Aravipuram Movement

Aravipuram Movement was launched by Sri Narayana Guru on Shivaratri day of 1888. On that day, Sri Narayana Guru defied the religious restrictions traditionally placed on the Ezhava community, and consecrated an idol of Shiva at Aravipuram. Sri Narayana Guru, born in a low-caste Ezhava family, had studied Sanskrit, Malayalam, Tamil and astrology. The Aravipuram Pratistha was a historic event, because a member of a lower caste, forbidden from entering the temple, had himself consecrated the Shiva image in a temple. On the wall of the temple Sri Narayana Guru inscribed the words: “Devoid of the dividing walls of caste or race, or hatred of rival faith, we all live here in brotherhood.” Millions saw Sri Narayana Guru as a saint, seer, philosopher, poet and social reformer. Education and organisation were amongst his many slogans for freedom and strength. He held that the essehce of all religions is one and the same, and advocated the comparative study of all faiths. Sri Narayana Guru articulated a doctrine aimed at improving the Ezhavas’ social position. He urged them to abandon the occupation of toddy-tapping and to abstain from liquor. He summed up his message in a slogan: “Drink not, serve not, brew not.” He condemned all forms of animal sacrifice, the singing of obscene songs etc. The organisation which he set up to maintain and manage the institutions he had founded later became known as Sri Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (Society for the Propagation of Sri Narayana Guru’s Tenets). In the early vears of the 20th century, the Aravipuram movenent was given new vigour when two new leaders, Dr Palpu and Kumaran Asan, joined Sri Narayana Guru, Dr Palpu was the first Ezhva to receive education in Western medicine. Kumaran Asan was a well-known writer and poet Thus invigorated, the movement began to condemn the caste system as the basis of Hindu social structure.