ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Revealing the Complexities of Periyar

Periyar: A Study in Political Atheism by Karthick Ram Manoharan, Hyderabad: Orient BlackSwan, 2022; pp xi + 133, `225.

It takes a certain courage to envision and compose a book on E V Rama­samy, or Periyar, as he is most commonly known. This is undoubtedly due to the reformer’s courage, perhaps more accurately captured as a mix of iconoclasm and enigmatic assertiveness distributed unevenly through a myriad of printed and spoken texts, and over the course of so many years of life. Periyar (1879–1973) is one of the most well-known reformers to emerge from modern Tamil Nadu, and one of the most difficult to fully grasp. In Periyar: A Study in Political Atheism, Karthick Ram Manoharan engages this important but challenging project of giving a systematic account of a thinker who was often less-than-systematic about his causes, arguments, and positions. The resulting work is a concise but very usable investigation of a leading voice in the non-Brahmin movement in India. Periyar’s ideas are often described in partial form for argumentative engagement by a critic, Manoharan does an admirable job presenting them here in a fairly unified fashion so readers can construct a picture, albeit imperfect, of this mercurial thinker. For its scope amid its brevity, this book serves as a rewarding read into what he calls Periyar’s ­“political atheism.”

Contextualising Periyar

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Updated On : 26th Jul, 2023
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