During 1921, upon Gandhi’s, command he headed an agitation to ban toddy shops. On account of this toddy shop protest he was arrested in November 1921 and sent to a prison in Coimbatore. He suffered imprisonment for a month. After his release, he felled 500 coconut trees on his orchard in Thathampatti in Salem, to support Gandhi’s anti toddy agitation. He felled them since those trees were the source for toddy – extract.
The Travancore Devaswom in Kerala had prohibited free movement of the scheduled caste people on the four streets around the prominent temple in Vaikom. In 1924 an agitation started against the unjust prohibition in practice. Periyar had a vital role in this protest and struggle.
Since all the Kerala congress leaders who participated in the agitation were arrested, Periyar was requested to lead the agitation. The protest continued under his leadership. He stayed at Vaikom for 140 day and led the protest. He had to court arrest twice for this. He spent 74 days in prison on the grounds of this historic ‘Vaikom struggle’.
In 1924, va.ve.su.iyer obtained financial assistance form tamilnadu, congress party and started ‘gurukualm’ (learning by living with the teacher). brahmin learners were served food separately. when periyar head about it, the waged a war of protest against the caste discrimination. he caused the ultimate closure of gurukulam.
In 1937 Rajagopalachari became the premier of Madras presidency on behalf of the congress. During his term, he made the study of Hindi compulsory in government schools. ThanthaiPeriyar agitated against the imposition of Hindi. A group of Tamil protesters landed in Madras. Many cadres courted arrest. Some of them passed away. Ultimately the Hindi – imposition was given up.
In 1948,whenOmandur Ramasamy was the chief Minister, the same problem cropped up again. Periyar agitated against it. By the effect of his vigorous anti Hindi agitation, compulsory Hindi got annihilated.
In 1952, 1953 and 1954 Periyar led a protest against display of sign boards in Hindi at railway stations. The letters in Hindi were erased and removed.
In 1955, he announced burning of the National flag in public as a mark of protest against Hindi – imposition.
It was late assured that Hindi would not be forcibly imposed. On all the sign boards in Railway stations. Tamil letters and words were given prominence. Periyar gave up the National flag burning protest with merely an announcement.
Right from his association with the congress, Periyar had been fighting to achieve communal rights. He used to table a resolution for it in every congress conference. When it was refused, he quit the congress to express his contempt.
The reservations ratified and granted during the rule of the Justice party were later revoked and withdrawn by the Madras High court as well as the Supreme Court in Delhi. Periyar started his agitation against this injustice. As the result of his protest the first amendment was carried out in our constitution. The reservations were retrieved successfully.
Procuring source materials from south India, the business magnates of North India used to manufacture their end – products and bring them back to south India for sale. During 1950’s Periyar pointed out this smart exploitation. To prevent it, on Jan.26, 1951, and agitation was held in Madras.
Ganapati or Ganesha, known widely in many parts of India, is called ‘ Pillaiyar’ in Tamilnadu. Since the God was designed with an ulterior motive of shielding the Varanashrama and caste system and became ‘Pillaiyar’ is always invoked first as the chief God Periyar announced smashing and breaking ‘ Pillaiyar’ idols in public as a mark of protest. This was held in 1953.
When Rajagopalachari assumed office as the premier of Madras presidency, he wound – up and closed 6000 schools. In the rest of the schools the students were made to study just for on shift and spend the rest of the day in mastering the trade of their heredity such as masonry, carpentry, pottery etc.,
Periyar violently protested against this evil and agitated to get it abolished. an army of protesting comrades marched towards madras to support him. unable to tolerate the widespread protest, rajagopalachari quit his post.
In order to protest against the imposition of Hindi and to express the unwillingness of the Tamil people to be a part of the co – alit ion government, on August 1, 1955, the National Flag of India was to be burned in public as a mark of protest. A resolution for this was tabled during the management committee meeting of Dravidar Kazhagam held in Tiruchirappalli.
Anticipating the consequences, Chief Minister Kamaraj gave an assurance that they would persuade the Prime minister to declare firmly – “No imposition of Hindi”. Upon the pacification of Kamaraj the decision to burn the National Flag was dropped.
The epic hero Lord Rama has been depicted as the protector of castes and creed. Hence, to condemn his unpleasant conduct in the Ramayana, On August 1- 1956, the images and portraits of Rama were burnt all over Tamilnadu as a mark of protest against cast discriminations, depicted in ancient fables.
On the boards of many hotels run by Brahmins, on could find the words “Brahmins’ hotel.: To erase these words from sign boards, there was an agitation patronized by Periyar, since those words indicated caste – domination spirit. In Madras for 210 days agitation was held in front of a hotel known as, “Murali Brahmins’ café/” 837 protesters were arrested. Ultimately, the name was changed by the removal of the irksome word.
As the Indian constitution seems to shield and safeguard caste system and discriminations, Periyar insisted upon correction and amendment in it. He agitates against the offending articles and organized a protest on November 26.1957. The copy of constitution was burnt as a mark of protest. Nearly 4000 comrades courted arrest for this agitation.
In order to free Tamilnadu from the central Government’s misuse of powers, autocratic rule and the imposition of Hindi’, Periyar announced that the map of India would be burnt in public on June.5 – 1960. Dedicate comrades complied with Periyar’s request for support and burnt the map of India as a sign of protest. Nearly 4000 protesters were arrested following this agitation. Under the Preventive Detention Act, Periyar was arrested on June3 itself, two days before the agitation.
Since Ramayana and the epic hero Rama degrade Dravidians and disgrace them, it was decided to create awareness among the gullible public. All over the country Periyar spread his thoughts and made people realize how deplorable Ramayana and Rama were. The obnoxious segments of Ramayana were highlighted by Periyar. This led to an agitation in 1966 where copies of Ramayana were burnt in public to condemn the contents and characters.