Monday, January 29, 2018

How Tamil Nadu political leader Shri M.K. Stalin got his name

Shri Stalin said, "Actually my father wanted to call me Ayyadurai. Because Periyar (social reformer and the leader of Dravidian movement) was called Ayya, and Durai was the name of C N Annadurai (former CM and founder of DMK). But on the day of my birth, Kalaignar (M Karunanidhi) was attending a condolence meeting for Russian Communist party leader Joseph Stalin. When a note was handed over to the stage informing him about the birth of a boy, he instantly announced that he is naming his child after the late Communist leader". Ref:

For those who do not know much about Shri Stalin (of Tamil Nadu), here's his wiki page:

Shri M.K. Stalin's father, Shri M.Karunanidhi, is a leader of the Dravidian Self Respect movement and has been chief minister of Tamil Nadu five times for a total of around 19 years. His first CM stint started in 1969 and the last one ended in 2011. An extract from Shri Karunanidhi's wiki page,, is given below:

Karunanidhi began his career as a screenwriter in the Tamil film industry. Through his wit and oratorical skills he rapidly rose as a popular politician. He was famous for writing historical and social (reformist) stories which propagated the socialist and rationalist ideals of the Dravidian movement to which he belonged. He first began using Tamil cinema to propagate his political ideas through the movie Parasakthi. Parasakthi was a turning point in Tamil cinema, as it espoused the ideologies of the Dravidian movement and also introduced two prominent actors of Tamil filmdom, Sivaji Ganesan and S. S. Rajendran. The movie was initially banned but was eventually released in 1952. It was a huge box office hit, but its release was marred with controversies. The movie was opposed by orthodox Hindus since it contained elements that criticized Brahmanism. Two other movies written by Karunanidhi that contained such messages were Panam and Thangarathnam. These movies contained themes such as widow remarriage, abolition of untouchability, self-respect marriages, abolition of zamindari and abolition of religious hypocrisy. As his movies and plays with strong social messages became popular, they suffered from increased censorship; two of his plays in the 1950s were banned.

Karunanidhi rose to fame as a scriptwriter for the Modern Theatres Studio in Salem about 350 kilometers from Madras or present day Chennai. T R Sundaram, the owner of Modern Theatres Studio at Yercaud foot hills, was instrumental in honouring the talents of Karunanidhi, Jayalalithaa and M G Ramachandran.

--- end extracts from Karunanidhi wiki page ---

Ravi: The above extracts show us that Karunanidhi would then have had great admiration for Russian communism and its then leader Joseph Stalin. That led him to name his son Stalin (in 1953)!

Some info. about the Dravidian Self Respect movement in Tamil Nadu are given below from its wiki page, :

The Self-Respect Movement is a movement with the aim of achieving a society where backward castes have equal human rights, and encouraging backward castes to have self-respect in the context of a caste-based society that considered them to be a lower end of the hierarchy. It was founded in 1921 by S.Ramanathan who invited E. V. Ramasamy (also called as Periyar by his devoted followers) to head the movement in Tamil Nadu, India against Brahminism. The movement was extremely influential not just in Tamil Nadu, but also overseas in countries with large Tamil populations, such as Malaysia and Singapore. Among Singapore Indians, groups like the Tamil Reform Association, and leaders like Thamizhavel G. Sarangapani were prominent in promoting the principles of the Self-Respect Movement among the local Tamil population through schools and publications.

A number of political parties in Tamil Nadu, such as Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) owe their origins to the Self-respect movement, the latter a 1972 breakaway from the DMK. Both parties are populist with a generally social democratic orientation.

Periyar was convinced that if man developed self respect, he would automatically develop individuality and would refuse to be led by the nose by schemers. One of his most known quotes on Self-Respect was, "we are fit to think of 'self-respect' only when the notion of 'superior' and 'inferior' caste is banished from our land".
Started as a movement (Iyakkam in Tamil) to promote rational behavior, the Self-Respect Movement acquired much wider connotation within a short period of time. Periyar, speaking with M.K. Reddy at the First Self-Respect Conference held in 1929, explained the significance of self-respect and its principles. The main principles of the Self-Respect Movement in society were to be: no kind of inequality among people; no difference such as rich and poor in economic life; men and women to be treated as equals in every respect without differences; attachments to caste, religion, varna, and country to be eradicated from society with a prevalent friendship and unity around the world; with every human being seeking to act according to reason, understanding, desire, and perspective, and shall not be subject to slavery of any kind or manner.

Equality with stress on economic and social equality formed the central theme of the Self-Respect Movement and was due to Periyar's determination to fight the inequalities ingrained in the caste system as well as certain religious practices. Working on the theme of liberating the society from the baneful social practices perpetrated in the name of dharma and karma, Periyar developed the idea of establishing this movement as the instrument for achieving his objective.


Tamil Brahmins (Iyers and Iyengars) were frequently held responsible by followers of Periyar for direct or indirect oppression of lower-caste people and resulted in attacks on Brahmins, which, among other causes, started a wave of mass-migration of the Brahmin population. Periyar, in regard to a DK member's attempt to assassinate Rajagopalachari, "expressed his abhorrence of violence as a means of settling political differences". But many suggest that the values of the non-Brahmin movement were explicitly anti-Brahmin.

Self-Respect marriages

One of the major sociological changes introduced through the self-respect movement was the self-respect marriage system, whereby marriages were conducted without being officiated by a Brahmin priest. Periyar had regarded the then conventional marriages as mere financial arrangements and often caused great debt through dowry. The Self-Respect movement encouraged inter-caste marriages, replacing arranged marriages by love marriages that are not constrained by caste.

It was argued by the proponents of self-respect marriage that the then conventional marriages were officiated by Brahmins, who had to be paid for and also the marriage ceremony was in Sanskrit which most people did not understand, and hence were rituals and practices based on blind adherence.

Self-respect movement promoters argue that there was no reference to Thaali in the Sangam literatures like Tirukkuṛaḷ or Akanaṉūṟu, which describe the Tamils' lifestyle during the Sangam era. The Hindu marriage ceremonies involving Brahmins are argued to be practices introduced relatively recently to increase the influence of Hinduism on Tamils' lives.

Even though self-respect marriages have been practiced since 1928, initially these marriages just lacked a priest while the Hindu marriage events and ceremonies were followed. The first self-respect marriage that was totally devoid of any Hindu ceremony was the marriage of the prominent self-respect movement writer Kuthoosi Gurusamy with another prominent leader, Kunjidham, under the presiding of Periyaar on December 8, 1929. The self-respect movement encouraged widow remarriage as well. Due to the prevalent practice of child marriage and very poor health facilities, there were a high number of widows in then society. Women like Sivagami Ammaiyar, who could be widowed at 11 years, were given a new lease on life by the widow remarriage principles of the self-respect movement. Consequently, the self-respect movement attracted a lot of women.

Tamil Nadu became the first and only state to legalize Hindu marriages conducted without a Brahmin priest. This was the first file signed by CM Annadurai when the DMK gained power in the 1967 Madras assembly elections. Annadurai sent the rule draft to Periyar and at his suggestion changed "and" to "or" in the law text which made the thaali/mangalsutra optional in marriages. This was implemented as Hindu Marriage Act (Madras Amendment) Act, 1967, introducing Section 7A, permitting Suyamariyathai (self-respect) and Seerthiruttha (reformist) marriages as legal when solemnised in the presence of friends, relatives or any other person by exchanging garlands or rings or by tying of a mangalsutra or by a declaration in language understood by both parties that they accept each other to be their spouse. The law was passed by the Tamil Nadu assembly on November 27, 1967, and was approved by the President on January 17, 1968. This was officially announced in the gazette on January 20, 1968. The number of inter-caste and inter-religious marriages has increased in the state as a result of the self-respect movement.

--- end extracts from Self Respect movement wiki page ---

[I thank wikipedia and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extracts from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

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