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K. Ramakrishna Pillai
Born Ramakrishna
25 May 1878
Neyyattinkara, Travancore
Died 28 March 1916
Kannur
Residence Thiruvanthapuram
Nationality Indian
Occupation Editor of Swadeshabhimani(newspaper)
Religion Hindu
Spouse(s) Nanikutti Amma,
B. Kalyani Amma
Children K.Gomathy Amma,
K. Madhavan Nair
Parents Narasimhan Potti, Chakkiamma

Swadeshabhimani K. Ramakrishna Pillai (1878–1916) was a writer, journalist, newspaper editor, and political activist[1][2] in the erstwhile princely state of Travancore (Kerala, India). He was the editor of the newspaper Swadeshabhimani (The Patriot) and hence known by the name. The criticisms against the Diwan of Travancore, P. Rajagopalachari, the Government and the Maharajah of Travancore that appeared in his newspaper irritated the authorities and eventually resulted in the confiscation of the newspaper and press and he was arrested and exiled from Travancore in 1910.[3][4][5][6][7] He wrote Vrithantha Pathra Pravarthanam (1912), the first book on journalism in the Malayalam language.[4][8] He also wrote the biography of Karl Marx (1912) in Malayalam, which was the first Marx biography in any Indian language.[4][9][10][11][12]

Early life[edit]

K.Ramakrishna Pillai was born on 25 May 1878 (ME :1053 Edavam 16)[13] as the youngest son of Narasimhan Potti and Chakkiamma at Neyyattinkara, Travancore state.[14] Bharmashree Narasimhan Potti was a poojari in a temple.

Ramakrishna Pillai was born in a Nair family named Thekkekod veedu in Athiyanoor, Arangamugal ( present), in Neyyattinkara Taluk of the princely state of Travancore. Mall karanavar, a patriarch of this family saved Prince Marthanda Varma, who later became Maharaja of Travancore, from the latter enemies. In gratitude, Marthanda Varma gifted the family with 50-acre (200,000 m2) land, 12-room mansion and certain privileges in the Krishna temple in Neyyattinkara.[8] Ramakrishna was born in this family over a century later.

In the matrilineal Nair society, Ramakrishna Pillai as a young boy lived with his maternal uncle, Advocate Keshava Pillai. Kattupana Naganathaiyer was his first teacher in the Malayalam school.In 1887 January, he joined the Neyyattinkara English medium school, where K. VeluPilla (Headmaster) and R. Keshavapilla (Asst. Headmaster) were his teachers. Since third form was the highest class in the Neyyattinkara school, he joined Rajagiyamahapadashala (Royal school), Thiruvananthapuram in 1892. Ramakrishna used his newly received freedom at Thiruvananthapuram to read new books and newspapers, visit new places and gaining new friends.He was a shy and silent student at school. He passed his matriculation exam at the age of 14.[8]

Journalism[edit]

Ramakrishna was bitten by the newspaper obsession while studying for F.A. He used to read almost every newspaper published from Travancore, Malabar and Kochi states. He started writing articles in those days, during which he gained friendship and guidance of many literary legands and editors of that period like Kerala Varma Valiya Koil Thampuran, A R Rajaraja Varma, Ulloor S. Parameswara Iyer, Pettayil Raman Pillai Asshan, Oduvil Kunji Krishna Menon, Kandathil Varghese Mappillai etc. Due to his passion and activities on newspapers, he couldn't concentrate on his studies during that period and earned the wrath of his uncle and family. He passed in the F.A. exam in 1898. He was supposed to join for BSc degree from Madras initially, but on the directives of his uncle, he joined for BA degree course at University College, Trivandrum.[8]

During that time, Ramakrishna and other newspaper enthusiasts felt the need of a Malayalam newspaper from Travancore. Two newspapers Kerala Darpanum and Vanjivibhujhika were started in 1900. His friends and well wishers persuaded him to take up the editorship of Kerala Darpanum newspaper. Due to immense resistance from his uncle Keshava Pillai, Ramakrishna had to leave his house to take up this job.[15] Those days, he struggled to manage his B.A. degree studies, his survival and the editorship of the newspaper. He passed the B.A. (Malayalam ) degree with first rank and also receiving Keralvarmamudhra honorary award for the excellence.[8]

He wrote strongly against the age-old malpractices and ill customs of those days. He believed more in action than the words. He challenged the society by marrying a lower caste woman from the Nair community. He married Srimati Nanikutti Amma , Thoopuveetil, Palkulangara, Thiruvananthapuram in 1901. Shri Prameshvaran Pillai, also a relative of Nanikutti Amma was the owner of Kerala Darappanum newspaper.Later,the swindle of Prameshvaran Pillai led to court cases between them.

In 1901, Kerala Darappanum and Vanjivibhujhika merged to form Keralapanjhika under the ownership of Shri. Marthanada Thampi. Ramakrishna continued to be editor of that newspaper from 1901 to 1903. During this time, he travelled around the state of Travancore to know its people and their problems. In February 1903, he resigned his position from Keralapangika newspaper. He continued to write articles in Nasranideepika and Malayali newspapers. In 1904 he settled with his family at Kollam to work as the editor of Malayali newspaper. During this time, he wrote editorials on the rights and duties of the people of Travancore. He spoke in conferences, mainly in Cherthala and Paravur Taluks those days, against the malpractices and wrong customs during this period, .

In 1904, his wife Nanikutti Amma died. Later he remarried B. Kalyani Amma. It was through many literary discussions and letters, Kalyani Amma and Ramakrishna Pillai become closer to each other and later they decided to enter into wedlock.

Swadeshabhimani[edit]

Abdul Khader Moulavi, popularly known as Vakkom Moulavi, was the owner of the journal newspaper named Swadeshabhimani. C P Govinda Pillai was the editor of Swadeshabhimani before RamaKrishna Pillai took over as the editor in January 1906. Ramakrishna Pillai and his family had to shift to Vakkom in Chirayinkil Taluk where the newspaper office and the priniting press were located. The newspaper office was moved to Thiruvanthapuram only in July 1907 and the family moved to Thiruvanthapuram . Though Vakkom Moulavi was still the proprietor, Ramakrishna had been given total freedom in the running of the newspaper by Moulavi. They never had any legal or financial contracts between them. Still, Moulavi provided all the financial aid to set up the press also in Thiruvananthapuram. Ramakrisha also started a woman's magazine called Sharadha, a student's magazine Vidhyarthi and another magazine named Keralan. P. Rajagopalachari, the Diwan of Travancore, was the centre of his attacks through the newspaper.The newspaper accused the Dewan of gross immorality and that the corruption had riddled the government of Travancore. But "the most serious thing against the Swadeshabhimani," wrote the Dewan, "has always been the remarkable persistency with which it preached the gospel of government by the people, and the exhortation which it held out to the people of Travancore to unite and demand self-government."[10][16] He also attacked the kingship of Maharaja of Travancore as

" The monarchs believe and force others to believe that they are God's representatives or incarnations. This is absurd.Did God create a special kind of dog to be the king of dogs,or a special kind of elephant to rule over all elephants? "

Swadeshabhimani's pen moved against corruption of the state and injustice in the society.[17] Soon he irritated the Maharajah Moolam Thirunal himself by criticising the large expenses incurred by the Royal consort, the Panapillai Amma, through the construction of private palaces and public celebration of the wedding of the Maharajahs daughter and so on.

On 26 September 1910, Swadeshabhimani newspaper and the printing press was sealed and confisicated by the British Police and Ramakrishna Pillai was arrested and banished from Travancore to Thirunelveli in Madras Province of British Raj.The arrest was undertaken by Superintendent of Police, F S S George ( British), Inspector R Achuthen Pillai, Inspector B Govinda Pillai and Inspector Pichu Aiyangar. He was arrested even without furnishing an arrest warrant. The police escorted him till Thirunelveli. The Kingdom of Travancore itself was a princely state under the Madras Presidency. His family joined him later and he moved to a rented house in Madras. He was offered the editorship in several newspapers in Kochi and Malabar but he chose to stay in Madras.

Many of the Indian newspapers, during that time, reacted strongly against the arrest and banishment of Ramakrishna Pillai and the confiscation of the newspaper.

After Independence of India, the Government of Kerala returned the press to Moulavi' s family in 1957.

Last years[edit]

Ramakrishna Pillai joined for F.L. Degree and Kaliyaniamma joined BA Philosophy in 1911. During this period, he wrote his book Ende Naadukadathal (ISBN 81-264-1222-4 ) on his banishment from Travancore. After the exams, the family moved to Palghat on a three-month vacation. They had to return to Madras, in August 1911, to continue his studies and also court cases against Indian Patriot. In 1911, Ramakrishna passed B.L. degree and Kalyaniamma in B.A. Philosophy. In April, they left Madras again. Their third child, a daughter, was born on 7 August 1912.

In 1912, he published Vrithantha Pathra Pravarthanam, the famous book on Journalism and his biography books on Karl Marx and Benjamin Franklin. In 1913, he contributed to Aathmapokshini and other magazines. In May 1913, they returned to Palghat, after which he published his books named Mannante Kannathum and Narakathil ninnu. His phyisical health began to deteriorate during this period. When his wife Kaliyaniamma joined as a teacher in a school in Kannur, the family moved to this place.[8]

On 28 March 1916, Ramakrishna Pillai died of ailing health.

Literary works[edit]

Ramakrishna Pillai wrote over 20 books in his lifetime and many of them are very notable.

  • Vruththaanthapathrapravarthanam (Malayalam) (1912)
  • Ende Naadukadathal(My Banishment) (ISBN 81-264-1222-4)
  • Karl Marx (Malayalam ) : His biography of Karl Marx was the first in any Indian language.[4][9][10][11][12]
  • Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, (Malayalam) - Biography
  • Benjamin Franklin (Malayalam) - Biography
  • Socrates (Malayalam) - Biography
  • Pathradharmam (Essays)
  • Mannante Kannathu
  • Christopher Columbus ( Translation in Malayalam )
  • Narakathil ninnu ( From the hell)
  • Kerala Bhasholpathy ( The Origin of language in Kerala)
  • Delhi Durbar
  • The Deportation case of Travancore

dramas:prathima,kamandalu(ekanka natakam),thookumuriyil,thapthabashoam. stories:aa deenarodhanam

B. Kalyani Amma[edit]

B. Kalyani Amma was the second wife of Ramakrishna Pillai. She was born on 11 Kumbhom 1059 (ME) (1883 AD). She was a notable litterateur also[18] Her important works includes Vyazhavatta Smaranakal, Karmaphalam, Mahathikal and Atmakatha. Her biography Vyazhavatta Smaranakal ( Memories of 12 years) is about the 12 years of their married life. She also translated a novel written by Rabindranath Tagore. She died on 9 October 1959 (28 Kanni 1135).

Swadeshabhimani Smaraka Samithi[edit]

Swadesha abhimani Smaraka Samidhi is the trust formed in the memory of Ramakrishna Pillai. The Samidhi observes anniversaries of the banishment of Swadeshabhimani Ramakrishna Pillai every year, which is attended by several eminent personalities.[19]

Swadeshabhimani Ramakrishna Pillai Award[edit]

Swadeshabhimani Ramakrishna Pillai Award is awarded for press journalism every year by the Government of Kerala. The following are its recipients.

The Pravasi Swadeshabhimani Ramakrishna Pillai Award has been instituted in memory of Swadeshabhimani Sri. Ramakrishna Pillai, by The Pravasi Malayali Society.[23]

Swadeshabhimani memorial[edit]

Memorials of Swadeshabhimani Ramakrishna Pillai are constructured at Neyyattinkara[24] and at Payyambalam Beach, Kannur.[25]

Further reading[edit]

  • Vruththaanthapathrapravarthanam (Malayalam) (1912), K. Ramakrishna Pillai
  • Dhanyayayi njan (Malayalam), K. Gomathy Amma
  • Vyazhavatta Smaranakal (Malayalam), B. Kalyani Amma (ISBN 81-7130-015-4 )
  • Swadeshabhimani: Rajyadrohiyaya Rajyasnehi (Malayalam) - A study on the journalistic and socio-cultural contributions of Swadeshabhimani Ramakrishna Pillai by the eminent journalist T.Venugopal
  • Swadeshabhimani (Malayalam), K. Bhaskaran Pillai, National Book Stall, Kottayam
  • The Political Ideas of Swadesabhimani K. Ramakrishna Pillai, R. Ramakrishnan Nair, Kerala Academy of Political Science, 1975
  • Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature, Amaresh Datta, Mohan Lal, Published by Sahitya Akademi, 1991

References[edit]

  1. ^ Proceedings - Indian History Congress. Indian History Congress. 1987. 
  2. ^ Who is who of Freedom Fighters in Kerala. University of Michigan. 1975. pp. 380, 430, 493. 
  3. ^ "The criticism against the Diwan of Travancore that appeared in the daily irritated the authorities and eventually resulted in the confiscation of press during 1910". Retrieved 20 November 2008. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Literary Criticism: Western Influence". PRD, Kerala Government. Retrieved 20 November 2008. 
  5. ^ Constitutionalism in Travancore and Cochin. Kerala Historical Society. 1972. pp. 18, 19. 
  6. ^ Ende Naadukadathal (5 (2007) ed.). D C Books/ Current Books, Kottayam. 1911. ISBN 81-264-1222-4. 
  7. ^ In Quest of Kerala. Accent Publications. 1974. pp. 65,160. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f Vyazhavatta Smaranakal (in Malayalam) (14 (2008) ed.). D C Books/ Current Books, Kottayam. 1916. ISBN 81-7130-015-4. 
  9. ^ a b Communism in Kerala. C. Hurst & Co. Publishers. 1982. p. 95. ISBN 9780905838403. 
  10. ^ a b c "THE THREE STAGES OF PRINT : Testing Ideas of "Public Sphere," "Print-Capitalism" and "Public Action"". Retrieved 20 November 2008. 
  11. ^ a b "Marx comes to India : earliest Indian biographies of Karl Marx / by Lala Hardayal and Swadeshabhimani Ramakrishna Pillai". Retrieved 20 November 2008. 
  12. ^ a b "ndian communism during the Raj". Front line - India's National Magazine. Retrieved 20 November 2008. 
  13. ^ "RAMAKRISHNA PILLAI, SWADESHABHIMANI". Retrieved 20 November 2008. 
  14. ^ "IMPORTANT PERSONALITIES : RAMAKRISHNA PILLAI, SWADESHABHIMANI". Retrieved 20 November 2008. 
  15. ^ Dictionary of National Biography. Institute of Historical Studies. 1972. p. 379. 
  16. ^ Dewan's Note dated 15 August 1912, on the Suppression of the Swadeshabhimani Newspaper. Trivandrum: Government Press. 1912. p. 4. 
  17. ^ "Remembering Swadeshabhimani". The Hindu. 27 September 2005. Retrieved 20 November 2008. 
  18. ^ "KALYANI AMMA B.". Retrieved 20 November 2008. 
  19. ^ "Anniversary of banishment". The Hindu. 27 September 2004. Retrieved 20 November 2008. 
  20. ^ "SWADESHABHIMANI AWARD FOR SCRIBE". The Tribune. 9 October 2002. Retrieved 20 November 2008. 
  21. ^ "President's visit:". The Hindu. 16 November 2002. Retrieved 21 November 2008. 
  22. ^ "Swadeshabhimani awards announced". The Hindu. 30 July 2006. Retrieved 21 November 2008. 
  23. ^ "Pravasi Swadeshabhimani Ramakrishna Pillai Award of Honour". Retrieved 20 November 2008. 
  24. ^ "All set for 18th CPI party Congress". The Hindu. 21 March 2002. Retrieved 21 November 2008. 
  25. ^ "Kannur and the wages of violence". Rediff.com. 26 November 1999. Retrieved 21 November 2008. 



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