Biography of Periyar E. V. Ramasamy

Biography of Periyar E. V. Ramasamy


Periyar E. V. Ramasamy

Born: September 17, 1879, Erode, Tamil Nadu

Died: 24 December 1973, Vellore. Tamil Nadu

Job: Tamil nationalist, social reformer

EV Ramaswamy is a Tamil nationalist and politician as well as a social activist. His followers would respectfully refer to him by his name of “Periyar”. He was the founder of the ‘Self-Respect Movement, also known as the ‘Dravidian Movement. He established the Justice Party, which later was renamed the Dravidian Kazhagam’. He was opposed to orthodox Hinduism throughout his entire life. He was in opposition to the mandatory instruction in Hindi.


He was a tireless advocate for the marginalized segment of South Indian society. He slammed Brahmanism in particular and Brahmins in his demands for a distinct nation based on Dravid Nadu. Periyar EV Ramaswamy was adamant about issues such as self-respect, rationality, and women’s rights. He fiercely opposed the system of caste. He was an advocate to protect the rights of South Indian non-Tamil people and opposed the hegemony and power in the hands of North Indians. His writings ushered in many changes in Tamil society, and caste discrimination was is also reduced to an enormous extent. In the citation, UNESCO declared him to be “the prophet of the new age and his name being the Socrates in Southeast Asia, the father of the social reform movement, and the opponent of superstition, ignorance and petty customs.



The first step is life.

Erode Venkata Naykar RAMASASAMY was born on the 17th of September, 1879 at Erode, Milan, into a rich traditional Hindu family. The father Venkatappa Naidu, is a renowned merchant. The name of his mother is Chinna Tayammal. He has an older brother and two sisters.

He was in 1885 when he enrolled in the primary school in the area however, after a couple of years of formal schooling and work, the business his father was taken over by him. He would often question the truthfulness of what was said from Sanatana Dharma, mythology, and religious beliefs from his early years. He ridiculed the contradictory statements made by the Hindu epics as well as Puranas. He swore out against social injustices such as child marriage, the devadasi system opposing widow remarriage, and the exploitation of Dalits and women. He also opposed and boycotted the caste system.



Biography of Periyar E. V. Ramasamy

Kashi Yatra

Periyar went to Kashi in 1904 and it transformed his life. In a state of hunger, he went there to eat a meal for free and after the restaurant, he discovered that the place was reserved for Brahmins. He tried to find food but was ridiculed by Shaak for which traditional Hinduism. Following this, he refused to believe in any religion and was an atheist for the remaining of his life.

In the Congress party. Congress the party

He was chairman of Erode Municipal Corporation and promoted social welfare projects. He also advocated for the increase in the utilization of Khadi. He was elected a Congress Member in 1919, at the request of Chakraborty Rajagopalachari. He was part of the non-cooperation movements and was arrested. In the 1922 Tirupur session, the politician was the head of the Madras Presidency Congress Committee and was a proponent of reservation in government positions and education. Left the Congress Party in 1925.

Vaikom Satyagraha

Vaikom in Kerala is governed by strict rules of untouchability which prohibit Dalits and Harijans from any temple. Periyar was the head of the Vaikom initiative in response to the demands from Kerala Congress leaders. The goal of the Vaikom movement was to eliminate the ban that prohibited Dalits not walking on roads that lead to temples. His wife and other friends helped him during this campaign.

Biography of Periyar E. V. Ramasamy

Self-respect movement

Periyar and his comrades always exert pressure on officials and government authorities to lessen the inequality in society. The primary goal of the self-respect movement was to make people who were not Hindu Dravidians feel proud of their glorious history. In the years following 1925, Periyar devoted his entire attention to the promotion of the Self-Respect Movement. Tamil weekly “Kudi Arasu’ (started around 1925) as well as the English magazine “Revolt” (started around 1928) were created to support the movement. The purpose of this campaign was more than just social reform, but also to promote social movement’.

Hindi language protest

In 1937, as C. Rajagopalachari became the Chief Minister of the Madras Presidency, Hindi language education was mandated in schools, which further exacerbated the anti-Hindi protests. Tamil nationalists as well as Periyar, the Justice Party, and Periyar organized anti-Hindi demonstrations which resulted in numerous arrests in 1938. The same year, Periyar launched the slogan ‘Tamil Nadu, for the Tamils’ to protest against Hindi. Periyar believed that following the advent of Hindi, Tamil culture would be destroyed, and Tamil societies would eventually be taken over by North Indians.

No matter what their political beliefs The heads of all the South Indian parties unitedly opposed Hindi.


Justice Party and Dravida Kazhagam

He established a political group called the South Indian Liberation Association. Its primary goal was to challenge the power of the Brahmins in the political and economic arena. that was possessed by the Brahmin community as well as the social advancement of non-Brahmins. The group later changed its name to “Justice Party”. To gain the support of the Bahujans non-Brahmin political leaders propagated the idea of equality between non-Brahmin castes.

Periyar sought aid from his Justice Party in the anti-Hindi movement in 1937. In 1937, when Periyar saw that the Justice Party was in a poor position, Periyar took over its direction and strengthened it through the anti-Hindi campaign.

In 1944, Periyar changed the name of the Justice Party to ‘Dravida Kazhagam’. The impact of Dravida Kazhagam was concentrated on students and urban dwellers. Even rural areas did not take to its messages. In a bid to change anti-Hindi and anti-Brahmin practices and customs, Dravida Kazhagam was quick to take action. The Dravida Kazhagam was a fighter for the abolishment of discrimination against Dalits and was focused on crucial social issues like women’s emancipation, education for women as well as widow marriage remarriage.

Biography of Periyar E. V. Ramasamy

Life events

1879: On September 17, E.V. Ramaswami was born.

1898: Married Nagammai at the age of 19

1904: Periyar emigrated to Kashi and became an atheist.

1919: Joined the Indian National Congress

1922: Elected President of Madras Presidency Congress Committee

1925 Resigned from his position in Congress

1924: Periyar Vaikom organized Satyagraha

1925: Begins the Self Respect movement.

1929: Traveled to several nations, including Europe, Russia, and Malaysia

1929: He dropped his surname “Naikar”

Biography of Periyar E. V. Ramasamy


1933: His wife Nagammai died

1938: He used the slogan “Tamil Nadu to Tamils.

1939: Became President of the Justice Party

1944 It was the year 1944 when Justice Party was changed to Dravida Kazhagam.

1948 Ramaswami got married to a woman who was 40 years older than him.

1949: Disagreements between the Periyar and Annadurai resulted in a division within the Dravida Kazhagam.

1973: He passed away on the 24th of December.


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