followed by the Bhakti movement popularized by Hindu saints, who created a mental and
religious stir among people culminating in Sankaracharya's Advaita,in the 9th century.
Long before the advent of Aryans, people of ancient Kerala
followed Dravidian practices, which were not based on any particular religious philosophy.
They worshipped totem gods and innumerable spirits inhabiting rivers, trees, hills, etc.
There were local deities guarding the borders of villages and demons that caused
diseases. They propitiated them by offering food to the accompaniment of music and
While the people were thus following Dravidian practices
of worship, religions from the North, viz., Jainism, Buddhism and Brahminism entered
Kerala in the centuries prior to the beginning of the Christian era. Though
these religions gradually got converts among the people, the majority still continued to
observe Dravidian practices. It will be interesting to see what impact each of these
religions made on the people and how the Dravidians were ultimately absorbed within the
fold of Hinduism by the incoming Aryans "by a general process of social assimilation
and cultural synthesis."