Leaders of Renaissance in Kerala – Vagbhatanandan (1885-1939)

1. Vagbhatananda Gurudevar was a disciple of Sree Narayana Guru. He was born in 1885 in a Thiyya family of North Malabar.

2. His father was Koran Vaidyar

3. He followed the path of Adwaitha of Sankara.

4. A rationalist, Vaghbhatananda adopted Raja Ram Mohun Roy as the ideal model for his social action.

5. His real name was V.K.Gurukkal. The name ‘Vagbhatananda’ was given by Sivayogi of Alathur.

6. In 1920, he founded Atmavidhya Sangham. In 1921 he started the publication of a journal called ‘Abhinava Kerala’.

7. Later, he edited another journal ‘Atmavidhya Kahalam’

8. The treatise ‘Atmavidhya’ composed by Vagbhatananda was the manifesto of Atmavidhya Sangham.

9. Through the Atmavidhya Sangham, he campaigned against drug abuse and the caste system.

10. He denounced caste barriers and idol worship and exhorted his followers to abjure such practices.

11. He also campaigned vigorously against addiction to liquor and championed the cause of prohibition.

12. The teachings of Vagbhatananda helped to strengthen the base of the nationalist movement, particularly in north Kerala.

13. Vagbhatananda had a large number of disciples not only in the northern part of Kerala but in the rest like Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram. Of them, prominent were Padmanabha Panicker fromPuthenthoppu (later Swami Aryabhatan) and Kochukesavan Asan (later Swami Samanthabhadran). P.Swamikutty (who was a disciple of Brahmananda Sivayogi )was always found with Vagbhatananda.

14. He passed away in 1939.

15. Vagbhatananda Gurudeva trust was formed in 1983.

16. From 2006 onwards Vagbhatananda Award has been bestowed on personalities who had contributed their mite to the social, literary and cultural fields.

17. The award carries a cash prize of Rs 25,000, a citation and a statuette.