Periyar admired Bhagat Singh, criticised Gandhiji

Bhagat Singh’s sacrifice had its reverberations in Tamil Nadu. Later, rationalist E.V. Ramasamy Periyar wrote an editorial in his journal Kudiarasu hailing him.  

The Dravidar Kazhagam founder ‘Periyar' E.V. Ramasamy (EVR), who admired Bhagat Singh's political views, felt the manner in which he implemented his plans was erroneous and drew on his sacrifice to oppose Mahatma Gandhi.

He wrote an editorial hailing the sacrifice of Bhagat Singh in his journal, Kudiarasu, of March 29, 1931, saying he gave his life for the noble cause of showing to India, nay to the world, the real equality and peace.

Historian Chaman Lal, who has compiled rare documents on Bhagat Singh, found the editorial written by Periyar in Kudiarasu. At his request, an English translation was done and published in the Rationalist.

EVR wrote:“The day when Gandhi said God alone guides him, that Varnashramadharma is superior system fit to govern the affairs of the world and that everything happening according to God's will, we came to the conclusion that there is no difference between Gandhism and Brahminism. We also concluded unless the Congress party that subscribes to such philosophy and principle is abolished it will not be good to the country. But now this fact has been found out at least by some of the people. They have gained wisdom and courage to call for the downfall of Gandhism. This is a great victory to our cause.

“If Bhagat Singh had not died by hanging, there would not have been any chance for this victory to take place in a popular manner. We even venture to say that Gandhism would have gained more ground if he had not been hanged. Bhagat Singh had not fallen sick, suffered and died as it normally happens with people. He gave his life for the noble cause of showing to India, nay to the world, the path of equality and peace. We applaud and sing of his martyrdom from the depth of our heart. At the same time we request those in our government to find out and hang four true persons like Bhagat Singh in each of the provinces.”

Known for his forthright expression of views, EVR said he was sad because he could not get the rare chance, which, he said, had delivered Bhagat Singh from the agony of watching the activities of the “idiots and fools who selfishly seek their honour.”

EVR reiterated that he was in full agreement with Bhagat Singh's ideas, but felt “he had erred a little in choosing the means to translate his principles into practice.”

“The issue is whether a man has done his duty or not. The issue is not whether the action has borne fruit. Yet we agree that we should do our duty, taking into account the time and place of the action. We are sure time, place and the general trend not hostile to the principle upheld by Bhagat Singh. Though it occurs to our mind that he has erred a little in choosing the means to translate his principle into practice. We will never at anytime be emboldened to say that his principle is flawed one,” he argued, saying “we would not have called him an honest man if he had not conducted himself only in the way he had found just.”

Periyar also recalled Bhagat Singh's letter to the Punjab Governor to reiterate his support for the ideas of socialism and atheism.

Prof. Lal also obtained Bhagat Singh's article ‘Why I am an atheist' in Tamil translated by P. Jeevanandam, which was published by Periyar in Kudiarasu in 1935.

According to Prof. Lal, at one time after Partition, the English copy of this essay was not found anywhere. It was then retranslated from Tamil to English, and some websites still carry the retranslated English version of this essay. But the original publication was found and it is now preserved in the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi in microfilm form.

Jeevanandam was then working together with the DK leader in the Self-Respect movement. The British government arrested both Jeevanandam and E.V.Krishnasamy, publisher and EVR's brother. They were released after the two tendered an apology at the behest of Periyar.

Later, EVR himself wrote an article in Kudiarasu, explaining that it was he who forced them to submit an apology and they could not be faulted for their action.

Dravidar Kazhagam general secretary Kali Poonguntran said the incident created a wedge between Periyar and Jeevanandam, who quit the Self Respect Movement to join the Congress.

Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam president Kolathur Mani, who was instrumental in re-publishing Kudiarasu, said EVR's aversion to the Congress was no secret as he regarded the party and its leader Gandhi as proponents of Varnashrama dharma.

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Printable version | May 6, 2021 9:06:10 PM |

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