Periyar E. V. Ramasamy

Periyar E. V. Ramasamy

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Category: Social Work

Periyar E. V. Ramasamy Profile

  • Name:
  • Periyar E. V. Ramasamy
  • Other Name:
  • Thanthai Periyar
  • Born:
  • September 17, 1879
  • Died:
  • December 24, 1973
  • Born / Home Town:
  • Erode
  • Father:
  • Venkatappa Naicker
  • Mother:
  • Chinna Thayammal Alias Muthammal

Periyar E. V. Ramasamy Biography

Periyar E. V. Ramasamy was an Indian politician and freedom fighter. He started the Self-Respect Movement which is also called as Dravidian Movement. He also founded Dravidar Kazhagam. He is affectionately called as Thanthai Periyar or E. V. R. by his followers. He is a great social reformer, rationalist and an atheist.


He was born on 17th September 1879 in Erode in Madras Presidency. He belonged to a wealthy Kannada speaking Balija family. His parents were Ventakappa Naicker and Chinna Thayammal. He had one elder brother Krishnaswamy and two sisters, Kannamma and Ponnuthoy. His original name was Erode Venkata Ramasami Naicker. He dropped the name Naicker in 1929 as this indicated the name of his caste. He attended school only for five years. Later he joined his father in his trade.


He married Nagammai when he was nineteen. Nagammai was only thirteen at that time. She supported her husband in his public activities. A girl child was born which lived only for five months. Nagammai died in 1933 and in 1948 he married Maniammai. He propagated the principles of rationalism, self-respect, women’s rights and worked to eradicate the caste system.


During his visit to Kasi in 1904, he saw immoral activities, begging, floating dead bodies and Brahmanic exploitation and all these things made him to follow anti-Brahmanism and atheism. He joined Indian National Congress in 1919 and spread the use of Khadi and worked to eradicate untouchability. He left the party in 1925. He took part in Vaikom Satyagraha and was arrested. He registered the Self-Respect Movement Institution in 1925. He opposed superstitious beliefs and child marriages and insisted on equal rights to women.


Periyar E. V. Ramasamy


When Rajagopalachari became the Chief Minister of Madras state in 1937, he introduced compulsory Hindi in school. Periyar opposed this and organized anti-Hindi protests. South Indian Liberation Federation called as Justice Party was founded in 1916 and later Periyar E. V. Ramasamy became its president. He changed its name to Dravidar Kazhagam in 1944. Later this split into Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.


He said that he was not anti-Brahmin but advocated anti-Brahminism. He could not tolerate the denial of rights to Sudras in favor of Brahmins. He wanted to retain English as the official language instead of Hindi. He worked for five decades to ward off ignorance, superstitions and meaningless customs in India. He died on 24th December 1973 at the age of 94. His ancestral home in Erode was made a museum.

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Updated: June 12, 2018

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