Chekavar is derived from the Sanskrit words Sevakar, Sevakan or Sevaka, which means soldiers in service or soldiers in royal service. Hermann Gundert's English-Malayalam Dictionary, defines the term as militiaman and warrior.
Sangam literature and hero stones found in Tamil Nadu show that Chekavar were engaged in combat, often on behalf of a lord. On these hero stones, Chekavar are generally depicted by an image of an armed man along with a Shiva Linga. Hero stones were erected to commemorate men who had fallen in battle or cattle raids and were traditional during the Sangam period.
Arattupuzha Velayudha Panicker was an Ezhava warrior lived in the 19th century in Kerala who has also fought against the caste oppression by the upper castes. His original name was Kalisseril Velayutha Chekavar. His grandfather, Vallikadavil Perumal Chekavan (Perumalchekon or Perumalchan), was proficient in Tulunadan kalari techniques which were not common in the southern style of Kalaripayattu.
- Communal Road to a Secular Kerala.Page 30. George Mathew (Concept Pub.Co, 1989). ISBN 81-7022-282-6. Retrieved 2007-12-28.
- Religion and Social Conflict in South Asia.Page 27. Bardwell L. Smith ((BRILL publications ,1976). ISBN 90-04-04510-4. Retrieved 2007-12-28.
- Malayalam-English Dictionary, by Dr. Herman Gundert, 1872. Ed. 3, Published by Sahythia Pravarthaka Sahakarana Sangham, Kerala, 2000. Biography.
- Women's Lives, Women's Rituals in the Hindu Tradition, Page 113. Bardwell L. SmithTracy Pintchman (Oxford University Press). 2007. ISBN 0-19-517706-1. Retrieved 2008-12-13.