Poyikayil Yohannan and his attempts in Organizing The Non Caste Christians of Kerala

  • Beeta John Research Scholar (University of Kerala) Department of History S. N. College, Chempazhanthy Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India
Keywords: Non caste Christians, Prathyaksha Raksha Daiva Sabha, identity, conversion, Syrian Christian, equality, Paraya.


Due to the existence of caste system the non caste people were marginalized in the society. The caste system is characterized by a hierarchical arrangement which implies that, there are some castes, which are considered superior to the others and enjoying privileges. With the advent of Christianity in Kerala, large number of non caste people embraced Christianity because it was a casteless religion. Non castes Christians are Scheduled Caste people converted to Christianity and are excluded from the Scheduled Caste list by the Presidential order of 1950. But conversion to Christianity does not change the caste identities of the non caste people. Separate churches were constructed for the non caste people because the Syrian Christians of Kerala considered them as untouchables. The non caste Christians are economically impoverished, socially out caste, politically powerless and educationally backward. Lack of integration between the Syrian Christians and the converted Christians are revealed both at the social as well as at the denominational levels. This discriminative attitude of upper caste Christians hurts the minds of the non caste Christians. Poyikayil Yohannan, a non caste Christian began to criticize the caste discrimination within the church. The movement started by Poyikayil Yohannan came to be known as Prathyaksha Raksha Daiva Sabha (PRDS). According to him Bible was meant only for the Jews and not for Harijans. He was also against the superiority of upper class in church and the introduction of separate churches for the depressed classes. His dynamic and magnetic personality, his deep and divine speech and his timely composed a song, his genuine and affectionate generosity etc., were the most important causes for the rapid spread of his faith and his teachings, throughout the length and breadth of Kerala. The spiritual and material dimensions of life of the non caste Christians was an important aspect in which PRDS gave more emphasize. 


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