Periyarist Nazis and the Hindu Endowment Act of 1923

The Periyarist Nazi racists who are nowadays writing about the Hindu Religious and Charitalble Endowment Act which was passed by the Justice party government in 1923 are as usual cavalier with truth. They present the history of the enactment  as if it was a fight against a grand Brahmin conspiracy championed by Satyamurti. The facts are are more nuanced.  

 

These are the facts:

1.   Before 1920 Justice leaders had vigorously opposed legislative interference in temple affairs. Once they came close to the seat of power, the Governor, their policy changed immediately. The reason was simple. Some of its bigwigs like Somasundaram Pillai of Tirunelveli and Madurai Zamindar Somasundara Mudaliar whose temple interests had suffered because of the Dharmarakshana Sabha.

2.   What was this Sabha? This was formed by the earlier government which was  dominated by Brahmins to fight the Pillais and Mudaliars, the Rajas and Zamindars who were controlling some of the major temples.

3.   The act was not only opposed by Brahmin leaders but by major non-Brahmin religious heads like Thirvavadudurai Atheenam.

4.   The act made only marginal difference to temple administration. On the other hand, it gave the Justice Ministers considerable powers for patronage and intereference in the local politics.

5.   There was a clause in the act to exempt certain temples from it. The Justice party used it to exempt temples run by the big land lords of Andhra and Nattukottai Chettiyars and many temples of the city of Madras under the control of Thanikachalam Chetty, who was a Minister in the Justice Party government.

Thus it was clear that the Justice Party, run by landlords, money lenders and obscurantists, was more interested in peddling privileges than in the efficient running of the temples.  This was at best a fight to control the temples between the upper classes. Periyar, as his wont, took the side of the non-Brahimin upper class. That is about all.

(For more details read “The Politics of South India 1920-1937,  C J Baker, Cambridge University Press)

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