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The life and miracles of Bhuvanendran

The life and miracles of Bhuvanendran

Introduction 

Beloved members of Tharisuthala Family , especially the members of the younger generation, ought to know some very special events, (sometimes strange and intriguing episodes) that occurred at least two and a half generations ago in one of its branches (i.e., Sasthanamthala a.k.a. Cherukol Puthen Veedu). Many of the senior members who are aged over sixty years and several others of same generation were witnesses of some or all the extraordinary and amazing events.

The part of miraculous events narrated in the following pages were already made in print by a well-known journalist of yesteryears turned hermit, Sri Varinjam Raghavan Pillai, who chose to live in the line of sight of Bhuvanendran and in fact within the same homestead and fortunate to witness many of the miracles. Sri.Pillai who strongly held a personal view that Bhuvanendran was a reincarnation of Lord Krishna, wrote a biography titled Bhuvanendra Khadgi which first appeared in print in the year 1950. As this book has become a very rare document and only one or two families are in possession of the entire book in tact. The elder members of these families preserve it with a great deal of devotion considering it a holy document and most of them are reluctant to lend it to any one. However, Sri. Thanappan Nair (a bountiful beneficiary of Bhuvanendra Prasadam), Kaithamukku, Trivandrum republished the book in 2008 in its original format. While some of the details included in this article have been borrowed from the aforementioned book entitled Bhuvanendra Khadgi of Sri. Varinjam Raghavan Pillai, others are drawn from the valuable information kindheartedly provided by my maternal uncle, who was one of the many playmates of Bhuvanendran. In addition I have also included additional information recollected from my own memory of my acquaintance with this extraordinary celebrity during my childhood days. I was one of those lads who would join with other kids to play with Bhuvanendran especially on weekends. When I was an young boy, my dad had weekly offs on Saturdays and Sundays. I, as a lad passed my sixth year, along with my mom and dad, visited the Cherukol Puthen Veedu where Bhuvanendran grew on almost all week ends. We used to remain there over night and thus had occasion to witness and experience many miracles associated with Bhuvanendran. For the preparation of this work I have also made use of an essay written by Late Karunakaran Nair (      Gandhari Amman Kovil, Trivandrum), yet another maternal-uncle of Bhuvanendran, who is also known to have used the book Bhuvanendra Khadgi, the original source, liberally.

The Setting

The Cherukol Puthen Veedu is located north of Eravipuddorkada, situated at 43 km from Trivandrum in the NH 47. It is from here the Kallupalam road branches off in an easterly direction. One can easily reach the Cherukol Puthen Veedu positioned at a distance of about 600 m , walking along the Kallupalam road and then making a right (easterly) turn proceeding further about 50 m , along the right side of an irrigation canal. The northern side of the east facing Cherukol Puthen Veedu will come into view to any one from this locality, overlooking a relatively long valley (paddy fields) with its associated transient streamlet flowing unhurriedly along its eastern side. The Chanikulam, – A pond that becomes dry during summer, having its western abutment juxtaposing the south eastern corner of the Cherukol homestead, provides irrigation water to the adjoining paddy field. Near the western margin of Chanikulam one can also see a small structure built for worship. In the paddy field, in the line of sight from the east door of Padippura of Cherukol house there is a shallow well, a perennial source of drinking water which met the needs of the Cherukol household and several other dwellings of the neighborhood during former days. A band of girls and women used to fetch water from the well to the kitchen and other places.

There were five gable roofed thatched-buildings in the compound of Cherukol house. Open yards separated all the five structures. The Thai Veedu (the main building) has a nalukettu with a tiny central open courtyard (anganam) that efficiently served to allow enough sunlight to light the interior. A Cattle shed existed outside the southern perimeter, beyond and south of the Thekkethu or traditional construction commonly found associated with Nair houses. The thai Veedu (the main structure) was located exactly to the north of Thekkethu

The overall scenery of the surroundings of the Cherukol Puthen Veedu during the pre-independence days was typically rural or rustic characterized with the presence of a hill slopes on its eastern side with a foliage of dominated with tall , palm trees (Palmyra) , sporadic towering aanjili or ayini trees1, and much spread out cashew trees and several others. Low-lying patches of the locality were occupied mostly by paddy with random patches occupied by the cultivation of betel leaf vineyards , plantain and tapioca. The family shrine of Cherukol tharawad was situated at a distance of hardly a kilometer on the side of the Kallupalam road. There was no electric supply, telephone lines, or pipes supplying drinking water anywhere in the neighbourhood of Cherukol House. Nearest school was the one situated at Swamiyarmadom in the NH-47m located at a distance of 2 km from the Cherukol house. Hospitals with minimum basic facilities or services existed at three kilometers northwest at Marthandom. The Bhadrakali Amman Kovil, in the Kallupalam road was hardly 0.9 km away.

The Roots at Cherukol

 

The Late Sri. Panayappattu Padmanabha Pillai, who lived with his poor eyesight during the last two decades of his life, and his wife Smt. Kochuparvathy Amma (a member of Tharisuthala tharawad) and their six children (three boys and three girls), were the family that lived in the Cherukol Puthen Veedu. Their s was a middle class family, that possessed landed properties that comprised both dry lands as well as paddy fields and a number of heads of cattle, some of which provided milk and others meant for plowing their paddy fields. Smt. Rudrayani Amma, the fifth offspring, of Sri Padmanabha Pillai, was married to Sri. Somasekharan Nair (son of Kappiyara Panayapatty Kunjan Pillai, East Neyoor). This couple remained unhappy as they were not fortunate to have any children long after their marriage for over a period of nine years. The couple used to go regularly to the Thiruvankod temple for offering prayers and rituals to earn the blessings of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu of that famous temple.

The Birth of Bhuvanendran

 

Bhuvanendran, with certain qualities of divinity, was born in a hospital at Marthandom, as the only child to Sri. Somasekharan Nair and Smt. Rudrayani Amma the (5th offspring of Panayappattu Padmanabha Pillai and Kochuparvathy Amma of Sasthanamthala Puthen Veedu) on the morning of 4th of the month of Vrischigom in M.E 1121. His birth star was Karthika and the day was a full moon day. It is said that the child remained almost motionless after his birth and it was only after several minutes that it showed any signs of life. The child had several birth marks such as a dot in the forehead; black colouration in its back and near it s the navel, and a black mark in the neck. During traditional naming ceremony the parents named the child Bhuvanendran.

Bhuvanendran s subsequent life history was full of a number of mystic and miraculous deeds and events. The majority of people today may discard most of these as absolutely unbelievable, entirely impossible and altogether unworldly till his final disappearance from this world.

The Beginings

 

It has already noted that there was a Thekkethu a traditional place of worship in commonly found associated with many Nair tharawads in Southern Kerala , in the homestead of Cherukol house. On a late evening, a pooja was being performed in that Thekkethu by a Brahmin priest (Potti) of Ettavakkottu Madom. Sri. Karunakaran Nair who was witnessing it has narrated the incident that happened on that day. Bhuvanendran, then only an eight month old child, was asleep in a traditional or customary cloth cradle in a portion of the tharawad house. At about 9 p.m when the ritual worship was about to conclude with its final ritual waving of lighted lamp (aarathi) The attention of every one assembled there was focused in the act of performance of worship by the priest and eagerly waiting for the closing aarathi, the child Bhuvanendran who was in the cloth-cradle cried noisily and caught the attention of its grand mother. She instantly rushed to the site and witnessed the strange sight of a coat of dripping kalabham paste on Bhuvanendran s belly. All of a sudden enraged grand mother, called her daughter Smt.Rudrayani shouting aloud

Rudram come here. Who did the mischief of coating the kalabham on the belly of the child who was calmly fast asleep? As per the tradition prevailed in those days the ritual or religious practice of marking with sandal or other items was a taboo until the first birthday such and in fact it will be performed on in a temple premises. The mother, Rudram answered Mother, I was in the Thekkethu and the priest (potti) did not serve us with prasadam and therefore how can I apply kalabham on the child . Among the persons who were gathered there those who received the strange news went inside the room where the child was lying and witnessed the miracle of dripping kalabham paste on the child s belly. Then grandma grabbed the child, cleaned the belly and placed him back in the cradle singing a lullaby song (tharattu) to resume his sleep. Soon one by one left the room, and retired for the night s sleep. This was the initial documented miracle associated with Bhuvanendran.

The next morning, the child was given a bath and a cup of milk and placed in the cradle for its morning nap. All visitors who took part in the ritual worship in the Thekkethu on the previous night joyfully had the pleasure of a grand breakfast in which the pooja prasadam were also an item of the menu. While we were having our breakfast, we heard the sound of its loud crying. This time the reason was a sprinkling of vibhuti and basil (thulasi) leaves on Bhuvanendran s body. Every one who witnessed the scene was astonished. Some persons who were assembled there expressed the opinion that it was probably an act of some ghost or evil spirit and suggested that the parents should consult an expert astrologer and ask for appropriate remedial measures to protect the child from further harm.

There were frequent incidents of sightings of kalabham2, bhasmam, ( vibhuti) chandanam( sandal paste ), flowers commonly employed in idol worship, and even thrimadhuram, fruits, panchamrutham etc on the child s body, whether in sleep or while awake and playing. No one had any clue about how and from where these offers came. Such incidents frequently happened since the first birth day of Bhuvanendran. And news of such strange and extraordinary events spread far and near attracting more and more visitors to Cherukol house.

Most of the visitors who came to see Bhuvanendran returned with a conviction that there is something saintly or supernatural about the events and that the child is an exceptionally superhuman wonder. Biographer Varinjam Raghavan Pillai first came to Cherukol house only four years after Bhuvanendran s birth (1-6-1125 Makaram). In a later book Who was it? authored by Sri. Varinjam Raghavan Pillai, the biographer, states in its preface that this child is very much like the one described in the Upanishad Aniyorananayan Mahathemahiyan . Sri. Pillai uses poetic language, metaphors and similes to describe the child and concludes by stating that the child s actions, deeds, playfulness and style of relating with others are all very much similar to Lord Krishna s childhood days in the Gokulam.

As per the advice received from astrologers parents of Bhuvanendran conducted special poojas, manthravadams, homams, and various amulets in strings were given to the child for wearing in its body. In fact, one occult artist fell unconscious during his performance of manthravadam. For a earning a simple gaze or look of the miracle child, many people of repute continued to come to Cherukol house. The list includes prominent personalities such as judges, journalists, doctors, and several others from all walks of life. Among them were the wife of Sri.Mannathu Padmanabhan, Justice Sri. Chokkalingam Pillai, Sri.Koikal Balakrishnan Thampi and Prof. Sreekandath Gopala Menon of University College.

When the close relatives of the child decided to embark on a mission of manthravadams and poojas to rid the procession of miracles around the child, a new turn of events seemingly to warn and even to harm people, possessions and materials ensued. For example, throwing pieces of hot rock pieces and stones at individuals who apparently spoke ill of the system while on visit to Child s home. Surprise flash fires erupting in one or other part of the thatched roof in front of the house, dumping of charcoal or ash in the boiling-rice-pot kept on fire, appearance of fish or meat inside cooking pot, dumping the contents of vessels into abandoned wells, in channels of streamlets of the neighborhood, missing of contaminated pots and pans in the house and similar incidents became frequent in Cherukol house. These were perhaps a clear warning to the members of the family and their acquaintances that anybody who tries to fix the case to exorcism or possession of evil spirits would get quick dressing-down. The members of the family totally discarded non- vegetarian items and a new life style became obligatory. If anyone desired to be around miracle-child or for that matter at the Cherukol homestead the first condition was to adopt a life founded in non-violence (ahimsa) as prescribed in Sanatana Dharma of Hindu scriptures. Therefore, The elders in the family decided to follow an approach of accepting and living with the directives they received from unknown source and deciding to co-operate with the system with their changed life style of ahimsa and devotion (bhakti) leading to cleaning of the body and purification of mind the initial steps that ultimately lead to spiritual enlightenment. Visits were made to several temples by the elders of the family in which they also took the little child and conducted quite a lot of ritual worships following the tradition.

Miracles in Munchira Temple

 

Munchira, located the west of NH-47 is famous for its Siva Temple. An incident which occurred on the month of Makaram of M.E 1122, during the temple-live-in (Bhajanam iruppu– a ritual ceremony of worship of the temple deity with accompaniment of singing of sacred hymns and chants) of the Cherukol family with Bhuvanendran, is worth noting. During the temple-live-in here, the child and party went into the temple to attend the evening pooja of Lord Shiva, the deity of the temple. The temple priest after offering flowers and prayers partly under closed door opened the door to let the offer of aarathi visible to the crowd of worshippers assembled before the sanctum sanctorum. Then he came out to sprinkle the holy water used for pooja on the crowd of worshippers to bless them, as per the routine. To the surprise of the priest, part of flowers offered to the idol of Lord Shiva (Siva Lingom) was found in the and around the child s feet. Further, he noticed that the child had a shower of vibhuti (bhasmam) and sandal wood paste (chandanam) also coming down right from his head. During the time of the bathing of Shiva lingam with milk, the offering did actually appear to drain down the child s head.3 The devotees assembled in Munchira temple that evening were in an ecstasy of joy for being with the child with divine attributes. At the conclusion of the period of live-in worship in the temple, the Child and party came back home to Cherukol.

Incidents at Kumara Kovil

 

The ancient famous temple to Murugan known as Kumara Kovil is located at Padmanabhapuram, at a distance of 34 kilometres from Kanyakumari, the home to the palace of the Maharaja s of erstwhile Travancore, on the slopes of the Veli hills which is about 70 m in height. It is located in a commanding position, visible for kilometers around. Another episode of live-in-ritual worship that lasted for a period of 41 days (Bhajana), in the Kumararakovil, began on 8th in the month of Edavam 1123 M.E. On one early morning, when one of the temple priests opened the door of the sanctum sanctorum, to his dismay, he noticed that a small Vel4 made of pure gold dedicated to the siveli vigraham5 was missing. After deliberations among themselves, the priests informed the managing authority of the temples of the missing of the gold-vel. The administrators of the temple questioned all the embers of the temple staff. The matter has been informed to the local police station of Takkalai. Though the police took immediate action of investigating the matter, mysterious missing of the gold-vel remained unsolved. Interestingly enough, the gold-vel appeared underneath the blanket of the Bhuvanendran on the morning of completion of the live-in. Mr. Somasekharan Nair, the father of the child , returned the gold-vel to the temple, as soon as he spotted it. This weird and wonderful news spread like wildfire.

On 10th of Mithunam, yet another miracle occurred. While stepping down the holy steps of Kumarakovil, Sri. Somasekharan Nair was carrying the child. Mysteriously, a gold- holy thread (poonu-nool6) descended on the child – surprising the every one present there. Soon after their reaching Cherukol, the child and the family visited the Cherukol Bhadrakali Temple the family temple- and offered special poojas.

Later on, several spells of temple live-ins were (Bhajana Iruppu) performed by the child and immediate and distant family members. The team went to Thiruvithamkod temple of Vishnu and Shiva for live-in. This was followed by a live-in in the Thanumalaya Temple at Suchindram. Yet another miracle that unveiled in Suchindram was very strange incident. The Devaswom superintend offered a flower shower (pushpanjali) to the main deity at Suchindram. The Child also was on hand in the temple to witness the presentation. In the presence of the crowd of devotees there, the flower petals showered on the temple deity started to fall over and down the tender body of the child, who was witnessing the pushpanjali with the host of devotes in front of the sanctum sanctorum. The wonderstruck superintendent, who offered this flower shower, exclaimed what ever done inside should have been performed out side .

On the concluding day of live-in at the temple of Suchindram but before starting the return trip, the child offered a Kadalipazham7 to a one Smt. Padmakshi Amma, wife of Chellappan Pillai alias Muktheeswaran Pillai, the cashier of Suchindram temple and brother of priest Janardhanan Pillai, Smt.Padmakshi Amma who passed her 35 year, was remaining childless several years after her marriage. She ate the Kadalipazham anyway. A girl child was born to her a few months after this incident. This child is Smt. Ambika Devi of Panangottu Veedu in Ittakaveli and wife of Sri. Gangadharan Nair). Smt. Padmakshy Amma was also fortunate to have yet another male child (He is now Sri.Kesavan Kutty, Business man, Mede Theru, in Krishnankovil, Nagarkovil).

As there was a expert advice that Suchindram temple-live-in, should be followed by a live-in at the temple at Ettumanoor, on 24th of Mithunam, 1123 M.E the party consisting of the child and its parents ,along with a few relatives, friends and devotees started off to Ettumanoor for the live-in for 12 days on. During the stay at that temple the, many devotees who came to the temple had first hand experience of witnessing the showering of flowers and sandal wood paste on the child s body. while the same acts were being performed by the temple priest upon the idol , on the sanctum sanctorum. This made most of them to convince to conclude that the child is nor an ordinary human child but a miracle child with divine attributes. Day by day the number of visitors who rushed to have a look at the divine child grew in number, as the news spread among the people.

During the stay in Ettumanoor, the head of the family found time to consult Brahmasree Puliyoor Purushothaman Namboothiri a famous astrologer of Travancore. He provided expert astrological advice that to please or make the various devatas such as Sasthan, Agni, Apasmaram, Brahma Rakshas, Devatha etc satisfied or glad following proper ritualistic worship and offerings. He also advised them to arrange a Namboothiri to perform a thilahomam and finally tie and wear an amulet received from the Namboothiri. He also gave them the assurance that if they diligently follow his advice they would be able to eliminate all the problems associated with the child they were experiencing.

The moment the party reached the Cherukol house with the expert astrological prescription, the menacing house fires, surprise hot stone and rock missiles reappeared more vigorously. With no choice left, hoping to earn the grace of the goddess for a complete cessation of the undesirable events, the parents took the child to Karippara Devi Temple, located near a river bank near Payanam. Yet to the disbelief of near and dear ones, the miracles went on to happen unabated. So, Sri. Somasekharan Nair (the child s father) consulted a famous man of divination of Nagarkovil. He was Sri. Shonachalam Pillai who practiced the secretly kept technique of reading images on ink-screen-on-betel leaf 8 . The finding was unequivocal, which said that the child was really a miracle child with a divine soul. The soothsayer also noted the fact that that there is no alternative to get rid of the grief and unhappy situation as the child being a divine manifestation and therefore was adorable deserves and needs ritual worshipping (poojas). On the ink image on the betel leaf, scenes of playful child Krishna became visible. In fact, this marked the abdication of temple-live-ins.

Later years of miracle child

 

A new turn of events commenced in the Cherukol house. The house attained the status of being considered as an abode of divinity. Conduct of ritualistic worship (pooja) of the miracle child soon began. With the arrival of increasing number of visitors from near and far the adoration or veneration of the child with the accompaniment of ceremonial offerings and other rites usually practiced in temples became a daily practice. Devotees started to come to Cherukol house carrying with them flowers bought from Nagarkovil and Thovala, to be offered before the divine child. Most of members of the tharawad (extended family) became ardent devotees of the divine child. Sri. Janardhanan Pillai (a retired forest guard) and uncle became a fulltime priest (pujari). Kandamath Sreedharan Nair, another grand uncle, routinely visited Cherukol house to take part in the evening or night worship (poojas). Valiyasala Narayana Pillai (Retd. Devaswom Superintendent), a brother-in- law of Sreedharan Nair, chose to spend all his time with Bhuvanendran day and night. Another devotes used to join the evening poojas at Cherukol was Tharisuthala Lakshmy Amma alias Thankamma. After the poojas Bhuvanendran used to sleep in the middle room of Padippura9 .

The Evening Pooja

 

Sri. Janardhanan Pillai, the poojari conducted the ritual worship of Bhuvanendran and the Atmalingam10installed there. Bhuvanendran will be ready on the bed around the night fall, lying flat on his back and facing north, throughout the worship till the completion of pooja. On special occasions, many devotees brought floral garlands and flower petals for the ceremonial worship. Poojari used to place the garlands he received in the form of an arc across the body of the child while the flower petals are used to gently shower over the body. During these acts, the priest used to chant slokas praising Lord Krishna. The ritual worship formally concluded with the final offering of aarathi11 to the atmalingam.

During the evening pooja, though a relatively lengthy process prolonging for nearly an hour, Bhuvanendran used to lie on his back, and remained either asleep or calmly keeping awoke, amazingly without showing any wild or even mild movements. But soon after the aarathi, frequently he rolled over to one side or other and resumed his sleep. It was not unusual that bunch of grapes, fistful of butter or sugarloaf to show up in the open palm of the child while receiving the evening pooja.

Arrival of Jadadhaari

 

It was on the 15th of Chingom of 1124 M.E. It was on that day Jadadhaari made his first appearance, at night, in the bedroom of Bhuvanendran. He was having no material existence and was incorporeal or bodiless. The presence of this immaterial being could be felt only through his voice. Soon after his arrival he started preaching (in chaste Malayalam with occasional Sanskrit words), before the assembled devotees. His voice stated that the boy who is sleeping in the bed is none other than Bhagawan the Khadgi. Your life style and activities devoid of cleanliness and personal hygiene invited the wrath which manifested as flash fires, hot-stone missiles and so on. Therefore you may follow a simple ascetic life praying the Bhuvanendra Bhagawan. The words were loud, clear and heavy, resonating with heavy bass. As the Jadadhaari was invisible supernatural being he was also nick- named as Asareeri one without a body.

But there is an exception. Valsan used to make his bed on the dividing half wall of the urakkalam (milling shed). Bhuvanendran used maintain a different or special relationship with Valsan and used to address Valsan as Valsan mama (Uncle Valsan). The other elders in Cherukol suggested to Valsan to prostrate in front of the Jadadhaari when he comes out of the pooja room to the yard, which he occasionally did, to perform three circumambulations around the padippura. Despite stout initial refusals to comply with the suggestion, the elders prevailed on Valsan. Valsan finally agreed and waited for an opportune occasion.

On a certain night Jadadhaari made his exit out of the padippura through it s the west facing door leading to the kitchen, to receive a surprise prostration of Valsan, who also attempted and successfully touch the feet of Jadadhaari. Then Jadadhaari stopped for minute and reacted to the act by saying Aruthu balaka, aruthu (Don t do so my son) and then continued after a pause Narasparsam kondu mathrame enikku moksham labhikkukayullu (I will get salvation only after touching my feet by a human being). Saying these words Jadadhaari briskly walked away.

Whenever, Jadadhaari came out m the indication was the noisy opening of the door. When this indication is felt, the devotees used to crowd around and try to follow him. But the Jadadhaari in fact moves through the yard like a flash and ahead of the pack of people. On certain occasions he covered his body with a white robe, while other occasions he wore ill-defined clothing. By contrast, when occasionally Jadadhaari appeared during day time, we perceive the quick flash by two things; one as a tall head to toe saffron-cloth-clad person passing by with a loud shout of

Omkara the symbol of god and the singularity of god. In fact the folks around will immediately register their presence by saying Bhagawaane (Oh my lord).

 

Other Places of worship in the homestead

 

I can clearly recall three important sites selected for worship by Bhuvanendran in the Cherukol homestead. Foremost one is what Bhuvanendran designated as the Jadadhaari kovil. It was in the shades of a large bread fruit tree, located to the south west of padippura and behind the cow shed. This site was cleared for erecting a stone idol of Jadadhaari, assisted by Nandi (son of the priest), Valsan, Achuthan and Atoor Kurup. Of the two other open-air sites selected for worship, one (I don t recall the specific name given to it) was very close to southwestern corner of the homestead and the other one was closer to the hermitage-like dwelling erected by the biographer, Sri.Varinjam Raghavan Pillai. Regular worship is being conducted these days in Jadadhaari kovil.

Jadadhaari vs. Rationalists

 

That at Cherukol Puthen Veetil, a Nair woman gave birth to a child with miraculous attributes was some thing quite unacceptable to the rationalists of the neighbourhood . There were attempts by such groups on several occasions to capture Jadadhaari to expose the bogus activities with an intention to bring to light the spuriousness of the matter.

My dad (the late, Kythavilakom Parameswaran Pillai and a grade school teacher by occupation) a relatively younger man during 1940s, used to sport a beard and roughly groomed bushy hair. The beard and head of hair are always at least one year old. He was a strongly built and wide chested man and quite daring. He usually had his fore head marked with vibhuti (bhasmam or holy ash).Where ever Bhuvanendran went for a temple live-in, my dad usually joined at least for the nights for an added secure feeling for the party. He also held a strong belief in the miracles related with Bhuvanendran. The rationalists had an undisclosed notion that the Jadadhaari is none other than my dad. Their unrevealed impression was that with a bit of costume and some make up here and there, my dad could perform Jadadhaari role in a perfect manner.

The rationalists guessed or presumed that if Sri. Kythavilakom Parameswaran Pillai, the suspect, is kept in captivity, the Jadadhari’s show will not happen at Cherukol. So they discussed and charted out a plan to keep my dad in safe custody and watch the outcome. One night at about 9 O clock, my parents were going to Cherukol from my home (Kaithavilakam). I did not go with them instead remained at home. Cherukol house was at a distance of about two kilometers from our house. They were proceeding making their way with the insufficient light of a hurricane lamp they were carrying. After traversing a scarcely populated tract where there were two or three clusters of settlements of members of the Nadar community, they were crossing a broad ridge that separates the location of Cherukol house from that of ours. This was poorly vegetated by isolated Palmyra palms and cashew trees with an intercrop of tapioca cultivation. As my parents crossed the ridgeline and started the gentle descent of the valley slope, they heard loud voices coming from a distant. They noticed a group of people carrying flash lights approaching them. Immediately they asked raising their voice Kythavilakom kunjammayum chittappanum aano varunnathu (Are you the uncle and aunt of Kythavilakom). My dad answered,

Athe, thannade pillay . (Yes, you are correct, my child). My dad continued Enthuse patty arthritis, kuzhappam vallathum undo (What happened at this night time, Is there any problem over there). The team replied, Namukku Cherukol pokaam aadyam, pinne karyam parayam (Let us fist go to Cherukol, then we will tell you the details later). All of them then proceeded to their destination.

Now let us go to Cherukol house and see what was taking place there. After the evening pooja, the members of the crowd were retiring for the day s rest. Nothing seemed unusual immediately. But after a while all of a sudden and quite unusually, Jadadhari s announced that my dad and mom are on their way to Cherukol, and the foes are ready waiting on the tree tops to surprise them and capture my dad and mom, so that they can test their assumption that it was my dad who is playing the role of the Jadadhaari at Cherukol. Therefore you immediately send a team to save them and rescue them if it seems necessary. He added Bhagawante sahayathal Jan avare urakki kalanju (With the help of Bhagawan (Bhuvanendran) I had put them to sleep).

When my parents were at Cherukol house, late in the night Jadadhaari gave a piece of advice to my dad. Balaka rathri thamasichu entinu varanam. Namukku dharalam virodhikalille (Why my son, you want to come very late at night? Are you are aware that we have many foes here?).

Jadadhaari vs. Police Party

 

One Chunakkara Parameswaran Nair (member of the Tharisuthala family), an officer in police force then camping near Kuzhithrurai, wanted to check out the facts of the Jadadhaari-Bhuvanendran acts, in person. On a certain night, he and some of his squad mates came down to Cherukol, traveling almost 5 km from their camp site. My dad was also present there. In fact the Police officer and my father were cousin-in- laws. The Police party was received well and they discussed the matter with some members of the family as well as with some of the visiting devotees. Time ticked past. Jadadhaari did not appear as he did usually. The party waited so long that they got bored, dropped the idea of verification and started to walk toward the parked car, which was about 200 m away on a dirt road, to the west of the Cherukol homestead. As they were about to reach the car, Jadadhaari appeared; started shouting Omkara and went about to do his routine pooja of Bhuvanendran, ringing the pooja bell and performance of aarathi. The Police party rushed back to Cherukol house. As soon as they reached the homestead boundary everything stopped and silence resumed. Jadadhaari briskly vanished from the scene. The police team said good bye with displeasure and walked back toward the car. Once they crossed the homestead boundary to the west again the pooja bells started ringing and sound of aarathi reappeared. But the party of visitors did not come back again. Strangely, on that night Jadadhaari had spent more than 30 to 40 minutes in Cherukol with the devotees and Bhuvanendran.

Capture Mr. Pillai to Capture Jadadhaari

 

During those days, the communist party had a branch in Marthandom, which was about 3 km away from Cherukol. One of the items of communist agenda is to demonstrate that god is a myth and does not decide the future or fortunes of the individuals. So naturally, they used all opportunities to demonstrate the hollow nature of worship and devotion to god. The Jadadhaari-Bhuvanendran act staged almost every week at Cherukol naturally became a landmine in the practice of communism or the spread of communist movement. Obviously, a group of activists decided to capture Jadadhaari or at least mark him with burns of acid bulb so that the next day morning every one can point a finger at the person who staged Jadadhaari. This plot was correctly hatched and was to be implemented. Gossip has it that it was Mr. Pillai of Kythavilakom was faking as Jadadhaari.

One late evening while my father was also present at Cherukol, half a dozen young and daring communists (most of them known to elders in Cherukol) descended, chatted, chewed and joked with the devotees. Near midnight, Jadadhaari landed in the pooja room. After conducting a very brief pooja, came out of the east door loudly calling Omkara to attract the attention of the captors, who jumped into action with ropes and acid bulbs. But to their disappointment, Jadadhaari took a left turn toward north, ahead of the visiting team and devotees who were ready for any action to protect Jadadhaari, flashed past the urakkalam (milling shed), turned left toward the Thekkethu came out by north door to the cowshed and disappeared. Those days the Jadadhaari kovil was not founded by Bhuvanendran. The visitors searched the entire backyard and front yard for Jadadhaari. And they also made sure that Mr. Pillai did not move an inch from near his bed.

The first attempt to rope and capture or throw the acid bulb to mark did not succeed. A pall of gloom crept in. Every one was silent. Bhuvanendran was in deep sleep. Then all of a sudden the east door of north bedroom of padippura flung open and Jadadhaari appeared in the veranda where my dad (Mr.Pillai) stood guarded by the deputies of the visiting team. Jadadhaari announced Itha nilkunnu Parameswaran Pilla, pidichu kettu (Look Parameswaran Pillai stands right here, why not you tie him up). But the guards shivered to death according to my dad and quickly Jadadhaari also vanished in the dark. The team became totally disappointed by the outcome returned with sad hearts. Similar attempts by certain persons to defame Bhuvanendran could only spread the fame and fervor about the miracle child.

A Kythavilakom Sojourn

 

Bhuvanendran occasionally went for a nearly day long visit to relatives homes. Kythavilakom was special as this was the home of his uncle- Valsan Mamen. I distinctly remember one of such visits of Bhuvanendran, accompanied by Rudram akkan (sister Rudram), Draupadi akkan (Rudram s elder sister), and Vasumathy akkan (Draupadi akkan s daughter) Valsan and others to Kythavilakom. The party would have arrived around 8 O clock in a summer morning by walk from Cherukol by crossing the ridge separating Kythavilakom from Cherukol. It sure was long trek.

My mother had arranged practically everything for the joyous and comfortable stay of Bhuvanendran and the entourage. The planned visit of Bhuvanendran was announced informally to the local people (Nadars making the dominant group) residing around the neighbourhood of Kythavilakom. There was a crowd of at least fifty people, and most of them were women and children. The guest crowd melted away with the members at Kythavilakom. In the mean time mother asked Kochettan (my immediate elder brother) to milk the cow so that visitors and Bhuvanendran can be given tea or milk. Basically, Bhuvanendran was very much fond of cattle especially cows and calves. Kochettan asked whether Bhuvanendran wanted to milk the cow for which the answer was a bold yes. So Kochettan and Bhuvanendran went over to the cowshed. Kochettan prepared the cow for milking which Bhuvanendran watched with great curiosity. While the act of milking the cow began, Bhuvanendran leaned on Kochettan s back to watch strings of milk hissing into the pot. Turning around, Kochettan invited Bhuvanendran to do the process of milking, which did not work. Then Bhuvanendran was made to hold the teat and Kochetttan squeezed the teat along with Bhuvanendran s palm. And on finishing milking, the pot with its content of milk was taken to the kitchen. In fact, Rudram akkan was helping my mother in the preparation of the breakfast on that day, the main item being iddlis. After a while the kitchen crew noticed milk spilling out of the pot. In fact the volume of milk steadily grew for a while (bulk grew several times over the initial volume) so that every one gathered around the home to have a look at Bhuvanendran had a good drink of tea with very large amount of milk, thanks to Bhuvanendran s godly touch on the teats.

Yet another anecdote: Valsan was very much a soul-mate of Bhuvanendran. During lunch time at Kythavilakom on the same day, all of a sudden, a basket full of fried pappadam vanished all of a sudden. The attribution was to Jadadhaari, who got perhaps annoyed by spanking of Bhuvanendran by Rudram akkan for his mischievous act of crushing pappadams that are taken out of the frying pan. Almost the entire crowd went without pappadam for the lunch. The last person to be seated for the lunch on that day was Valsan. Mother invited Valsan for lunch. In fact Bhuvanendran was with Valsan after being spanked by Rudram akkan. But Valsan jokingly told mom that he is skipping lunch, as there is no pappadam. Mother who was familiar with the fastidious nature of Valsan, walked away from the scene. Then Bhuvanendran started asking Valsan, his best friend, what would happen to him if he skipped the lunch, for which Valsan answered that it will lead to starvation and he might even die. The Bhuvanendran caught hold of a walking stick, and went around the dark corners and room in the house occasionally beating the wall. In a minute or two, mother noticed that the basket with all its contents of pappadams reappeared from nowhere. It need not be stated that Valsan had a lunch with enough pappadam on that day.

After the lunch, nearly every one took a nap. Bhuvanendran also joined with them. Around 4 O clock, the visiting party got ready for the return trip to Cherukol. There was a high drama around that time. I was given the cup by my mother which I used every time I took milk, butter milk or tea. It was made of gun metal and I adored the cup so much so dearly that I refused it to hand over to others. Perhaps for the same reason, Bhuvanendran on spotting it sitting on a bench along with a set of brass pots, pans and cups, wanted to take it along to Cherukol. But I started crying loudly to prevent the cup being taken away. Bhuvanendran too continued to cry for the cup. Rudram akkan shouted at Bhuvanendran and ordered not to touch the cup. In the mean time the party almost nearly got out of home and was in the court yard. Then to the surprise of every one there, the cup flew itself out of the bench over to the courtyard with a loud bang. It scared me so deeply making me to plea my mother to give away the cup to Bhuvanendran. It was perhaps another act of Jadadhaari played out on that day at Kythavilakom.

Teaching Bhuvanendran

 

Sri.Somasekharan Nair, father of Bhuvanendran, in spite of all the incidents around, insisted that the divine child need to learn to read and write-a natural obligation of a sincere dad. My eldest brother Valsan, a college dropout and an endearing person to the child was his choice. So Somasekharan Nair bought a Malayalam reader of class one a slate and some pencils the essential tools of a child entering the first grade in any school and entrusted the materials in the custody of Valsan-the teacher designate.

Since the descent and appearance of Jadadhaari to Cherukol and in the pooja/bed room from no where and at or near mid night, this news spread far and wide in the taluks of Kalkulam, Vilavankod, Neyyatinkara, Agastheeswaram and Thovala. Regular poojas used to attract large number of people from near and far. The Co- sleepers in the pooja room had seen Jadadhaari lighting and brightening the wick lamp and performing Pooja and making offerings of fruits like grapes and sweet stuff like molasses on the feet of Bhuvanendran. Poojas ended with aarathi.

Whenever occasional slight quarrels used to crop up between Jadadhaari and the grandmother, Bhuvanendran stepped in to bring peace between them. Jadadhaari occasionally and repeatedly shouted Sapippen, sapippen and Kudumba nasam , (ruin to the family), which enraged the grandmother who also sat up in the pooja room. The old lady became furious and immediately retorted by saying Enthinu chavappen Chavappen ennu vilikkanam; Chavachittu po (Why shout curse you curse you, curse and destroy the family and get out). Then Bhuvanendran sat up in the bed and turning to Jadadhaari giving the order Jadadhaari kopathe samippikku Jadadhaari (Jadadhaari quell your anger Jadadhaari), for which the Jadadhaari politely replied Adiyan Bhagawane (Yes my lord). That ended the squabble.

An anecdote now

 

It was nearing the evening sunset. In the pooja room only one wick lamp was lit. A woman devotee residing in the neighbourhood of Cherukol home came to attend the evening pooja with a garland which she herself made out of different flowers gathered from her own home yard. She stepped into the veranda of the pooja room and was getting ready to hand over the garland to the priest. At that instant there was a piercing voice of an invisible being directing the priest not to use the garland on Bhuvanendran during the pooja. The voice from the sky (asareeri) were Balaka aa mala Bhagavanu chartharuthu ( My boy do not use that garland on Bhagawan ) and then to the devotee, the voice said balike asudhamaya kaikal kondu kettiya mala bhagavanu enthinu kondu vannu ( Why you girl brought a garland put together with your polluted hands ).

Co-sleepers in Pooja room

 

After the pooja session, it is the bed time for one and all. In the pooja room, Rudram Akkan (Bhuvanendran s mother) and Valiyamma (Bhuvanendran s grandmother) regularly slept in the room where worship was being regularly conducted. A subdued flame of a wick lamp was kept burning throughout night in that room which served as a bed-room lamp. Very infrequently some visiting devotees also used to sleep in the pooja room. My elder brother, earned an opportunity from Valiyamma to sleep in pooja room, but to his dismay the sleep was destroyed by a visit by Vasuki12, one of the serpents of Hindu as well as Buddhist mythology.

A Ten Day Festivity

 

Coinciding with sixth birth day of Bhuvanendran (the one before the Pandarpur Pilgrimage), a ten day long festival and special poojas were arranged and performed, culminating with an hour long flower shower. On all these day s group singing, Ottanthullal (by Evoor Damodaran & party), major set Kathakali (with artists like Maangulam Vishnu Naboothiiri, Chennithala Chellappan Pillai, Haripad Ramakrishna Pillai and such other stars), and Harikatha etc formed the items of the programme.

Visitations to Bhuvanendra Padam

 

Jadadhaari, the heavenly priest who appeared to be a sage with fabulous or luxurious matted hair, used to visit the Bhuvanendran at Cherukol house very frequently during the dead of the night In addition, other puranik sages ( like Padmanetran, Nandi, Vasuki, gopikas to name a few) also came down to Cherukol for audience, blessing or felicitation. There were many others also who came on pilgrimage to Cherukol.

 

[1] Artocarpus hirsuta

[2]A kind of offering in temple consisting of a mixture of perfumes (generally eight perfumes) in sandal wood paste.

[3] Kunnathukal Prabhakaran Nair a witness of this event now settled in suburban Kudappanakunnu.

[4] A lance/javelin-like weapon wielded by Lord Subramanaya

[5] Seeveli is the traditional ritual practice in temples in which the divinity installed in the sanctum sanctorum is daily taken out ceremoniously and the circumambulation around inside the temple compound in procession accompanied with the performance of traditionally used musical instruments of temple worship. The small idol used in seeveli, sreebali, sreebhutabali is the seeveli vigraham… In some temples seeveli ritual are conducted in the morning, at noon and in night before the closure of sanctum sanctorum.

[6] A Brahminical string, worn across shoulders.

[7] Fruit of a species of plantain, generally believed to be the best variety to be employed in offering in temples.

[8] The liquid extract of the leaves of shrub (Memecylon edul )known as kasavu or anakkombi in Malayalam or Memecylon malabaricus known as kasavu or malamthetti is pasted over a betel leaf

[9] The front building with apartment, an outhouse usually with a veranda.

[10] An idol installed and venerated as representing the atma or universal spirit.

[11] Worship by waving of lighted lamps in front of an idol.

[12] He is a great King of the nagas and has a gem (Nagamani) on his head. Manasa, another naga is his sister. In the Bhagavad-Gita (Ch.10, Verse 28), in the middle of the battlefield “Kurukshetra”, Krishna explaining his omnipresence, says – “Of serpents (sarpa), I am Vasuki” indicating the importance of Vasuki. He took part in the incident of Samudra manthan, the churning the ocean of milk. He agreed to allow the devas (gods) and the asuras (demons) use him as the churning rope, bound with Mount Mandan -churning of the ocean, when they churned the ocean of milk for the ambrosia of immortality. While Vasuki was being used as a rope, the strain caused him to exhale Halahala, the most potent venom in the universe. There was the danger that the Halahala could destroy all living beings and perhaps the universe itself. Then Shiva, in order to prevent the destruction of the cosmos, decided to swallow the poison himself. The venom turned his throat blue, and thus earned him the title Nilakanta (blue-throated).

 

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