Sahodaran and the Futures of Kerala
// April 29th, 2012 // Cultural Politics
He was condemned as “Pulayan Ayyappan” by the elites and the orthodox who upheld the values of caste and Brahmanism. He considered it an honorary title that marked his radical cultural activism that aligned him with the excluded. He is the chief architect of Kerala modernity and democracy in various fields including social reform, human rights, civil rights, rationalism, journalism, poetry, prose, public cultural activism, representative democracy and policy planning. He was affectionately addressed as brother or Sahodaran by the people that formed the title of his journal and later daily. K Ayyappan B. A. or Sahodaran Ayyappan of Cherai is one of the key organic intellectuals who shaped the literary culture of Kerala and imagined its secular and democratic public sphere. He is one of the pioneers of counter hegemonic and democratic cultural politics in Kerala that revolutionized the state at the wake of the 20th century.
As the leading intellectual-disciple of Narayana Guru the philosopher of Kerala renaissance and modernity, Sahodaran reformed language, culture and social reality in Kerala through his radical democratic political interventions and rationalist practices. He is the founder of the rationalist movement in Kerala. He is the founder of public journalism and media cultures in Kerala. He has also contributed to the development of trade unionism and literacy movement among the basic working classes and communities in Kerala. His 1917 inter-dining campaign at Cherai and 1945 Human Rights Declaration at Kochi are historic landmarks that changed society and polity in Kerala towards a better future.
His strategic early interventions in the launching of civil rights movement, Neo Buddhist movement, universal adult franchise movement, rational and scientific movement, affirmative action and social inclusion movements etc. form the bedrock of Kerala democracy and social progress. As a life long warrior against caste and related social inequality his critique of cultural elitism and religious dogmas are scathing and lasting. His original thinking and imagination in the field of futuristic development and decenter ed progress of the state is yet to be studied in epistemological terms and applied in political practices.
Sahodaran Ayyappan: Towards a Democratic Future is an attempt to critically contextualize and reread the life and legacies of this pivotal thinker and social practitioner. It includes a critical biography of Sahodaran and English translations of his select works. The foreword by Gail Omvedt and reflections by J Reghu are incorporated in the volume. The book was launched on 13th of April 2012 by the veteran journalist and human rights activist B R P Bhaskar and the leading Malayalam writer Zakariah at Trivandrum Press Club. It is published by Other Books, Calicut who specializes in bringing out books of socio-cultural significance in Kerala in English language for a global audience. The book is available in their showroom in Calicut which is situated in the Railway Link Road and also in leading bookshops all over Kerala on demand. Online purchasing through sites like Flipkart.com is also ensured by the publishers.