(Last Updated on : 22/05/2014)
Early life of Periyar E. V. Ramasamy (who was born as Erode Venkata Ramasami Naicker) was spent in the town city of Erode, then a part of Coimbatore District
of Madras Presidency
in the year 1879 on 17th Spetember. He came from a well-to-do family, where his father - Venkatappa Naicker (or Venkata) was a wealthy businessman and his mother Chinna Thayammal alias Muthammal. He actually had an elder brother by the name of Krishnaswamy and two sisters named Kannamma and Ponnuthoy. Later, he came to be called as "Periyar" meaning 'respected one' or 'elder' in Tamil.
At the First Provincial Self-Respect Conference of Chenggalpattu, in the year 1929, Periyar E. V. Ramasamy announced the deletion of his caste surname Naicker from his name at the First Provincial Self-Respect. He was a person who could speak three Dravidian languages - Kannada language
, Tamil language
and Telugu language
, with ease. However, his mother tongue was Kannada language.
He attended school for five years and thereafter he joined his father's business at the tender of 12. He also used to listen to Tamil Vaishnavite guru who gave lectures and speeches in his house enjoying his father's hospitality. From a very young age he developed several questions within himself and also involved in apparent contradictions in the Hindu mythological stories that he opined to be lies that were spread by Indo-Aryan race. As Periyar grew and understood the social structure in a better manner, he felt that religion is used by people only as a mask to mislead guiltless people and therefore took it as one of his duties in life to warn people against superstitions and priests.
When Periyar was still in his teens (19 years to be precise) his father arranged for his wedding. Nagammai, his bride, was only thirteen years. It was not, altogether, an arranged marriage because Periyar and Nagammai had known each other and were already in love with each other. Nagammai actively supported her husband in his later public activities and agitations. Two years after their marriage, a girl child was born to them. However, this child lived only for five months. The couple had no more children