Friday, August 30, 2013

Swami Anandatheertha-the first crusader against casteism in Payyanur


             One of the first crusaders against casteism in Payyanur was Swami Anantha Theertha. A second rank Honors in Physics from Madras University, Anantha Shenoy (born on 2nd January 1905 in Thalassery in a konkani family to Ramachandra rao and Devubhai) should have got a respectable job under the British. But he chose a different and more adventures path. He jumped into the freedom struggle movement. He joined Sabari Ashram in 1926. Gandhiji advised him to take up the task of upliftment of the downtrodden classes. He went to Sivagiri in 1928. Sreenarayana Gure consecrated him as Swami Anathatheertha and he became the defender of the rights of the down trodden. He raised the banner of revolt against casteism in Malabar. He selected Payyanur as his battleground following an incident at kandoth, Payyanur which shocked everyone.

       A possession consisting of 64 patriots led by T. S. Thirumump, AKG , P. Krishna Pillai and Keraleeyan  to spread the message of Guruvayoor satyagraha was attacked brutally at kandoth by a large mob with arms. AKG and Kerleeyan were thought to be dead in the attack which was sponsored by the landlord. There was a path forbidden to harijans passing near kandoth temple (ara). The landlord tried to invoke communal friction between the ezhavas who run the temple and the harijans convincing them that the struggle was for the right of the harijans to use the pathway.

      Hearing about the brutal attack Anantha Theertha reached Payyanur which was at the time a capital of casteism. At that time members belonging to lower castes were not allowed to pass through main pathways, and they were deprived admission to temples and other public places. They were not allowed to wear dress above waist, wear chappals, or caps. They were the main work force. But they were treated as animals. Even their presence within a distance of 64 feet from caste Hindus invited grave punishment. Swamiji understood that the rights of the oppressed cannot be gained with out imparting proper education to them. All schools closed their doors to harijan students. So in 1931 he started an School for the oppressed in Payyanur near Payyanur temple . Caste Hindus raised many objections and hence he had to shift the school and hostel thrice. Swami intended to house the School in a permanent site by purchasing some land. Finally he tried to purchase some land in  moorikkovval from the money he got after selling his ancestral house in Thalassery. But the land owner was alarmed at the idea of using his land for such a 'sacrilegious ' purpose. So he changed his mind. Finally Swami prompted a patriotic muslim to purchase the land for him. Here he started the School which has been a boon to many students who could have other wise withered away by doing menial jobs for caste Hindus.  
      He led many possessions with harijans to temples for entry. He marched through all forbidden roads. He was brutally attacked by caste hindus. He was a revolutionary saint. He questioned the discrimination meted out by harijans in Hotels by giving tea in cocunut shells. He staged many dharnas before barber shops were harijans were not admitted. He led a march to Guruvayur where free meals were given to Brahmins in the name of God when thousands were dying of hunger outside.
      He used to add tails to the names of the students as Sarma, Marar, Nambiar, Das etc to students to drive home the point that caste is a meaningless ordeal. Many revolutionaries of the times like Subrmanya shenoy, A K Kunhirama Poduval joined hands with Swami in this social movements, inviting the wrath of caste committees which expelled them form the caste.

Gandhiji visited the Ashram in 1934 and planted a mango tree there  It is still there in full bloom. 
      Swamiji wet to wynad and south kanara to fight the cause of dalits and adivasis. 
        He raised many students who could have wasted their life in their home village  at Sree Narayana Vidyalaya to get respectable Govt jobs .
In 1984 at Agalpady, Kasaragod a group of College students brutally attacked him, leaving him unconscious for taking a koraga to a temple. After the incident he was laid up ill . On November 21, 1987 morning he left us.

1 comment:

  1. This blog contains a vague information about Payyanur, a beautiful place located at a strategical area in Kerala State. Well done Ramanath Muraleedharan