There is a time worn phrase amongst Dravidian idealogues (in my opinion that's an oxymoronic phrase), "we are only against Brahminism and not against Brahmins". They mouth this platitude while foaming at their mouth with rabid, vile anti-brahmin, clearly sectarian crudity. The platitude would be followed by "Oh look Periyar (as they call E.V.Ramasamy Naicker) and Rajaji were close friends". Now, Rajagopalachari, would be called "acharyar" depending on whether he is on their side on a particular issue.
Yes, CR and EVR were indeed great friends. It was to CR that EVR turned to advice for marrying Maniammai. Recently in a blog somebody wrote about how Kalki invited EVR to his child's marriage, how EVR came after most had left not wanting to cause a ruffle and how a photo was taken with EVR applying sacred ash to the newly wed. The blog enthused about how Kalki prohibited publishing the photo lest somebody use it for propaganda accusing EVR of hypocrisy. Kalki's rationale was EVR did so out of respect for the customs of those who invited him.
Ofcourse all of this is laudable. This is absolute gentlemanliness. This is what civilization and culture are about. All these are almost always cited to show how EVR was against "Brahminism" and not "brahmins" per se. But here comes the rub.
If EVR had chosen to sink his fangs into any other community would anybody from that community behaved like CR or Kalki? Why is it lost that much more credit ought to be given to CR and Kalki who did not doubt EVR's sincerity in opposing the clergy for duping illiterates and for the grotesque ills of caste imposed racism. CR and Kalki, true heroes of Freedom struggle, very alive to the ills of their own society had the decency to agree with EVR on those accounts and were able to relate to him. I strongly assert this broadmindedness would not be seen from anybody else.
A larger point would be that had EVR picked on any religion other than Hindus as the target of not just barbs but many outright insults the long arms of the law and more readily the arm of some fundamentalist would have reached him. He could get away with vilifying a portrait of Rama, I shudder to think if only .......
Anyway the merits of EVR's criticisms, his methods etc are beyond the scope of this blog