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Part 6: The Change ‘A.S.K’ Wished to Bring in Communist Party

MCPI(U) Marxist party has given a controversial statement that Marxists in Tamil Nadu did not perceive Periyarism properly. Following this, the party has announced its policies, and it cites that “the party has felt the complete need of Periyar and Ambedkar significantly in the present where caste and religious divisions are strengthening.” This symposium was organized based on this. The discourse of Kolathur Mani is as follows:

periyar 178When Periyar returned from Europe, it was decided to form a political party apart from the Self-Respect movement in 1933. So that the new party would function independently if people are convinced and made them to contest elections. They started a party called the Self-Respect Socialist party.

Jeevanandham, Sathankulam A. Raghavan, Muthusamy Vallatharasu from Pondicherry were designated as in charge of the party who were already part of the self-respect movement.

Following this, they created so many problems being dissolute. It was a custom that all would be invited for the meetings of Periyar league.

Periyar organized a conference for the abolition of untouchability. He invited Somasundhara Bharathiyar, who belonged to the Congress party, for this conference. He served as the leader of ‘Abolition of untouchability’ team in the Congress. While he was speaking, people like Jeevanandham started to make noise and told that Somasundhara Bharathiyar should not speak. They raised a question that why should people belonging to some other party speak in our meet. Periyar answered that ‘we invited him to speak as he is relevant to that topic. It is important to know the opinion of all the people.’ But they did not agree with Periyar.

Periyar lost his temper and said, “We have to stand alone if we did not unite with people related to the required cause. We join hands with some people for a specific cause. And if you decide to leave this league and even voice out against me because of this, I am ready to face that too.”

The next day, Periyar even wrote in ‘Kudi Arasu’. But they left the party after two or three years.

Gandhi was involved in Salt Satyagraha, the civil disobedient movement and so on. Congress men were arrested and prisoned for participating in such movements. As a result of this, Gandhi called the government for a peace talk. Gandhi requested the government to release the prisoners and told them that they would not revolt against the government in future. The government told him that it would release people except those who involved in violence, and Gandhi signed this agreement. This is called Gandhi - Irwin pact.

The agreement was named as if it was successful. There was even a bridge called Gandhi – Irwin bridge in Chennai. But that agreement was a void one. People should not protest against the government if they want to campaign as per the agreement.

Gandhi protested and refused to participate in the round table conference, and later, he agreed as the government blackmailed him that they would release them only if Gandhi agreed to take part in the round table conference, and this problem was concluded by this way.

Periyar predicted that two enemies were concentrating on their problems, but as it came to an end, their attention would turn towards us. As he said, 170 offices of Periyar’s self-respect movement were raided. And they even started to censor the letters which came to Periyar. Indian parliament was then called as central legislative assembly, and Sir R. K. Shanmugam Chettiyar was the speaker of the assembly. And the government even censored the letters which were sent to him. This is because he was an ally of Periyar, and he was the former participant of the self-respect movement. The screening was intensified, and letters were further censored in order to curb the propaganda of communistic ideas.

Periyar alarmed his comrades and suggested to speak with a conscience while speaking in stages and warned them ‘to maintain the decorum and not to pledge like I am ready to die and I can kill a hundred men and so on’.

Periyar then translated and published the book written by Bhagat Singh, “Why I am an Atheist?

Bharathiyar had sung in a song that good works of literature in other languages should be translated to Tamil. Periyar translated such good works into Tamil. His translations include ‘Leninum Mathamum, Aindhandu Thittam, Podhuvudaimai Kotpadugal, Bhagat Singh, Bertrand Russell, Jean Messier Engira Catholika Paathiriyaaretc..

He also translated the book ‘Why I am not a Christian’, written by Bertrand Russell, in Tamil. He published the translation of Ingersoll books. Also, Ambedkar’s speech at the Lahore conference were translated only in Tamil for the first time among all other Indian languages. It was translated in the second month after it was published because Ambedkar sent copy of his book to Periyar when it was published, and Periyar wrote a letter to Ambedkar whether he can translate and publish this book, and Ambedkar readily accepted with pleasure. And so Periyar immediately translated and published. Forty editions were published till now.

The book “Why I am an Atheist?” by Bhagat Singh speaks about the necessity of atheism for a communist activist. Periyar wished to publish and popularize this book. It was translated by Jeevanandham. Periyar’s brother E.V. Krishnasamy was the publisher of Kudi Arasu magazine then. E.V. Krishnasamy and Jeevanandham were arrested for translating and publishing it in the magazine. It was not even a communist book rather, it was about atheism. The reason behind the detention was, the author of the book was Bhagat Singh. It was the sole reason behind the imprisonment of these two people.

There was a protest in Coimbatore during the last Ezham war in 2009. The protestors protested by stopping the military vehicle, which carried logistics and equipment to Sri Lankan army. The police started arresting the protesters. When asked for the details about the protestors, one person said his name as Prabakaran, and he also explained that he came to buy milk for children through that way, but he was arrested for his name only. Same way, these two were arrested because of the name ‘Bhagat Singh’.

The case was filed, and Periyar told them to write an apology. Following this, Periyar wrote that he was completely responsible for that apology as the government kept an eye on them.

These controversies grew, and they joined in Congress in 1936. They held a conference in the name of the socialist party, and the resolution of that conference was to leave this party and to join in Congress as suggested by S.A. Dange. And the party perished. But the problem was the uneasiness between them and Periyar.

Jeeva started to propagate about the greatness of Ramayana because of his anguish on Periyar. He even started to speak about Kamba Ramayana. He had spoken against Kamba Ramayana when he was with Periyar. As soon as he parted from Periyar, such hassle aroused.

The question is, Periyar was a communist, and he has spoken communism all along till now. But did Periyar changed later?

A meet was held in Uraiyur in 09/01/1972, a year before Periyar’s death. The topic of the meet itself communism. The following are the particulars of Periyar’s speech at that meet.

“People in our country should strive like the members of the same family. The profit earned should be shared by all the people. This is what happens in a family, and this is communism.”

“Rich people worry about how to protect his one crore, and it does not stop there. He compares himself with someone richer than him and thinks that he has more money than him.”

Periyar said that “communism can alone fulfill the defects and mental distress among people. The basic concept of communism is that people should live happily without any distress. Possessions are nothing but problems in life, but human beings think in another way.”

Periyar asked the question, “What is the meaning of Mukti or Moksha?”

 “The word ‘Moksha’ means attaining contentment and destroying sadness. And people would not need this if communism comes into play. Because there would not be any distress as communism provides contentment. So, people will not even think of Moksha, hell and so on.

Periyar explained, “the offering which can cure your distress is none other than communism. There are also communists in our country. But they are using communism as a tool for their livelihood.”

Periyar had outrage on communists but never had a hate on communism.

(to be continued)

Kolathur Mani, the leader of Dravidar Viduthalai Kazhagam

Translated by Maruvarthini P.

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