Did Periyar marry his own daughter?

The answer to the above indecent question is a big NO.

The person who asked this question deserves to be put on the list of the most idiotic, indecent people in this world.

This question so petty, it shouldn’t even be considered.

Nevertheless if you wish to understand Periyar & his life, this is why:

The reason why Periyar at the age of 70, decided to marry a 30-year-old Maniyammaiyar, a woman almost his daughter’s age instead of adopting her as his daughter because of the following reasons.

Firstly we must know that as per the Hindu Marriage Act, at that time, the adopter and the adoptee had to be of the same caste. ​​Otherwise, the adoption was not valid. It was only when Ambedkar’s Amendments to the Hindu Law came into effect in 1956 that this provision was abolished.

When people find no reasons to criticize Periyar, they criticize his personal life/Marriage with Maniammaiyar. The marriage of Periyar-Maniyammai was registered on 9.7.1949. Periyar was 70 years old and Maniyammai was 30 at the time of marriage. This marriage was Maniyammai’s decision, of her free will and accord without any coercion.

Before joining Periyar, Maniammaiyar had made up her mind not to get married. Even after joining Periyar, when attempts were made to get her married, she insisted, ‘I want to work for the iyakkam and I don’t want to get married.

According to old Hindu law, daughters had no legal right to property. Before 1956, according to the old Hindu law, a woman had the right to stay in her father’s house and she was entitled to Stridhanam only.

Therefore, even after adopting Maniyammai as a daughter, Periyar’s intention was unlikely to be fulfilled.

Periyar wrote an article on 28.6.1949 about the properties of the Dravidar Kazhagam.

“It is necessary to establish someone as a legal heir for me and my property, and there is an urgent need for the same, I know Maniyammi for 5-6 years, and she has been very loyal and has been concerned about my welfare and the welfare of the movement. I want to make her my legal heir. I have made arrangements to write a trust deed giving her those rights, as an individual trustee and involving 4,5 people for operational and material security. The deed is also being written.”
(28.6.1949 -Viduthalai)

So, Periyar’s intention was only to make Maniyammai his legal heir. He made it clear that this marriage was only for legal reasons.

Maniyammai being his legal heir, she didn’t have absolute rights as far as the Trust rights were concerned .

It’s wasn’t ancestral!

Therefore this marriage was not a marriage of convenience or to deceive Maniyammai. It was not an unsuitable marriage, not a marriage where anyone, including Maniyammai, was forced to endure hardships, i.e. life-long servitude.”
(7.7.1949 -Viduthalai)

From this, it is evident that Periyar did not give Maniammai the Iyakkam just like that. Then and even today there has been criticism that there will be a need to accept Maniammai as the leader and that Periyar did not trust anyone but Maniammai.

Nowhere did Periyar say that Maniyammaiyar was being brought in to lead the movement? He wouldn’t have created a trust consisting of a group of 4 – 5 members with Maniyammai if he didn’t trust anyone but her.

Besides, Periyar in an article in Kudi arasu on 16.7.1949 titled Periyar-Maniyammi marriage, stated that “What is the need to get Maniyammai as a wife or heir to give Maniyamma the chiefship?”

(16.7.1949 – Kudi Arasu.)
D.P. Vedachalam, who was with Periyar, tells about the marriage of Periyar, which serves as a good answer to this question.

“Why does a man marry?

To find a life partner and for other help.
To have children
To fulfill his physical needs
The above are not the reason for Periyar’s marriage.

Maniammai has been cooking and doing other chores for the past 6 years. The need for children cannot be a reason. Registration of the marriage is not required to fulfil his lust.” (9.7.1949 -Viduthalai)

Nagammaiyar passed away in 1933. At that time, Periyar was 55 years old. At that time, many people including his mother urged Periyar to marry again. Periyar refused.

He thought that marriage would be a hindrance to working for social justice. If Periyar had gotten married then itself, if Maniamma had been married to Periyar since then, there would not have been so much criticism.

As said by Vedachalam, this is not just a marriage to satisfy physical lust. However, Polygamy was not a big deal among the rich men of that day. No matter what, it is certain that this is not a marriage to satisfy physical lust, and it is not to give Maniyammaiyar the power or the Iyakkam, but only to make her an heir to give her the legal rights to protect Periyar’s property and iyakkam related responsibilities .

Following this, many left the organization under the leadership of Arignar Anna and DMK was subsequently established.

Later, in a meeting, K. Anbazhagan in the presence of Maniammaiyar, said, “We wanted to get into vote politics, we left using the Periyar-Maniyammi marriage as an excuse,”.
In 1967, Anna met Periyar, after his victory in the election and apologized for criticising Maniammaiyar and praised her for her good work and generosity and also said that
Maniyammaiyar devotion/service is the reason for Periyar’s long life.

The editorial written by the revolutionary poet Bharathidasan in Quill, a magazine about Maniammaiyar is evidence of the service rendered by Maniammaiyar.

“Periyar was dying. Tamils ​​were crying. But two things were holding him back, compelling him to live.

One was his service; the compassion for the people was another.

How else do I praise a young woman?

How else do I not call her a mother who has sacrificed her youth to keep Periyar alive? How do I not praise a woman’s service to a man, whose urine comes unannounced, holding the bucket and doing all that to keep him alive, to let him serve his people? Periyar, busy on the stage, speaking to his people and Tamils piling up carts of garlands of jasmine and perfumery vetiver(Indian grass) before him. While she waits for him like a dutiful maid. Never did he ask anyone to honour her with a garland nor did she pluck a petal for herself. – (‘Quil’ Magazine, 10.04.1960)

Why did Periyar, who preached about self-respect marriage, opt to register his marriage with Maniammaiyar? Because the marriage was for legal reasons. Anna legalized self-respect marriages only after the DMK won the elections in 1967.

Until then self-respect marriages were not valid under the Hindu Marriage Act. Since Periyar wanted to declare her as his heir, he married Maniammaiyar, without any brahminical ceremony in the presence of the registrar and Gnanam Ammaiyar signed as the witness.

In Tamil: Jeyaraman R

Translated by Indubala S

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