Vellithuruthi Thazhathillathu Raman Bhattathiripad or V. T. Bhattathiripad or V. T. was a social critic, well-known dramatist and one of the leading lights of social reforms in Kerala, especially in the Namboodiri community of the State.
Born on March 26, 1896 as the son of Thuppan Bhattathiripad and Sridevi Andarjanam in Kaippilly Mana at Mezhathur in Malabar, he started his Vedic education at the age of five. Later he continued and completed his Vedic studies under the patronages of Pathakkara Manaikkal Meledam and Muthukurissi Mana Kunjunni Namboothirippad. After his studies, he worked as a priest at the Mundamuka Sastha Temple. It is from here that he started to learn the Malayalam and English languages.
Knowledge of the Malayalam language opens him to a world of which he was hitherto unaware. Through the magazines and journals like Keralapathrika and Yogakshemam he learned about the sufferings in his communities. Later he joined the Edakkuni Namboodiri School for learning English. During his tenure there he started a magazine called ‘Vidyarthi’.
The freedom struggle happening in north India inspired him to attend the 1921 Congress meet held at Allahabad and this event made him an outcaste from his community but it inspired him to start his fight against casteism. He encouraged widow remarriage in the Brahmin society and tried to reform the conservative practices of the Namboodiri community in particular and the society at large. In 1931 he conducted Yachana Yathra or Begging March from Thrissur to Chandragiri River which lasted for seven days as part of a fund collection.
His play ‘Adukkalayil Ninnu Arangathekku’ played a very powerful role in the social reformist movement led by Namboodiri Yogakshema Sabha. It was the first play in Malayalam to have a definite and concrete social objective.
He also conducted the first mixed-race marriage in the Brahmin society. He is credited with starting the progressive theatre movement of Kerala at a time when stage performances were in the hands of social reformers and political activists.
Some of his noted works are Rajanirangam, Kannirum Kinarvum, Karmavipaakam, Sathyam ennathu Ivide Manushyanakunnu, Vedivettam and Kalathinte Sakshi. The legendary social reformer and writer died on 12 February 1982.