Friday, 15 April 2016

Leaders of Renaissance in Kerala - Pandit Karuppan (1885-1938) (Chapter-1)

Leaders of Renaissance in Kerala
Pandit Karuppan (1885-1938)
(Chapter-1)
1. Pandit Karuppan was called the ‘Lincoln of Kerala’.

2. He was born on 24th  May, 1885, at Cheranelloor, near Ernakulam in the erstwhile princely state of Cochin.

3. Karuppan’s father was Paappu (locally known as Atho Poojari); his mother was Kochu Pennu.


4. Atho Poojari had inherited skills in Ayurveda and knowledge in Sanskrit; and engaged himself in priestly practice of poojas and rituals.

5. Karuppan’s formal education began at the age of five under Azheekkal Velu Vaidyan, a relative. Subsequently, Vadakke Valath Appu Asan, a local Guru, taught him Amarakosham, Sidhdharoopam, and Sreeramodantham, the basics of Sanskrit. A prolific reader, the boy read books including Ithihasas and Puranas.

6. His first poem was ‘Sthothramandaaram’. The prodigy took his Gurus by surprise when he wrote Lankamardanam, at the age of 12, with slokas styled in Shardoolavikreeditham.


7. Karuppan studied Sanskrit Kavyas under Mangalappillil Krishnan Asan of Cherai and returned to Cheranelloor to study with Annamanada Rama Pothuval.

8. There, as was the prevailing custom, uppercaste Hindu students did not allow him to sit along with them and hence he sat isolated in a corner.

9. He studied the Kavyas Makham and Nyshadham and Bhoja Chambu from Rama Pothuval.

10. The most significant period of his education was at Kodungalloor. The Kodungallur Kovilakam was a place of learning, due to the resident luminaries.

11. system, was written during the period of his study at Kodungallur Kovilakam, and it became popular among the poor communities.


12. Karuppan’s talents in Sanskrit came to the notice of Rajarshi Ramavarma Raja, the Maharaja of Cochin, who visited Kodungalloor to worship at the famous Thiruvanchikkulam Siva Temple. Kunhikkuttan Thampuran introduced Karuppan to the King.

13. The Maharaja was impressed and invited Karuppan to his Palace in Tripunithura. The meeting was a turning point for Karuppan, the Maharaja arranged advanced study of Sanskrit for him under ‘Sahridayathilkan’ Rama Pisharody, the principal Guru of the Royal family. Karuppan studied ‘Sidhantha Koumudi’, ‘Manorama’ and ‘Sahithee Darpanam’ from Rama Pisharody.

14. Soon Karuppan was appointed Sanskrit Teacher at St. Theresa’s Convent Girls’ High School in Ernakulam.

15. When Pandit Karuppan was appointed Sanskrit Teacher in the Caste Girls’ High School at Ernakulam in 1912-a special institution exclusively for upper caste girlsthere was vehement protest from upper caste Hindus against his posting, and they were reluctant to send their girls to study under a low caste man.

16. But the Maharaja of Cochin overruled against the objections, and threatened that girls unwilling to study under Karuppan would be sent out from the school. The protests ended there.

17. After leaving the staff of Caste Girls’ High School, he joined the Victoria Girls’ High School, Thrissur, as a teacher in 1918.

18. Subsequently, he was posted at Teacher Training School there. In 1921, he was again appointed at Girls’ High School, Ernakulam, which had by then removed “Caste” from its name.

19. During his second tenure at Girls’ High School, in August 1925, he was nominated as a member of the Cochin Legislative Council to represent the hitherto disenfranchised classes, in recognition of his tireless crusade for their emancipation through writings and campaigns.

20. As MLC, Karuppan presented their problems and grievances before the authorities and emphasized that the Government must redress their wrongs by providing education, health services and better living conditions for the people who lacked them.
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