would it be useful for progress and civilization? Should not it be seen whether it is fit for reforms and so forth? What would the Hindi cited by them be useful for? Comrade Rajagopalachari – that is, the one who says Hindi should be made the common language and his companions contend that “through Hindi, Tulsidas Ramayana could be read; Sanskrit could be easily learnt; Hindu religious shastras could be known”. Hence, through Hindi, means are said only for going to heaven, for things of spiritual nature, and nothing has been said that Hindi contains any matter that can be of concern for this worldly life. In Ramayana, and (Maha) Bharata aircraft is there, but it flew by the mantra power.

In English, aircraft is there. It runs by machine power. What do we want? Mantra power or machine power? Among us, approximately only one or two out of 100 would have learnt English – yet it rules the 35 crores of people. English alone is the reason for the high position attained today by the man of this country. The thoughts and feelings – of the nation, motherland, Swaraj, common language – which comrade K.P. Pillai speaks of, was taught only by the English language. The ‘Hindi Indian’ who was under the impression that the king himself is god, and the people are subject to the king, was taught only by the ‘English India’ that the king must act duty-bound to the people and that the king is the servant of the people.

Today, English alone is considered as the world’s common language. It is being spoken by more people. Even if India attains independence, India cannot live without the relation of the world. In the coming world, the distance between a country to a country, a nation to a nation, will not be as it is today; they would be of a calling distance. Whether for Hindi – or it be for any other Indian language, hereafter would have no business in one’s kitchen or even in one’s bedroom.

Even for the worker, working tools and machines would be there only in the English language — the same for the farmers’ too. The same for the traders also. The same for the political man also. Forgoing to heaven alone, Hindi might be of help. But, very soon, heaven is going to disappear.

When comrade K.P.Pillai intends India to become a ‘Ram Raj’ -, why should I not intend India to become Russia.? There is no great distance between Russia and India – only 250 miles! When there comes a day when Indians really consider class - community and religion to be very mean, that day itself, India will become Russia. I would certainly say, Hindi attempt is only one of the treacheries being done to prevent that. Tamilnadu remained as a separate nation; even today, it is so; that alone is the Dravidian land. Its civilization, manners and habits are different. Bengal and Bombay are different. Only by English rule and English language one and the other are at least being introduced friendly to each other. If the English rule gets abolished and Hindi rule and language comes that day itself, Tamilnadu would join with Germany, Italy, France or with such other nations. Hereafter, I desire to tell certain words, generally.

India is a country that has several religions, several communities, and several separate aims as its demands. It, unlike other countries in the world, does not have a single aim in religion, politics, social life and so forth. Strictly, Hindu-Muslim aims and Brahmin- Non-Brahmin aims are different and differ entirely from each other. It cannot be said that the aim of everyone is the same just because those influential aspirers despise, slander and degrade the uninfluential aspirers, or because while propagating, they firmly hide the truth, or because hired coolies are hurled by them to do unruly acts. For instance, what right of privilege which their community is enjoying today the Brahmins are readily willing to give away?

In the like –manner, what claim of right which they are enjoying by their path (religion) or society the Muslims are willing to forego? In the like manner, to what extent the Brahmins and the upper castes consent to the elimination of disgrace and cruelty which are suffered by the non–Brahmins or so-called low born-castes.

In western countries, there is no such trouble of social, communal and religious paths. Particularly in our southern land, the trouble of Brahmin –Non-Brahmin is there for several thousands of years. Today, approximately 50 years period in bare form –openly in politics, in a bureaucratic system, the social system is showing its frightful dance with disheveled hair. Why I tell, this is because, today, the Hindi being debated by us –belongs to that squarely. Hindi language and its arts are directly contradictory to the people of Tamilnadu – particularly to the rest of the non –brahmin people. We are speaking about this, not just today.

A man of self-respect would not support Hindi. In the year 1921, I went to prison as a great patriot and patriotic warrior and after coming back, immediately, in the Tamil Provincial Conference convened at Tiruppur, I have said this. That is, today, Comrade Rajagopalachari, for what reason, violently attempts inserting Hindi into the Tamil people and for that says that Tamil people must learn Hindi, for that very same reason I have said that learning Ramayana and realizing the Manudharma is a crime and also I have said that they must be put into the fire and burnt to ashes. I do not worry about what was said that day, I say it today.

Whether it be Tulsidas Ramayana or Valmiki Ramayana, or Kamba Ramayana, does K.P.Pillai accept any one of these Ramayanas? Is he ready to accept the position given to him in that Ramayana? I ask you, or can anyone of you here is willing to accept the position given to you under Ramayana, Manudharma and Hindi Purana Shastras? I do not now even ask about the things written in those individual books. I ask you, the people gathered here, whether do you accept the position given to you in the Hindu religion? That being so when it is said Hindi would be of help to learn Ramayana, Puranas, Hindu religious Shastras would any person having self-respect accept it?

And besides, can the northern land and the southern land have the same aim? Let anybody count with his fingers and say what good, if any, the people of the southern land have got by the northerners so far! Besides our people for getting cheated and defrauded, the northerners, about whose character we do not know, are being shown to us by being caught and brought here; except this in what social, religious, economic, political and so forth matters of the southern land has the northern land been useful? While being brought to our land, the northerners are advertised as Indra, Chandra, brave men, men of valour, self- sacrificer, truthful men, and great men. If we ask their local people about these persons, they say that ‘there are none in any land worse than them’.

Hence, the northern land is useful only for being cheated. When today’s politics is looked at, using whatever reason, taking any pains whatsoever, unless we detach our land separately from the relation of the northern land, we cannot get our liberation or human dignity. If today we have any little feeling of self-respect, sense of independence left, it is only because of our feeling of the unique quality of Tamil and also because of we not having learnt Hindi, which I shall say strongly. The Brahmin domination is inserting Hindi forcefully in our midst only to infuse in our blood the slaves’ feeling. In Hindi, there is no wisdom of political liberty, in Hindi, there is no wisdom of economics, in Hindi, there is no wisdom of social equality if at all there is anything said to be claimed, it is as follows:-

that is,

‘to rule the people of a country, keep them as fools without giving them the fragrance of education and free thought’.

‘to repressively rule the people of a country forever, keep their economic rights at naught by inserting and utilizing the superstitions like a god, devils, ghosts to frighten them and loot their property.’

‘to repressively keep the people of a country worse than animals, and to keep them forever in slavery and dominate them, the people of the land must be dismantled into thousand communities, shatter them by instructing one to be greater than and one to be lower than the other and keep them shattered into pieces.’

I am speaking as much as I know, referring only from Chanakya’s political treachery and many other such political justice Shastras in Hindi. The Hindi arts are worthy only for a small microscopic community to live exploiting the labours of the inhabitants of a land. And further, see more! In our land today, only 9 persons out of 100 are educated. Even when the Brahmins constitute only 3 out of these 100 persons, in their community 100 out of 100 persons are educated. In their community, those having learned English would be 50 persons out of 100. Amidst us, even those who have even learnt Tamil would be only 5 to 6 persons out of 100. Even out of these villagers who are educated are only 2, 3 persons out of 100. In some communities, only one or two would be educated. Whereas for the Brahmins, Hindi is a very easy language. Since for them, that is their traditional language. For us, it is a language that does not enter our mouth. If among the Brahmins, 77 out of 100 passes Hindi, amidst us out of 100 even 15 cannot pass.

If for jobs Hindi is kept as a qualification, we people as in olden ways will get only servile jobs of pulling punkhas, and wearing peon’s badge. For instance, in politics, before the Non–Brahmin movement was founded, for certain studies – for Doctor education and other studies – the Brahmins treacherously devised that Sanskrit learning as a must. It was because of this, the majority of Brahmins and Malayali’s alone became doctors. After the coming of the Justice Party – during the period of Panagal Raja, the condition that Sanskrit must have been learnt was taken away. Only after that, it was possible for many of the non- Brahmin Tamil people to become doctors.

Likewise, if Hindi is kept as a qualification for the job, as in old ways, we will become still very backward class persons in education.

In Presidency College for a Sanskrit preacher, monthly 350 rupees to 500 rupees are being given as salary. For Tamil preacher, even half of it is not given. Someone has said that ‘even the egg of a hen of a bureaucrat‘s house would break a big grinding stone’. Likewise, because being the language of the dominating persons – it is attempted to keep Hindi as a compulsory subject to destroy Tamil. At certain moments, ‘when 10 rupees is asked for, wouldn’t at least 5 rupees be got?’ Comrade Acharaya, having thought in this way with perverted intelligence, might have devised when he demands as a compulsory subject, would not foolish Tamils say, ‘at least put that as an optional subject’.

Whatever may be the subject, what for do we need Hindi? I ask, would not the time, money, effort spent for that be a national waste. In our land, if Hindi is kept as a subject, it only means that- Tamilians are lost destroyed – that for our self-respect, the pit has been dug. The justice party leaders do not worry much about this. Among them, many worship the Ramayana. We need not worry about that now. Our Tamil people must fully realise this now. That, this is a very critical moment; if we are deceived in this, will not the Tamilians would become a prostitute’s son? Now at least, there is a caste for that and land for that alone. If Hindi enters, then the entire Tamilians – ladies will have to become prostitutes – men will have to become sons of prostitutes (illegitimate sons’, of inferior origin) and will have to become slaves. If that state happens, it is better we die than live. Forget the party considerations in this matter.

(Speech of Periyar E.V.R. on 19.09.1937 in Kollampalayam, Erode. Reported in ‘Kudiarasu’ 26.09.1937)

(Traslated by K.R. Vetri & Thanks to Valasa Vallavan)

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