A BRIEF HINT TO THE SOCIAL CONDITIONS OF Kerala is necessary to understand the family background of Sahodaran Ayyappan and his extraordinary personality.

Ayyappan was born in the EZHAVA Community, the intermediate caste in the Hindu religious hierarchy. There are strong historic indications of the Ezhavas having great affinity to the Budhist religion. That is a topic better left for deeper research by social historians.

Some imperial factors may, however, be indicated to show the connection between the members of the community and Budhist tradition of scholarship in Sanskrit language and Ayurveda (Indian Indigenous) system of medicine. There is no other community within the Hindu fold which which has greater number of Sanskrit scholars and Vaidyans. “Kerala Ayurveda Mandalam” is the best evidence of this intellectual link. Many such families witth deep connection with Indigenous system of medicine have, in later times, plunged into waters of trade and demonstrated their skills to swim along, and at times even swim against, the eddying waters of perennial waters. Some illustrative names are: C.R.Kesavan Vaidyar with an effective medicinal soap CHANDRIKA (now taken over by Hindustan Lever); MEDIMIX, the little soap cake (again medicinal) having its strong commercial base in Chennai, the S.D.Pharmacy with Alleppey as its base and a speciality of cosmetic dominance in the soap brands “MANJAL” and others. Kamilari, the effective treatment for jaundice, now with international reputation.

Velayudha Phaarmacy in Kochi, a favorite massage treatment centre and frequented by many Judges of the High Court, the KAPL with a combination of ancient Ayurveda and the techniques of modern medicine and pharmacology proclaiming its impressive presence at Athani, on the way to the International Air Port of Cochin. These are only illustrative and not exhaustive of the pervasive presence of the Ezhavas in the Ayurveda system. The saint-social reformer Sree Narayana Guru himself was a store house of medical knowledge and performed ‘miracles’ in curing many hundreds of devotees and dependants of what was felt to be incurable diseases. In a Sanskrit school organized by P.R.Sastri, another of Guru’s biography Community leaders, like A.K.G. used to stay while at Ashram.

Kumbalathu Parambil, in Cherai in the international map of tourism (with a lovely beach) is a reputed family of Ayurvedic physicians and Sanskrit scholars.

Achuthan Vaidyar had his intellectual powers reflected even in material forms. The house is situate on the banks of the Periyar river. Rare medicinal plants are still visible, the tireless efforts of this indigenous medical practitioners (again an essential attribute of Budhist culture in environmental protection).

Ayyappan was the younger brother of Achuthan Vaidyar.

The family house, happily for the enlightened people, has been preserved as a Trust and substantially assisted with Government grants. Some illustrations of ancient glory and current activities (with a Research Centre and massive library of publications of social historyand development) are preserved for posterity.

Narayana Guru had great admiration for the scholar Achuthan Vaidyar. During his travels to that rich region of coconut cultivation, Guru used to visit and some times stay in the house of Achuthan Vaidyar.

Vaidyar, motivated by his admiration for Guru built a separate guest house for Guru, for facilitating the meditational and other intellectual activities of Guru un-hindered by the domestic devotees or the crowds of worshippers who gathered around him wherever he goes.

The teaming for Sanskrit studies is a special and noticeable trait of Sahodaran. Even in the evening of his life, his enjoyment in the evenings was versions of Ramayana and Maha Bharatha along with another Sanskrit scholar P.Kesavan (a Chairman of the Public Service Commission), Heated controversies on interpretations of the ancient poem could be heard by every visitor even while seated in the portico, away from the special study where the reading was done.

Ayyappan had the gift of genetic link with intellectual bias.

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