Kerala reformation movement

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Reformation movement in Kerala refers to a socio-cultural movement that began towards the end of 19th century and led to large scale changes in the social outlook of the southern Indian state of Kerala.


The foundations of social changes in Kerala go back to the 16th century. The development of the modern form of the Malayalam language and the creation of the Bhakti movement under the influence of authors like Thunchaththu Ezhuthachan helped break the monopoly of the Brahmins over literature and knowledge.

The arrival of Europeans, beginning with the Portuguese followed by the Dutch and English, became a catalyst for these changes. The arrival of missionaries from European nations lead to a rise in educational institutions in Kerala and the rise of an educated class among caste groups like Ezhavas.

The changes in the political order of Kerala with the establishment of centralized monarchies in Travancore and Cochin, leading to the decline of the old feudal order, were also a crucial factor that set the stage for reformation. The Mysorean invasion of Kerala (1766–1792) shook the hold of elites like Brahmins, Namboothiris, Syrian Christians and Nairs on Kerala's society.[1] Mysoreans had almost no regard for the caste structures in Kerala, so most Brahmin and Nair families had to flee to southern Kerala to avoid persecution by Mysorean forces.

In contrast with North India, enlightenment in Kerala was driven by lower castes. Narayana Guru, Ayyankali and others belonged to caste groups considered lower in the social settings of 19th century Kerala. Hence most of them emphasized the need for abolition of the caste system rather than its reformation.[2]


Prominent leaders of Kerala reformation include :

Timeline of revolts and movements[edit]

Renaissance leaders & Timeline[edit]

Kuriakose Elias Chavara (1805–1871)

Father of literacy in Kerala, school along with every church system, Pidiyari system

Vaikunda swamikal / Ayya vaikundar (1809–1851)

Mudichoodum perumal

  • The first social reformer in Kerala
  • 1800s  : Famous disciple, Thycaud Ayya
  • 1800s  : Sama panthi Bhojanam
  • 1823  : Became leader of the Upper Cloth revolt, which lead to the 1859 Channar revolt
  • 1836  : Founded Samatva Samajam
  • 1838  : Imprisoned in Singarathoppu jail by Swathi Thirunnal for calling him "ananthapuri devil", calling Travancore the "rule of black devils" and the British the "rule of white devils."
  • "jathi onn, matham onn, kulam onn, daivam onn, lokam onn"

Thycaud Ayya / subharayan (1814–1909) [Guru of great Gurus']

Shivaraja yogi, Supperintent ayya, Hadayogopadeshta, pandi parayan,

Chattampi Swamikal (1853-1924)

  • 1881  : Met Nanu Asan (Guru) at aniyoor temple
  • 1892  : Met swami vivekananda
  • main works  : jeevakarunya niroopanam, kristhumath niroopanam, kristhumatha chethanam, vedadhikara niroopanam, pracheena malayalam, advaitha chintha padhathi, aadibhasha.

Sree Narayana Guru (1856–1928)

Naanu asan, The second Buddha,

  • 1881  : Guru started school at anju thengu
  • 1887  : Built Aruvippuram temple
  • 1888  : Aruvippuram consecration by Narayana Guru
  • 1898  : Vavoottu yogam, which was considered as the predecessor of SNDP Yogam, was formed this year
  • 1903  : Formation of SNDP by guru, who later became the first and permanent president. (1st secretary; Kumaranasan, 1st vice president; Dr. Palpu)
  • 1904  : Founded Sivagiri Mutt
  • 1911  : Declared as the National Saint in the census report of the Travancore
  • 1913  : Advaita ashram at aluva
  • 1916  : Founded Sree Narayan seva ashram at kanchipuram
  • 1916  : Started Sanskrit school at aluva
  • 1918  : Visited Sri Lanka for the first time
  • 1924  : Visited vaikom satygraha
  • "oru jaathi, oru matham, oru daivam manushyanu"

Dr. Ayyathan Gopalan (1863–1948) "Darsarji"& "Darsar Sahib"[edit]

  • Social reformer widely known as "Darsarji" also as "Darsar Sahib". ("Darsar" (ദർസർ) meaning Doctor)
  • "Raosahib" highest civilian award honour and title given by British.
  • Social reformer of Kerala, physician (doctor), writer, chief surgeon, medical school professor, superintendent and in charge of hospitals all over South India (during British rule).
  • Founder of Sugunavardhini Movement (സുഗുണവർധിനി പ്രസ്താനം) and popularized Brahmosamaj in Kerala.
    • 1898 :Populated Brahmo Samaj in Kerala region (first branch at Calicut, now Ayathan School which runs under the patronage of Brahmosamaj at Jail Road, Calicut)
    • 1900s  : Founded the Sugunavardhini movement to foster human values in children and ignited reform activities to protect the rights of women, children, and the downtrodden sections of society such as Harijan and Dalits in Kerala while providing them with an education.
    • 1900s :Founded Lady Chandhawarkar Elementary School, educating girls and underprivileged sections of society for free. Conducted MisraBhojanam and MisraVivaham through Sugunavardhini movement and Brahmosamaj.
    • 1900s  : Titled his favorite disciple Karat Govinda Menon as "Brahmananda" Sivayogi and P. Kunjiraman as "Brahmavadhi" for involvement in Brahmosamaj activities. Vaghbhatananda was also his favorite disciple who later founded Athma vidya sangam.
    • 1904  : Translated Brahmo Dharma (ബ്രഹ്മധർമ്മ) (known as the Bible of Brahmo Samaj) into Malayalam, originally written by Debendranath Tagore
    • 1901  : Published his first musical drama book Saranjiniparinayam.(സാരഞ്ജിനി പരിണയം)
    • 1903  : Published his second musical drama book Susheeladukham.(സുശീലാദുഃഖം)
    • 1917  : Highest civilian award given by British government and given the honor title "RAOSAHIB" for tireless service done for society and mankind.
    • 1924  : Opened second branch of Brahmosamaj at Alappuzha Brahmomandir constructed on 1928 at Poonthoppu.
    • works  : Propagated his reform activities by conducting dramas, public awareness campaigns, and also through his writings. Saranjiniparinayam & Susheeladukham (musical drama), Plaguefarse (drama) were his famous dramas which were put on by Kottakkal P.S.Warier nadaka sangam (P.S.V. Natyasangham) throughout Kerala for many years.
    • Famous disciples: Bhramananda swami Sivayogi, Vaghbhatanandaguru, Brahmavadhi P. Kunjiraman

Agamananda Swami (1896–1961)

Krishnam Nambyathiri

  • 1935  : First asram founded - Sanadhana Dharma Vidhyarthi Sangam
  • 1936  : Established Kerala unit of Sree Rama Krishnasram
  • 1900s  : Active member of Ramakrishna mission in Kerala unit
  • 1900s  : Started Sanskrit school Brahmanandodayam
  • 1900s  : Started the magazine 'Prabudha Keralam'

Ananda Theerthan (1905–1987)

Anada Shenoy

  • 1900s  : Direct disciple of Sree Narayana Guru
  • 1933  : Founder of Jathi Nashini Sabha
  • 1933  : first president of Jathi Nashini sabha was K. Kelappan.

Brahmananda shiva yogi / Karat Govinda menon (1852–1929)

'Guru of Atheists', purusha simham, Swami of alathur

  • Born at Palakkad
  • Started his reform activities through Brahmosamaj founded by Dr. Ayyathan Gopalan. Dr. Gopalan titled Karat Govinda menon as Brahmananda Sivayogi for his tireless service done through Brahmosamaj. Sivayogi was one of the favorite disciples of Dr. Gopalan.
  • 1893  : Founded 'Siddha rasam' at Alathur
  • 1899  : Stree vidya poshini book to spread awareness of women's education
  • 1918  : Formed Ananda Maha Sabha
  • 1900s  : Founded "Ananda Matham" religion
  • 1900s  : Famous disciple - Vagbatanandan

Vagbhatanandan / V.K. Gurukkal (1885–1939)

Vyleri kunjikannan, balaguru

  • Born in Patyam, Kannur
  • Started his reform activities through Brahmosamaj founded by Dr. Ayyathan Gopalan in the year 1898 at Calicut. Vaghbhatananda was the favorite disciple of Dr. Gopalan who wrote the book Kausallya Gopalan as a tribute to Kausallyammal, wife of Dr. Gopalan, who was the backbone behind his reform activities.
  • 1906  : Tathva prakashika Ashramam Kozhikode
  • 1917  : Founded Athma vidya sangam at Vatakara, whose slogan was "unaruvin, aghileshane smarippin, kshanamezunnelpin, aneethiyod ethirpin"
  • 1921  : Abhinava keralam The journal of Atma vidya sangam
  • 1900s  : Became disciple of Sree Narayana Guruhis
  • 1900s  : founder of ULCCS (uraalunkal Labour Contract Coperative Society) CurrentlyThe Largest Labour contract in India
  • 1927  : Preethi Bhojanam
  • works  : Abhinava keralam, adyathma yudham, atma vidya kahalam, Prarthananjali, kotiyoor ulsava paatu, shivayogi vilasam,

Arattuppuzha Velayudha Panicker (1825–1874)

kallissery Velayudha Chekavar, panicker Title was given by Maharaja of Travancore,

He actually belongs to Ezhava community

  • 1860  : Founded "Kallissery Kadhakali Yogam" art form to break the savarna monopoly.
  • 1800s  : Mukkuthi agitation
  • 1800s  : Achipudava agitation at Kayamkulam
  • 1874  : Got killed by Upper caste men during a boat travel at Kayamkulam.

Kurumban Daivathan (1880–1927)


  • 1917  : Hindu Pulaya Samajam
  • 1900s  : Navodhansthinte surya thejass (Babu Thomas)

Pampadi John joseph (1887–1940)

  • 1921  : Founded Travancore cheramar maha sabha
  • 1900s  : Magazine Sadhu jana Doothan
  • 1900s  : Cheruma Boy book

C. V. Kunhiraman (1871–1949)

  • 1911  : Kerala Koumudi from mayyanad, ideas of Guru published first time in koumudi
  • 1900s  : Ezhava koumudi
  • "openion is not an iron pestle"

Mahathma Ayyankali (1863–1941)

Ghandiji called him 'pulaya raja' and 'untiring warrior', Indira Gandhi called him 'Great son of India',

'Aali kathiya theepori', Father of modern Dalit, known as Kerala's Spartacus.

  • born at venganoor
  • 1893  : Villu vandi samaram (right to use the public roads by the lower cast)
  • 1904  : Started school for pulays at venganoor.
  • 1907  : Sadhujana paripalana sangam
  • 1909  : South India's First organized rebellion (karshaka samaram)
  • 1911  : First Harijan member to enroll in Sree moolam praja sabha
  • 1915  : Leader of Kallu mala Samaram (perinaatu lahala) (right to use ornaments other than stone-made ornaments by the lower cast)
  • 1915  : Leader of Thonnooramandu samaram (ooruttambalam lahala / pulaya lahala) (right to study along with upper cast children)
  • 1916  : Kandala lahala ( ayyankali fired the school at ooruttambalam, where He tried to get admission for a lower caste girl named Panchami)
  • 1980  : Indira Gandhi unveiled Ayyankali Statue at vellayambalam, architect Ezra David.

Dr. Padmanabhan Palpu (1863–1950)

Padmanabhan, 'Political father of Ezhava community'

  • 1800s  : First Medical graduate from Ezhava community
  • 1800s  : Served as Jail superintent in Mysore
  • 1882  : Met Swami vivekananda at Mysore.
  • 1800s  : The book " Treatment of Thiyyas in travancore"
  • 1891  : The third signature in Malayali memorial (Mass petition to Sree moolam maharaja)
  • 1896  : Founded Greater Ezhava association
  • 1896  : Founded 'Travancore Ezhava Sabha'
  • 1896  : Sep 3, Ezhava Memorial was submitted to Moolam thirunnal (signed by 13176 members)
  • 1900  : Second Ezhava Memorial was Submitted to Lord Curzon
  • 1903  : First vice president of SNDP
  • 1900s  : Malabar economic Union was founded.
  • 1900s  : Nataraja Guru, son of Dr. Palpu, founded the Sree Narayana Gurukulam.
  • 1950  : Died on 25 January the day before Republic Day.


kumaru, sneha gayakan, ashaya gambheeran, leelavathi called him 'divya kokilam',

Joseph mundassery called him Viplavathinte Shukra nakshatram.

  • Born in Kayikkara
  • 1907  : Veena poov
  • 1909  : First poet to become member of travancore legislative council.
  • 1922  : Only poet to become Mahakavi without writing a Mahakaavyam.
  • 1924  : Last work " Karuna "
  • 1924  : Died in accident of the 'redeemer' boat in pallana river
  • Works  : Duravastha (aboutmalabar kalapam) leela, prarodhanam, chandala bikshuki

Sahodaran Ayyappan / K. Ayyappan (1889–1968)

  • Born in Cherai, vypin, ernakulam.
  • 1917  : Sahodara sangam
  • 1917  : Misra bhojanam under sahodara sangam at cherai
  • 1900s  : Became disciple of Sree Narayana Guru
  • 1900s  : Formation of Vidya poshini sabha
  • 1938  : Socialist party Established
  • 1964  : Sree Narayana Sevika Samajam in Aluva.
  • Weeklies : Velakkaran, yukthivaadi, sahodaran
  • Works  : Kaasi mahatmyam, sahodari kurathi.
  • " No caste, No religion, No god for man."

Pandit Karuppan(1885–1939)

shankaran, sahithya kudeeram, Lincoln of Kerala,

kerala varma called him 'vidwan', maharaja of cochin called him 'Kavi thilakam'.

T.K. Madhavan (1885–1930)

"Megha Jyothis"

  • 1902  : Ezhava association was started
  • 1900s  : The founder of Temple entry movement
  • 1900s  : Undeniable leader of Eradication of untouchability
  • 1915  : Started Deshabhimani News Paper From Kollam
  • 1923  : Only Malayali to attend INC session at Kakkinada, Presented a resolution on Eradication of untouchability.
  • 1924  : Main leader of Vaikkom Satyagraha.

Vakkom Abdul Khadar Moulavi (1873–1932)

The father of Muslim renaissance in Kerala

  • 1905  : swadeshabhimani news paper started from Anjutheng, tvm on Jan 19
  • 1906  : Magazine Muslim
  • 1918  : Magazine Al-Islam
  • 1922  : Formed Kerala Muslim Aikya Sangham at Kodungallur, thrissur
  • 1931  : Formed Islamic Publishing House.
  • 1931  : Magazine Deepika
  • 1900s  : Formed Islam Dharma Paripalana Sangham based on SNDP model.
  • 1900s  : Formed Dharma Poshini sabha
  • works  : Quran Translation, Islam matha sidhantha Samgraham, dau-u-saheb

Swadeshabhimani Ramakrishna pillai (1878–1916)

Keralan (pen name)

K. Kelappan (1889–1971)

A K Gopalan (1904-1977) AKG

  • Born in Perelassery
  • 1931  : Volunteer captain of Guruvayoor Satyagraha
  • 1936  : Pattini jatha (kannur to madras)
  • 1937  : Malabar jatha (calicut to Travancore)
  • 1900s  : First leader of opposition in Loksabha
  • 1958  : First Indian coffie House started
  • 1960  : Karshaka jatha / peasant march (kazargod to travancore)
  • 1900s  : Crusader of downtrodden
  • 1900s  : Ente jeevitha kadha, in the cause of the people,(auto biography) manninu vendi, ente poorvakala smaranakal,

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Why Christo-Racist Nationalism and Anti-Muslim Rhetoric Are Gaining Ground in Kerala". The Wire. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  2. ^ PANIKKAR, K. N. "Three phases of Indian renaissance". Retrieved 4 March 2019.

3. R.Ponnu, Sri Vaikunda Swamigal and the struggle for Social Equality in South India, Madurai, 2000.