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For quite a long time, till very recently as recently, as fifteen years ago, Madras was known as the 'benighted' Presidency; politically and socially, it had gathered such an odorous reputation for obscurantism, servility, double-dealing, tall talk and empty vapourings that all patriots severely left alone the Madras presidency.

Gandhi and RajagopalachariIt was Mrs. Besant at first, and later Mahatmaji who 'discovered' the Madras Brahmin and 'boosted' him up in Indian politics. Both these giants later on found that they had caught a veritable Tartar in the Madras Brahmin. The Madras Brahmin has been their evil genius. Mrs. Besant was at one time riding the political winds with her Home Rule movement. But so much has been written about her by the late Dr. T.M. Nair, the great Non-Brahmin leader that she herself has complained bitterly about the Non-Brahmins of Madras.

So we may leave that lady alone to her Brahmin admirers.

As regards Mahatmaji, when he took up Indian politics after his permanent return from South Africa, the late G.K. Gokhale felt considerable diffidence about his political capacity. Mrs. Besant called him an 'infant' in politics. He has been that ever since.

In the last analysis it will be found that if Mahatmaji turns to be such an unexpected failure, it is all one to the Madras Brahmin crossing his path. It ever was a bad omen. In South Africa, it was the Madrasi Non-Brahmin who furnished him with an opportunity to put his Tolstoyan theories into practice. On his return to India, especially during his last tours in the South, he forgot all about the Non-Brahmin and the stuff of which he is made. He became a regularized Sankaracharya, as Mr. E.V.Ramasami put it; his darshan was denied to Non-Brahmins; it was a pontifical affair, ably stage-managed by Brahmins; his head was in the clouds of Gita and Varnashrama Dharma. It is ever so with a Non-Brahmin when he achieves eminence. Sabarmati became the stronghold of Varnashrama Dharma. Gita has been the undoing of Mahatmaji. One even suspects whether he is even aware of the intensity of the Non-Brahmin feeling against him. He does not read newspapers and still, he wants to lead the public.

But the Madras Brahmin has been astute enough to use him for all his purposes. He was utilized to give publicity to a Brahmin newspaper of Madras and a Brahmin doctor; his name was dragged in during the last elections; his prestige was employed to build up oottuprahs or work houses for Brahmins out of Khadi, out of funds furnished by the starving millions of the south (oottuprahs were legion in the Travancore state and meant to feed Brahmins – editors); he was caught hold of to advertise a Madras Brahmin as the Agent to South Africa; he, quite unnecessarily, insulted the untouchables and the depressed classes of Madras by his predeluvian theories of Varnashrama Dharma. And today he stands a spent force in Indian politics; an extinct volcano, unable to command a shred of sympathy from the Non-Brahmin youths of the South or from anywhere. He has become Mrs. Besant No.2, an old religious fossil, unprogressive, halting, given to more whims and caprices than even the venerable old lady – the most tragic figure today in India.

How far, blindfold, he is being led by the Madras Brahmin will be evident from the ultimatum issued recently by the Mahatma in connection with Hindi propaganda in the South. This is in effect from what he has said: “If Madras does not take to Hindi, then Madras will be left alone in the Swaraj to come.” That is one thing, but his lieutenants were busy saying that as Brahmins got jobs in Government service because they took first to English education and Non-Brahmins had then lagged behind, similarly, it was said, if Non-Brahmins were lukewarm in taking up Hindi, then they should not complain later on if Brahmins ousted them from prominent places in the coming Swaraj. Both of them were rubbing the Non-Brahmin the wrong way up: the one with a set purpose and the other unwittingly without knowing and without caring to know what the situation was like. The whole of South India would be wearing Khadi and speaking Hindi to please Mahatmaji if for no other reason if only he would keep the Madras Brahmin and his Varnashrama Dharma out of it; he could not for his life, for his new-fangled spiritual life, do it, and hence the tragedy. His Varnashrama Dharma has been his political ruin.


The late Deshabandhu Das, himself a man of mighty intellect and keen political insight fell under the spell of the Madras Brahmin and succumbed. Another political genius of the north, the late Mr. G.K. Gokhale was enveloped by a South Indian Brahmin true to type. The so-called Liberal Party is either being guided or influenced by the Madras Brahmin. Another has become a military expert on frontier defence, yet another on family limitation, some are posing as authorities on the Constitution of Indian states.

The Madras Brahmin spread his tentacles far and wide in search of power and influence. He swamped the Congress, crumpled it up: it now lies in ruins. The latest combination between Madras Brahmins and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was quite in keeping with tradition but for the fact that the young Pandit had one or two cleansing thoughts, which would not have kept the team going for long and so it did.

The young Pandit said only recently, “The Indian intelligentsia has a heavy task and many have nobly essayed it. But there are far too many whose words are louder than their acts and who seek to cover their social obscurantism by pious phrases or political extremism. They are gradually being found out and they must realize that political progress cannot be divorced from social and economic progress and the choice lies between progress all along the line or stagnation and reaction”. The Pandit, with his clean politics, stands poles away from the Varnashrama Dharmite politician of the South. Hence the rupture. After this statement by Pandit Jawaharlal, there can be nothing doing as between himself and the reactionary Brahmin of Madras. 

That is why the venerable Malaviyaji with the “pious phrases” was invited to the South by the Brahmins. While at Kottayam, among the Thiyas or Ezhavas of Travancore one of the most gifted and intelligent races in South India, though ranked by the ignorant caste Hindu among the depressed classes, the learned Pandit said, that he could find texts in the shastras which permitted temple entry to the untouchables and the depressed classes. At Madras in the midst of Brahmin Pandits, he even denied having put forward such a claim. Rather inconsistent, extremely unfortunate and quite unpleasant.

Hereafter it would be pleasanter if the northern patriot would stick to Benares to wash away his sins and gets buried or burnt on it banks. He need not think of doing it at the Cape (Cape Comorin – editors). That may be reserved for the sinners of the south. Even in the ocean, there may not be sufficient enough receptacle to receive all the sins perpetrated in the name of caste and religion in the southern country, even in a very small portion of it.

And therefore, goodbye, my masters, and don’t you come and interfere with our programme. We think of retaining our self-respect without the assistance of either North Indian Hindu Patriot or South Indian Varnashrama Dharmite, for you are one, after all. The self-respect movement shall be the Ulster of Varnashrama Dharma Swaraj. Our slogan will be the old one. “Ulster will fight and Ulster will be right”

- P. Chidambaram Pillai, B.A., B.L.

(Revolt, 23 June 1929)

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