Centenary celebration of Channar Lahala and Vaikom satyagraha
- March 12, 2023
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
Centenary celebration of Channar Lahala and Vaikom satyagraha
Section: Modern India
Context: The bicentenary celebration of one of the earliest recorded anti-caste assertions in Southern India was held on Monday, March 6, in Nagercoil with Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin
The Channar Lahala or Channar revolt
- The Channar Lahala or Channar revolt, also called Maru Marakkal Samaram, refers to the fight from 1813 to 1859 of Nadar climber women in Travancore kingdom of India for the right to wear upper-body clothes covering their breasts.
Personality and Place: Ayyankali in Travancore in Kerala, Vaikuntha swamy in Kanyakumari, Muthukutty swamy tirunelveli in Tamilnadu (known as tholseelai porattam in Tamil nadu)
- In 19th century Travancore, baring one’s chest to higher status people was considered a sign of respect by both males and females.
- Thus, those of the lower status castes, such as the Nadar climbers and Ezhavas, had to bare their chest in the presence of members of the higher-ranked Nair caste, who in turn had to do so in the presence of still higher ranked Nambudiri Brahmins.
- In 1813, Colonel John Munro, British dewan in the Travancore court, issued an order granting permission to women converted to Christianity to wear upper cloth.
- The order was withdrawn when pindakars, members of the Raja’s council,Nadar women were forbidden to wear the Nair sharf, and instead were allowed to wear the kuppayam, a type of jacket worn by Syrian Christians, Shonagas, and Mappilas
- The women were not satisfied, continuing to fight for the right to wear upper cloth. This led to increasing violence in the 1820s against Nadar women, and also the burning of schools and churches.
- In 1829, the Travancore queen issued yet another proclamation, which denied the right of Nadar women to wear upper cloths
- 1859 proclamation: On 26 July 1859, under pressure from Charles Trevelyan, the Madras Governor, the king of Travancore issued a proclamation proclaiming the right for all Nadar women to cover their breasts,
- Yet they were still not allowed to cover their breasts in the style of the higher-class Nair women. Nadar women continued to ignore the restrictions, developing an upper-wear style that resembled the style of the higher class Hindu women.
- The code was still discriminatory until 1915–1916, and the challenge was supported by Ayyankali
- The Vaikom Satyagraha was held from 30 March 1924 to 23 November 1925, was a nonviolent agitation for access to the prohibited public environs of the Vaikom Temple in the Kingdom of Travancore
- Unlike the Channar Revolt, the Vaikom Satyagrahasawtheparticipationof Hindu upper castes in large numbers.
Personalities: Congress leaders T. K. Madhavan, K. Kelappan and K. P. Kesava Menon.E. V. Ramasamy “Periyar”, also participated in the satyagraha and was imprisoned twice
Cause: Most of the great temples in the princely state of Travancore had for years forbidden lower castes (untouchables) not just from entering, but also from walking on the surrounding roads. It demanded the right of the Ezhavas and ‘untouchables’ to use roads around the Vaikom Temple.
- The agitation was conceived by the Ezhava Congress leader and a follower of Sri Narayana Guru, T. K. Madhavan.
- This procession of savarnas was led by Mannath Padmanabhan Nair
- A resolution to allow Ezhavas to use roads near the temple was defeated by one vote in the Travancore Legislative Council (opposed by all official members, introduced in October 1924
- Mahatma Gandhi himself visited Vaikom in March, 1925.
- The Vaikom Satyagraha settled with a compromise which allowed the entry of lower caste Hindus to (the newly constructed) roads on three sides of the Vaikom Temple. The other side and the temple remained closed to the lower castes (November, 1925). The new roads also kept the lower castes adequately away from the near environs of the Vaikom Temple.
Result: The Temple Entry Proclamation was issued by Maharaja Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma on November 12, 1936. The Proclamation abolished the ban on the so-called ‘low caste people’ or avarnas from entering Hindu temples in the Princely State of Travancore
Personalities of anti-caste assertions in Southern India
- Vaikunta Swami, born in a Nadar family in Shastamkoyil, kanyakumari Tamil nadu,, Started a radical spiritual movement that had equality in Datits core.
- Influenced by the Tamil Siddha tradition, Vaikunta Swami, challenged the custodians of caste and the religious sphere it maintained — he questioned all these acts of authority,old and new including the Brahmins,the king, and the Missionaries.
- He undertook Thol seelai porattam in the 1830s. Vaikunta Swamikal founded an organisation named Samatwa Samajam for carrying out social reforms
- His call for freedom encompassed all spheres of human activity
- also known as Siva Narayanar or Vaikunda Swami is the first and the foremost Purna avatar of Eka-Paran as per Ayyavazhi Mythology
- he laid foundations in various places for small shrine-like centres, called Nizhal Thangals
- Ayya Vaikundar inspired a group of his devotees to undertake a religious exercise called Thuvayal Thavasu
- Through one of his disciples, Hari Gopalan Citar, he wrote the holy book, called Akilam
- The spiritual energy he unleashed impacted the Hindu society in Travancore in many unseen ways.
Sree Narayana Guru (1854-1928),
- He was born in a family that belonged to the Ezhava caste at Chempazhanthy, a village near Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala and was considered ‘avarna’ according to the social mores of the time.
- He learned Vedas, Upanishads, literature, logical rhetoric of Sanskrit, He gave the famous slogan “One Caste, One Religion, One God for All” (Oru Jathi, Oru Matham, Oru Daivam, Manushyanu).
- In 1888, he built a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva at Aruvippuram which was against the caste-based restrictions of the time.Hatha Yoga and other philosophies.
- He organized an All-Region Conference in 1923 at Alwaye Advaita Ashram, which was reported to be the first such event in India.
- He became one of the greatest proponents and re-evaluators of Advaita Vedanta, the principle of non-duality put forward by Adi Shankara.
- He provided the impetus for Vaikom agitation
- He wrote various books in different languages. Few of them are: Advaitha Deepika, Asrama, Thevarappathinkangal, etc.
- His Adyaropa darsanam (Darsanamala) explains the creation of the universe.
- Guru also said: “What one does for one’s self-happiness/ must also secure the happiness of the other.
- In 1903, he established the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP), a charitable society as the founder and president.