|Poykayil Sreekumara Gurudevan|
|Born||17 February 1879
Eraviperoor, Pathanamthitta district, Kerala, India
|Died||29 June 1939|
|Pen name||Kumara Gurudevan|
|Occupation||Dalit leader, poet|
Poykayil Sreekumara Gurudevan (also called as Poykayil Yohannan) (Eraviperoor, 17 February 1878 – 1939), known as Poykayil Appachan alias Poykayil Kumara Guru Devan, was a Dalit activist, poet and the founder of the socio-religious movement Prathyaksha Raksha Daiva Sabha ("God's Church of Visible Salvation").
Johannan was born 17 February 1879, to parents Kandan and Lechi of the Paraiyar ("Pariah") community, at Eraviperoor, Pathanamthitta, India. He was named Komaran at his birth, born as a slave to a Syrian Christian family of the name Sankaramangalam. He was later renamed Kumaran. Being a slave to a Christian family, Kumaran had to follow Christianity and have a Christian name, and was called Johannan (Yohannan). He became literate and versed with Bible.
Recognising the commonalities among the Paraiyar, Pulayar (Cheramar) and Kuravar communities, Johannan sought to create a sense of unity among them. Johannan left the Sankaramangalam family, intent on organising the Christian Dalit communities.
Johannan died on 29 June 1939 at the age of 61.
With this thought he joined the Marthoma church, a reformist sect among the Syrian Christians, but realized the church treated Dalits as an inferior class, and left the church. He then joined a new sect called the Brethren Mission where he faced similar instances of caste based discrimination. Johannan concluded that Indian Christian communities continued to discriminate based on caste, and felt this defied the basic tenets of Christianity.
In 1909, Johannan left Christianity and started his own religious protest movement named Prathyaksha Raksha Daiva Sabha (PRDS). He was known as Poikayil Appachan or Kumara Gurudevan afterwards. Johannan advocated spiritual liberation, and sought to empower and consolidate the Dalits, promoting a creed in which the "slave castes" would be free of discrimination.
Work as a legislator
Johannan was also a member of the Dalit advocacy group Sadhujana Paripalana Sangham (SJPS) which had been founded in 1905 by another Dalit leader of Kerala, Ayyankali. Johannan was also twice nominated, in the years 1921 and 1931, to the Sree Moolam Praja Sabha, the legislative council of the princely state of Travancore.
- Unknown Subjects: Songs of Poykayil Appachan. Translated from Malayalam by A.S. Sekher
- Vadyakhoshangal Nadathunnavarum and Ente Vamshathepatti were featured in the Dalit Poem Collection named Kathal — published by DC Books
- Mannikkale Maanikkyam - Drama by V. V. Santhakumar features Johannan
- A. T. Philip The Mar Thoma Church and Kerala society 1991 "One of the outcome was the booklet entitled Poikayil Yohannanum Veda vaipareethyavum (Poikayil Yohannan and antitheology). Yohannan is addressed as ' Appachan' by his followers."
- Mylapore Institute for Indigenous Studies; I.S.P.C.K. (Organization) (2000). Christianity is Indian: the emergence of an indigenous community. Published for MIIS, Mylapore by ISPCK. p. 322. ISBN 978-81-7214-561-3. Retrieved 7 April 2012.
- J. W. Gladstone (1984). Protestant Christianity and people's movements in Kerala: a study of Christian mass movements in relation to neo-Hindu socio-religious movements in Kerala, 1850-1936. Seminary Publications. Retrieved 30 March 2012.
- Poikayil Johannan
- Dr. Alex Thomas; I.S.P.C.K. (Organization) (1 August 2007). A history of the first cross-cultural mission of the Mar Thoma Church, 1910-2000. ISPCK. ISBN 978-81-7214-969-7. Retrieved 30 March 2012.
- Mohan, P. Sanal (2013). "Religion, Social Space, and Identity: The Prathyaksha Raksha Daiva Sabha and the Making of Cultural Boundaries in Twentieth Century Kerala". In Channa, Subhadra Mitra; Mencher, Joan P. Life as a Dalit: Views from the Bottom on Caste in India. SAGE Publications India. ISBN 978-8-13211-777-3.