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(Welfare Association)

Yogakshema Sabha, a socio-cultural organisation was formed in the context of the need for the general uplifting and betterment of the Namboothiri community. It was the result of the deliberations of a few Namboothiris, who met informally on December 25, 1975, at the Namboothiri Vidyaalayam in Thrissur. The Namboothiri Yogakshema Sabha, (click) the organisation that used to look after the welfare of the Namboothiris in the pre-independence days, had been dissolved in 1942, hardly realising that in the following two and half decades the socio-cultural climate of the country will be so drastically transformed. The unexpected changes motivated a number of loose federations of the Namboothiri community in Kerala, like The Namboothiri Federation, Namboothiri Samaajam, Malayaala Braahmana Mahaasabha, The Namboothiri Mahaasabha, etc., eventually leading the first two of these to merge and regenerate themselves as Yogakshema Sabha.

On April 7, 1976, Yogakshema Sabha was registered with Thrissur as its focal centre, and arrangements were made for it to subsume membership for everyone who could claim to belong to the Namboothiri community as it was defined in the Namboothiri act of 1958. The main aims of the organisaton were activities concerned with the support and care of the Namboothiri community by working towards the general social, financial and cultural aspects of the members, by assisting members with the performance of the "Shodasakriya" (sixteen rituals) (click), by evolving and implementing ways of educational development, by providing greater employment prospects, etc.

The organisation soon developed and spread its wings through district-level conventions in Kerala, first in August at Thriuvalla in Alappuzha district under the auspices of the Peringara Braahmana Samaajam, and later in the Kottyam district and so on. The guiding and leading force behind these innovative measures were Poomulli Neelakandhan Nambudiripad, ("Aaraam Thampuraan"), retd. Justice Parakkunnam Narayanan Namboodiri, P N Namboodiri (the force behind Sree Sankara Trust), and P K P Namboodiri. Leading on from the district level conventions, the transition of the year (Dec. 31 1977 - Jan 1, 1978) found the first anniversary of the Sabha observed at the Thrissur Namboothiri Vidyaalayam with P S Neelakandhan Namboodiri as convenor, where the main agenda was a discussion session under the chairmanship of Chittoor Kunjan Nambudiripad, and the election of office bearers. It was there that the first 25-member provincial working committee came into effect with Poomulli Neelakandhan Nambudiripad as president and Parakkunnam as the secretary.

The second anniversary convention at Kumaranellor School in Kottyam in May 1979 was really memorable and upbeat, with none less than Maharaja Marthanda Varma performing the inauguration. The third anniversary reverted to Thrissur Namboothiri Vidyaalayam although the venue was re-named "Ammini Antharjana Nagar", in fond commemoration of the recently killed member of Puthuppali Illam, Moovattupuzha. The demonstrative procession that stretched from the convention hall to the Sahitya Academy Hall was an important milestone in the annals of the Sabha. The lively growth of the Sabha, and its activities inspired by genuine sincerity and intrepidity, culminated in a cracking 4th anniversary at Kalikkotta in Thripunithura in May 1981. The choice of K K S Namboothiri as the organising secretary of the Sabha really re-vitalised its image and activities, leading on to the all-Kerala promotional tour by K K S Namboothiri and P K P Namboothiri, organising as many as 25 study classes in places like Sreekrishnapuram, Neeleswaram, Chottanikkara, Chengannur, Kollam, Alappuzha, Thodupuzha and Thiruvananthapuram, Branches of the Sabha mushroomed all over Kerala and the official journal "Kerala Yogakshemam" began to be published from Thrissur. The fifth anniversary organised at Kallisseri High School in Chengannur saw for the first time competing candidates for office bearer positions resulting in secret ballot elections. A 25-member executive body came into force with V Sankara Raja as President and C K Narayanan Nambudiri as Secretary.

Organisational Policies and Governing Council

The codes and policies for the organisation came into effect after lengthy discussions and the following policies were agreed upon: A local branch or council of the Sabha can be established and registered anywhere as long as it has 25 members from that region. Any district that has no fewer than four such branches can get together and qualify to register a district council to subsume all the member branches of the district. All branch members gain access and claim membership to the central organisation, though not automatic, but by direct voting rights, through their district and regional affiliation. Apart from the president and secretary, the district council members are elected from the branch councils on a ratio of one councillor for every 25 members. At the State levels the central governing council at the top will be constituted of all the presidents and secretaries from the district councils along with one member to represent every six district council members.

The prime period for the rapid growth of the Sabha was the adolescent phase between 1978 and 1995, during which time all the 14 district councils were in full operation. Around 1987, branches came up in Ahmedabad in Gujarat, and in Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai. Even so, after mid 90’s their activities have slowed down.


At the very first anniversary of the Sabha itself, at the session chaired by Chittoor Kunjan Nambudiripad, the idea was mooted that the Sabha should formulate its requisites in the form of an official letter of appeal to the government. However, it was operationalised only on February 28, 1980, when as part of the anniversary convention, nearly a thousand Namboothiri members took out a procession all the way from the University of Kerala building to the Secretariat in Thiruvananthapurum and presented a petition, voicing 47 requisites, directly to the government. From then on, there was a demonstrative procession at every anniversary.

Equally important were the study classes and family unions. Permission was granted for a college in Sreekrishnapuram in 1982 as a direct outcome of a demonstrational procession, organised from Sreekrishnapuram to Thiruvananthapurum in early autumn of 1981.


The official journal, named "Kerala Yogakshemam", originally published from Thrissur, continued later from Ernakulam till 2000 under the name "Yogakshema Dhwani". ‘Braahmanyam’, published by the Thrissur branch and "Yajnopaveetham" from Thiruvananthapurum are still going strong. "Yogakshema Tarangam" from Kumaranelloor and a few others from various branches are still regularly coming out.

Anniversary Gatherings and Ensuing Developments

Sreekrishnapuram - 1983. Sixth anniversary gathering. Sankara Raja elected as president and T C Narayanan Namboodiri as secretary. Activities picked up thereafter.

Kollam - 1984. Seventh anniversary. Printed ballot papers used for the first time. (Knowing that) The Namboothiri community depended substantially on temple priesthood work for social sustenance, the many temples under the Cochin Devaswam Board used to charge a goodwill fee called "Adiyara", the legitimacy of which was perhaps morally and legally questionable. Sustained legal battle through the High court and Supreme court resulted in the abolishing of the system of "Adiyara".

Ramamangalam - 1985. Eighth anniversary, inaugurated by the then governor of Kerala, Ramachandran. Elected K K S Namboothiri as president and Mangathaya Krishnan Namboothiri as secretary. A splinter parallel organisation reared its head in Thrissur but did not survive for long. The same year as a result of the efforts of the activists in Thiruvananthapurum, a new funding venture called "Sree Sankara Funds" came into being and is still active.

Thiruvananthapurum - 1986. Ninth anniversary on a grand scale. K K S Namboothiri continued as president and P D V Nambudiripad elected secretary. Smaller council conventions were organised in Manjeri and Thiruvalla. Brought out the Yoga Kshema Sabha Calendar for the year 1987, which from then on became an annual feature.

Kozhikode - 1987. Tenth anniversary in Kozhikode elected Sankara Raja as president and T C Narayanan Namboodiri as secretary by secret ballot. Sabha activists toured Wayanad and Malappuram districts promoting the presence of the Sabha. This was the year when a branch emerged in every district of Kerala. Efforts were set in motion for a re-evaluation and reformation of Namboothiri traditions.

Kaladi - 1988. The eleventh anniversary held on a grand scale in this enriched land sanctified by the birth of Sree Sankara, inaugurated by Sree Sankaraachaarya of Sringeri and commemorative speech by Vidya Vachaspati V Panoli. The existing president was re-elected and Moorkannur Krishnan Namboodiri became the secretary. An integrated system of recording and accounting across the local, district and central organisations was put into effect.

Chengannoor - 1989. The 12th anniversary was held again at Chengannoor.

Thrissur - 13th anniversary. A plan for giving an award for the best work in regional councils was instituted. Also started a Women’s and a Youth wing for the Sabha although the idea had been floating as early as 1986. To effectuate the plan of building a main centre for the Sabha in Guruvayoor, a four-member committee was formed under the leadership of the originator of the plan, Moorkannoor Krishnan Namboodiri.

Central Office
The committee for the building of the centre met up with the Sankaraachaarya at Sringeri and bought 17 plus cents of land in Guruvayoor on October 11, 1991. Steps were set in motion to obtain an income tax relief certificate so as to collect donations for the building of the centre. A trust was formed and duly registered at Thrissur. However, as the trust conditions needed some modifications, a new trust was formed by the 25-member executive of the Sabha, and in 1992 Chennas Divakaran Nambudiripad, the Thanthri of Guruvayoor, laid the foundation stone for the structure. Unfortunately there the matter ended.

Guruvayoor - 14th anniversary.

Aayamkudi - 15th anniversary.

Thiruvananthapuram - 17th all-State convention. This was a rather memorable one. Even though P D V Nambudiripad and Prof. M V Sadasivan Namboodiri were elected president and secretary, the committee survived only for 6 - 7 months. By then internal dissensions regarding the building of the centre at Guruvayoor surfaced seriously. The specially called meeting of the executive almost froze the project altogether and decided the work should rather be managed and overseen by the main body of the Sabha itself. The resignation of the president placed the mantal on the vice-president Edamana M Kesavan Namboothiri, who, unfortunately declined to take over any responsibility in the matter. K K S Namboothiri, in consultation with some other leading figures, called a special meeting in Alapuzha, and prolonged discussion and dialogues eventually tied up all the diverse loose ends and succeeded in marshalling the activities of the Sabha forward.

Wadakkancheri - 18th anniversary. P D V Nambudiripad re-elected president. All local and district branches re-activated.

Ambalapuzha - 19th anniversary with former chief priest of Sabarimala C E Eswaran Namboothiri as convenor.

Thrissur - 20th anniversary subdued and relatively unceremonious. A notable outcome was that a special appeal was sent to the government signed by all the members in the entire State. The matter of the Guruvayoor Centre was raised again.

Payyannur - 21th anniversary held at Arathil Sri Bhadra Temple, and inaugurated by Elaneer Matthom Swamiyaar, and hosted mainly by the noted Kudal Mana family. This convention was also noteworthy for the fact that for the first time in six years there was a demonstrational procession at the end of the conference. However, this year also saw an unfortunately slight retrogression in the annals of the Sabha activities. The tradition of former office bearers and activists of the Sabha being made special invitees for committee meetings was done away with and the invitations became restricted to the office bearers of the immediate earlier year. As a result the meetings and the subsequent activities lost the benefit of the cumulative experience and collective wisdom of all former associates. Besides, this exclusion also in a way led to the eventual stoppage of the publication of "Yogakshema Dhwani", by the year 2000. Council meetings became less frequent although there emerged some improved support for artistic work.

Guruvayoor - 22nd anniversary, inaugurated by Mridananda Swami., Chief of Sri Ramakrishnasramam. This was a somewhat downbeat convention lacking even the "presence" of a local convention. There was some exchange of dialogue for the resuscitation of the discontinued "Yogakshema Dhwani", but nothing came out of it. The Sabha campaigned actively for the renaming of the soon-to-be inaugurated Cochin International Airport as Sree Sankaraachaarya Airport. Although the media and some other influential campaigners echoed and reiterated the sentiments, nothing changed. Except for the mid-year executive meeting, this was a very uneventful year.

The anniversary in the year 2000 was held in Perumbavoor at the Sree Sankara Vidya Peettham College. This was for the first time that the anniversary was held in one of the three colleges registered under the 25-year-old Sree Sankara Trust. Despite long discussions about the future of the Sabha, nothing really happened. Vediyoor V P Nethran Nambudiripad and Mullanezhi Sivadasan Namboothiri were elected President and Secretary although the delegates from Alapuzha district walked out in protest of the elections. This year was relatively eventful and productive. The office bearers worked positively to end discord among members and some sort of morale and sense of unity was restored in the Sabha,. The president led a "Dharna" at the secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram and presented the government with a statement of demands. In addition, the president of the Sabha held a press conference openly and actively proclaiming his and the Sabha’s solidarity with the thanthri and his perspective of events in the infamous dispute over the "Suddha Punyaaham" at the Guruvayoor temple. During this time there was also some considerable art festivals organised and quite a few district offices also managed to find fixed work stations. Thrissur was declared the "complete Yogaksema district", and was entrusted with the task of overseeing the construction of the Sabha Centre,

Manjeri - 2001. 24th anniversary. May 24 - 25. Women’s wing and the Youth wing were specially recognised. For the first time in the history of the Sabha, a surplus of Rs.30,000 was announced.

The Aggressive Face of the Sabha

A procession with Sate-wide participation was organised at Thiruvananthapuram on Aug.11, 2000, from the Padmanabha Swami Temple to the Secretariat, culminating in a "dharna" at the secretariat and the handing in of a petition to the Chief Minister. The demands in the petition centred around the following issues: the distribution of land for those who had been deprived of their land; appropriate revision in the annuities to temples; revision of the policy of discrimination based on income; enhancement of the pension to disposed landlords, etc. Some success in the last mentioned demand can be counted as one of the chief assets of the year.

The Role of the Yogakshema Sabha

The Sabha played an unquestionably vital role in achieving the realization of the following: The Yogakshemam trust in Kannur; the Gayathri Kalyana Madapam in Kozhikode; The Yoga Kshemam Press in Thrissur; The Pranavam Hall in Ernakulam; and the Sree Sankara Bankers in Thiruvananthapuram.

Today all the local and district councils are actively justifying their existence and role. Some examples of the women achievers are: C K Parvathy, the long-time president of the Antharjana Smaajam at Sreekrishnapuram, Bhoopati Antharjanam from Mavelikkara, Prof. Parvathy Antharjanam from Thiruvananthapuram, E. Radhamani from Alapuzha, and Tangoor Saraswathy Antharjanam

Scholarships and other Distinguished Awards

From the very inception, some of the major activities of the Sabha include encouraging those who excel with high grades in public examinations and tests and felicitating publicly those who win awards and distinctions on a national level. The Sabha has also initiated institutions and stations for helping, supporting, counselling and treating the sick, the needy and the down and out. Our local and district offices have compiled and put out address directories, family directories, etc. Similarly, the public education and consciousness-waking activities of the Sabha include calls to emphasise the need for integrating traditional values with modern educational trends, discouragement of disruptive social processes like non-compatible matrimonial alliances, and the importance of maintaining the true socio-cultural significance of traditional practices like temple worship, Thaanthric rites and rituals, Aayurveda, astrology, "occult" sciences, scripture learning, etc.

It is hoped that the Yogakshema Sabha, despite its unassuming scope, will bring about some kind of unified sense of community and collective cultural consciouness among the Namboothiris and encourage them to the full realization of their potential.

| Article No:24.7.2 | Last update of this article:23rd July 2008 |
Article by :

Prof: K K S Namboothiri (Former President/Secretary, Yogakshema Sabha), Kudalu Mana (Sreegamga), P O : Kalarkod, Alappuzha - 688 003
Phone : 0477-2253645
P D V Nambudiripad (Former President/Secretary, Yogakshema Sabha), Pothuva Thrikka Mana, P O : Kulayattikara - 682 315, Ernakulam Dist.
Phone : 0484-2746051

With Inputs from : Mullanezhi Sivadasan Namboodiri (Former General Secretary, Yogakshema Sabha)

English Translation : Prof: P Bhaskaran Nayar, Lincoln University, UK

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