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04 Feb 2023, Edition - 2762, Saturday

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Coimbatore diary: Here’s when self-proclaimed atheist Periyar invoked God

Covai Post Network


December 16, 1925, could be one of the important days in the history of the PSG Sarvajana School, founded in 1924. It marked the visit of social reformer and founder of the Self Respect Movement and the Dravidar Kazhagam, Periyar E.V. Ramasamy, in his capacity as President of the Madras Presidency Congress Committee, as recorded in the Visitors’ Book of the school.

But what was more significant was what Periyar had written in the Visitors’ Book. Two words – “God” and “pray” – used by him will surely raise eyebrows because this comes from a man who was known to be a hard-core atheist.

The PSG family, believing that a classless society with equal opportunities for all could be built only through education, named their school Sarvajana (“sarva” stands for all in Sanskrit and “jana” means people, hence a school for all people with no bias), where admission was granted without caste or creed bias and all were treated equally, whether rich or poor.

Moved by this vision and deeply appreciative of the management of the school, Periyar wrote a highly impressive account of his visit and wished the school and the PSG family well in their future endeavours.

And, his wish included this – “Kadavul ip palli kudathirku melum melum abiviruthiku arul puriyattum”, which when translated means “God should bless this school to flourish”.He goes on to add “PSG & Sons’ kudumbathirku aayul vrithiyum subikshamum kuduka prarthikiren” (I pray to God that PSG & Sons’ family lives long and prospers).

This entry in the Visitors’ Book goes against his atheism principles and his firm anti-Hindu stand. A person who was not a believer had referred to “God” and also went on to say that he would pray for the well being of the PSG family.

Though this jotting must have come as a shock to the PSG family members, they did not publicise it then and ensured that it remained a part of their family history, even much after Periyar’s death.

When asked about this, Ramakrishnan from Periyar Padipagam, Coimbatore, said that though Periyar was an atheist, he did not make a loud noise about it in the beginning stages.

Quoting Periyar who said: “There is no god, there is no god at all. He who invented god is a fool. He who propagates god is a scoundrel. He who worships god is a barbarian,” he pointed out that the social reformer continued to be a “strong atheist” till the end.

கடவுள் இப்பள்ளி கூடத்திற்கு மேலும் மேலும் அபிவிருத்திக்கு அருள் புரியட்டும். பிஎஸ்ஜி குடும்பத்திற்கு ஆயுள் விருத்தியும் சுபிக்ஷமும் குடுக்க பிரார்த்திக்கிறேன் – தந்தை பெரியார்

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