Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

In the blog post we will discuss about the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam movement; which was the Movement for the Progress of the Dravidians. You can read about establishment of National Congress Party.

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

There are four South Indian states viz. Tamil Nadu, Kerela, Karnataka and Andra Pradesh are spoken as Dravidian States. There is a claim that even their languages are Dravidian but not direct descendants of Sanskrit.

Nevertheless, Tamil is the only one which can do language without Sanskrit whereas the rest are sanskritized. Also there is an idea that Malayalam was actually a dialect of Tamilians who separated about 1200 CE. But this idea is not agreed by many scholars.

Even only in Tamil Nadu there was a dispute often between those who are in favour of Sanskrit in some religious practices and ceremony and those who are in favour of Tamil for the same. Nevertheless, there appeared some Sanskrit elements in Tamil Nadu cultivated by the Brahmins mainly.

Those who cultivated Tamil were non-Brahmins. This linguistic division had a base on caste. Brahmins had used more traditional religious texts and terms while the non-Brahmins used more Bhakti tradition.

Stronger than the above linguistic basis of division there has been thinking in Sanskrit India that the original inhabitants of India were Dravidians. The research conducted at Indus valley brought to light the fact that Dravidians of the Indus Valley were superior to the Aryans.

Brahmins and non-Brahmins

As the mighty Aryans occupied India, the Dravidians who were dark in complexion were looked down upon; and trodden by the Aryans who had been controlled by the Brahmins. Then the Dravidians moved down to the South and settled in Sanskrit India.

However, there had been a tension and conflict between Brahmins and non-Brahmins especially at the end of 19th Century regarding the Government jobs. They were accused on monopolizing priesthood, learned profession and landlordship.

Brahmins were intellectually high and the Dravidians became very low; and even their culture was sanscritized. The time had slowly come when some non-Brahmins became educated and started fighting for their rights in society. In the year 1910, an association called Dravidian Association was started by Dr. C.N. Mudalyar in Madras.

This association demanded the creation of a separate state for Dravidians themselves. A number of non-Brahmins led by Dr. T.M. Nair consequently left the Congress in 1919. Moreover, there was a growing discontent among non-Brahmins that their claims to employment in the Government were not sufficiently recognized because of Brahmin domination.

They left that the then Congress-Indian Govt. was ruled by Brahmins and it did not concern for non-Brahmins.

South India Liberal Federation

            In 1919, the movement called South India Liberal Federation (SILF) was started by Mr. P. Thyagaraya Chetty and Dr. T.M. Nair. The intentions of the SILF were:

  1. to ask for the adequate representation in Govt. services on communal basis;
  2. Oppose the growing domination of Brahmin influences in public life conducting elections to the Legislature, and to send forth a widespread scheme of propaganda through the Newspaper and Magazines;
  3. to established the rights of non-Brahmins.

Justice Party

The SILF brought into being the Justice Party to fight for justice for non-Brahmins. It successfully contested the election in 1920 and assumed power as the (first) elected Government in the then province of Madras.

But some leaders of Justice Party were landlords who did not have much contact with the ordinary people in their country; and they did not really understand the real problem of the people.


            Although the wealthier and more influential non-Brahmins broke away from the Congress; majority of the less privileged still friendly disposed to its leadership. Some of them closely connected with the provincial Congress organization and actively participated in it’s programme.

There was one of the non-Brahmin leaders in the Congress at that time whose name was E.V. Ramasamy Naicker. But he broke his connections with Congress on a caste issue and Justice Party and the Self-Respect League joint together to form the Dravida Kazhagam.

Cultural and Political

The cultural and political demand of Dravida Kazhagam became more pronounced and articulated with the coming into movement of the young leader Mr. Annadurai. He was born in 1908 in Kanjeevaram in Madras. Unlike E.V. Ramasamy; he was intellectual and had gone through the discipline of University education in Madras.

Mr. Annadurai was specialized in economics and then became interested in journalism. He was an ardent supporter of anti-Hindi Movement and he participated in the Self- Respect Movement and Justice party. It was he who was responsible for changing the name of the Party to Dravida Kazhagam.

Dravida Kazhagam writings

Dravida Kazhagam flourished through the writings and public speech of Annadurai. Although E.V.R and Annadurai worked together for sometime a split occurred in the Party in 1949, due to two main reasons;

(1) Disagreement of Annadurai with E.V.R. to boycott the Independence Celebration in 1947.

(2) Opposition of Annadurai to the marriage of 72 yrs old E.V.R. with a girl who was 20 yrs younger to him.

The view of Annadurai was very much supported by many young followers. Thus a new movement called  Dravida Munntra Kazhagam (DMK) started under Annadurai’s leadership on Sept. 17.1949. Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) means ‘The Movement for the progress of the Dravidians’

Dravida Munntra Kazhagam’s Attitude towards Religion

            DMK continued its activities in the form of a revolt against religion. Initially it started as a revolt against Brahmanical Hinduism and later against Hinduism and religion as a whole. According to DMK, religion does not meet the rational demand of human beings.

Therefore its approach to religion was rationalistic. Annadurai followed the philosophy of a rationalist, Robert Ingersoll who ssated, ‘reason should be man’s sole guide’.

Dravida Munntra Kazhagam’s revolt against religion expressed itself in the form of its protest against Puranic Hinduism. DMK questioned the validity of the Hindu scriptures especially the Puranas. (It considered Puranas as the product of intoxicants).

Laws of Manu

It condemned the Vedas and attacked the Laws of Manu. According to Dmk, the Laws of Manu gave the Brahmins a supreme position almost like that of a half-god/semi-god or god on earth of the Hindu society.

Not only condemning Hindu Scriptures, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam condemned even religious festivals. It tried to make festival occasions to be a social purpose of getting together and acquiring knowledge about new things.

It suggested that the temples should be converted into educational ventures/institutions. Superstitions based on religion condemned. Men and women awakened by DMK to re think their religion from a rational angle.


Dravida Munntra Kazhagam staged dramas and produced films for cinema theatres with stories based on condemnation of gods and temples; (The picture called ‘Parasakthi’ is one of such pictures which produced by M. Karunanidhi, one of the pillars of the Kazhagam).

Foundation of Temples

In the beginning, DMK’s policy towards religion was hostile in character. But later, when it came into power (ruling party) its policy gradually changed. The reason is, DMK placed as the ruling party by the people whose majority members were theistic in faith.

Even the leaders of Dmk like Mr. Karananidhi laid the foundation stones for new temples in different parts of the city and sarounding places of Madras. Slowly, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam gave freedom of worship to its citizens, and came down up to the point of idea considering ‘All religions are true’.

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam began its activities as anti-Brahmin and anti-religions. But slowly it had made a lot of compromises with all religions. Once DMK was against idalotary; but later it used the unveiling idols in the temples.

Christianity and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s attitude towards Christianity is favourable. There is scope and freedom for preaching the Gospel in Tamil Nadu. M.G. Ramachandran offered himself to act as the character of Jesus Christ in the picture called ‘Jesus’ whose story was written by Karunanidhi with the guidance of Bishop Arulappa (Roman Catholic) of Madras.

Annadurai has worshipped as a god so to say. The party claims that Annadurai was a believer of Christ. So they have placed an engraved open Bible at his graveyard. But there is no written record/evidence of Annadurai’s having faith in Christ.

However, the DMK has been changing a lot from its original spirit, policy and action. It adopts its policies according to the change of time and tide to keep its place as the ruling party.

Social Reform and Cultural Interest of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, from its early period, began its social reform. It abandoned the practice of caste distinctions and caste marks worn on the forehead. A statewide effort made to wipe out the name Brahmin from the signboards of Brahmin hotels and coffee houses. Intercaste-marriage encouraged to bring down the expences. Dowry system condemned and equality between the two sexes was promoted.

As a ruling party, the DMK introduced reform of slums. The housing board established to build good houses for the poor. Free education upto PUC level made available for the poor and low castes in factories, offices etc. Thus the DMK gave a special attention in the programme of the upliftment of the poor and the low caste.

The dmk also undertook cultural programmes. More emphasis given on Tamil culture. Tamil literature popularised to the extent of calling the movement as ‘Kazhagam Tamil’. There was also an emphasis and demand for a separate state of Tamil Nadu. You can read about Christmatic movement by clicking here.

Political Changes in the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

In the 1962 Assembly elections, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam secured 50 seats and became the major opposition party. In 1967, the DMK secured 138 seats and formed the state Government. During the Annadurai’s era, 1967-69, there was an agitation against the imposition of Hindi language. The DMK was able to pacify the students’ agitation by eliminating Hindi from the curriculum.

In 1969, Annadurai passed away and Dmk faced a great calamity. Then Karunanidhi became the Chief Minister. The DMK made a rapid progress and kept up its place as ruling party. It also had faced many problems, e.g. the imposition of Tamil as the medium of instruction as proposed by the student community.

Secondly, E.V.Ramasamy Naicker’s group started its Anti-Hindi Agitation. Thus the DMK had to take the stand that it would not tolerate any activities which would harm the religious feeling of any section of the community.

Major issues

1n 1972, a split occured in the DMK when M.C. Ramachandran (a Tamil actor and MLA in the Assembly) opposed Karunanidhi on two major issues:

Firstly, M.G. Ramachandran demanded that Karunanidhi should introduce the probition of liqour; which ruins the life of many poor people. At first Karunanidhi did not obey, but later did so because his opponents’ strength weekened his party.

Secondly, M.G. Ramachandran brought a no-confidence motion on the Chief Minister and his colleagues because of the corruption found in the financial dealings of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam Government.

M.G. Ramachandran and Karunanidhi

The clash between M.G. Ramachandran and Karunanidhi cause M.G.Ramachandran to form the Annadurai Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (ADMK). He claimed that his party would be faithful to the teachings; and practice of Annadurai. Later his party renamed as All India Annadurai Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam – AIADMK.

The AIADMK came to power and soon formed the Government. Its emphasis was to provide social benefits to the poor and the down-trodden, e.g. Provision of free meals in schools, provision of shelter to the poor etc. M.G. Ramachandran, being a film star, had already established an image of being a poor man’s hero or champion.

Moreover, in the real political arena the AIADMK could not maintain its majority in the Assembly and had to depend on Congress support.

The problem of Sri Lankan

Tamils became a difficult issue for the AIADMK. Besides, Karunanidhi’s DMK party continued to oppose the policies of the AIADMK. The old age of M.G. Ramachandran and his ill health weakened the AIADMK; and his death brought a division in the AIADMK into Jayalalitha’s group and Janakia’s group.