ABRAHAM MALPAN (1796-1845)
The Syriac word ‘Malpan’ means teacher. Elderly priests who used to teach and train candidates to priesthood were usually referred to as Malpans, Palakunnathu Abraham Malpan (1796-1845), also known as the Martin Luther of the East is the most known face in the Palakunnathu family. He was a teacher and a social reformer who lived during a tumultuous phase in the history of India. He was a person who took advantage of the English education to read, write and open the mind to the various social handicaps present in the society then. His reformist zeal and forward looking agenda was instrumental in bringing about various reforms, especially the use of Malayalam instead of Syrian in religious worship in the traditional Syrian church. He believed in the purity of mind and simplicity in living and lived by setting an example. This, along with various measures of social reform within the church led to the branching out of a new church called Marthoma church, having a membership of close to 1.6 million members spread across the world.