My Father

Although my father was the first educated person at that time in Udayamperoor he never was proud of his education. He became a teacher in the Puthiyakavu School. It was the time that in Kerala every church had a school attached to it. And I remember that it was Father Chavara Kuriakose Eliyas who started the movement and it is because of this the name “Pallikkoodam”, the church crowd, came into being. Chavara Kuriakose Eliyas started the CMI monastic order. He learnt Sanskrit and started teaching Pulaya students. In those days this was a law-breaking event. Sanskrit at that time was considered the language of the Gods and only the Brahmins were allowed to learn it. This was also law-breaking in the sense that he demolished untouchability.

Saint Thomas came to Kerala in 52 AD. Hence the Christianity in Kerala is one of the most ancient Christian churches in the world as ancient as in Rome or Jerusalem. Kerala was a great tolerant country and the Greeks and the Arabs had contact with Kerala from ancient times. But Kerala was a mad house of untouchability and caste distinction before Father Chavara Kuriakose and even long afterwards.

Vivekananda who visited Kerala in 1898 had called Kerala a lunatic asylum because of caste and untouchability distinction, still practiced. There was a distance to be kept by the under-castes from the Brahmin and the Kshathriyas when they met any of them, for example: if a Brahmin was coming through the road, the Pulaya has to get away almost 65 feet although in doing this he had to be in knee-deep or more water in the fields. If he did not do this the upper-caste traveler can take him to be a criminal and kill him by any means. Many Christians believed that they were upper-castes because Saint Thomas seemed to have converted only Brahmins and Kshathriyas who were supposed to be literate at that time.

Only when the Western Missionaries came that this untouchability being practiced by Christians were truly demolished.

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