The Swami who smashed caste barriers

via www.newindpress.com published on December 21, 2007

PALAKKAD: As the 144th birth anniversary of Nirmalananda swami (Thulasi Maharaj) , a monastic disciple of Sree Ramakrishna and his messenger to the South is being celebrated on Sunday , his contributions in removing untouchability and the barriers of caste In Kerala is seldom remembered.

The first inter-dining of the people of various castes in Kerala took place during the jayanthi celebrations of Sree Ramakrishna held at Haripad in 1913.

The age-old caste hierarchy was dismantled when the Brahmins and Harijans were served food together.

To quote the words of a famous Kerala based sanyasi of the Ramakrishna Mission Swami Sidhinadhananda “with that one blow he stormed the citadel of caste and broke the backbone of the demon of caste in Kerala”.

Nirmalananda Swami entered mahasamadhi (died) at his favourite Sree Ramakrishna ashram in Palappuram near Ottapalam in 1938.

The smarthavicharam and “brashta” (outcasts) of the legendary Kuridath Thathri which happened in 1905 led to the setting up of the Ottapalam ashram.

The incident which shook the Namboodiri hierarchy and questioned their practices resulted in the brashta of 64 people.

Some members of these 64 families who crossed the Bharatapuzha stayed at Palappuram. Nirmalananda Swami also reached Palappuram near Ottapalam in 1919 as a guest of a lawyer V.K.Narayanan who was the president of the local vedantha society.

The members of the vedantha society wanted to have an ashram in Ottapalam. Moreover, the Namboodiri families who were rendered outcasts also wanted a place to live.

It so turned out that Nirmalananda Swamiji liked the site offered by Desamangalam Vausdevan Namboodiripad and Pallathol mana at the instance of the Kalpakaasery Narayanan Namboodiri and the ashram here was consecrated in 1926 .

It was at this time that Sree Ramakrishna was touring Kerala building ashrams in Kerala.

The non religious efforts of Swami Nirmalananda Swami resulted in giving back to a section of the Namboodiri community their dignity lost through ostracism .

Subsequently a post office ,railway station and the Sree Ramakrishna co-operative bank came to (Sree Ramakrishna Nagar) SRK Nagar.

There were a few Namboodiri girls who were the pet children of Swamiji who wanted to lead a pure monastic life.

In order to meet their wishes the Sarada ashram was established by Swami Vishadananda , a disciple of Swami Nirmalanada Swami in 1947 adjacent to the Ramakrishna ashram.

This happened to be the first Sarada ashram. Nirmalananda swami was born in an affluent family on December 23, 1863 in Bag Bazar in North Kolkata.

His mother was Dakamani Devi and father Devanadha Dath.The orginal name conferred by the parents on Niramalanda was Thulasicharan Dath.

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