Instrumental for first amendment in constitution 1951. Several thoughts and principles of Periyar led to resolutions in various state conferences. They were all ratified later by the rulers and became laws. Enactments were as follows:
Thanthai Periyar fought for communal rights throughout his life. Even when he was in the Congress party, he proposed resolutions in every state conference demanding class wise representation right. He quit the congress party when social justice was denied. He fought for 50% reservation.
In 1927, the Justice party ratified class wise reservation and passed orders for implementation. In 1974, the premier of Madras Presidency O.P. Ramasamy Reddy granted 14% reservation for the backward classed and issued an order to implement. But the courts pronounced it invalid and rejected.
Periyar gathered people for support and agitated. As a measure to safeguard reservations, Indian constitution was amended for the first time in 1957. Upon Periyar’s relentless demand for reservation, one of the former chief Minister Kamaraj approved 31% reservation and passed orders. Later, the chief Minister M.G.Ramachandran granted 69% reservation and passed orders.
Tamil Nadu has been witnessing change of rulers in the state, but the level of reservation has been rising with the passing of time. This should mean only that ours is the land of Periyar and that in a sense it is being ruled by him.
Periyar insisted upon marriages without the rites officiated by Brahmin priests. Thousands of families happily performed self – respect marriages. It was propagated that marriages solemnized without engaging Brahmins to perform the rituals as per the conventions of the Hindu religion should he treated as invalid and illegal.
Even the courts of law pronounced verdicts that marriages held ignoring the traditional conventions of Hindu religion are invalid. When Annadurai was elected the chief Minster, he enacted self-respect marriages and framed it as a law, that such marriages are valid. In 1967, this was legislated under Hindu Marriage (Tamil Nadu) Amendment Act – 1967, that too with retrospective validity of Self- respect marriages held earlier. Periyar’s objective transformed as a law.
During the state conference of Non – Brahmins held at Madurai during December – 1926 a resolution was proposed to declare that people of all the classed called Hindus have the rights to enter the Hindu temples, offer prayers and conduct worship, with absolute equality. This resolution was unanimously passed and adopted.
This was followed by temple – entry agitations at Thiruvanamalai, Erode, Thiruchendur, Mayavaram, Trichy Rock – Fort and many other places.
The Madras Temple Entry Authorisation and Indemnity Act of 1939 assured protection for people entering temples. The Government itself guaranteed protection. Another Act known as the Tamil Nadu Temple Entry Authorisation Act of 1947 was framed as a law, permitting people of all castes to enter temples.
Young virgins used to the dedicated as ‘Devadasi’s to temples as sacrificial goats. They were treated like courtesans. Periyar was against this evil system. He insisted on abolishing it and stressed that no civilized Government should hesitate to eradicate this system.
Periyar’s vision was fulfilled when it was eradicated in 1930 by the Assembly of Madras province through the enactment of Devadasi System Abolition Act 1930. Certain inaccuracies in the Act were also later rectified in1947 through another law ‘The Madras Devadasi Prevention of Dedication Act – 1947.
Child marriages were in vogue all over India. During the first self – respect state conference held at Chenglepet in 1929, Periyar proposed a resolution that girls must be married off only when they are 16-year-old or above.
During 1930, a law called “Sharada Law” was proposed for remarriage of widows. But there were certain problems in its enactment. In 1955, the Hindu Marriage Act was ratified. In 1978 a few amendments were made legally to prohibit child marriages. It seems to be an unwritten code of Time and Nature that Periyar’s thoughts sooner or later, take the shape of irrevocable laws.
Periyar used to stress that a husband and his wife should have the right to get separated if there is no compatibility in marital life. A resolution towards this was tabled by him in 1929 itself, during the first state level self – respect conference held at Chenglepet. This was adopted and ratified through the Hindu Marriage Act – 1955. Wives were granted legal sanction for divorce.
Periyar used to insist time and again upon appointing only women teachers in primary schools. In 1989 when Kalaignar Karunanidhi was the chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Periyar’s desire was fulfilled when a law was promulgated approving it.
Periyar used to stress and insist firmly on changing the name of our state as Tamil Nadu, in order to proclaim loud and clear all over the world, the exceptional cultural identity of this land.
Periyar vehemently opposed naming it as Chennai Nadu or Chennai Rajdhani. On October -11 – 1955 itself he conveyed his request to change the name of Chennai state as ‘Tamil Nadu’. He said, “It some malicious element with an ulterior motive played games and succeed in preventing the change of name as ‘Tamil Nadu’, my life and the lives of my follower – comrades in our party would become totally meaningless.”
His painful words tell us how strong his desire and passion were! As per his wish, it was resolved and adopted in the legislative assembly in 1967 to change the name of the state as ‘Tamil Nadu’ The bill was passed in the parliament on November 23- 1968. Periyar was immensely delighted when the change name ‘Tamil Nadu’ came into usage officially and legally on January 14-1696.
Periyar’s dreams have been coming true one after the other, though he is not now amidst us. His ideology and doctrines would always win!
In the state of Tamil Nadu has shut the door for Hindi the credit should go to ThanthaiPeriyar. In 1926 itself he wrote an article under the caption ‘The secret of Hindi’ which was published later as a small booklet. The first anti – Hindi agitation held by him in 1938 has an indelible place in our history. When C.N.Annadurai assumed office as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. Proclaimed that he was always ready to implement Periyar’s principles in practice by proper legislation, using the powers vested in him, Anna enacted a law during his rule ratifying bi- lingual policy to be adopted in Tamil Nadu. Periyar’s achieved the form of a law.
The seeds for the property rights of women were actually sown by Periyar which have yielded fruits today by the law ratified recently by the Supreme Court. In 1929, during the first self – respect state conference held in Chenglepet, he had proposed a resolution that women should also get equal rights on par with men for property rights, and identity as heiress. Periyar created a spark which became wildfire with the passing of time.
In 1989 when Kalaignar Karunanidhi was the chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, he legislated that women are entitled for equal rights in family property. Only after that historic enactment, 16 years later during 2005 property rights for women got legal sanction on a national level. The women of our entire nation have now the acquired equal property rights. The secretion from the brain of Periyar is being treated as venerable by the whole world. It is certain that all the ideals of Periyar would transform as law, applicable to the entire world.
The word ‘SRI’ had been used as an honorific prefix before the names of men in India. In 1937 when the Congress grabbed the rule in Madras Presidency it ordered the use of the prefix “SRI” in all official communications and correspondence in administration.
Periyar protested against this compulsion. On August 4- 1940, The fifteenth state conference of the Justice party was held at Thiruvarur. During that event, Periyar proposed a resolution that the Tamil word “THIRU” should be used as a prefix instead of the word “SRI” Periyar’s was fulfilled by the framing of a law during the rule of the D.M.K. (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam). The prefix “SRI” was eradicated and “THIRU” took its place in all communication and correspondence in Tamil Nadu.
Periyar disliked an isolated residential allotment for the under privileged class “Adi – Dravidians” (SC/ST etc) He insisted on their Co – existence with people of other communities. In 1996 the Chief Minister Kalaignar Karunanidhi established dwelling places called “SAMATHUVAPURAMS” in memory of Periyar. These were exclusive places with a hundred houses in a chosen area. People of all the classes had to live together in these allotted homes. By 2001, 145 Samathuvapurams were formed all over the state of Tamil Nadu.
The priests performing rituals in temples are called “ARCHAKAS” in Tamil Nadu. Not all were appointed as Archakas for a long period. There was discrimination based on castes. Periyar used to insist that men of all castes should have the rights for appointment as Archakas. He noticed that the root of Varnashrama was in the (sanctum – sanctorum) of temples.
He pointed out that the evil codes of Varnashrama divided people based on their birth and segregated as various castes. To abolish caste system and to enable people of all classed secure appointment as Archakas, Periyar announced an agitation. It was decided by him to enter sanctum – sanctorum of temples on Jan-26, 1970 and stage the protest. But it was put off since the chief Minister Karunanidhi assured framing of law for it.
The first draft of legislation was tabled in the Assembly of Tamailnadu on Nov.30 – 1970. It was ratified and passed unanimously by the approval of the leader of all the parties, without any protester objection.
The amendment ratified by the Government of Tamil Nadu was included in the Hindu Religious and charitable endowments Act which commenced implementation on Jan.8 – 1971.
The High Court stayed the legislation of human rights. Periyar announced wide – spread boycott of temples and vigorous agitation against this injustice. The agitation was prohibited was considered by Periyar as a humiliation and disgrace. Obeying the order of ban was a sign of cowardice for Periyar. Realizing his frustration, the next rulers M.G.R, Kalaignar and Jayalalitha relentlessly strove for making Periyar’s dream come true. It is believed that the enactment would come, the evil of caste system would vanish and human rights would come back to life.
Periyar contributed greatly to the reformation of the letters in Tamil language. Though the need for simplification was felt, none of the Tamil scholars dared to come forward for the work concerned.
Thanthai Periyar could not achieve school education beyond the age of ten. But he was bold enough to announce reformation of Tamil letters. He used to ask – “If erudite scholars, academicians and experts in grammar do not attempt reformation what are we to do? Shall we begin penance or prayers for this?” By his own efforts and inherent skill, he simplified many of the Tamil letters. The revamping eliminated complications in printing process too. None followed Periyar’s reformation. But he introduced the corrected and changed forms in his journals and papers – “Pagutharivu: ‘Kudi – Arasu’, ‘Puratchi’, ‘Viduthalai’ and ‘Unmai’.
In 1978, the chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, legislated Periyar’s reformation in Tamil scripts. The nations such as Singapore, Malaysia and Sri Lanka too adopted Periyar’s reformation and passed orders for use in their countries.
For a long time Rickshaws pulled manually by poor people were used for public conveyance. In 1948 itself Periyar protested against this inhuman mode of transport. A man drawing the rickshaw like an animal for another man seated in it was barbaric according to him. When Kalaignar Karunanidhi was the C.M. of Tamil Nadu, he fulfilled Periyar’s desire by enacting a law and abolished Hand – rickshaws forever. A great dehumanization was eradicated by Periyar’s efforts.