Gandhi on V V S Iyer Controversy

From the Book ” FUZZY AND NEUTROSOPHIC ANALYSIS OF PERIYAR’S VIEWS ON UNTOUCHABILITY” by W B Vasantha Kandaswamy, Florentine Smarandanche, K. Kandaswamy.

Out of the funds of the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee (TNCC), they started the National Training School at Cheranmadevi near Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu, as an alternative to those run by the British Government. It was managed by a Brahmin, V.V.S. Iyer. In that school’s hostel called Gurukulam, the Brahmin and non-Brahmin students were segregated. The Brahmin boys were treated in a better manner with regard to food, shelter and education. Angered over this, Periyar resigned from the post of Secretary of the TNCC. He later put an end to this discriminatory practice. Periyar was later elected the President of the TNCC.


I have presented the original references from *Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi. Draw your own conclusions.

Vol 30: Page 371


March 10, 1925




With reference to the Gurukul controversy I told Mr. Iyer that I would not give a definite opinion unless I had seen you and heard you. Having heard you, it seems to me that in so far as the present brahmacharis are concerned, if the parents of the Brahmin boys insist on their boys being allowed to dine separately, their scruples should be respected. But, for the future, it may be announced that no brahmacharis would be accepted whose parents would not let theirboys dine in the same row with the others. I understand from you that the cook at the Gurukul would be always a Brahmin. What you object to (and that properly) is the separating of non-Brahmin boys from the Brahmins. I do think that all the boys should sit in the same row whilst they are taking their meals.


Yours sincerely,





Vol 31 Page 19 – 20 


March 22, 1925




The friend next asked me for a definition of a sanatani Hindu and say: “Could a sanatani Hindu Brahmin inter-dine with a Hindu non-Brahmin although the latter may be a non-vegetarian?” My definition of a sanatani Brahmin is: He who believes in the fundamental principles of Hinduism is a sanatani Hindu. And the fundamental principles of Hinduism are absolute believe in truth (satya) and ahimsa (non-violence). The Upanishads proclaim, the Mahabharata proclaims from the housetop: “Put in one scale all your rajasuyas, all your ashvamedhas and all your merits and put truth in the other scale, the scale in which truth is thrown will outweight everything else.” Therefore use truth as your anvil, non-violence as your hammer and anything that does not stand the test when it is brought to the anvil of truth and hammered with ahimsa, reject asnon-Hindu. For a fuller definition of sanatani Hindu I must refer the friends and those who have similar doubts to the pages of Young India. I have said repeatedly that inter-dining and intermarriage have no connection whatsoever with the removal of untouchability, for inter-dining or intermarrying is a matter of choice and should be so too with every human being. It is an indulgence, whereas untouchability is a refusal to serve our fellow beings. And truth and ahimsa demand that no human being may debar himself from serving any other human being no matter how sinful he may be.


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