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10 April, 2021

8 Min Read

Periyar’s editor-V.Anaimuthu

Periyar’s editor-V.Anaimuthu

Background of Periyar

  • Periyar E.V. Ramasamy was a great thinker and propagandist.
  • To disseminate his ideas he established a series of publishing firms such as:
    • Kudi Arasu Pathippagam,
    • Pagutharivu Noorpathippu Kazhagam (modelled on the Rationalist Press Association of London) and the
    • Periyar Self-Respect Propaganda Institution.
  • Printed on flimsy paper with worn-out types, the price of the publications was kept low.
  • In the near-daily meetings that he addressed, Periyar would urge the audience to buy these books.
  • Often, his wife Maniammai herself would hawk them.

Who was V.Anaimuthu?

  • The downside of this democratising zeal was that his ideas were scattered in booklets and pamphlets and unavailable for systematic study until V. Anaimuthu (1925-2021), who passed away on April 6, stepped in.
  • Two years before Periyar’s death, Anaimuthu undertook the challenging task of compiling his writings.
  • What Periyar wrote and spoke over a 50-year period lay dispersed as ephemeral publications.
  • No library assembled the back volumes of his Kudi Arasu, Revolt and other journals.
  • With no file copies of his own, Periyar himself had to issue notices asking for them from his committed party cadres.

A project and its hurdles

  • In January 1972, Anaimuthu issued the first notice about his plans to publish the collected writings of Periyar.
  • After acquiring copyright permission, Anaimuthu marshalled the voluminous source material.
  • Periyar was greatly enthused by the project.
  • Months before his death he saw some printed formes, but not the final publication.
  • Originally planned as two volumes, PeriyarEe.Ve.Ra. Chinthanaikal (Thoughts of Periyar E.V.R.) eventually appeared in three crown quarto-sized volumes.
  • The print run was a substantial 2,500 copies. Less than 200 subscriptions had been raised and the uptake by the government’s directorate of public libraries was a disappointing 300 sets.
  • It was some years later, during the Periyar centenary year, that 1,500 sets were acquired by public libraries.
  • As an oft-cited primary reference for subsequent scholarship on the Dravidian movement, there was new demand and second-hand copies were sold at a premium.

Other contributions

  • In 1997, he unearthed and published Periyar’s diary of his European and Soviet tour (1931-32).
  • A detailed chronology of Periyar’s life followed. Since 1975, he gleaned documents for a detailed biography of Periyar.
  • Another major contribution was Anaimuthu’s discovery of Thathuvavivesini (1882-1888) and the Thinker (1882-1885).
  • Published by the Hindu Freethought Union, these pioneering rationalist weeklies ran ‘a crusade against superstition, poverty and prostitution’.
  • His search for the radical thinker Athipakkam Venkatachala Nayakkar (1800-1897) had led Anaimuthu to unearth these unknown vehicles of radical thought.
  • Author of the iconoclastic Hindu Mathachara Abasa Darshini (1882), Venkatachala Nayakkar was also the voice of peasant distress under the Ryotwari system.

Life and times

  • Born in a village in Perambalur district, an 18-year-old Anaimuthu was inspired by Periyar’s speech.
  • He took an active role in the Dravidar Kazhagam. Maintaining a close association with Periyar in his last years, he accompanied him on many of his tours.
  • Expelled from the party soon after Periyar’s death, he started his own party, Periyar Samaurimai Kazhagam (renamed Marxia Periyariya Pothuvudamai Katchi), and strove to bring together Periyarists, Marxists and Ambedkarites on a single platform.
  • Associated with the Lohiate leader Ram Awadesh Singh, he participated in agitations that led to the constitution of the Mandal Commission, and lobbied tirelessly for the implementation of its recommendations.

Conclusion

  • For a life packed with meaningful activities, Anaimuthu will always be remembered as Periyar’s editor.

Source: TH

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