Unsung Heroes | History Corner | Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, Ministry of Culture, Government of India

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Paying tribute to India’s freedom fighters

T. R. Krishnaswamy Iyyar

Palakkad, Kerala

July 11, 2022

T.R. Krishnaswamy Iyyer was a Tamil Brahmin by birth in Palakkad. He was a prominent freedom fighter and a champion of the upliftment of lower caste people in society.

He passed BA from Maharajas College, Thiruvananthapuram, and BL (Bachelor of Law) from Madras Law College. He practiced law in Palakkad for a short period after his course.

In 1921, in order to join the freedom struggle, he left his law profession and joined the Non-Cooperation Movement. In the Second Congress Meeting at Palakkad in 1923, he organized a massive inter-caste dining after the meeting. Under his leadership, lower caste people from Panar and Nayadi communities were brought to the feast and prominent Congress leaders also joined in the inter-caste feast. After this meeting, high caste Brahmins turned against him and he was expelled from the Brahmin caste.

He started Sabari Ashram at Palakkad, after this incident for the education of students of the lower caste people. This Asharam later became the center of the freedom movement of Malabar. In the  Vaikom Satyagraha, for the right to walk on the roads in front of the temple by the lower caste people, one group of Satyagrahis came into Vaikom from Sabari Ashram under T. R. Krishnaswamy Iyyer.

As an active member of the freedom movement, Iyyer brought a seventy-member team from Palakkad to Calicut for Salt Satyagraha in 1930. He and his team were lathi-charged by the British police at Calicut. He was arrested and imprisoned many times due to his participation in the freedom struggle. He was more interested in the implementation of Gandhian programs of freedom movement like the abolition of untouchability, propagation of Hindi, propagation of Khadi, and promotion of the welfare of lower caste communities. He died in 1935.