Kesavan left home in search of a job when he was barely fourteen. He tried
many odd jobs but did not stick on to any of them. But he never missed
an opportunity to read a new book that he came across. He read C.V.Raman
Pillai, O.Chandu Menon and Swamy Vivekananda.
One day he attended a meeting of the Aryasamaj. The ideals of Aryasamaj
were against caste systems and the several superstitions that prevailed
at the time. Kesava Pillai enrolled as a member of Aryasamaj and changed
his name to Kesava Dev. He also participated in the riot at Palghat, organized
by the Aryasamaj and was nabbed by the police. Kesava Dev could not fully
endorse the ideals of the Aryasamaj. He soon severed his connection and
went to Trivandrum, where he met Kesari Balakrishna Pillai, Bhodeswaran
and A.K.Pillai. Travancore at that time was agitating against the rule
of the Regency. Kesava Dev had good intellectual company at Trivandrum
and that helped him to mould his own strategy to tackle the vexing problems
of the society. He has also involved in the freedom struggle, in his own
way. He started writing articles and short stories in various periodicals
like Sahodaran, Mahila Mandiram, Swarad, Swadesabhimani and Mathrubhumi.
He also worked as a journalist in Malayalarajyam and Bhaje Bharatham.
Kesava Dev never ceased reading. He had by now read Bernad Shaw, Romain
Roland, Victor Hugo, Knut Hamsun, Maxim Gorkey, Leo Tolstoy and a number
The wealth of knowledge acquired through extensive reading and the wisdom
he gained through his interaction with the leaders in various fields helped
him to excel not only as a writer but also as an orator. Dev never used
to refuse an invitation to address a gathering. He travelled far and wide
addressing meetings often out of his own money. It was during this time
that Dev read about the Russian Revolution. He thought that he has received
the answer for all the problems that the country faced. He even hoped
that the second socialist revolution should take place in India. He declared
himself a communist, a communist long before the party itself had any footing
in Kerala. He prepared a book let on Russian Revolution named "Agniyum
Spulingavum" (Fire and Spark) printed it and distributed personally.
He took upon himself the responsibility of organising the coir workers
in Alleppy into a Trade Union. He thus became the first person to initiate
trade union movement in the State. But Kesava Dev would not stick to anything
permanently. He could not digest the post-revolutionary changes in Russia.
He not only ceased to be a communist but also began working against it.
And for the same reason he vehemently opposed adoption of a politically
coloured manifesto at the Progressive Literary Conference held at Trichur.
Many tried to explain away Dev's attitude saying that he had a weakness
to rebel against everything. But the fact remained that Dev rebelled because
he had the courage of conviction to do so.
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