I hereby continue to share what I have been reading about Kerala Renaissance, and this list will have six of the leaders of Renaissance in Kerala. I continue to read Kerala History these days, and so you can expect me to share more about the same, but with a total of sixteen Renaissance figures shared already, I would consider this the end of the series, even though I would like to mention Swadeshabhimani Ramakrishna Pillai along with these six people below and by reading about these people again and again, hope to score better for my upcoming PSC examinations – yes, the prayers are most welcome 😀
1. Pandit Karuppan: Even though most of better known social reformers were from the Travancore state of Kerala’s centre and South, here is someone who hailed from the Kingdom of Cochin. Fighting against untouchability and all kinds of social evil, for which he was called “Abraham Lincoln of Kerala”, a title which shows his quality and skills as a person more than anything else. His efforts to bring the socially backward classes of the society were highly supported by his own skills as a poet and dramatist. As a man who respected all religions, he hoped for equality above all. The King of Cochin had given him the title “Kavithilakan” for his creativity, and he might be the first known modern human rights activist of Cochin. His work “Jathikummi”, which criticized the caste system was a big move in the right direction.
2. Sahodaran Ayyappan: Even though he was more influenced by Sree Narayana Guru than anybody else, his message was more like no caste, religion or God for man as he hoped for human values more than anything else. He founded and worked as the editor of the magazine “Yukthivadi” and also founded Vidhya Poshini Saha hoping for the much needed change for the age. Sahodara Sangham was another group of young men fighting for social age, and he is also responsible for its inception. Misrabhojanam, which had all castes and religions of people dining together without separation, was also organized by him. He never ceased his sincere work as he started a paper called “Sahodaran” and was elected to Cochin Legislative Council. He firmly believed that people will rise above the religion and caste, upholding the values of humanity.
3. Vakkom Muhammed Abdul Khadir Moulavi: The founder and publisher of the newspaper “Swadeshabhimani”, Vakkom Moulavi was a man who is often remembered in relation to journalism. For his criticism of the Diwan of Travancore, P.Rajagopalachari and the government in general, the newspaper was confiscated, but he was not ready to step back from exposing the injustices in the society. He is often considered the father of Muslim Renaissance in Kerala, and was the founder of Muslim Mahajana Sabha. He was a progressive man and hoped for his community to follow the path of modernity – he was a social reformer who made changes possible in his own way. He also made Arabic-Malayalam popular with his monthly, “Al Islam”. He is also the founder of Islamia Publishing House.
4. Dr. Padmanabhan Palpu: As the first doctor from his caste, he contributed efficiently in the upliftment of his community and making sure that the situation in his state was better than it used to be. Educated at London and also having worked in Mysore, his biggest contributions were to come at his own state. He was the founder of Ezhava Mahasabha after founding Malabar Economic Union. He came up with the “Ezhava Memorial” which was a memorandum signed by a high number of people hoping for a better treatment, and “Treatment Of Thiyyas In Travancore” was his work on the concern. He also played a big role in the establishment of Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP) which follows the ideals of the man who might be the greatest social reformer of Kerala, Sree Narayana Guru.
5. Poykayil Yohannan: Rising from a lower status, he realized the difficulties which the lower castes faced despite which faith they followed, as he rejected the usual path of religions and established the Prathyaksha Raksha Daiva Sabha (PRDS) which was more of a movement for the Dalits rather than a new religion or sect. Also known as Poikayil Appachan or Kumara Guru, he was also a member of Sadhujana Paripalana Sangham (SJPS) which was founded by Ayyankali and being a member of the Sree Moolam Praja Sabha, he fought for better treatment for the subaltern. At the same time, he tried to get them better educated and keep them out of the grasp of superstitions and discrimination against each other.
6. V. T. Bhattathiripad: He is known to be the man who encouraged widow-remarriage as well as mixed marriage in Brahmin society more than anybody else before him. His drama “Adukkalayilninnum Arangathekku” is known to have provided a big beginning to a change which was to follow. It was more like a twist which everyone were waiting for in a society which was divided by caste and beliefs. He was also famous for conducting “Yachana Yatra” from Trichur to Kasargode in order to help the poor children of the society to have education. “My Tears, My Dreams”, which was published by the Oxford University Press is the translation of the memoirs which is originally titled “Kanneerum Kinavum” which you might want to read.
***The images used in this blog post were taken from the Wikipedia page of Tripunithura Hill Palace Museum, which you need to visit 😉