IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


1st April, 2024 History


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  • Vaikom Satyagraha, from 30 March 1924 to 23 November 1925, was a nonviolent agitation for access to the prohibited public environs of the Vaikom Temple in the Kingdom of Travancore.
  • It holds significant historical importance as the first temple entry movement in India.



  • The Vaikom Satyagraha emerged in the early 20th century in the princely state of Travancore, which had a deeply entrenched caste-based social structure.
  • Lower castes, including Ezhavas, were barred from entering temples and accessing public areas near them due to caste-based discrimination.

Initiation of Agitation

  • The agitation was initiated by T. K. Madhavan, an Ezhava leader, who advocated for temple entry rights through his newspaper Deshabhimani.
  • The agitation included Congress leaders such as K. Kelappan, K. P. Kesava Menon, and George Joseph, along with social reformer E. V. Ramasamy "Periyar" and various activists from different communities
  • Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi's Non-Cooperation Movement, Madhavan sought direct action to challenge discriminatory practices.
  • The agitation began with attempts by activists to walk on the roads near the Vaikom Temple, defying the prohibitions imposed by the Travancore government.
  • Leaders like T. K. Madhavan and K. Kelappan were among the first to be arrested for their defiance, which sparked further protests and arrests.

Progress and Challenges

  • Despite facing opposition from upper-caste Hindus and reluctance from the ruling Maharaja, the movement gained momentum with support from the Indian National Congress.
  • The agitation garnered support from various quarters, including Mahatma Gandhi, who visited Vaikom in March 1925 and held discussions with all involved parties.
  • Leaders like Madhavan and Periyar led strategic protests, focusing initially on accessing roads near the Vaikom Temple.

Satyagraha and Compromise

  • The satyagraha involved peaceful protests, fasting, and patriotic songs, with leaders like Periyar and C. Rajagopalachari providing support.
  • After the death of the Maharaja, a compromise was reached allowing access to three out of four roads surrounding the temple, but the temple itself remained restricted.


  • The Vaikom Satyagraha lasted over 600 days, showcasing unprecedented unity across caste lines and the effectiveness of Gandhian methods of protest.
  • It revitalized the morale of the Congress Party in Kerala and contributed to the broader movement against caste-based discrimination.
  • While the compromise fell short of expectations for some, it paved the way for the Temple Entry Proclamation in 1936, removing the ban on entry into temples for marginalized castes.
  • The movement brought issues of untouchability and caste oppression to the forefront of political discourse in India, leaving a lasting impact on the fight against discrimination.


Q.  Vaikom Satyagraha remains a symbol of the struggle against caste-based discrimination and a testament to the power of nonviolent resistance in effecting social change.  Discuss. (250 Words)