In 1836 Ayya Vaikundar organized a massive movement named 'Samathva Samajam'. To propagate his concept of equality and dignity of all human beings this organization led a significant role. It was just before of the political philosophy of Socialism framed (Communist Manifesto) in Europe.
Watching all the social and revolutionary reforms led by Ayya Vaikundar, the high caste Hindus became angry as well as afraid. During the Chariot Festival of Sucheendram temple Ayya Vaikundar captured the chariot thread (Kampa vadam) along with his followers and ready to pull the chariot along with the high caste. He declared that the low castes including him have the right to pull the temple chariot. This act provocated the high caste authorities. When the King, Swathi Thirunal, was visiting a nearby place , they complained to him that Vaikundar was deceiving the masses in the name of God. As they had full influence over the King and the State, they convinced the King to arrest Vaikundar.
The King believed the words of the high caste chieftains and consequently sent a troop to arrest Ayya Vaikundar. The troop arrested Ayya Vaikundar from Swamithoppu. Huge crowd of his followers opposed the arrest and agitated. But Ayya Vaikundar advised his followers not to be angry to the troops and to be patient. Let them learn who I am. I will be back to you without any harm ”. Then the troop tied him with hemp ropes and drew by a horse and brought him before the King who was temporarily residing at Sucheendrum, a place about 4 miles from Swamithoppu, during 1838.
Ayya was brought before the King.The King asked several questions. Ayya answered all questions philosophically. At one occasion he even asked to tell the name of an article which was hidden in the right hand of the King. Ayya in his reply revealed that the whole Universe is the creation of one God and there is no difference between the King and Ayya - meant that the soul present in the King , in Ayya Vaikundar and in everybody is same. The King became angry and ordered to take Ayya Vaikundar to Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Travancore. After that the troop brutally man-handled Ayya Vaikundar. The troop was astonished to see Ayya without any change. So they gave poisoned milk to him. Ayya drank the milk with a smile. Nothing happened to him.
At Thiruvananhapuram Ayya Vaikundar was punished with 3 ¾ months imprisonment and put in the jail at Singarathoppu from November 1838. During the imprisonment days he had to face different tortures.
As the high castes wanted to kill Ayya Vaikundar, they induced the King to test Vaikundar for his extraordinary powers. He was asked to drink a heavy dose of poison in milk, but it did not do any harm to him. He was then asked to walk through a high and lengthy flaming fire made with huge wooden logs with ghee poured on. Vaikundar walked into it as a breeze and came out unharmed. Once again they attempted to kill him. They placed Vaikundar inside a lime kiln and lighted it. Inside the burning lime kiln, Ayya Vaikundar was very happy as though flowers were showered on him. Next day the King's men were shocked to see him alive.
Even then the high caste authorities did not stop atrocities on Ayya. They put him in an air-tight room with burning chillies and fumigated it. Ayya Vaikundar was not hurt even a bit. Finally the King decided to test Ayya Vaikundar by putting him with a hungry tiger. A team was sent to the forest to bring a tiger. The team after intensive search could not find even a single tiger. Being afraid of the order of the King they had to catch a tiger .At last they approached Ayya Vaikundar to bless them to get a tiger. Ayya Vaikundar told them that they would now catch a real big tiger and the team indeed got and brought the tiger in a cage to the King. The tiger was put without any food for three days. Then the tiger was led into the cage were Vaikundar was kept. A large number of gatherings were allowed to see this special punishment. But as soon as the tiger saw Ayya Vaikundar, it knelt down before him. The King got angry and asked one of the soldiers to poke the tiger with the other end of the spear. The high caste chieftains were enjoying with laughter .One of them went near to that soldier and gave directions to poke the tiger. When the tiger caught hold of the spear the soldier pulled it out hard. The tiger released the spear suddenly .Then the pointed end of the spear hit the high caste chieftain. He died on the spot. The King became grievous as killing a Brahmin has more sin than killing a thousand cows and he left to his palace.
The King later ordered to release Ayya Vaikundar by signing an agreement forcing him to be only the leader of the people of his caste only . But Ayya Vaikundar refused to sign such an agreement . He said that he has no caste or creed and was common to every body. He also told the King that he would leave the jail only when he desires to do so.
This news spread all over Thiruvananthapuram. People came before him in large groups with fruits, flowers etc., His followers from different parts of south Tamil nadu reached Singarathoppu jail.
On the 19th day of Tamil month Masi (March 3, 1839) Ayya Vaikundar decided to go back to Swamithoppu. With all glories, his followers carried him back to Swamithoppu overnight and reached there on 20th day of Masi. This day is very auspicious to all his devotees and now every year this day is celebrated as Masi procession. Nowadays this procession starts from Thiruchendur and Thiruvananthapuram. It ends with grand functions and is currently a declared public holiday for the districts in South Tamil nadu.
During that period , Nanchi nadu was the storehouse of the paddy in Travancore. These paddy fields were taxed heavily. At the same time the land cultivators had to pay two types of taxes. One for land and other for trees. The majority of the land owners were high caste people. Even then Ayya Vaikundar entered in this issue. He told that the tax can be given to land only and organized hundreds of farmers of Nanchi nadu and proceeded to Thiruvananthapuarm. Addressing the farmers agitation at Thiruvananthapuram , Ayya Vaikundar asked the King to stop tree- tax which was an additional one. He also pointed out that only if the farmer toil in the mud , the King can eat in the golden plate. This event may be the first agitation of farmers against a Kingdom in the history of India.
This part of the 19 th century witnessed cruelty against women . They were not allowed to cover their breasts and below the knee in Travancore. If any woman brought married from Thirunelveli ,they were also bounded to obey this rule.The high caste men used to tore the blouses (rowkka) of the ladies who cover their breast. Here is an example. An young Nadar lady came to market by wearing a blouse at the place called Kottaram near Kanya kumari. The high caste chieftains tore her blouse and captured her wedding chain with thaali. From this incident onwards , this market is known as Thaali Aruthaan Chanthai. The men of Nadar community protested against this. The agitation spread over to different places. Several social workers intervened in this issue. The London Missionary Rev.Charles Mead went to the Court against this anti-human activity. Straight fights between low caste and high caste men became common. The Govt. authorities stood on the side of high caste men. They were not ready to consider the Court Verdict.So the Nadar men finally decided to break the hands of those who tear the blouses of their ladies. Strong fights went on.
The Govt. authorities stood on the side of high caste men. They were not ready to consider the Court Verdict.So the Nadar men finally decided to break the hands of those who tear the blouses of their ladies. Strong fights went on.
Observing this severity of the agitation, the Govt. decided to permit Nadar women to wear the blouse. But they were not permitted to put a shawl over the blouse. Ayya Vaikundar strongly opposed this and lead the agitation which was known as Mel Mundu Samaram. As he foretold earlier Ayya Vaikundar attained Nirvaana on a Monday mid-noon 2nd of June 1851.
After the period of Ayya, many of his prophecies came to reality. Thousands of people became his followers. His spiritual thoughts turned into a new way of life Ayya Vazhi.The people who criticized him while he was alive, had recognized his way of thought-that is Ayya Vazhi.In later period, His Highness Sri Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, the last King of Travancore and one of the successors of the King Swathi Thirunal who punished imprisonment for Ayya Vaikundar , has reverently visited Swamithoppu as a task of history.