From Ananda Theerthan to Gandhi –Biography of a Gandhian Activist

Siby K. Joseph

Edappally Changampuzha Cultural Centre of Cochin Kerala witnessed a unique cultural conference in which the biography of TRN Prabhu was released on 24 October 2022.  This biography is written in Malayalam viz. Anandatheerathanil ninnu Gandhiyilekku- TRN Prabu ” ( TRN Prabhu:From Ananda Theerthan to Gandhi) was released by Prof. M. K. Sanoo, noted  Malayali writer, social activist  and human rights activist. Prof. K. P. Shankaran who taught philosophy at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University and columnist of the Indian Express received the first copy. This biography sketch  was written by Dr. Vinod Kumar Kallolickal, historian and associate professor at Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam.

Cover page of the book

This book tells the journey of unassuming Gandhian viz Tushiparampil Ramachandran Narasingha Prabhu who hails from Karanakodam village of Cochin in May 1947. TRN Prabhu in his student days was greatly influenced by Swami Ananda Theerthan (1905-1987) a close associate of Sree Narayana Guru who is known for entering temples with Harijans and bathed in public ponds to protest against casteism. Swami Ananda Theerthan’s original name was Ananda Shenoy, who belonged to the Gowda Saraswatha Brahmin family of Tellicherry. TRN Prabhu also happened to be from the same community.

Prof. M. N. Karassery in his foreword for the book  wrote : “ At a tender age  as  a school boy  he  witnessed the fight of Swami Ananda Theerthan  from Northern Malabar for the removal of untouchability in the temple premises  and facing the beatings of caste Hindus. As a student he may have realized the significance of Swami’s fight based on nonviolence. Gandhiji and Sree Narayana Guru were Ananda Theerthan’s role models.  The incident happened at the age of 11 inspired Prabhu to move in that direction in later days.”

Prof. M. K. Sanoo while releasing the biography said “In an era where fame becomes a fashion and those who do not know anything about Gandhi are taking the office of many organizations as a decoration, Vinod Kumar Kallolikal, who wrote a book about unknown persons is worthy of appreciation”     Prof. K. P. Shankaran who received the first copy of the book gave a broad outline of the book.

Naveen Kumar D D, Secretary, Probodha Trust, Kochi, presided over the function. He said “This book describes life and philosophy of a real humanist born in Karanakodam village who is currently serving as the President of Mahatma Gandhi’s Ashram at Sevagram. Swami Ananda Theerthan and Mahatma Gandhi’s method of action are portrayed by the author while unraveling the life of Prabhu ”.

The book release function

N. Madhavankutty, Former Resident Editor of Indian Express, Kochi said “This book is not a usual biography but an attempt of reviving memory of a forgotten Gandhian fighter”.

 Adv. M. K. Sashindran who knows TRN Prabhu from student days recollected “A firm believer in Gandhian vision, values and practice, Prabhu spent fifteen months as a prisoner in Viyyur Jail during the Emergency. He spent his time in jail fighting with the policemen who tried to denigrate Gandhiji and fellow inmates of the RSS. During Gandhi’s birth centenary, a large student youth association was formed in Ernakulam under the leadership of Prabhu. The association was instrumental in mobilizing idealistic and courageous youths to raise voice against injustice, removal of untouchability and adopt the satyagraha method of struggle. In 1968, we had the opportunity to participate in the three-week camp conducted by the Sarva Seva Sangh  in Benaras and listen to the classes of Jayaprakash Narayan and others. On our return to Wardha, we visited Gandhiji’s son Ramdas Gandhi and his wife Nirmala Gandhi. To connect with many Gandhians this trip was helpful. Despite being famous, this Karma Yogi does not want to come to limelight”

P. Ranga Dasa Prabhu, P. Prakash, Adv. D. G. Suresh, Anand G. Kammat, Adv. V. M. Michael and others spoke on the occasion. Dr. Twincy Varghese welcomed the dignitaries Ambalamedu Gopi, a Gandhian activist and writer, proposed a vote of thanks.

The friends, well wishers and others who know TRN Prabhu were not astonished by his absence at this function.

The book was published by Probodha Publications, Kochi. They are planning to translate this book into English. Recently Probodha Publications, Kochi undertook another publication in English  viz. Why Gandhi ?. It was edited by Siby K Joseph,Dayal Paleri and Geethika G.  It was a book Project of Gandhi Peace Foundation Centre, Kochi.

About the Author

Dr. Siby K. Joseph is noted Gandhian Scholar and academic currently serving as the director of Sri Janmalal Bajaj Memorial Library and Research Centre of  Sevagram Ashram Pratishthan, Wardha , Maharashtra. Email:

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