Perasiriyar Anbazhagan – The Elegant Rationalist by Pushpalatha Poongodi
Born on December 19, 1922, in Kattur near Thiruvarur in Thanjavur district (now Thiruvarur district) of Tamil Nadu, Ramaiah who later became Anbazhagan was inspired by Dravidian politics from a young age.
His father Kalyanasundaram was a stauch supporter of Periyar E V Ramasamy. Kalyanasundaram would take his son to political meetings of the Dravidian ideologue, which inspired the young Ramaiah to endear Dravidian politics.
With absorbing involvement in self respect movement, He chose to change his name from Ramaiah to Anbazhagan (Pure Tamil name). He was very much passionate about Tamil language and interested in Thirukkural and his speeches always has reference from Thirukkural. This attribute of him was highly appreciated by Arignar Anna.
“ He was jewel found by Arignar Anna from Annamalai University
He was invaluable asset to Dravidian ideology
He was combination of Tamil pride and Self Respect Movement ideas
Follower of Periyar, Brother of Anna and Friend of Kalaignar
He was rationallist to core and always exhibited that to the fore.”
He completed his MA (Tamil Literature) degree from Annamalai University in Chidambaram. His admiration over Dravidian ideology and Tamil oration increased after his friendship with V.R.Neduncheziyan and his brother Era Seziyan.
He made a mark in his first political meeting which was held in 1942 which was headed by Arignar Anna. He got big applause from audience. He met Kalaignar during this meeting. Impressed by his oratorical skills, Kalaignar invited him to address students at a couple of meetings. The friendship they developed at this meeting lasted until Kalaignar’s death in 2018. M.K.Stalin fondly called him periyappa.
He later served as a professor of Pachiayappan college for close to 13 years. Parallely devoted much of his time for propagating Arignar Anna Dravidian movement ideas to people. Arignar Anna used to address him as ‘Perasiriyar thambi’, the DMK cadre soon picked up the name Perasiriyar (professor) for him and it continued till the end. He participated in Anti Hindi agitation and went to prison along with Arignar Anna.
He was close disciple of Periyar, but Anbazhagan chose to move with Arignar Anna during split from Dravidar Kazhagam for formation of DMK in 1949. As a highly disciplined individual with his amazing oratory skills influenced many youngsters to join DMK during its initial stages after party formation.
He has penned around 40 number of books, taking forward Self respect movement and Dravidian movement legacy to next generation. Notable few books are “Dravida Iyakkam”,”Urimai Vaazhvu”,”Thamiz Kadal”.
He always demonstrated himself as a man with long term Dravidian visionary and remained in one party and never jumped the ship for achieving power and wealth.
During elections in 1957, he contested from Egmore constituency ifor DMK against Congress candidate Radhakrishnan. He won the election with considerable margin. Again in 1967, he won the parliamentary elections from Tiruchengode constituency against Congress candidate T M Kaliannan.
In 1969, after Annadurai’s death, reports suggest that he supported V.R.Nedunchezhiyan over Kalaignar for the post of DMK chief. However, when he saw what the party workers desired, he reportedly let go of his own thoughts on the matter, to support Kalaignar.
Even in 1972, when MG Ramachandran led a faction of the party away to form the AIADMK, he resolutely stood in support of Kalaignar.
He was then elected from the Purasawalkam Assembly constituency thrice in 1971, 1977 and 1980. In support of Sri Lankan Tamils, He resigned as a member of the Assembly in 1984.
In DMK govt at state in 1989, he was made an education minister. He retained this position between 1996-2001. He also held the finance portfolio from 2006 to 2011.
Not only by DMK cadres, he was widely acclaimed even by opposition leaders for his exemplary oratory skills and ethics. He was once hailed as the “best parliamentarian” by Congress leader and former chief minister of Madras state M Bhaktavatsalam.
His contribution for development of school infra structure during his tenure as a education minister was immense and worth while to take a note.
A close aide of Kalaignar, he was always referred to as ‘inamana perasiriyar’. Once, when Anbazhagan was asked how he would describe himself, he said: “Firstly I am a human being, secondly my name is Anbazhagan, thirdly I am a Rationalist , fourthly I am Anna’s brother and fifthly I am a friend of Kalaignar.”
He projected MK Stalin as future leader to lead DMK even before Kalaignar .
His contribution was invaluable to Dravidian ideology reach and he always guided DMK organization to reach new heights. People like him made the DMK organization as not only political party, but also as social organization with social justice as embedded value with it along with Tamil culture and Tamil pride.
As quoted by M.K.Stalin “ for Karl Marx there was a Engels and For Kalaignar there was a Perasiyar Anbazhagan”.
Perasiyar was not only a foot soldier but intellectual soldier guiding the party at trying times to come out undeterred, He will always remain as a constellation in Dravidian Galaxy.
- Pushpalatha Poongodi