1. Pandit Karuppan was called the ‘Lincoln of Kerala’.
2. He was born on 24th May 1885, at Cheranelloor, near Ernakulam in the erstwhile princely state of Cochin.
3. Karuppan’s father was Paappu (locally known as Atho Poojari); his mother was Kochu Pennu.
4. Atho Poojari had inherited skills in Ayurveda and knowledge in Sanskrit and engaged himself in the priestly practice of poojas and rituals.
5. Karuppan’s formal education began at the age of five under Azheekkal Velu Vaidyan, a relative. Subsequently, Vadakke Valath Appu Asan, a local Guru, taught him Amarakosham, Sidhdharoopam, and Sreeramodantham, the basics of Sanskrit. A prolific reader, the boy read books including Ithihasas and Puranas.
6. His first poem was ‘Sthothramandaaram’. The prodigy took his Gurus by surprise when he wrote Lankamardanam, at the age of 12, with slokas styled in Shardoolavikreeditham.
7. Karuppan studied Sanskrit Kavyas under Mangalappillil Krishnan Asan of Cherai and returned to Cheranelloor to study with Annamanada Rama Pothuval.
8. There, as was the prevailing custom, upper caste Hindu students did not allow him to sit along with them and hence he sat isolated in a corner.
9. He studied the Kavyas Makham and Nyshadham and Bhoja Chambu from Rama Pothuval.
10. The most significant period of his education was at Kodungalloor. The Kodungallur Kovilakam was a place of learning, due to the resident luminaries.
11. system, was written during the period of his study at Kodungallur Kovilakam, and it became popular among the poor communities.
12. Karuppan’s talents in Sanskrit came to the notice of Rajarshi Ramavarma Raja, the Maharaja of Cochin, who visited Kodungalloor to worship at the famous Thiruvanchikkulam Siva Temple. Kunhikkuttan Thampuran introduced Karuppan to the King.
13. The Maharaja was impressed and invited Karuppan to his Palace in Tripunithura. The meeting was a turning point for Karuppan, the Maharaja arranged advanced study of Sanskrit for him under ‘Sahridayathilkan’ Rama Pisharody, the principal Guru of the Royal family. Karuppan studied ‘Sidhantha Koumudi’, ‘Manorama’ and ‘Sahithee Darpanam’ from Rama Pisharody.
14. Soon Karuppan was appointed Sanskrit Teacher at St. Theresa’s Convent Girls’ High School in Ernakulam.
15. When Pandit Karuppan was appointed Sanskrit Teacher in the Caste Girls’ High School at Ernakulam in 1912-a special institution exclusively for upper caste girls there was a vehement protest from upper caste Hindus against his posting, and they were reluctant to send their girls to study under a low caste man.
16. But the Maharaja of Cochin overruled against the objections and threatened that girls unwilling to study under Karuppan would be sent out from the school. The protests ended there.
17. After leaving the staff of Caste Girls’ High School, he joined the Victoria Girls’ High School, Thrissur, as a teacher in 1918.
18. Subsequently, he was posted at Teacher Training School there. In 1921, he was again appointed at Girls’ High School, Ernakulam, which had by then removed “Caste” from its name.
19. During his second tenure at Girls’ High School, in August 1925, he was nominated as a member of the Cochin Legislative Council to represent the hitherto disenfranchised classes, in recognition of his tireless crusade for their emancipation through writings and campaigns.
20. As MLC, Karuppan presented their problems and grievances before the authorities and emphasized that the Government must redress their wrongs by providing education, health services and better living conditions for the people who lacked them.
21. Karuppan pressed the Government to establish a separate Department for this purpose; this led to the creation of the Department for the Protection of the Depressed Classes with then-Director of Public Instruction Rao Sahib C. Mathai as ex-officio Protector and Karuppan as fulltime Assistant Protector.
22. As Assistant Protector, Karuppan was instrumental in initiating several reforms for the progress of the depressed classes, by starting schools and establishing colonies. He persuaded the Government to provide scholarships, fee concessions, and a number of other incentives for the education of children from the depressed classes.
23. He wrote Aacharabhooshanam to generate awareness among the depressed classes against superstitions; the book was printed by the Government and distributed free of cost to the public.
24. The Depressed Classes Department was later renamed the Harijan Welfare Department.
25. Pandit Karuppan was instrumental in starting fishery schools under the re-organised Fisheries Department. The establishment of fish curing yards helped to promote fisheries as a potential industry and to improve living conditions in the fishing community. While serving as a director in the Cochin Central Co-operative Bank, he urged fishermen and agricultural labourers to form co-operatives for progress through self-reliance.
26. Karuppan was very sincere to the cause of the depressed classes in spirit, word and deed. When his three-year term on the Legislative Council expired, Karuppan was nominated for a second term, but he requested that the Diwan give the post to a member of the depressed classes. Under pressure from Karuppan, the Government appointed P.C. Chanchen, a Pulaya leader as MLC; Karuppan tendered his resignation to make way for Chanchen.
27. Pandit Karuppan was then appointed as Secretary to the Elementary Education Committee and the Bhashaparishkarana Committee. In 1931, he assumed the newly created post of Superintendent of Vernacular Education, Cochin State.
28. In 1935, he was appointed Malayalam Lecturer in the Maharaja’s College. During those periods, Karuppan had also functioned as Chairman of the Board of Examiners of the Madras University, and as Member of the Municipal Council, Ernakulam.
29. ‘Baalaakalesam’ was authored by Karuppan. The Maharaja of Cochin honoured Karuppan with the title ‘Kavithilakan’, or ‘Great Poet’. Keralavarma Valiakoithampuran of Travancore conferred the Title of ‘Vidwan’ upon Karuppan in 1913.
30. Karuppan organized the people of his own community into regional groups called Sabhas. The main agenda of the Sabhas was to persuade people to fight ignorance and superstitions. He put strong pressure on his fellow countrymen to become better educated and accept a healthier lifestyle.
31. He organized the first Sabha, ‘Kalyanadayini Sabha’, at Anapuzha, Kodungalloor. Another Sabha was ‘Jnanodayam Sabha’, founded at Edakochi. ‘Sudharma Sooryodaya Sabha’ (Thevara), ‘Prabodha Chandrodayam Sabha’
(Vadakkan Paravur), ‘Araya Vamsodharani Sabha’ (Engandiyoor), and ‘Sanmarga Pradeepa Sabha’ (Kumbalam) are other Sabhas that Pandit Karuppan patronized.
32. Cochin Pulaya Maha Sabha was founded by Karuppan. Subsequently, he persuaded other communities like Velas, Sambavas, Ulladas, Kudumbis, etc., to also form similar Sabhas, to give momentum to their fight against social evils and discrimination.
33. Aggrieved by the death of Sree Chattambi Swamikal, Karuppan wrote a condolence poem namely ‘Samadhi Sapthakam’.
34. Pandit Karuppan passed away on 23rd March 1938, at the age of 53, due to pleurisy.