Prof. A. Ayyasamy
Periyar has picturised a new world in an interesting article written by him in 1944. On the face of it, it looks unusual that Periyar should have a vision, what with his down to earth thinking and stark realism of approach. But his vision is based on the very realism of his approach, derived from the march of time as witnessed in his days.
Periyar’s prediction is based on two factors: one is the triumph of reason and the other is the development of technology, the progress of both of which are visible all around. He need not dream. He need not have a vision. The making of a world is there, for everyone to see. Hitherto unknown principles like liberty, fraternity, equality, human rights and socialism have caught the imagination of the people and are being put into practice everywhere. Kingdoms have been falling and monarchies have been given the go by. The people of Russia have boldly risen against every value that has been cherished for ages and have established a world of equals, a world without any division between the ruler and the ruled.
Just as human thinking has been widening, touching new horizons, science has been throwing open a new vista everyday. Technology, the wonder working offshoot of science, has been making tremendous progress, making real what has been possible only in the world of Aladdin. Seeing all this, Periyar comes to the inescapable conclusion that the future world is for the intellectuals alone. The veils that are presently covering human intelligence will be torn asunder and all the beliefs and values which have been products of ignorance will disappear in the dawn of reason.
Periyar concludes that only those who are not conditioned by preconceived notions about God, religion, social mores, or political theories are good enough to do free thinking and find ways and means for establishing a world not fettered by traditions and conventions.
A rationalist can easily perceive this fact which will be all but obvious to those steeped in ignorance and superstition fostered by religion with all its written and unwritten codes. At present, says Periyar, Tamil scholars on one side (Periyar calls them ‘pandits’) and religious preachers on the other, continue to hold tremendous sway over the thinking of the public. The pandits, who have fallen into the mire of myths and legends, are unable to come out of it and enjoy the breeze of reason, as they are rendered helpless, surrounded by the poisonous serpents of religion. They still live in the past and admire everything about it. Driven by an unnatural nostalgia, the pandits want to go back by many centuries. The priests and the preachers, on the other hand, want to go back by a few ‘eons’. These groups are certainly not to be trusted with the founding of the new world.
To further clarify his contention, Periyar gives an account of things as they exist at present, with selfishness and mindless exploitation reigning everywhere. Even after toiling ceaselessly, working people get very little returns, not sufficient to keep their body and soul together. Whereas food and all the comforts are available in plenty, few people can afford them, resulting in widespread hunger and poverty. Even with abundance of raw materials and the know-how to utilize them, there are a good many people who are steeped in misery without even their bare needs being met. After listing out the woe and the misery seen everywhere around him, Periyar poses some vital, and relevant, questions.
Are these conditions in any way connected with God? Are they in any way connected with religion? Are those who believe in any God or any religion free from wants? Can it be said with any certainty that those who do not care about religion or God are not intellectually equipped to free themselves from this misery?
Pondering in these lines, Periyar concludes that only those who are not conditioned by preconceived notions about God, religion, social mores, or political theories are good enough to do free thinking and find ways and means for establishing a world not fettered by traditions and conventions. There are many in the Western world, assures Periyar, who devote their time and energy for this purpose. Their quest will certainly lead to a revolutionary change, which will create a world without property and money, governments, social hierarchy, slavery and menial jobs, dependence of anyone on someone else or the need to offer special protection to the womenfolk.
How can this happen? What will be responsible for this transformation? Technology, assures Periyar. With the giant leaps being made by technology, man will be able to satisfy all his needs with working for just as an hour or two per day. This freedom from wants will lead to cooperation and harmony, evoking a feeling of brotherhood of man. The entire mankind will get united in mitigating the distress of a single individual, as if all of them are affected by it, and find the remedy as quickly as possible.
to be continued in the next issue…..