The year was 1933. I am talking about India before independence. A time of change. A time of excitement. A time of uncertainty.
Now, I am sure you have studied in your history lessons, but at that time, it was still a topic of debate whether Dalits should be allowed to enter the temples or not. A countless number of protests were held, and we are going to talk of an incident that took place during one such event.
In the small town of Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu, a group of awesome people had gathered to register their demand of temple entry for Harijans. The gathering was led by Mr. G. S. Aravamuthan Iyengar, a retired school headmaster. Pretty cool, right? I do wish our history books mentioned people like him!
Back to the story, where were we? Oh yes, the crowd had gathered. They voted unanimously in the favour of Harijans entering the temple. Does it even make sense for people to be barred entry from temples on the basis of their caste? We have to remember that the caste system arose from occupations... so really, people of certain occupations were being barred from entering the temples. The crap that humans come up with!
The Viceroy and Madras government were urged by these upstanding citizens to pass the new Bill. A beautiful moment.
As the public meeting was drawing to a close, a young man suddenly came running through the platform with the cries, "SAVE ME!"
"What happened, Shastriji?" Iyengar asked a bit concernedly. The young man drew short fast breaths and he still seemed to be panicking. "Please, please save me," he reiterated in between gasps.
"Alright, we will save you. But you do have to tell us what the matter is."
With a terrified expression, Shastri spilled the beans. "I wholeheartedly support Harijans entering the temple. I do. I really do. That's why I signed in favour of the Bill! But my father came to know what I did and he is really angry at me. He is threatening to throw me out of the house and disown me! He said that I can only go back after I strike out my signature. Please save me!"
Iyengar was flabbergasted! So were the people gathered. "Did you sign of your own accord?" "Did anyone coerce you to sign?" "Are you actually in favour of the movement?" People bombarded Shastri with questions.
Shastri turned his imploring eyes towards Iyengar and confirmed that he had signed willingly. No one had forced him to. He was just very very afraid of his father. He wanted to strike off his sign and go home in peace.
This person we speak of, the guy who was so afraid of his father that he could not stand up for a signing something that he supported, how old do you think he was? 15? 18? 20? You are all wrong! He was 30 years old and he had kids of his own.
Of course, he was allowed to strike off his signature out of pity.
The moral of the story is: Well, nothing really. It is one in the morning right now, and I just wanted to share a completely non-important story with you guys. Well, not exactly a story. It is originally a news article that appeared in The Indian Express newspaper in 1933. Fun right? Or is it just me that finds totally irrelevant pieces of history super interesting?