The achievements that Kerala enjoys today is not a cakewalk; it is the aftermath of the sacrificial stories of many unsung heroes who got buried deep inside the pages of history. In this article, we will learn about the Renaissance Leaders in Kerala and their Organisations in the chronological order. Many have contributed to making the State as we see it today. Being a very important portion of static GK, it’s necessary that we learn them for answering the sure-shot questions that are asked for any competitive exams.
List of Renaissance Leaders in Kerala
There are many Leaders who went unnoticed during this timeline. Let’s give them our respect for helping us achieve all the amenities that we are granted today. Discussing a few of them who gave major contributions to uplift our society:
Kuriakose Elias Chavara (1805–1871) – Found CMI (India’s first Christian priest committee)
- Born in Kainakari, Alappuzha
- He is known as the Father of Literacy in Kerala. Introduced the system which announced that a School must be built along with every Church. Also, the Pidiyari system( a handful of rice) encouraging people to make daily small donations to help the needy was introduced by him.
- Established the first printing press in 1846 without foreign support in Kerala at mannanam. Named st.joseph’s press, It was the 3rd one in India.
- Kuriakose Elias Chavara was declared beatified in 1986 and canonized on 23 November 2014.
Vaikunda swamikal / Ayya vaikundar (1809–1851) – Founded Samatva Samajam.
- Born in 1809
- Place: Swamithoppu, Tamil Nadu
- First name: Mudi Choodum Perumal ( due to heavy protest from upper-class name changed to Muthukutty because at that time only upper castes were allowed to use the names of gods as their names)
- ‘Samatva Samajam‘ probably the first social organization of Kerala
- He was imprisoned in 1838 at Singara thoppu Jail by Swathi Thirunnal for calling him “Ananthapuri devil” saying Travancore as “rule of Black devils” and British as “rule of White devils.”
- He is the first to install a mirror for worshipping in South India
- Constructed public well for people. Muthira Kinar is situated at Swamithoppu. The people of various castes took their holy bath in the well and bath was called Muttiripatham.
- Famous quote- ‘One caste, One religion, One clan, One world, One God’( ” jathi onn, matham onn, kulam onn, daivam onn, lokam on “)
- Famous slogan – ‘If we work, we should be got paid’
- Died on 1851
Thycaud Ayya / Subharayan (1814–1909) – founded the famous “Saiva Prakasha Sabha
- The original name of Thycaud Ayya was Subbarayan
- Known as Guru of great Gurus’
- He was born in 1814 in Nagalapuram. He was the guru of Chattampi Swamikal, Sri Narayana Guru and Ayyankali.
- He was a Yogi cum Family man. Ayya Swamikal started inter-dining (Panthbhojanam) in Kerala during the 19th century even before Mahatma Gandhi thought of it.
- He argued that any Yogi could install idols in temples, that inspired Sree Narayana Guru to install idols of Siva.
- “Oru jathi, oru matham, oru Daivam” (“Intha ulagathile orae oru jathi than, Orae oru matham than, orae oru kadavul than” ) is the Malayalam translation of Ayyaswamy’s teaching . Sri Narayan Guru popularized the slogan.
- In 1984 Thycaud Ayya Mission was formed at Trivandrum.
- Swamikal with the help of Manonmaneeyam Sundaram Pillai, the first MA holder of Travancore, founded the famous “Saiva Prakasha Sabha” at Chalai, Thiruvananthapuram.
- Thycaud Ayya passed away in 1909.
Chattampi Swamikal (1853-1924)
- Sree Vidyadhiraja Parama Bhattaraka Chattampi Swamikal was a Hindu sage and social reformer.
- Chattampi Swamikal was born on 25 August 1853 at Kollur, a suburban village of Thiruvananthapuram in Southern Travancore.
- His childhood name was Ayyappan. But he was called by his pet name Kunjan by all and so was later known as Kunjan Pillai.
- While learning at the ‘Patasala’ of Pettayil Raman Pillai Asan, he was deputed as the ‘Chattampi’ (monitor) of the class. So later he came to be known as ‘Chattambi Swamikal’.
- At Aniyoor Temple near Vamanapuram Chattampi Swami met another young man Nanu Asan who was in search of spiritual guidance.
- He attained Mahasamadhi on 5th August 1924 at Panmana in Kollam district.
- Mortal remains of Chattampi Swamikal were enshrined at his Samadhistanam at Panmana. This site is today called Panmana Ashramam (Kollam district).
- Vedadhikara Niroopanam, Prachina Malayalam, Adwaitha Chintha Paddhathi, Moksha Pradeepa Khandanam, etc. are famous works of Chattambi Swamikal.
Sree Narayana Guru (1856–1928) – Founder of SNDP
- Sree Narayana Guru was born at Chempazhanthy in Thiruvananthapuram district on 20th August 1856 (Chathayam in the month of Chingam).
- His father was Madan Asan and his mother was Kutty Amma. He was named Narayanan and was dotingly called Nanu.
- After his studies, he also began teaching in a nearby school. From that time the people respectfully called him “Nanu Asan”.
- His friendship with Chattambi Swamikal started in 1884. Chattambi Swamikal introduced him to Thycaud Ayyaswami, a distinguished yoga guru of Trivandrum.
- Later he went to Maruthwamala in search of ultimate truth and spent 8 years of solitary life. Here, Narayana guru is believed to have attained a state of Enlightenment.
- In 1888, he installed an idol of Shiva at Aruvippuram on the banks of the Neyyar river.
- Sree Narayana Guru was appointed as the first president of SNDP Yogam founded in 1903 with the initiative of Dr.Palpu.
- He is regarded as the father of the renaissance of Kerala.
- He belonged to the Ezhava community and it was an era in which Ezhavas were facing many social injustices in the caste-ridden society of Kerala.
- He was the first Keralite to be appeared on an Indian stamp and also the first Keralite to be inscribed on a coin of RBI.
- He is the only Keralite whose birthday and death anniversary are declared a holiday by the Government of Kerala.
- The slogan popularized by Sree Narayana Guru-“One caste, one religion and one God for mankind”.
- He also exhorted “Liquor is poison, make it not, sell it not, drink it not”.
Dr. Ayyathan Gopalan (1861–1948) “Darsarji“, Rao Sahib (Title honor given by British)
- Gopalan was born in Thalassery.
- He is the founder of the Suguna Vardhini movement and a leader and propagandist of Brahmo Samaj in Kerala.
- He started the Kozhikode branch of Brahmosamaj in 1898.
- He also founded Chandavarkar Elementary School in Kozhikode to encourage education among Dalits.
- In the year 1900, Dr. Gopalan ignited reform activities by initiating Suguna Vardhini movement in order to foster human values in children and to protect the rights of women, children, and the downtrodden sections such as the Harijan communities of the society and educate them.
- He left for his heavenly abode on 2 May 1948, at the age of 87.
Agamananda Swami (1896–1961)
- He was born on 27 August 1896 in Chavara, Kollam.
- His real name was Krishnan Nambyathiri.
- Established Sanatana Dharma Vidyarthi Sangam and Brahmanandodayam.
- The magazines started by him – Amruthavani and Prabuddha Keralam
- Works – Vivekananda Sandesham, Sree Sankara Bhagavat Gita Vyakhyanam, Vishnu Puranam
- He established the first ashrama in Thrissur in 1935 and another one in the bank of river Periyar in 1936.
- Established Ramakrishna Ashram in Kaladi in 1936.
Ananda Theerthan (1905–1987)
- His real name was Ananda Shenoy.
- He was close to Sree Narayana Guru and worked against casteism.
- He assumed his new name at Sarada temple at Sivagiri in 1928.
- He established Sree Narayana School in Payyannur in 1931.
- He promoted inter caste-marriage through the Jathinashini Sabha, founded in 1933
- Direct Disciple of Sree Narayana Guru.
- Founder of Jathi Nashini Sabha.
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. Ayyathan Gopalan titled Karat Govinda Menon as Brahmananda Sivayogi for the untiring services done through Brahmo samaj. Sivayogi was one of the favorite disciples of Dr.Gopalan.
- Founded ‘Siddha rasam’ at Alathur in 1893.
- “Stree vidya poshini” book for spreading awareness of woman education.
- Formed Ananda Maha Sabha in 1918.
- Famous disciple – Vagbhatananda
Vagbhatananda / V.K. Gurukkal(1885–1939)
(Also known as 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 “KausallyaGopalan” as a tribute to Kausallyammal wife of Dr.Gopalan, who was the backbone behind every reform activities of his guru Dr. Ayyathan Gopalan.
- Found Athma vidya Sangam at Vatakara, slogan > “unaruvin, aghileshane smarippin, kshanamezunnelpin, aneethiyod ethirpin”
- In the 1900s he became the disciple of Sree Narayana Guru
- Founder of ULCCS (Uraalunkal Labour Contract Cooperative Society) currently the Largest Labour contract in India.
- Major works works include Abhinava keralam, adyathma yudham, atma vidya kahalam, Prarthananjali, kotiyoor ulsava paatu, shivayogi vilasam.
Dr. Palpu (1863–1950)
- Padmanabhan, ‘Political father of Ezhava community’
- Dr. Palpu (Padmanabhan Palpu)was born on 2nd November 1863 at Pettah in Thiruvananthapuram.
- Dr. Palpu was a relentless fighter for the cause of the Ezhavas in Kerala.
- Sarojini Naidu praised him as one of the greatest revolutionaries in India.
- He was the founder of ‘Travancore Ezhava Sabha’.
- Dr. Palpu took initiative to establish Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam in 1903.
- Dr.Palpu spent the major share of his income on the activities of SNDP Yogam.
- He called Kumaranasan as ‘Chinna Swami’.(‘Periya Swami’ was Narayana Guru)
- He passed away on 25th January 1950.
- N. Kumaran Ashan was born on 12 April 1873 in a merchant family belonging to the Ezhava Communist in Thiruvananthapuram district of Kerala.
- He is also known as Mahakavi Kumaran Ashan, the prefix Mahakavi, awarded by Madras University in 1922, which means “great poet” and the suffix Ashan means “scholar” or “teacher”.
- He was also a philosopher, a social reformer and a disciple of Sree Narayana Guru
- He got a job as a primary school teacher and an accountant to a wholesaler at the age of 14, he quit the job two years later to pursue higher studies in Sanskrit.
- He undertook a studentship in poetry under Manamboor Govindan Asan.
- He wished to learn Yoga and Tantra and worked as an apprentice in a Muruga temple at Vakkom.
- He died aged 51 as a result of a boat accident in January 1924 while traveling to Kollam from a function in Alappuzha.
Sahodaran Ayyappan / K. Ayyappan (1889–1968)
- Born in Cherai, vypin, Ernakulam.
- Found Sahodara Sangam in 1917.
- He became the disciple of Sree Narayana Guru
- Founder of Vidya poshini sabha
- Established Socialist party in 1938.
- Weeklies include : velakkaran, yukthivaadi, sahodaran
- His works are : Kaasi mahatmyam, Sahodari kurathi.
- ” No cast, No religion, No god for man.”
- Also known as Shankaran, Sahithya Kudeeram, Lincoln of Kerala,
- Kerala Varma called him ‘Vidwan’, the Maharaja of cochin called him ‘Kavi Thilakam’.
- Born in cheranalloor, ernakulam
- In 1904 he wrote “Jathikkummi” first book in Kerala to criticize the caste system.
- Found Araya samajam in 1907
- In 1925 he was Nominated as a member of the cochin legislative council.
T.K. Madhavan (1885–1930) -“Megha Jyothis”
- Social reformer, journalist and active member of Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP)
- He met Gandhi at Tirunelveli and persuaded him to support Vaikkom satyagraha.
- A monument was raised in his honor at Chettikulangara.
- The founder of Temple entry movement
- In 1915 Started Deshabhimani News Paper From Kollam
- Only Malayali to attend the INC session at Kakkinada, Presented a resolution on Eradication of untouchability.
- The main leader of Vaikkom Satyagraha(1924)
Vakkom Abdul Khadar Moulavi (1873–1932)
- The father of Muslim renaissance in Kerala
- Moulavi was born on 28 December 1873 in Vakkom, Chirayinkil Taluk, Thiruvananthapuram in Travancore to parents Aash Beevi (Mother) and Muhammad Kunju (Father)
- He was the founder and publisher of the newspaper Swadeshabhimani on 19 January 1905, which was banned and confiscated by the Government of Travancore in 1910 due to its criticisms against the government and the Diwan of Travancore.
- He founded the Travancore Muslim Mahajana Sabha in Thiruvananthapuram.
- He died on 23 August 1932 aged 59.
Swadeshabhimani Ramakrishna Pillai (1878–1916)- Keralan (pen name)
- Became the first editor of Magazine Malayali
- Became editor of Swadeshabhimani Newspaper in 1906
- He was elected to Sree Moolam Praja sabha from Neyyattinkara
- In 1910 he was deported to Thirunalveli on Sep 26 by Diwan – P Rajagopalachari for criticizing News against him and also for writing against govt. at the time of Moolam Thirunnal. Newspaper was banned
- His works include the biography of Karl Marx & Gandhiji first time in Malayalam, auto Biography Ente Naadukadathal, Vrithantha Pathra Pravarthanam (considered as the Bible of Kerala Journalism)
- K Kelappan is Popularly known as Kerala Gandhi
- He was the first President of the Nair Service Society.
- He was considered as the first Satyagrahi from Kerala to participate in the individual Satyagraha movement launched by Gandhiji.
- K Kelappan gave the leadership to the Payyannur and Calicut salt Satyagraha.
- He played a dominant role in the famous Vaikom Satyagraha and was the leader of the Guruvayur Satyagraha.
- K Kelappan was the secretary of the Guruvayur Satyagraha Committee.
- It was at Gandhiji’s request that he ended his fast at Guruvayur.
- He was the chairman of the committee which was formed to fight against untouchability in Kerala during Vaikom Satyagraha.
- Kelappan helped in starting ‘Mathrubhumi’ and was its editor for a number of years.
- He also led a peaceful Satyagraha in Thali Temple Angadipuram near Perinthalmanna.
- The publication ‘Gramadeepam’ was started by K Kelappan.
A K Gopalan (1904-1977)
- Ayillyath Kuttiari Gopalan (AKG) was a popular Indian Communist leader.
- He was born in 1904 at Peralasseri in Kannur.
- In 1927 he joined Indian National Congress and actively participated in the Khadi Movement.
- He was arrested for participation in Salt Satyagraha in 1930.
- In 1931 he became the Volunteer Caption of Guruvayoor Sathyagraha which was held in order to open Guryvayoor Temple to all Hindus.
- In 1939 AKG joined the Communist Party of Kerala.
- AKG played an important role in the formation of the Indian Coffee House.
- The First Indian Coffee House in Kerala was started at Thrissur on 8th March 1958.
- AKG was the first leader of Opposition in Loksabha.
- AKG died on 22 March 1977.
- His tomb is situated at Payyambalam Beach in Kannur.
- The National Headquarters of CPI(M) in Kerala is also called as AKG Center.
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