'It is now generally believed that first of all on the basis of ‘Colour’ there arose this question of caste between the white complexioned Aryans and the dark colored non-Aryans (or Dasyus). The very use of the word ‘Varna’ which means ‘Colour’ for caste by the Aryans would lend support to this theory of the origin of the caste system on the basis of color'. 4
The Missionaries fought against this system and allowed all the people to get education and jobs in their establishments. This attracted many people of the lower class to Christanity. Though the social reformation were aimed at the converted Christians, it benefited all the people belonging to the lower class. The universal brotherhood of man biased upon the father hood of God was the basis for the concept of the equality of man. This was the driving force of Missionaries in bringing equality of all people. Even today one of the main reasons of BJP's, RSS' and VHP's hostility towards conversion is that it rises the status of the lower class and question their authority. The Brahamins found this system as a source of free labor and exploited the lower class into working for them for generations with very little or no payment. Even in the present times there are many places in India where this system still exists and is protected by the athorieties.
V Nagamiah, in the 1891 census, wrote that the lower caste people were lifted only by the efforts of the missionaries. He said that the missionaries went into the homes of the poor, lifting their living standards. Robin Jeffrey in his book "Decline of Nair Dominance", said that the christian Missionaries influenced the British Government to pressure the Travancore leaders to challenge the special privilege and authorities of the upper caste and to give more priority to solve the grievances of the lower caste.
Earlier education was restricted to the Brahmins. It was in the 'gurukula' method. The people who took leadership in spreading modern education in Kerela were the Christian Missionaries. The Services rendered by the societies like London Missionary Society(LMS), Church Missionary Society(CMS), Basel Evangelical Missionary Society(BEMS) are very significant.
The Protestant Missionaries began their activities in Travancore and Cochin during the beginning of the 19th Century. The Local rulers also encouraged them. William Tobias Ringeltaube was the first London Missionary Society's missionary in Kerala. He established many schools in different places of South Travancore. Before long, Nagercoil became an important educational center. Charles Mead, John Cox and Samuel Mateer were some of the London Missionary Society's missionaries who contributed very much in the social and educational fields of Kerala. The contribution made by Johanna Celestina, in the field of women's education, is of great significance. She established a school for girls in Nagercoil in 1819.
The Church Missionary Society missionaries established a Grammar School at Kottayam, the present CMS College. Among the missionaries who worked at Kottayam, the names of Benjamin Bailey, Henry Baker and Joseph Finn deserve special mention. They started schools for boys and girls in Kottayam, Alapuzha, Cochin and so on. J. Dawsan, a British missionary started an English School in Mattanchari in 1818.
Basel Evangelical Missionary society was responsible for starting western education in Malabar. Herman Gundert was the most famous missionary of this society. Later the Roman Catholic Missionaries also gave significant contributions to the progress of education in Kerala.