Sunday, May 31, 2009
Sree Narayana Gurudevan and Sahodaran Ayyappan
Ayyappan was the founder of the Sahodhara Sangham (Association of Brotherhood). He carried out an immortal role for himself in the history of Kerala by the revolutionary changes he effected and the sufferings he underwent for the uplift of every man, woman and child, paying special attention to the lowly section of society. The more orthodox among the Ezhavas were averse to granting to castes to lower than themselves the rights and privileges that they were gaining one after other from the higher castes. That was by no means Sree Narayana Guru’s idea of reform. It has to be applied in every case consistently.
Ayyappan was born on August 21, 1889. After finishing high school, with Sree Narayana Guru’s advice and help he joined Trivandrum Maharajas College for higher education.
He was the first Ezhava to become a graduate in Cochin State. All the lower castes were so proud of him that they called him Ayyappan B.A. as if the degree was part of his name. He was honored like a price. And people simply hung on his lips. They had great hopes of him becoming a great man. Sure enough, he did become one, but not in the way they wanted him to be.
Ayyappan wanted all the untouchables to mix together, interdine and even intermarry. Once again a leader had arisen who appeared to be far ahead of his times. The people who had rejoiced in having got a treasure found that they had caught a tartar.
He preached equality among all castes. Preaching was easy. But here he was actually giving shape to a Sahodhara Sangham and going about practicing what he was preaching. That was too much for many people to swallow. They advised him, criticized him, laughed at him, abused him, beat him up, at last they crowned him with a huge crown of stinging ants! He started a magazine named “Sahodharan”; people started to call him Sahodharan Ayyappan.
Sahodharan Ayyappan suffered all this with endless patience. But, when people started to say that he was going against Sree Narayana Guru, Ayyappan went straight to Guru and sought advice. Guru gave him his support in writing the following message:
“Whatever be the dress, customs, caste or religion of individuals, since they are all human beings, there can be no objection to their interdining or intermarrying.” This also has become a famous message, one of the universal statements of Sree Narayana Guru.
Such epigrammatic saying contained the principles on which people were to rely in their day-to-day lives. They helped them to appreciate the fundamental philosophy of oneness underlying the entire universe. They knew that such a basis did exist and that was enough for them.
Sree Narayana Guru blessed his great disciple Ayyappan with these inspiring words: “You must have the patience of Jesus Christ.” This supreme compliment paid by the Guru in the form of advice was richly deserved.
Ayyappan traveled throughout Kerala preaching Sree Narayana Guru’s message like a typhoon, winning all the way. The people of Kerala never returned to their orthodoxy after that.
Sahodharan Ayyappan died on March 6, 1968.
Posted by "Gurucharanam Sharanam" at 1:23 AM