During the nineteenth century and the early part of twentieth century, almost all Hindu castes in Kerala went through turbulence, rebelling against the existing order that was perhaps the most rigid in India. Together, these social movements came to be known as <em>Navothanam</em> (Renaissance) in Malayalam. Sri Narayana Guru, who was born in the numerically strong Ezhava caste, through practical vision and spiritual leadership, transformed the social outlook of his community. But his impact went beyond the community. He was the principal change agent of the era for the downtrodden.