[Social Reformers of South] Thiruvalluvar, Chennaiah, Iyodhee Pandithar, Ayyankali, Subramanya Bharathi

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  1. Thiruvalluvar (30 BC)
  2. T.Chennaiah (1912-1985)
  3. C. Iyodhee Thass Pandithar (1845-1914)
  4. Ayyankali (1863-1941)
  5. Chinnaswami Subramanya Bharathi (1882-1921)
  6. Mock Questions

Thiruvalluvar (30 BC)

  • Tiruvallaur was a Tamil weaver by profession and Poet-Saint-Philosopher by heart.
  • He wrote “Tirukkural (Sacred Couplets)” on human thoughts and ethics. It is considered a masterpiece similar to John Milton’s Paradise Lost.
  • In this book, He classified problems of life under 3 parts: (1) Virtue (2) Wealth (3) Love and wrote 133 chapters on them.
  • And yes, one chapter is entirely dedicated to evils of desi liquor alone.

Notable Quotes from Tirukkural:

  1. The wounds made by fire will heal, But the wound made by tongue will never heal. (Curiosly, UPSC asked essay on similar theme in Mains-2014!)
  2. Before badgering a weak person, imagine yourself before a more powerful man.
  3. Real kindness seeks no return; What return can the world make to rain clouds?
  4. Even the ignorant may appear very worthy, If they keep silent before the learned.
  5. Determined efforts result in prosperity; Idleness brings nothing.
  6. Learning is the true imperishable wealth.
  7. Let thoughts be always great and grant.

Why is Thiruvalluvar in news?

  1. HRD ministry Smriti Irani says she’ll introduce Tirukkural in school syllabus and essay competition on his birthday in 2015.
  2. January 15th – His birthday is a public holiday in Tamilnadu and Puducherry
  3. His statue is to be installed in Moscow, Russia. We’ll reciprocate by installing statue of Russian Poet Aleksandr Pushkin in Chennai.
  4. While setting up Niti Ayog, Government said It’ll be guided by principles of Thiruvalluvar, Ambedkar, Vivekanand et al.
(1)Thiruvalluvar (2) Chennaiah (3) Iyodhee Pandithar (4) Ayyankali (5) Subramanya Bharathi

(1)Thiruvalluvar (2) Chennaiah (3) Iyodhee Pandithar (4) Ayyankali (5) Subramanya Bharathi

T.Chennaiah (1912-1985)

Why in news: 16th November 2012 was his 100th Birthday. But government took no initiative to celebrate. So His followers decided to observe the birth centenary in 2014.

  • T.Chennaiah was a Dalit freedom fighter from Kolar region, Karnataka
  • He was member of Constituent assembly, Worked closely with Gandhi and Ambedkar.
  • He was part of the Vidurashwattha protest- infamously called “Jalianwallabagh of the South” because 9 people were killed in police firing.
  • Chennaiah actively campaigned for Goa Liberation, Karnataka unification
  • He served as a minister in Mysore Government; later Rajya Sabha MP.
  • Worked for Kolar region Development- irrigation reforms, hostels for poor students etc.

C. Iyodhee Thass Pandithar (1845-1914)

Why in News? 100th Death Anniversary in 2014.

  • C.Iyodhee Pandithar was a dalit Social reformer of Tamilnadu. He ran a weekly – “Tamilan”, and supported Theosophical society’s founder Colonel H.S. Olcott.
  • Pandithar reinterpreted Indian history and believed that Dalits were originally Buddhists, but Brahmins stigmatised them as ‘untouchables’ by after those Buddhists denounced caste system.
  • He called them “Adi Dravidars”- original Dravidans and began “Dravid Buddha Sangam”.
  • He criticized Indian National Congress as “Brahmin Congress”. Later Dr. Ambedkar and E.V. Ramasamy Periyar too had similar stand.

Ayyankali (1863-1941)

Topic in news because 152nd Birth Anniversary and Modi gave speech.

  • Ayyankali belonged to Pulaya agricultural labor community of Kerala
  • Was a labour leader and social reformer.
  • Fought for dalit rights in Tranvacore kingdom.
  • But never allowed bitterness to creep into the social fabric.
  • Ayyankali formed Sadhu Jana Paripalana Sangham and Kayal Sammelan.
  • Gandhi was impressed with his work, and came to meet him.
Modi Local leaders:
  • Ayyankali also formed Kayal Sammelan- to hold meetings in boats (1913)
  • Because the Travancore King did not allow Dalits to organize meetings on land.
  • This was turning point in Dalit movement, similar to Gandhi’s Dandi march.
No, Ayaankali did not form that organization. It was KP Kurrupan.

Chinnaswami Subramanya Bharathi(1882-1921)

Q.write a 100 words note on the contribution of Chinnaswami Bharathi,in india’s struggle for independence.

  • Freedom fighter, Poet, social reformer from Tamilnadu.
  • 1907: During “Surat split” he joined the extremist wing led by Tilak and Aurobindo. (in other words, did not like the moderates’ ideas of prayer and petition)
  • Through his poem, he advocated women empowerment, caste reforms, social equity and equality.
  • 1908: French gave him political asylum in Puducherry (1908-1918). Composed patriotic songs and revolutionary poems for Aurobindo’s journals.
  • Also called “Mahakavi Bharathiyar”
  • Person in news because BJP wants his Varanasi house to be converted into a national monument.

Mock Questions

Q1. Who was Thiruvalluvar?

  1. He co-authored “Manimekhlai” along with Tolkappiyam.
  2. He wrote a treaties on ancient astrology and medicine, titled “Tirrukal”.
  3. Both A and B
  4. Neither A nor B

Q2. Which of the following pairs are matched correctly?

  1. T.Chennaiah: Tamilnadu
  2. Iyodhee Thass Pandithar: Kolar region
  3. Both A and B
  4. Neither A nor B

Q3. Which of the following had joined the Extremist group of Congress after Surat Split?

  1. Iyodhee Pandithar
  2. Chinnaswami Bharati
  3. Aiyyankali
  4. T.Chenniah

Mains examination:

  1. (GS4) Discuss in brief, relevance of Thiruvalluvar’s teachings for ethics in Modern India.
  2. (GS1) Write a note on notable Dalit freedom fighters to South India.

Visit Mrunal.org/HISTORY for entire Archive of History-Culture related articles published so far.

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10 Comments on “[Social Reformers of South] Thiruvalluvar, Chennaiah, Iyodhee Pandithar, Ayyankali, Subramanya Bharathi”

  1. mrunal please post similar article regarding freedom fighters and reformers from north east..it was in news..

    1. Iyothi Dhass (20 May,1845 – 5 may,1914) – 1st Person who had worked for the cause of revivalism of Buddhism in modern India:

      BORN : 20 may, 1845.
      DIED : 5 may, 1914.

      TITTLE :
      Pandit, Morning star of Rationalist Movement in Tamil nadu.

      He was the 1st person who instrumental in articulating the idea that the downtrodden people were not only Buddhists formerly but were the original inhabitants of India which later paved way for many social movements. He was the first Leader who had worked for the cause of revivalism of Buddhism in modern India. In 1898, Dhass founded the “Sakya Buddhist Society” ( Indian Buddhist Association). He succeed in the getting the thousands of acres of lands and distributed among the landless poor under the scheme of “Panchami Lands”.

      LIFE :
      * Birth Place – Nilgiris.
      * Father – Kandaswamy.
      * Original Name – Kathavarayan.
      * He was also a popular Siddha Doctor. He gained expertise in reading palm leaf manuscripts, Tamil literature, philosophy, Siddha and had good knowledge of English, Sanskrit and Pali. Iyothee Thass was the first Dalit to undergo a personal educational revolution. He educated himself in Tamil, Sanskrit, Pali and English. Because he was self-taught, he was able to shed new light on Tamil and Pali culture and spirituality. He is a role model for every Dalit student struggling in casteist, run-down government schools. He realized, as few others did, that the real revolutionary potential lay not in urban Dalits, but in the rural Dalits and adivasis. Iyothee Thass united and organized the various tribes of the Nilgiri Hills (Wayanad in Kerala, Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu).
      * 1885 – Launched a magazine ‘Dravida Pandian’.
      * 1886 – He announcing that the so called Untochables are not Hindus.
      * 1891 – established the Dravida Mahajana Sabha and during 1st census urged the so called Untochables to register themselves as casteless Dravidians.
      * 1896 – He moved from Nilgiris to Chennai where he created one Buddhist Temple.

      Iyothee Thass was a forerunner of Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar and EV.Ramasamy Periyar. He was the first Dalit to use Dravidian sentimental legacy to liberate Dalits from Hinduism. He did this based on his deep knowledge of Tamil history, culture and social dynamics. He was the first Dalit to realize the revolutionary legacy of Buddhism and to use Buddhism to create social change. While his movement did not transcend religion into a genuine spiritual movement, it had a tremendous impact in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka. Iyothee Thass created the first ideological media revolution, writing from his deep personal knowledge to enlighten Dalits on countless subjects. Still today, his writings are not properly compiled let alone translated. Iyothee Thass was also an intellectual revolutionary because while most Indians were running after Western knowledge or imagining airplanes and atoms in the Vedas, Iyothee Thass revived the Dravidian Siddha system of medicine. The Tamil Siddhas were among the most revolutionary poets in Indian history. Their strong assault on not just casteism but the very materialist mentality behind it has a powerful impact, even in translation, on any materialist, western or eastern. Iyothee Thass revived this anti-Brahminical medical knowledge system in the teeth of resistance from the Aryan, Ayurvedic establishment.

      His meeting with Olcott was a turning point not only in his life but also for the Dalit movement in many ways. He led a delegation of prominent Dalits to Henry Steel Olcott and asked for his help in the re-establishment of “Tamil Buddhism”. Olcott helped Thass to visit Sri Lanka, where he received Diksha from Bhikkhu Sumangala Nayake. After returning to India, Thass established the ‘Sakya Buddhist Society’ in Madras with branches in many places including Karnataka. Thass established a weekly magazine called Oru Paisa Tamizhan (“One Paisa Tamilan”) in Chennai on 19th June 1907 and its price was ‘one paisa’. On 26th August 1908, the name, Oru Paisa Tamizhan, was changed into Tamizhan. He established of several Panchama schools in chennai. Iyothee Thass, with the help of Col. Olcott, set up five schools in the City, specifically for the Depressed Class. It was from these schools that the first generation of leaders and ideologues emerged. He died in the year 1914. The Central Govt has decided to restore Iyothi Dhass and name to “ The National centre for Siddha research in chennai”. Prof. Lakshmi Narasu and M.Singaravelu were the disciples and best associates of Pandit Iyothi Thass. Singaravelu was one the founding father of the Communist Party of India in Tamil Nadu.

      Books written:
      He he has written 325 political, 55 literary, 51 social, 109 religious articles in Tamizhan. On 3rd February 1909, he wrote an article about voting right to minority. Iyothee Thass wrote several articles in the Tamizhan explaining the historical evolution of the society, religious traditions and cultural patterns of Tamil Nadu. Dalit political discourses dominated the columns of Tamizhan. These bring out a systematic argument of the first ever Depressed Class Ideology in Tamil Nadu. In Indirar Desa Charithram (History of the Country of Indrars), Iyothee Thass declared that in the past, the Subcontinent was known as ‘Indirar Desam’ or the ‘Land of Indirar’. Indirar was none other than the Buddha who had managed to control his five senses successfully. His knowledge prompted him to arrive at the conclusion that the Panchamas were not Hindus but ‘Adi Thamizharhal’ (Original Tamils). Iyothee Thass also wrote at length on Buddhism, the life of Buddha, his readings, the dialogues he had with his disciples, and on the principles of faith and action which he upheld. He argued that the text, Thirukural, was originally known as Thiri-kural (thiri means three) and it was the first Buddhist Text in a Dravidian Language. The Kural content adhered to the three Pitakas of the Buddha’s Teachings and hence it was known as the Thirukural. The idea of Communal Reservation was articulated in 1885 by him.

  2. C. Iyodhee Thass Pandithar

    1. Tried to revive Buddhism in south
    2.Contacted Sri Lanka for point 1
    3.Predates Ambedkar ji and had similar thoughts

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