Tag Archives: Periyar

Why wearing Thaali (Mangalsutra) is disgraceful


“The ritual of tying a “thaali” (or mangalsutra) around the woman’s neck at the marriage ceremony and considering her to be his slave is similar to buying a buffalo, tying a cord around its neck and dragging it home.

thali

It is considered that the practice of tying a “thaali” (or mangalsutra) around a women’s neck is to provide the identity of marital status, to establish the right as someone’s wife and to prevent other men from falling in love with that woman.

If that is so, is it not essential for men also to wear a sign that identifies their marital status and prevents other women from falling in love with them?”

– Periyar, rationalist and social activist described by United Nations as the father of social reform movement and Prophet of New Age.

Read also – 21 married women removed their “thali” on the 124th birth anniversary of B.R.Ambedkar.

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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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8th January in Dalit History – Buddhist Flag Day


8th January: Buddhist Flag Day

The Buddhist flag is a modern creation and it was jointly designed by Mr J.R. de Silva and Colonel Henry Steele Olcott (American journalist) to mark the revival of Buddhism in Ceylon (presently Sri Lanka) in 1880. They designed a flag from the six colours of the aura that shone around the body and head of the Buddha after His Enlightenment. The Buddhist flag and American flag were draped on Colonel’s dead body in 1907 before his cremation.

The flag later came to symbolize the unity of Buddhists. Thereafter, it has been used worldwide and has been used in nearly 60 countries during Buddhist festive seasons, particularly during the Vesak celebrations.  The Buddhist Flag was first hoisted in 1885 in Sri Lanka. It is a symbol of faith and peace used throughout the world to represent the Buddhist faith and to mark the revival of Buddhism. It was accepted as the International Buddhist Flag by the 1952 World Buddhist Congress.

There are five vertical stripes of red, yellow, blue, white and orange. The sixth colour is a compound of the first five, but for design purposes its five ingredients are all shown in small horizontal stripes on the flag.

The horizontal bars signify peace and harmony between all races through out the world. The vertical bars represent eternal peace within the world.

In simple terms, the Buddhist Flag implies that there is no discrimination of races, nationality, areas or skin colour; that every living being possess the Buddha Nature and all have the potential to become a Buddha. The colours symbolise the perfection of Buddhahood and the Dharma.

The Blue light that radiated from the Buddha’s hair symbolises the spirit of Universal Compassion for all beings. It also represents the noble quality of “confidence” of the Buddha.

The Yellow light that radiated from the Buddha’s epidermis symbolises the Middle Path which avoids all extremes and brings balance and liberation. It also represents the noble quality of “holiness” of the Buddha.

The Red light that radiated from the Buddha’s flesh symbolises the blessings that the practice of the Buddha’s Teaching brings. It signifies achievement, wisdom, virtue, fortune and dignity. It also represents the noble quality of “wisdom” of the Buddha.

The White light that radiated from the Buddha’s bones and teeth symbolises the purity of the Buddha’s Teaching and the liberation it brings. It also represents the noble quality of “purity” of the Buddha.

The Orange light that radiated from the Buddha’s palms, heels and lips symbolises the unshakable Wisdom of the Buddha’s Teaching. It also represents the noble quality of “absence of desire” of the Buddha.

Buddhist flag

8 Jan 1934: Dr. Ambedkar returned by Victoria to Bombay (presently Mumbai) from London’s round table conference. [1]

He was in high spirits and talked gaily with his friends and admirers. In an interview which he gave at the Pier he said that the Joint Committee might modify the proposals made in the White Paper, but, in the main, they would be accepted. “We should accept them and agitate for more. I will not sit with folded hands hands and do nothing”, he added.

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7th January in Dalit History – Provincial (State) Civil services due to Dr. Ambedkar’s efforts


7 January 1931: Dr. Ambedkar, at the second sitting of Round Table Conference in London, recommended provincial autonomy by allowing to ‘cut their coats according to their cloth.’[1]  

This was the seond sitting of Round Table Conference in London on the sub-committee No VII where Indianisaton of Indian Civil Service was being delieberated.

Dr. Ambedkar: This question has to be considered from more than one point of view. There is, first of all, the point of view of Provincial autonomy. We are framing a Constitution in which we propose to give as large a degree of Provincial autonomy to the provinces as possible, and it seems to me that no province can be deemed to have Provincial autonomy if it has not the right to regulate the Civil Service that is going to work in its area. There is another and very important point of view, namely, finance. When we have an All-India Civil Service we have a fixed scale of pay. Salaries, remunerations, and other privileges are on a scale which is somewhat remote from what would be obtainable in the various provinces. A Civil Service that will not be costly to Bombay or Bengal may be costly to smaller and poorer provinces, like Assam, Sind, the North-West Frontier Province, and Punjab, and it may be that these provinces will feel themselves satisfied with a little less efficient service than the All-India basis would give them. Having regard to finance at their command, they may regard the brains and efficiency obtainable as quite sufficient for their purpose. Finally, I agree with Mr. Basu regard to specialisation.  I do not understand how the passing of an  examination like that of the I.C.S. can give any man the competence to serve in certain specialised Department.  A man was passed his I.C.S. examination, with mathematics as a special subject, may be placed in the  Department of Agriculture or in that of Indian currency.  We ought to have a Service which not merely assures a certain standard of education in those who participate, but also allow for a certain degree of specialisation.  It is  necessary, in my view, that the All-India character of some of these Services should now cease, and the provinces should be allowed liberty to cut their  coats according to their cloth. 

Sir A. P. Patro : The objection which has been raised by Dr. Ambedkar is a very relevant one.

Chairman : Mr. Basu’s point of view on Dr. Ambedkar’s remarks should clearly be considered. We should be careful to make it plain that in recommending recruitment for the I.C.S. we do not regard the I.C.S. as perfect, good though it is, or as a thing which must be continued for ever on exactly the same basis. It will be necessary to do whatever is possible to remould and recast it. Those of Dr. Ambedkar’s school of thought suggest that the All-India Services should be done away with and small Provincial Services set up in their stead.

Dr. Ambedkar: I think that I should make my position clear. I hold, with the rest of the members of this Committee, that it is very necessary to have a European element in the Service, but I do not share the view of the noble Lord, Lord Zetland, when he said that if you make the Service provincial it will dry up the source of recruitment.

Chairman: The suggestion is that we should fix 1939, or any other date you like. There is no magic in a date. The suggestion is that we should fix some date, and make it plain that thereafter it is a matter for the Government of India to consider. That is the suggestion which I make in order to try to meet everybody.

Dr. Ambedkar: My view is that your recommendations should be applicable only to the Indian Civil Service and the Indian Police Service.

Chairman: I would agree to that, and I will make that plain.

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On the basis of the discussions in the Round Table Conferences, the British Government prepared the white Paper Proposals which formed the basis of the Government of India Act 1935[2]. Subsequently, The Government of India Act, 1935 provided for the establishment of a Public Service Commission for each Province. Accordingly, under the 1935 Act seven Public Service Commissions were established in 1937 for the provinces of Assam (at Shillong), Bengal (at Calcutta), Bombay and Sindh (at Bombay), Central Provinces, Bihar and Orissa (at Ranchi), Madras (at Madras), Punjab and North-West (at Lahore) and the United Provinces (at Allahabad). All the State Public Service Commissions including the successors of the older Provincial Public Service Commissions came to be established after the reorganization of States after independence.

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