Tamil Nadu is perhaps the only land where there is no atheism! This divine land sports tens of thousands of ancient Temples (44,121 belonging to different time periods, according to government figures) and many other later-day ones. It encompasses eventful places of the Ramayana and the Mahabharatha. It is the historical hub of many a spiritual phenomenon. It is the birthplace of sixty-three Nayanmars and twelve Azhwars, who spearheaded what we now refer to as the Bakthi Movement, and carried Bhakthi to every nook and cranny. It is also the land of Ramana Maharishi, Shri Ramanujar, and Siddars. Likewise, there are innumerable forms of theistic insignia to glorify this land. Nevertheless, any presumption that the absence of atheism is attributable to any of those theistic highlights might be misleading because, on the basis of belief in God, the people here could be classified into two broad categories — the the ists and the pseudo-atheists.
This pseudo-atheism lends itself smoothly to a variety of distortions; no matter how much, or how many times, or in how many ways it is bent, it never breaks! It is probably this trait that makes it all the easier to embrace. Formulated by E.V. Ramaswamy Naicker (EVR), and promptly embraced by prominent leaders like M. Karunanithi, K. Veeramani, and others, it censures all the sanctified ideals of the land, and celebrates the imported, or foisted ones, without so much as a question. In other words, all its repulsive pronouncements are directed squarely at Hinduism, while all other religions remain recipients of its adulatory affirmations. Interestingly, the ideals which the Dravidian intellectuals vilify are the selfsame ideals which their own ancestors have venerated for generations, right down to the immediately preceding one. This pseudo-atheism and “discerning intellect,” which purports to eradicate superstition, constitute the bedrock of the Dravidian ideology, built upon falsification and hatred.
To do justice to EVR, one must acknowledge his accomplishments as a multifaceted personality!
* As an atheist, he prided himself on blaspheming Hindu deities, rituals, scriptures, observances, and practices. He basked in breaking Lord Ganesh idols, and organizing Ravanleela.
* As a social reformer, he kept flirting with harlots, and while on his overseas tours, he attended the nudist club.
* As a liberator of women, he traumatized his wife from going to temples by having a group of philanderers accost her inside a Temple. Further, he coerced his wife into supplying food for his band of harlots and fellow philanderers whenever they were out on their lecherous expeditions. He unabashedly advocated adultery and debauchery. Not to stop with that, he passed a party resolution demanding that such acts be legitimized under the constitution. He reviled the “Thali” (Mangal Suthra) calling it a “symbol of women enslavement,” and demanded the repeal of this custom. Thali-snapping conventions are being organized even today (by Veeramani and others) from time to time. However, they snap the Thali of only the other women, never of their own women folk! To top it all, EVR married his foster daughter, Maniammai, younger by nearly 40 years, an outrage which raised hackles even along the party lines.
* As a caste-eradicator, he called for the eradication of Brahmins, and displayed uncovered apathy toward Dalits. When around 44 Dalits, including women and children, were burnt alive by feudal landlords, near Nagapattinam, in 1968, instead of condemning the act, or at least expressing condolence, he criticized the victims for demanding higher wages saying, “They should learn to live within their means.” If those landlords had been Brahmins, or if the victims had not been Dalits, he would have probably reversed his stand, and put the criticism and compassion in their right places. He is often compared with Dr. Ambedkar. But at the rudimentary level, his views and those of Ambedkar’s are like parallel lines that never meet. In one instance, he even alleged that Dr. Ambedkar had received a bribe from Brahmins during the negotiations for reservations — one shot, two birds.
* As an economist, he observed, “Cloth price has gone up because the Pariah-caste women have started wearing jackets.” And as an educationist, he warned, “If Dalits become literates, unemployment will rise.”
* As a patriot, he owed allegiance to the British, and wanted the British rule to continue. When that was not to be, he implored the British Queen to rule India from England. Anyway, the last thing he would tolerate was a free India, with Tamil Nadu being a part of it. Therefore, as a freedom fighter, he fought for a sovereign Dravidanadu. To this end, he exhorted the British and sought the help of Mohammed Ali Jinnah only to be snubbed by both. Even to this day, the idea of a separate dominion lies entrenched in the Dravidian ranks, and keeps creating ruckus, now and then, in various forms.
* Finally, as a way to self-appeasement, in separate instances, he passed a party resolution demanding the abrogation of the Supreme Court and made a clarion call for declaring August 15 as a “Day of Mourning!”
However, in his living days, EVR had much stronger opposition than support. He was severely criticized by every single prominent leader of his day; Karunanithi — until he became or was close to becoming the Chief Minister — was far from prominence. Even among the masses, EVR’s thin line of followers were only those who would flock to him in spite of his despicable views, in spite of his habitual tantrums, and in spite of his trademark announcement, “I want only fools!” Whatever fame he is credited with, is but a posthumous attribution, which he owes to his disciples, idolizers, and hagiographers — mostly to Karunanithi, less to Veeramani, and still less to a bunch of attention seekers. Being highly insightful and equally insensitive, they spoke and wrote volumes of eulogy shot through with downright lies, unfounded claims, and contaminated truth (more dangerous) to popularize EVR, and his Dravidianism. Karunanithi ensured the preponderance of these written accounts in all the state libraries. In many libraries, hardly a material could be seen on Tamil Nadu bereft of Dravidianism. Further, all this was thrust into the mainstream education of the Tamil Nadu state syllabus. Every question paper prepared by the state would mandatorily contain questions on this section; from the students’ angle, focusing on this section would mean a sure shot at marks. Thus, the young, impressionable minds were indoctrinated with this Dravidian delusion. Even the TNPSC exams could not escape such questions. By this, they made it impossible for the students to get out of this delusion even after they come out of school or college. Besides all this, they made the most out of newspapers, magazines, banners, posters, stage plays, movies, and whatnot to drag into their fold, the young and the old, the literate and the illiterate — people from all walks of life!