Category Archives: Periyar

22nd January in Dalit History – Periyar was sentenced to undergo imprisonment for the publication of his book ‘Ponmozhigal’ (Golden sayings)


22 January 1932: Birth of Vasant Moon.

Vasant Moon was born in Nagpur city of Maharashtra state. Since his childhood he lived in the proper upbringing. In Maharpura area of Nagpur, he completed his primary and secondary school education. As he grew, he became more careful about his studies. Vasant Moon had started collecting books on dalit movement since his school days. He used to buy old books from weekly Burdi market (an area in Nagpur), the market which was very close to Patwardhan High School where he did his schooling. There was hardly any resercher of dalit movement who could do his/her research without Vasant Moon.[1] He was honoured withBhim Ratna award by The Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations, United Kingdom in 1993.[2]

For a few months he worked as a Deputy Accountant General in Post and Telegraph office before he had completed his Masters in Arts. He wrote a few small dramas and staged them in his town Maharpura. Later on, he got a job of County Commissioner. First he worked in Madhya Pradesh, and then worked in other cities of Maharashtra. He was so committed to his community that he could never forget it up to his death. Not only his own family but also his entire neighborhood was his family. He got everything in it. He was associated with Wamanrao Godbole (the man whom Dr. Ambedkar gave the full responsibility of organising the Buddhist conversion of 14 October 1956) during the historic Buddhist conversion ceremony at Deeksha Bhoomi led by Dr. Ambedkar. He converted from Hinduism to Buddhism on the 14 October, 1956 in the historic conversion at Nagpur. He was associated with the Samata Sainik Dal during his youth. Though he lived his entire life almost in cities he was staunch follower of Dr. Ambedkar and was a well known dalit activist. Such was his devotion to Dr. Ambedkar’s mission that he built a library in Nagpur as a monument. He assisted world famous writer, Eleanor Zelliot for her Ph.D thesis in his library.[3]

Mr. Vasant Moon’s complete work of Dr. Ambedkar gives insight into the ideas, thoughts and philosophy of the great man, which is valuable and an outstanding service to the Nation. Moon is well known for his painstaking work on the editions of twenty collected volumes of Dr. Ambedkar`s Writing and Speeches in English and his autobiography. These were published by Education Department of Maharashtra Government. Till he was alive 17 volumes were released and he had proof read volume 18, 19 and 20 in the manuscript form. After his death, Mr. Hari Narke who was then working on literature of Mahatma Jyotiba Phule took over remaining task of Vasant Moon.[4]

Moon has written historical and social books. Life of women in Buddha`s Period (1989) is one of his powerful pieces of writing. In this, he has shown the life style of women during that particular period of Buddhism. He asserts that the period of Buddhism was favourable, convenient, and the time of equality for women. In that period, there did not exist any oppressive, unequal and separate laws for men and women. In the beginning of that period, there may have been such separate laws and their practice to some extent. Before Buddhism, there was no equality between men and women. In the course of time, the equality came in to existence during the Buddhist period. After this period of Buddhism, again the unequal things crept into the society. Therefore, according to Moon, the Buddhist period was the first period in Indian which for the first time, women were given full freedom and were treated equally. In the same period the duties of a daughter, wife, mother, widow, woman laborer, and nun were considered ideal. So, he shows the egalitarian nature of Buddhism through this book

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17th January in Dalit History – Periyar linked caste to religion


17 Jan 1971: Periyar linked caste to religion in the following lines[1]:

Though I have endeavored all along to abolish caste, as far as this country is concerned, this has meant I carry out the propaganda for the abolition of god, religion, shastras and Brahmins. For caste will disappear only when these four disappear[…] because caste has been constructed out of these four.

Periyar with Dr. Ambedkar

Periyar with Dr. Ambedkar

17 Jan 1998: Manyawar Kanshi Ram addressed a conference of Dalits at the Roshan Ground at Hoshiarpur, Punjab[2]

Mr. Kanshi Ram, Bahujan Samaj Party supremo said that social transformation and ecomonic emancipation of Dalits could only be possible through power. Social justice alone was not required for Dalits. They could survive only if they shared power in the country, He said the main aim of his life was social and economic reforms of Dalits. He said that he had succeeded in uniting the Dalits and that was why a Dalit lady, Ms. Mayawati, became the Chief Minister of UP the largest state in the country. He said he would now concentrate on making a person from Gujjar community a Chief Minister of Rajasthan and an Adivasi a Chief Minister of Punjab. Mr. Romesh Dogra, Congress MLA from Dasuya, Mr. NAresh Thakur, former Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha and Mr. Ram Rattan, general secretary, District Congress Committee, Hoshiarpur shared also the dias with the BSP supremo.

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[1] “Ninety-third Birthday Souvenir,” 17 January 1971 [Anaimuthu. 1974:1974] For this quote see Geetha, “Periyar, Women” WS-9. See also Geetha’s reference on WS-15. From Periyar, E. Ve. Ra Singthanaikal (Thoughts of Periyar_ – Three volumes, Sinthanaiyalar Kazahagam, Turchirapalli, (translations from Tamil made by Geetha)

[2] The Times of India, newspaper dated 18 January 1998

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Filed under BSP, Caste Discrimination, Dalit-Bahujans, Equal Rights, India, Periyar, Today in Dalit History, Today in History