The Shree Narayan Guru Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) Movement was an example of a regional movement that arose from the conflict between the lower and upper castes. Sree Narayana Guru Swamy (1856– 1928) founded it among the Ezhavas of Kerala, a backward caste of toddy-tappers who were considered untouchables and were denied education and entry into temples.

During the pre-independence period, a number of backward class movements arose. The backward classes banded together against the Brahmanas in particular, believing that they monopolized much of the socio-economic benefits, leaving the agricultural intermediate castes and communities in the lurch.

Aravipuram Movement: Evolution of SNDP Movement

  • The Ezhavas were Kerala’s most populous caste, accounting for 26% of the total population.
  • On Sivaratri in 1888, Narayana Guru, himself of the Ezhava caste, took a stone from the Neyyar river and installed it as a Sivalinga at Aruvippuram.
  • It was meant to demonstrate that the consecration of an idol was not limited to the upper castes.
  • With this, he launched a revolution that resulted in the abolition of many discriminations in Kerala’s society.
  • As a disciple of Narayana Guru, the movement (Aruvippuram Movement) drew the famous poet Kumaran Asan.
  • The Aruvippuram Kshetra Yogam was founded in 1889, with the intention of growing into a large organisation to assist the Ezhavas in their material and spiritual advancement.
  • The Aruvippuram Sree Narayana Guru Dharma Paripalana Yogam was established in 1903 under the Indian Companies Act, with Narayana Guru serving as its permanent chairman and Kumaran Asan serving as its general secretary.
  • Dr. Palpu’s efforts in the formation of the SNDP must be recognized.
  • He had begun the fight for social justice through movements such as the Ezhava Memorial and the Malayali Memorial, among others.

Shree Narayan Guru Swami

  • He was born in Chempazhanthy on August 22, 1856, to Madan Asan and Kuttiyamma (a village near Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala).
  • He was a member of the Ezhavas Community and was known as ‘Avarna.’
  • Since he was a child, he has cherished solitude and spent a lot of time in deep meditation. He went to local temples to worship and wrote devotional songs and hymns.
  • Narayan Guru himself created a Shivalinga at Aruvippuram atop Siviratri in 1888, using a stone from the Neyyar river.
  • He triggered a revolution in Kerala that resulted in the removal of many sorts of bigotry as a result of this.
  • “One Caste, One Religion, One God for All,” he coined the now-famous slogan. “Oru Jathi, Oru Matham, Oru Daivan, Manushyanu”
  • He preached equality, but he did not feel that inequities should be used to carry out conversions and thereby produce social upheaval.
  • Animal sacrifices of any kind were abhorrent to him.
  • Under the Indian Companies Act, the Shree Guru Narayan Dharma Paripalana Yogam was established in 1903. He was appointed as the chairman.
  • The Ezhavas’ right to attend public schools, access to government services, temple admission, road access, and political representation were all addressed by the SNDP.

Objectives of SNDP Movement

  • To oppose the predominance of Brahmanas and other upper castes in general
  • To enhance the position of the backward castes in the caste hierarchy by copying upper-caste lifestyles, such as higher education and distinguished occupations.
  • ‘Ethnic’ awareness and politicization were generally established as a result of these activities among diverse caste groupings.

Reforms under SNDP Movement

Educational Reforms

  • The first task is to help the Ezhava Community, a depressed Kerala community.
  • Narayana Guru (Asan) established a number of schools and institutions around Kerala in order to provide widespread education to society.

Religious Reforms

  • Sri Narayana Guru constructed a number of temples and streamlined the worship, marriage, and death ceremonies.
  • He wished to assist his neighbors in both secular and spiritual things.
  • He traveled around Kerala for 15 years, assisting community members in developing self-confidence, social awareness, and a clean environment.

Sri Narayana Guru instituted three religious reforms:

  • To begin, he consecrated higher Gods in place of inferior Gods and appointed priests from his own group of devout sanyasis.
  • Second, he advised his disciples to construct additional temples in a simple and cost-effective manner.
  • Third, he made a significant modification in his mission of establishing new temples. He never forced his followers to worship idols.
    • For example, instead of an idol, he consecrated “Sivalikha,” a massive brass oil lamp (Kammukha Kshetham in Thrissur in 1920) with the phrase “Let there be light.”
    • He consecrated a plain stone with the inscription “Truth, Charity, Love, and Mercy” in another shrine at Murukkunpuzha.

Establishment of 3 types of the temple:

  • There are temples where poojas, or regular worship, are performed, as well as festivals.
  • There are temples with idols, but no poojas or festivals are held.
  • There are temples that are devoid of idols and images. It is self-evident that he consecrated many types of temples to meet the people’s various emotional and spiritual requirements.

Social Reforms of SNDP Yogam

  • Emphasis on Education and Sanskritization – Using two methods, contemporary education and Sanskritization, in about 30 years, Sri Narayana Guru was able to change the Ezhavas from an untouchable population in Kerala to a background caste community.
  • In collaboration with the Nair Service Society (NSS), he began temple admission programs.
  • He urged his community members to abandon costly practices such as “mock marriage” (Thalikattu Sampradhayam), puberty celebration for girls (Thirukkuli), and Puaikuli, a festival commemorating pregnancy after marriage.
  • He was against the consumption of alcoholic beverages.
  • Jati Mimasa is the essence of his art (A critique of caste).
  • Admission to public schools.
  • Recruitment to government services.
  • Road access and temple entry.
  • Political representation.


Within the Hindu religion, the Shri Narayana Movement arose as a reforming and reaffirming movement. He was in charge of a whole lifestyle change that included new religious beliefs, rituals, and perspectives. He offered an ideology of seclusion and self-organization that improved people’s self-esteem, honor, and worth. It was a protest ideology against the hierarchical and polluting Brahminical value system. The movement as a whole resulted in structural changes such as increased social mobility, a shift in conventional power distribution, and the consolidation of ‘backward castes’ into a vast aggregation.

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