The SNDP movement was an example of a regional movement born out of conflict between the depressed classes and upper castes. It was started by Sree Narayana Guru Swamy (1856- 1928) among the Ezhavas of Kerala, who were a backward caste of toddy-tappers and were considered to be untouchables, denied education and entry into temples. The Ezhavas were the single largest caste group in Kerala constituting 26 per cent of the total population. Narayana Guru, himself from the Ezhava caste, took a stone from the Neyyar river and installed it as a Sivalinga at Aruvippuram on Sivaratri in 1888. It was intended to show that consecration of an idol was not the monopoly of the higher castes. With this he began a revolution that soon led to the removal of many discriminations in Kerala’s society. The movement (Aruvippuram movement) drew the famous poet Kumaran Asan as a disciple of Narayana Guru. In 1889, the Aruvippuram Kshetra Yogam was formed which was decided to expand into a big organisation to help the Ezhavas to progress materially as well as spiritually.
Thus the Aruvippuram Sree Narayana Guru Dharma Paripalana Yogam (in short SNDP) was registered in 1903 under the Indian Companies Act, with Narayana Guru as its permanent chairman, and Kumaran Asan as the general secretary. (In the formation of SNDP, the efforts of Dr Palpu must be acknowledged. He had started the fight for social justice through movements like Ezhava Memorial, Malayali Memorial, etc.)
Sree Narayana Guru held all religions to be the same and condemned animal sacrifice besides speaking against divisiveness on the basis of caste, race or creed. On the wall of the Aruvippuram temple he got inscribed the words, “Devoid of dividing walls of caste or race, or hatred of rival faith, we all live here in brotherhood.” He urged the Ezhavas to leave the toddy tapping profession and even to stop drinking liquor.