Maniyammaiyar was born on 10-3-1920. Her parents with great faith in the Dravidian principles , spread the self-respect ideals in their area and lived according to them . Her father was running a firewood shop on his own. He purchased firewood in bulk from Bangalore and ran a big business in it. He and his wife lived a very simple life with love and generosity.
If there is one person around to control Periyar from eating what is not good for him, with the affection of a strict but affectionate mother, it is the one and only Annai Maniammaiyar. Periyar alone was very sure about the fact that it was Maniammai alone who could save his life with a determination of a mother. The faith and affection of Maniammaiyar stood the test of the sharp observation or Periyar as no one could cheat him . Unless he himself passed to be cheated , no one could cheat him feigning pain or pretending .
After Annai Maniammiyar who became E.V.R.Maniammaiyar in. She had an intense knowledge of the principles of Self Respect having been sincerely associated with the giant of Self Respect for over 30 years. What she had cautiously preserved, was not the material wealth of Periyar, but the greatest treasure of the wealth of his policies and principles of his self-respect.
Annaiyar indulged in the committed service to the orphans in
Trichy. She used to instruct others not to refer to them as
orphans; she made sure that she was their mother in all
respects. When they attained age and completed their studies,
she arranged marriage for them and settled them in life. Those
who were thus brought up later started exemplary lives. She was
known to have given life and status to even persons who had been
very ill. We can boldly assert the she is a forerunner to Mother
Teresa in this service.
Was she a mother only to the orphaned children? She was declared mother also to Dr.K.Veeramai on his own admission as he had lost his mother at a very young age. She appeared as an affectionate mother to many others who yearned for maternal love. First, she was a sincere worker of the Party of Periyar; next, she was the personal care taker of Periyar and later, the President of the Party of Periyar. This is the life pattern of Maniammiyar.
In her words she was,” I was totally committed to the service of Periyar and taking care of his personal health playing the role his mother and treating him like my own child shielding him from all harms”.
Maniammaiyar who became the wife of a multi-millionaire used to be selling the books of Periyar on the spread sheets for two or three hours .Without fail she used to settle the accounts correctly to Periyar after the meeting.
Just imagine the wife (The marriage of Periyar and Maniyammaiyar took place legally on 09-07-1949 in Chennai Registrar’s Office) of a millionaire and the head of a great Movement squatting on the torn gunny sheet selling the books of the Movement for hours together! This portrays the dimension of her sacrifice and commitment.
Maniammaiyar was arrested for defying the order of ban on anti-Hindi agitation of Periyar in Kumbakonam in 1948.
Annai also was very frugal like Periyar and a very appropriate successor to him.
The history of the Dravidian Movement was not only the history of Periyar, but also that of Maniammaiyar as she did not have any life of her own. Her life was only that of her life linked with the Party. Her life was not a one that worked for personal benefits, no motive of heaven or such mythical post death benefits!