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Ramasami, Periyar (1879 - 1973)
Periyar Ramasami, also known as E.V. Ramaswami Naicker, EVR, Thanthai Periyar, or just Periyar, was a social reformer, an activist, and the founder of Dravidar Kazhagam and the Self-respect Movement in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

Though he was born in an affluent nayak (an upper caste) family, he fought against the untouchability practiced by upper castes, specifically targeting Brahmins, the rituals of Hinduism, and the caste system. In his early political career, Periyar was a freedom fighter, but he later became a supporter of British colonial rule as a leader of the Justice Party.

Periyar was an atheist and a Buddhist. He is well known for his antitheistic statement "He who created god was a fool, he who spreads his name is a scoundrel, and he who worships him is a barbarian."

Periyar was a self-proclaimed rationalist, but he also believed in German scholar Max Mueller's Aryan Invasion Theory, which postulated the subjugation of Dravidian races (who Periyar identified with lower castes) by an invading Aryan race (who Periyar identified with Brahmins and upper castes). Periyar's anti-Brahmin views were based on the assumption that all Brahmins are upper-class Aryans and all non-Brahmins are lower-class Dravidians. He accused Brahmins of subjugating Dravidian civilization.

Periyar is the founder of Dravidian Nationalism, and demanded the creation of a distinct Dravidian nation. His beliefs continues to influence the socio-political landscape of Tamil Nadu, with many dominant ideologies claiming descent from his theories.

Periyar was opposed to Hinduism, considering it a religion of Brahmins. In 1953, Periyar celebrated Vesak (a major Buddhist holiday) and Ganesha Chathurthi (a Hindu festival celebrating the god Ganesha) by publicly destroying statues of Ganesha.

Periyar's most popular writing is The Ramayana: A True Reading (1959), on the Ramayana, a Hindu epic. In 1956, he took a procession of Rama's picture garlanded with slippers near Dharmapuri and destroyed the portrait in public, which drew widespread protests from the North.

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