Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Vazhathada Revolution: Chavarayachan and the inheritance of printing in Kerala - P K Rajasekharan

ModernismModernism in Kerala has a door made of paper. Through that paper door, we can enter into the history of Kerala Modernity. In the 19th century, it was through the same door that Kerala stepped in to modernism. The political, sociological, and cultural interactions and discourses with European invasion created the background of modernism in the 19th century Kerala. Education, Christianity, and judicial system came along with the European invaders who planted a cultural awareness based on paper and printed materials, in other words paper and ink, which paved the stones of 19th century modernity in Kerala. The face-to-face discourse between technology and culture in that circumstances helped form a specific cultural modernity. It opened up a new field of discourse through printed books, popular literature, and newspapers. Printing machine was the symbol of the technology that molded the cultural modernism. It was then Keralites began to define themselves through the medium of printed words. For the first time Kerala was moving ahead into a culture influenced by technology or technological culture. There are not many studies in Malayalam on the formation of modernity in Kerala that shaped the printing machine and printed books which became the platform of the social transformation that happened later on. The detailed history of printing in Malayalam is yet to be written.
 In recent times, a branch of study named Book History has been developed. There are many great studies on the emergence of books and printing in the West. ‘The printing Press as an agent of change by Elizabeth Eisenstein, ‘The coming of the book’ by Lucian Febvre and Henryjang Martin are the examples. These books, which analyze the history of books and printing in India, are focus mostly on the publication history of North India. They deal with the early typeset in Bengali and Hindi. ‘Print Areas: Book history in India by Abhijith Guptha and Svapan Kumar Chakrabarthy, ‘Movable Type: Book History in India by Oxford University Press, ‘An Empire of Books: The Navar Kishore Press and the diffusion of the printed word in colonial India by Ulrik Stark and ‘Print and Pleasure: Popular literature and entertaining fiction in colonial India by Francesca Orsini are some of the examples. The detailed history of ancient typeset in South India is does appear in these books. The history of typesetting in Kerala has not taken place in these contemporary studies. This ignorance points towards the contradiction in academic researches of history. Here South is treated as an ‘Other’ (stranger). It is a contradiction in the post invasion theory.

The only book which investigates the history of printing and book in Kerala is ‘Aadi mudranam bharathathilum malayalathilum’ by KM Govi. Aadimudranam is the only record available that goes deep in to the history of 19th century typography in Kerala. Govi, who prepared the multi-volume index ‘malayala grandhasoochi’, tries to follow the chronological history of printing in Kerala. Govi was a librarian and a scholar in library science, but the limitation with the research is that it is only a timeline of facts. He did not try to cross-examine the history of printing technology with the European invasion, Christian evangelism, and cultural and political situations.  The theme of ‘aadimudranam’ is the chronological history of book as a material. At the same time, the book is accurate and trustworthy. Most of the other information available about primeval printing and publishing are just repetitions. They are depended on rumors and other sources of information. The authority of that information is dubious.  The method followed by early encyclopedia articles, research papers and thesis are just exhibiting the timeline of printing rather than analyzing the relations between printing machine, book and the modernity emerged in Kerala in the 19th century and the clash between tradition and modernity. This method of historical citations of books creates the need for a fresh documentation of the cultural history of typography in Malayalam.

Facing a new technology or translating ideas and knowledge were not the only problems confronted by those who tried to get into the business of printing in 19th century in Kerala. They had to obtain the expensive and hard-to-get European technology as also learn and apply it into print material in their own mother tongue. In the 19th century, along with technology, such a thing was possible only by taking into consideration the political and economical interests of colonialism. Printing machines and allied equipments were not manufactured in India at that time. It was a Himalayan responsibility for them to depend on the European invaders to procure them, to develop the technology domestically or revamp the available technology to suit their mother tongue and culture. The printers of mid-19th century took up the challenge for indigenization and led Kerala into modernity. The printing presses they established were the real workshops of modernism in Kerala (those were known as ‘achakam’ and chhaapakam’). The legacy of printing was started by European evangelists such as Benjamin Bayly (CMS Press, Kottayam, 1822) and Herman Gundart (Mission Press, Thalassery, 1845) and the indigenization was achieved by the Maharaja of Thiruvithamcore, Swathi Thirunal Ramavarma (Government Press, Thiruvananthapuram, 1836). Maharaja Swathithirunal might not have faced any material hardsips or personal conflicts in the launching of a printing press. He could establish his fortune to modernism by an act of thulyam charthal. At Nagarkovil, which was a part of Thiruvithamcore (now in Tamilnadu), there arrived printing workers like Samadhanam Mesthiri and other employees from Charlse Meed’s LMS (London Missionary Society) and established a printing establishment there (in 1820, before Benjamin Bayley established a press in Kottayam, Charles Meed had started a press, although they printed only Christian evangelistic books in Tamil, there). The English protestant evangelist Benjamin Bailey who was active in Kottayam helped Maharaja and his works by making Malayalam moulds and help in the printing setup. Maharaja’s orders were strong as stone at that time and it applied to the making of moulds also.

The journey of these messengers of modernity was not easy. It was not just the battle for technology, but was a confrontation with the social ideology which considered remembering the past more important than the printed word and Narayam and thaliyola than typesets, by means of which printers including Chavarayachan and Eswarapilla Vicharippukar led the way to the long printing tradition of Kerala as also to modernity. In the process they had to face personal, material and social dilemmas. Early printing in Kerala happened in the battlefield of where clashes occurred between traditional and modern ideologies. The ensuing cultural chaos, the natural clash between mould and hand writing, printing and remembrance, paper and palm leaf are mentioned in Indulekha (1889) written by O.Chandumenon in way back in the 19th century. Indulekha, the first novel in Malayalam, is a product of European/Colonial modernism. The work which is full of the attraction and chaos of modernism, is a historical proof of the issues that confronted Keralites concerning modern technology in 19th century. Towards the off 19th century, when printing and printed books were gaining in popularity. At the time when Indulekha was published (Spectator Achukoodam, Calicut), the prime obstacle in modernity lay between ‘lekham’ and ‘alekham’. ‘Lekham’ signifies written by hand on palm leaves and ‘alekham’ means printed on paper. Indulekha describes the traditional/modern inscription issues of the 19th century when a new cultural product named printed books began to emerge and it played its part in the creation of identity and worldview. Panchumenavan, the eldest at home, comments rather regretfully that Indulekha and Madhavan who had acquired English education and so was not interested in palm leaf books, thus:

“She pities palm leaf books. Do they touch a book other than books printed on paper? Isn’t it the peak of Kaliyuga?” Panchumenavan, who is a representative of handwritten/oral tradition, comments on ‘lekham’ and ‘aalekham’ after listening to the theme of a story told by Indulekha which she had read in printed in an English novel imported from England.

“All those sciences, all are in our Poovalli. None of them would read it. Those  documents in ‘lekha’ are damaged as also scattered. The other day, I asked Madhavan to clean them, but he didn’t do it”, says Panchumenan with much regret.

Indulekha and Madhavan belong to the modern generation who earned
modern education (colonial), read printed books and newspapers and
connected to several communication technologies like telegraph.
Although they prefer printed material to the written variety, they did
not wholly discard traditional values. However, at the same time, they
reject outdated elements and are close to modern technologies. Printed
books and printing technology make them them modern.

In this conflict between print and non-print as in the many other
areas of 19th century, such as transformation, religion, tradition,
language, business capitalism, technology, education, spiritual
entity, modern science was also a part. Chandu Menon reveals another
divergence implied in the clash between manuscripts and printed
materials; the struggle of Kerala society to attain technology. The
novelist, while describing the situation when Panchumenon visits
Indulekha who is reading a book, indicates the struggle to achieve
printing technology at that time. While Indulekha was reading
‘Sakunthalam’, Panchumenon appears and asks her, “Kid, what are you
reading? Another fake story you told me the other day?” The
conversation goes something like this:

Indulekha: No, it is Sakunthalam, uncle. The typeset in this book is
very bad. It is tough to read.

Panchumenavan: Why don’t you buy a good book? Where is it available?
I’ll give you money.

Indulekha: I don’t know whether better print is available or not. I’ll
enquire and let you know.

Panchumenavan: You print your own with a large typeset.

Indulekha: (Laughing) Isn’t that difficult uncle? It is too expensive
perhaps. I don’t know about larger typesets.

Panchumenavan: What is that?

Indulekha: Big letters

Panchumenavan: I don’t know anything about it. Kid, if letters are not
available, buy that too.

In this conversation we can extract some of the observations about 
19th century printing and publishing: ‘The typeset in this book is
very bad. It is tough to read, I don’t know whether better print is
available or not. It is too expensive’. In the late 19th century, when
around 50 printing presses were running in Kerala, this observation by
Chandumenon sheds light on the technical problems and material hurdles
facing printing and publishing. So, we can imagine the situation half
a century ago. Not only printing machines, but Malayalam molds, paper
and ink as well, was not easily available at that time. No different
was the case with technicians and trained workers. To get European
made printing machines, ink and paper was something that needed heavy
investment. Chavarayachan initiated the Kerala style of printing, at a
time when it was a risky task to obtain the technology for printing.
He had only one way to  step into modernity: indigenization of
technology. That is why Kuriakose Eliyas Chavara is marked as the
godfather of Malayalam typography. It is a story of a holy Vazhathada

St. Joseph’s Press, established by Chavarayachan in Mannanam, Kottayam
is the first (Non-Government) press in Kerala. Rather than
establishing a printing setup, it had a more important role to play in
the history of modernity and culture in Kerala. He established a
printing technology, which was a European monopoly, without any
European help; the indigenization of modern technology. He was a
messenger of indigenization in his spiritual life, writings, and other
church activities, and he followed the same in printing also. His path
to that achievement of technology was unimaginable and full of
hindrances. Mannanam press was established by a Keralite without any
technical support from foreigners (17). There were five printing
presses in Kerala at a time when it was comprised of politically
different regions and culturally unique. They were M.S Press,
Nagarkovil (1820), CMS Press, Kottayam (1821), Government Press,
Thiruvananthapuram (1836), and Lithograph Press, Thalassery. Out of
these, except in the case of Lithograph Press launched by Herman
Gundert, all were modern printers that movable types by Herman
Gundert. Then, technology and raw materials were hard to come by, so
the books were very expensive  and publishing was not at all a
profitable industry. Being in such a tough situation, Chavarayachan
entered into the field of printing without any help. History again
proved that those who made history started in the same way.

However much we describe the story of Chavarayachan who tried hard for
to obtain the printing machine, an act which was the symbol and drive
of modernity, it is not at all easy to understand it in today’s
technically and advanced information age. Only hindrances were waiting
for him when he decided to distribute messages from his spiritual
world through modern technology. For Chavarayachan, Benjamin Bailey’s
CMS press was the model for printing technology.CMS press was not an
easy task to reach because Chavarayachan was a Kerala Suriyani
Catholic. Also he had financial problems too. Biography writer Father
A.M.Mundadan has mentioned about Chavarayachan’s agreement with a
printing worker along with Thoppil Kuruvila of Pulinkunnam, who knew
printing technology, in 1843.

Capital was the main challenge faced by Chavarayachan who wished to
hold the hands of modern technology for spreading his spiritual
messages.  In the mid 19th century, those sacred souls kept themselves
away from richness for the poverty they accepted from Jesus. In 1843
November a lady named Kappamavummoottil Mariyathunna donated 12000
chakram for Mannanam aasram (23). With that money Chavarayachan
started his quest for printing machine (24). To learn printing
technology Chavarayachan went to CMS Press, Kottayam in 1844. In his
autobiography ‘Nalagamam’ he described that visit: ‘Since 1844
Chingam, I began to concentrate on printing books. I went to Kottayam
twice but they didn’t co-operate.” It was none other than a different
‘parish, the reason for hesitation to exchange technology. CMS Press
which started two decades ago, have already published many books
including the first printed book in Malayalam, ‘Cherupaithangal’ and
Puthiya Niyamam, and by that time it became a prominent place for

Chavaraychan sought other ways to get the denied technology. He went
to Thankassery, Kollam and met the Vicar Fr. Manuel Rosario. Fr.
Rosario, who hails from Idakochi, informed Chavarayachan’s interest in
printing to the delegate in Thankasseri. The delegate, who was a
Karmalita missionary appointed by the vicar of Varappuzha, wrote to
the Catholic Missions in Chennai and Puthuchery seeking help to get a
printing machine and ink for Chavarayachan. They replied that ink was
not available and would arrange printing machine for an amount of 500
British Rupees and delivery  charges. He explained that difficult
situation in ‘Naalaagamam’: ‘ We wrote to Puthuchery and Madras for
printing machine and ink but they replied that they could send a
printing machine for a cost of 500 British Rupese and delivery charges
which again made hassle for funds. The lack of funds i.e. European
price, led him to design his own printing machine. He began to search
for alternate options.

The other option was in Thiruvananthapuram where the secular
Government printing press owned by Thiruvithamcore Government existed.
Chavarayachan, along with Muttuchira Parambil Paulose Kathanar, went
to the government press and with the help of Catholic employees
learned the operations of printing machine. Chavarayachan returned to
Vazhathata with Poulose, an expert in technology and handicrafts, and
made a printing machine model in wood. Based on that model a carpenter
made a printing machine and thus the machine was ready (28). That
wooden press is still kept in the Chavara museum in Mannanam church.

The next issue was the molds for printing. If printing is agriculture,
mold is the seed, ink is the water and paper is the land. Malayalam
molds were not common or available in market at that time. Making
Malayalam mold was a rare and expensive technology. Invention of
movable types was a revolution in history. The invention by the lord
of types, Johann Guttenberg, in the mid 15th century linked knowledge
with technology. It replaced memorizing and oral circulation of
knowledge to a solid form of printing through the ink, paper and
printing machine.  Tharavali created by Gutenberg was by the reusable
metal movable types. In the form of books it led Europe to science and
industrial revolution. The 20th century information revolution also
has the signature of types created by Gutenberg. The birth of movable
types in Malayalam came after three centuries after Gutenberg. It was
in Rome where the first Malayalam book ‘samkshepavedartham (1772) was
printed, metallic types in Malayalam was molded. Italian priest
Clement Piyaniyus of Karmalitha ashram in Varappuzha was behind it. He
printed the Latin book which discusses Malayalam typesets, (1772) and
Samkshepavedartham which was printed completely in Malayalam in Rome.
K.M.Govi observes that the same Roman types were used in Poulinose
pathir’s sidharubam sue grammatics, 1790) and centum adagio
malabarica, 1791 alias nooru pazhanchollukal.

The first Malayalam types in India were created in Mumbai. Jijibhay
Chapghar of Kurier printing office was the man who molded it in metal;
he was a sculptor who was the earlier master of present day font
designers. Jijibhay was the type designer of Kuriyer press where the
first printed Malayalam book, puthiya niyamam (1811), came out. The
Parsy typographer Behramji Jijibhay (aka. Jijibhay Chapghar) had
already proved his expertise in making types in Gujarathi and Marathi
and Kuriyer press engaged him to make Malayalam types. He did it with
ultimate perfection. Within one year after getting help from
the company he demonstrated his talent and expertise in punch cutting
and molding by creating a series of Malayalam alphabets. Also to
advertise his molds he printed a broadsheet (one sided print) named ‘A
Specimen of Malabar Types’. He printed the broadsheet on 1779 Feb. 27.
By that time the Malabar region including Kozhikode of Samuthiri had
became a part of the Bombay Presidency of British India. He presented
his broadsheet in Malayalam in the form of a petition to the Bombay
Governor Jonathan Dunken. But, Chavarayachan and Beyly did not follow
the 18th century Bombay model of Malayalam type in Kerala. In the
early half of 19th century they had to find their own method for
printing machine and types.

Benjamin Beyly’s types, which opened initiated open typography in
Kerala, was not reachable for Chavarayachan. It was due to different
churches that they followed. To find and own free types and to move
ahead to achieve technolog, he got help from Pazhukkachan of Kottayam.
Pazhukkachan brought Sivaraman, a printing worker of CMS Press, to
Mannanam. Deepika daily in its 1896 April 10th edition says that the
sculptor was a Tamil origin and hails from Thiruvalla: “ Church
Mission Press, when they happened to know that printing was about to
start here, made all precautions to not to give any help. But with the
help of Br. Pazhukkalachan a Tamilian sculptor named Sivaraman from
Kottayam was brought here and made an alphabet in square shape. Since
his employers were Europeans and they had influence and support in
Government, they feared that they would kidnap and torture this
Sculptor. Because of this, Thoppil Kurian Kuruvila from Pulinkunnam
kept this sculptor in his house and they made the types in the utmost
secrecy. The types Sivaraman made undercover were in square shape. It
might be due to the clash between churches that Sivaraman was not able
to make Beyly/CMS style round shaped types. Square shape was the
metallic version following the handwritten alphabets. Sivaraman, who
resigned from CMS Press, made two styles of Types at Mannanam Press
which were used in Deepika daily, says the history of Deepika.
Unfortunately, there is are details available about Sivaraman and his
background. Sivaraman, like the two goldsmiths and a sculptor who made
round shaped alphabets for Beyly, is hidden under the silence and
darkness of history.

Though they made printing machines and types there were so many hectic
issues to be faced by Chavarayachan. Permission from Thiruvithamcore
government to start a press, skilled technicians, paper, ink, led to
make type, were some of them. The vicar of Varappuzha Apostlica
Ludovic Martini helped him to get permission through the British
President in Thiruvithamcore William Culle (1785-1862). Chavarayachan
found Kurian, a press employee in Thiruvananthapuram government press
and a Kochi based black jew who was trained in book binding from
Mumbai to help in printing press. That was a beautiful moment when
modernity in Kerala formed through indigenization of technology.

Grasping technology is also making of skilled labour. Kurian, who was
an unknown figure like Sivaraman the sculptor, spread the seeds of
printing technology. “Since the beginning of work, he taught a few
local people on printing. There were no skilled labourers available
and printing presses were not much advanced, so we had to rely on the
available skilled workers to continue our mission – from Deepika,
1896.Kurian provided training to local people on printing and the
Black Jew trained them to bind books. Chavarayachan spent long days
and nights of struggles to develop the Kerala model printing. Still,
paper and ink were unreachable. He wrote to the Christian religious
centres in Chennai and Pthuchery but the result was disappointment.
Then he moved to Apalluzha, which was his native place and a then
potential business area in Thiruvithamcore, in search of paper and
ink. He found two people who were ready to help him – Ilanjikkal
Cheriyan kunju and Kochu Poulose from Vaikom (Both are members of
unknown figures in the history of printing in Kerala). They made a
contract with an importer named Kameesa to buy paper, ink and lead for
hundred rupees. Chavarayachan thus wrote in Nalagamam about those
painful days of insufficient raw materials: “We were tired with the
shortage of raw materials and with Alappuzha Elinjnjikkal Cheriyan
kunju and Vaikom Kochupoulose. I met a merchant named Kameesa and
asked him to bring paper, ink and led for 100 rupees giving 10 rupees
in advance’. In 1846 September the goods arrived. Chavarayachan and
Father Kanjirappalli went to Alappuzha to receive goods. It was four
times more than what was ordered. They had no money to buy all those
stuff at once. One mister Thoman Chennat bargained with Kameesa on
behalf of Chavarayachan. Kameesa agreed to buy only half the material
but still the money was insufficient. Chennattu Thoman collected 3000
chakram through a chit fund and gave it to Kameesa and gave a
promissory note for the remaining 3000 chakram. Chavarayachan and
Kanjirappalliyachan returned to Mannanam with the printing materials.
By the time they had cleared that debt, there was no money left to
give salary to the workers in the press. At that time of financial
crisis, Itty of Cherppunkal idavaka donated 500 chakram and promised
to give the same amount again which Chavarayachan remembers as the
grace of St. Ausep in his autobiography. Also, many other believers
helped chavarayachan. It was the dakshina for the Malayalam Printing.

Their hard work made it possible to indigenize European technology and
in 1847 they published their first book, Jnjanapeeyusham. It was a
translation of a Tamil Chirstian prayer book of 332 pages and 18 x 12
in size. On 1896 April 10 issue of ‘Nasranideepika’, there was an
article on the silver jubilee of printing press that described ‘The
printed book ‘Jnjanpiyusham’ as a prayer book. This is the first
prayer book available for Christians in Kerala in their mother tongue.
In those times there was no options for getting paper from Europe and
it as not available locally either, so they pasted together normal
writing paper and printed on it’. This might be about the printing in
Mannanam press later on. There might not have been any issues in
printing njanapiyusham because they got the paper in Alappuzha. To
imported paper available there were chances of hindrances like
insufficient funds. After njanapiyusham they might have printed other
spiritual books but now no evidences are left behind.

Suriyani Malayalam Nighantu (248 pages, 1848) by Abraham Kathanar,
Balanikshepam (479 pages, 1860), Njanaprajagaram (207 pages, 1862) by
Bosky, Novena (24 pages, 1863), papikalute sankethamayirikkunna
parisudha daivamathavinte nereyulla bhakthi (106 pages, 1865),
thempavani puthrajananparvam (156 pages, 1866) by Bosky, Mar esope
punyavalante vanakkamasam (338 pages, 1867), dorafa amma eesote
thresya enna punyavalathiyute charithram (314 pages, 1868) were the
christian books published at Mannanam press in the living time of
Chavaraychan. The same printing machine was used to print the first
edition of oldest Malayalam daily Deepika (Earlier ‘Nasrani Deepika)in
1887 April 15. It is an interesting fact that Cavarayachan didn’’t
print any of his works in that press. Only one book of Chavaraychan’s
was published in 19th century. The year after Chavarayachan’s
departure (1871), Father Leoperlse Bekkaro printed the poetry
‘aathmanuthalam’ in the press of Amalothbhava Matha in Kunammavu.

India started printing books before many European countries started
doing it. On 6th September, 1556,  six ortugese invaders placed the
first printing machine in Goa. In 1557 the printed a Portuguese book,
Dekthrina Christa (the first book printed in india). For the next
three centuries there were no improvements in printing in India. They
were limited to Christian evangelic centers and the imperial ruling
system (both were the two sides of a coin). It was the British
invasion that boosted the printing culture in India. In 1858 (after
the 1857 riots) British Raj reformed itself to a modern civilization
and with it book publishing in India became a prominent industry which
could not expand or become an industry during the first three years
because the technology was the monopoly of Europeans. The British
Empire, which established Civil Services and brought India under their
control made it necessary to popularize technology to expand their
invasion further. They were in need of printing technology to fullfil
their  political and trade interests more than the old Christian
evangelism. Before this, when technology was the monopoly of
European/Protestants, Chavarayachan went ahead to obtain it. His
intention was to obtain this European technology without their help
and in a natural way. Desimargam. the establishment of Mannanam
Achukutam was the result of his successful endevour. It was the
beginning of the Kerala tradition of printing, in a domestic way. For
those who look at things by way of spirituality, religious activities
and beliefs, placing Chavarayachan in the history of the emergence of
modernism in Kerala, can find that the crux of his spiritual and
material life was his pledge to gain indigenization.

Chavarayachan who established an Indian and Keralite Christian
missionary laid the foundation of indigenization of belief. He was the
first regional Christian missionary. He formed a heritage which was a
combination of western rituals, Christian practices and Indian
culture. His efforts to express identity can be seen in every
spiritual activity he was involved in. The Sanskrit School (1846) in
Mannanam and translation of Sanskrit texts in easy and understandable
Malayalam were outcomes of his dedication for the realization of this
identity. He followed the same method in the technology of printing.
In the same way, his efforts at printing and establishment of Mannanam
Press became the primary features of Keralite’s approach towards
technology. In the mid 19th century when Kerala faced technology,
which was a part of industrial revolution, through imperial invasion,
Chavarayachan tried to obtain it for his spiritual activities. The
sufferings he had undergone were a part of his ardent approach towards
indigenization. He was denied an opportunity to see the operations of
printing machines in Kottayam. In this context Vazhathata revolution,
which achieved a denied technology in its own way, needed to be
analyzed with the social situation as background. Technology should
not be taken as a product of science of practice. It should be
understood based on the social circumstances too.

Like everywhere else in the world, it is technology that made possible
modernity in Kerala. If once considers modernity in Kerala as a
vehicle for European colonial  invasions printing machine was their
engine. The movable types which led Kerala to modernity in the 19th
century is now almost forgotten. In this new generation there is no
one who has touched the types, printed a notice or even visited a
printing press. The Gutenberg galaxy of movable types would be
unimaginable and strange for the children of the digital era. It is
understandable if they did not get the meaning of struggles faced by
Chavarayachan. We are looking back to the Kerala tradition of printing
started by Chavarayachan from the point of view of this digital
galaxy. Their honorable and precious contributions through lot of
strains are now almost forgotten. The lack of connection from past put
the contemporary generation in amnesia.

It is now difficult for someone who researches to find supporting
documents about the early Malayalam typography which acted as a
mediator to social reformation in Kerala. It is an example of our
laziness and ignorance to keep out history and memories. The entry of
printing in 19th century generated a communication shift that was
never happened before. The shift from hand-written to printing
(remembrance to printing, Narayam to ink and manuscript to paper) made
a revolution in communications. It led Kerala from the ancient Narayam
to modern movable types. The Vazhathata revolution of Chavaryachan was
the starting point.


1.      Historians use the word renaissance to mention the social
reformations in Kerala in the 19th century. It is followed by the
European concept (Renaisance). It was a kind of cultural equalization.
The term is not suitable for the historical and social situations in
Kerala which were different. The more suitable term is modernity. It
does not contain any  shadows of the European concept.
2. Eisenstein, Elizabeth L. 1982 The Printing Press As an Agent of Change.
3. Febure, Lucien & Henri Jean-Martin (1976) The Coming of the Book : The Impact
of Printing, 1450-1800
4. Gupta, Abhijith & Swapankumar Chakravarty (2004) Print Areas : Book History
in India.
5. Gupta, Abhijith & Swapankumar Chakravarty (2006) Movable Type : Book History
in India.
6. Chatterjee, Rimi B. (2006) Empires of the Mind : A History of the
Oxford University
7. Stark, Ulrike (2007) An Empire of Books : The Naval Kishore Press and the
Diffusion of the Printed Word in Colonial India.
8. Orsini, Francesca (2009) Print and Pleasure : Popular Literature
and Entertaining
1.      Fictions in Colonial North India.
9. Govi, K M (1998) aadimudranam Bharathathilum Keralathilum
10. Govi, K M: Born 1930 June 17 in Thalassery. He graduated in
Economics from Govt. Brenner College and Library Science from Madras
University. In 1952 he joined as a Librarian in District Library,
Kozhikkode. In 1956 he joined Culcutta National Library. He worked as
an employee of the Cultural department of the central government. He
retired in 1987. In 1994, when his wife Pushpaveni retired as a Chief
Information Officer, they returned to Thalassery. He prepared a seven
volume catalogue of books published in Malayalam till 1995 (1970 –
1995). He died in 3rd December 2013.

11. Names like Samadhanam are a part of British Protestant
Christianity. Indians who converted to Christianity were given a local
name. It was common in Southern Travancore and Tamilnadu. The names
Njanarputham/Njanalbhutham (Wonder of the wisdom, Mariyarputham
(Miracle of Maria). Jnjanappuvu (Flower of Wisdom), Santhappuv (Flower
of Peace), jnjanathankam (Golder Wisdom), Devasahayam (God’s Gift)
were  born in that way.

12. Chavarayachan: Kuriakose Eliyas Chavara. One of the founders of
the first domestic Christian missionary in India (CMA).  Born on 10th
February 1805, Kainakari, alappuzha. He was sworn as a priest in 1829.
In 1833 he led the mission to establish the first Suriyani Catholic
Seminary at Kottayam. In 1829 started a Sanskrit School at Mannanam.
He revised the prayer of Suriyani Cotholics. He wrote the devotional
poems Anasthasyayute rakthsakshym, marana veettil paatunnathinulla
paana and aathmanuthapam. Another write up by him was Nalagamangal, a
chronicle of missionary activities. All his works were published after
his death. He died on 3rd January 1871. On 7th April 1984 he was
declared as the blessed one and on 8th February 1886 as a saint by the
catholic church. In April, 2014 April Pope Francis I first took the
decision to raise him as a saint.

13. Eswarapilla Vicharippukar (1815-1874): According to K.M.Govi,
Eswarapilla, who started Keralavilasam press in Kottakkakam
Thiruvananthapuram in 1852-53, is the father of publishing industry in
Malayalam (Govi KM (1998) aadimudranam bharathathilum keralathilum,

“Eswarapilla started the first printing press in Kerala for the sake
of literary and cultural renovation. He printed classics with
perfection and triggered a profit oriented publishing and sales. He
published ’Manipravala Keerthanangal (1854), Nalacharitham Kilippattu
(1855), Thunchathezhuthachan undakkiya devimahathmyam kilippattu
(1858), ampathinaalu divasathe aattakkathakal (1858),
manipravalaslokam sreekrishnacharitham (1858) and sivapuranam (1861).
Vicharippukar is the name of his position under the rule of the king.

14. Chanthumenon O (1890) Indulekha, Page 81.
15. Chanthumenon O (1890) Indulekha, Page 80-81
16: Chanthumenon O (1890) Indulekha, Page 86-87
17. Govi, KM (1998) aadimudranam bharathathilum malayalathilum, page 124
18. London Mission Society (LMS), a protestant Christian evangelist
establishment, in Nagarkovil which was a part of Thiruvithamcore and
now in Tamilnadu. Charles Meed, an English Missionary, started the
press at his home. He printed Christian books in Tamil.

19. A printing press in Kottayam established by the English protestant
evangelist, Benjamin Bayly (1791-1871). They published many Malayalam
books including the first printed book in Malayalam ‘Cherupaithangal’.
CMS press transformed Malayalam types in a revolutionary way. It was
Bayly who made the first Malayalam types. He created round shaped
types than squire shaped ones, made outside Kerala.

20. A press established by Thiruvithamcore Maharaja Swathi Thirunal
Ramavarma in Thiruvananthapuram. The types were provided by Bayly.
During 1855-70 Charles Meed administrated the press. Novelist
C.V.Raman Pillai was the Superintendent of the press. It is the only
Early Achukutam exists now.

21. A press established by The German Evangelist and member of Basal
mission Herman Guntert in Illikkunnu, Thalassery. Guntert was a
scholar and linguist and he made great contributions to Malayalam
language. He published books like Orayiram pazhanchollu (1850),
Malayala bhasha vyakaranam (1851), Vajrasuchi (1851), Puthiya Niyamam
(1852), Kshethraganitham (1857), Panjchathanthram (1861) and
periodicals like Rajyasamacharam (1847) and Paschimodamayam (1847).
Nobel laureate German novelist Herman Hesse is the grandson of

22. Mukundan AM (2008) Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara Page 348

23. Chakram: an old Currency in  Thiruvithamcore. 16 kaasu = one
chakram. 4 chakram = one panam. 7 panam = one government rupee.

24. Mundadan (2008) Page 348.

25. Chavarayachan (2000) chavarayachante samboorna krithikal, vol. 1, page 41

26. The first printed book in Malayalam also known as
‘Cherupaithangalkku upakarartham Englishil ninnum paribhashappetuthiya
kathakal’ was printed in 1824 and contains 8 stories.

27. Chavarayachan (2000) Page 42
28. Mundadan (2008) Page 350

29. Non-Keralites used the word Malabar for entire Kerala in the
beginning of 20th century.
30. Govi, KM (1998) Page 91

31. Courier press of Courier printing office. It was a prominent press
in Mumbai. Bombay Courier, the second largest daily in Mumbai was
published from the Courier press. It is assumed that the press started
in 1790. William Ashberner, born 1769, was the Editor between 1794 –
98. Ashberner died on 7th September 1798 in Mumbai.

32. Govi, KM (1998) Page 97

33. Broadsheet: A paper with the size of 14 – 18 inches width and 22 –
25 inches length. Newspapers printed in wide sheets other than tabloid
also called broadsheet. The name derived after the large sized papers
with a lot of information printed on it and sold in the streets.

34. Mundanad (2008) page 350

35. Ibid Page 350

36. Thomas Ikkara, Rev. Dr (2012) AD., Deepika charithrathinte
deepasikha, Page 32 – 34

37. Mundadan 2008 Page 350 – 51

38. Thomas Ikara, Rev. Dr (2012) Page 35

39. Chavarayachan (2000) Page 42-43

Mannanam Church in 1841 and he was the same Kanjirappalli
Puthanpurayil Kunjnjakki kathanar who died before 1855.

41. Mundadan 2008 Page 351

42. According to Father A M Mundadan who wrote the biography of
Chavarayachan, Njanapiyusham was published in 1846. He quotes Father
Bernard who wrote Malayalathile ka.ni.mu sabhayute charithra
samkshepam (Mannanam 1989)

43. Thomas Ikkara, Rev. Dr (2012) Page 36.

44. Darnton, Robert (2002) Page 239

45. Letterpress Printing: A printing method which uses movable types.
It arranges the types and prints on paper with ink applied on it. It
was the major printing method from the time of Guternberg and till
mid-20th century. After the arrival of offset printing this technology
was outdated. It was used until the end of the 20th century for minor
printing works.

46. Gutenberg Galaxy: This word was coined by the media scholar Marshall McLuhan. He used this term in his book The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man (1962). McLuhan, who analyzed influence of printing technology in the European culture and popular media, mentioned the world of knowledge in printed books as Gutenberg Galaxy. He used the term ‘Gutenberg Man’ to address those who were enlightened with the influence of printed books.


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