Periyar E. V. Ramasamy’s controversial marriage to Maniammai has fueled speculation and debate for decades. This article delves into the facts behind the shocking claim that Periyar married his own daughter and reveals the truth. With context on Periyar’s background, an exploration of his unconventional marriage, and insights from historians, a nuanced understanding emerges. Read on to find out if one of India’s most influential social activists committed the taboo of daughter marriage.
How Did the Rumor of Periyar Marrying His Daughter Spread?
Accusations that Periyar married his own daughter began swirling after his marriage to Maniammai in 1948. Periyar was 70 years old at the time, while Maniammai was only 32. The vast age difference between them fueled speculation. Additionally, Maniammai had been working closely with Periyar for several years prior to their marriage.
After the wedding, critics claimed that Maniammai was essentially Periyar’s adopted daughter and that their marriage amounted to incest. However, there is no evidence that Periyar ever legally adopted Maniammai. Still, the image of an old man marrying a woman young enough to be his daughter made many uncomfortable.
However, the controversial marriage caused a split in Periyar’s organization, the Dravidar Kazhagam. Political opponents used the scandal to try and tarnish Periyar’s image as a social reformer. They spread claims that he had married his own daughter despite a lack of proof. Also Read: Is Yogi Adityanath Married? Who is Yogi Adityanath’s Wife?
How Does the Periyar Married to His Daughter Rumor Spread on Social Media?
In the digital age, Periyar’s controversial marriage continues to fuel speculation and criticism on social media platforms. Baseless claims that Periyar committed incest by marrying his daughter are frequently shared by his political opponents. For instance, in 2020, some Hindu nationalist voices on Twitter condemned Periyar as “lustful” for supposedly wedding his own daughter.
These accusations typically involve users carelessly referring to Maniammai as Periyar’s daughter, often calling her his “adopted” daughter. Of course, there is no evidence that Periyar ever adopted Maniammai legally or otherwise. Nonetheless, social media posts rapidly spread the rumor that Periyar’s marriage to a much younger woman was depraved.
पेरियार ने अपने ही बेटी से जो उससे 40 साल छोटी थी विवाह किया था,उस समय पेरियार की उम्र 70 वर्ष थी। सोचो 70 वर्ष की उम्र में ये इंसान इतना हवसी था की अपनी भी बेटी नहीं छोड़ा,ऐसा इंसान तुम्हारा आदर्श हो सकता है हमारा नहीं, जाओ तुम भी पेरियार की कुकर्मों को अपनाओ कोई नही रोकेगा😂😂 https://t.co/4qRjXkpX5R— India with Israel 🇮🇳🇮🇱 (@_AmleshSingh) June 22, 2023
Critics on social media highlight Periyar’s age, 70 years old when he married 32-year-old Maniammai, to portray the marriage as predatory. Out of context, the vast age gap makes their union appear immoral, feeding the daughter marriage allegations. However, the facts show Periyar intentionally selected Maniammai as his successor for her competence, not her youth. Also Read: Where is Haji Mastan Now? Is Haji Mastan still Alive in 2023?
In 2023, an user named Akhilesh Tripathi retweeted a post that showed actor Vijay with a statement saying ‘students should learn about Ambedkar and Periyar’. Tripathi retweeted, “Periyar had married his own daughter who was 40 years younger than him. At that time, Periyar was 70 years old. Imagine, at the age of 70, this man was so lustful that he did not even leave his daughter. Such a man should be your ideal. It is not ours, you too can follow the misdeeds of Periyar, no one will stop you.”
पेरियार ने अपने ही बेटी से जो उससे 40 साल छोटी थी विवाह किया था,उस समय पेरियार की उम्र 70 वर्ष था,,सोचो 70 वर्ष की उम्र में ये इंसान इतना हवसी था की अपनी भी बेटी नहीं छोड़ा,,ऐसा इंसान आपका आदर्श हो सकता है हमारा नहीं,,जाओ तुम भी पेरियार की कुकर्मो को अपनाओ कोई नही रोकेगा,😂😂😂 https://t.co/V7R0sQSrFN— akhilesh tripathi advo (@highcourtallad) June 22, 2023
Akhilesh Tripathi, the Twitter user who shared criticism of Periyar’s marriage, identifies himself as a senior advocate at the Allahabad High Court on his profile. His bio also states he is a staunch supporter of traditional Hinduism (Sanatani) and advocates for protecting Hindu temples and gurukuls.
Unfortunately, nuance is lost on social media, allowing distorted claims about Periyar’s marriage to proliferate rapidly. While some may sincerely believe the false daughter narrative, political motivations to malign Periyar’s legacy frequently seem to be the underlying cause.
Did Periyar Actually Marry His Own Daughter? The Facts
Periyar’s marriage to Maniammai was unconventional by the standards of their time. However, historians have found no evidence that Maniammai was biologically or legally Periyar’s daughter.
Periyar’s first wife, Nagammai, died in 1933. The couple had one child who tragically passed away after living only 5 months. Periyar did not have any other children with Nagammai or remarry after her death until his wedding to Maniammai years later.
Maniammai first joined Periyar’s Dravidar Kazhagam party in her early 20s after her father, who was a member, died. She became an ardent follower of Periyar’s self-respect movement and rejected marriage herself. Also Read: Is Nishikant Dubey Married To His Own Sister? Real or Fake?
By the late 1940s, the elderly Periyar wanted to ensure his property and life’s work would be preserved after his death. He selected the devoted Maniammai to inherit his legacy and lead the Dravidar Kazhagam going forward. Their marriage was intended to legally establish Maniammai as Periyar’s successor.
Leading historians emphasize that describing Maniammai as Periyar’s “daughter” is inaccurate. She was not his biological or adopted child, but rather a trusted political follower whom Periyar named as his ideological heir through marriage.
How Did Maniammai View Becoming Periyar’s Wife?
As an independent feminist, Maniammai made the decision to marry Periyar based on her own political motivations. By becoming his wife, she gained the authority to take over his reform programs.
Maniammai shared Periyar’s radical egalitarian vision and wanted to uphold his efforts to promote social justice. Though their marriage was unconventional, it gave Maniammai agency to shape Dravidian politics for decades to come.
After Periyar died in 1973, Maniammai led the Dravidar Kazhagam with conviction until her own death in 1978. She organized protests, managed Periyar’s trust, and continued propagating his rationalist, egalitarian ideals. Maniammai embraced her unconventional marriage as a path to enact change.
Does the Marriage Reflect Badly on Periyar’s Feminist Principles?
Periyar is renowned as a leader of women’s rights and empowerment. However, some criticize his marriage to Maniammai as contradicting his feminist views. On closer examination though, their marriage was remarkably progressive.
At a time when men dominated marriage, Periyar’s union with Maniammai defied convention. He selected an unmarried woman decades younger not for youth or beauty, but for her steadfast commitment to social reform. Periyar saw Maniammai as his intellectual equal and most qualified successor. Also Read: Asaram Bapu is Alive or Not? Where is Asaram Bapu Now in 2023?
Granting Maniammai ownership of his trust empowered her to lead his feminist cause. Periyar using marriage to promote a woman’s agency and leadership was quite radical for the 1940s.
Does the Controversial Marriage Invalidate Periyar’s Legacy?
While Periyar’s motivations for marrying Maniammai were unorthodox, historians agree that it does not undermine his vast contributions to reforming Indian society.
As a tireless activist, Periyar led movements against caste discrimination, poverty, superstition, and women’s oppression that improved life for millions. His progressive views on language, education, and social welfare remain deeply relevant.
While Periyar’s unconventional personal life may raise eyebrows, his record as a visionary championing equality and human rights remains undisputed. Attacks on his marriage seem primarily motivated to discredit the Dravidian political movement.
Ultimately, Periyar’s provocative ideas far outweigh any controversy regarding his marriage to Maniammai. His lasting impact promoting social justice and women’s empowerment is undeniable.
Conclusion: A Nuanced Understanding of a Revolutionary Marriage
In the final analysis, Periyar’s motivations for marrying Maniammai were complex. Their controversial union was likely not incestuous, but intended to forward Periyar’s social reform agenda by granting Maniammai authority.
Both Periyar and Maniammai saw their marriage as a pragmatic political arrangement to uphold his egalitarian legacy. Though unorthodox, their partnership gave Maniammai independence and power remarkably rare for women at the time.
While the circumstance of their marriage may seem questionable through a modern lens, it served a specific reformist purpose in their era. Evaluating Periyar requires nuance and context about his visionary principles, which still resonate widely today.
1. Who was Maniammai, Periyar’s wife?
Maniammai was a social activist who joined Periyar’s Dravidar Kazhagam party in her 20s after her father died. She became a close aide of Periyar and he later married her to transfer his legacy.
2. Is Periyar Married his Own Daughter?
No. Periyar married Maniammai in 1948, who was not his biological or adopted daughter. She was a follower of Periyar’s self-respect movement and 32 years old at the time of their marriage.
3. What was Periyar’s first marriage?
Periyar’s first wife was Nagammai, who he married in an arranged marriage at age 19. Their infant daughter died five months after birth. Nagammai passed away in 1933.
4. Why did 70-year-old Periyar marry 32-year-old Maniammai?
Periyar married Maniammai primarily so she could inherit his property and take over the leadership of the Dravidar Kazhagam after his death.