Self-Respect Movement and Periyar E.V.R.
E.V. Ramaswamy was a great social reformer. In 1921, during the anti-liquor
campaign he cut down 1000 coconut trees in his own farm. In 1924, he took an
active part in the Vaikam Satyagraha. The objective of the Satyagraha was to
secure for untouchables the right to use a road near a temple at Vaikom in
Kerala. E.V.R. opposed the Varnashrama
policy followed in the V.V.S. Iyer's Seranmadevi Gurugulam. During
1920-1925 being in the Congrees Party he stressed that Congress should accept
Subsequently in 1925, he started the
'Self-Respect Movement'. The aims of the 'Self -Respect Movement' were to uplift the Dravidians and to expose the
Brahminical tyrany and deceptive methods by which they controlled all spheres of Hindu
life. He denounced the caste system, child marriage and enforced widowhood. He
encouraged inter-caste marriages. He himself conducted many marriages without
any rituals. Such a marriage was known as 'Self-Respect Marriage.' He gave
secular names to new born babies.
He attacked the laws
of Manu, which he called the basis of the entire Hindu social fabric of caste.
He founded the Tamil journals Kudiarasu,
Puratchi and Viduthalai to
propagate his ideals.
In 1938 at Tamil Nadu Women's Conference
appreciatin the noble service rendered by E.V.R. he was given the title 'Periyar'. On 27th June 1970 by the
UNESCO organisation praised and adorned with the title 'Socrates of South Asia'.