Each village of ancient Kerala was self-sufficient.  They had the strong foundation of the peoples' rule. All matters pertaining to a village were discussed in the 'yogam' or grama sabha. Nairs were the leaders of such yogams.  The lowest unit of the organization was known as Karayogam or Tharakoottam.  This was under the control of the landlords known as Deshavazhis.  The Karayogam in a district were under the control of Nattukoottam.  Nattukoottam has the power even to disobey the orders of the King. Ettuveettil Pillamar constituted a Nattukoottam in old Venad (Travancore).  By the end of 18th century, Marthandavarma defeated the Ettuveetil Pillamar with the help of Dutch and became the supreme ruler of Venad.  With the advent of the British the Nattukoottam gradually disappeared and the Nair supremacy was also wounded.

Onnu kure Ayiram Yogam (one minus one thousand organisation) was such a grama sabha existed at Kodungallur, which was the capital city of old rulers of Kerala. This was a strong organisation of nairs, which stood for the welfare of the country.  Various sub classes of nair community from 'Kiriyam' to 'Vattakkadan' had representation in the yogam. The yogam met on the first day of the month in front of Kodungallur Bhagavathy temple; discussed all aspects related to the people residing within their jurisdiction and took appropriate decisions. In fact, the members of the yogam were the rulers of the locality as well as the Bhagavathy temple of Kodungallur.


Nairs had no organization of their own up to the first half of 19th century. The lovers of the Nair community who were conscious about the renaissance of their society formed the first organization in this line.  In 1877 an organization known as Malayalee Social Union was formed at Thiruvannthapuram.  This organization was active till 1881.  In 1884, Malayalee Social Union was converted as Malayali Sabha and the organization was re-organised under the leadership of Sri.C.Krishna Pillai.  Malayali Sabha concentrated in extending financial aid to poor students, spreading western education and in introducing welfare programmes. During the initial stage it was kept away from politics. But gradually it interfered in politics also.  Gradually Malayali Sabha became the nerve center of political thoughts in Travancore.  It took up several social welfare measures intended for the up-lift of weaker sections of the society. Their programmes had a national vision and broad mindedness, which helped them to be in the forefront of the national movement in later years.  Malayali Sabha was headed by famous personalities like C.Krishna Pillai, C.V.Raman Pillai, G.P.Pillai, C.Sankaran Nair and P.Ayyappan Pillai.


Keraleeya Nair Samajam was a unified organization of the early Nair Samajams scattered over various regions of Travancore. It was as a result of the struggles organized by the Keraleeya Nair Samajam that the Government appointed the Govinda Pillai Commission to submit report for the changes to be made in the matrilineal system of inheritance.  The Nair Regulation Bill of 1911 was enacted and passed through amendments based on the report of the above Commission.  Keraleeya Nair Samajam gave a strong voice, high thinking and deep insight to a society, which was groping in darkness for the last several decades.

Prof.E.J.Thomas records that Keraleeya Nair Samajam succeeded in giving a clear picture of the backwardness of Nairs in the field of education, finance and politics.  Nairs came forward to unite for a common cause by setting aside their narrow differences between sub-castes.  Though Keraleeya Nair Samajam did not last long, their efforts to bring sub-castes to the Nair community proved beneficial in later years.


31st October 1914 witnessed the birth of a great event in the history of Kerala, the birth of Nair Brhrityajana Sangham that was transformed as Nair Service Society after one year.  It had its origin at Mannathu Bhavanam (House of Mannathu Padmanabhan) of Perunna, Changanassery.  Mannathu Padmanabhan and Sri.K.Kelappan along with his twelve friends sat in front of holy light lit by his mother Parvathy Amma and held a brain storming discussions, which paved the way for the formation of great movement in Kerala.

The Nair Bhrityjanasangham formed under the leadrship of Sri.K.Kelappan and Mannathu Padmanabhan on 31st October 1914 (Thulam 15, 1090 - ME). The Nair Bhrityajanasangham was formed in line with the Servants of India Society. It was through the sincere and tireless efforts of the lovers of the Nair community that the public awareness activities, which was a part and parcel of the Indian National Movement, led by Gopalakrishna Gokhale reached Kerala. The main activities of Nair Bhrityajanasangham in the early days were to enroll volunteers for the service of the society, to spread education, loyalty to nation and god worship among people, to end the social evils etc. The activities of Nair Bhrithyajanasangham were extended to Malabar also under the leadership of Sri.K.Kelappan, the President of the Sangham.

The holy light lit from the Mannathu Bhavanam spread its shining light throughout Kerala.  It became the spirit, energy and leading force of vast majority of people.  The social renaissance movement of Kerala had its birth from this holy light.  It eradicated the dirt and darkness from the minds of people and society.  It became the guiding force of the social renaissance movement.
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