The following write-up of Thanthai Periyar was published in Kudi Arasu dated 20th September 1947. The translated version is here below
Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) is an establishment with the liberation and progress of people as its prime objective. It was organized to strive for achieving it. The Aryans had been misusing their freedom in the country to denigrate and degrade other people in the name of race and on the basis of birth. They have belittled others by suppressing and oppressing them. Dravidar Kazhagam was formed to liberate such downtrodden people from the Aryan shackles. To elucidate further, it is a movement which strives for the deliverance of all the people who have been maligned as Sudhras. As per the Arya dharma, they were graded as people belonging to the fourth group ‘Varnas’ or the fifth group ‘Avarnas’, in the layers of inequality. The mission of the Dravidar Kazhagam is to struggle and salvage all those victims of disparity.
Under the garb of the Hindu religion, Aryans have been calling Dravidians as ‘Sudhras’. There are many evidences to vouch for this. For instance, in the tenth chapter of Manu smirti, under the caption of ‘Shankara caste’, it has been specified that those who have discarded the caste dharma and those who are their offsprings are called ‘Dravidians’. This particular chapter also says that the children begotten by ‘Sudhra’ males and brahmin women should be treated as ‘Bhagya caste’ persons or people of a contemptuous ‘Chandal’ caste who should never ever come near upper caste people. The chapter concerned also adds that the children born of Brahmin men and Sudhra women should be called in the Aryan land as a low caste people of fishermen community.
In the same chapter it has been stated that cobblers who work using cattle-hide, grave diggers and beggars called ‘Pariahs’ are all born of intercaste marriages, to couples who have discarded the codes of caste-dharma. It has been very clearly specified in that chapter that the people who reigned over Dravidian country have become ‘Sudhras’. For reference one can find it in the 44th ‘verse’ (couplets), in the 10th chapter of Manu smiriti. It has also been explicitly stated there that all those who speak a barbaric language are to be known as ‘Dasyus’. The 45th verse in chapter 10 must be noted for reference to vouch for this. A footnote on the page concerned also defines ‘Dasyus’ as ‘thieves’.
Knowledge in Tamil
People who cannot read or write Tamil are being appointed for many high level positions in Tamil Nadu. This has been going on here very casually. Especially, people whose native language is not Tamil are placed in high level jobs. We proudly keep saying that ours is a democratic, free country ruled by its people. Eighty percent of our population is illiterate, common public. Ignoring this fact, people who have no knowledge in Tamil are being appointed for administrative posts. How can our people in Tamil Nadu interact and communicate with officers who cannot speak, read or write Tamil? Which other language can our people use to write applications or grievance appeals? Our government should realize the adverse effect of this language barrier.
– Thanthai Periyar
Viduthalai – 22nd April 1965
A noteworthy fact is that like the term ‘Dravidian’, the name ‘Andhran’ is also found in Manusmiriti. It is stated that an ‘Andhran’ is one who hunts animals in forests and brings them to the cities to sell. Reference at verse 46 in the same tenth chapter. Hence it can be perceived that besides segregating Dravidians as Andhras, the Manu Dharma also stresses that Dravidians are low caste people who are contemptible, untouchable thieves. The ‘Shankara Caste’ segment in chapter 10 makes it clear as crystal. This is how Dravidians have been belittled.
The 50th verse states that all these low caste people should live on the outskirts of cities, in avenues, under the trees or somewhere near burial grounds, making everyone know that they are workers involved in filthy mean labour. They must exist in such a way that others can easily identify them as castaway elements and stay away from them. This particular verse also stresses that such Dravidians should rear only dogs and donkeys and that they are not permitted to rear cattle to eke out their living and survive.
My dear Dravidian comrades, you will be shocked if I reveal what verse from 52 to 57 say about us, but I must. According to those six verses, Dravidians should dress themselves in coffin cloth and eat their food from broken clay pots. They should not use vessels made of any metal. Women should wear jewels made of steel or brass.
Throughout their life they must loiter seeking jobs for their survival. They should not be sighted on auspicious event at home. None should talk to them. They must be forced for intra marriages within their own circle of people. No offering should be made in their presence. They must be given leftover food only in broken, dirty containers. During nights, they should not be allowed to move around in the city. Besides all these inhuman codes of treatment to be meted out to Dravidians, it also stresses that even if they appear neat, tidy and well-dressed, they must be considered filthy people of the lowest caste.
A strange way of salvation has also been stated as a solace for us. It is specified that if a ‘Sudhra’ woman marries a Brahmin and begets a child continuously in her seven births on earth, the child thus born in her seventh birth would become Brahmin. This ridiculous way of redemption was declared by Gandhi when he visited Tirupur in our State seven or eight years ago.
Verse 713 in chapter 10 says that a brahmin would always remain a brahmin, however mean his job might be. Similarly, even if a sudhra individual does a superior job of a brahmin, he would continue to exist as Sudhra and never become a brahmin. A sudhra individual cannot be transformed as a brahmin merely by performing the tasks of a brahmin. The verse concerned says that this has been ordained by Brahma Dev and that it is an indelible philosophical truth.
Verse 83 says that a brahmin could choose any mean job for survival, except farming and cultivation. In case, his livelihood and survival are not possible without stepping on agricultural work, and if there is no option, he can get farming done through others. Since ploughing and cultivation require use of spade and shovel to dig the field it is an unsuitable job for a brahmin. So a brahmin should never involve himself in agriculture related work. Verse 84 of chapter.10 has specified thus.
Verse of the same chapter says that if a low caste person does the work meant only for an upper caste men, all belongings of his are to be seized by the king and the offender must be driven away from the country. No ‘Sudhra’ has the right to perform rituals pertaining to religion, according to verse 126 of chapter 10. Verse 129 says a ‘Sudhra’ individual should not be allowed to earn more than what is the least required for his existence, however skilled and capable he might be. If he earns more than what he actually needs to survive, that would only turn out to be harmful to brahmins.
A ‘Sudhra’ has no right to perform ceremonial sacrifices or to perform rituals. He has no hold over his possessions. Therefore, his entire wealth and belongings can be grabbed and taken away righteously by any brahmin, according to Verse 13 of chapter 11.
Asuras with a gigantic appearance actually denote ‘Sudhras’. This is indicated by Verse 20 of chapter 11. It states that those who do not perform ceremonial sacrifices called ‘Yagas’ are known as ‘Asuras’, and that seizing their belongings by force is a permitted ‘dharma’.
By all these chapters it is clear that Dravidians are being called ‘Sudhras’. ‘Sudhras’ have no right to perform rituals infront of fire. Such people are ‘Asuras’. If Manusmiriti is full of such horrible codes of conduct and treatment, we can say without hesitation that it was fabricated exclusively for the Hindu religion. What would be the condition of Dravidians if they are converted as Hindus? Common public is urged upon by me to give it a deep thought.
My dear Dravidian comrades, we must collectively eradicate all the humiliating codes specified in the Manusmiriti and reveal our true identity with dignity. If we keep tolerating, that would only mean shameful acceptance of all the degrading codes. Let us be proud of our Dravidian race and discard all the verbal rubbish in the so called ‘Manu Dharma Shastra’. Let us strive to prove that Dravidians are inferior to none on the earth.
Courtesy: ‘Kudi Arasu’ –
20th September 1947
Translated by : M.R. Manohar