Thursday 2 March 2017

Fr. Kuriakose Elias Chavara as an eminent social reformer

Fr. St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara storve hard to create an awakening in the minds of those who were grouping in the dark, steped in ignorance and groaning under the yoke of social discrimination and deprivation.  He wanted to include in their minds a sense of honour and self respect and self confidence. There are eminent persons wh o have their indelible mark in the field of social reformation.  The history of social reformers in our society is unlimited.  In Kerala they fought against the socio-religious inequalities that held at the time of 19th century.  The 19th century witnessed social reformers like Sree Vaikunda Swamikal( 1809) Sri Narayana Guru(1853) Sree Chattambi Swamikal(1853) Sree Vakkom Abdul Khadar Maulavi(1854) and Kuriakose Elias Chavara(1805).  By social reformers we must mean those who raise their voice against the prevailing anarchy and social disturbances of time and to eradicate them so that vigilant, self-motivated and outstanding generation for the future can be created.

In Kerala Dalits are considered as the depressed castes or the untouchables from the ancient period to towards the end of 19th century.  They considered as slaves and the major part of their lives are dedicated for the wellbeing of their janmis or owners.  As society changed there must be a need in the development or the upliftment of backward castes in Kerala.
Like all other areas of India caste system in Kerala to large degree involved the process of splitting in to several groups narrowing the range of relationships, prevention of interaction between the oppressed groups and so on, More over the caste system also the Dalits from taking action against the discrimination practiced towards them in society.  However these groups who were the victims of the caste system ; had found new outlet to express their protests.
Theendal Palakas or Untouchability sign boards were placed near all the road sides for bidding the lower castes Dalits from travelling through the roads.  The rulers of the princely states took initiative in maintaining these Jati Maryadas was considered a severe crime and would be punished through brasht or imposition of huge fines.
Various socio reform movements were taken place mainly for the upliftment of the out caste or the untouchables.  The major aim or objectives of those reform movements are the socio, economical, educational and political upliftment of these depressed castes.  Among socio reformer Fr.St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara was considered as the leader of depressed classes who devoted his life for the uoliftment of the untouchables in the society.  Kuriakose Elias Chavara had played a major role for the over all developments of backward castes in Kerala.
Kerala the birth place of Kuriakose Elias Chavara is from the point of view of its geographical position, the joint gift of the ever blue Arabian Sea on the west and the evergreen western ghats on the east.   Though very small in area among the states of the Indian union, The picturesque variety of the landscape and the abundance of plant and animal life, invest this region with a distinct personality.  Kerala culture has been an integral part of the mainstream Indian culture.  At the same time its special geographical position enabled Kerala to enjoy its own outlook, way of life, culture and institutions peculiar to itself.  From ancient times Kerala emerged as the meeting ground of all Indian religions and philosophical systems well as the most important world religions such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
On the Arabian cost at Kainakary in Kuttanadu in the diocese of Changanaserry, Kerala, India Kuriakose Elias Chavara was born on February 10, 1805 as the sixth child of parents Kuriakose and Mariam.  The Chavara family is believed to be the descendant of the Pakalomatttam family, one of the four that claim descent the time of St. Thomas at Palayur, central Kerala.  He was baptized and on 8th September 1805 the child Kuriakose was dedicated to the blessed virgin mary the marian shrine in vechoor.
At the age of five he began his studies in the village school, called kalari under a village master called Ashan.  There he continued his studies until he was ten years old.  Then Malpan Thomas Palackal invited him to his seminary at Pallipuram.  Subsequently as he was too young he spent about two years in the parish rectory under the care of the zealous and loving parish priest.  Here his parents also discerned his divine call.  In the year 1818 he joined the pallipuram seminary under the tutelage of Malpan Thomas Palackal.  Not long after the tonsure he received, there was an epidemic in Kainakary and surroundings.  His loving father , his good mother, and his only brother fell prey to the epidemic.
As there was no heir in the family, relatives compelled him to discontinue seminary life and comeback to the family.  But he arranged the family affairs in such way that he could continue his priestly studies.  On 29 November 1829, at the age of 24 Bishop Maurelius Stabilini, Vicar Apostolic of Verapoly ordained him priest at St. Andrews Church Artungal.
                                         NEED AND SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study is aimed at tracing out the contributions of Fr. St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara for the upliftment of backward castes in Kerala.  The socio, cultural, educational, economic and political contributions of Fr. St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara comes under the review of the significance of the study.  The findings of the study will help to know about St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara as a social reformer of the 19th century and the role of St. Chavara in the history of Dalith upliftment in Kerala.  To realised the truth  about  a religious congregation for women in Kerala was a great desire of Chavara.  It was a long cherished desire of his and the result of several attempts, one at  Alangad in 1857 and another at Puthanpally in 1859.  In 1866 on February 13 with the co-operatrion of Fr. Leopold Beccaro OCD, an Italian missionary, the first convent of the sisters was inaugurated at Koonammavu, under the name Third order of the Carmelites discalced.  The motive of starting such an institute of religious life was for the education, empowerment of women folk and to take care of their spiritual needs.
                                                            OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
1.       To bring out the personal life of St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara
2.       To analyse the contribution of St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara for the socio-cultural upliftment among the backward castes
3.       To trace out the educational contributions of St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara for the upliftment of the backward casres in Kerala
4.       To analyse Fr. Chavara the complete social worker
5.       Fr. Kuriakose Elias Chavara and the C M I congregation


The following methodology has been adopted to carry out his work.  The study is mainly based on primary and secondary data
Primary data is gathered from sources like interviews, questionnaire method
Secondary data is gathered from sources like publications, internet, newspapers

                                                             ANALYSIS OF THE OBJECTIVES
                                                                         CHAPTER  ONE
                                            A SHORT BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF ST. CHAVARA
There are eminent persons wh o have their indelible mark in the field of social reformation.  The history of social reformers in our society is unlimited.  In Kerala they fought against the socio-religious inequalities that held at the time of 19th century.  The 19th century witnessed social reformers like Sree Vaikunda Swamikal( 1809) Sri Narayana Guru(1853) Sree Chattambi Swamikal(1853) Sree Vakkom Abdul Khadar Maulavi(1854) and Kuriakose Elias Chavara(1805).  By social reformers we must mean those who raise their voice against the prevailing anarchy and social disturbances of time and to eradicate them so that vigilant, self-motivated and outstanding generation for the future can be created.
The great soul St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara was born on 19th February 1805 of parents Kuriakose Chavara and Mariam Thopil in the village of Kainakary near Alapuzha, Kerala in the same year on September 8, 1805 he was dedicated to the blessed virgin Mary at the Mariam Shrine at Vechoor from the age 5 to 10, he attended the village school(Kalari) to study languages , different dialects and elementary science under the guidance of a hindu teacher.  Inspired by the desire to  become a priest, he began the studies under the parish priest of the church of St. Joseph.  At the age of 13 in 1818, he entered the seminary at Pallipuram where Malpan Thomas Palakkal was the rector.  He was ordained as priest on 29th November, 1829 at Arthunkal and engaged for some time in pastoral ministery , however he soon returned to the semnarty to teach and also to officiate for the Malpan Thomas palackal during his absence.  Thus he joined Malpan Thomas Perurkara and Malpan Thomas Palackal when they were planning to find a congregation. 
He was ordained as priest on November 29, 1829 at the age of 24 by vicar apostolic of Mar Elias Stabilent at St. Andrews Church at Arthungal.  In 1830 he went to Mannanam to direct the construction of the first house of the congregation of which foundation stone was laid 11th May 1831.  After the death of both the Malpans, Chavara took up leadership on 8th December 1855 he made the religious profession along with other two companions, under the name Kuriakose Elias of Holy family.
He was the general of the monasteries of the congregation from 1856 till his death in 1871 he become the first vicar general in the Syrian church.  A schim thereatened the church of Kerala with the arrival of Mar Thomas Rokos of without proper credentials from the pope, Chavara was appointed the vicar general of the syro Malabar church by the Arch-Bishop of Verapolly.  Chavara is greatfully remembered and acknowledged by the later leaders of church and by the catholic community in general for his strenuous fight, strong stance and effective leadership in the Thomas Rokos the author of the first Malayalam narrative poem “Anasthasiayude rakthasakshyam” 1862, popularised the May, month devotion of the blessed virgin mary with the help o f Bishop Bernadine OCD 1864.   Implemented the idea of A school for a church in the Syrian church when he was a vicar general in 1864, in collaborartion with the Italian missionary.  Fr. Leopold Beccaro OCD, the first indigenous congregation for women was started 1866.  And also started 40 hour adoration first in monastery  chapels in the Syrian church 1866, started the first boarding house and school for girls at koonanmavu 1868.  He founded a charity house Upavishala of St. Joseph for the sick, old and destitute in any society 1869, in 1871 on January 3rd Kuraiakose Elias Chavara with a painful illness, died at Koonanmavu monastery in kochi, preserving his baptismal innocence.  His mortal remains were later transferred from Koonanmavu to Mannanam in 1889 and piously kept in the St. Joseph monastery church.
He spent his last days with Koonanmavu it seemed that blessed Chavara and an insight about his death much before he was laid to his death bed.  In October 1870 he become very sick.  He was totally blind for about three months.  During this period he fixed a small note on the door requesting visitors to speak with him only spiritual matters.  On 3rd January 1871 at 7.30 in the morning he calmly slept in the lord and was buried there.  His moral remains were later transferred from Koonanmavu to the mother house at Mannanam 1889 and re interred the St. Joseph monastery chapel.
Fr. Chavara canonization process bwas began only 1935.  In 1957 in the Arch Bishop of Changanasherry officially started the process.  In 1984 April 7 Fr. Chavara was declared venerable and on 8th February 1986 pope John Paul II, On his pastoral visit to india declared him blessed at Kottayam, Kerala.  In 1987 gov. of india released postal stamps in honour of blessed Chavara for his humanitarian service to the country.  In 2006 Kerala gov. honoured him by erecting his portrait painting in the hall of Kerala sahithya academy portrait gallery at Thrissur, considering him as one of the literary genius in Malayalam of the 19th century.  In 3rd April 2014 Popo Francis authorized at congregation for the causes of saints to promulgate the decrease in concerning the Fr. Kuriakose intercession.  This conformed pope’s approval of Fr. Kuriakose cononisation.  On 23 November 2014 he was cononized at St. Peter’s square by Pooe Francis along with Euphrasia Eluvathingal.

                                                                       CHAPTER TWO
                                                   SAINT CHAVARA A SOCIAL VISIONARY

In the 19th century society was immersed in social anarchy.   The society was under the dominance of Brahmins by whom the lower castes suffered a lot.
In the period there existed child marriage.  The lower caste women were not allowed to wear upper clothes.  They were not allowed to walk on the road.  They were prohibited from entering temples.
The untouchables were treated like animals.  In this period Fr. Kuriakose Elias Chavara came to the society with his novel motives against the brutality of Brahmins.  He also annihilated the social malice and tried toemancipate the untouchables.
                                               NEW EPOCH IN MALAYALAM LITERATURE
Among the writings of Chavara there are several types f Malayalam literary work like great epic, narrative poems.  Published his writings at the proper time during the early second half of the 19th century.  He would have been known today as the pioneer of the several branches of the Malayalam literature. 
We may pass through four phases of his life, namely the spiritual, the literary, the social reformer and the historian from his writings.
It seems that Chavara wrote the Martyrdom of Anastacia with the intention of instilling in the minds of people courage and faith to stand against the enemies of the church.
                                               A CONGREGATION FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT

As far the St. Thomas womenfolk were concerned, till  the second half of the 19th century, there was no organized group of social workers or religious community among them, Who came forward with humanitarian services.  So there was no indigenous religious house for women when Chavara and others planned to start one to suit the needs of the church at Koonanmavu in 1866.
The motive of starting such an institute of religious life, as early mentioned, was not only for the self sanctification but also to help others in both spiritual and material matters.
The congregation which began with four candidates is divided today into two independent communities, CMC having about 6500 members and CTC, With 1500 members.  Bt these institutes the Kerala women who were for life confined to the kitchen at home, were brought to the limelight for the service of womenfolk.  They do involve today in education, pastoral and social work.  They conduct schools, university colleges, boarding houses and hostels for girls and have started professional job oriented courses and special schools for the handicapped.  Thus they run about thousand institutions in india and abroad.
                                         CHAVARA AND HOME FOR THE SICK, AGED AND DYING

Another area of life , at the time of Chavara, also has to be thought of in this context, namely, the area of the care of the aged and dying.  In the history of the life of the church in Kerala, before the time of Chavara, there was no charitable institute as such, where the aged persons or orphans were cared for and protected; there was no pious association to help the dying in a spiritual way.
The home for the sick and aged which Chavara started in 1869 at Kainakary was the first of its kind in Kerala.  This was an institution to give refuge to the sick and old who had no one to look after them, and to prepare the dying to face a happy death.
  Saint Chavara social concern and his attitude towards society is well impressed in the upavishala that he started in Kainakary.  It was the first old age home in Kerala.  The weak , the old other destitute were granted access to this place and were looked very well.

A women is the light of family.  She has unique role to play giving a good formation to her children.  With these convictions Fr. Chavara attempted to uplift women by founding a convent for them.  These efforts, he believed , would ultimately resulf in the betterment of the Christian family as a whole.  In the Chronicle of the CMC convent at Koonanmavu the foundation statement regarding the aim of the convent is given as followers : to clear the debts and then to have the remaining plot enclosed and to put up a house where the two could be together.  They could take care of their spiritual life, teach girls prayers and train them in certain handicrafts.  They are three elements in this foundation statement.
1.       Meet one’s spiritual need effectively
2.       Achieve Christian formation through Christian instruction and studies
3.       Learn and give training in a trade or craft to teach to pray means to bring up children in the fear of God. St. Chavara knew that when women become capable of leading family prayer, children would get good character formation.
4.       When influence in the family.  Thus when the convert was furnished, there were not only the facilities for leading a spiritual life but also other tools for crafts like nippers, thin wire, scissors, needles, thread, apenknife, inkopt, quill, nails, hammer, fork, knife pitcher and goblet.  The aim was to enbles them to integrate prayer and manual labour and thus acgieve the integral development of the whole person.  The learning of the craft was meant not merely for the sisters, rather the sisters, having learnt them, were supposed to teach them to other children.  This wider concept of the integration of spiritual life and some useful trade was very much in the mind of the founding fathers of the CMC convent right from the time of the founding of the bamboo-mat convent.  Later, when they made plants to build a new, solid building for their convent they also had plans to start with it a school and boarding house.  That the convent is to be built in two stories and the boarding house and the school building must enclosed by a compound wall.  With these objectives the foundation of the western and eastern walls of the convent were dug up again and broadened and strengthened so that the foundation may be strong enough for a two story building.

                                                             CHAPTER THREE
                                SAINT CHAVARA A FAR SIGHTED EDUCATIONIST

Education was based on the social hierarchy especially caste hierarchy in the society until 19th century.  The upper caste enjoyed the privilege of education especially Sanskrit and Vedas.  The educational institutions were mostly ran by temple trust which provide opportunities only for upper class of the society.
India, a country of saints who preached the gospel of universal brotherhood segregated a large portion of the population as untouchables.  They were denied education and socio-political roles.  Educational institutions were under the control and dominance of “elite savarnas” avarnas were considered as untouchables and they were treated as savage.  They were not only denied education but also they were forced to do menial labour in the name of karma.
In Kerala renaissance played at major role in social reformation.  Many reformers such as Sri Narayana Guru, Ayyankali, and Sahodharan Ayyappan etc.  Realised the fact that the real cause of the backwardness  of lower caste was lack of education.  So their primary concern was tight for the education of backward caste and Dalits.  As a result, today education is access to all people irrespective of their caste, creed, race, rtc, however  caste continues to be a living reality in India but education is open to all.
In Kerala there prevailed’ Kudipallykoodam’ and learning centers under single teacher known as ‘Ashankalari’ though the state was earlier formed into over twenty principalities Travancore, Cochin and Malabar there was no noticeable change in the educational system followed by the people in the different region.  In the credit of slight change in the educational system today, goes to the missionaries from the west.
The Sanskrit education that in the case prevalent in Kerala from the early days, did not give sufficient exposure to the Keralaties to the outside world.  Sanskrit salasis considered only as medium of religious teaching and caste superiority.  The 1818 order of her highness Gowriparvathy Bhai of Travancore, led to the setting up of vernacular school.  Such schools could have brought about radical changes in the education.
Though a large number of schools were established after his education, many of them were closed down in a short span of time for various reasons.  It was Swathi Thirunal Maharaja who began English education in Travancore.
                                  ESTABLISHMENT OF THE SANSKRIT SCHOOL

An isolated stand from the material welfare of the fellow will weaken any religious organisation.  Fr. Chavara wanted to overcome such an unplatable situation.  On the 15th year of the commencement of the monastery at Mannanam, in the year 1846, he established a Sanskrit was made the medium of education here for the fear that English education might spread the protestant ideology.  This severe attitude of the administrate had the backing of the synod of diamper.  The status that Sanskrit had among the people in the upper layer of the society might also have influenced him in adopting Sanskrit as the medium of education in this school.  Fr. Parapurath Varky, one of the contemporaries of Fr. Chavara, recoded about the establishment of this school like this: along this time a Sanskrit school was establishment as part of the Mannanam monastery.  The priestly inmates and children from the neighbourhood were studying here.  A  tutor belonging to the varyar community was brought from Thrissur, to run this school.  He was well versed both in Malayalam and Sanskrit.
                                   SCHOOLS AT ARPOOKARA AND MANNANAM

The success of Sanskrit school made Fr. Chavara more enthusiastic.  He began to focus on the downtrodden in the society.  He realised that the lamentable condition of the backward and depressed class could not be changed merely by financial support the Mannanam an Arpookara schools are living examples of his attempts to revive the very humanity of the poor communities that was thrashed down by the unjust social system, through literacy and civilization.
                                                          PIDIYARI, MIDDAY MEALS
  Saint Chavara started schools at Mannanam and Arpookara and he gave admission to dalit students.  The poor students who came to the school were given books and midday meals.
He had the idea of giving midday meals to the children.  This tradition of giving midday meals is still fillowed in many school related to this he started the pidiyari foundation.  This was started together rice for the midday meals.  They formed are alliance or organization called “Unnimishihayude Dharma Sabha”

Admist his diverse and manifold activities, he found time and leisure to write a few books, both in prose and in verse like Atmanuthapan(The lamentation of a repentant soul a poem) Maranaveetil padunnathinulla pana(A  poem to sing in the bereaved house) Anasthaciayude Rakthasakshyam(The martyrdom of anasthacia) Dhyanasallapangal(colloguies in meditation) Naalagamangal(Historical notes as chronicles) He took initiative in codifying the liturgical rubrics called Thukkasa, lithurgical calendar; solemn sung mass, little office of blessed virgin mary and office for the dead.  His eclogues are 10 shephered plays related to the birth of Christ.  His counsels to the Christian families in 1866 in form of the Testament of a loving father are universally applicable and are relevant to this day.  As an instruction manual for families, already its lakhs of copies in 32 editions were circulated to the Christian families.

As regards the printing press, there were only two printing establishments in Kerala at the time of Chavara: the government press at Trivandrum and the CMC protestant at Kottayam, and there was no press for the catholics.  It is very clear from the biography of Fr. Thomas Palackal , Chavaras rector, that what a great struggle and even humiliation on the Malpan had endured in collecting books from different sources and copying some of them for his seminary.
Chavara has proved his interest in printing press and publications.  Then the existing two printing presses in Malabar, one owned by the government of Travancore, the other owned by the CMS missionaries were not available to propagate catholic literature.  Greatly pained at the situation, collecting technical informations, he established a handmade printing press at Mannanam in 1846, which was the first printing press of the catholics in Malabar.  He was also the firs Indian to start a printing press in the private ownership.  This served to propagate catholic news and literature among the people at large.  This has also helped to create many literary men and women among the Catholics in Kerala.

                                                               CHAPTER FOUR
                                               CHAVARA THE SOCIAL WORKER
Society is a changing pattern of social relationships.  It exists only where social beings behave towards one another in ways determined by their awareness and consciousness of one another.  A majority of social relationships involves a principle: a sense of community or belonging together.  The realization and recognition of this togetherness is the natural basis of all social work.
At the close of the last world war, all social life was disrupted; man became lonely and frustrated.  As extended uit were groping in the dark.  Still he longed for freedom.  But in his search after it, he forgot all about possible, his conscience whispered, unless the individual set himself free of his ego.  But to do it,  man had to acknowledge and accept the existence of the other and serve the other.
Christianity from its very beginning has acknowledged the importance of social service and has made it an indispensable part of her religion.  It is Christ that first heralded the revolutionary, precept of universal love: ‘Love thy neighbour as theyself’, Love of the neighbour is the characteristic note and duty of Christian individually and collectively.  In regard to the church, the decree on the Apostolate of the laity has it.  The church claims the work of charity as her own inalienable duty and right.
This precept of charity towards the other is an extension of the love of god.  In other words, a Christian has to find and serve Christ in the poor and the needy.  Taken in this sense it is an act of workship, the ultimate end of religion itself.  Hence every Christian has of necessity to enter the field of social work whether it be charity action , relief activity, social service, social action or social revolution.
Really it is in this ulterior motive that persuaded the servant of God, kuriakose elias chavara to give a twist to the nature of the congregation of which he was one of the founders.  It was primarily owing ti his efforts that this congregation became an active service oriented centre.  If this is a service oriented institution, then,”as a matter of fact, when time and circumstances create the need, she can and should initiative activities designed for the needy, such as works of mercy and similar undertakings.
Fr. Kuriakose Elias Chavara was a man of god; he was a saint in the true sense of the word.  His love of god gushed out of his pure and innocent heart in the form of the love of his neighbour.  He was friend of all, high and low, rich and poor, learned and ignorant.  He tried to study all their existential problems, and extended unto them his generous helping hand.  This knowledge of the situation coupled with his high sense of the times and of the social changes, did make of him a great social worker and reformer.
He believed in the basic equality of all.  He was convinced of the fact that although rightful differences exist between men, the equal dignity of persons demands that a more human and just condition of life be brought about.  The excessive social and economic differences cause great scandal, and are detrimental to the dignity of the human person and to mutual peace and concord among men.  Hence he preached and practised charity which he said is a commandment from god.
He went around contacting and persuading the rich to contribute regularly their share for the uplift of the poor and the needy.  He reminded them of the fact that they would be deprived of their wealth if they amassed it at the cost of their less fortunate neighbour, if they withheld the just wages from the poor coolies and labourers or if they did not give them their just dues.  He did regularly, from the alms he collected, feed and clothe the poor, regularly, did he go his round of tours visiting and consoling the sick and the bed-ridden.  His charity did go so far as to urg him found an Asylum for the poor destitute at Kainakary at a time when such a venture was quite unheard of unfortunately such a well meant and far-sighted enterprize was slowly ignored after the dseath of Fr. Kuriakose Elias Chavara as the congregation especially its early members got trained by the introvert missionaries from euope.  Even today the institution in its dilapidated condition stands as a monument to our culpable disloyalty to the spirit and scope envisaged by our founder.  However hundreds of such institutions have sprung up in our land in its wake, thanks to the good will of other agencies.
In order to better the condition of the illiterate scheduled caste, the Harijans or Pulayas he started two schools in close vicinity to his Ashram at Mannanam.  It was indeed a very bold venture at that time when they were looked down upon by the high caste Hindus of the land.  When his followers started more schools, the Harijans people of god in Mahatma Gandhi’s words were welcomed in and educated in these institutions.  If most of the credit of it goes to father Chavara.  The protestant missionaries have, after him, done a lot for their betterment.
As vicar general of the Syrian section of the venapoli diocese, he chalked out ways and means to collect funds to help the poor and the needy the most famous among such being nootuk achu 5% and the pidiyari.  Every day when mothers take rice to prepare the lunch, they set aside a pinch or a handful of rice and keep it in a special box or pot to hand it over, at the end of the month to the parish church authorities who gave them as alms to poor.
Thus father Chavara has bequeathed to us very brilliant example of social activities to be followed.  In this era of social, cultural, and economic disruption and urest, social works and activities have become a must for his followers.  Consequent up on floods, epidemics and draughts, the poor of our country had to suffer much or more recently evacuations such as of Keerithodu, Churuli, Kottiyoor,etc. Created newer social crises.  At all these times it was occurs, it was all men of good will to reach them help.  The ramakrishne mission people and the communists even were on the spot with their mites.      
                                                                  CHAPTER FIVE

The servant of god father kuriakose elias chavara.  More endearingly called in the native tongue Valia Priorachan which means the eminent father prior, stands as in projectile, singularly prominent.  He was an eminently imposing and distinguished personality in the 19th century  history of the Christian community of Kerala.  As the proverb has it, he seems tom have been “Born with a silver spoon in his mouth” His straight, undeviating course of life was asuccession of endeavours and achievements.  The evangelical blessing seek  ye first the kingdom of god and his justice; and all else will be added unto you, seems to have been breathed on him at his birth.  The records of his life show that from the time he attained the use of reason to the moment he breathed his last he did keep his baptismal garb unsullied.  Inspite of his poor circumstances, of the number of his undertakings and enterprises, too expensive to think of that time , he has never been, so to say, in want.  Provindence of god did lovingly work out the means as he stood in need of them.
Tfe servant od god resembles so very closely to the holy men of his cadreand to his prototypes.  He had in him the sterling qualities of St. Benedict whose holy rule and the illustration of the sanctity of labour made tremendous impact on all religious down the centuries.  The servent og god followed the example of St. Francis of Assissi in renewing the evangelical spirit and virtuous life in the Christian community of Malabar. There emerged in  father Kuriakose Elias a little St. Francis of Assassi humble and simple.  He was the replica of the great St. Ignatius Loyola of his post monserat days.  Like him he was the formulator, founder and life long superior general of a religious community.  The present congregation of the Carmelites of Mary immaculate; he was a well esteemed ecclesiastic ; he was vicar general of the Syrian Christian section of the Archdiocese of verapoly; he was the originator of religious life for women in all Kerala and he started the first convent in Kerala at Coonammavu as an indigenous Carmelite tertiary of which he was also life long director, under the auspices of his religious association according to the mode prevailing at the tie, there arose several local seminaries preparing pupils and candidates for priesthood, strikingly enough the name of father also went up to rome as a coadjutor bishop of verapoly to be especially in charge of the Syrian Christian section of the archdiocese.
Frs. Thomas Palackal and kuriakose elias chavara having the same motivation of starting a religious community life, had several occasions to meet together at the vicariate of verapoly or at the seminary of pallipuram to discuss the idea of a religious institute.  By the words of blessed chavara, from the first page of his chronicle, we may allude to the request father palackal and porukara placed before the bishop Maurelius Stabilini seeing that a lot of good has not been done due to the absence of a Thapasu Bhavanam in Kerala even for priests, we desire to start a Darsana Veed at least for priests.
The vicar Apostolic finally on 1st November 1829 granted permission to establish a religious house.  On May 11, 1831, the foundation stone for the proposed religious house was laid at Mannanan near Kottayam in Kerala dedicating it to St. Joseph.  This was the first indigenous religious institute for men in the Indian church of modern times, known now as Carmelites of Mary Immaculate. Forb it all there existed any religious institute before, no one continued upto that time.  Jacob Kanianthara, who in 1865 became at first professed brother co-operation also co-operated with those three founding fathers from the beginning.      


Fr. St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara storve hard to create an awakening in the minds of those who were grouping in the dark, steped in ignorance and groaning under the yoke of social discrimination and deprivation.  He wanted to include in their minds a sense of honour and self respect and self confidence.
Fr. Chavara was the source of inspiration for the millions of Dalits was a symbol of institution for social equality.  He was the great son of india who dedicated his life for social virtue.  He was so great that he could not be confined within the limits of Kerala.  Even today his ideas and activities have much relevance than before.  Untouchability is a black spot in the profundity of India.
The struggle of Fr.Chavara against caste dominance was one of the main factors which led Kerala to the forefront of progressive thinking. Fr. Chavara was the first who raised the voice against the Brahminical domination that prevailed in the walks of the social life on Kerala, the voice of voiceless people like Dalits in Kerala, through his revolutionary interventions in the society of Brahmins dominantion.  He was desperate at the destiny of the people in which he belonged.  He worked for his immense to prossess the rights of Dalits through any means as he was angry with the depressed condition of his community.