HIS LIFE AND TEACHINGS
ALL KERALA AWAKENED
Although the Yoga Mutt at Quilandy had been gifted to the President Maharaj in June 1914, and the public was expecting the Swami to go over there immediately and consecrate it as an Ashrama, the Swami could not do so. After his return from Benares, he turned his attention to that centre. The usual Birthday Celebration at Bangalore being over, he started for Quilandy. The Swami had in the meantime given instructions for the arrangements to be made for the consecration. He had his friends and devotees invited from different parts of Kerala. He had also brought down Bhakta Neelakanta from Thiruvella to be in charge of the Ashrama to be opened at Quilandy. The Swami, accompanied bv Swami Vishuddhananda, broke his journey at Ottapalam, stayed there for a few days and reached Quilandy on the 30th March 1915. The next day the first Ashrama in British Malabar was duly consecrated. All the usual rites and, ceremonies such as Homa, etc, were performed. The poor were sumptuously fed. Devotees from Travancore and all parts of Malabar and South Canara had mustered strong. Public meetings and speeches and Swamiji's illuminating conversations followed, The function really looked an all-Kerala affair. The Swami remained there for a few days giving interviews and instruciions and making arrangements for the future conduct of the Ashrama. On his return he touched Tellicherry and Calicut, halted for a few days at Ottapalam and reached Bangalore on the 1st of April.
The Swami had now seen Kerala, from North Malabar to South Travancore, had visited not only the important towns, but also small villages in the interior with no roads or water communication, had met many of its leading men and a very large number of literate and illiterate men and women who did not know any of the languages known to him, but whose eager faces revealed a thirst for knowledge and information. He saw the thirst could be quenched and the teachings of Sri Gurumaharaj and Vivekananda disseminated broadcast only by an organ in the local vernacular and not by preachers alone, however large in numbers they might be. With this idea in mind, he came to Kerala again and discussed the matter with his friends and devotees at Quilon. It was decided to publish a monthly journal devoted to the cause of Gurumaharaj. Swamiji gave it the name 'Prabuddha Keralam' (awakened Kerala). Dr. Tampi, one of the earliest devotees and one of the staunchest supporters of the movement was there in service at the time. There was a very good local press. The first issue was launched on the Vijaya Dasami Day, in 1915 and it became widely popular. The organ has all along been serving its purpose. Almost all the important Ramakrishna Literature has also been rendered into the vernacular of the District.
During this tour the Swami visited Kottayam, a great Christian centre, on the 7th of August. At the southern entrance of the town, he was received by the members of the local Ramakrishna Bhakta Jana Sangham and several gentry of the place and escorted with a bhajana party to the residence of Sri K. Padmanabhan Tampi (the Divisional Superintendent of Police, later Swami Parananda). The Swami blessed the students of the Ramakrishna Sunday School, who had taken part in the Bhajana. The same evening he gave a discourse on religion to the members of the Young Men's Hindu Association. Next day there was a public discourse given by the Swami in the Rama Varma Union Club where tough religious questions were put to him by the Hindus as well as by the Non-Hindus and the Swami answered them all with his usual eloquence and brilliance. Informal talks also were held by the Swami. The next morning he left for Alleppey.
Since his first visit to Alleppey, a small body of educated men, Messrs. G. Krishna Pillai, Krishna Menon, P. G. Govinda Pillai and others, had been congregating regularly for religious worship and the study of religious books, Swamiji used to visit them on his journeys encourage them in their activities and help them in their studies.