Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

100 Years of Vaikom Satyagraha


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Vaikom Satyagraha and the people associated

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

This year April 1st marks 100 years of the Vaikom Satyagraha, in Kottayam, Kerala.

About Vaikom Satyagraha

  • Vaikom was the epicentre of the Vaikom Satyagraha, which began in 1924.
  • This movement aimed to challenge the ban imposed on marginalized communities from entering the vicinity of the Vaikom Mahadevar Temple in the princely state of Travancore.
  • It sparked similar temple entry movements across India, advocating for the rights of untouchables and backward castes.
  • It introduced nonviolent public protest as a method of resistance in Kerala.

A Precursor to the Vaikom Satyagraha

  1. Social and Political Developments
  • Backdrop of Social Injustice: Travancore, characterized by feudal and caste-based governance, imposed stringent restrictions on lower castes, denying them entry to temples and public spaces.
  • Emergence of Social Consciousness: By the late 19th century, progressive reforms and missionary activities led to increased awareness and education among lower castes, particularly the Ezhavas.
  • Rise of Educated Elite: Educated individuals from diverse backgrounds, including lower castes, began to challenge social norms and demand equality in opportunities and rights.
  1. Beginning of Agitation
  • Advocacy for Change: Ezhava leader T K Madhavan spearheaded efforts to challenge temple entry restrictions, advocating for direct action to confront discriminatory practices.
  • Influence of Gandhi’s Ideals: Inspired by Gandhi’s principles of non-cooperation, Madhavan sought support from the Indian National Congress (INC) to mobilize a mass movement against untouchability.

Actual Course of Events

  1. Agitation
  • Leaders such as T.K. Madhavan, K.P. Kesava Menon, and George Joseph spearheaded the agitation.
  • Despite facing resistance and arrests by the police, the Satyagrahis persisted in their protest for over a year, resulting in numerous arrests and jails.
  • Notable figures like Mahatma Gandhi, Chattampi Swamikal, and Sree Narayana Guru extended their support to the movement, which gained nationwide recognition.
  • The involvement of women and support from various regions, including Punjab, highlighted the widespread impact of the Satyagraha.
  1. Suspension:
  • Initially suspended in April 1924 at Gandhi’s suggestion, the movement resumed when attempts to resolve the issue with caste Hindu leaders failed.
  • The absence of leaders like T.K. Madhavan and K.P. Kesava Menon, who were arrested, posed challenges to the movement.
  • V. Ramaswamy Naicker (Periyar) lent support from Tamil Nadu before also being arrested.
  • The resolution for the right to temple entry faced resistance in the Assembly, thwarted by traditionalist support and government pressure.
  1. Aftermath
  • On October 1, 1924, a procession of Savarnas (forward castes) submitted a petition to the Regent Maharani Sethu Lakshmi Bai of Travancore, signed by around 25,000 individuals, urging for the temple’s open entry.
  • Gandhi’s meeting with the Regent Maharani and the procession led by Mannath Padmanabhan Nair underscored the growing support for the cause.
  • Eventually, on November 23, 1925, all temple gates were opened to Hindus except the eastern gate, marking a significant victory.
  • The Vaikom Satyagraha laid the groundwork for the temple entry proclamation of Kerala in 1936 and inspired similar movements’ nationwide, promoting social justice and equality.


Satya Shodhak Samaj organized (2016):

(a) a movement for upliftment of tribals in Bihar’

(b) a temple-entry movement in Gujarat

(c) an anti-caste movement in Maharashtra

(d) a peasant movement in Punjab


Practice MCQ:

The Vaikom Satyagraha of 1924 was essentially a:

(a) Temple Entry Movement

(b) Peasants’ Uprising

(c) Salt Satyagraha

(d) Swadeshi Movement

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